Disclaimer: See first Chapter.
Since the first meeting, Retsu began to catch glimpses of the man named Kenpachi –her anti prince charming. Every morning she'd see a sign of him outside the store -- a glimpse of black hakama or the tail end of a wooden hinai and if she was lucky she'd actually get see him. Hell, she'd even been jumping at the sound of the door opening, on the off -- chance that it was Kenpachi. It had been happening for weeks now. He always walked by but never entered the store and she was a little put out by his actions.
By the end of a month of him not entering, she thought it wasn't for her benefit at all….he was just passing by and had forgotten about their meeting. So she should put it out of her mind as well, shouldn't she?
Sighing, she left the register and moved into the back so she wouldn't feel so pathetic about this whole situation. It wasn't the first time her thoughts had run away with her, but she had been so sure that he'd at least come speak with her again. He was the one who'd wanted to exchange names. Sighing again, she moved to where the cookies were waiting to be mixed and dug her clean hands into the dough, mixing the ingredients with annoyed sharp movements.
Why were guys so …irritatingly annoying? She thought as she continued to take her frustration out on the innocent cookie dough. At least the work was relieving the tension and finally she wasn't so caught up on her anti prince charming.
Kenpachi cursed as he barely held back enough not to do some serious damage to Ikkaku. "What the hell is wrong with you?" he yelled, frustrated. "Don't you have any damn sense to block?"
Ikkaku picked himself up from the floor with a frown. He brushed off his pants and shouldered his shinai. "Sorry, boss," he grumbled, though it was clear who he though was at fault.
Yumichika sat in a chair off to the side, his legs crossed over as he watched the two practice. "You know, Kenpachi," he mentioned, now looking at his finger nails. He really should go get a manicure soon. "You really shouldn't be taking your frustration out on Ikkaku. Why don't you try asking her on a date, instead of just walking by her store every morning?" He looked up from his hand, to see Kenpachi scowling and raised an eyebrow. "What? You really thought you were being sly about this little obsession?"
"Shut up," Kenpachi growled. "I do not have an obsession." He didn't really…he just happened to pass the coffee shop on his way into the dojo, which was actually quite the detour, and so what if he managed to catch a glimpse of her? It wasn't like he was stalking her.
"It's almost like he's stalking her." Kenpachi rose from his thoughts in time to hear Yumichika's comment to Ikkaku, who was trying hard not to smile.
"I am not stalking her," he roared. "And why should I take advice from you. I haven't seen you with a girlfriend in five years." That got him to storm off in a huff.
"Aww, boss," Ikkaku groaned. "Why did you have to say that? He's going to be impossible to deal with now."
Kenpachi didn't say anything, but he did wince. Yumichika was someone whose bad side you really didn't want to be on -- he might look weak but he did have some kendo training and could screw you over in a business sense as well. It was one of the reasons why Kenpachi had respected the man, even with his oddities.
"He'll get over it," he said gruffly, shouldering his shinai and heading towards the showers. He thought that maybe he this time he might actually take a sip of the tea instead of just buying it and throwing it away. Who knows, maybe he would actually like tea.
He didn't like tea; it tasted just as bitter as coffee no matter how it was flavored. Another reason he was in a grumpy mood was that Retsu wasn't at the coffee shop. When he'd asked the girl behind the counter she'd winced at his volume –which he didn't think was loud—and explained that her boss went to take the deposits to the bank before they closed.
"You could wait here," she said, nervously. His attention turned back to Retsu's assistant. He could tell he made her nervous; her hands kept fidgeting as she stepped from foot to foot.
"I'll be back," he grumbled, throwing the paid for cup of tea in the trash before walking out. By the time he got back to the dojo, his mood had not improved and it completely took a turn for the worst when he saw Yumichika's smug smile. "Not one word," he threatened the man.
Yumichika just laughed.
Retsu sat on the stool in a slump and completely baffled and irritated. "He picked today of all days to come in," she said with a sigh. "Friday afternoon and I'm not even here." It was just too perfect, she had to laugh.
