Prompt 2: Birthday
Hanataro had never looked forward to his birthday. He was born in the warm, rainy month of April. …The very first day of the warm, rainy month of April. Thus, his special day was spent being pranked, outwitted, and bullied. What fun.
The not so loud alarm in his bedroom went off. Today was April first, Yamada Hanataro's day of birth. He sighed. "Here we go again…" He sat up, stretching out slightly and running a thin hand through his short hair. It was still damp in the very back. He was halfway tempted to ask Unohana-Taichou for the day off, but he knew better. He rubbed his tired eyes and looked to his clock as he did always, finding the time to be 3:45. He had sewer-cleaning duties today—yes, cleaning those filthy sewers on his birthday— so he woke himself an hour earlier. He stood and peered out his window, seeing that even the sun was having a hard time getting up. He slid his feet into his slippers and padded out of his room and into the common room's kitchen to get a drink of water and an apple, and then found his way back to his room. He slipped out of his gray yukata and into his shinigami robes, folding them carefully around his torso. He put on his socks and sandals, grabbed his bag, slung it over his shoulder, and made his way through the home and out the door as silently as his clumsy feet would allow.
He walked slowly toward the supply room, munching his apple and dreading his duties. But if he didn't slack and mess around, he could have his share done in about two and a half hours, maybe…if he worked hard. Five full tunnels, that was all. They were giving him a break today. And then he'd have time to go back and shower before he went on to his other tasks. He smiled slightly at the thought, and wrung his clean hands as he neared that dreadful door. He got his key out and opened the room, pulling the chain for the light. He tossed his apple core into the wastebasket inside, took out a mop and a bucket, grabbed a long-handled broom, and closed the door again. He turned, gathered the things in his rams as well as he could, and headed for the tile that led downward to the sewer.
He set it all down when he got there, and opened the hidden door. A warm burst of air came from below, accompanied by a nose-crinkling odor. It was bad, yes, but he'd be used to it in a matter of minutes. It consumed you down there…He sat down, preparing to slide down onto the steel ladder. But then, before he realized what was going on, he had a cloth pulled tight around his mouth and he was being pulled away. He thrashed as hard as he could. The cloth was then tied to the back of his head, and another came around his wide, frightened eyes. He was hefted up and over his captor's shoulder as they began to run. "It'll be easier if you don't struggle, so just stay still!" The person snapped, and Hanataro did so.
He heard a loud, loud noise. It was cold for a little while, and then another gust of warm air came over him. But it didn't smell bad here. It smelled…fresh. And kind of flowery. He was cold again quickly when air began rushing over him, and after a little while, his captor stopped running, and threw him down. The strip of cloth around his eyes was removed, and he blinked them into focus. He saw three figures in black with black masks that only showed their eyes. The shortest, who was by no means short at all, turned and went into the back of the room that they were in. The second stooped down, looking at him closely, and laughed slightly. Hanataro could swear he recognized those brown eyes… "It'll all be over soon, kid."
At that, Hanataro began to shake. All over…? Did he mean that he would be over? But why? What had he done to anyone? The smallest came back with an armful of clothes, and waved him over. Hanataro stood reluctantly and followed the person into a room. "Here," a slightly gravelly voice spoke to him. The man tossed the clothes to him. "Get in that gigai and put that stuff on. It's about time you got what you deserved." The man left him alone in the room, but stood close to the door. Hanataro saw a window nearby and almost had the guts to jump out and run, but his mind told him better. He got into the gigai as instructed, and dressed. The clothes were nice; a three-quarter length sleeve shirt that was striped vertically with shades of blue, gold and white, charcoal slacks with a grey belt, and black loafers. Why in the world had they given him such nice clothes? And how did they know his sizes? They fit perfectly… He straightened himself out a little and slid the door open. "I'm done now." He said quietly.
The shortest man turned around and led him back to the room he was in first, and pushed him down to his knees. He brought out the cloth that had covered his eyes before, and returned it to its place. "Just sit still and be quiet. We'll get you where you're going." The man stood, he heard a shuffling, and the largest of the three picked him up and began walking. The other two followed. They walked for about fifteen minutes. Then he could hear people talking. There was a shush or two, and the talking ceased.
He was placed in a chair. The knot on the cloth around his eyes was loosened, but it didn't move. He cracked an eye open in anticipation.
"Yamada Hanataro." A low female voice called to him. It was obviously forced down about an octave than it would be normally.
"…Yes?" He replied softly. His hands were trembling on the armrests of the chair just slightly and he was trying to keep his breathing steady, but he lost that battle when he felt something against his stomach. He flinched against whatever it was and tried hard not to scream. "…Please, don't hurt me!" He closed his eyes again.
The person laid the thing in his lap. The cloth was slowly moved, and he opened one eye slowly. He opened the other and blinked a few times. It was then that he realized that he was sitting before all of his friends.
In the front of the surprisingly large mob was Rukia. They all smiled. "Happy birthday, Hanataro," She said kindly.
His eyes widened. They began to cheer, and Orihime and Tatsuki threw confetti into the air. Ichigo, Renji, and Urahara—who were standing next to Rukia— whistled, Chad blew a party horn, and the modsouls, who were all in a body, clapped.
After a minute or so, the commotion subsided. "…For me…?" He could barely form the words. His eyes darted over to Ichigo, Renji, and Urahara.
"Not quite," Urahara waved his fan.
"Rukia arranged this whole thing." Ichigo explained. "You should thank her."
Hanataro looked to Rukia, who just kept on smiling.
"…I don't understand." He stood, and found that the thing in his lap was an oddly heavy gift. "Why would you go through all this trouble for me…?"
"Because," She took a few steps toward him, and placed a hand on his. "You've gone far too long without being appreciated, Hanataro. This is what you deserve."
His cheeks warmed at the contact, and he looked down at the gift. "This is for me?"
She chuckled. "Of course it is. It's your birthday." She took his hands in hers and placed one of them on the little blue bow at the top. "From all of us."
He opened it carefully. He couldn't remember the last time he'd received a gift… He pulled the lid off of the box, and inside was a jar of marbles. He pulled it from the box, and tied around the top was a small card that read: "From all of the people that care about you. Happy birthday, Hanataro." He removed the lid from the jar and pulled out a marble. Upon closer inspection, he saw that there was writing on it. He looked even closer, and saw that it said "Unohana". He placed it back into the jar and brought out another one, on which was written "Renji". He proceeded to find "Uryu", "Ichigo", "Ganju", and "Rangiku". He removed one more, the most beautiful one yet, and saw that the name was "Rukia".
He looked up at her, tears welling in his grey-blue eyes, and smiled. "Thank you."
She stepped closer to him, wrapped her arms around him, and patted his back gently. "You're welcome, Hanataro."
They pulled away from each other, his face red and wet, and her smile still in place. She turned to the crowd, and threw a hand into the air. "Let's make this a day he'll never forget!"
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