Links to previous chapters and a nice, long description can be found here.
Warnings this chapter for angst, foul language, boykisses, NSFW and boysmut!
Chapter Twenty: Revelation
For once, Ichigo sleeps without dreaming. His rest is full of quiet and calm; he sleeps as though he’s never had any troubles. His bed is comfortable, and the weight sharing it is warm and familiar. He sleeps surrounded in the fading scent of gunpowder and candy, in the new scent of herbals soaps and reiatsu free from its confines. He can feel Kisuke beside him, even unconsciously, and that as much as anything else is a comfort.
Warmth surrounds him. It tickles down his sides, gently, teasingly. It smooths across his flesh, calmly caressing. It breathes hot and damp over his skin. It makes pleasure stir in his blood.
Ichigo breathes in and out but still catches the edge of a hitch. He twitches, feelings of desire trickling through his sleepy mind. It pools low in his belly, pulling him into a state of half-consciousness. He wakes slowly. Eyes opening to a lazy morning that hints of storm clouds and a low chuckle that spills into the room.
“Took you long enough,” Kisuke says, and his mouth presses gently against Ichigo’s groin. Breath ghosting over an already rigid arousal.
Ichigo sucks in air through his teeth. And one hand flails out to twist fingers into the comforter.
“Pervert,” he accuses, head bumping back against a pillow. Nevertheless, his hips rise off the mattress and push towards the welcome warmth of Kisuke’s mouth.
Kisuke’s answering laugh vibrates around his length, and Ichigo bites back a moan. He has to admit that he can’t remember a time when he’s woken in a better mood. This is definitely preferable to swallowing down a choked scream and desperately trying to forget the overwhelming smell of blood.
Kisuke’s tongue swipes over his throbbing arousal, and Ichigo sucks in another breath, bad thoughts immediately chased away. Fingers are dragging down his sides and hips, teasing and touching. Kisuke’s mouth is hot and wet. His lips provided the perfect pressure, and his tongue strokes in all the ways Ichigo likes.
He can’t keep his hips still, and Ichigo rocks upwards to thrust shallowly into Kisuke’s mouth. This doesn’t seem to bother Kisuke as he merely relaxes his jaw and allows Ichigo to thrust deeper. Ichigo can feel Kisuke’s hum of appreciation as he reaches down and tangles a hand in blond hair, and a moan escapes from his lips before he can stop it. There’s a low, lazy heat building in his groin and coiling in his belly. His veins feel as though they’re smoldering, and Ichigo knows that a flush must’ve colored his cheeks.
He closes his eyes, surrendering to sensation. To the feel of Kisuke’s fingers traveling over his skin. Tickling between his thighs, tugging gently at his scrotum. Kisuke’s tongue laps at his flesh. Curls around the leaking head of Ichigo’s length in a motion that draws a ragged noise from his throat.
Fingers replace Kisuke’s mouth. And Ichigo feels teeth and tongue press against his inner thigh for a nibble. He peels his eyes open, looking down to see Kisuke watching him mischievously as he languidly strokes Ichigo’s straining arousal. His thumb swipes over the head that’s beading with fluid.
“Teasing me now?” Ichigo demands.
And no, it doesn’t emerge on the end of a gasp. Not at all.
“Tit for tat,” Kisuke all but sing-songs, his tongue flicking out over the inside of Ichigo’s thigh where a small mark is beginning to redden. “Equivalent exchange and all that jazz.”
Ichigo groans, his head thumping back. “You know, being a tease is likely to chase away the good mood you just gave me.”
“Only if there’s no resolution,” Kisuke responds with one of his playful grins, eyes practically sparkling with cheer. The fingers of his free hand tickle across Ichigo’s hip before his lips quickly follow.
Ichigo jerks, pushing his length further into the tunnel of Kisuke’s grip, seeking more stimulation. The blond seems to take this as a challenge, sliding his fingers over Ichigo’s straining length as his lips trace a nonsense path over tanned flesh. Each feather-light touch is maddening for its lack of substance.
He can feel the puff of Kisuke’s warm breath. And Ichigo pushes upward hopefully.
Kisuke just chuckles. “Eager are we?”
“Impatient more like,” Ichigo retorts and gives a light tug to Kisuke’s hair, hoping to encourage him to get with the program.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of your boldness,” the former captain murmurs and closes his lips over Ichigo’s length again, tongue flicking over the leaking slit. His fingers slide down to curl around Ichigo’s balls and squeeze them gently.
