Author's Note: Well, I've been tagged by the lovely copperheadfightingninja to write a one-shot. This was inspired by Dane Cook's comedy act, particularly the one about Monopoly. I actually researched the rules since I haven't played this game in forever and a year, so I hope that everything is up to par in that area. Also, I've decided to leave the currency in the game as U.S. currency just to make it a bit easier for all of us involved. I tried converting it, but it came out to such an odd number I decided to leave it be.
There will also be a bit of Ichi/Hime in this as well; I just can't seem to drag myself away from that pairing! Enjoy the light fluff everyone! :D Also, please forgive any spelling/grammatical errors. I didn't really proof-read it as well as I should have before posting.
Disclaimer: Bleach and all characters, designs, etc. belong to Tite Kubo. I'm only allowed to fantasize about them. Also, Monopoly is owned by Parker Brothers, a subsidiary of Hasbro.
A tense silence filled the room; he could feel six pairs of eyes staring intently at him. He swallowed thickly as a bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face. His brow furrowed, deepening his usual scowl as he slowly moved his hand forward, his amber eyes locked on the small orange card. His hand shook slightly as he gingerly picked up the card and lifted it from the small pile. Flipping it over, he scanned the text printed on it before groaning and slapping his palm against his forehead in defeat.
"What did it say Kurosaki-kun?"
Ichigo looked up to see Orihime peering at him, her large, grey eyes watching him carefully. He handed her the card and crossed his arms over his chest while he glared at the board in front of him. She quickly read the card, her eyes widening horror with each word. She slipped the card back into Ichigo's hand, her eyes focused on the ground.
"I'm so sorry, Kurosaki-kun…" she murmured sadly.
"It's not that big of a deal, Inoue. It happens," he said gruffly as he ran a hand through his hair and sighed. "It's more frustrating than anything else."
"Well Kurosaki? Do we get to see which card you pulled or do you plan on keeping us in the dark?" interrupted Ishida.
Ichigo glared at the Quincy before throwing the card at him; Ishida caught the paper neatly between his index and middle fingers. Pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose, he read the card. A small smirk played around the corners of his mouth as he looked up to find the substitute Shinigami glaring murderously at him.
"Well? What does it say?" asked Rukia eagerly, a piece of pocky poised at her lips.
Ishida gracefully set the card in the middle of the board; everyone who hadn't seen the card leaned forward in order to read it. Printed in the center of the card in bold lettering was the phrase "Go directly to jail. Do not pass GO. Do not collect 200 dollars."
Renji howled with laughter and fell backwards onto the floor, clutching his sides as his body shook from the force of his laughter. Rukia stifled a laugh and continued eating her pocky although her eyes showed the amusement she felt. Chad merely gave Ichigo an apologetic look before returning his attention to the rule book. Ichigo watched glumly as his small token was moved to the square labeled 'Jail' before Rukia picked up the dice and shook them vigorously in her hands. They clattered against the table when she released them and she happily moved her token the indicated number of spaces. With a frustrated sigh, he scratched the back of his head while Renji took his turn at rolling the dice.
He wasn't sure how he had been roped into playing this stupid game to begin with. At first, they were merely gathered at Orihime's apartment and talking about what was going on at Soul Society. The next thing he knew, there was a board with colored squares sitting in the center of the small coffee table and Orihime was dealing out slips of multi-colored bills, all of which were obviously fake. Dumbfounded, he asked what she was doing. She paused and stared at him, a large smile on her face and her eyes shining with joy.
"We're going to play a game!" she declared excitedly. "It's a game that I played with my brother a long time ago and I found it buried in my closet the other night. Isn't it wonderful, Kurosaki-kun?"
His eyes softened; if it was something she had done with her brother before he passed away, he could deal with playing a board game for a few hours. He nodded, causing her to squeal happily. She startled him when she suddenly grabbed his hand and plopped a small token that was in the shape of a race car onto the palm of his hand. Her cheeks flushed when he gazed at her, his brows furrowed in confusion.
"Inoue, what's…?" His gaze flickered from the token and back to her face; his confusion grew when she quickly averted her gaze and twisted her hands together in her lap.
"It… Th-that was the token my brother always played as…" she murmured. She peeked at him out of the corner of her eyes and her cheeks burned when she saw that he was staring at her, a look of disbelief on his face.
"If it's the token your brother used, shouldn't you play as it?" He held out his hand so she could take it back, only to watch her shake her head, her copper locks splaying across her shoulders.
"I…I want you to play with it, Kurosaki-kun." She smiled warmly up at him as she continued, "It is special to me, but it would be much more special if you played as it."
Baffled, Ichigo could do nothing but smile gently at her – the small smile he saved only for her – as he set the token on the table in front of him. Orihime's eyes lit up and she enthusiastically assigned the tokens to the rest of their friends based on what she believed would suit them best.
