Character/Pairing/s: Ikkaku, Kira, Yachiru, Kenpachi
Warnings/Spoilers: Um, vague spoilers for the arrankar arc, but everyone probably knows more about it than me at this point. Also, OOC and weirdness.
Word Count: 3,179
Summary: Kira tries to figure Ikkaku out. It takes a week.
Dedication: swinku, because who else gets my Ikkira dedications, right? LOL Hope your pages are going well, my dear!
A/N: Okay I need to stop writing at work. It's probably bad karma or something. Though it is one of the few things that keeps my brain awake while I'm sitting at the desk looking up box office grosses and other such fun, fun, fun statistics. LOL. Of course, that doesn't mean the results of in-work ficcage are any good or anything. O.o
Disclaimer: Not mine, though I wish constantly.
Distribution: Just lemme know.
Kira spent the first week of his and Ikkaku's new partnership as vice-captain and captain trying to figure Madarame-taichou out.
Looking back, it wasn't one of his better ideas.
Day one passed in relative silence, as Ikkaku spent the entirety of it face down on his desk, snoring. Past experience had led Kira to believe that a captain asleep at his desk was more likely than not some sort of ruse to test that captain's hapless underlings, and so—as he had with Ichimaru-taichou before him—Kira left Madarame well enough alone throughout the day, opting instead, to silently struggle through what paperwork he could all on his own.
But despite his best efforts, the backlog from previous weeks as an un-captained division made it impossible for Izuru to get through everything all at once, and drooping, he wondered what would happen now that Madarame-taichou knew he was incapable of rising to the challenge. He'd already failed on the first day, at that.
To be fair, he really thought that Ikkaku was testing him at the time.
It was only later—when he saw the puddle of drool collecting on the table under the bald shinigami's cheek— that he realized Ikkaku was actually, really, fast asleep.
And so day one was passed in relative silence as Kira nervously puttered around the office and Ikkaku slept off the drinking binge he'd partaken in the night before, when his former eleventh division colleagues had seen to it that he was sent off to the third in real style. Kira considered it a day in which no gains were made on either side.
Day two was much livelier than day one (to say the least), and Kira told himself that this time, it had to be a test.
Ikkaku's eyes looked right through him as they sat, face-to-face in the captain's office. "So. You really don't wanna?"
Kira squared his jaw and looked resolute. "We can't go drinking in the middle of the work day, taichou," he said, and was confident that it was a good answer.
Ikkaku snorted. "Boring."
"We have a lot of paperwork, taichou."
"Goes faster with beer, trust me."
Kira eyed him, and wondered what sort of resolve Madarame was looking for in his subordinates that he was testing them this adamantly. "Perhaps after we finish?" he suggested then, carefully.
Ikkaku grinned. "Yeah?"
Kira blinked. "Erm…maybe?"
The bald shinigami shot up from his desk, cupping his hand over his mouth and calling out through the open doorway. "Oi! Whatsyourname and Whatsyourface… Three and Four!"
At the summons, the third division third and fourth seats peeked into the office, cautiously. Looking at them, Kira was slightly relieved to discover that he wasn't the only one still affected by Ichimaru Gin's reign here.
"Y-yes, t-taichou?" The fourth seat murmured, and wrung his hands nervously.
Ikkaku slung an arm over the hapless young man's shoulders, chummy and oblivious to his subordinate's current state of absolute terror. The new captain gestured with his thumb over his shoulder, back towards his desk. Or more specifically, to the giant stack of reports currently resting on top of it. He smirked. "So. How good are you at forging signatures?"
And thus day two passed with Kira not knowing what to say as Ikkaku dragged him to a bar in the middle of the work day and ordered enough beer to take back for everybody. Later that evening, he insisted on everyone getting drunk once the paperwork was all forged to his satisfaction. Kira, for the life of him, could not figure out the purpose behind that test.
But he did as he was told and drank and was drunk, and when he woke up the next morning, it was because he had a headache and the new third division captain was marching up and down the hallways banging a big metal pot and shouting for everyone to get up.
