_debbiechan_ (_debbiechan_) wrote in bleachness,
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bleachness

Fanfic One-shot: Quincy Legacies

I don't know what's the matter with me. This is the second story I've written in two weeks in which corpses play a significant role.

Quincy Legacies
by debbiechan


Disclaimer: Kubo Tite invented the Quincy; I only speculate about them.

Description: PG13.  The Ishida family on the day Souken died.

Warnings: A little gore, a philosophical riddle, and spoilers for post SS arc. If you know who Ryuuken is, you won’t be spoiled.




The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it. ~ Joseph Mengele





Thanking the two Shinigami who had escorted him from Life to Death, Souken walked into a room crowded with white-sheeted tables. Maybe fifty long tables, parallel to one other.

On the tables lay body parts. Arms severed at the shoulder, feet chopped at the ankle, some hairy things that could be scalps, and many unrecognizable entrails. Pink and white carnations decorated one corner. On closer inspection, Souken saw that the small crimped circles were ears.

There was no one else in the room.

Souken slowly toured the strange exhibition. What message could disassembled bodies impart? What was the meaning of this Afterlife display?

Maybe there was no meaning. Where were the souls?  Souken’s nostrils filled with a scent familiar from the Living World. He couldn’t place it for a moment, and then there was no doubt. It was the sickroom smell of incense and gangrene and rubbing alcohol.

The souls were gone.

On the very last row of tables glistened a pile of silver. Medical instruments? As Souken got closer, he saw pendants and chains. He did not want to believe it. Quincy artifacts. Crosses, stars with five points, and the rare eight-pointed flowers. The large ornate artifacts from a long-ago time and the small neat emblems from this century. 

Souken realized what must have happened.

“This is retribution?” he asked aloud. The Quincy had trespassed the laws of Soul Society, but wasn’t killing them in the Living World enough? Apparently, wiping out the clan did not wipe out the sin; here they were murdered again. Pieces of their selves arranged as if they had never been singular, separate persons. The many tables told of one clan, one debt, one punishment. Here, even here, in Soul Society.

Souken felt his neck for a pulse. This was Soul Society, wasn’t it? He had been killed fighting three Hollow, and then two Shinigami had come for his soul.

It had been time; Life was over; what was left undone was not his to finish anyway. Despite a trace of sadness over his five-year-old grandson having witnessed his bloody death, Souken’s soul had flown singing to the Afterlife. Souken had lived fully and expected Peace.

But Peace wasn’t here.

There, a pile of unpaired shoes with dirty insoles showing.

A little further, glasses with the lenses missing.

And so many dead hands with blood under the nails.

Souken’s heart clenched. Did Uryuu feel this way looking at torn flesh that no longer felt pain?  Ripped by Hollow, Souken’s own body lay in the Living World, but it would soon be handled with reverence. It would be burned to dust and blown into mysteries. These poor Quincy could not be any more exposed. Their white naked bowels were heaped on a far table.

“The last one,” came a high, dry voice from a far corner of the white room. “Ishida Souken, last of the Quincy. The last one, and I’m all done.”

Last of the Quincy? Souken thought it peculiar that the owner of the dry voice didn’t know about Ryuuken and Uryuu. Last of the Quincy? Humans called him that, but surely Divine Beings knew better. He bowed in the direction of the voice, and without looking up, said, “With all due respect, I must ask why these horrible sights are laid before me.”

“Nothing’s being displayed for your benefit.” The voice sounded annoyed. “You’ve just walked into the refuse room. After the dissections and primary collection of data, what’s left goes here, and my assistants pick through the mess and organize it. In case there’s anything I’ve missed.”

A laboratory?  That had been Souken’s initial impression. That this room was part of a laboratory.

“I seldom miss anything,” added the voice.

Souken lifted his head and, still not facing the direction of the voice, swept his gaze across the gruesome tables. He had so many questions. They were not the questions he had expected to ask in the afterlife, but this Divine Being seemed willing to talk.

I seldom miss anything. What was he looking for?

The room was so white it shone. Light glanced off the collected Quincy crosses.

After long moments, Souken asked softly: “Why?”

“What do you mean why?” the voice snapped back. “Why do we bring the guts back here and dig through them again? This is the 12th Division, Research and Technology. Thoroughness is our top priority.”

Jolted by the condescension in the voice, Souken looked up. “A Shinigami?” Undoubtedly this peculiar being was one, as evidenced by his black clothes and distinctive captain’s robe.

