Author's note: There's a summer-themed writing challenge at LJ's kurosakiclinic this week, and for some reason I got this ravenous plot bunny for it and had to answer the call. Hope you like it-- it's my first Bleach fanfic so please let me know what you think.
"I cannot believe," Ichigo groused, "that you've refused to come after Hollows with us for three days straight because you're— what is it you're doing, again?"
Ishida sniffed haughtily and jabbed the needle through the slick synthetic material once more. "I'm making myself a pair of swim trunks."
"What—" Ichigo stopped abruptly, realizing his voice had climbed rather more toward the shrill end of the register than he'd like, "What's wrong with your pair from last year?"
"Because I have grown since last year," Ishida replied, speaking slowly, as if uncertain the other boy possessed the intelligence to understand what he was saying.
"Why can't you just buy swim trunks like normal people?" Ichigo ran his hand through his hair, making it stand up even more than usual. Why did Ishida have to be just so damned weird?
"Tch," was the Quincy's reply. "There are certain garments that you can get away with buying prête-à-porter. That's French for 'ready-to-wear'," he added, the slightest bit of condescension in his voice. "There are other things, however, that simply will not do unless they are bespoke. That's—"
"That's prissy little bastard for 'custom-made'. I get it," Ichigo snarled. "So much for your precious ancestors, if you'd rather sew yourself a bathing suit instead of kill Hollows."
If he'd hoped this last jab would accomplish something, he was sorely disappointed. "Close the door on your way out," Ishida said absently, head bent once more over his work, and shivered delicately. "There's a draught."
I'll shut the door, alright, Ichigo thought savagely, and slammed it so hard it almost bounced back open again.
It was hard for him to deal with Ishida, who seemed delighted to thwart Ichigo's every attempt to pigeonhole him. He was thoroughly masculine when he spoke, and Ichigo had caught him staring at Inoue (more specifically, her chest) in ways that would guarantee a slow and painful castration if Tatsuke ever caught him… but then again, he sewed. And fussed. And his apartment was clean, as clean as if a woman lived there.
Aware of a dull throbbing in his head above his right eye, Ichigo decided it was for the best to put the issue out of his mind. It didn't matter if Ishida were gay or not. They were friends—even if neither of them particularly wanted to be—and so he supposed it didn't matter if he could comprehend Ishida.
Sighing, he left Ishida's apartment and went home.
"Are you sure he said he'd be here?" Rukia asked for the twelfth time, and Ichigo's headache, unabated since yesterday afternoon, evolved into a vicious tic of his eyelid.
Clapping his hand to his eye, he mumbled, "For the last time, you harpy, yes. Yes, Ishida is going to be here. Yes. How many different ways do I have to say it for you to understand?"
"Kuchiki-san's just excited to see Ishida-kun's swim trunks," Inoue chirped brightly, ever the peacemaker. She was a vision, hair shining and eyes sparkling in the July sunlight. In spite of the chaste, almost severe cut of her bathing suit, Inoue's figure rendered it nearly pornographic and Ichigo could feel his eyes crossing from the influx of hormones in his bloodstream whenever he looked her way.
Judging from the way the other boys were likewise avoiding gazing in her direction and focusing on innocuous locations like Inoue's earlobe (or, better, Tatsuke's deadly little fists) if they simply could not avoid addressing the voluptuous girl, Ichigo was not the only male in the area with the same predicament.
Didn't help any that Rukia was perfectly aware of their reactions and was none too pleased. Ichigo could swear that there were tiny demonic flames boiling around within the irises of her eyes. He averted his gaze, jerked in alarm when it landed accidentally on Inoue's resplendent bosom, and settled for staring dully at Tatsuke's fists again.
"Is… is that… Ishida?" Inoue's voice was tentative and clearly disbelieving. "He looks so…"
Ichigo raised his head in time to see Tatsuke's mouth drop open. "Yeah," she breathed to his amazement. "He really does."
Ichigo's own mouth fell prey to gravity as shock slackened his jaw. There, on the stairs leading from the boardwalk to the beach, stood Ishida Uryuu. He wore nothing but a pair of swim trunks, but what a pair. Fashioned from hot pink nylon, they should have made him look like the biggest, faggiest dork in the history of the world, but instead they made him look—
"Wow," Chizuru said loudly. "I'd hit that."
The trunks hung low on his hips, seeming about to slip off his narrow pelvis at the next breath, but yet were not at all baggy, and they somehow transformed the bony expanse of hips and waist into a work of art, all muscular angles and ridges. They fell not to the knee (jams were so passé, Ichigo recalled being told by Ishida at the very start of the project) but not so high up the thigh that they looked like one of those banana-slingshot things that were always so embarrassing (for the spectator if not the wearer) and revealed legs that somehow, magically, seemed to consist entirely of wiry bronzed sinew.
Poised with artful negligence with one hand on the rough wooden railing, the other nonchalantly slung a towel around his neck before lifting to push a pair of cool-looking sunglasses up his nose. Usually, the gesture looked impossibly geeky; now, it just looked unabashedly sexy.
Ichigo twitched at the idea, feeling mildly queasy, but a glance darted to the others around him confirmed that it wasn't him merely him suffering the disturbing thought. Chad, Mizuiro, and Keigo all looked similarly awestricken.