Day three was thus spent doing the most hellish physical exercises the blond vice-captain had ever been privy to in all his years under the service of the gotei-13. Until that day, he hadn't even known that getting rammed repeatedly in the stomach with the root-end of an upended tree stump was considered a viable means of endurance training.
And towards the end of day three he watched, horrified, as Whatsyourname and Whatsyourface (Three and Four), were simultaneously punched rather mercilessly in the face by a glaring Madarame-taichou. They spiraled into the dirt and hit the ground with audible thuds.
"No good!" Ikkaku grunted, and cracked his knuckles as he looked down at his fallen subordinates. "You really never fought without using your zanpakutou before? Without usin' reiatsu?" he asked everyone, incredulously. The rest of the third division was already laid out on the training grounds much like Three and Four were now, completely drained of both their spiritual and physical strength after the wringer they'd been put through that morning. The only ones in the whole division who remained standing were the captain and vice-captain pair, and Kira only barely managing at that.
Madarame sighed at the outcome and paused to look at the sky overhead. He squinted into the sunlight. "Fuck's sake," he breathed, once he'd gauged the time, "you all got taken out before lunch. This is pathetic!"
The rest of the third division cowered at the thought of what their captain's displeasure would entail.
Ikkaku started by popping his neck. And then he rolled his shoulders sinisterly.
Everyone swallowed and prepared for the worst.
But then, the midday bells chimed.
"Right. Lunch," the captain declared with a yawn, and bent down to pick Whatsyourname and Whatsyourface up from the ground, slinging their arms over his shoulders and taking their combined weight into his legs. "To the bar!"
Everyone stared after him.
"C'mon!" he demanded over his shoulder when no one moved. "Pick each other up and let's go already, before the place fills up with every other asshole who wants beer and hot wings for lunch."
Dumbfounded, the division staggered to its feet at the orders. "Yes sir!" they said, by rote.
Madarame rolled his eyes and hauled his underlings towards the bar.
Kira thought it was—by far— the strangest punishment for failure that he had ever seen.
On day four, the third division took a field trip. Which lead Kira to believe that this was the real punishment for yesterday's failures rather than their impromptu bar trip, and so he did his best to remain stoic despite the horrors and indignities he was forced to experience on said field trip.
In the meantime, the eleventh division vice-captain pulled on his hair. Her hands were sticky.
"Faster!" she chirruped, gleefully. "Ne, droopy-eyes, you gotta run faster than this!"
"Y-yes!" Kira breathed, and didn't now how he was going to make shunpo faster just like that.
"Boo," Yachiru tooted after a moment, frowning down at him in comical disapproval. "Not fast enough yet! He'll get you for sure at this rate, blondie!"
Kira swallowed and tried harder. Behind him, his fellow divisionmates fell screaming one-by-one as Zaraki Kenpachi's delighted howls echoed throughout the eleventh division courtyard after them.
Needless to say, it was the most terrifying game of tag Izuru had ever witnessed.
Yachiru had the time of her life.
On day five, Ikkaku declared an official third division holiday between guffaws, as he stared at his haphazard division, bandaged and bruised and generally in bad shape all-around after yesterday's little social with the rest of the eleventh division. "We got a long way to go," Madarame said, and poked at Three's bandaged chest with a low whistle.
"Sir!" they said, because they didn't know what else to say.
Ikkaku eyed them. "A long way to go," he repeated, before shrugging off his captain's coat and heading for the bar again. "Have a nice day off, fellas!"
At that point in the week, Kira Izuru was fairly certain that he had no idea what Madarame-taichou wanted from his new division. He couldn't help but wonder—for a brief second—if he was the one who was going about this all wrong.
That day, the only one who actually took the day off was Madarame-taichou. No one else quite knew what to do, and so they worked. Just in case.
On day six there was no time to analyze anything their new captain said or did. And while they might have been grateful for the respite under any other circumstances, the fact of the matter was that they couldn't be under these circumstances.
They were called to battle.
On the battlefield, when Ikkaku moved to give them their attack orders, he ended up just grinning at them and saying, "Anyone who don't kill at least ten of these fuckers gets toilet duty for the rest of the month!" instead.
