The gross sound of feedback came from the old guitar amp Shuuhei got at a yard sale when he was a teenager. Grimacing, he kicked the faded orange box lightly before walking over and turning it off properly.
"Dude, you gotta get a new amp," Ichigo called from the other side of the room, his bass hanging low on his hips.
"I know." Shuuhei waved his hand dismissively as he unplugged his guitar and rolled the chord in his hand.
"You're not trying to sneak out on us, are you?" Shuuhei looked over his shoulder and reacted in just enough time to dodge a projectile drumstick. Ikkaku glared at him from the other side of his drum set.
"Yeah, I gotta finish this article and…" Shuuhei rubbed the back of his neck awkwardly.
"Those sound like excuses to me," Ikkaku berated, folding his arms over his chest.
"Don't be a dick," Ichigo defended. Chad nodded, but said nothing.
"Whatever, this asshole is always trying to bale on us," Ikkaku shot back.
Shuuhei shuffled his feet awkwardly and looked down. "Fine. I guess I can stay for a little while," he finally caved.
"That's what I thought," Ikkaku grinned and climbed over his drum set. "I need a break from this shit anyway." The bald man stretched out his arms, causing his shoulders to pop.
"Looks like I'm not going to get any work done tonight." Shuuhei sighed, but followed the rest of his bandmates up the narrow stairs out of the basement.
"I didn't realize how late it was." Ichigo said, stepping onto the small porch, looking up at the setting sun. Shuuhei shrugged on his jacket and pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket.
"Hmm," he put the unlit cigarette to his lips and leaned against the railing.
Ikkaku emerged from the house, carrying two bottles of beer, handing one to Shuuhei and taking a drink from the other.
"So, what's up with your boss?" Ichigo smirked as he looked in Shuuhei's direction.
"What? Nothing!" Shuuhei responded, almost too quickly. Panic in his voice.
"Oh?" Ikkaku leered between sips of beer. "Doesn't sound like nothing." Shuuhei felt his face heat up at the unwanted attention.
"Really, nothing is happening. He's always so…" Shuuhei trailed off.
"Screamy?" Ichigo suggested.
"Yeah." Shuuhei lit the cigarette, letting the smoke hover around him. "He's going to give himself an aneurysm one day," the raven haired man mumbled.
"Wouldn't that just make things better for you once you finally decide to fuck him?" Ikkaku added, barely paying attention. Both Ichigo and Shuuhei gave him a concerned look.
"How would that make things better?" Ichigo asked, clearly annoyed by Ikkaku's stupidity.
"You know, some people like screamers." Ikkaku defended, taking larger sips from his beer.
"What?" Ichigo and Shuuhei stared at their drummer, dumbfounded.
"If anything, that would be a detriment to the situation," Shuuhei added.
"No, it wouldn't. You'd know if you're a good lay," Ikkaku shot back, knitting his brows in frustration.
"I think Yumichika is too kind to you," Ichigo retorts.
"Fuck off, Strawberry." Ikkaku finished off his bear and went back inside, only to return with another.
"Seriously though, what's going on with your boss?" Ichigo pressed the issue again.
"Like I said, nothing. If he's not yelling at me then he's not really paying attention." Shuuhei took a small swig of his beer, grimacing at the taste.
"Unfortunate. Maybe you should move on, if anything it might make him jealous," Ichigo suggested.
"Yeah, that might work." Chad, who had been silent the whole time agreed.
"Who the fuck would he even be jealous of? It's not like I have anyone else lined up," Shuuhei self-deprecated.
"I'm sure you could find someone. You're not bad looking," Ichigo encouraged.
"Says the straight guy." Shuuhei laughed in spite of himself.
"Eh, you ain't my type," Ikkaku shrugged.
"Thanks, I feel so much better about myself." Shuuhei put out his cigarette and went inside to grab another drink. If he was really going to have this conversation tonight, then he needed something stronger than beer. Turning around, Shuuhei didn't immediately notice Chad standing beside him.
