Title: Phone-calls Between Strangers
Author: Cella stereotypevamp
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: BLEACH
Ship/Characters: hints at IshiHimeTatsu love triangle/threesome
Disclaimer: All is of Kubo Tite. Duh.
Dedication: To Vor and Manda-sensei, for being the best muns ever. Of course. And to Vor, because he asked.
Summary:His father forbade him from speaking with the Shinigami and their friends. But there is one who he can speak with. The one left behind. ISHIDA. TATSUKI. On loving when you shouldn't and shutting up when you should shout.

Phone-calls Between Strangers

The first week after Ishida stops coming to school, Tatsuki's phone rings.

"How is Inoue-san?"

"Who is this?" she asks.

"…Ishida."

"…The hell are you doing calling me?"

"I can't talk to anyone else…"

"You're an idiot."

"Yes, I've been told. How is Inoue-san?"

"She's…I don't know. We barely talk anymore…"

"Oh."

"Yeah…"

"…Are you crying?"

She hangs up.

---

The next phone call comes a bit later in the week.

"Arisawa."

"Oh. It's you."

"You seem pleased."

"Yeah, whatever. Orihime's fine."

"…what about the rest?"

"Fucking awesome."

"You don't seem to think so."

"Look, you've got your answers, now stop calling."

She hangs up again.

---

Third time's the lucky one, and goes like this:

"Good evening."

"Hey."

"How are you?"

"…I'm…I don't know."

"Ah. You seem surprised."

"You usually don't ask about how I am, just about the others."

"I appologize for my past rudeness."

"Right. And…how are you?"

"…Tired."

"Aren't we all?"

"…"

"Where are you, Ishida?"

"I can't tell you."

"Orihime is worried about you. She told me last night. She said everyone is leaving."

"…"

"Ichigo left too, this week. He hasn't come to school, and Orihime says she can't feel him much."

"I see…"

"…Idiot. You know…you two are going to end up breaking her."

"Then she's lucky she has such a good friend as you to help her recover."

"…don't be a jerk, Ishida."

"I'll try my best."

"Take care."

He hangs up.

---

Some time later, it's become almost tradition.

"Ishida."

"How did you know it was me?"

"You always call this late."

"Ah. Well…hello back."

"Hn."

"You sound…tired."

"Angry. Difference."

"At who?"

"At people."

"Ah."

"Orihime's gone too."

"What? Where?"

"I don't know. But I'm not feeling anything in my gut that tells me she's in danger, so she must be safe. Maybe they've all been paid some vacation time somewhere and Tatsuki never gets told, heh."

"I'm sorry to hear about that."

"Yeah, well…I'm used to it. He'll tell me when he will…"

"No he won't."

"No. He won't…"

"…Tatsuki…"

"…!"

"You know, Kurosaki is always like this. Hurting the girls that care about him. First Inoue-san, and now you…and yet you two still go back."

"We're tiny masochists. And we're friends. And Orihime…"

"Yeah. I know."

"You know…she's lucky to have at least one boy who values her as more than a friend."

"…"

"…If only she could see it, though…"

"Would you like that?"

"What?"

"For her to see me? Would you like it? Wouldn't you be jealous?"

"…you're too smart for your own good."

"I've been told."

"Goodnight."

She hangs up.

---

And then another time.

"You know, I've decided something--"

"Hello, Tatsuki."

"--I've decided--hi--that Ichigo is a big jerk. And that I'll confront him, and smack him really really hard. Maybe even break a window with his head."

"…send me pictures?"

"Hehehe…sure. So. How are you?"

"Feeling better, I guess. You?"

"Angry, confused, kept in the dark, on the verge of breaking. You know! The regulars!"

"I'm sorry about that…"

"Yeah, well, not entirely your fault. When Orihime comes back, I've decided. I'll take her aside, and open her eyes, and tell her I miss her, and then I'll tell her you love her, and that Ichigo's a jerk, so who cares about him anyway, when she should just run off and have your babies."

"…um…"

"You know? And afterwards, I'll work on pulling that stick out of your arse. Possibly by kissing the brains out of you, since I've grown accustomed to your voice, and guess what, ha ha, you calm me down sometimes, and that's not even funny anymore. And then, I'll probably stand back, and watch you both be happy ever after. Maybe I'll smash another window with Ichigo's head, before that."

"…Tatsuki."

"Can you…can you not say my name like that?"

"Like what?"

"Like I matter."

"…but you d--"

"Liar."

She hangs up.

Half an hour later, she calls him.

"Ishida, listen…"

"Yes?"

"Can you just…can you just forget I said everything I said before, please? I wasn't myself, and…please?"

"…"

"…"

"…"

"…Ishida?"

"No."

He hangs up.

---

A month or so later, he calls.

"Tatsuki, listen, Orihime's been--"

"I know."

"How?"

"Ichigo's…acting weird…"

"She's been kidnapped."

"…oh God."

"I'm going to get her back."

"…good. Thank you."

"And when I come back…you can tell both her and I whatever you wish…"

"…Ishida, I…"

"Yes?"

"…Good luck."

"Thank you."

"Don't die."

"I won't."

"Bring her back."

"I promise."

They hang up at the same time.

::end::