Title: Bellflower (part II)
Characters: Ayasegawa Yumichika, Ishida Uryuu (Abarai Renji, Kurosaki Ichigo, Kurosaki Isshin, Kuchiki Rukia)
Warnings: A funeral, Ichigo’s penchant for expletives, Renji’s sense of humour.
Notes: This was intended to be funny, and in it’s own way, it is — but only if you’ve been to *that funeral*. Those who have, and see their own family in the telling, will be amused. Those who haven’t will probably be horrified and disgusted. What can I say? We can only write what we know.
A couple dozen years — a couple dozen fashion shows down the line, Uryuu found himself standing beside a freshly filled grave, surrounded by shinigami and shinigami wanna-bes. He let the silver-trimmed cloth flowers in his hand drop to the earth, and bowed his head a moment in silent contemplation. His eyes suddenly levelled on Renji, though, when he heard the sound of splashing water against the headstone, and Yumichika began giggling from behind him.
"He was my father, Renji! Mine. You can’t just go…" Uryuu’s hands flapped uselessly inside the draping sleeves of the formal kimono he wore. "Can’t just pee on the graves of other people’s parents!" He looked slightly horrified, less at the idea of the grave being urinated on, perhaps, and more at the idea that it hadn’t been his own doing.
"You didn’t have enough to drink in the car." Renji shrugged in a lazily antagonistic fashion, teasing Ishida. "Thought I’d take care of it for you. Can’t blame you for being shortsighted, what with the death of your father, and all."
"Now, now," Isshin interrupted, "Don’t be too hard on him. He really is the last Quincy, now." He and Orihime looked the saddest of all the people who had gathered. "Why didn’t you ever marry Yuzu?"
"Because —" Uryuu felt the blood drain from his face as he stopped the appalling admission that had almost come out of his mouth. Because I love the world. He sighed and tucked his hands into his sleeves, looking to all eyes like some long-lost lord of winter — pale, cold, and harried. "I have to be the last," he said, at last, stretching one hand out to Rukia. "You taught me that. You taught me to embrace the pride of the Quincy, and to do the best that I could do — the best any of my ancestors could do, if I could make it that far — because we weren’t saving the world, we were destroying it, all along."
Stepping back, he leaned against Yumichika, tiredly. "And those pictures were awful, by the way," he teased Rukia. "But you made your point. I’m the last man standing, and I’ve shown up to my predecessor’s funeral with a crowd of shinigami. I don’t know if that’s a success on my part, or just an insult to my father."
"Don’t piss him off, Ishida," Ichigo teased him. "He’s dead. He might come back as a hollow and eat your ass."
"Did you ever grow up, Kurosaki?" Uryuu rolled his eyes, almost tolerantly, as both father and son gave their answer in unison.
He wondered why he couldn’t have had a similar relationship with his own father. Sure, Isshin was annoying and childish, but so was Ichigo, in a lot of ways. Like father, like son. Uryuu muffled a snort as he realised he, too, was much like his father — hardheaded, irrtable, and snide. It was just that he had been brave, where Ryuuken had let his fear of instability control him. Ichigo, too had moved forward, where his father had stepped back. It had taken two generations to finish the game, but, it could be said the war was finally over, because the last Quincy had agreed to die childless and in tandem with his shinigami allies in some thoroughly unlikely fight. That seemed to be the way of things, even after all this time. He didn’t know when it would come, but he could feel his age in ways that didn’t seem to affect most of the others. Orihime and Chad still aged with him, though, and for some reason, he found that made him sad.
He felt Yumichika take hold of his shoulders, leaning over the left. "Why don’t you go on without us?" Uryuu heard the still-beautiful shinigami ask. "The reservations are made. We’ll be right behind you."
Uryuu opened his mouth to protest, but Yumichika’s hand tightened on his shoulder. "I’ll be fine. Just a few last things to check. Go before the rain starts," he said, instead.
Yumichika could hear Ishida’s slightly dazed voice, as the events of the last few days began to really catch up to the Quincy, but the shinigami was convinced the words didn’t have meaning, anymore. It was just Ishida rationalising his feelings on the matter. Losing a father, Yumichika speculated, must be a lot like losing a captain. No matter how much you did or didn’t like him, that person made you what you’d become. It was a heavy influence to suddenly find oneself without.
He was grudgingly grateful that Ikkaku had stayed behind in Sereitei, with Ukitake-taichou. They had volunteered to keep Kurotsuchi-taichou occupied and away from Ryuuken’s deathbed and funeral. The last thing any man needed was the Twelfth Captain hovering after a loss like this.
Yumichika slowly slid his hands down from Ishida’s shoulders, wrapping his arms around the man before him, who still stood staring down at the fresh-turned earth as thought the grave might tell him a secret. "He’ll be in Soul Society, waiting for you. Knowing that asshole, he’ll be picking fights with every shinigami who sets foot in Rukongai. And when you get there, he’ll be picking fights with you, too." Yumichika sighed dramatically. "The next century or two is going to be appalling, thank you very much. I should just make Isshin go back to pick up the pieces."
Ishida actually laughed at the idea of Ichigo’s father intentionally returning to Soul Society, just to keep his dad out of trouble. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more it seemed like Isshin would get Ryuuken into trouble, but at least it would be the amusing kind, instead of the bitter kind. He turned his head to say something to Yumichika, but the thought evaporated as his nose smacked into Yumichika’s, and his lips brushed against the shinigami’s cheek.
"You’re standing too close!" Ishida protested, and Yumichika laughed.
"What, are you afraid I’m going to ruin my outfit or yours? You made them both — I’m sure they’ll hold up."
"That’s not the point!" Ishida insisted, stepping out of Yumichika’s grip and turning around to accuse him. "You can’t stand so close to someone, Yumichika. It gives the wrong impression."
"Or the right one," Yumichika corrected, holding out his hand in truce.
Ishida froze, mid-motion, hand still midway into an accusing jab, mouth open at the start of a word that would never be said. He stood perfectly still for a long moment. "What are you saying?" He looked slightly horrified. "Don’t say stupid things."
Yumichika pulled his hand back, tucking both hands into his sleeves. "I didn’t say anything in the least bit stupid, Ishida-san. You’re the one making scary faces about a simple observation." He paused as Ishida reeled, looking as though he’d been slapped. They’d been something close to friends for long enough that the sudden formality was like a door slamming between them. Ishida looked hurt, and Yumichika looked apologetic, but they were both too prideful to reach out.Yumichika looked away as the rain began to fall.
"Cherry blossoms fall under flesh-warm clouded rain. Icy rivers thaw."
It was, Ishida knew, an apology. Yumichika was like that — never an admission of fault where a quick haiku would suffice. In fact, if he was reading this one right, Yumichika was blaming a broken heart for his poor behaviour. It figured — Ikkaku hadn’t come along.
"He’ll be waiting for you when you get home. None of this is important, Ayasegawa-kun. Go home. You should be with the one you love at a time like this." Ishida laughed bitterly, as he realised that the funeral meant nothing to anyone but Kurosaki Isshin and himself. They had all come to see him through it, and here he was talking as though Yumichika had lost someone. As he opened his mouth to apologise for misspeaking, Yumichika cut him off.
"You’re right. I should be." Yumichika stared up at he water falling from the sky. "That’s why I’m here, you dolt."