Ichigo pants and then moans, body filled with a lethargic and comfortable heat. Kisuke’s tongue flicks over his flesh skillfully, and Ichigo immerses himself in the sensation. Warm and wet with the perfect pressure. Kisuke’s fingers are equally talented, rubbing and kneading, tugging in all the right places.
They disappear for a minute, and Ichigo hears the distinct noise of a cap being popped. A the light, herbal smell of some kind of oil fills the room, and then the fingers return. Slickly caressing Ichigo’s scrotum before moving lower, stroking that small patch of flesh just behind his balls. He shivers as it feels strangely good, strangely arousing, spiking heat through his groin.
And then, Kisuke’s fingers tickle lower still. Brushing across Ichigo’s puckered muscle, and he can feel the heat of a gaze on him. Ichigo doesn’t answer verbally. He doesn’t even have to think about it. He just pushes his legs further apart, giving Kisuke more room to work, giving him tacit permission.
Kisuke’s talented tongue laps at Ichigo’s length as though thanking him profusely for the consent. His finger disappears briefly before returning, feeling slick as it rubs against Ichigo’s skin. Too relaxed by Kisuke’s skilled ministrations, he barely flinches as the single digit pushes inside of him. It’s a strange feeling, but one that is largely ignored in favor of the warm, wet pressure in other places.
Kisuke is doing a fantastic job of distracting him with his mouth. Ichigo’s already close. He can feel his belly drawing tight, can feel the heat building in his groin. Kisuke’s finger moves in and out of him, slowly, carefully, before he adds another and twists them just so. Twists both fingers in such a way that Ichigo lets out a sound of pleasure as need sizzling through his veins. His hips are pushing up into Kisuke’s mouth and pushing down against the invading digits, seeking more.
Kisuke chuckles again. The resulting vibrations only ratcheting up the tension inside of Ichigo until he’s panting, thinking only more, more, more. The odd sensation of fingers inside of him has been replaced by a strange pleasure that shoots through him every time Kisuke curls his hand and presses against something incredible. Ichigo’s no idiot, and he was a med student after all. He knows good and well what exactly his lover is stroking with efficient, skilled motions. But Ichigo never thought it would feel this damn good, even if Kisuke had seemed to enjoy it the other day.
A single hand on his hips keeps him from shoving his arousal too far down Kisuke’s throat, but it can’t stop Ichigo from twitching. Can’t stop him from releasing a string of sounds that mix words and curses and moans as heat peppers down his spine and pools in his gut. One hand fists into the covers, wrinkling the sheets as Ichigo shoves his other one into his mouth, trying to muffle the noises. Knowing that the Vizard, perverts that they are, aren’t above gleefully eavesdropping.
Fingers curl inside of him to the same rhythm as Kisuke’s tongue, and Ichigo loses it. His hips snap upward as release rips through him. His teeth and lips clamp down on his knuckles as tremors of white-hot pleasure rock through his body. He spills into Kisuke’s mouth, and the blond swallows him down without any sign of protest.
Ichigo draws in a ragged breath, spasming as a tongue traces over his softening length. A low growl of passes through Ichigo’s lips as he reaches down with both hands and tangles one in blond hair and the other in the open folds of Kisuke’s shirt. Using his grip, Ichigo drags his lover up to him. He’s all too willing to drape his warm body on top of Ichigo’s, too.
Their mouths meet in a sloppy, hungry kiss as thoughts of more, want, now race through Ichigo’s being. He shoves his tongue deep into Kisuke’s mouth, tasting himself on those sinful lips. The realization of such is strangely erotic, and Ichigo groans, sliding an arm around Kisuke and dragging the blond down fully on top of him. Their bodies move together, rubbing and touching. Ichigo can feel the proof of Kisuke’s arousal against his abdomen, desperately needing attention. And Ichigo would be very remiss if he let his lover down after that wonderful wake-up call.
But then, the sound of loud, rapid knocking fills the room. Startling Ichigo out of the lazy haze of desire that had wound around him. He blinks, pulling away from Kisuke to glare in the general direction of the door. Who in the hell--
“Oi, lovebirds!” A very familiar voice sings from the other side, sounding entirely too gleeful for the early hour. “It’s time to get out of bed!”
Only he would be so bold. Well, and perhaps Lisa, too. But for her it’d be a matter of hoping to catch them in the middle of something so that she can take pictures for later reference.