Isane was staring at her like she was crazy. "You can't ….like him can you?" she asked with a cautious tone. "I mean he's….well he's..."
"An anti prince charming," Retsu supplied for her.
"Well yeah, but I was going to say tactless, insensitive, a brute, barbarian --"
Retsu's laugh interrupted her ranting of Kenpachi's characteristics. "But that's why I like him."
"Seriously?" Isane asked, leaning against the counter. She wasn't sure if she should have an intervention for her boss or set her up on a date with the man.
"Yes, seriously," Retsu said smiling, "there's just something about him that makes me smile and….he's appealing in his own way."
"About as appealing as a horse's ass," Isane muttered, but felt contrite as soon as she said it. Retsu's eyes had gotten wide, but she'd smiled and held back a laugh. This instantly set Isane at ease, she hadn't meant to disagree with her boss on the qualities of the man she seemed to be infatuated with. "Sorry."
"It's alright," Retsu said, getting up from the stool and grabbing a wash cloth from the bucket of sanitizer under the counter. "Everyone likes something different…though I do wish you could give him a chance."
"I'll try," Isane replied.
Sunday after noon, two days after Kenpachi had tried to come see Retsu, the door chimed and both women looked up. Isane smiled shyly and Retsu just rolled her eyes and continued walking over to the few empty tables that needed cleaning. The boy, Ikkaku, was back again. He'd been coming into the store frequently, but unlike his friend he came to talk with Isane not just walk past the store.
But at least she knew he was interested, that was a good thing. She'd just have to make sure she was in the store the next time he got up the courage to talk to her. Leaving the two chatting, Retsu moved to the back and finished cleaning up. The coffee shop would be closing early since it was Sunday.
Retsu had decided a long time ago that she wouldn't work every hour of the week, and Sunday was used as a nice relaxing day. They were open early in the morning and around noon they would close, it might not be a profitable thing to do but she didn't want to over work herself, like her father had done.
"Retsu I'm heading out now, okay?" Isane called from the front, as she stuck her head in the door. "You don't need me anymore right?"
"No, go ahead," she replied. "Have fun." She gave Isane a wink and the girl blushed but was smiling.
Hours later, Retsu finished cleaning up and counting money. She was just heading out when a duffle bag caught her attention. Picking up the large black bag, she debated opening it for a few minutes. Inside the bag was a kendo uniform, along with a few other things.
"Must be Ikkaku's," she muttered, biting her lip. She was sure he'd be missing it later, but she didn't know where he lived or where the dojo was for that matter. Running a hand through her hair, she sat down to think of what she could do when she saw the writing on the side of the bag. White letters spelled out the name of the dojo and the location. "Perfect!" she said, getting up and locking the coffee shop's door after her.
Reading the bag once more she began walking down the street towards her destination. It took her forty minutes to reach the dojo from her coffee shop. She looked at the address on the bag and back up at the dojo, to make sure she was in the right place. The dojo looked, well like a dojo she guessed but it was a little austere looking. It also intimidated the hell out of her, and reminded her of her anti prince charming.
Kenpachi couldn't believe his eyes. She was standing outside of his dojo and when he saw her he paused, which cost him a hit to the shin by the little ankle biter. "What the hell?" he yelled at the small girl with pink hair.
"You were distracted Ken-chan," answered Yachiru with a cheery voice. She pulled her men off, smiling at him. With out the helmet covering her face, pink hair was sticking out at odd angles. She was an odd child, with very eccentric parents.
Kenpachi's eye twitched at the little smart ass. "Practice is over for the day," he said, gaining the attention of his students. Most were happy, because Kenpachi never let them go home early. "And I told you to stop calling me Ken-chan," he bellowed. "It's Kenpachi."
Irritated that he'd lost his concentration while sparring, he marched the small class out and stood watching Retsu. He watched her smile at the students and stopped to ask one of them something, apparently she got a correct answer because she smiled and thanked the boy she'd stopped. She also started for the door and he panicked slightly. There could be many reasons for why Retsu was at his dojo –there could be many reasons for her visit and the one's he came up with weren't too pleasing.
