I don't own Bleach or the song Lover I Don't Have to Love.

Say wut wut? A Ikkaku/Yachiru kinda challenge? Yeah. LOVE IT. AU as hell.


Hunger That Can't Get Full

She stood there, not quite lost in a crowd of black and darker shades. Everything about her stood, from the tips of her pink ballet shoes to the white tee that hung off her small frame loosely with the words you write such pretty words but life's no storybook printed neatly. It was as if there were a neon sign hanging over her head that read Come An' Get Me.Attraction,sizzling lightningon his long fingers over his smooth scalp, Ikkaku step stepped closer, the smoke in his nostrils and sticking to his clothes, and he'd fall asleep with it in his head.

Still, it didn't bother him anymore, just like the rhythmic throbbing of the music no longer was anything but a noise in the background. He watched her for a few seconds, reveling in the way she watched the stage, and the men jumping around on it, like doing so would make the pink hair fit in more easily. Like she'd become like everyone else just by pretending.

I picked you out of a crowd and talked to you

He knew the song would be reverberating round and round in his head all night, but if he got his hands on this one, it'd be worth it.

It was a habit of his, by this time he did it almost without realizing he was. His eyes could scan the crowd, and finally land upon the most conspicuous person there, whether by the way they looked or their actions, and he pulled them aside. Sometimes it led somewhere; usually it didn't (particularly if it was a male). Still, it slightly refreshed him to know that everyone wasn't exactly alike, because from that stage it seemed like there was no difference between anyone.

With these kinds of girls, though, it was better to be patient, to draw them like little flies into the spider's deftly made web. But Ikkaku wasn't one for patience, and the music was getting to him. It wasn't a song that said wait. It told him to move before someone else did. She was rather eye-catching after all.

I want a lover I don't have to love. I want a girl who's too sad to give a fuck

"Hey, what's a girl like you hangin' 'bout here for?" Grin wide, but not wide enough to the give the appearance of a wolf. Grandma, why the hell are your teeth so damn big? He saw her glance over at him, her eyes much older than she looked. Her expression like an open book, and when shee was done checking him over, her little girl lips pouted cute and he knew he'd passed the exam with flying colors.

Wide smirk and she wasn't afraid to show her own wolfish demeanor. "Girl? I'm a good nineteen years old at this point, kid." Did he look younger than nineteen, he wondered briefly before pasting another grin to his face.

"Nineteen? You don't look a day older than ten," he teased gently, and it went on like that, they're words subtle jabs at each other. Flirting was much like the preparations for a battle, with the quick assessments of the other and smiles that hid what they really felt and wanted.

So it's up the stairs and out of view no prying eyes

Then they got past the sly flirting, and the music faded from his ears as he led her down the hall, her hand small and cold in his. Still, her grip was firm and her expression defiant like one who knew a thing or two about defiance. Maybe she actually was nineteen.

"Don't you have to be back to the band for—" she murmured lowly as he closed the door behind them. Ikkaku didn't know this place well, and had assumed this was a large closet. Well, what did he care, anyway? This was only where he played shows, not where he lived.

"I have time," he murmured and pressed her against the wall, but their positions were uncomfortable, to say the least. Things didn't work nearly as well when the female reached only up to the male's chest.

"Hold on," she interrupted, pushing him away gently. He watched her warily, unsure what she was planning on doing. He almost laughed out loud when she scrambled up on a table, sitting daintily on top of it, her worn slippers swinging back and forth. He darted over quickly, hands on the table, one on each side of her, his face so close to hers that he could smell the chinese food she'd had before the show.

"What's your name?" he asked suddenly, her breathing tickling his lips.

She glanced away, peeking behind him at the clock hanging over the door, where it ticktocked without moving. Her eyes turned back to him, and they looked like they were laughing. "Do you have the time?"

He rolled his eyes, hearing the teasing tone to her voice. It was hard to play hard to get when they were this close, when his lips were already on hers. They didn't stay still for long, her small hands seeming much larger as they ran up underhis shirt. They were cold, always cold, no matter how close she got to his skin.

Your tongue in my mouth, trying to keep the words from coming out

A voice broke through their reverie, calling his name desperately. It was time to sweat under the gazes and blistering lights. He reluctantly pulled away, but not before letting his lips linger over hers a few seconds longer. "Ikkaku. Ask for me."

Then he slipped away, quickly unlocking the door and answering the calls with short irritated bursts of speech. The next hour was a bustle of movement and noise, all blurring together in his memory. The lights blinded him and the music made his head throb and feet tap, but this was the usual occurrence, and absolutely nothing of interest.

It was only when he looked up to see those bright pink locks that he felt himself come to life again. People always thought his life was exotic and wild, but even recklessness and unruliness could get monotonous if done for long enough.

He felt like he'd done nothing but this his whole life.

She, on the other hand, was anything but boring and repetitious. Just with one glance you know she isn't usual. Her eyes would giggle at you while her teeth nibbled on her lower lip. Beneath her skin rippled waves of hidden strength, but you'd think you could push her right over.

"Wanna get somethin' ta drink?" Slow nod, as if she had to think about it, but her eyes were still laughing. For all he knew she was using him to get a free drink.