Ichigo freezes. Kisuke does, too. Only for his eyes to narrow to mere slits.
“What the hell does he want?” the blond hisses, voice strained. Likely reflecting the intense arousal of his body and the fact that it doesn’t seem like relief will be found anytime soon.
“You know,” Ichigo begins with a growing sense of alarm. “If he has to ask twice, he’s just going to barge in here.”
And Ichigo, for one, doesn’t want to be caught with his pants down. Especially not by Shinji who would find some way to tease them ruthlessly about it for weeks to come.
Kisuke shakes his head. “I locked the door.” But there’s still an edge of doubt to that.
“You really think that’s gonna stop him?” Ichigo asks with a cocked brow, dragging his tongue over his lips as his head falls back against the pillow. And he was looking forward to a lazy morning in.
“Ichigo has a visitor!” Shinji adds from the other side of the door. His voice fills with a childish sort of glee as the knob rattles ominously.
Ichigo wonders who the hell qualifies as a visitor. How many people actually know where the Vizard live? And who would step willingly into the madness just to talk to him? Yoruichi-san perhaps. But she’s the only one Ichigo can think of, and even then, he can’t be sure. Not anymore.
Kisuke sighs and leans back. Treating Ichigo to a lingering kiss that threatens to turn to more before the ex-captain pulls back.
“Shall we continue later?”
“Provided my visitor doesn’t try to kill me in some way?” Ichigo puts in with a snort.
He rolls out from under the blond, fingers snagging his pants from the floor. Luckily, a pair of boxers are tangled with the jeans, making it much easier to dress quickly.
“Shinji wouldn’t have allowed someone dangerous,” Kisuke replies as though that’s enough to reassure him. Then, he leans over the other side of the bed and grabs his own clothes.
Ichigo snorts, casting around for a shirt as the knob rattles again.
“We’re coming!” Kisuke calls out loudly.
He no doubt hopes to forestall Shinji’s intrusion into their shared room. Even if it’s borrowed. There’s a little thing called personal space that Shinji has always taken as more of a suggestion rather than a rule.
And his laughter can be heard so clearly he might as well be standing inside the room. “I don’t need a blow-by-blow! Just get yer asses out here.”
Ichigo rolls his eyes. Shinji can be such a child some times. It’s amazing that he was ever a captain of the Gotei 13. But then, looking at what leads said organization right now, Ichigo can’t say he’s so surprised either.
Dragging a hand over his hair and pulling a shirt over his head, Ichigo decides he’s ready to face the day. As a final precaution, he grabs Zangetsu, sliding the strap over his chest. It still feels strange to bear the blade when he’s not wearing his shihakushou, but he has no wish to return to that basic particular ensemble either.
And that thought is a reminder that he hasn’t been in his actual body for over two months now. Ichigo hopes that Kon’s taking care of it. Though it looks like Ichigo won’t be needing it anytime soon, if he ever needs it at all. Of everything the Shinigami have stolen from him, Ichigo’s mortal life is the one loss that strikes him the hardest. He doesn’t even know what to call himself now. Not Shinigami. Not Hollow. Not human. Vizard perhaps. But that doesn’t even cover all the intricacies that comprise his existence.
A hand falls on Ichigo’s shoulder then, squeezing gently and pulling him from his reverie.
“All right, my dear?” Kisuke asks gently and with more than a hint of concern.
He nods and offers a look that he knows is far from reassuring. But it’s the best he has to give at the moment.
“Just thinking. Hoping that Kon is taking care of my body and not doing anything embarrassing.”
Grey eyes search his face. As though his lover doesn’t believe him for a second. But Kisuke gives a crooked smile in return.
“Don’t worry,” he says and brushes Ichigo’s hair from his face; it really is getting long. “I’m sure everything is fine.”
Ichigo leans into the touch for a minute. And even has thoughts to offer a kiss in return. But there’s a fairly good chance that they’ll get distracted by it.
“We’ll see,” he comments instead and finally moves forward. Pulling open the door before Shinji decides to forego ceremony by inviting himself inside.
In the hallway, he’s already grinning like a loon from where he stands against the opposite wall with his hip cocked to the side. Still, there is a tightness to his eyes that proves half of his humor is forced.
“Who is it?” Ichigo asks, already shifting into business mode.
