Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach or Darren Hayes' solo CD, the Tension and the Spark. See below for my Author's Notes.

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Tension and the Spark
-Love's a game of chance-

"You know Rukia, that guy over there is pretty cute." Matsumoto giggles devilishly in her ear and blows a kiss to the bartender.

Rukia doesn't say anything, choosing to ignore the busty blonde's teasing and flirtatious words. A couple of minutes pass by awkwardly until the petite figure brushes a stray hair from her eyes and sighs. "I'm not interested, or didn't you hear?" She flashes a stilted smile that doesn't reach her eyes and doesn't tell the truth before turning to go on the stage.

Matsumoto rolls her eyes good-naturedly and flips her hair over her shoulder, watching as a tattooed man nearby gives an approving smirk. "Honey, you're never interested." She murmurs and gets up to saunter over to her mysterious admirer. "But I'm always interested."

"Hey, I couldn't help but notice you didn't have anyone sitting with you. I'm sorry if you think that my stare was a little creepy." The punk's hair is nearly black, but it glows with a faint hint of violet. His fingers idly drum the table and his whole posture is confident and relaxed at the same time.

She smiles. "I'm used to people staring by now. The name's Matsumoto, what's yours?" She slides easily into the empty seat and lifts a perfectly molded arm to adjust her gleaming necklace. She doesn't miss the way his eyes gleam in the dark atmosphere or the slight tensing of his muscles underneath the casual black dress shirt.

"Shuuhei. Hisagi Shuuhei." He shrugs and toys idly with the silver bracelets on his wrist. "So, you work here or somethin'? You seem to know this place pretty well."

Rangiku opens her glossy lips, ready to answer with a perfectly coy innuendo underneath her words, but the opening sounds of graceful piano notes stop her. She takes a moment to soak them in—beautiful as always and just as delicate as the person playing them, before she decides to reply. "Sort of. I'm a backup bartender, but I like this place a lot. See that girl playing on stage there? She's a friend of mine and she only comes to play for her one-hour shift. You hit the club at the wrong hour if you're looking for some heavy bass beats. It's the classy hour right now."

"Who said I was looking for some bass beats? I'm just looking for some company, and it seems like I've found it." He grins and leans back into the seat, eyes flickering briefly past the girl behind the piano before going back to Matsumoto. "She's good."

She whistles, impressed with his cool attitude and smooth pickup line. She hasn't seen a guy this good since close to six months ago. "You play?"

He holds up his hand in response, turning it so that she can see the imprints of guitar strings on the pads of his fingers. "Electric and acoustic. I'm in a garage band with that guy over there." He jerks his head to a guy further down along the bar—the same one Matsumoto pointed out moments before to a very not-interested Rukia. "There's two more guys, Kurosaki and Renji. Thing is, we need a singer."

She laughs at his eager expression and shakes her head. "I'm not good at singing, trust me. What's the other guy's name? The one here right now that you just pointed out."

"Toshiro. Although you better not call him that; he'll go absolutely nuts if you do that. We call 'im Hitsugaya and he's a real ice block. Why the interest?"

"Why the defensiveness? Jealous?" She teases and watches him shift uncomfortably before relenting. "That girl playing the piano—her name's Rukia and she's in desperate need of some love. She can sing like a siren too." She watches his eyebrow arch up in surprise before leaning forward and whispering in his ear. "What can I say? I'm a matchmaker at heart."

To his credit, Shuuhei keeps his cool and gives a longer glance at the stage and the figure on it before allowing a slow and satisfied smile curl his lips. "Devious, aren't you?" He finishes his drink, setting the glass down carelessly on the table.

"Oh yes. I'm a real vixen. Leaving so soon?" Matsumoto surprises herself with the question, wondering when she became so interested in him. She says it's his attitude and the lean, but obviously powerful body.

He stands up, throwing some bills to go with the empty glass and gives a half-nod, half shrug. "Not quite yet. I'm going to drag my ice-block buddy with me closer to the front so I can hear her voice better. It's a democracy in the band, though I wish I were the dictator. Wanna come, I mean, since you're her friend and all. You could tell us a bit more about her."

She runs her hand through her hair and puts a hand on his shoulder. "Sure, I don't see any reason not to."


He stirs the margarita restlessly, ignoring the dubious looks cast at him by the idiotic bartender. The fool still doesn't think he's above the age limit to be imbibing alcohol. He snorts disdainfully and takes a particularly vicious swig of the drink, reveling as the liquid burns a molten trail down his throat.

The piano music playing softly from the stage is a soothing balm to his frenzied nerves and agitated state. He's never liked clubs. Too many people, too many lives being wasted, never mind the fact that he isn't doing too much better than them in life. From the corner of his eye, he can see a subtly grinning Shuuhei walking arm-in-arm with a well-endowed blond, and sighs. This really couldn't be good for him.

The pair stop in front of him and he turns to the side, pretending that he doesn't see them there at all.

"Oy, Hitsugaya. Matsumoto here says that ther—"

Bored teal eyes stare straight past Shuuhei in defiance. "Not interested in it, her, or him."