Ishida had received the thimble – "Because you're so talented at sewing!" she exclaimed earnestly. Rukia was assigned the sack of money due to her noble standing in Soul Society and Renji was assigned the cannon because he tended to have an explosive temper at times. She assigned Chad the dog, which he happily accepted – her reasoning was that its shaggy fur reminded her of his hair. She stared at the remaining tokens for several minutes, her brow furrowed in concentration as she tried to pick the token that would properly correspond with her. Ichigo couldn't stand seeing her so flustered – although he couldn't understand why – so he decided to make a suggestion.
"Why don't you be the wheelbarrow, Inoue?" Orihime looked up at him, somewhat confused at his suggestion. "Wh-what I mean is…wheelbarrows are used to help people carry things and…well, you're always helping people."
He felt his cheeks heat up as he finished his explanation; he averted his eyes to the table, unsure as to why he was feeling so embarrassed. He was simply helping her pick out her piece, nothing more. He glanced at her out of the corner of his eye and saw that she had averted her gaze as well, although the tiny wheelbarrow now rested in the palm of her hand. She felt his gaze on her and turned to look at him, a soft smile lighting up her flushed face.
"Th-thank you, Kurosaki-kun," she stammered before quickly looking at Chad, who was busy sorting through the money that needed to be distributed.
Ichigo's mind was pulled back from its aimless wandering when something hit him in the side of the head; glancing down he saw that it was an empty box that once contained pocky. Picking up the box, he glared at the only person who would have the nerve to throw something at him – Rukia.
"What the hell Rukia?" he growled as he crushed the flimsy box in his hands.
"It's your move, moron. It's not my fault you were over there daydreaming," she said as she crossed her arms and glared at him.
"You still didn't need to throw something at me," muttered Ichigo as he reached for the dice. A small hand gently rested on his, halting his progress. When he looked up, he found a pair of grey eyes boring into his eyes. His cheeks warmed at the contact and a small voice in the back of his head commented that her skin was amazingly soft. Pushing the voice away, he frowned. "Inoue, what's wrong?"
"Ah!" she flushed and quickly retracted her hand, almost as if she had been burned. "Kurosaki-kun, you c-can't roll the dice yet."
"Why not?" His frown deepened when he heard Rukia chuckle at the scene unfolding before them.
"When you're in jail, you have two options," began Chad slowly, his eyes scanning the page he had the rule book open to. "You can either pay a fee or roll the dice. If you roll doubles, you'll be allowed to leave."
"How much is the fee?"
He glanced down at the pile of money he had sitting in front of him and grimaced. He hadn't been doing as well as he had hoped throughout the game. He owned a total of three properties, all of which were the first three he landed on at the beginning of the game. None of them contained houses or hotels to help bring some extra money his way. Thumbing through the few bills he had left, he sighed – he didn't even have enough to bail himself out of jail. As he reached for the dice, he stopped when a small yellow card was thrust at him.
"You can have this, Kurosaki-kun. I don't think I'll need it." Orihime smiled at him when he accepted the card from him.
"Inoue this is…"
"A get of jail free card! You can't give that card to him!" exclaimed Rukia as she jabbed a finger in Ichigo's direction.
"Why the hell not? It was Inoue's decision, and she gave it to me," huffed Ichigo,
"It's not fair! Why is she helping you out and not us?!"
"Maybe it's because she doesn't like midgets!" yelled Ichigo, his hand clenching into a fist at his side.
"Ah… I…I like Kuchiki-san very much!" protested Orihime, her eyes growing wide at the tension increasing between Ichigo and Rukia.
"Who the hell are you calling a midget?!" shrieked Rukia indignantly.
"Yeah, who the hell are you calling a midget?" growled Renji as he placed one of his hands firmly on the table.
"You know damn well who I'm calling a midget," spat Ichigo.
His eyes narrowed when he noticed how tense Renji's body became; almost as if he were a lion waiting to spring on his prey. He braced himself just as Renji lunged over the table, knocking the game to the floor as he went and tackled him to the ground, landing a solid punch against his jaw. A scuffle broke out as Ichigo and Renji rolled around on the floor amongst the different colored bills and cards, punching, kicking and taunting each other in loud voices. Rukia was cheering Renji on while Ishida and Chad watched in mild fascination. Orihime panicked and was on her feet, pleading with the two men rolling around on the floor to stop their argument.
"Kurosaki-kun, Abarai-kun! Please stop fighting! Oh, I hope the neighbors won't be angry…" she fretted as she gazed worriedly at the door.
"Kurosaki, would you knock it off already?!" yelled Ishida. His eye began twitching in irritation when Ichigo merely punched Renji in the stomach.