His good mood is gone. Erased by the feeling of a reiatsu in the building that Ichigo doesn’t immediately recognize. It’s a tad familiar. As though he should know the feel of it and the owner. But Ichigo can’t place him. Or possibly her.
The older Vizard shakes his head, eyes momentarily glancing at Kisuke. Who’s stepping out behind Ichigo, hat perched on his head and pulled low over his eyes.
“It’s better if ya see fer yourself.”
Kisuke’s tone is confused, but there’s a hard edge that Ichigo hasn’t missed. It makes Ichigo’s hackles rise, but he isn’t sure why. Perhaps his lover can recognize the reiatsu where he cannot.
Shinji twitches, but his is expression firm. “No, you lost your chance.”
Ichigo moves so that he can see both blonds, and the two exchange a silent conversation with their eyes alone. Secrets and mysteries cling to the air with the stench of an ash-ridden battlefield. Kisuke looks like he wants to protest, but otherwise, his face is devoid of expression, features tight and hidden. Shinji appears stubborn, resolute. Matching Kisuke glare for glare.
Ichigo’s eyes skip between them. “What’s going on?”
Finally, Shinji glances his direction. “It’s nothing. Just somethin’ between Ki-kun and myself. Just go on ta the main room. Your visitor’s waitin’ there.”
A part of Ichigo thinks to be stubborn, to refuse to move until they spill everything they’ve been keeping from him. Ichigo deserves it after all. He deserves to know the truth, and he’s tired of being lied to. He’s tired of being left out of the loop. But there’s another part of him that’s just so damn sick of it he doesn’t even care anymore.
Ichigo doesn’t say anything, doesn’t agree or disagree. He just turns on his heel and leaves the two blonds to their business. Whatever the hell it is. The low murmur of conversation – or argument rather – starts up behind him, but Ichigo doggedly tunes it out. He’s really getting tired of all this secrecy. And sooner or later, he’s going to catch someone actually willing to spill the beans.
Perhaps Aizen. He’s the only bastard to ever answer anything. But even then, the former overlord is obviously hiding a few things. Maybe to conceal his grief or embarrassment over his failure. Ichigo doesn’t know and doesn’t care. He wants answers from whomever will give them.
He rounds the corner, irritation rising higher and higher. Ichigo feels on the verge of attacking someone, and when he steps into the main room, something inside of him snaps. Standing in the middle of the open space – with the various Vizard scattered about the room – is Isshin. In Shinigami black and white.
There’s a zanpakutou strapped to his side. And the remnants of what appears to be a captain’s haori crosses his chest. Only to be tucked over one shoulder, flowing out freely behind him. Isshin’s expression is unreadable. Though a hint of relief brightens dark eyes once he notices his son.
He takes a single step forward. Maybe he thinks to greet Ichigo, follow through with one of those bone-crushing not-quite-hugs. Or even one of this Daddy-Love-Kicks to the face. Whatever. Ichigo isn’t really thinking about that because he stops mid-step and stares. Fucking stares at the man who’s supposed to be unable to see spirits but stands there dressed in Shinigami black bearing a zanpakutou. And all Ichigo can think is what the holy fuck?
Across his back, Zangetsu thrums uneasily. Shirosaki echoes Ichigo’s sentiment. And a shit-ton of outrage vibrates out from the Hollow’s being.
“What the fuck?”
Ichigo saves no time for pleasantries. Maybe if he hadn’t already been annoyed, he could’ve started this in a civil manner. But Ichigo feels like he’s been broadsided by a Menos Grande and then forced to go ten rounds with Grimmjow followed by a fight with Ulquiorra because life just likes making it difficult for him.
Silence descends in the room, all eyes going to father and son. Anxiety flashes in Isshin’s scruffy face before he straightens, trying to appear intimidating. Trying to appear like the father Ichigo never really thought he was.
Reiatsu curls around Ichigo, lending strength and fuel to the righteous fury. “You’re a Shinigami?” he demands. “What the fuck, Dad? What the fuck?”
He can’t seem to say anything else, stuck on that one point. Like a rodent on some freaking wheel. Spinning and spinning and getting nowhere.
Isshin sighs. “I am,” he admits like it takes great effort to tell the truth even though he’s standing right in front of Ichigo with the truth so obvious that it can’t be denied. “Though it’s only recently I’ve returned to my full strength.”
Anger burns so brightly, so hotly, that it turns cold inside of Ichigo. A certifiable wave of ice that crashes over him. Only to heat back to boiling.
