Fandom: Bleach, pairing - Kurosaki Ichigo and Ishida Uryuu
Five related short fics written for the "Five Senses" Challenge on Stages of Love, exploring the development of a relationship through sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.
His hair is orange, his name is strawberry, his reiatsu is scarlet. That is his protective coloration. Kurosaki Ichigo is darkness, and his true color is black.
Black are his robes, and black his blade. He is an avenger, and he deals in death, but his is not the black of terror. His darkness throbs with every color of the visible spectrum and some that cannot be seen with the eye, only with the heart.
Ichigo's darkness is not the absence of light; his black is a surfeit of color, the pigments of youth, strength, hubris and passion, confusion, desire, weakness and despair. The colors swirl together and cannot be separated. His black overwhelms. He is blinded by its very opacity.
Ichigo is the darkness, and in darkness he broods about his life, his meaning, his destiny. Light will illuminate his heart, though he does not know that yet.
White-silver bursts of light, ivory bloodless skin. Clean white glove, bright white spirit, hot white arrow loosed in a bursting, blinding pulse. White robes bespeak purity; they disguise the feelings of shame and doubt borne by the wearer.
Ishida Uryuu cuts through the world in a swath of light, his edge honed by bright, sharp arrogance. Yet he fears that at his center there is nothing but empty space. Light may explode from his bow but as it shimmers off his glasses it hides his eyes so they cannot reveal how he doubts his worth. His light does not illuminate, it obscures. Ishida's cold light is like an arrow cutting through his own flesh, piercing his heart.
Pinned like a butterfly by the brightness of others' expectations and his own white-cold pride, Ishida Uryuu seeks shadows in which to hide, in which to gather strength.
He does not know, yet, that the healing darkness waits and yearns for his illumination.
There's a buzzing in the air, a constant high-pitched hum surrounding Ishida Uryuu, like the sound you get from electric wires. It's not something you can really hear; you feel it vibrating in your head and your bones. It's rather like a dog whistle that irritates dogs into baying at it.
Ichigo's never thought of himself as a dog, but as nobody else seems to pick up on Ishida's hum, it's clear something wonky is going on.
It's driving him crazy.
The frown line between his eyes deepens whenever Ishida's near. His jaw has started aching, because he's grinding his teeth. The hum has done nothing for his normally surly personality except make him even more testy when Ishida's around, which these days, given the Hollow situation, is pretty much all the time.
Ichigo's life sucks a lot lately, even without the Hollows.
Ishida's constant eeeeeee or errrrrrrr or mmmmmm or whatever the hell is coming from him has been going on for weeks now, ever since they fought their first Hollow together. Ichigo really, really wishes the Quincy would knock it off already, before he loses what's left of his frayed nerves.
So the next time Ichigo hears the humming start in his brain, and feels it vibrate through his body, he grabs Ishida by the shirt and shoves him against the nearest wall and shouts "Cut it the hell out!" right in his face.
Ishida draws in a deep breath through his long, straight nose and glares with cold blue eyes. "Back off, shinigami!" His precise, slightly nasal voice brims with hatred and all at once the humming/buzzing/eeeeee/errrrrrrr/mmmmmming gets louder, louder, LOUDER, so loud Ichigo staggers back, covering his ears. "STOP IT, Ishida! Stop making that noise! You're driving me crazy!"
Ishida goes silent, dead silent (except, of course, for the constant hum) before retorting incredulously, "Me? Cut what out? You're the one driving me crazy with that noise you make!"
"You know what noise, Kurosaki! That low throbbing noise! You sound like a…a…sick water buffalo, or, or a rusty engine—"
"--or some damn drum, Kurosaki. -- nothing but boom-boom-boom all day long! Would you quit it? I'm losing my mind!"
Ichigo blinks. "I…boom?"
"Boom…boom…boom. You're doing it NOW! Stop it!" Ishida turns away, his hands over his ears. "Please stop!"
"I'm not doing anything!"
"Neither am I!"
For a shocked moment they stand apart with pained expressions, regarding each other with suspicion.
