A/n: So, this was originally posted as one of the entries to Roses by another name which, if you aren't following me on tumblr and missed the memo, I've taken down to edit and post as separate stories in case I ever feel inspired to expand them.
This entry has been edited a little more, so it isn't exactly the same as when it was posted, but it's still pretty close.
If you want to read the other entries of the series, they are still online on ao3, under the same penname and series name.
Hook me up (on coffee)
He isn't fond of the night shift.
It's usually nothing but Drunk Tank duty and the associated pains in the ass involved with it; breaking up bar brawls, handing out drunk and disorderly slips and dealing with the noise complaints. Most of the time, though, unless he's on patrol, it's just a lot of processing.
If it weren't uncharitable and awful, he'd wish something more serious would happen while he's on the clock – a robbery, grand theft auto, something; anything!
And almost on cue, Yuzu calls.
She's in tears which sends him into a panic for about three seconds, and then it's nothing but platitudes and promises to be there as soon as he can.
The Captain, hard-ass that she is, is none too pleased by Ichigo's request to leave work early. But Soi-fon has a soft spot for damsels in distress, and Yuzu fits the bill perfectly. Admittedly, Ichigo lays it on a little thick – homesickness isn't exactly an emergency – but it's for a good cause: his boredom, and Yuzu too, he supposes.
Nonetheless, the Captain caves and Renji follows Ichigo out of the precinct with middle fingers raised in revolt.
Still dressed to the nines in his blue uniform, and pointedly ignoring the purposely disgusting faces his partner is sending him; Ichigo tosses his hat in the backseat of the police cruiser and doesn't feel an ounce of remorse for playing some last-minute hooky.
It's been a quiet shift.
Nothing but rounding up a few co-eds for public indecency near the bar strip. His hands are still covered in blue ink from fingerprinting though, and it kind of matches the way the sky bruises and bleeds as morning yawns.
The precinct's go-to coffee joint, Hisana's, already has some early risers blinking blearily into their mugs when he gets there, and despite the ungodly hour, Hisana is as perky as always, flashing a smile at the sight of him and saying, "Officer, you're earlier than usual."
"Yo," he greets, "How's it going?"
Hisana grins, sweet and unassuming as she says, "Can't complain, really. Where's the delinquent?"
Ichigo snickers. "Just me tonight, I managed to get out of night shift early for personal reasons."
"Personal reasons, you say," the woman prods with a wiggle of her brows that looks ridiculous on a woman as casually matronly as she appears, even though she's not even a full ten years older than he is. "Meeting someone?"
He snorts. Yeah, right. Just like his fleeting wish for a more interesting shift, that kind of fantasy is better left off as a fantasy.
Ichigo's accepted the fact that he's definitely the guy before Prince Charming, doomed to play the "Guy who let the Girl Get Away" in the rom-com.
Though that's assuming he'd even get to that point. With his Resting Murder Face and general prickliness, Ichigo doesn't exactly attract romantic attention enough to reel in his "Girl that Got Away". Honestly, with Renji as his partner to boot, it was a damned miracle they could even get the public to co-operate during a situation looking the way they do. Even sweet coffee-shop owners like Hisana refer to he and Renji interchangeably as "delinquent", affectionately or otherwise.
"Nah, Yuzu started at the university last week," he says, by way of explanation.
He's mentioned to her once or twice that when Yuzu had pulled through with her transfer from Karakura U to Sereitei Tech, that Ichigo was expecting it. He isn't one to question anyone's coping mechanisms but leaving town over a break-up seemed a little extreme. Compounded with homesickness and separation anxiety from leaving behind both Karin and their dad, it was bound to make his sister a little fragile.
Regardless, Hisana is far more prepared than Ichigo is and far kinder not to use it to his advantage, when she rings up his usual and an order of a jasmine tea latte.
"What do you plan to do to make her feel better?" Hisana hums.
"Well, that," he gestures at the drink she's making, "and I don't know? Maybe I'll grab a pint of ice-cream on my way home."
She shakes her head, smile amused even as she huffs, "Boys."
"Hey, just because I was prepared for this to happen doesn't mean I'd know what to do when it did," he points out.
"Well it's still sweet of you to try," she says, all sparkly blue eyes and approving smile, and inwardly Ichigo is glad for the stiff collar of his uniform in successfully hiding his flushed neck. He could never take a compliment, though fortunately, Hisana knew that well enough and charging on, "Speaking of my sister's around too."
Out loud, Ichigo groans.
He'd been lucky enough to avoid being matchmade since they met which he should count himself lucky for because Renji's been on so many dates over the years with Hisana's help that Ichigo is about ninety-eight percent sure that's why Renji can't fetch their coffee from here anymore, lest he run into a blind date he never called back.