“And you think now is the best time to tell me,” Ichigo shoots back, eyes narrowed to thin slits. “Great, Dad. I feel so freakin’ relieved. Never mind that I could’ve used it years ago. You know, when it actually mattered.”
Isshin takes a step forward, hands clenching into fists at his side. Ichigo can’t find it him to pity the bastard.
“Things were different then.”
“Oh, I’m sure.” Ichigo rolls his eyes as a sharp bark of laughter escaping his lips, dark and mocking. “It must’ve been a riot. Watching me stumble around thinking I’m the only freak who sees ghosts. Thinking I need to risk everything to protect my family because I’m the only one who can. Bearing everything by myself because there’s no way my dad would understand. How could he? Shinigami and Hollows and Soul Society. It sounds crazy, right. Right?”
Ichigo’s shaking now. His body trembles so fiercely he fears violence will soon ensue. He struggles to pull in his lashing reiatsu, and his chest aches. Just under his sternum. A hard knot that vibrates inside of him. And somewhere from behind, he hears footsteps approach and recognizes Shinji and Kisuke.
Oh, that bastard. He knew. He had to have known. There’s no way his lover didn’t know. And Kisuke couldn’t be bothered to share that information either.
Ichigo twists his jaw, but he doesn’t spare a glance behind him. Kisuke, he’ll deal with that lying shit later. Right now, the man in front of Ichigo deserves his whole attention. Isshin’s saying something, but Ichigo’s not sure what. He cuts him off with a tight shake of his head.
“It must have been so fucking hilarious.”
And Kisuke makes a noise behind him, but Ichigo ignores that, too.
“Did you two talk about it? Laugh behind my back? Did you like watching me struggle? Watching me wander around trying to understand why I’m such a fucking freak?”
Isshin shakes his head, taking another firm step forward. “It wasn’t like that,” he says, finally finding his voice. “I just… I didn’t know what to say. How could I tell you?”
Oh, no. Oh, hell no. Isshin is not going to play that card. Not when it was easy for him to tell that something had happened with Ichigo. Not when he knew the connection between them. Not like Ichigo, who debated for long hours with himself as to whether he could tell his father or not. Whether he could trust that he wouldn’t be thrown into a mental ward or dismissed as a liar. He managed to tell Karin after all, and he would’ve told Isshin too if he thought he’d be believed.
“Very easily,” Ichigo snarls, and he can’t hold himself back anymore.
His reiatsu is a violent force around him, lashing and whipping. He feels a tentative brush of Benihime against the angry tendrils. But Zangetsu draws away from her, rejecting the comfort. Not from Kisuke. Not right now.
“Something like ‘Hey, son. I’m really a fucking Shinigami. Isn’t that nice to know?’ would’ve been a start.”
Isshin flinches. But whether from the vehemence of Ichigo’s stare or the rising weight of reiatsu in the room, Ichigo doesn’t know. Doesn’t care.
“It wasn’t that simple.”
“Not that simple?”
Ichigo laughs again, lacking any humor, lacking any restraint. There’s something inside of him, whirling and spinning, refusing to settle. Though he supposes this is what he gets for trying to demand answers. Here they are, right in front of him, wrapped in Shinigami black.
“It’s always been that simple,” he all but shouts. “Four little words. ‘I am a Shinigami.’ After that, the rest would have been easy.”
Isshin’s starting to resemble a trapped rat. His eyes dart around nervously, his expression twisted and tight.
“There was never a good time,” he says slowly.
Something inside of Ichigo twitches violently. Never a good time? What the hell is that supposed to mean? The past is full of perfect moments. Perfect times when Isshin could’ve stepped out of the shadows to offer an arm or a shoulder or some sort of moral support.
The first time Ichigo saw a Hollow. After his mother’s death. After meeting Rukia. When they were attacked at his mom’s grave. Before he went to Soul Society. After Toushirou and his team were assigned to Karakura. When he started having problems with Shirosaki. At any time during the war when he had nothing better to do but lie somewhere and heal or wait for Inoue to regain her strength long enough to tend to him.
Or even afterwards. When he had nightmares so badly that he woke tasting blood on his tongue. Nightmares so noisy that he thought it better to live on his own while finishing out school rather than where he’d scare Karin and Yuzu.
So many opportunities. The past swims with them. And yet, Isshin has the gall to say there was never a good time.