He quickly looked over at the mirror to gauge his appearance; he wasn't exactly that bad looking. His hair was pulled up into spikes with bells on the end and he was also wearing his eye patch. The bells and eye patch were for when he was training, so his opponent would be given all the help they could get, and he wore these in the underground kendo matches where they used real swords. Those matches where how he got all the scars that covered his body and the particular one down the side of his face.
He didn't think he looked that bad.
Retsu stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Kenpachi. He was wearing just his hakama and keikogi, but that wasn't what made her stop. He was also wearing an eye patch and his hair was up in spikes, she'd only seen it down.
"Good God!" she gasped. "Your face!" She had dropped the duffle bag and moved over to Kenpachi before she realized it. Her hands reached out to his face, but she paused then put them back down. What in the hell was she thinking? She couldn't just touch the man, she barely knew him.
"I mean," she blushed. "I'm sorry about your accident." Kenpachi started laughing, which made Retsu look up at him with a puzzled expression on her face.
"Well I don't really see what's so funny," she snapped, beginning to feel embarrassed, when she shouldn't be.
Kenpachi made a great effort to stop laughing at her; she looked ready to kick him in the shin and leave. He reached up and took the eye patch off, so he could show her he was alright and her concern, while touching, wasn't needed. "I wear it for practices, it gives the students an advantage to try and beat me."
"That sounds a little unorthodox," she admitted, relieved that nothing had happened to him. "I suppose the bells do the same thing?"
Kenpachi nodded his head, which made the bells jingle. Retsu smiled, amused at the sound and sight. "Well, then I'm sorry I yelled. I was just a little surprised, that's all."
"Why are you here?" he asked, getting straight to the point. He really wasn't good with these sort of things. Most women hardly talked to him, so he usually let Yumichika handle everything.
Retsu blinked. "Ooh, yes. Well your friend, Ikkaku left his duffle bag at the shop," she explained, turning around to fetch the black bag. "I was returning it because, well I figured you would see him before I would. So here." She handed the bag to Kenpachi, who threw it over into a corner where cubbies where. "Did you really have to throw it?" she asked, concerned for the young man's things.
"It'll be fine," he said. Retsu shuffled her feet and bit her lip; it suddenly got very awkward in here.
"Well, that's it," she drawled out. "I guess I'll be going."
"Dinner," he said suddenly. "Eight o'clock. Sookie's bar and grill. Meet me there."
Well that was abrupt; she thought but found herself nodding in agreement. Kenpachi nodded once and started to head toward the back of the dojo. Retsu guessed there were showers or his normal clothes back there, and then she remembered she didn't know where Sookie's bar and grill was. It was a good thing she had a phone book, because Kenpachi didn't look inclined to give her directions.
He watched her leave the dojo and frowned. What in the hell had he just done? It wasn't like him to ask women out to dinner, normally. Hell he hardly even liked company when he ate, and he certainly didn't think she'd enjoy Sookie's bar and grill. It was a place where some tough people hung around. Yumichika was going to kill him. But then, she had smiled and he really liked her smile.
"Damn it," he muttered, heading through the back door into an office, where Yumichika normally sat doing things. And on the left was a small kitchenette and to the right a shower room. Grabbing a towel from one of the shelves in the office, he headed into the shower room.
Once he was showered, he dressed and put his training gear into his duffle bag. Slinging the bag over his shoulder he started to leave, but stopped when Yumichika entered the dojo.
"Where is the class?" he asked, somewhat surprised.
"I let them go home early," he answered, trying to move around Yumichika, but the damn man continued to block the door. "Move damn it!"
"And where are you going?" he asked, completely unfazed by Kenpachi's yelling. "I dare say it has something to do with the coffee shop owner?"
Kenpachi sighed; there would be no way he was going to get out of not telling Yumichika. "We're having dinner at eight," he muttered. "Now will you move?"
"Dinner?" Yumichika grinned. "Well what are you going to wear and where are you going to take her?"