And Ichigo likes coming here. "Hisana, we talked about this -"
"I'm not trying to set you up, I promise!" Which he would take with a grain of salt because Hisana may be the nicest person he's ever met, but she's also a terrible meddler, and an awful liar to boot when she adds quickly, "I just wanted you to know in case – you know – you run into her, maybe show her around, I don't know." Her attempt to look casual while shrugging fails spectacularly when it almost pops her chandelier earring out.
Sighing, Ichigo asks, probably to his determent, "How long has she been around exactly?"
"Originally, it was just to come visit, but now that she's got that job at the museum and is planning to move here permanently," she trails, giving him a look and a subtle wiggle of her brows. At his answering expression, Hisana pouts. "Oh, come on! She's been stuck on this research spiral since she landed the gig, and she never leaves the house unless its to go to work in the evenings to poke at stuff at the museum, but maybe, if she was asked out…"
"You just said you're not trying to set me up," he points out, and behind her, Rangiku, one of the baristas, likely returned from her first smoke break of the day, laughs.
"Bosslady isn't setting you up, silly, she's setting Rukia-chan up."
"With me," he infers.
"It's a loophole, super narrow, but still a loophole. Karin Pre-Law taught us that one!" Rangiku declares with a smirk, and Ichigo regrets having Karin visit last week to help Yuzu move. Introducing her to Rangiku was clearly a mistake.
Though, clearly, not as big of a mistake as giving Hisana an inch, "Please, Ichigo, you guys would be so cute together." She even pulls out the goddamn puppy eyes. Why.
"Why the hell would you want to get your sister attached to me, of all people?"
"You've got a stable job, you have your own place, you care about your family, you've got an ass that won't quit, and not to be creepy but I'm pretty sure you're packing south of the border if you catch my drift –" Hisana hip-checks Rangiku into silence, coughing over her, "Anyway – I just think – you know, that you guys would get along, that's all."
"Yeah, you've got loads in common," Rangiku says, undeterred, "both of you are night owls by profession, insomniacs by force, coffee addicts by consequence and frankly, you could use a little excitement in your life."
Ichigo pulls a face before popping a brow at Hisana. "Didn't you just say that she's been holed up in the house with research?"
"Yes," she says with a chipper nod, "on deadly weapons of history. She compares them with their modern equivalents for fun."
Well, he can feel his surprise, that's just –
"Don't worry, she isn't a troll or anything," Rangiku adds with a harder than necessary back-pat for her boss. "I mean, she's related to this short glass of water, after all."
"I'm not that short," Hisana protests.
"Depends on your preferred latitude, bosslady," she remarks with a wink. "Rukia's a bit taller; though don't expect a supermodel - I mean, we can't all be Inoue!"
At the change in her tone, Ichigo suppresses the urge to cringe, knowing exactly what he'd find if he dared to look over his shoulder.
Inoue Orihime, an advisor from the university that was renowned for her endowments (and her equally ginormous crush on Ichigo, Rangiku had informed one day), was probably lingering at the window, trying to casually look like she wasn't spying on him.
He clears his throat, trying to shake off the feeling of his skin crawling. Inoue is harmless. A little creepy and stalkerish, but harmless, nonetheless. "Fine, whatever, I'll meet her. Can I just get my order now? I've got my own sister to take care of, you know."
Rangiku claps her hands. "Ooh, are you looking to set her up too?"
The scowl that overcame his expression seemed frightening enough at the suggestion that the strawberry-haired woman only laughed again, seemingly having no sense of self-preservation. "So protective, some would think that's cute."
Taking the Styrofoam cups, Ichigo nods at Hisana. "Thanks."
The pair bid him goodbye, and just as he mentally prepares himself for the high-pitched onslaught of "Officer-kun!", he immediately regrets all of his short-lived fantasies for a more interesting evening when Inoue shouts instead, "He's got my purse!"
Fortunately, Ichigo's reflexes are faster, and he doesn't think twice before thrusting his drinks into her hands to hold as he chases the perp down the street and into a nearby alley, racing after him through the labyrinth of cramped side roads until he has the other guy trapped in a dead end. Everything from his muscles to his lungs burn with the sudden burst of adrenaline, but thankfully when he declares, "You're under arrest," he doesn't sound as winded as he feels.
Attempting to ward him off with a knife, the perp curses.
"Buddy, you realize you're looking down a barrel of a gun for a handbag? Just put it down, and this won't get worse than it is."
"Exactly, it's just a handbag," the perp sneers. "You can just call this a loss!"
Ichigo raises an unimpressed brow. "You aren't exactly in a position to make demands here, so let's just put the knife down."
"You don't even have your gun drawn; you probably don't even have one!" Before Ichigo can blink, the perp moves to try and tackle him, the handbag and the knife cast aside in favour of fists. They grappled for all of twenty seconds before Ichigo has the upper hand again with little more than a slight bruise blooming on his rib until –
"Officer-kun! Are you okay!"