“Yes, I’m a Shinigami,” said the now embodied voice. He was like no Shinigami Souken had ever seen--black face, yellow eyes, giant teeth. His hat pointed sideways, and he wore a sword at his crotch. “Kurotsuchi Mayuri, military captain.” There were gold cones on his ears and chin.“I suppose you never met with the military during any of your summits?”

Souken had.

Long ago, a kind-eyed Shinigami named Aizen Sousuke, along with several Seireitei judicial leaders, had heard Souken’s case. He stood out from the other Soul Society representatives because he seemed to pay attention to Souken’s presentation.

The Seireitei council’s position was always the same: The Greater Good takes precedence. Nothing Souken said would convince the council that the Greater Good lay in Quincy working alongside Shinigami and saving more souls. His arguments were dismissed with the usual words: “It’s unfortunate that the Hollow in the Living World can not be contained by Shinigami alone, but Quincy have no business in the matter. Humans can not assume the roles of gods.”

Only Aizen, an unexpected representative of Soul Society who Souken never saw at subsequent meetings, had spoken words of hope. “In another world, in a faraway future, the Quincy may ally with Soul Society somehow.” Aizen had smiled, not in apology but as if he had a calm faith that all would right itself in the end.

Souken dropped his chin and looked at the floor, not so much as a gesture of humility but because he didn’t like looking into this Kurotsuchi fellow’s yellow eyes. They were dispassionate eyes. They stared like the eyes of all the Shinigami who had heard Souken’s justification of Quincy deeds.

Souken cleared his throat.

If his presence in this morbid room meant that he was supposed to plead, once again, for the Quincy, then exactly who would he be defending? The ones whose bodies had been dissected and whose souls had been evicted from Soul Society? Ryuuken and Uryuu in the Living World?

Aizen’s words rang. Allies. Someday. Even though there was only Uryuu left, maybe there was hope yet.

“What’s the matter with you?” asked the raspy-voiced Shinigami. “I was speaking to you and you didn’t respond. Either you’re rude or you’re a geriatric imbecile.”

“What I meant earlier,” Souken continued in a soft, measured voice, “was why were these Quincy killed here? Why were these … obscenities … done to them?” 

“Obscenities?” One yellow eye winced. “My beautiful experiments? Ha ha.”

“The Shinigami I met with never hinted of these … experiments.” Souken recalled how the council had emphasized the Quincy’s ordinary human-ness. “They treated us with courtesy, not as if we were monstrous Hollow.”

“Oh, the summits. I had no interest. Stupid business.” The yellow-eyed Shinigami seemed distracted. “Nemuuuu,” he called to the corridor behind him. “The specimen is here.” Then, turning his attention to Souken, he said, “You’re a little different. Not rude at all. Nice and polite, actually. The others right away would start sputtering about pride and dignity. Nemuuuuuu!  Little whore knows we have a full day’s experiments scheduled and where is she?”

Specimen. Souken was not surprised that he was going to be chopped up like the rest of the sinners. He would have withstood the prospect of this humiliation with stalwart patience were it not for one fear. Would Ryuuken and Uryuu would stand in this room too?

What is a Quincy? Identity is defined by acting and being and both.


Interfering in the business of gods does not make one a god.


On the table before him, a pile of stiff, shriveled hands challenged Souken to follow his thoughts.

Unless there is such a thing as a Quincy soul that is distinct from a human soul, I am truly the Last Quincy.


Then he saw it. The one hand on the table was half the size of the others.

Even children? What Afterlife does not forgive children?

Souken remembered Uryuu, in his little Quincy tunic, holding up his small arms and shooting an invisible arrow. A pretend identity.

Ryuuken chose to walk another path, but Uryuu still has to choose. 

Souken put one hand on the table and shuddered. There was nothing unsteadying about facing his own fate, but … Uryuu still has to choose. Souken’s shoulders slumped. He put a foot forward to keep himself from collapsing.

“Uh-oh,” said the Shinigami. “The old man is going to make a run for it, Nemu. You may have to chase him for a whole nano-second. Oh, look at how decrepit he is. The Great Sensei. This one isn’t what he was touted to be--we should just toss him back to the Living World.”

“Mayuri-sama.” The beautiful Shinigami who appeared at the door wore the most apathetic expression Souken had ever seen. “Does that mean I should take him now or not?”