"Clothes and Sookie's bar and grill," Kenpachi responded, getting irritated and continued to try and get past Yumichika, but stopped when he saw the look of aghast horror on his face. "What now?"
"You are not taking that nice gentle lady to a biker bar," Yumichika snapped, hands coming up to place on his hips. "Are you insane?"
"It's a nice place," Kenpachi retorted, crossing his arms over his chest. He didn't think it was that bad of a place for a date. They had some pool tables, live music played and the food was cheap but good. Besides they weren't breaking any health code violations, so it was a legit place for a date.
"A nice place is Brazil," Yumichika said his eyes closing as he placed his fingers to his temples as if trying to rub away a headache that was forming. "Sookie's is cesspit of vile, ugly, burly men who have nothing better to do then smoke and drink them selves silly. Oh and let's not forget about the bar fights that seem to happen every single night, and you want to take a lady there? Good, God, no wonder you have no way with women."
Kenpachi had about enough of the insults to his personage and he was overly ready to punch Yumichika. "I don't recall asking you for your opinion," he muttered, glaring at the man.
But then, Kenpachi had known this was how he was going to act. The one time Ikkaku and he had taken Yumichika to the bar, the prissy man had complained the whole time about heath regulations and the ugly people in the bar. Not to mention he was the one who started the bar fight that night, all because he started handing out fashion tips.
The dumb ass had to have known how the men would act. So it was his own god damn fault and Kenpachi had to bail him out. Yumichika hadn't been back since, and Ikkaku and Kenpachi refrained from asking him to join them for drinks.
Sookies' was definitely not what Retsu had pictured it to be. Instead of a nice sit- down family restaurant, a dilapidated looking building complete with road hogs sitting out front stood in front of her. She could hear the loud music playing from where she stood.
Retsu nervously clutched her purse to her, looking at the bar and a few thugs who were standing near the door, beer in hand and staring at her. She felt over dressed in her blue tank top dress that fell all the way down to her knees and black strappy heels. Also the way the two men were staring at her, and she told herself she wasn't stepping one foot closer.
Her eyes glanced around trying to catch a glimpse of Kenpachi, she didn't know whether he was already here or hadn't arrived yet. She hoped for the latter. Or he could have stood her up.
"No," she muttered to herself shaking her head. "He wouldn't have done that." Lifting her head high, she took a deep breath and was planning to walk into the bar by herself. Before she could move a hand dropped on her shoulder. She shrieked; spinning away from the attacker….and there stood Kenpachi, looking at her like she was crazy.
"Sorry," she said, trying to calm her beating heart. "You scared me." Once she was able to breath normally again, she noticed that he was wearing jeans and a shirt. Biting her lip, she wished she could go home and change clothes.
"You look good in that dress," Kenpachi said, giving her a long once over starting with her shoes and working his way up. Her hair was pulled back in a clip, only a few strands escaped to hang down her face. She looked better then good, she looked luscious. "Come on," he said, taking her hand. "Let's get some food. I'm hungry."
Retsu had hoped he wouldn't be so set on going in, but apparently he was and she was just going to have to deal with it. His hand in hers felt solid and she knew he wouldn't let anything happen to her, but she was still edgy about the people in the bar. Her other hand came to rest on top of his, as they entered the building.
Kenpachi seemed to know what he was doing because he led her over to a table in the back corner. He sat down so his back was against the corner and she sat down next to him. He handed her one of the menus so she could see what they had. He already knew what he wanted.
"Do you come here often?" Retsu asked, her eyes taking note of the many people in the bar and what they were doing. No one seemed to be bothering them, but a few men were staring at her. She wished they wouldn't, and that they would find a new woman to stare at. There were a few of them in the bar, they looked just as tough and mean though.
"Once a week or so," he answered. "What do you drink and have you picked out what you want to eat?"
Retsu paused. "I'll have water and a chicken basket," she said, putting the menu down. She hadn't expected the short clipped answer, and began to wonder what else they could talk about. When she looked up, he was gone and she began to panic slightly. Looking to her right, she saw him at the bar putting in their orders and carrying a water bottle and a beer back to their table.