Then he whooped, leveled Hozukimaru over his shoulders, and bounded off without a second thought or backwards look. His division members stared after him.
"Um…is that the strategy?" Four asked, after a beat.
Before Kira could think of a plausible answer, something exploded nearby. All hell broke loose.
On day seven, everyone was still fighting. Kira was too tired to try and find his way to his captain's side anymore, had long ago given up on doing so and was concentrating instead, on trying to get through this ordeal alive. No one to guide him this time, to tell him what to do. No one to reassure him that everything would be okay, that he would be kept safe no matter what. He clenched his teeth and fought to live and told those around him to do as much if they wanted to see tomorrow as well, because things were different now and he didn't understand what Madarame Ikkaku expected of them at all.
"We're going to die!" Three sighed, as they battled their way through a particularly nasty bunch of demi-hollows. "I'm sorry about throwing up on you last night!" he told Four mournfully. "I drank too much. And while we're voicing regrets, I also wish that we'd taken the day before yesterday off after all. I could have watered my plants."
Four wiped dirt from his face and nodded back at his friend. "Don't apologize. At least the beer was good. I wish we'd taken the day off too."
"Are you scared?" Kira asked them, because it felt like the thing to say.
They thought about it for a while.
"It's not the worst we've been through all week," they responded after a moment.
Because somehow, a maniacally cackling Zaraki Kenpachi bearing down on them seemed much scarier than any of the attacks from Hueco Mundo that they were currently facing.
"I see," Kira said, and looked up just in time to see a massive arrankar looming over them. He wiped blood from his cheek, and the two shinigami behind him looked up as well. "Are you scared now?" he asked, and felt his own knees begin to quake on instinct.
It moved too fast for him to dodge, and so Kira raised Wabisuke and defended as best he could instead, even though he already knew the disparity in strength was far too great. He wondered what Madarame-taichou might have done had he been here. If it had been Ichimaru-taichou, Kira knew that his former captain would have told Kira-chan to run to somewhere safe and let him take care of this.
"Run," he told Three and Four instead, and managed to deflect the first blow just enough so that they could retreat. "Run!"
"Yes sir!" They ran.
He didn't make them any promises about taking care of this for them though, and as he reeled from the force of the first attack, he thought to himself that he sort of wished he'd taken the day before yesterday off as well, that he hadn't wasted that time bumbling around the office wondering if Ikkaku wanted him to get that extra paperwork done while he was gone, or if Ikkaku had just been messing with him, or if Ikkaku wasn't as complex as Kira was convinced he was.
Because at this point, all of that hardly mattered.
He fell after the third earth-shattering strike of his opponent's zanpakutou, and hit the dirt with a muffled grunt. Wabisuke clattered to the ground at his side.
He felt like all the reiatsu had been suddenly stripped from his body.
"That's what I do," The arrankar his was fighting informed him as if he was reading Izuru's mind. The craggy-skinned monster strolled up to him and picked Kira up by the throat one handed. "Your energy is delicious… there's more of it here than there was in the others I drained."
Kira looked at his opponent and agreed that even still, it wasn't half as scary as being chased around in an enclosed space by Zaraki Kenpachi. Or so he told himself. And to prove it, he made a fist as best he could and without the aid of any spiritual energy at all, punched the arrankar in the face.
It laughed at him and he felt its fingers squeezing tighter around his neck. He gagged and choked and punched with his other hand, over and over again.
For his efforts, he managed to hit two or three of what appeared to be a series of fossilized shells imbedded along the arrankar's neck and face. One of them shattered, surprisingly delicate.
The arrankar grunted. Kira suddenly felt stronger.
"Try it again!" a voice called out from somewhere far off, and it sounded a lot like his captain.
"Who the hell else would it be, dumbass?!"
Kira supposed that made sense. Or he was light headed from the choking claws closing around his throat. But he didn't think about it too much, and tried it again, as instructed. A second small shell shattered. He felt stronger.
The hand around his throat lost some of its pressure.
"Oi! Cut that out!" his assailant complained, and Kira took the opportunity to kick it in the crotch as hard as he could.