Matsumoto smothers a laugh behind her perfectly manicured hand. He's perfect for Rukia: good-looking, stubborn, arrogant, and most definitely not a pushover.

Shuuhei shoots an annoyed glare and tries again. "We need a singer, whether you like it or not. And she says that girl on the stage can sing like a siren. So you're coming with us to get a closer look at the girl—even if I have to drag you there." They lock eyes with one another before Hitsugaya gives up with a sigh of irritation, shoving some coins beside his drink.

"This had better be worth my time."

Matsumoto's voice is strangely serious when she speaks, the teasing glint to her eyes vanishing suddenly until all that's left is a piercing gaze. "Rukia is never a waste of time."

It's enough to interest the frosty twenty-one year old and he shrugs before walking on ahead to a better seat. "We'll see."

When they manage to knock a couple of drunks out of their front-row seats, Rukia's already starting on her own composition—a familiar spin on Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata with her own lyrics mixed in. It plays out smoothly, the individual notes tying together in ways that many things cannot.

Hitsugaya raises an eyebrow in vague interest, refusing to acknowledge the fact that she's impressive. But Shuuhei has no qualms about whistling lowly in surprise, far surprised by the melodic music than before. Matsumoto remains quiet, anticipating the joining of the human voice with the piano.

She isn't disappointed when the first words filter out through the haziness of the club. Rukia's voice is smoky and dark, neither light nor girly, and it suspends in the atmosphere like wisps of fog.

"Je voudrais chanter…
Tu comprends cette chanson?"

None of them understand French, but that doesn't prevent them from leaning forward anyways. Her words, undecipherable, serve only to intrigue them more.

"It's beautiful," Hitsugaya murmurs reluctantly and Matsumoto gives a faint smile.

"She's always beautiful when she sings."

"Pour mon couer, je chante,
Pour mon couer, je pleure."

They stay silent until the final note has been sung and the final haunting echoes of the piano have died away, and then they clap.


She closes her eyes in satisfaction and swings her legs around the bench to stand and bow. The audience is swathed in darkness, mere ghosts to her eyes after the brightness of the lights on stage. She's sure that Matsumoto is somewhere in the front, probably clapping and cheering as usual. She smiles and makes a note to thank her supportive friend later—when they head home together.

She expects to see the blond alone and is mildly surprised and irritated to find two men by her side. The fact that one of the males was the very same one pointed out to her earlier does not escape her sharp mind. The fact that Rangiku's hand is casually touching the punk's wrist does not escape her either. She places a fake smile on her face and steps forward into the small group. "Matsumoto, care to introduce us?"

The fact that she wants to demand rather than ask politely doesn't escape Matsumoto. "Oh yeah. Mr.-Spiky-Hair here is Hisagi Shuuhei. But he's actually a softie and an electric guitarist for a garage band. Mr. Grumpy is Hitsugaya and he's a friend of Shuuhei. They were impressed by your performance."

Rukia purses her lips in thought and waves off the compliment with a slight hand motion. "There's nothing to be impressed about. I'm Kuchiki Rukia. Nice to meet you guys."

"Would you be against joinin' a band?" The words are drawled out and Shuuhei flicks the ashes of his cigarette into a nearby trashcan. The flame still burns on the stick though, bright blue and red.

"Excuse me?" The words are sharp, but it's too late to take them back and she's not sorry about it anyways.

"Let me rephrase it. He means to ask if you would be interested in joining a band as a singer, specifically, if you would be interested in joining our band." Hitsugaya glances at her briefly, teal-green eyes critical and unyielding.

She doesn't flinch. "Depends on if the band is good."

The unspoken jab is appreciated and savored by the white-haired electric bassist of the group. "Somebody's witty."

She gives a genuine smile this time. "And somebody's dodging the question."

He matches her sentence with one of his own, resisting the urge to outright smirk at the fact that she can actually keep up with him. "I'm not dodging; you're just not answering." Matsumoto flashes a curious glance at Shuuhei, who gives her a subtle thumbs-up in response.

"He likes her." Hisagi mouths in between listening to the pair verbally spar.

"Never would've pegged you to be a matchmaker too." Rangiku mouths back and flicks him playfully on the forehead.

"I'll try it out. When should I meet you guys and where?" Rukia caves in, her curiosity piqued by Hitsugaya's unrelenting torrent of smartass phrases.

"We'll come get you sometime next week. Just make sure you don't get sick." He folds his arms and turns to leave, a barely perceptible smile curving his lips.

She sees it, but doesn't remark on it. "Just make sure you don't forget."

"I won't."


Author's Notes: I sort of rushed this, so it may sound disconnected. I'm sorry about that! This won't be a very long story, at most, maybe eight chapters or so. Rukia's a little more guarded with herself in the story at first. So don't come complaining if she's not being all cute-cute and the like. She'll be cute later, not now. Drop a comment if you've got the time. It does wonders to inspire.

Translations:

I would like to sing…
Do you understand this song?
For my heart, I sing.
For my heart, I cry.