“Stupid girl,” said Yellow Eyes. “I was being facetious. Please take him to the operating room, and give him his number. Two-thousand-two-hundred-and-sixty-one, I believe. The Last of the Quincy.” A cracked, dry laugh. “The last one and I’m all done.”

Was this the choice that I wanted for Uryuu all those five years? To identify with the Quincy and suffer this degrading end?

“Do you want the arms intact?” The beautiful Shinigami had a delicate voice but it was as unexpressive as her face. “Should I take care not to injure any part of him when I catch him?”

“I don’t care,” said Yellow Eyes.

The Beautiful One turned her dull eyes to Souken. “Are you going to run?” she asked him.

“No, no,” said Souken. “I’m coming willingly. Where would there be for me to escape?”

“Nowhere I couldn’t catch you.” The Beautiful One offered her hand like a mother extending her fingers to a child.

Souken could not help but stare at her face. He had once believed the most devastating expression that could be worn by anyone, young or old, was sadness. Sadness bred sadness. One unhappy person would make another unhappy. Now Souken knew that this face lacking sadness was the most tragic he had ever seen. It questioned nothing. Beauty and blandness made it tragic and horrible.

He took her hand. Has it come to this? That even the gods don’t care?

He followed the beautiful Shinigami out of the room.

-----

Triage rooms were being cleared away for office space. When the curtain dividers that had stood behind the beds were rolled away, the space was profoundly empty. No injured, no medical equipment, no nurses. Only white-sheeted beds that looked like hotel banquet tables. Like a birthday or wedding happening would be happening here soon.

At the thought of a wedding reception, Ryuuken curled his lip. Why did he always remember his wedding in times of stress?  It made no sense. That event had bored him thoroughly at the time, and there were so many other meaningful memories that could surface to assuage his distress.

He had been expecting the phone call for hours now. The beeper message that showed the number of a morgue or police station. He had been wandering the hospital after his shift-- not wanting to go home, not wanting to be unwatched when he got the call, not wanting the excuse to drop his façade of expert control.

Souken had died early this morning. As clearly as Ryuuken had sensed the razor skimming his jaw as he shaved, he had felt his father’s death.

The raging Hollow attack he had sensed too, as he always did. The prolonged battle and the nagging feeling that Souken was tiring. When Ryuuken was certain that his father was failing, it was too late to save him. Ryuuken had patted his face with a towel--sensing the soul leaking from Souken’s body, telling himself that there were critical patients to see this morning.

Souken made his own choice to protect the Dead; I chose to save the living.

Ryuuken immediately felt guiltless. He never had needed to rescue his father before; the Shinigami always arrived in time to claim the Hollow and cleanse their beastly souls. The only reason Souken was dead today was because the Shinigami--as happens with all professionals--were late. Yes, late. Very unfortunate. And now Souken was dead.

Ryuuken rode the elevator up to the burn unit and pretended that he was touring the hospital for some important reason. He rode the elevator down to Pediatrics.

It was in the cafeteria over a black cup of coffee that it occurred to him to check for Uryuu’s reiatsu.

Not there. Not near the body. Uryuu had not been involved in the attack. Ryuuken let out a sigh of relief, but then he checked the school. Not there either.

Home.
What was the boy doing home during school hours? Something must have happened. Had Uryuu felt Souken’s passing? No, the boy wasn’t that perceptive. He had no talent.

Ryuuken dropped his cigarette butt into his coffee. It made a tiny hissing sound.

This is all for the best. Uryuu will not be going to Souken’s house anymore. The old man will not be filling his head with romanticized tales of long-ago days.


Still, Ryuuken doubted that his son was going to abandon this Quincy foolishness easily.

He rose from his chair. If Uryuu knew about Souken and was grieving, this was Ryuuken’s chance to put the old man in perspective for the boy. A kindly man with some nutty ideas … Remember the good times and the useful things Souken taught you--how to cook rice and sew a button back onto a shirt…The rest? Stories.

A vulnerable, grieving boy would listen to him, right? This was Ryuuken’s chance to reclaim his son, to wash away Souken’s dangerous influence. Ryuuken would not be lying, persay. All histories were stories.

Souken was a kindly man with a bad memory, Uryuu… There is no such thing as a Quincy power beyond what you saw Souken perform.

Again, not a lie. If Souken was dead, then the power no longer existed. And there would be no one to receive the teachings.

