Disclaimer: Kubo Tite created the characters of Ichigo and Rukia, but the profits from their creation are for everyone--the love and fun and emotional profits, that is. Shueisha Inc. gets the yen.
Description: PG13, an IchiRuki Halloween story written for the Bleach Asylum IchiRuki Fan Club and dedicated to Justine (Ileenka) for her Scorpio birthday.
Ichigo felt a glow in his heart and a thump in his groin.
Or was it the other way around?
Either way, there was an insane pressure in his chest and another in his pants--
It was the blood-rush of too much excitement too fast. He recognized the feeling from battle, but this was worse. Way worse. His face burned. Muscles in his neck engorged and closed his throat. Say something, say something. He fought with the will of getsua tensho against his stricken body to open his mouth and speak.
"My dad … my dad…." Why did his voice sound so squeaky? "My dad said you look like WHO?"
"Hiromi Oshima," Rukia answered brightly. She spun herself in a slow 360 to display her Halloween costume "She's a famous model?"
Rukia was wearing fishnet hose, three inch heels, and a piece of black fabric probably no wider than eight inches around her entire torso.
"Hiromi Oshima … she was…." She was Japan's Playboy Bunny of the Year when Ichigo was in Middle School. Keigo sang her praises all the time--that's how Ichigo knew. It wasn't that he'd ever bought a single issue of Playboy. No, he never had. Never. Guys were always sneaking copies of centerfolds to one another in class and Ichigo had seen a crumpled page in the back of a notebook every now and then…. Amazing that no one ever got caught.
"What's the matter with you, Ichigo?"
Ichigo raised his eyes to meet Rukia's frown. It was only then that he noticed the other parts of her costume--the black bowtie at her neck and the bunny ears.
Shock turned into indignation. "Wait… wait one moment here." Ichigo scratched the back of his head so hard his fingernails cut his scalp. "Where the HELL did you find this costume and what did my dad have to do with it?"
"You don't remember? You didn't want to go to the cosplay store with me because you said the place was full of weirdoes, and Isshin-san said he'd come and help me pick out my costume for our Halloween party."
Ichigo allowed his gaze to drop to Rukia's cleavage. Yes, he was in control now. He pointed a fierce, accusatory finger at the eight inches of black cloth covering Rukia's tiny body. "The cosplay store sells things like THAT?"
"Huh? It's a bunny costume. There were lots of bunny costumes. Your dad said that Hiromi Oshima was a famous bunny and--waaah, what are you doing?"
Ichigo had grabbed Rukia by the elbow and was halfway up the stairs. He paused mid-gallop to give her a scolding look. "People are coming here! Keigo! Guys!" How could Rukia not understand the urgency of the situation? "People! GUYS! Any minute!"
Poor girl was clueless. She winced and one of her bunny ears drooped over her eye. "It's a Halloween party, Ichigo. Of course people are coming."
"No, no, no. You don't understand. What you're wearing is inappropriate."
"You're the one who's inappropriate. You're not in a costume. A nice, respectful son would humor his family and dress up for their party, but nooooo, you have to be boring. You think you're being rebellious but it's just boring--waaah!"
Ichigo had sped Rukia to the top of the stairs in one flash of shunpou (not an easy task considering he was in his human body). Now he stood, looking in all directions, not certain what to do next.
"You don't understand," he said. "Halloween is a children's festival. There are children in this house. My sisters are dressing up as Pokemon. Halloween isn't for--"
All Ichigo could do was point to the area of white exposed flesh above the bunny bodice and then to Rukia's fish-netted thighs--oh my god, he could see her hipbones; that's how high the bunny suit was cut.
"Halloween isn't for sexy stuff!" Ichigo blurted out.
Rukia blinked. "Sexy stuff?"
Ichigo needed to cover her up. A sweater. A black sweater and pants and she would still look like a bunny. He was about to head for the room Rukia shared with Karin and Yuzu but the warbling sounds of his sisters talking as they got ready for the party discouraged him. He didn't want to explain to them that it mattered to their older brother that Rukia looked like a whore.
"My room," Ichigo said and yanked Rukia's arm again.
This time she didn't budge. Her three-inch heels were dug into the carpet. A quizzical look came over her face.
She had that pinched-eyebrows look she always had when she was worried about him, but there was also a faint blush rising on her cheeks.
"Ichigo, aren't you over-reacting?"
Ichigo always over-reacted. What was she talking about?
"Do you think this might have something to do with your reiatsu?" Rukia looked a little flustered. "Maybe your big reiatsu effects your adolescent hormones."
Ichigo dropped Rukia's elbow. "WHAT?"
Rukia's eyes narrowed. "Why do you want me to go to your bedroom?"
The blood was crowding Ichigo's brain again and he had to shake his head before he could speak.
"You don't understand! I'm trying--" Ichigo lowered his voice to a whisper. "I'm trying to protect you here."
Rukia smiled. "Oh, that again. That explains it."
