Author: Me. *facepalm*
Pairing: slight IshiIchi/IchiIshi.
Disclaimer: Neither the hair product nor the series is mine, damnit.
Warmings: First Bleach fic. Unbetaed. Depressing angst. Sentimentality. Death. Very surreal AU. A bit of poetry (not mine, fortunately). My writing, which is suspected of causing allergic reactions in some people....and extensive eye-gouging in others.
Summary: Based fairly faithfully on a dream I had (yes, I dreamed I was Ishida pining for Ichi...because I'm strange). Rather surreal. Ishida has left the group and lives alone in some old European city. It makes more sense to pretend they lost the winter war and Aizen has taken over the world, but to stick to my very strange dream ...the soldiers are Nazis. -_-;; So I tried to make it as ambiguous as possible. So, erm, let's just say that they're some random bad people.
"How long does a man live, after all?
Does he live a thousand days, or one only?
A week, or several centuries?
How long does a man spend dying?
What does it mean to say, 'for ever'?"
-Pablo Neruda, from "And How Long?"
It all began and ended, he supposed, with the cross. And ashes and dust and the sun from sixth grade bio, but there seemed no more fitting archetype of mankind’s and its derivatives’ worth than two scrawny sticks chafing against the other, awkwardly bound at incongruous right angles. (It would have been easier to simply tie them together, side-by-side.)
The cross it was, however. No Quincy would bear less into battle, or suffer death without it – more manifestations of that superbly illogical Quincy pride.
So it was that, the noon sun prancing brilliantly on the cobblestone, imbuing its familiar bumpiness with luminous golden hues; a breeze teasingly brushing his wispy hair into his collar, obscuring his glasses; a few playful sparrows overhead expressing how sweet their pleasure that the world was young and beautiful and alive – Ishida Uryuu thought of the cross lying quietly on his bed, and realized how pitifully he would die.
Ishida Uryuu knew, cliche of cliches, that the day would come, but still found himself surprised at its promptness. He supposed that fate was infallible and unmerciful; spinsters always seemed to be. Before now he would have begged the string-cutter to hurry up with it – just don’t let me see – but now his legs were feeling stiff and frozen, clinging to the pebblestones, dragging along not the weight of his sparse frame, his skin and bones and glasses, but an existence heavier than life. Briefer than love.
He glanced at his immobile feet. The bags had unconsciously slipped out of his hands, but luckily, only two apples had rolled out and were basking in the sunlight. What was he thinking before . . .oh yes, Dinner. Steamed fish, perhaps a tofu dish. He picked up the apples and carefully placed them back in the bags. There was a dent in one of them. He touched the wounded area gently to check; it wasn’t too bad. The tofu’s almost expired, I'll have to finish it this weekend. He started walking again, and found to his satisfaction that it wasn’t difficult at all. Just one foot in front of the other, step. One, two, one, two, one - miso soup then – two, one, two - and tomorrow grilled – one, two, one...
Don’t forget the strawberries for dessert. They had been extravagantly displayed in the store (beside the heap of overripe bananas no one wanted), glistening lusciously red in their plastic containers. Oversized genetic monstrosities, but damn tempting nevertheless. The most attractive ones are often the least sweet. But they were on sale, and he had not had strawberries for the longest time, and his deprived sweet tooth was an extraordinarily talented beggar. The last time, he remembered vaguely, was when he was at Ichigo’s house for Karin’s birthday. Orihime, Chad, and Rukia were there too – Orihime, beaming, with her cheeks stuffed full of chocolate cake, Chad eating his slice with grave sincerity while wishing Karin well, Rukia playfully bickering with Ichigo over some mundane matter. (And we laugh and cross paths like unknowingly anesthetized butterflies; who will listen to my bitter sonnets?)
The plain alabaster columns surrounding the central plaza, about four on each side, looked immense (they were also architectural horrors). For a fleeting second, the sheer whiteness blinded his eyes. When he glanced up again, the heat shrouding the upper air made their sharp, rigid outlines wobble and shudder.
In the expansive plaza center the meager townspeople were gathered, a murmuring, nervous mass that swayed from side to side as everyone fought to reach the interior. Young and old, men and women, the mayor and the numerous beggars, the storekeeper and his wife. The sunlight glinted off the plaza’s ochreous sandstone and the soldiers’ faint yellow caps and made him think of El Dorado and vast golden seas swirling around his feet, his dented apple, his bargain strawberries, Ichigo. There were not many things that did not remind him of Ichigo.