Ryuuken half-smiled. The old man could never have imagined this legacy. The heralded Quincy aptitude for rationalizing away the truth (a talent Ryuuken knew he had in spades) would erase the Quincy once and for all. An arrogant clan gone. The slate wiped clean. The danger….

The danger to Uryuu would be gone at last.

It was at that moment that Ryuuken’s beeper went off in his back pocket.

-----

It was dusk when Uryuu lifted his teary face from the pillow and wondered where his father was. Not that his father didn’t come home late often. He worked double shifts, took unplanned trips to the far side of town, volunteered for one task or another at other hospitals. But usually there was a phonecall. A message on the answering machine telling Uryuu where the cold cuts were in the fridge and reminding him to brush his teeth.

Father found out about Grandfather.


The thought distracted Uryuu from his grief for a moment. How would his father grieve? Uryuu had never seen Ishida Ryuuken look sad, let alone mournful. Uryuu could not imagine his father shedding even one tear.

Even if he found out about Grandfather, he should have called. Why doesn’t he want to check on me? Father is strange. He is not like other fathers--

It was at times like this one--when Uryuu felt baffled by the man who was his guardian, provider and authority--that he would run, hot-faced and breathing hard, to his grandfather’s house.

The thought that there was now nobody at that house brought on fresh tears.

Grandfather, grandfather. 
There was no emptying his mind. Uryuu could not help but remember.

Uryuu had watched his grandfather fight Hollow before. Such was the job of a good sensei--to allow the pupil to observe firsthand the expertise he would eventually learn. Souken never killed the Hollow. Soul Society prohibited that. The Quincy archer would merely fend off the monsters until the Shinigami could arrive.

This time the Shinigami did not come.

Why hadn’t they come? Obviously Quincy skill was better than Shinigami skill. Sensei was never, ever slow to detect a Hollow.

From his position behind a tree, hiding his reiatsu as always, Uryuu had watched the first Hollow rip a claw into Sensei’s shoulder. This is not good, Uryuu had thought. Grandfather had never been injured before.
 
Souken had shouted at Uryuu to run away but Uryuu remained frozen at his spot. Only cowards run away.

Then he had watched a person being killed, telling himself that it wasn’t that, only a very very gruesome scene. Sensei would explain it later. He would show Uryuu what medicines to use to treat the wounds.

More blood, a severed arm. One Hollow was about to take Souken’s body into his mouth when the Shinigami at last arrived.

Uryuu didn’t want to remember anymore. A strange feeling that was not sadness gripped him, and he stopped crying.

In the darkening bedroom, he walked to the window and opened it. The cool air felt comforting against the wetness on his face. A bright crescent moon and many stars lit the sky. He wondered if he could remember the names of all the stars now that Sensei was no longer around to quiz him. Suboshi, Hikitsuboshi, Orihime.

He would have to read books, many books, and study hard. That was what Father had always wanted him to do anyway. Father will be pleased when I go to school next year. I will already know everything.

But who would teach him the ways of the Quincy? Once upon a time in Grandfather’s garden, tears pouring and eyes smarting from vigorous attempts to brush them away with his sleeve, Uryuu had described his newly discovered sensitivity to spirits. How could anyone who heard the Hollow roaring not want to interfere? How could anyone not want to save the terrified, screaming human souls at any cost? I want to be a very strong Quincy, he had said to Grandfather. Teach me, teach me, he had begged.

Sensei thanked Uryuu for entrusting him with this information and for wanting to protect the Dead. Then he had said: Learn the history first and the skills later. So many paths are still yours. I’m not telling you that you have to fight Hollow. I’m telling you that to know who you are, you must know how your people lived and what happened to them.

No. There wasn’t any other path. The Quincy would not be forgotten, and Uryuu would teach himself how to shoot an arrow.

He walked to his chest of drawers and got out his cross. It looked ridiculously big on his hand, and he had to wrap and knot the chain around his wrist so it wouldn’t slip off.

It will fit someday, Sensei.


**

Akon took off his rubber gloves and slapped them on a counter. “Mayuri-sama, are we finished?”

“Yes, yes, I suppose so.” The director of research and technology folded his arms and looked petulant. “Nothing unusual. Nothing unusual at all. No special responses, no special skills. At first I thought that he wasn’t fighting back because he didn’t want to give away Quincy techniques, but even after we opened his skull and checked for reflexes…. Nothing.”