"Don't smile at me like that! This isn't funny! I'm trying to protect YOU, my family, the whole … sanctity of Halloween here. My dad is a pervert. He picked out that costume for you just to cause trouble." Ichigo wanted to point at Rukia's cleavage again but stopped himself. There was something not right with that gesture. "My dad just wanted to start fights. Guys would make passes at you. I'd have to clobber them! It would be chaos!"
"Passes?" Rukia was smiling broadly now. "I can take care of myself, Ichigo. I can handle a few horny human guys."
"HORNY? Where did you learn that word? You're hanging around my dad too much!"
Karin's voice rang from across the corridor. "They're fighting again. Just ignore them."
Ichigo grabbed Rukia's elbow, threw her into his room, shut the door, locked it.
Rukia was a contrary person--it would be difficult to talk her out of wearing that godawful outfit downstairs. Hadn't his dad said something about bobbing for apples? What if that little black bunny outfit got wet? Maybe Ichigo could just argue with Rukia for the next couple hours. Maybe he could keep her preoccupied in his room for the whole party.
Ankles turned inside out and maintaining a wobbly balance on her high heels, Rukia stood where she'd been tossed. "These shoes aren't that comfortable. I'm taking them off." She bent over to undo the straps.
"What are you doing? Don't get undressed!"
"Who said anything about getting undressed? I'm just taking off my shoes." She kicked away the spikey heels. Ichigo noticed that her hose had torn and her naked big toe was sticking out of its fishnet footing.
Rukia had a sexy toe. God help him.
No. No. He had to cover her up.
Like a magician sweeping the tablecloth off a dinner table without upsetting the silverware and centerpiece, Ichigo swiped the bedsheet off his bed. The coverlet and pillows fell back into their places.
"This," he said, clutching the white sheet. "This is your Halloween costume."
Rukia folded her arms. "That's a sheet, Ichigo. Or are you going to tell me you've learned how to sew like Ishida and you're going to make something out of that in less than a minute?"
"Basic Halloween costume!" Ichigo shook the bedsheet as if he were angry at it. "You can be a ghost. Cut two holes in it for eyes, and voila, you have a costume. And it covers up ALL OF YOU."
Rukia wasn't convinced. "What kind of ghost looks like a bedsheet? You and I can see spirits, Ichigo--you tell me. Ghosts don't look like big white blobs. That's a terrible costume. My bunny costume is way better."
Ichigo raised the rumpled sheet over his head as he raised his voice. "YOUR BUNNY SUIT IS INAPPROPRIATE! LOOK AT YOURSELF! YOU'RE PRACTICALLY NAKED!"
"Oh Pfft." Rukia tucked a finger under her bowtie to loosen it and sat on the foot of Ichigo's bed. "I don't get it, Ichigo. We've been to the beach together. Everyone there was wearing far less than what I am wearing right now." Her bowtie fluttered off and fell on the floor.
She was undressing in his bedroom, little by little. Did she realize what she was doing? Of course, she still had a good bit of costume accessories to go before she would be naked and that only proved her point about the Playboy Bunny outfit covering up more than a standard bathing suit but--
Rukia snapped her fingers. "Hey!"
Ichigo startled. "Wha--?"
"You're zoning out. Isn't that the term? Going spacey? Earth to Ichigo? What else does Karin call it-- you look retarded. What's the matter with you?"
"Nothing." Ichigo let out a long, exasperated breath. "Well--I'm still shocked by what you're wearing." No use not admitting that part. He would have to explain to her why the costume was inappropriate. Why was everything a struggle and a cultural lesson with Rukia? Why couldn't she do whatever he asked at all times and just shut up?
"Hmmmm." Rukia was pinching the fishnet fabric with her fingers. "Do the leg coverings mean something nasty? Like, do only girls who do nasty things in nasty positions advertise themselves this way?"
"What? No! You've got a nasty imagination. The reason your costume is inappropriate is … is …."
She was still pinching the hose like it was uncomfortable--like she wanted to take it off too. But she wouldn't be able to do that unless she took off the tiny bathing suit-like section off first because the hose was under that part--no, she wouldn't do that. Not here, not right in his bedroom. Not Rukia--she was a pure, untainted innocent girl. Rukia understood things like modesty and decorum. She just didn't understand … Playboy.
"You wanted to be a bunny for Halloween, right? One of those cute little rodents you're always squeeing over. A bunny, right?"
Rukia's nose wrinkled when she smiled. It was disconcerting how the mere mention of bunnies could make her look like a little girl, but Ichigo felt a sense of relief. Rukia looked less seductive thinking about bunnies than she did pinching black fishnet stocking at her thigh.
"Bunnies are these cute fur-ball kid pets, right. Do you know what a PLAYBOY bunny is?"
"Playboy?" Rukia put her finger to her lip and looked thoughtful. Finger … lip, no, that looked too sexy. Get that finger away from there, Rukia. "Playboy sounds like a brand name," Rukia went on. "Like Hello Kitty or Happy Panda."
"Well it's not," Ichigo huffed. Seriously, Rukia could be so naïve (that observation about fishnet and advertising sexual positions had come out of nowhere). "Playboy is this perverted INDUSTRY that comes from America. There's a Playboy mansion and Playboy clubs and Playboy magazines."
