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Forget Me Not

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Kurosaki Ichigo did not make a habit of visiting his mother's grave unless it was truly for an important reason or unless with the entire Kurosaki family once each year. Especially now after he had found out a few years ago that his mother's soul had been eaten by a Hollow.

No longer did that grave site hold any connection to his mother other than the remains of her physical body which her soul no longer inhabited and which had grown deaf upon her death. But, now even the thought that her soul may hear his words had been bitterly ripped from him before he was ready to know it. He was still young and the thought that he had no connection with her any longer in any way had at the time torn him up inside. It still did.

Of course, now that he had been to Soul Society he knew that it was unlikely she could have possibly heard his words even if she had not become food for that Hollow. But, at least perhaps he could hold the faith, then, that in her heart she knew even if she did not consciously know. It wouldn't feel so...useless, then.

But, right now, he felt the need to be here. To tell her, even if she could never hear him speak. It was still respectful of her memory to tell her these important milestones in his life. And who knew? Maybe the Shinigami were wrong and a soul eaten by the Hollows did not always cease to exist or whatever else they thought. They seemed to have several different theories on what can happen when a Hollow devours a soul. But, even Rukia herself had told him that not everything was known about them, so wasn't it then reasonable to assume that they didn't know for sure what happened to souls those things devoured? Or, at the very least, they didn't know if it was always true.

Either way, Ichigo had come here alone. He'd sneaked off from the house without informing his family where he was going. He had not bothered to even alert his friends that he would not be home that day. It was nobody's damn business that he was up here. Of course, any Shinigami looking for him could probably find him. In fact, he had the distinct idea that a silhouette that looked quite a lot like Yumichika was hiding behind a large oak tree.

He ignored it, figuring that since Renji had traveled back to Soul Society for the day to make a personal report to Byakuya, Yumichika had taken it upon himself to watch out for Ichigo. Likely because he felt Ikkaku was too uncouth to do it himself and might do more harm than good by following the orange-haired Shinigami Representative. Ichigo was fine with it, though admittedly slightly irritated, that they thought he needed looking after and also that he or anyone else dared to intrude upon his time here right now.

He sat down in front of his mother's grave, not on it but in front, and set down to the flowers he had brought her. Instead of the usual adornments for the grave that they put there each year, he had only a small bouquet of forget-me-nots. He felt the need to let her know that he had never forgotten her and that he hoped in some way she was able to remember him. He failed to see how any soul could just simply and utterly cease to exist.

“I'm back again, Mama. I know that you probably can't hear me...but I kinda wanted to let you know that I found somebody. It's a guy, though. I dunno how you would feel about that. I hope that you would approve and I think you would. He really makes me happy.” Ichigo sighed and looked at the headstone with the writing on it. He reached over and gently caressed the indention of her name which had been carved into the rock.

“You and I weren't able to be together long enough for me to find out what you thought about guys being with other guys, but...I think that as long as he makes me happy then you would approve. At least, I like to think so.” He added that last part as an after thought.

He paused for a moment as he felt a soft breeze blow by, rustling leaves in nearby trees and gently caressing his hair. He smiled a bit, choosing to this time think it was his mother's way of saying she was there for him in some small way.

“I love you, too, Mom. But, I wanted to let you know. His name is Abarai Renji and...yeah, he's older than I am. By a whole lot. But, he looks like he's in his twenties. He's...he's from Soul Society. He's tall and strong and has long red hair and...I guess he's kinda like a soldier. I don't mean to sound like a girl gushing about her school crush or anything. I just wanted to help you see him...since you haven't met him.” Ichigo blushed a little bit, vaguely hoping that Yumichika wasn't hearing the entire conversation.

He took his time to gently arrange the flowers nicely for her. He remembered how she liked things neat and either way she was beautiful and these forget-me-not flowers were a bit of a darker blue than most of the pale blues he'd seen in the shop. Not too much, though. But they were beautiful and unique, like her. And only the most beautiful for his mother, who had been so beautiful herself, could have possibly made Ichigo's list of possibilities out of the type of flower he had chosen to adorn her grave with.

“I just know that you'd like him, Mama. He's goofy a lot of the time, but he and I can argue a lot without damaging our relationship and...well over the years I've developed a love for arguing and teasing. He's also really loyal, so you don't have to worry about him being some kind of hoodlum or anything.” Ichigo snickered a bit at the thought.