Isshin looks pained, desperate. Strange that Ichigo still can’t find it in him to care. Even when Isshin starts pleading with a pointed look to the audience surrounding them. All the Vizard. Kisuke. Nel. Aizen.
“Can we talk about this somewhere else?”
Ichigo gives him a look. “Hell, no. You had your chance for privacy,” he grits out through clenched teeth. If he has to learn like this, then everyone else can see how much of an asshole Isshin is. “I want them to hear this!”
“I’d like to hear it,” a voice comments from the side.
Ichigo glances her direction, easily identifying Lisa. There’s a strange look on her face. One he can’t interpret.
Isshin glares at her before looking back at Ichigo. “This is a matter between family, son.”
His voice is slow and careful. Like Ichigo’s nine years old again, haunted by memories of his mother’s death and how they must be his fault. Because he didn’t protect her like he was supposed to. Didn’t protect her like his father had always taught him to do.
“Oh. So now I’m your son,” Ichigo says and flicks a hand around the room, gesturing to their audience. “Only when you’re too embarrassed to deny it.”
Behind him, Kisuke stirs. As though finally deciding it’s time he opened his mouth.
Whirling, Ichigo fixes him with a firm glare. One cold enough that even Toushirou and Kuchiki Byakuya would be proud.
“Not. A. Word,” Ichigo hisses because Kisuke’s going to get his soon enough. “You knew and never said a damned thing. So I don’t want to hear it.”
His lover shakes his head, eyes dark and unreadable beneath the brim of his hat. “It wasn’t my place.” One hand is curled around Benihime, and it tightens then. “He’s my friend and has been for a long time.”
Ichigo feels himself twitch again. For the moment, Isshin is forgotten as that sinks in. As the implications sink in. And Ichigo starts to see everything in a new and exceedingly disturbing light.
“So you can fucking sleep in my bed and fuck me in it too, but you can’t even be bothered to tell me you know my dad?”
Dead, stabbed through the heart, ground into dust, scattered to the four winds silence grips the room, but it’s punctuated by a few startled gasps. Yes, their relationship was largely known, but neither he nor Kisuke had come out and said it. And now, Ichigo’s practically screamed it from the rooftop. But even with that, the only ones surprised are Isshin and maybe Hiyori. The first doesn’t know or understand Ichigo at all and the second likes to live in a happy little land of denial when it comes to anything approaching sex. Probably comes from living so long with Shinji, Lisa, and Mashiro.
But then, Isshin lets out a low growl. A glance over his shoulder shows that his so-called father has paled, eyes narrowing into thin slits that focus Kisuke’s direction.
“You stay out of this,” Ichigo growls, not about to start an argument about who he chooses to make his boyfriend. He turns back toward the man who’s supposed to be his lover. “Answer me.”
Kisuke straightens, more adept at handling Ichigo’s temper. And far too skilled at hiding his secrets and his plots and the truth. At blurring the lines. At muddling them together until Ichigo can’t even tell who he is anymore. Much less the man who shares his body.
And maybe that should’ve been Ichigo’s first clue. Gods above and below, he was better off with Jyuushiro. The man might’ve refused to touch him and proved to be spineless in the end, but at least Ichigo could sleep next to him with a clear conscience and not worry about being knifed in the back during the night. And Ichigo’s fairly sure that if Jyuushiro had any clue about his family that he would’ve mentioned it. Even if only to clarify that Isshin is who he thought.
“It’s a matter between family, Ichigo,” the blond says, as though he doesn’t have the wherewithal or courage to come up with his own excuse. “He’s your father.”
Ichigo snorts, unable to stop now. It’s all out in the open anyway. No reason to keep pretending, to keep shoving all his thoughts inside and burying them with everyone else. If there’s one thing his recent circumstances have taught him, it’s that not even the dead stay buried. That Ichigo can’t run from the truth. It’s going to find him one way or another and then proceed to make his life a living hell.
“He rarely acts like it,” Ichigo bites out furiously, and he knows if he keeps this up that Shirosaki might just come out to play. “I’ve never depended on him for anything. I knew I’d never get it. And this just proves I was right.”
Kisuke stares at him, wide-eyed, as though he hadn’t expected Ichigo to ever say that. And apparently, no one knows how to take it either because the entire room is gaping at him wordlessly. Next to Kisuke, Shinji frowns thoughtfully. But otherwise, there’s a heavy sort of silence punctuated by Ichigo’s rapid breathing and sizzling reiatsu.