She took the water from him, thankful it was bottled. If it had come back in a glass she was just going to suffer not drinking anything. Retsu wasn't even sure she wanted to attempt to eat what she'd ordered.
"So you work at the dojo," she prompted, hoping it would be something he would like to talk about.
"I own it."
Or he could give her a short answer. "Oh, I didn't know that. You must be very proud of it, then."
"It passes the time," he said, taking a sip of his beer. She looked up wondering if his eyes were wandering too, but noticed that they hadn't left her face. It made her blush.
"Passes the time for what?" she asked, hoping he would continue and not notice her blushing.
He grinned, "For tournaments. The dojo just gives me something to do in between kendo tournaments and it serves as practice."
"Have you won many tournaments?" she asked, now more then curious and she completely forgot about the other occupants.
"A few," he remarked casually. "Why do you own a coffee shop?"
"Because it's always something I wanted to do," she answered, smiling. "My father is a doctor and he always pushed me to go into that field, but it just wasn't for me. I enjoy owning my own business and talking with the people who come to the shop." She let out a small laugh. "This was definitely not what my father expected me to do. What about your parents?"
"They're dead," he answered, without skipping a beat.
"Oh, I'm so sorry." Great going, she told herself. Her hand reached out and patted his, but he was laughing again. She frowned at him.
"They've been dead for years," he said, trying not to laugh at her. It was just funny that she though to comfort him, it was oddly sweet too.
"Oh, well how was I supposed to know," she muttered, hoping he'd pick up a hint and start volunteering some information about himself. She felt like she was fishing, but wasn't getting any bites just annoying nibbles.
"Food is ready," he said, standing up and walked to the bar once again.
Retsu watched him leave and sighed. What was she doing? She had to be on one of the worst dates ever, everything felt so awkward and the setting was not helping a bit. Taking the cap off the water, she took a swing trying to think of what else they could talk about.
By the time he finished eating, Retsu had stopped picking at her chicken basket, and she still didn't know what they could talk about. It was so unnerving she almost felt like asking stupid things, like what his favorite color was. This was hopeless.
Kenpachi sat there watching her. She hadn't eaten much and it made him wonder if she wasn't feeling good. He'd thought the date was going good, so far no bar fights had broken out in her presences. The silence wasn't what he would call awkward but it wasn't exactly comfortable either, but he didn't know what you talked about on a date, especially to someone like Retsu. She was different from the women he hung around, she wasn't muscled or crass. She was curvy and completely feminine.
"Didn't like it?" he asked, referring to her dinner.
"Oh, well it's not that," she said, not knowing how to tell him she wasn't going to eat the chicken.
"You could get something else," he replied. She picked up a strip of chicken and ate it.
"No, it good," she said, after swallowing the food. And it was good, she just wasn't sure if she'd get some kind of food poisoning from this place. Or maybe she'd just been looking at this the wrong way, she though letting a smile slip out. Hadn't she said she wanted an anti prince charming? Well this was definitely not romantic or wishful; it was real so she just needed to stop snubbing her nose at it.
"I'll be right back," she said, excusing herself to use the restroom. She carefully made her way around to the bathroom, and breathed a sigh of relief. This place wasn't so bad, and she'd expected bar fights when she stood outside horrified.
Kenpachi watched her make her way back to the table, making sure nothing happened to her. When she tried to avoid one pool player, she stumbled and knocked into another man. His pool stick swung and knocked the ball off course. It was then that Kenpachi moved from his seat.
Retsu apologize as the man she'd bumped into turned on her. His face was red and he didn't bother listening to her as he shouted.
"You made me lose my game," he yelled, his hand on the pool stick tightened. Retsu took a step back and wondered why no one was helping her. "You made me lose five hundred dollars. And you're going to pay up." He finally seemed to notice she was a woman because he looked her up and down in a leering way. "One way or another…"
Retsu blanched. The man surely hadn't meant she'd ….that well…it was completely out of the question. Nor was she paying him five hundred dollars, surely his friends would let him redo the shot on account of it being her fault, wouldn't they?