Suddenly, his snickering became a slight laugh. He suddenly had pictured Renji in a biker outfit from the American 60s or 70s. Back when men slicked back their hair, wore white t-shirts under black leather jackets and tight blue jeans with heavy boots. He came suddenly to the conclusion that he should not watch late night television anymore. They had too many old American movies on.

“You should see him when he grins. He's got this devil-may-care look to it and I swear to God, Mom, he's got fangs!” He smiled. “But, not really. You should see him in his shades. The moron spends half his entire year's wages on those things because he thinks they make him look cool.”

Ichigo blushed a bit and paused for a while, before finally speaking again. “Actually...they do make him look pretty cool. But, I generally don't tell him that. He's already got a huge ego as it is, it seems like, so I don't wanna contribute to it.”

“I've made a lot of new friends. At least, I guess they're my friends. I don't know if they really think of me that way or not, but I feel like it. They're mostly from Soul Society. I've told you already about my newer school friends since you passed away. Keigo is still hyper and over dramatic, Inoue-san still has her head in the clouds and is kinda scatterbrained, but...she's actually quite a lot smarter than she lets on. I found that out ever since we all went to Soul Society together. I'm still friends with Tatsuki, of course. She hasn't beaten me up lately!” Ichigo said with a slight laugh.

“I talk a lot, huh? Well, anyway. I just wanted to let you know...that I really do love him. Dad's doing good, I figured you'd wanna know. He's just as hyper and irritating as ever. Karin and Yuzu are still their usual selves, but Karin has a boyfriend and Yuzu might be getting one soon, too. Dad's all weird about it and I don't know if he's trying to scare the guys away or if he's trying to scare them into behaving.” Ichigo said with a sigh.

He gently caressed the grass near the headstone. “That's why I haven't told him about me and Renji, yet. Well, one of the reasons. But, don't worry, I'll tell him. I promise. I know you wouldn't want me to keep something like that from him for long.” he said, before moving to stand up.

“Anyway...I just wanted to let you know about Renji, addition to being, more or less, my first boyfriend...he's one of the most important people to me. And, I couldn't let anymore time pass without letting you know about that. I'm sorry to disturb your rest, Mama.” he said, bending to fix the flowers once more, before stepping back.

“The next time I come by will be with the rest of the family. Until then, Mama.” He whispered, turning to head down from the hill. He still ignored Yumichika's presence, he didn't want to speak with him right now.

Ayasigawa watched as the orange-haired Ryoka teen walked away from the grave and down the hill. He waited until the boy was out of sight before he went over to the grave himself to see exactly whose grave Ichigo had been visiting. He had been unable to hear most of the conversation and whenever Ichigo addressed the person it had been too softly for him to hear.

He tilted his head when he saw the name on the headstone. Kurosaki Masaki. He wondered who the woman was. He only knew of Ichigo's father and sisters. So, he supposed it was reasonable to assume that it was either his mother or a sister that he'd been close to that had died.

However, upon seeing the birth and the death dates he realized the woman's age when she had died. By that, he was convinced this was the grave of Ichigo's mother.

“Why would a boy with Kurosaki's knowledge of spirits think that visiting a grave would be of any help?” he wondered aloud.

As he looked the grave over he noticed the flowers. Though they were small and could not necessarily be considered beautiful, Yumichika thought they were cute. He did, however, think that the color was rather beautiful. He was not familiar with this type of flower, however, and so he thought maybe he'd ask Ichigo.

He had no real hope of getting a straight answer from the surly teenager, though, so he figured the best thing to do was to find reading material or to go to a floral shop and simply ask. He knew how secretive Ichigo was about his private matters.

“Maybe...I will bypass Kurosaki and just speak with a floral shop clerk on the way back.” He said to himself, quietly.

Yumichika did, of course, have compassion and it would probably only upset the boy if he were to pry into matters that were not his business. Besides, he had been hiding in hopes of not letting Ichigo know he'd been around. Renji had asked him to keep an eye on Ichigo, as he was acting more surly and emotional than usual.

And, of course, Ayasigawa could simply not afford to have a sudden attack to his face by the boy! What would become of his beautiful features if he let the boy elbow him in the nose, as he frequently did to Urahara and even Abarai!

It would be a total catastrophe! With this in mind, he decided to keep a good distance between himself and the Shinigami Representative as he followed the boy home.