"Fuck! We need to get a bell for you." Shuuhei jumped back in surprise. Chad smirked and shrugged off the comment.
"Ichigo is right, you know. Maybe you should move on." Shuuhei chewed on his lip and stared at his feet. Chad clapped his hand over the other guitarists shoulder before exiting the kitchen.
Puffing out a sigh, Shuuhei pulled his phone out of his pocket. He felt his face heat up as he noticed three missed calls from his boss.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck!" Shuuhei raked his hand through his messy hair before attempting to call back. No answer.
"God damnit," He panicked before attempting again.
"Hisagi!" Greeted a gravelly voice that made Shuuhei weak at the knees.
"Mr. Muguruma, I'm sorry that I didn't answer sooner. I was in a basement, and the reception there is terrible, and…" The anxious man began to ramble his excuses.
"Don't worry...Hisagi...HISAGI!" His boss shouted his name to silence the frantic explanations.
"Ye...yes?" Shuuhei shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
"Calm down. Rose and I are at the chu hai stand by the office."
"Okay?" Shuuhei didn't understand why Kensei was telling him this, they never interacted socially. There's no way his boss would want to drink with him. With his mind racing, he almost missed what the other man said.
"...are you coming or not? Ha, Akon just walked in with Mashiro," Shuuhei heard broken parts of other conversations while he thought about it.
"Yeah, I can be there in about a half hour. I'm still at Ikkaku's and…"
"Great! See you soon," Shuuhei was still mumbling as his boss hung up. He stared at the phone dumbly while he processed the conversation. He listlessly walked out of the kitchen, his bandmates staring at him in confusion.
"Shuu?" Ichigo cautiously made his way to him.
"Fuck, who died?" Ikkaku murmured.
"Kensei just asked me to meet him for drinks," Shuuhei was still staring at his phone. The black screen seemed to be mocking him.
"Awesome! See, I knew things would work out!" Ikkaku grinned.
"Yeah, just don't take his advice on anything else," Ichigo grumbled.
"Whatever. What time are you meeting him?" Ikkaku disregarded Ichigo's comment.
"In like, thirty minutes," Shuuhei checked the time on his phone.
"BYE!" Ikkaku all but shoved his friend out the door.
"Good luck," Chad gave an awkward thumbs up.
"I'll be back later for my gear!" Shuuhei called over his shoulder as he departed. His mind was already racing with scenarios involving his own embarrassment with his boss.
"I'm going to fuck this up, I just know it,"the anxious punk mumbled as he kicked at the sidewalk while making his way to the nearby train station.
The ride wasn't very long. Shuuhei hovered close to the doors of the train car as he waited for his stop. Leaning against the back of one of the seats, he distracted himself by staring at his phone. Glancing up every so often to check for his stop.
'What if I make a fool of myself?' Shuuhei bit his lip as he thought more about all the things that could go wrong tonight. Before he could dwell more on the subject, his stop was announced and the doors to the car opened.
Passengers flooded the platform as he made his way down the steps and out of the station. Looking around in confusion, Shuuhei pulled out his phone to text Akon to see which chu hai stand they were at. There were a few in the area. It didn't take long for his friend to reply and he made his way over. Once he was close to the bar, Shuuhei spotted Akon outside.
"I didn't think you would come," Akon was leaninging against the building. A cigarette hanging from his lips, a lime green drink in his hand.
"Yeah, well..." Shuuhei trailed off as he made his way over.
"You should know, Mr. Muguruma is already tipsy." Akon didn't hide his sinful smirk as he said this.
"Oh, good." Shuuhie's shoulders slumped at the idea. He wasn't sure how his boss would act while intoxicated.
"It won't be that bad," Akon commented as if he were reading the other man's thoughts.
