So when this story has band mentioned, it means like high school band, with flutes, clarinet, trumpets, oboes, the whole shebang. It is not in reference to rock/pop/teeny bopper/acoustic bands, think real bands just without the orchestra section, a band with matching dress attire that borders on formal to black tie style occasion of dress, not jeans and tee-shirts.
In band, usually there are ranks (of some sort), called first chair (or whatever instrument it's in reference to, such as first flute or first trumpet) and second chair, etc. etc. The chair number one is usually the best, this person gets the more complicated parts for the designated instrument and will do the solos when pieces call for it. So, for example: Flute. First chair flute is better than second chair who is better than third chair flute who is better than fourth etc. etc. Each groups sections (In this case each different type of instrument, ex: trumpet, saxophone, baritone) have their own ranking, independent of all the instrumental sections ranking.
My fellow band nerds should understand what I'm saying.
Disclaimer: As always, I do not own Bleach/Bleach characters in anyway.
Rukia Kuchiki sighed, looking in the mirror. Yes, everything was in place and she looked the part.
She pulled on her school uniform jacket, grabbed her instrument case and headed out the door.
"Today is the day, the start of it all."
"An overseas school?"
"Yep, in China."
"China?" Ichigo sat in class, scratching his orange-haired head in thought. "Are you sure? Our school is so dull, why would we ever be chosen to go overseas for band?"
Uryu Ishida nodded to Ichigo, "That's the word from the vine," he shrugged. "That may be what our director wanted to talk about before practice today."
Ichigo shifted his saxophone in his lap, leaning forward to stare down the boy sitting in the row in front of him. "Ishida, you better not be lying to me."
"We'll just have to wait and see. But lunch says I'm right."
Ichigo paused, as if assessing the possible wins and/or losses the situation had to offer. "No," he finally came to a decision, "I learned my lesson about betting against you. Your so called, 'Info from the vine,' is usually spot on."
"Suit yourself," Ishida said pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose.
Ichigo's attention shifted as the used to be vacant chair next to him was filled. "Oi, Itsuwari, you were almost late."
The small boy turned to glare at Ichigo, "Kurosaki, my schedule is none of your concern."
"Come, come now Itsuwari-kun, is that anyway to talk your senior, senpai, superior, whichever term you prefer."
"You're awfully full of yourself today aren't you, Mr. Number 1?"
Ichigo grinned, leaning back a little in his chair. "I don't see what you're talking about, Mr. Number two."
The small boy merely glowered. "I'm sure you don't. You're so dense, I bet you forget which end of the saxophone you're supposed to blow into, Kurosaki Ichigo."
"And who was it again that was first chair, want to refresh my memory, Itsuwari Tamako?"
Tamako merely scowled, grabbing his own saxophone from its case.
Itsuwari Tamako, a fellow first year student and main challenger of Kurosaki Ichigo, in Karakura their rivalry was very well known. Kurosaki Ichigo was considered a very talented musician, actually make that the very talented musician of his high school. The best saxophone player in the whole entire school and no one even came close in skill, not even with a ten foot pole.
Well, that was, until Itsuwari Tamako had appeared. From overseas, somewhere in Japan, the small, dark-haired, short-tempered boy immediately presented a threat to Ichigo's first chair position in the Symphonic Band.
Both freshmen and both saxophone players. The two quickly became the talk of the elite band.
Of the two bands in the school, Symphonic and Concert band, Symphonic could be what some would call, the "varsity" band. Not only was Ichigo first chair in this particular band, he was also a freshman, a combination that rarely occurred.
"So, did you practice the new piece," Ichigo surveyed Tamako as he assembled his saxophone.
"Yes, but only for about an hour," Tamako said still not looking at Ichigo. He pulled the reed from its case, sticking it in the side of his mouth.
"God, you have no life, we only got that piece yesterday and you've already wasted an hour of your life away practicing it."
"I take it you didn't even look at it," he said, his words slightly slurred by the protrusion of the reed.
The prince of the Karakura band, Ichigo was considered a prodigy. The amount of time he needed to practice was minimal, and his results were always far above satifactory. A first year at Karakura High and Ichigo was already well known throughout the school. A rare talent among the super talented musicians of Karakura. A private school, Karakura was the 'school' to go to if you wanted to get into the elite schools of music for college.
Their band was the best, ranked nationally and a name commonly spoken among recruiters for colleges. People came all over the United States to attend school at Karakura High. There were all sorts of students in attendance, some for the academics, others for the athletics, but the main majority of the student body was made up of teenagers in the music programs.
