If he let himself think about it he could still see the blood, bright and watery, running in thin streams between the blades of grass on the riverbank. Drops of rain splashed into it, diluting it, carrying it further and further away from him, until he could no longer tell where the blood stopped and the rain began. Amidst the memories of tears and raindrops he could still recall, with clear distinction, the drops red tinted water running along the length of one golden strand of his mother’s hair, welling at the tip to fall tap… tap… tap… onto his cheek.
It seemed wrong, somehow, that his mother should die. As if the title of “mother” should have afforded her some invisible protection, placed some ward around her which was unassailable and inviolable. Mothers didn’t die. So if she had died, it must have been because he had somehow failed as son. Mother and son: each term was dependent upon its relationship with the other. And if she had died, it was because he had somehow failed to fill the role which would constitute her own. He had dishonored his half of the bond, and in doing so he had jeopardized her right to the invincible quality that was the due of all mothers. He had killed her.
The exact logic of his reasoning was fuzzy at best, but it had made sense in his nine year old brain and a fog of guilt and perverse obstinacy had kept him from revisiting the matter. Only two things had remained with him: the knowledge that a bond of blood had done nothing to keep his mother by his side and the vision of her blood seeping into endless puddles of water and mixing inextricably with the falling rain.
Becoming a shinigami had changed Ichigo’s life in many ways. For the first time in many years he felt useful, valuable, more than just a punk. It had given him the means to help and protect more people than he had ever been able to when it was simply his guts and his own two fists. The one thing it had not done, however, was to bring his mother back.
Nevertheless, as he sat on the edge of the clearing, the edges of his vision blurry with exhaustion, Ichigo looked down at his own blood mingled with the first July rain and wondered if maybe, just maybe, blood was thicker than water.