"America?" Rukia had folded her little fish-netted legs beneath her and looked quite cozy there on the edge of the bed. "Isshin-san says that Japan is way more perverted than America."
"Well, he would know," Ichigo said. "My dad is a total pervert and he knew perfectly well what Playboy bunnies were when he made you get that costume. Playboy bunnies aren't cute Hello Kitty icons--they're women who dress up like bunnies and look sexy."
"No, no, you don't understand," Ichigo went on. "That's not all they do. Hiromi Oshima? The model? She models in magazines without any clothes on. She's a NAKED MODEL."
Rukia stopped laughing.
"Wait. I thought Playboy bunnies wore all this black stuff." Rukia gestured from her bunny ears to her hose. "This isn't naked."
"They wear that stuff in the clubs when they're serving drinks," Ichigo said. "Or some of them do, but the famous ones like Hiromi Oshima are famous because they pose NAKED in men's magazines."
"Bah!" Rukia did not look astonished and embarrassed the way she was supposed to. "I'm not naked, so I don't see what the problem is."
How could he explain to her that the problem was that guys all over the world were conditioned to think degenerate thoughts at the mere sight of those Playboy bunny ears and bowtie? Ichigo didn't want to have to get into the specifics of male physical responses to the cues of fishnet hose and high heels. Did she really need to know? What was important was not stirring up those horrible male imaginations in the first place.
Ichigo felt a sick horror in the pit of his stomach. He thought of Keigo, Mizuiro, other boys who would be at the party, some of Karin and Yuzu's schoolbuddies who were too young to purchase Playboys but who no doubt had already gotten a peek at a centerfold (when had someone shown Ichigo his first centerfold? Primary school!) These guys should not thinking of Rukia with disrespect.
Ichigo walked over to Rukia and put the bedsheet around her shoulders.
"Rukia, can you trust me on this one?" Ichigo let his fingers linger on the sheet over her skin for a moment to emphasize his point. "Just this one time can you trust me and not argue?" Then he pulled away.
"Ichigo." Rukia sighed and adjusted herself in the folds of the sheet. "Why do you always have to be so abnormal?"
"Me? Abnormal? You've seen enough of the human world by now to know that's not true--it's my dad who's the abnormal one."
Rukia shrugged. "There were lots of people in the cosplay store buying up costumes like this one. They didn't seem abnormal to me. Your dad paid money for this bunny costume. It would be an insult to him not to wear it."
Ichigo slapped his forehead. "He bought it for you? That's… that's just sick."
They argued for another half-hour. Ichigo had supposed that he could keep his wits about him better if Rukia was covered up, but he had supposed wrong; at some point it occurred to him that a female wearing a skimpy outfit was sitting on his bed tousled within his bedsheets. Yuzu had knocked on the door asking if Rukia-chan was ready to come out because the pumpkin cupcakes were being served, and Isshin had bellowed something about "Leave them to their own party! Ichigo is of that age now, you know!"
And at that point, Ichigo realized that his dad needed to see the horrible bunny costume whole and sound on Rukia or else he would make remarks about Ichigo having torn it off.
"This is a nightmare," Ichigo said and flung himself backwards on the bed.
"It's all your own doing," Rukia said. "You're the one who's a prude."
The compromise they reached didn't satisfy Ichigo at all, but a small crowd had started to gather outside his bedroom door, and he really wanted to diffuse the attention away from Rukia and himself already. Rukia would wear the bedsheet over the bunny outfit so she wouldn't be exposing herself to pitiful, Playboy-industry indoctrinated males for the majority of the time, but every now and then--in keeping with the spirit of Halloween--Rukia would lift the sheet and go "Boo!" thus giving some poor boy in the vicinity a minor heart attack and then she would drop the sheet over herself again. Rukia loved the plan (she had come up with it). Ichigo worried that he'd created a flasher.
"Okay, okay, outta the way," Ichigo muttered to the goblins and Pokemon in the corridor as he and Rukia emerged from the bedroom. "Nothing to see here."
"She's just a ghost," said a Bulbasaur. "What's the big deal?"
That was Rukia's cue. "Boo!" she intoned in a deep voice and lifted the sheet.
"Holy shit," said the Bulbasaur. "Karin, your brother had a hooker in his room."
And that's how Ichigo won the argument. Or most of it. After Rukia had changed into the Buneary costume that Yuzu had worn two seasons ago and had spent some time milling around the partygoers, she discovered that indeed, black fishnet hose indicated sexual promiscuity.
"I was right!" she told Ichigo. "You said I had a sick imagination. It was the hose. It was the hose that meant HOOKER. Chizuru told me so."
"Shut up," said Ichigo. "What are you supposed to be anyway? You look like a bunch of blobs of ice cream."
"I'm a normal type Pokemon with four different moves including the Dizzy Punch," Rukia countered. Her fingertips pinched at the waistline of her too-small outfit. "I have a crush on Pikachu."
She looked cute. Ichigo was just happy she hadn't decided to wear Yuzu's Chimchar costume.