Almost all the students that attended Karukura came from the higher end of the upper class families. Sons and daughters of famous musicians, designers, engineers, scientists, actors, models, all sorts flocked to the school. Money was the unspoken rule and requirement for Karakura. To truly thrive and succeed at the school, overly sufficient monetary backing of some sort, was needed, usually provided by the student's overly wealthy parents.
One of the few exceptions to the unspoken rule, Itsuwari Tamako. Talented but poor, merely attending the school on an honors scholarship. What he lacked financially, he made up in talent and intelligence.
Pure talent but complete opposites in mannerisms, backgrounds and appearances.
"So, short stack have any plans for the summer?"
"No, besides we still have a month until school ends," Tamako said. "Why do you want to know anyway?"
"I just want to make sure that wherever you are, I'm not," Ichigo loved to mess with the smaller boy.
Tamako ignored him, setting up the sheet music on his stand. Ichigo shrugged out of his school uniform jacket, draping the dark blue jacket over the back of his chair. He glanced sideways at Tamako.
The guy was just an enigma. He wasn't very sociable, ate alone, studied alone and walked to and from school alone. He brought a packed lunch to school, whereas everyone else bought the elegant dishes prepared by the school's professional chefs. He had dark black hair, creamy, fair skin and the oddest eyes, violet irises that demanded attention.
He was very small in stature, only made worse by the too large school uniform blazer he wore. Now that Ichigo thought about it, he had never seen the guy take off his school issued blazer, even when the temperatures climbed above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
His appearance may have been that of a sweet little boy, but Kurosaki Ichigo knew first hand that the boy wasn't one to mess with. He had a glare that curdled milk and impeccable aim when it came to kicking shins. He was a bit of a neat freak, and worried about things Ichigo was sure would never cross his own mind, in a million years. Ichigo would almost say the boy had a feminine air about him.
"Attention students," the band director tapped a pencil on his music stand, calling the students to focus. "As I mentioned yesterday, I had a rather important announcement to make."
He picked up a stack of papers, handing it to a flute player at the end of a row and indicating to her to pass them out. "A rare opportunity of sorts has presented itself to us. An overseas school, of very high caliber has bestowed upon the Karakura band, the opportunity to attend a month long seminar at their campus."
A murmur rippled through the band students.
"Ukitake-sensei, umoh what school is it?" Orihime, second chair french horn asked.
"Oh, the invitation is from the Euterpe school of Arts."
"Are you shitting me Ukitake-Sensei?"
Karakura may have been well known nationwide, but in the music world, Euterpe private school of the Arts was King. Euterpe, recruiter of the most talented high school students worldwide. Extremely wealthy, highest of quality and a hot zone of talent. Even getting on the waiting list for the school, guaranteed that you would be accepted to the first music college of your choosing.
The students were considered geniuses, academically, musically, even athletically. The school only admitted around two hundred new students per year, from a roster of high school kids worldwide. There was a rigorous entrance exam and audition tapes that were required. The school only admitted the best, even if they only found fifty students to be worthy, that's all they would admit.
Ukitake held up a hand, silencing the band, "I can assure you, Madarame that I am indeed not 'shitting you.' They really did invite us to a free month of attendance to the school. We will be able to stay in the dorms on their campus and all meals will be provided. I will require that your parents or guardian fill out a permission slip of sorts. The only thing you have to pay, is the plane ticket, and a month of your summertime."
The band gaped.
. . .
"When do we go?"
"What should I bring?"
"Are there going to be hot chicks there?"
"When do we return?"
Ukitake rapped his pencil on the stand again, causing the hubbub to quiet. "All the who, what, when, where, how, why information is in the packets that are being passed out. About half of the regular students of Euterpe will still be there during the seminar. They will be there to help teach us and practice with us. At the end of the month, we will be having a large, grandiose concert, to which all of your families are invited. The information for that is on a separate leaflet in the packet."
A murmur rippled through the band, as those with the packet began to leaf through the pages.
Ukitake surveyed his band, "I take it everyone is up to the idea?"
A loud chorus of 'yes' echoed throughout the room.
"Good, good," Ukitake beamed. "Okay, anyone that does not wish to attend, feel free to tell me. Try and book a flight with a classmate and be aware that the entire choir and orchestra will also be attending this event with us. As you know, the band of Euterpe is actually the full orchestra, with wind and string instruments in harmony together. And since Euterpe also has a rather extensive choir program, the choir was invited too."
"Why was this invitation extended to our school of all schools?"
Ukitake raised an eyebrow, "That is not an issue of importance." He awkwardly cleared his throat, "All right, let's begin practice, I would like to begin on the first movement of our newest piece."
Ichigo sighed, looking down at the packet of paper he now held in his hand. He knew he really should go, but the whole thing promised to be laced with boredom. He looked over at Tamako. The small boy sat, staring down at the schedule inside.