Shuuhei just grimaced, then awkwardly made his way into the small bar. It wasn't so much a bar as it was a narrow building, no larger than a hallway. There was a grimey table placed in the center, with older men scattered throughout the room, red-faced and laughing. The bar itself was at the furthest end of the room. The punk man looked frantically for his boss while he maneuvered through the sea of people. Getting a drink seemed to be the easy part. After he shouted his order to the bartender, Shuuhei continued his search.
"Hisagi!" He whipped his head around when he heard his name being called. Scanning the room, Shuuhei finally spotted silver hair bunched into a faux hawk. It looked like it was drooping though, from being in the humid atmosphere for too long. Shuuhei waved and made his way over, after apologizing to almost everyone he came in contact with.
"I didn't think you were going to make it," Kensei slung a heavily muscled arm over Shuuhei's smaller shoulders. Slumping at the sudden weight on him, Shuuhei's drink sloshed in its glass. Splashing out, it nearly missed Kensei's button up shirt.
"Woah, Kensei. Better be careful, or you'll have to buy Hisagi a new drink," Rose teased. Shuuhei just sipped his drink awkwardly, as the two older men started a conversation he couldn't fully hear. Before long, his drink was empty and Shuuhei ducked away to order another.
The night progressed slowly with Shuuhei drinking in attempt to gain interaction. It mostly left him feeling awkward and a little buzzed.
"That Matsumoto chick is pretty hot though," Kensei mentioned to Rose, as their conversation veered back to work.
Shuuhei could feel his face heat up as he heard Kensei comment on their clients' body. He almost missed the question when the two men turned to him.
"Uh...yeah. She's a great author." Shuuhei said, not really believing his own words.
"You think so? Her work is all over the place. It's almost like there's multiple writers and she just takes the credit. But, at least she's hot," Akon scrutinized in between sips of his drink.
"She does lack continuity, but at least she sells. And without that, none of us would have jobs," Rose half heartedly defended.
"You all talk too much about work. It sounds soooo boring," Mashiro complained.
"Right, and what you do is so much better," Kensei shot back. Shuuhei listened as the two bickered.
"Well, we did get a new guy in the parlor. His work is pretty good. But he mostly does black and white stuff." Mashiro folded her arms in a pout.
"Oh yeah? I'll have to see if he can do a piece for me." Kensei grinned.
"Shuu-kun, when are you going to finally get your lip done?" Mashiro ignored Kensei's comment.
"Well, I don't know if…"
"Just do it." Mashiro interjected.
"Sounds like someone is losing clients," Kensei teased.
"Am not," Mashiro weakly defended.
"I'll come by later this week. How about that?" Shuuhei said in attempt to stop the banter. Mashiros' face lit up.
"You're actually going to let her get close to you with sharp objects?" Akon teased. Mashiro stuck her tongue out defensively.
"Hey," Kensei slurred and inched closer to Shuuhei. "She did my eyebrow," he defended.
"I think you should get a different piercing," Rose smirked. Shuuhei's face turned a dark red at the other man's implications.
"I don't know about…" Shuuhei stammered, trying to change the subject.
"Yeah, maybe a nipple ring." Kensei grinned and began pulling at Shuuhei's shirt playfully. Akon leaned close to Shuuhei at that moment and whispered in his ear. Shuuhei, who was in the middle of sipping at his drink began to cough. Rose raised an eyebrow at the situation.
"Oh, what did Akon suggest? A Jacob's Ladder?" Kensei grinned wolfishly.
"I'm not doing that, pervert," Mashiro teased.
"Maybe you could talk Izuru into it. Pretty sure he's wanted to get into your pants for years." Kensei suggested.
Did Shuuhei sense jealousy in his voice? Was he getting too drunk and imagining things? Looking down,he noticed his cup was empty. Maybe he wasn't drunk enough.
Another round of drinks later, Shuuhei finally started to loosen up. The group made their way outside of the bar so that Akon and Shuuhei could smoke. It was a welcomed change in environment, the bar was becoming crowded and stuffy. Kensie's faux hawk was completely down now. Silver hair falling over his eyes as he laughed about something Mashiro said.