“All these subjects,” said Akon, “and we never discovered what makes a Quincy a Quincy.”

“Oh yes we did,” Mayuri snapped. “It’s a designation they make up themselves. Their spiritual powers are fairly ordinary. Many people in the Living World have them.”

Vice-captain Nemu appeared with her arms bloody to the elbows. She wore a bored look but no gloves or laboratory coat. “Anything else, Mayuri-sama?”

Mayuri considered a moment and then replied, “Test the new poison on him and record how long it takes him to die.”

“Yes, Mayuri-sama.” Nemu about-faced with a graceful spin of high-heeled feet and walked back into the operating room.

Mayuri sat, heaving with impatience, in a chair and pressed a button on his wrist. A ticker tape of information started to pour from his captain’s sleeve. “Nothing, nothing, nothing,” he said as he scanned the data. “Nothing except that this doddering, ancient specimen was a pedophile.”

“Pedophile?” Akon looked confused.

“Yes, yes.” Mayuri ripped the paper off his wrist and flung it to the ceiling. It spun down, twirling like a celebration streamer. “Didn’t you hear him screaming about the children, the children, it’s all about the children?”

“I don’t usually pay attention,” said Akon simply. “I examine the recordings more closely afterwards.

“The children this and the children that. Disgusting pedophile. And that student’s name he kept calling out in his feeble, whiney voice--Uryuu, Uryuu. He was quite delirious by that time and apparently debating with someone. He said something like I will not stop teaching him. I teach him because I love him.” Mayuri shut his eyes and inhaled deeply. “Disgusting.”

“I’ll be sure to highlight that in the report.”

“Oh don’t bother.” Mayuri stood up, knocking the chair over with his brusqueness. “I am finished studying the Quincy, you hear me! FINISHED!” And with that shout, he stomped away.

Akon could still hear him, though, as he muttered angrily in the corridors. “Finished, finished, finished.”

**

The old man had wanted a wake and so he would have it. But at the funeral home, not in Ryuuken’s home. The very idea of hordes of the mourning wandering in and out of his living room made Ryuuken nauseous. The babble about how kind Souken was. How he made treats for the children and sewed blankets for the poor. The endless chanting, incense-burning, offering of fruits.

“Here,” Ryuuken had said to the funeral director as he wrote the check. “I am, as of this point, no longer involved. Do not ask my opinion for anything. I’m finished with this funeral, is that clear?”

The identifying the body, the obligatory phone calls, and meeting with the funeral home had taken much longer than Ryuuken expected, and his head hurt.

He walked out into the parking lot and saw that the sky was black. Perhaps it had been night when he walked into the building but he hadn’t noticed.

Realizing that he had been too anxious all day to eat, he found a nearby delicatessen and picked up some warm food for himself and Uryuu. The conversation with his son would have to wait. Souken had pampered Uryuu. Let the boy wait for dinner. This death was going to teach him about the realities of the Living World. This death was going to make Uryuu a better man.

When he walked into a house that was dark and soundless, he was relieved that Uryuu was not crying. Uryuu was such an emotional boy.

He set the deli bag on the kitchen table and after a long while--too long a while, why was he hesitating?--he walked up the stairs to his son’s room.

He disliked entering the room. It was tidy enough. The boy was unusually mature in some ways, but those photographs, the tiny souvenirs, all the disturbing mementos of Uryuu’s mother--what use was there in clinging to a past that no longer was real?

The door was cracked open so Ryuuken pushed it aside without knocking.

Uryuu was asleep on the comforter, fully clothed in the white Quincy uniform, his eyes swollen red and tears still beaded on his eyelashes. There was a Quincy cross in the palm of his hand.

Stricken with grief to the bone, Ryuuken took one step backwards. Loss, sorrow, indescribable anger. A feeling like his head was going to cave in.

Souken gave him a cross!
Ryuuken bit down his fury, resisted the urge to snatch the artifact away from the sleeping child’s hand. Not on the day of his grandfather’s death--no, that would be unnecessarily cruel and would not serve Ryuuken’s objectives. No, it was not as if his hopes for Uryuu had died today too. There was still time.

I will take it away from you later. Every day from now on, you will become less and less a Quincy.


Ryuuken shut the door, lay his forehead against it, and shut his eyes. After swallowing hard a couple times he could raise his head and believe what he had sworn to do.

I will take it away from you later.


END




 
Tags: chibi uryuu, quincy legacies, ryuuken, souken
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