The war is over.
Aizen has been defeated, locked away, never to trouble them again.
Tousen is dead.
Shuuhei doesn’t know why this thought bothers him so much.
Tousen is dead, but he knew this would happen. Tousen was dead long before Shuuhei and Komamura-taichou had defeated him in that final battle. The Tousen Shuuhei had known at any rate. The man who’d taught Shuuhei everything he still knew… that man had died the day Aizen and his traitors had risen into the sky in the hands of a Hollow.
Tousen is dead and Shuuhei is the one who killed him. It’s not so much that he can’t accept the fact, just that it continues to reverberate, echoing around and around in the back of his head.
He trains harder. He trains until the blisters on his hands pop and bleed and heal and become calluses. He studies kido, memorizes spells he’d never had chance to learn in the Academy, and spends hours casting them one after another until one by one, he perfects them. Some, he even manages to cast without the incantation.
He meditates, spending long hours with his legs curled beneath him, Kazeshini braced across his thighs, trying to communicate with the stubborn zanpakutou. He tries to understand his fears of Kazeshini; he tries to get Kazeshini to understand him. He thinks that maybe, if he tries hard enough, he’ll get to touch bankai.
He trains with Renji, who seems to have the same driving need to work himself to the bone. There’s a shadow in Renji’s face, one that Shuuhei doesn’t dare ask about and doesn’t think Renji will ever want to share either. Renji’s shadow is the same reason he trains so hard.
Renji doesn’t ask Shuuhei why he’s working so hard either.
There’s no looming war on the horizon. There’s no encroaching darkness. There’s just the usual threat of daily Hollow, but Shuuhei continues to train anyway. He pushes himself, and ignores the place where Tousen died. He goes drinking with his friends and wakes up alone. He trains with his subordinates, and anxiously awaits the day they’ll finally assign a new captain for the ninth.
It’s time to move on. Tousen is dead and the war is over. Shuuhei trains, because if there’s one thing Tousen managed to teach him, it’s that he’ll never know when someone will stab him in the back.
And Shuuhei hates that Tousen felt he needed to learn this lesson personally.