Ichigo frowns and blinks.
Ishida's eyes narrow.
Ichigo stops frowning and listens.
Ishida cocks his head.
It's not so much a buzz, Ichigo thinks…
"Wait, not a drum…" Ishida says.
…It's not exactly a hum, either…
"Oh," Ishida says, blinking his eyes wide. "Really, it's more like…"
Ichigo holds very still. It's more like…
"A cello," Ishida says, looking at him in wonder. "Kurosaki. You sound like a cello."
Ichigo doesn't answer.
Because he's listening to Ishida's violin...
...and he's just heard their music.
Cicatrix: a scar or wound made in the flesh
Kurosaki shouts a warning but the Hollow is too fast and pain laces through Ishida's side.
Ishida Uryuu knows all about pain. Since becoming involved with the shinigami in general, and with Kurosaki Ichigo in particular, Ishida has been subjected to more than his fair share of pain and suffering. He's been clobbered, bruised, poisoned, stabbed, strangled and rendered unconscious more times than he can remember, even discounting the brain damage he's no doubt suffered by being bashed on the skull so frequently.
Ishida knows pain is a warning.
The weird thing is, he doesn't mind the pain.
The disturbing thing is, he likes it.
He's quick to point out to himself that he's no masochist. Pain hurts. He was raised not to be foolish, and only a fool would willingly suffer the physical abuse he's taken since he threw in his lot with Kurosaki.
The thing is, though, pain distracts.
The pain in his head/back/side/throat from an encounter with a Hollow/evil shinigami/soul-sucker/random malefactor distracts Ishida from thinking too much, thinking about Kurosaki, specifically about Kurosaki's hands wrapped around the hilt of a blade as he sweeps it through a Hollow, or those hands touching him, pushing him out of the way so Kurosaki can take the blow meant for him, or those same hands caring for his wounds when he hasn't gotten out of the way quickly enough. Pain distracts him from feeling too much -- not the sensations of his skin, but the emotions contained within it. Ishida takes the punch to his gut, or the stab to his leg, or the impact to his skull and for a little while, at least, he won't feel the need, or the hunger, or the desire to be touched. To be touched by Kurosaki.
Pain is a warning Ishida Uryuu has chosen to ignore, because no matter how much he tries, he can't erase the sensation of that first moment when, to save Kurosaki's life, he touched him and felt Kurosaki's soul flow with his own, their combined reiatsu electrifying and burning and consuming him as he fired arrow after arrow until his fingers bled and his own energy failed. Because in that moment he became part of Kurosaki, and Kurosaki became part of him. Because in that moment he was forever changed, and touched in a way he fears he will never know again.
Because the pain of that fear is far greater than any pain his body can endure, but at least the physical duress dulls it for a while.
"Ishida! You okay? That must hurt."
There is a hand on his arm. Kurosaki's hand. For a moment Ishida lets himself feel it, before allowing the sharper pain from the Hollow's blow to reclaim him again.
He yanks his arm away from Kurosaki's warm grasp. Blood wells up from his side; pain radiates from the wound to obliterate the deeper pain within.
"I'm fine," Ishida says. "Don't feel a thing."
Chemoreceptor: Sensory receptor that responds to airborne chemicals
The tang of copper coats the back of his throat.
He breathes deeply, inhaling damp salt.
Ichigo's nostrils flare at the scent of…something else, something he can't put a name to. Perhaps he's heard of pheromones in biology class, or chemistry – right now it's an intangible something he can only identify as Male Body.
His. And another's.
The faint aroma of ozone clings to that other male body, which is now, surprisingly, terrifyingly, beneath Ichigo's own. More than any other scent, Ichigo has come to know this one -- the smell of lightning, of the charged air before a thunderstorm. It is Ishida's scent, and it is stronger and more recognizable even than the salt of sweat or the copper of blood or the sharp cleanliness of Ishida's starched shirts.