'Damn, that man is hot.' Shuuhei thought as he blew smoke into the night air.
"What was that?" Akon raised his non existent eyebrow. Shuuhei realized too late that he had voiced his thoughts. Although, after looking around, he didn't think anyone else heard him.
'The one time my mumbling habit paid off,' Shuuhei grinned to himself.
"Nothing." He waved his hand at Akon clumsily as he began to feel the full effects of the nights' drinking. Slumping against the brick wall of the building, Shuuhei took another drag from his cigarette.
"I think someone has had one too many chu hais." Kensei leaned against the wall and grinned down at Shuuhei.
"Yeah...maybe." The punk man could feel his face heating up and he worried his lip between his teeth.
"Come on, kid. Don't do that," Kensei's smirk grew. Shuuhei released his lip in that instant and pouted at the ground.
"Hey, Kensei! Rose is crashing on our couch tonight. You grabbing a cab with us?" Mashiro called. Akon sighed and pushed himself off the wall.
"I'll help her out if you get Shuu home." Akon flicked the butt of his cigarette and started walking towards the road.
"Thanks Akon," Shuuhei looked up with a half smile.
Sometimes Akon was to observant. He noticed Shuuhei's crush on their boss before even he did. His mocked surprise was evident when Shuuhei drunkenly confided in him months ago. Although, he could do without the subtle teasing. Sometimes it worked in his favor, like right now.
"Shut up and get home without dying," Akon said as he walked towards the pair watched their friends drive away in silence.
"So, do you remember where you live?" Kensei teased.
"You don't have to walk me home. I'll be okay." Shuuhei said rubbing his arm awkwardly. He'd hate to think he was inconveniencing anyone.
"I don't mind. Live close by anyway," Kensei placed his arm around Shuuhei's slim waist and wrapped one of his lanky arms over his shoulder, putting most of the smaller man's body weight on him.
"Let's go." Kensei began carrying Shuuhei in the direction of his apartment.
It didn't surprise Shuuhei that he woke up alone, and in the clothes he wore last night. What did surprise him, however was the loud banging coming from the hallway.
"What in the actual fuck?" Shuuhei groaned to himself as he tried to bury his face in his pillow. Another loud thud had him on his feet and walking out of his apartment to investigate.
What Shuuhei found made more sense than his sleep brain was trying to rationalize. There was a small group of movers carrying boxes to the (no longer) vacant apartment next door.
"It's too early for this shit." He closed his door and walked back to his bedroom.
Noticing the glass of water and two light blue pills placed on his nightstand made Shuuhei smile.
"Kensei was in my room!" Shuuhei gushed to himself. "And I sound like a thirteen year old girl," he immediately scolded.
Taking the pills and changing into pajamas, Shuuhei tried to find sleep. He was almost there when there was a knock at the door. Barely opening his eyes, Shuuhei pulled himself from his bed and to the door.
Standing in his doorway was an attractive redhead with black tribal tattooes. He wore a tight fitting grey t-shirt and a wolfish grin. Shuuhei knew that if he weren't so sleep deprived, he would be gawking.
"Uh...hi. I'm Renji Abarai, your new neighbor."
"Fuck," Shuuhei mumbled. The stuffy basement hummed with feedback of the amp as Shuuhei unplugged his guitar and began packing up his things. Practice had run late again and it felt like it was about to rain. Rubbing the scar on his face in annoyance and stuffing cables into his guitar case, he made his way to the door.
"Hey, don't think that you're sneaking out on us again!" Ikkaku yelled from behind the drum set. Shuuhei dodged a projectile drum stick and shrugged off his guitar strap.
"Let him leave, it's not like we're really doing anything." Ichigo interjected, his bass hanging low on his hips. Ikkaku slumped in his seat and rolled his eyes.