Title: Investigative - Part Two
Pairing: IshiHime. Ain't they cute? *pinches cheeks and dodges arrows*
Warnings: Angsty Uryuu is angsty. Otherwise some rather mild swearing...nothing to get panties in a bunch about - unless you enjoy that sort of thing.
Summary: Ulquiorra hungers for the story of a mysterious run away.
Author's Notes: D sharp. A minor. Quarter pause. Middle C. (Also, thank you for the sharp eye, la_kalaka!)
Part One - here
The young man turned the collar of his jacket up against the cold damp of the night air and turned a dark corner. The majority of his attention focused on his surroundings, as only a fool would wander these streets after sunset without due vigilance.
The mob, with its elderly don, and street gangs, lead by a brutal blue-haired man not much older than Ishida himself, where constantly battling to lay claim to this particular turf. The cops were no better. If one somehow insulted the crooked chief detective, they had better start sleeping with one eye open. This sapphire eyed man steered clear of the whole lot of them as best he could. Pool-sharking in his spare time was one thing, but street politicking was something best left untouched in his book.
His thoughts where not on the inner workings of the dangerous world he’s lived in for the better part of seven years, however. The confrontation in the bar had left a sour taste in his mouth, and a blade lodged deeply in his aching heart. He had the feeling he knew the unexpected stranger when he first saw him, and a single glance at the card later thrust into his hand had confirmed Uryuu’s suspicions .
Ulquiorra Cifer – muckraker extraordinaire, unveiler of corruption, destroyer of families.
Uryuu knew these facts intimately. It had happened to the Ishidas when he was but an innocent boy.
His father had owned a number of hospitals throughout the metro, one of which happened to be headed by a man more concerned with his pocketbook than the care of his patients. The administrator had been heading that hospital for close to five years before Ryuuken had finally been made aware of the funds mysteriously disappearing from equipment maintenance and employee salary. Before the owner could do anything about it, Ulquiorra’s scathing article had been published in one of the most popular periodicals in the country.
From there, the small family had been faced with a bombardment of media vultures, lawyers and death threats. Even the strongest clan would have strained under the sudden burden, but there had already been deep divides between generations. The added pressure only tore those fissures wider.
Uryuu had been sent to live with his grandfather for the worst of it, but when he returned, he found his mother had become nothing more than a shell of herself and his father a cold, walled off modicum of a man.
His grandfather had succumbed to cancer barely a year after the boy’s return, and not long after, his mother had taken her own life. Ryuuken withdrew even further into the world of his career, leaving his young son to suffer the losses alone. Unable to stand an empty house full of empty hearts any longer, Uryuu had fled to the cold, hard streets as soon as he hit his teen years.
At the time, he didn’t know which hurt worse – the loss of his broken family or the fact that his uncaring father couldn’t be bothered to even look up at his only son when the teen had said goodbye.
The youth scowled darkly as he pushed the door to the gym he was bound for open. Silently, he cursed the reporter for showing up and reawakening memories best left asleep. He would be damned if he let that bastard do the same thing to another family.
The musky scent of sweat underscored by a subtle tang of blood washed over him as he entered the open room. Free weights rested in their racks to his far right, while a punching bag hung idly not far to his left. Dim light filtered from the narrow, grimy windows topping the dull walls, and a couple of rickety ceiling fans circulated the dank air. The wet thud of boxing gloves impacting with flesh assaulted his ears.
He automatically grabbed a couple of clean towels and held them under an arm as he patiently watched the match between giants taking place on the elevated ring in the middle of the chamber. Yasutora Sado – better known as El Tigre in the circuit, and Chad to his friends – was facing off against a sober dark man Ishida only vaguely recognized. What was his name again? Leroux? Lack of familiarity did nothing to lessen the instinctive wince when Chad’s massive fist landed squarely on the broad jaw.
Predictably enough, the boxer went down with a resounding thud – droplets of red from a split lip spattering the mat where he landed. Muzzily, he shook his head, sat up and accepted a hand up from his sparring partner once they both removed their gloves.
Ishida approached the ring then and handed up the towels. “You ok?” He enquired of the stranger.