Ichigo reaches with unsteady hands towards the unmistakably male body of his frequent antagonist, occasional ally, reluctant friend and – whatever else they are about to become. Perhaps it's the blood they've spilled that's drawn them together, or the sweat they've earned in battle. Or maybe it's power seeking its equal, like seeking like, lightning coupled with thunder, molecules battling and combining to become an element entirely new and far, far stronger than its parts.
A tentative and chilly hand slides up Ichigo's arm. Nerves shake Ishida's hand, just as they raise Ichigo's arm in gooseflesh. But the touch releases something else between them, a scent undetectable by their olfactory nerves but instantly interpreted by other body parts. Ichigo feels himself swell and respond to Ishida's simple touch; beneath him, Ishida's erection rises in answer to him. Heat suffuses Ichigo's body, and with a small groan he begins to move.
Atoms collide and regroup. Pheromones crash together. Sweat-slick bodies grind and thrust. Mouths open and gasp at the thick, charged atmosphere.
They are young, and eager, and overwhelmed, and this is new and powerful and relentless. In a mere blink of the eye, a heartbeat, a tick of the clock, it's over -- far too soon, but Ichigo could not have stopped if his life were at stake. With a rush, with a cry, they are both spent, and the scent of their combined passion saturates the air.
Ichigo collapses on the panting body beneath him. His hands fall gracelessly to the side. His nose burrows into Ishida's damp hair. He breathes deeply.
It's come to this—
They're on opposite sides of the bed, and for the first time since this whatever it is between them began, both are visibly nervous. Ichigo's staring at his lap and pulling at a loose thread in his trousers with an intensity of focus that makes Uryuu want to whip out a needle and thread and sew the damn thing up before the entire garment self-destructs. He, meanwhile, is licking his lips in an obsessively nervous manner, his tongue making an endless circuit of upper lip, lower lip, retreat inside, repeat.
The sex isn't the problem. The two of them have been rubbing against each other to climax for months, ever since that last time Uryuu got hurt and Ichigo bandaged him up and one thing led to another. Since then they've graduated to post-battle jerk-offs, desperate, feverish affirmations of holy shit, we survived and the need to burn off the residual adrenalin that comes from being teenage ubermensches. When they're done they lie there, sated and calm. Not speaking.
And then nothing happens until after the next battle.
Though they try to be discreet, Uryuu at least is sure the others know what's going on. Which is more than either of them do, because they don't talk about it. Whatever "it" is.
They've been naked together. They've touched each other all over. Ichigo has done things with his fingers that make Uryuu blush to remember. He's had his mouth places on Ichigo that oppose every lesson on hygiene he's learned.
They've never kissed.
He licks his lips again.
Ichigo looks up at him and scowls. "Will you just put on some chapstick already, before your lips fall off?!"
They've never kissed, and they've never talked about it. Until today. Until he put out a hand and stopped Ichigo from lying on top of him, like always, and said, "What exactly are we doing here, Kurosaki?" and Ichigo froze, and sat up, and pulled away and started picking at that damn thread. And Uryuu covered the bleak fear inside him by obsessively licking his lips while he tried to think of what to say next.
Uryuu looks at the thin line of Ichigo's mouth, drawn tighter than a bowstring, and wonders how Ichigo's lips would taste. Would he taste of blood and battle? Is there a special flavor to a shinigami's mouth, or would Ichigo taste like any other teenage boy, a mix of chewing gum and junk food and spit and soft drinks?
He slides across the bed and Ichigo looks up, startled, like a rabbit about to be struck by a car. "Ishi—" Uryuu's hands come up and grab his face so he can't move. He leans in--
--and finds Ichigo's mouth tastes of colors, some that have no name, and sensations that shouldn't have tastes, but do, like satin and fire and steel, and sounds, like music and machinery and heartbeats, and smells familiar and arcane, that intoxicate and stimulate. And Ichigo tastes of fear and strength and pain and pleasure and wonder and insecurity and need, just like me, he's just like me--
--and as Ichigo begins to kiss him back, ardently, passionately, desperately, Uryuu thinks that maybe, just maybe, Ichigo tastes a little bit like love.
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