Losing precious seconds and concentration to look up at Inoue standing in the alley with his drinks and a terrified expression on her face, is just long enough for the perp to punch him solidly in the face and send him staggering back. The perp shoves Inoue out of the way, coffee spilling everywhere, and makes a break for it, leaving behind his bounty as well.
Apparently escaping from a cop was more important than whatever was in Inoue's handbag despite the fuss, and as Ichigo gets his bearings to give chase once more, internally cursing at the thought of having to call it in, the perp yelps before collapsing in a heap at the mouth of the alley.
"I've been looking for you, asshole." Standing over him, a woman, short and dark-haired glares down at the perp, her own purse dangling on her shoulder as she levelled a small bottle of pepper spray at him like a gun.
"God, what the hell is with you people?" the perp complains, covering his face and moaning.
"You broke my phone trying to rob me at the museum, you jerk," she grumbles, and though her gaze flickers to register Ichigo, she holds her stance like she means business. "Don't move so this guy can arrest you, or I'll spray you again. Hands where I can see them."
Approaching the faded glow of the streetlight and the sun that's burning through the night, Ichigo feels almost embarrassingly winded all over again. Her dark hair practically floats in a halo of inky blue; the strands just touching her shoulder, her skin looks practically carved from marble the way the light paints her features in soothing sepia tones while her eyes look like a grab bag of poetry metaphors about oceans and skies.
Goddamnit, who had eyes like that?
"Officer," she greets with a curt nod, turning her glare back to the man on the floor that she had managed to incapacitate, and from the sheer done-with-your-shit expression on her face, Ichigo had no doubt she'd be able to do it again, pepper spray or not.
He clears his throat, cuffing the guy easily and hauling him to his feet.
"I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you, you meddling kid," the perp declares, glaring at the young woman who rolled her eyes and mocks in return, "Please, what makes you think you're villain enough for a Scooby Doo reference?"
Honestly, Ichigo might just be a little bit in love with her for that alone.
What were the chances?
Of course, that's when he remembers Inoue, trailing behind him, red in the face. He clears his throat again, "Hey, you alright?"
"Y-yes, Officer-kun. But I – erm, your coffee, I kind of – dropped them -" But she perks up quickly to say, "Ah-ano! Maybe I could get you new ones, and maybe uh - join you?"
"Its fine," he says, and really means it, "but I'm afraid you're going to have to come with me the station, I'm going to need your statement."
Nodding enthusiastically with her hands clasped at her front, unintentionally emphasizing her breasts, Inoue's momentarily dulled expression brightens considerably once more. Ichigo tells himself that her smile is blinding him enough that that's why he's grimacing. The perp, on the other hand, doesn't share the sentiment and is openly drooling.
The other young woman, on the other hand, looks severely unimpressed, and Ichigo grunts his agreement as he shoves the perp out of the alley.
"If you don't mind coming with me as well, Miss…" he remembers to say, as he herds the perp into the police cruiser.
"Am I in trouble?" she asks, dark brows furrowed.
Well, you could be if you want to be - No, shut up, brain.
Alright, sentences, Ichigo. You can do this. "No, I just need your statement."
"Vigilantism is a crime!" the perp shouts through the closed door.
"So is theft," Ichigo retorts.
"Did you get hurt?" she asks then, brows still furrowed with a worried lilt at the corner of her mouth.
"He got a few punches in, I'm fine," he dismisses, shaking his head and resisting the urge to rub his neck. Rangiku always teased that that was a "tell" of his, and he had no doubt she and Hisana were probably watching this whole thing from the window. "You?"
"I had the element of surprise," she replies, adorably smug.
"You really shouldn't have done that though," he hates to say with a frown, "much as it pains me to admit it, he is right about vigilantism." Though Soi-fon would probably pretend it isn't. The only thing the Captain loved more than damsels in distress was women kicking ass. Ichigo can see the appeal.
She shrugs, unperturbed, short hair bouncing across her shoulders. "Not if you call it revenge."
He snorts. Wow. Guess she believes in narrow loopholes too, her and Karin would get along great. Note to self: Don't introduce them to one another.
"Well, I'm still going to need you to come with me to the police station to get that statement, if that's alright," he continues, and she flashes a small smile at the way that even to his own ears, his words curl with a smirk of approval.
"Whatever you say, Officer," she practically sings.
"It's Ichigo," he takes the opportunity to correct – because really, what are the chances – and it pays off beautifully, her smile is shyer, but her gaze is steady and so ridiculously blue that he almost misses the way her lips move to offer, "I'm Rukia."
Maybe the night shift isn't so bad after all.
A/n: I'm on tumblr as everything-withered, and ao3 under withered too so feel free to follow me there.