"I apologized," she said, calmly. "But I'll not be paying you. It was an accident, I'm sure your friends will let you redo the shot." She looked at his friends but they were just grinning.
"And saying your sorry ain't enough," the man with the pool stick said. "You'll be paying me."
"No I will not," she snapped, completely appalled at his behavior.
"I said you will," he began to advance on her.
"The lady doesn't have to pay you shit," Kenpachi growled, he'd come to stand behind Retsu. "Hell she shouldn't even have to apologize to your ugly face." He pulled Retsu behind him, before the first punch was thrown.
Kenpachi's fighting style was kendo, but that didn't mean he didn't know how to hold his own in a bar fight. He'd taken the first punch so he could make sure Retsu got out of the way. By the second punch, Kenpachi blocked and retaliated in kind. Two swift jabs to the guy's gut had him bending over in agony. The tricky thing about bar fights were that it was hardly ever just the two that started the right. The whole room seemed to join in.
As soon as the first guy went down the three others moved into his place. Kenpachi grabbed the pool stick from the floor, where the first man had dropped it. Breaking the stick in half, he grinned. This was starting to get fun.
Retsu stood agape at the scene playing out in front of her. A bar fight! Sure she'd heard about them from her father who worked in the emergency room, but she'd never in her life witnessed one. She wasn't sure whether to help or escape while she could. Her eyes were drawn to Kenpachi as she watched him take down the man who'd been threatening her. She couldn't believe it….the demented man was smiling. He was actually enjoying this.
Retsu was knocked out of her thoughts, rather forcefully as a man bumped into her. She fell against the table, hitting her head. In a matter of seconds, she heard the man on top of her give a yell before he was gone. Rough arms picked her up, settling to where she was perched in his arms. She threw her own arms on his shoulders, to steady her. Once she was able she opened her eyes to see Kenpachi carrying her out of the bar.
Fresh air hit her face and she breathed a sigh of relief. He stopped far enough away from the bar and set her on her feet. Steady on the ground she took a deep breath, before speaking. "Are you out of your mind?" she said with a raised voice, but not quite yelling. "You could have been hurt in there! It was three against one and you were…you were smiling! What would have happened if you'd been beaten to death? They would have –"
He cut her off with a kiss; she was so startled she didn't respond. The kiss was warm and rough, his lips pressed against hers. She felt his hand on her chin, pressing into her cheeks, forcing her mouth open as his tongue invaded. His tongue slid along her own before exploring the rest of her mouth. Tentatively her own tongue slid against his, and his body seemed to tighten in response.
By the time they broke apart, Retsu was breathing heavily and Kenpachi looked as if it hadn't affected him at all. She was completely bewildered and couldn't remember what she'd been yelling at him about. Some how her arms had slide up on his shoulders. She unclenched her fingers and pulled away with a flushed face.
"Why?" It was the only word that she could manage to squeak out in her current mind state. Bar fighting to kissing in a parking lot, it was just a lot to comprehend.
"It was the only way I could get you to shut up," he admitted with a shrug. Moving close to her, he reached for her head. "How's your head?"
That was it? Because he couldn't think of another way to shut her up? That was the most ridiculous reason for a kiss. Though it was endearing that he cared about her wound. "It's fine," she said irritably and a little bit put out.
"You're going to have a nice sized bump," he said, fingers running over the bruised area making her wince. He wasn't exactly the gentlest of persons. "Just put some ice on it when you get home."
That was it? Just kiss her to shut her up and now he was sending her home. "Um…will I see you again?" she couldn't help but ask, and the atrocious man had the audacity to smile at her.
"I'll see you in the morning," he said, before leaning in and kissing her again…and it was just as bewildering as the first. "That one was because I wanted to."
"Oh," she said softly, and then she said another oh to herself. "I'll see you tomorrow." Even though she said it, she had to wonder if she was temporarily going insane by wanting to see him again.