"Hey Tamako," Ichigo whispered, "You going to go?"
"I'm not sure," Tamako placed the packet, on the stand behind his sheet music.
"Why, plane ticket an issue?"
"Wha- no, oh yes, that's it. I'm not sure if I can afford the plane ticket."
"Don't worry, I'm sure it will work out."
"Thanks but what about -"
"Itsuwari Tamako," Ukitake was looking up intently. "I forgot, but there was something I would like to discuss with you after class."
"Very well sensei."
Ukitake shut the door behind him, going to sit in the chair across the table from the Tamako.
"So, I guess it worked," he beamed
"Yes, my brother will be pleased to know."
Ukitake leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table, "Well, are you ready to reveal your secret, Rukia?"
The majority of the school invited overseas for the summer, were excited, while those that weren't, tried to figure out anyway possible to tag along.
"I'll pay lots of money!"
Tamako scoffed, pulling out a notebook and slapping it onto the desk. This school, everyone's solutions eventually resorted to using money in one way or another.
"Hey Itsuwari what's wrong?"
"Shut it Kurosaki."
"Lovely, Itsuwari really lovely. I'm sure you're quite the charmer with the ladies."
"Why is that even any of your concern? Having lady troubles yourself?" Tamako started to thumb through the pages of the notebook on the desk.
"Che, sometimes I wish it was. I don't even intentionally do so, and the ladies still flock after me," he said oh so modestly.
Rolling of eyes then Tamako sighed, "You rich idiots are all the same. An ego that can only match the size of your fat heads."
"Speaking of rich," he pointed at himself, "and not rich," he turned his finger on Tamako, "have you bought a plane ticket yet for the trip to Euterpe this summer?"
"Shouldn't you ask if I'm even going in the first place?"
"Nah, you'd be crazy to miss. I heard you're the only one in the band that hasn't turned in a permission slip yet."
"I still have yet to decide."
"Well, you know," Ichigo ruffled his already mussed blond hair, "If the plane ticket really is the issue, I could spot you for one …"
Tamako looked up, studying his face, "Excuse me?"
"I could buy you a ticket."
Tamako's mouth hung open slightly, "Wait, wait. What's the catch?"
"Well, I was just going to be nice and buy it for you."
"I can't accept."
"Fine, you want to repay me," he rubbed his chin in thought. "Right,"he grinned, "you could be my slave for a week. Oops slave, I meant cheerful little helper."
"Too late," Ichigo dropped an envelope into Tamako's lap, "I already bought you a ticket."
"What?!" Tamako stood, going to get in Ichigo's face. "I did not agree to this!"
"Like I said, too late. So my slave-to-be. I'm thinking that the first week of this summer seminar you can serve your time, then the rest of the month is free to you," he grinned like he was offering the best deal in the world.
"But look who has the ticket now."
"No, Kurosaki take this back right now dammit!"
Ichigo laughed, taking off down he hallway, Tamako sprinting after him.
They dodged Ukitake and proceeded down the stairs and out across the large courtyard in front of the school.
"My, my, so full of energy today," Ukitake smiled. He stared after the pair. It was truly a wonder that no one had discovered yet that Itsuwari Tamako was actually a girl.
The small, flat-chested girl, wore the male attire of the school uniform, choosing the charade about as male instead of female for some reason. Ukitake had to admit, if he hadn't been told who Tamako really was, he never would've known that the boy was in fact Rukia Kuchiki. She wore her hair up under a wig and the too large blazer covered up her feminine form.
Rukia Kuchiki, younger sister of one of his long time friends and past colleagues, had merely showed up at the start of the school year, turning in her audition tape for the saxophone of all instruments. What a shock he had had when she had revealed her identity to him and asked him to help keep her secret. She still had yet to tell him what she was doing at Karakura.
"Ah, Ukitake, how are preperations for the Sereiti Seminar coming along?"
"Oh, Yama-jii, everything seems to be fine for now, but the real problems probably won't occur until we actually get there," Ukitake bowed his head slightly to the wizened old man that came to stand by his side.
"So Kuchiki Rukia will be going also?" Yamamoto said as he watched Ichigo being chased by Rukia. Being the principal of the school, Yamamoto also knew about Rukia's little secret.
"And does she plan on revealing the truth?"
"Oh, about her true gender? I believe so, I'm just unsure when exactly."
"Her gender yes, but also who she really is."
Ukitake stared after the small figure of Kuchiki Rukia. "That's for her to decide."
I thought I should add this little part to maybe help with the understanding of why I chose certain names:
Euterpe - in Greek Mythology, the muse of music
Itsuwari - Deception
The whole, girl dressed as a guy thing seems to happen a lot in Korean dramas so I decided to dip my hand into the drabble pool of this topic.