"Since when does he have a tan? I've seen corpses with better colour than him," Ichigo muttered as Ishida decided to leave off posing and started to make his way toward them. Even then he looked cool, almost pantherish, instead of how stupid the rest of the world looked walking on burning-hot sand in rubber flipflops.
"Oh, Ishida-kun!" Inoue squealed, bounding up so quickly her bust bobbed to her chin before coming to rest in its regular position. "You look so handsome!" She went to meet him, insinuating herself against him so neatly that his (rippling, toned) bicep ended up snugly cradled between her voluminous breasts.
To Ichigo's surprise, Tatsuke was right behind her and took up position on Ishida's other side, linking her arm though his. And to Ichigo's outright shock, Chizuru stood as well, intent to join the others clear on her face.
"Wait a minute," Ichigo hissed, grabbing her ankle. "I thought you didn't like boys!"
"I don't," she agreed easily, jiggling her leg to get him to release her. "But he's not like a boy… he's just Ishida. But strangely hot today." Jerking her ankle free of his grip, she aimed a kick at his head and loped across the sand toward the threesome.
"What the hell does that mean?" Ichigo demanded of no one in particular, hand clutching his freshly injured head, and gasped when Keigo's scrawny figure followed closely behind Chizuru en route to the worshipping of Ishida. "Keigo!"
But the other boy wasn't paying attention. Ichigo turned to appeal to Mizuiro only to find that one standing as well, a sheepish smile on his face as he brushed sand off his butt.
"Sorry, Kurosaki," he said. "But that really is a masterful piece of couture." And with that, he jogged off after the others.
That left Ichigo with Chad and Rukia, both of whom seemed fixated on the scene unfolding before them.
"Well?" he asked wearily. "Don't you two want to be members of the Ishida fan club?"
There was a long pause while the others formulated their replies. Ishida was holding his sunglasses over his head so Inoue couldn't get to them, and she was jumping up and down trying to get them, with the result that Ishida was almost smacked repeatedly in the face with her bosom.
Why was it, Ichigo mused to himself, that I'm the only one who sees that tiny little grin on his face?
"He's making me one, too," Chad said finally. Ichigo could have sworn the huge boy was blushing, but it was hard to tell with all that hair.
Sighing, he turned to Rukia. "What about you?"
She fixed a beady stare on him. "Ichigo, you forget that I am four times as old as you. It's no big deal to me to see men in almost nothing." Pause. "Even if they have those little grooves along their hips that disappear into the waistline and just make you die to run your tongue—"
"Lalalala I can't hear you!" Ichigo cried desperately, clapping his hands over his ears. "Chad, help me!" Before the young giant could reply, however, Ishida and his entourage had finally ambled over to the blanket they sat upon.
"Is there a problem?" he asked. It was odd not to be able to see his eyes through the glasses he wore, and Ichigo felt distinctly discomfited by his friend's newfound inscrutability.
"You are made of pure evil," he informed Ishida, then flopped backwards on the blanket and dropped his arm over his eyes with an air of defeat. "Just wanted you to know that."
Ishida settled easily beside him. Inoue, Tatsuke, and Chizuru arranged themselves like a bouquet of so many flowers around Ishida and resumed their chatter, with Keigo and Mizuiro joining in.
"If you say so," Ishida agreed breezily. There was a rustling, and Ichigo moved his arm to see that Ishida had brought a small canvas satchel with him. As he looked on in horror, the other boy removed a wad of fabric and a cushion bristling with needles and pins, shaking out the cloth and beginning to stitch a seam.
Ichigo bolted upright. "You unnatural thing!" he exclaimed, pointing a shaky finger in accusation. "You're on a beach surrounded by a harem of half-naked women and, and even men who are hanging all over you, and you're going to sew?"
Surely such a perversity could not exist in this universe. It was like saying that up was down or left was right. When you had hot girls fawning over you, you didn't tuck your legs up like a prissy old maid and start to embroider.
Ishida glanced his way, lips compressing, before returning to his handiwork. "I thought I'd make a pair for you," he said at last, smoothing a wrinkle from the slippy dark blue nylon. "Since you seem so fixated on mine."
"What? I'm—fixated? No. Not fixated. No." Ichigo's brain didn't seem to be working, though he couldn't tell whether it was because of Ishida's unprecedented generosity, his own impending ownership of a pair of magical trunks, or the fact that Inoue had just gotten to her feet by means of leaning heavily on Ishida's shoulder which thrust her chest practically into Ichigo's face. "I'm not fixated. Really."
"No?" Ishida appeared sublimely disinterested. "Then I'll just see if Keigo wants these." He turned toward the other boy, mouth opened to speak, but was thwarted when Rukia leaned forward and intercepted him.
"No," she said clearly, "you make those for Ichigo." There was a look on her face—a particular glaze in her eye—that made Ichigo wonder if she were, just perhaps, thinking of grooves and hips and tongues—
"I give up," he moaned, rolling hastily to his stomach and burying his face in his arms. "I just… give up."
"Good," Rukia said, the sound muffled by his shoulders. "I like when they don't struggle."
And as Ishida gave an answering laugh that had a distinctly ominous edge, Ichigo ignored the resumed tic in his right eye and wondered when, exactly, he'd lost control of his life and what could be done to get it back.
But then, he reasoned, it could be good to have a harem of his very own…