"Ha, knew you fought dirty from the moment I saw ya!," Ikkaku's voice encouraged, and the new third division captain sounded downright excited when he spoke.
So Izuru reached out again, and this time he aimed for the big conch shell fragment all along the side of the arrankar's head. Its mask maybe. He grabbed it and pulled with whatever strength he had left, and something splintered to a million pieces inside of it.
Energy shot forward then, right into Kira's chest—warm, familiar. His own that had been stolen from him. The two combatants were sent reeling backwards at the force of the reiatsu reintegrating with its rightful owner, and Kira coughed and choked on air when his back hit the ground again, some feet away from his opponent.
Dazed, the arrankar stood after a moment, shaking its head. "I was gonna eat that!" it complained, looking angry.
Kira blinked blearily.
"You better stand now," Ikkaku suggested after a moment, and Kira was surprised to find his captain sitting on a nearby boulder, watching the fight.
"Taichou!" Kira said, and did as he was told, got to his feet shakily.
Ikkaku grinned. "Oi, watch out, huh?" he said next, and was looking over Kira's shoulder at that point instead.
The blond whirled just in time to dodge a massive fist.
"Taichou!" Kira yelped, and waited for help to come.
Madarame didn't move from his seat, resting his chin in one hand instead. "Man, you got a long way to go," he said, after a beat. "You gotta do better than that."
"I… y-yes," Kira breathed, because that was all he could think of to say. He dodged another blow, spied Wabisuke out of the corner of his eye. He rolled, picked the blade up, and managed to turn just in time to deflect the arrankar's zanpakutou. Oddly enough, he finally felt like he was moving at speed on par with Yachiru's ridiculous expectations.
In the background, Ikkaku whooped. "Now that's more like it!"
Kira was too stunned to do anything but fight.
And so, come sunset of Madarame Ikkaku's seventh day as captain of the third division, Kira Izuru found himself splayed on his back staring at the sky, feeling like he could die at any given moment from the pain of his injuries. Every bit of spiritual energy was gone from him again as well, but at least this time, the charred remains of an arrankar also sizzled nearby.
He took a deep breath, tried to find his wits.
But then Ikkaku was suddenly standing above him, blinking down. "Oi, you dead?"
A grin. "How'd that feel?"
Ikkaku's brow furrowed when he heard that, and he reached down, hefting Kira up by the bloodstained collar of his gi. "You won."
Kira swallowed. "Yes."
They looked at each other for a moment then—silent— and Kira thought to himself that maybe this was what his new captain had been waiting for all week. That this was the last test.
Kira shuddered and waited for the final verdict. Had he passed?
After a minute or two, Ikkaku set him on his feet, and looking thoughtful, began to swat some of the dust off of Izuru's shoulders. When he was done, he stepped backwards and nodded at the blond. "Alright! Let's get to the bar."
Kira stared. "The bar?"
"Yup!" Ikkaku brushed past the stunned vice-captain and started walking back towards base camp.
"The bar?" Kira echoed again, dumbly.
"Yeah the fuckin' bar. Now c'mon already! Everyone's waiting," the bald death god urged, ever impatient. "Sides, don't you wanna tell everyone how you kicked that fucker's ass all on your own?"
Kira didn't know what to say.
Ikkaku sighed. "Alright, alight. This time the drinks are on me. I'll even buy Sannagi and Youji a round, the losers. They're still on bathroom duty though."
Kira blinked. San…Three, Four. "You know their names?"
Ikkaku paused to regard him. "You get hit on the head a few too many times or something? 'Course I know their names. The hell is wrong with you?"
Kira made a face, trying to find a response.
And then, he promptly passed out.
When he came to he was in a bar. He heard from everyone else—through their drunkenness— that taichou had carried him all the way back to the court on his back.
Taichou in the meantime, was face down on one of the tables, red-faced and snoring. There was a little puddle of drool collecting on the wood beside his cheek.
And so, at the very end of Madarame Ikkaku's seventh day as captain of the third division, Kira Izuru thought to himself that maybe he understood exactly what kind of person his new captain was after all.
As it turned out, he was just a lot simpler than Kira had first expected.
Whether that was a good or bad thing remained to be seen.