This article, Mourning a Warrior, follows on from Awakening the Storm and serves mainly to offer further insight into the charactertistics of members of the Ryū Order. The first half is told from Kentaro and Kenji's POV while the second half is told from Averian's POV.
Although the situation was grim the atmosphere was jovial. Rivals rubbed shoulders with smiles, friends shared friendly banter, the beer was flowing freely and the smell of cigarette smoke hung heavy in the air. But Kentaro noticed the difference immediately. There was no Yoshiro acting the fool to cheer everyone up after a hard days graft, there was no Yoshiro gambling in the corner with the ladies and losing every stitch of his clothing he had on save his boxer shorts, there was no Yoshiro buying rounds of drink like he’d just won the lotary or struck the pools, and there was no one ready with a quick punch to all of the idiots trying to date Harumi.
Or so Kentaro thought.
“Get the fuck outta here! And if I see you again your face’ll be wearing the imprint from my shoe!”
Riki Nagakura was the only brother of Shin Nagakura – who was Captain of the 7th Division in the Gotei 13 – and it seemed for tonight anyway he was laying low anyone who annoyed an already upset Harumi in Yoshiro’s place. And he was doing a remarkably good job of it! Kentaro saw her thank him from a distance.
“I wish I could do more.” Riki whispered in an-aside to Kentaro.
“You’re doing enough.” Kentaro replied.
“You should talk to her.” Riki added.
And what would he say that others hadn’t already? That he was sorry? That everything would be alright? Kentaro couldn’t bring himself to lie to her like that. He didn’t even know what she was going through. Both of his parents were still alive and kicking after all. His Grandparents where long gone but as Kentaro had never met them there had never been much love there in the first place, except pride perhaps for their achievements. He couldn’t sympathize with her at all.
“Kentaro can’t you talk to her?” Akiye asked.
“What could I say to her, Akiye? I wish I could talk to her… but I wouldn’t know where to start.”
Apparently one of the people assembled had had enough of inaction and knew just what was needed. He approached Harumi. Jinta Kano, who was the much younger brother of Ashido Kano, stepped forward silently at first but soon got Harumi talking through inconsequential topics. He offered his hand to her and in no time at all the two where dancing and laughing at the back of the bar.
“Good man, Jinta.” Akiye acknowledged.
“Come on, let’s go.” Riki added with a fool grin.
Kentaro was all but dragged to the dance floor by Akiye and Riki took his sister Rika from her group of friends as he passed, despite her protests. The six danced and drunk the night away and took their turns keeping Harumi’s spirits high. Kentaro, for all his gracefulness with a blade, was shit at dancing. Riki and Rika where surprisingly in sync and where easily making everyone else look bad. Heck even Akiye finally had enough and decided that Kentaro was no good as a lead, so she took up the position and made Kentaro follow. Harumi and Jinta seemed lost to the outside world and they soon departed the dance floor to the seclusion of a far-off table.
“They’re great kids.” Momoko said to Kenji, who where both watching the scene from afar.
She was putting on a brave face for her daughter but Kenji knew Momoko well enough to know that she was masking unbelievable pain. Hell he used to fancy the arse off her and had dated her for long enough. He was one of the few people present who knew her on a level beyond friendship.
“… I won’t lie.” Kenji started with an emotional twang to his voice. “It’ll be hard. But we’re all here for you. Never forgot that.”
She hugged him.
“I think I’ll go for a stroll.”
It wasn’t a bad day though Averian was basing his observations off those of the Humans surrounding him. One and all walked past absorbed in their own little world and those who didn’t made light conversation with one another about the how it was so nice that the sun was out and that it wasn’t raining. Truth be told Averian preferred the rain. Somehow he found this heat too much.
“Maybe I’ll visit that café again?”
He found himself with a strange urge to drink this coffee beverage so he set off at a quick pace. It took him no time at all to arrive at his destination and when he did he found a rather curious sight greeting him. A man with a black cloth over his face was inside the main building waving a gun around. People in blue uniforms with lights flashing atop their cars stood outside.
“Please, stand back, sir!”
“I want some coffee.” Averian said, somewhat pointedly.
“And I said stand back! Or I’ll throw you in the back of the van.”
“Oh, I’d love to see you try.”
These things called Gigai where so fun sometimes! No wonder Kenji and his companions had spent so long travelling around in them. It was actually an amusing pastime. But Averian was beginning to lose his patience with the uniformed man and his demands. All he wanted to do was order a cup of coffee. Who was this idiot to deny him that?
“Okay, here is what is going to happen. You’re going to go away and I’m going to go in. Is that acceptable? Good.”
The police couldn’t believe their eyes or ears. The moment Averian walked inside the café he reached for the gunman’s arm and threw him clean across the room! He then tossed him into the street before taking a seat at a small table inside.
“I would like some coffee. Black, please.”
“He’s dead!” One of the police cried. “He killed him!”
Before anything else could be said however Averian quickly shielded his eyes from a bright flash. Once it subsided he ordered his coffee again from the waitress whose memory had just been wiped. He then turned to regard a Shinigami in regulation black, though who she was Averian hadn’t a clue. He put her out of his mind; she was likely no one important.
“Can I help you?” He asked of the Shinigami after her continued presence began to grate on his nerves a little.
“What are you?” She asked.
“The answer to that question, my dear, depends on one thing: how long do you wish to live, because if I tell you I will be forced to kill you, so do you really wish to know?” He said it with such calm confidence that the Shinigami took to the street, Averian forgotten.
“Now, where was I? Oh yes!” His coffee had arrived in the interim.
“Ah, it really is the small things in life.” He muttered.
The peace of the moment was broken when a figure with turquoise hair took a seat opposite Averian. Averian never took his gaze from his cup but it was clear the words he spoke next where for this mysterious arrival.
“I would get out of here before I lose whatever patience I have left.” Arturo said calmly.
The figure laughed in response.
“Don’t test me, Arturo. You will fail.” The look Averian cast him was murderous.
“Yoshiro Kazuki is dead.” Arturo exclaimed. “I killed him last night.”
For some reason that admission did not give Arturo any great amount of joy; only anger, which surprised him. Yoshiro was not as powerful or as clever as Kenji and Kusaka, true, but he was resourceful and quick. But above all that he was honourable too. He had also been one of the few to survive an attack Averian himself had led on the Soul Society personally, which was the same event which gave Shigeru Yudai his Hollow powers. If Arturo had indeed killed him so readily… then it was perhaps time to clip his wings?
“What you did was very foolish.” Averian answered, sipping his coffee. “Yoshiro was one of Kenji’s oldest and most trusted friends. You will not survive the storm you have awoken.”
“I have nothing to fear from lowly worms.” Arturo exclaimed.
The crack of a fist striking flesh would have been audible outside! Averian’s cheek was reddened from Averian’s closed fist. He even looked a hairsbreadth away from committing murder.
“You will show proper respect to warriors who are infinitely your better!”
Arturo, although shocked, quickly regained his composure. He stood and began to walk away but stopped short.
“We shall see.”
“… If you attempt to topple me again, Arturo, I will not allow you to flee this time. Remember that.”
The moment Arturo departed Averian drained his cup and stepped outside. He visited a small store that sold flowers and purchased a bouquet. He then closed his eyes and pictured the scenery of Horiwari in his mind. In mere moments he was standing in that realm overlooking many criss-crossing waterways. He then followed the residual energy signatures of Kenji and his friends until he found Yoshiro’s grave.
“I hope sincerely that you rest in peace, Yoshiro.”