He motioned for a small period of time, and the lead soldier acquiesced, not in any particular hurry and assured of the impossibility of escape. It was not like he had anywhere to go, besides; the world was theirs. They had come specifically for him, but kings didn’t bother to gloat over the demise of paupers.
Outside the plaza, leaning his back on the column’s warm stone, he noticed that the world was startlingly sharply defined. The rooftops in the distance were intensely lucid, every crack, every jagged edge, every eroded bump. Every blade of grass, a few still aspirating the morning’s dew, gently quivering back and forth in the breeze. Light chirping quaking in the back of his ears like thunder. He closed his eyes.
Ichigo would have charged forth and died like a hero, selflessly martyring himself for the others. Ichigo, whom he knew would taste like strawberries and light. Ichigo, whom he could not kiss to make sure.
(The fragile bonds fastening together Shinigami and Quincy on the cross...who can discern their lifeless translucence?)
Their parting was anticlimactic. No bitterness, no tears, no charged words of betrayal or anger or passion. On a sunny day like this one, Ichigo leaning against the doorpost, hands shoved in his pockets, his crumpled t-shirt wearing a streak of chocolate cake. An awkward grin, an imperceptible movement of his lips. “Bye.”
Living, Ishida Uryuu thought, was a bit like crucifixion. It could have been mercifully quick, the pain in the chest collapsing in on itself and a millisecond later, nothingness. But crucifiers in the old days, whose profession was inhumanity, would place nails underneath the condemned’s feet to ease the pressure on the aching chest. The nails could support a young man’s body to endure for days - eternities longer what it should have been. Then the rest would no longer be fleeting, excruciating fire, but a dull burning whose beginning he could not remember and whose ending he could not figure out.
(A sacrifice of life. A forfeit of existence. Who is able to say, 'the latter is lesser'?)
Exposed in the sun, his thoughts ghosted up and down his spine: miso soup tonight; grilled tomorrow. Orihime, there’s only two cakes, you know. Their rifles seemed new, gleaming in the noonday sun. Ichigo looks idiotic eating strawberries . . . Not entirely unattractive though. His throat was parched. Damn chirping sounds like thunder. I want to do it, Ichigo. I don’t know why. An apple would be nice for his thirst, but I have to finish the tofu soon. He remembered that the baka’s lips had acquired the vivid tint of strawberries; probably just his imagination. Silly, it’s just one kiss. But...I can’t. Why can’t I do it, Ichigo? His cross was lying on his bed at home. A pity. Huh, where’s your Quincy pride now, Uryuu. Ashes and dust. The sun felt rather pleasant on his skin, and he smiled slightly and shook the hair out of his eyes. Don’t hate me, Ichigo. Bye, Ichigo.
Dying, Ishida Uryuu thought, was a bit like long-overdue reprieve.
Muffled by the vague clouds soothing the back of his hearing, they rang out like light raindrops replenishing an ebbing golden sea. Far off in the haze it seemed like a man's voice was mourning,
“I’m going to be a father, I’m going to be a father...”
The rain ceased, and the chattering sparrows, momentarily preoccupied with sprinkling the wetness off their wings, resumed their song.
I'm sorry I had to include the last bit- it was somehow in my dream for no reason. My subconscious is very....
One day, I shall PWNED the angst out of my subconscious! I shall pierce it with the lance of happiness! MWAHAHAHA! *hack* *cough* *blush*
I didn't really dream the entirety of the IshiIchi/IchiIshi thing - all I can remember is the sense that I = Ishida was thinking about Ichigo, just not entirely sure what. So I just made up some stuff ^o^ The setting was very disturbingly clear, though. And Nazis *shudder*. I think my pillow must've been
The poetry lines in original Spanish:
"Cuánto vive el hombre, por fin?
Vive mil días o uno solo?
Una semana o varios siglos?
Por cuánto tiempo muere el hombre?
Qué quiere decir 'Para Siempre'?"
When I first read the poem, with my nonexistent grasp of the Spanish language, I originally mistook "que" for "quien", and butchered the last two lines as,
"For how long does a man die?
Who wants to say, 'Forever'?"
That led me into leading Ishi's questions with "who" since the mistaken line infected me (in some ways, I actually like it better than the real translation...because I have no poetic sense ;_; Forgive me, Neruda!).
Spread the (surreal) love,
p.s. I swear I'm working on that dj. But since I was typing up my essay, I decided to just write something else while doing it, because I can't do anything without multitasking.