Characters: Ishida Uryū, Kurosaki Ichigo
Spoilers: Through manga chapter 483.
Disclaimer: Kubo owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 1400 words
Summary: Ishida Uryū had never wanted anyone to get close enough to make him feel anything.
Beta: None. u_u
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
The Hollow's reiatsu ripped through Ishida Uryū's consciousness like an earthquake, startling him out of a confused dream about seven angry pairs of scissors chasing after his spare cape.
He was out of bed and tearing across the night-soaked city roofs in moments, zipping up his hoodie as he went. What a silly dream. I've stopped carrying a spare months ago.
Just as he came within shooting distance of the Hollow, its reiatsu vanished. Uryū considered going back to bed, but he sensed Kurosaki's monstrous reiatsu where the Hollow had been.
Kurosaki hadn't returned home after chasing that weird Arrancar two days ago; Sado-san and Uryū had eventually followed the pair -- had been right on top of them if reiatsu was to be believed -- but they'd seen nothing except an empty rooftop. It had been as though both Kurosaki and the Arrancar had escaped to a different dimension.
Uryū had barely seen Kurosaki since then, and something told him Kurosaki was avoiding him. Normally not a school day went by without either Kurosaki showing up to drag Uryū to eat lunch or Uryū having to find Kurosaki and scold him yet again for flouting school rules by charging athletic clubs for his so-called services.
He landed atop a vending machine next to Kurosaki, who looked about to leave. "Do you intend to steal all my prey from now on, or are you just making up for lost time?"
"It's not my fault you're so slow," Kurosaki shot back. Why was he avoiding Uryū's eyes? "Anyway, don't even start."
"It behoves me to point out that Soul Society will hardly thank you for your efforts; not after they've dispatched two Shinigami to Karakura Town."
"Both of whom nearly got eaten on day one," Kurosaki supplied.
Uryū harrumphed. "In no way did I intend to suggest the Shinigami are logical or rational beings."
He wanted to ask why Kurosaki had been distant, but he had no idea how; every scenario running through his mind ended with Kurosaki smirking in that insufferable way and asking if Uryū missed him. He didn't even understand why Kurosaki's avoidant behaviour bothered him so much in the first place.
Kurosaki launched himself upwards and landed on the edge of Uryū's vending machine, legs dangling down. "Listen, Ishida."
"What?" Oh, crap. His tone must've been too eager, for Kurosaki glanced back at him with some surprise. Uryū sat down next to him, pretending to fuss with his zipper. A streetlight shone directly overhead, making their shadows dance on the pavement below.
"The others, they forgot all about Tsukishima, but I still remember what happened. Do you?"
Uryū nodded. "Yeah. He never used his ability on me; when he cut me, it was just a regular cut." He touched the shoulder where the injury had been. "The others don't even seem to know they've ever met him."
Kurosaki's frown deepened. "Yeah."
"Isn't that a good thing?" Uryū asked.
"They fought me, Ishida. Chad attacked me, and Inoue healed Tsukishima even as I was begging her not to."
What was Kurosaki trying to say? "It wasn't their fault--"
"I know it wasn't their fault," Kurosaki burst out. "I'm not blaming them. Do you think that makes it any easier? Are you telling me you'd be able to just forget about something like that happening to you? Your best friends attacking you like that?"
"Kurosaki..." What should Uryū say? What could he say? He supposed it made sense that Kurosaki had decided to have this conversation with him; it wasn't like he could talk to his father about this. But it was weird that Kurosaki brought it up now; the Xcution fight had ended weeks ago.
"I don't know what I would do," he said finally. "It's not like I've ever been in that position."
Kurosaki hung his head, and an edge of panic crept into Uryū, an echo of what he'd felt as he'd watched Kurosaki weep, kneeling in front of Ginjō.
Before that moment, he had always thought that seeing Kurosaki at his weakest and most vulnerable would be delicious Schadenfreude, but instead he'd been desperate to do anything to make Kurosaki's tears stop: not because it had been unsightly, but because Kurosaki's suffering had hurt.
When did I become his friend? The question had gone through his mind countless times since that night, and the answer dwelt in the spaces between all their shared moments, an ephemeral twining of red and white: Shinigami and human spirit threads fused together, improbably stronger for it.
But Uryū had never had a friend like Kurosaki before. His friendships, such as they were, had always begun and ended with club-related activities at school; he'd never wanted anyone to get close enough to make him feel anything. Relationships between people were too fraught with uncertainty, which made them terrifying.
Was he supposed to pat Kurosaki on the back and offer some generic reassurances? Book characters were always dragging each other off to karaoke to get their minds off things, but Uryū never quite understood how ignoring a problem was supposed to make it better.
Besides, there were clearly limits to friendship, as the last thing he was going to subject himself to would be Kurosaki attempting to belt out the latest B'z hit.
"If you ever attack me seriously, I won't fight you," Kurosaki said, glancing at him. "I'll run or hide, but I won't fight you."
"I'm pretty sure we're well past that point." In our friendship, Uryū didn't add. "Why would I attack you?"
"No particular reason," Kurosaki muttered, his jaw tightening.
Uryū had always liked that this guy was useless at lying. "Kurosaki."
Kurosaki sighed. "Fine. You might as well hear it from me. That guy I chased out of my house the other day? He fought with a weapon that looked a lot like your Quincy cross."
Uryū froze. That rude Arrancar, a former Quincy? Impossible; he would have sensed it. He shook his head. "Just because some guy shows up and waves a Quincy cross around doesn't mean I'm going to take his side against you." My own father has one of those crosses, and I'm sure you don't need to be told how friendly I am with him. "I don't understand why you've decided I'm going to start attacking you."
"I didn't decide anything!" Kurosaki protested. "That guy didn't say much; he ran off before I could get anything out of him--"
"All the more proof he wasn't a Quincy," Uryū said with a sniff. "A Quincy would never run from some Shinigami."
"Yeah, well, this Shinigami is going to run like hell from you," Kurosaki said, poking a thumb into the centre of his black-clad chest. "I won't be your enemy."
The heat in Kurosaki's eyes made Uryuu's heart thump too loudly in his ears. Is this what Inoue-san feels when he looks at her? his absurd brain pondered.
Uryū should have been thinking about the worrying implications of an Arrancar using Quincy weapons, but instead he sat there, his stomach wriggling about like a lump of konnyaku and his heart attempting to flee for parts unknown. Those were not very friendly reactions, were they?
Perhaps friendship was not an accurate term for what Uryū felt towards Kurosaki Ichigo.
Let this be a dream, he thought. Let me wake up to the reality of self-aware scissors chasing my spare cape.
"Anyway," Kurosaki said as though he hadn't just torn a hole in Uryū's inner peace with a look and a few words. "I should get back; Karin saw me leaving, and she'll yell at me if I take too long."
"Yeah," Uryū said. "Rest easy, Kurosaki. I won't be your enemy, either."
Kurosaki smiled -- that perpetual wrinkle between his eyebrows vanishing for one perfect instant -- and then he was gone.
Were Uryū a little less aware of the world and the relationships between people, he'd be checking himself into a hospital to make sure these rapid-onset heart palpitations were not a sign of some horrible illness.
I won't be your enemy.
"I don't think I can be your friend, though," Uryū whispered to his solitary shadow.