The air outside bit at their skin, and both of them moved a little closer, and as they spoke the wisps of smoke slipped from their lips.

Who was she? She lived with her friend Zaraki, who she could rant about for hours. He was amazing like that.

Who was he? He traveled around with the band, sleeping where he could and living by the day.

Once they were inside the hot chocolate curled up in their stomachs and they could pretend the cold was just a fairy tale told to them in their childhoods to scare them. Ikkaku was almost glad the girl didn't touch him with her frozen fingertips.

Then, all too soon, it was closing time and they were ushered out by sleepy proprietors, and the two of them found themselves standing in the cold again, with no protection but their skin and jackets. It was almost necessary, the meeting of lips and warmth-starved bodies in weather like this.

And the song played on in his head.

Some sad singers they just play tragic

Perhaps if it hadn't been so cold, it would have been funny. She was so small he had to lift her up to kiss her. The two of them got tired of that easily and just opted for holding her in place with her legs around his waist and her back against the brick wall of the alley.

When they broke apart, the night chills slipping up through the clothing that been lifted by eager hands, they didn't react immediately. He looked at her, really looked at her.

"If you really think I look ten, and you're treating me like this . . . you can let me go right now, because I'm not gonna play with your pedophilic dreams." He laughed out loud at this, pressing his face into her shoulder blade, feeling the warmth of her body through the jacket. It didn't really feel cold anymore.

When he didn't look at her, it didn't even occur to Ikkaku that she looked so young. It was just her, as nameless as she wanted to be.

He didn't answer at all, and from her voice he could tell she wasn't amused. She was irritated, ironically with the patience of a young child. "Look, do we have to do this in the cold? And in an alley, no less!" Her childish pout made his lips curl into a foolish smile, but he burrowed his face in her shoulder again to hide it. "Answer me, damn it!"

"I don't remember where I parked my car . . . " he answered truthfully, and began letting her down. "We can take the bus, though. Unless that's too paltry for the little girl—"

"You do see me a little kid! You pedophile!" This time her words were playful, and she took his hand like a daughter might, her cold, thin fingers wrapping easily around his calloused ones.

It occurred to him sharply that he was laughing with this girl—woman, whatever she was. His life was just that, living and trying to pretend that he felt fulfilled with what he had when all he really wanted was anything else. He hadn't laughed like this since Yumichika—

Since . . .

Forget, he told himself quickly. Yumichika was gone, now, six feet away from anything. Friends were luxuries that Ikkaku didn't need anymore.

The ride was bumpy, but quiet. By this time the only other people on the bus besides the driver were a young woman cradling her child in fat arms and an old blind man clinging tightly to his walking stick. Still she held his hand, and swung her feet. She looked so much like a little daughter that he almost petted her on the head.

His apartment was dark, and it smelled heavily of cigarettes and unwashed clothing. She glanced around and burst out laughing. He didn't really mind and instead began shoving all sorts of things off his bed. He heard the crack as a CD broke underneath the sole of his boot, but he did nothing but wince.

"You want to have sex on that?" she asked him incredulously, staring at the thing Ikkaku considered a bed in shock. Instead of retorting angrily in defense of his bed—which wasn't worth defending, seeing as how it was little more than two mattresses and a blanket—he swaggered over and pulled her lips to his with a quick grab at her pink hair.

She gave in eventually, and even went as far as to curl up afterwards, her head tucked gently in the crook of his arm.

Lovely. That how she looked bathed in the shadows of nighttime, of the streetlights poring crooked light through the glass. Her skin soft and flawless except for the numerous scars here and there. There was a tattoo on her hip, a tiny woman looking into a cup. As her eyes fluttered shut, he asked her again. "What's your name?"

"I'm the Hanged Man," she muttered softly, and kissed him on the cheek.

He must have dozed off because by the time he glanced over at her again, she was nowhere to be seen. The only thing she'd left behind was her scent, and the bite marks on his shoulder. So she remained nameless, just another girl, albeit one with bright pink hair and dark brown eyes that seemed so incredibly childish but knowing, all at the same time.

The Hanged Woman, symbol of self destruction and rebirth.

Still, sometimes he'll sit around after a show and wonder if she'll take his advice and ask around for him again. He knows that if she did he'd only be disappointed. There's no need for her touches anymore. No need to look for the rebels and sore thumbs in the crowd. It was a rebirth, and he moves on, the music and movement healing rather than scalding.

Let's just keep touching; let's just keep, keep singing

That song will make him think of her, and think of everything he doesn't feel when he's with other people. Even with the return of the old loves and sensations it's not the same with the girls and boysthat work so hard to stand out. That one . . . she hadn't needed to stand out; that hadn't been important.

Sometimes he thinks he sees her, walking down Fifth Avenue in white stilettos and a leopard print skirt swishing around her thighs, her pink hair cut short, or sitting curled up in a huge armchair at Barnes and Nobles, concentrated completely on the book on her lap as her long pink hair hangs down. He never goes up to her, since he knows she wouldn't want him to.

He's stillhungry all the time (for what?), and while she's rich enough a fruit to satisfy him, he'd suck her dry of her singularity. So he leaves her to her too-large books and black bitch books, and smokes his cigarettes and screams back at the girls in the crowd, just trying not to starve.