Chad silently rose to his feet and walked over to Ichigo and Renji. He managed to grab each of them by the back of their shirts and lifted them into the air, effectively putting a stop to their fighting. Ichigo crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Renji who sported a bloody nose. Renji had managed to split his lip and he tasted the distinct metallic tang of blood as he licked his dry lips. Ishida stood before the two and stared at them sternly.
"Are you two done now?" he asked calmly.
"Like hell we are!" roared Renji.
"Abarai-san, I suggest that you stop picking fights with Kurosaki. It would be a shame if we get poor Inoue-san in trouble with her neighbors."
Ichigo glanced over at Orihime and felt a pang of pity when he saw the worried look on her face. He had forgotten that she lived alone and could get into trouble if they made too much of a ruckus. Averting his gaze to the floor, he sighed.
"Sorry Inoue. I didn't mean to do anything that could get you in trouble…" he mumbled.
"Ah! I-it's alright Kurosaki-kun!" she said as she laughed nervously and scratched the back of her neck. "You don't need to apologize…"
"Yes I –" He was interrupted by Rukia's cell phone going off, alerting them to a nearby hollow.
"Renji, come on. Let's go take care of this," she said as she removed her gigai and exited the apartment. Renji followed soon after, muttering about his "cheap ass gigai" as he ran outside to catch up to Rukia.
Glancing at his watch, Ishida looked at Orihime apologetically. "I am sorry Inoue-san, but it's getting rather late. I think I shall excuse myself for the evening."
"Ah, you're right Ishida-kun! Thank you for coming over today," she said as she bowed. Smiling, she waved as he headed towards the door. "See you tomorrow Ishida-kun!"
"See you tomorrow, Inoue-san." Ishida calmly walked outside and shut the door quietly behind him.
Chad gently set Ichigo back on his feet before leaning Renji's gigai against a wall, making it seem as if he were sleeping. Looking up at his tall friend, Ichigo was grateful that he had stepped in when he did – he wasn't sure how much the fight would have escalated if he hadn't.
"Oi, you leaving Chad?"
Chad nodded in Ichigo's direction before turning to Orihime. "Thank you for inviting me over, Inoue-san."
"Oh, you're welcome Sado-kun! Feel free to come again!"
She watched as he nodded his thanks and exited the room before letting her gaze sweep over the small living room. A small sigh escaped her lips when she saw the mess waiting for her to clean up. Kneeling down next to the small table, she began to pick up the dollar bills scattered across the floor. Ichigo silently knelt beside her and began helping her clean up the pieces for the game. Her eyes widened and her cheeks flushed when she realized how close he was.
"K-Kurosaki-kun, you don't need to help me clean up," she said quietly.
"Yes I do, Inoue. I was partially responsible for making this mess and since that idiot Renji ran off I'll help." He turned his gaze to her face and smiled gently. "So please...let me help, Inoue."
Her heart skipped a beat when he smiled; she had only dreamed of him smiling at her like that. Her voice failing her, she nodded her head in a quick, jerky motion that caused him to chuckle quietly. Her cheeks burned as she averted her gaze and concentrated on the task in front of her.
Twenty minutes later, the room looked just as it had been before the small scuffle. Rising to his feet, Ichigo stretched and gazed at Orihime, who was placing the lid back on the box that once again contained all of the pieces needed for the game. She looked up at him, a bright smile on her lips.
"Thank you for helping me clean up, Kurosaki-kun," she murmured.
"It was no big deal. I would have helped you anyway," he said as he scratched the back of his head. His cheeks were colored with a light shade of pink and he glued his gaze on the far wall. This was the second time today that he was embarrassed without having a reason to be. Shaking his head he turned to face her, his usual scowl back in place. "I er…should probably get going."
"Ah… You're right. It's getting late." Orihime rose to her feet and clasped her hands behind her back as she rocked back and forth on the balls of her feet. They gazed at each other silence for a moment before she shyly averted her gaze to the floor.
Finally, Ichigo cleared his throat. "I'll…see you tomorrow, Inoue."
"Y-yes! See you tomorrow, Kurosaki-kun!" She watched as his eyes softened when he looked back at her one last time before closing the door behind him and walking down the steps.
Sighing, she sat down and placed a hand over her racing heart. She blushed when she remembered the small smile he had given her, how his eyes had softened when he looked at her, the way he said her name when he was speaking only to her… She let her gaze drift back to the box sitting atop the table and smiled. Perhaps someday they would be able to finish a game of Monopoly…just the two of them.
Here it is – my first one-shot! I now tag you back copperheadfightingninja! There was no rule stating "no tag backs" so now it's your turn! Haha. Good luck! And take your time – don't rush!