The man simply nodded as he wiped sweat from his face and neck. “Of course. Thank you,” he rumbled. When Leroux glanced back at Chad, Ishida could already see a massive bruise forming. “Same time next week?”
Stoically, Ishida’s friend nodded before slipping between the ropes and hopping down by the smaller man. “Hey.”
Uryuu slipped his hands into his pockets. “Hey. Hungry?”
Calm earthy eyes regarded him from beneath an unruly shock of brown hair. The fighter ran the towel over his broad chest and arms. “You buying?”
Thin lips curved in a wry smirk, but the shorter man still nodded. “Sure.”
“Sounds good.” Sado draped the towel over his shoulder. “I’ll get changed.”
Unaware of the observant shadow trailing them from a safe distance, the two made their way from the gym to a tiny café only blocks away about half an hour later.
A small but genuine smile lit up Ishida’s face upon discovering the doe-eyed beauty from the stage already waiting for them. He breathed in her intoxicatingly sweet scent when she joyfully threw her arms around him in greeting. His lips found hers in a warm, welcoming kiss. Somehow, she had a way of filling all of the emptiness left when life tore such huge pieces of his heart from his very being.
Chad grinned with quiet fondness at the display, then gently returned her affectionate embrace after the two lovers had parted. Who wouldn’t be cheered in the presence of the irrepressible Orihime?
None of them noticed the solitary figure slip in and claim a table within earshot.
Comfortable in their routine, the three settled in their usual booth. Once drinks were ordered – coffee for Uryuu, who still had a surplus of work to finish for his daytime tailoring job, milk for Chad and a strawberry shake for Orihime – the bespectacled young man lent forward and rested his forearms on the table. “Have any of you seen Renji around lately?”
Orihime shook her head with a delightful smile, but Chad nodded. “He was hustling the crowd outside the gym earlier.”
By ‘hustling’, of course, Uryuu knew he was doing the slight of hand the skater’d grown so good at. The youth prided himself on his practicality, but even he found himself impressed when their flamboyantly charming friend tested some of his tricks on them.
“Good. If you see him before I do, pass the warning on.” He paused when the waitress approached – a lively brunette who never tired of persuading her prettier customers to switch teams.
She set their orders down and before she could do more than cast Orihime a hungry look, Ishida dryly commented, “I think we need a few more minutes.” He leaned back and slipped an arm around the buxom girl’s shoulders meaningfully.
With a quick glare, the young woman tugged her apron straight, and relented with a faux cheerful, “Alright. I’ll be back for your orders in a little bit, then.”
Once she retreated, the lovely lady at his side gently prodded the dour young man with an elbow. “What warning?” She asked in a stage whisper, eyes wide with curiosity.
Uryuu sighed and caught her hand in his, then laced their fingers together, his other cupped around the warm mug before him. His smooth voice was quiet and sober when he again spoke. “The man who,” ruined my life, “almost put my father away is snooping around here.”
The boxer frowned as he leaned back and rested a muscular arm along the back of the bench-seat. “What does he want?”
Ishida blew out a breath. “I don’t know for certain.” Warm, dark liquid caressed his tongue when he sipped at his beverage and furrowed his brows. “I refused to talk to him, but if he’s snooping around our group, then there’s only one person he wants to find.”
Terse silence fell over the table.
“You mean,” the singer began, lovely, changeable eyes fixated upon her sharp featured lover.
“Yes,” the tailor answered softly before she could finish the question.
A delicate gaze settled on her pink milkshake, and a graceful fingertip traced a line down the condensation gathered upon the thick glass. “We have to protect them,” she murmured. “They deserve to be happy.”
Uryuu smiled sadly and squeezed her hand as he watched the finger playing with water. “Yes, they do.”
Chad sipped his milk as he watched the two. “It’s still possible for them.” The cup was set on the table by a strong, but gentle hand. “I’ll let Renji know if I see him.”
Ishida favored him with an exceptionally rare, full on smile. “Thanks, Chad.” For the first time that night, he found himself grateful for the strange turns his short life had taken. If not for those events, he would never have been lucky enough to find his new, mismatched family. Without giving voice to his words, he only lifted his princess’s hand and pressed his lips to the downy skin on the back of it.