Ichigo turns back towards the man who fathered him. Forcing his hands to unclench. Forcing himself to try and calm even though he can’t seem to remember what calm is supposed to be.
“I could’ve used your help years ago.” And somehow, he’s calmer as he says it. As though he’s waited a long time to let that out. “Now, it’s just too little, too late. I don’t need you anymore. And I don’t want you here either.” He glances at Shinji, who looks back at him evenly. “I’m just a guest here. But if it were up to me, I’d throw you out on your ass.”
For the first time, an iota of sincere regret flickers across Isshin’s face. “I’m so--”
Ichigo jabs a finger at him. “You don’t get to say that.”
Another step forward, putting them closer now. Almost as though Isshin thinks this can all be solved with a familial embrace and a pat on the back. Of course, those would be a first. Ichigo can count the number of times Isshin’s hugged him on one hand and have fingers left over. There’ve been plenty of punches and kicks to the face in the name of training but little else. Not for him at least. Karin and Yuzu seem to have used up his quota between the two of them.
“Just give me the chance to explain,” Isshin starts to say, but he’s again cut off.
“You had one. Several years worth of them in fact,” Ichigo retorts, and the heat to his tone becomes very frosty indeed. “Why’d you come here anyway? Decide it was finally time to fulfill some parental obligation you’ve neglected all this time. Or did you finally take pity on your poor, ignorant son?”
“None of the above,” Isshin says slowly, carefully. As though well aware of the thin ice he’s standing on and how much it’s shifting, cracking beneath him. “I came to help.”
Ichigo snorts. The very gall of this man. To come here and offer that now of all times. Oh, he supposes that this very moment just happens to be convenient for the old fart. Now that everyone’s done most of the work, Isshin thinks he can just stride right in, swing a zanpakutou, save the day, and all is forgiven.
No way in hell.
“Isn’t that handy?” Ichigo asks, the sneer twisting his lips something ugly and spiteful. Something not even Shirosaki wears.
If his mother saw him now, she wouldn’t recognize him. And Ichigo hates that Isshin has drawn this out in him. That he can fight Hollows and Espada and even sit down to dinner with Aizen fucking Sousuke, but that his own father makes him want to commit homicide. Patricide.
Ichigo takes a deep breath. More to keep himself busy than for actual calm.
“Must be nice to pick and choose like that,” he replies finally. “To decide when it’s convenient to remember your only son.”
“I don't pick and choose, Ichigo. I'm your father. I love you.”
Does he now?
He certainly doesn’t act like it. Never has. Not unless it was convenient. When he’d ruffle Ichigo’s hair in front of patients and never any other time. When he’d loudly proclaim his paternal pride in front of Ichigo’s friends or his sisters but not when it was just the two of them. When Masaki had just died and Isshin wouldn’t look him in the eye for months – years – afterwards.
Ichigo glances at the gathered crowd then. “Oh, playing for the audience, are we? That one almost sounded convincing.”
Isshin’s mouth practically drops to the floor. And some part of him is vindicated as the bastard stutters. But Ichigo turns, unwilling to look at this man any longer or hear whatever he has to say. The rage inside of him is cold and chilling to the core, but it still needs an outlet, and Ichigo can feel himself shaking, each step wobbly and uncertain. He wants to scream or shout or cry or attack. Only he can’t do any of it because he’s tired of everyone seeing him at his weakest. At everyone and their brother choosing to kick him when he’s already down and bleeding. He doesn’t think the Vizard or Nel will. Not even Aizen, who’s managed to be unexpectedly silent up to this point.
But Kisuke? His own damn father? He wouldn’t put it past either of them.
And then someone grabs his arm. A grip that’s firm and unyielding. One that demands and doesn’t ask. There’s a touch of reiatsu, painfully familiar now that Ichigo knows who it belongs to. He honestly wishes that he still didn’t.
His hand balls into a fist without his permission. And before he can stop himself, it slams a blow across Isshin’s face. But at least that makes him let go.
“Fuck your explanation,” he hisses as the crack of knuckles meeting nose and cheekbone echoes around the main room. “Fuck your comfort. And fuck you, too. As far as I’m concerned, you’re just the bastard who was married to my mom. That sure as hell doesn’t make you my father.”
Isshin stumbles away from him, knocked half-senseless. Surprised and hurt all at once. Ichigo doesn’t care. He shakes his hand where his knuckles have started to tingle and turns his back on Isshin. Ichigo stalks away, feeling a buzzing in the back of his skull that’s growing louder and louder with each passing second. If he has to look at Isshin’s stupid face one more second, he’s going to do something much worse than punch him. It’s going to be violent and bloody, and Ichigo will probably regret it later when his head isn’t trying to explode and his heart doesn’t hurt so much.
His first and immediate solace is to think of his bedroom. But no, Ichigo shares that with Kisuke – bastard that he is. He knew; he could’ve given Ichigo answers. Could’ve told Ichigo the truth years ago. Told him that no, he wasn’t just some kind of human freak who had these immense powers from out of nowhere. That there was a reason he was so stupidly strong. He and Kisuke are lovers for fuck’s sake, and Kisuke hadn’t said anything. Had just pinched his lips and kept his secrets.
Well, fuck him. Fuck them all.
So no, he can’t go back to the room he shares with Kisuke. And Ichigo changes directions to head for the training room. Somewhere he can blast away this anger without hurting anyone who doesn’t deserve it. Somewhere Ichigo can leave those traitors behind in a cloud of dust and not have to look at either of them.
Lies. Secrets. Well, they can keep them for all Ichigo cares.
There’s an angered screech followed by a dull thump. Ichigo knows that voice though. Knows it’s Hiyori. And he only needs one guess to think who her target might be, especially considering the cry of pain that immediately follows. Good. It serves Isshin right. Let him get a taste of what Ichigo’s going through.
But another voice stops him right after he steps out of the room. Right before he can drop down into the underground cavern. And he turns, not surprised to find Shinji is the only one with enough balls to give chase.
“Don’t talk to me,” Ichigo says, surprising himself with his vehemence. “Don’t talk to me unless you’ve got some answers. Unless you’re willing to tell me the truth. Because I’m tired of games. I’m not playing them anymore.”
Shinji looks at him with something akin to understanding and nods once. “All ya have ta do is ask, Ichigo. I’ve never lied to ya, and I’m not about to start now.”
Ichigo stops and takes a deep breath. Puts a hand to his sternum to press against the pressure building there.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
Leaning against the doorway, Shinji folds his arms over his chest. “At first, I didn’t realize that ya didn’t know. I even thought ya came ta us in the first place because Isshin said he knew us,” he says quietly. “When I realized ya didn’t, I thought it should be Kisuke’s responsibility. He was yer teacher and then yer boyfriend. I gave him the chance. But he never took it. Then, Isshin showed up, and here we are.”
Ichigo digests that. He can tell it’s the truth. Besides, Shinji not saying anything is a thousand times different than Kisuke doing it. Than Kisuke not to give him a single fucking hint that Ichigo wasn’t as abnormal as he’s always believed.
“What else haven’t they told me?” he questions then, figuring that at least Shinji’s in a sharing mood. “What else don’t I know?”
“It’s hard to say,” Shinji admits with a shrug. “‘Cause I don’t know what you’ve been told. Some of it I can’t tell ya because I don’t know myself. But I’ll give ya what I can. It’s about time someone did.”
Ichigo snorts. “I’ll let you know when I’m calm enough to listen,” he says, turning back towards the underground room and lifting the hatch with an audible creak.
Shinji watches him, gaze steady and understanding. “We’re here for ya,” he comments softly, tone strange in that it lacks all edge of humor or veiled anger. Which makes Ichigo think Shinji’s so damn furious he’s beyond the point of civility.
Funny how Ichigo isn’t worried about the recipient of Shinji’s rage. He doesn’t feel any sort of urge to ride to the rescue of Kisuke or Isshin. Not at the moment. Not anymore.
“I know,” Ichigo replies and taps his fingers across the edge of the hatch. He feels so tired; it’s hard to believe that it’s not even noon yet. “I don’t want to talk to either of them right now.”
Shinji pushes up off the doorjamb. Hands dangling loose and unthreatening at his side. But even Ichigo can see the anger rippling through his body, making his motions rigid. Making his reiatsu vibrate with tension.
“I’ll make sure of that.”
It’s a promise if Ichigo’s ever heard one. He nods his thanks and drops down into the underground room below, letting the hatch slam closed above him.
All he wants is to be alone.
a/n: … Quite emotionally charged here. Lots more explanation to come, I promise. This is hardly the end of certain confrontations.
Well, I hope you enjoyed! Comments are always welcome!