First in the new series I'm starting. I'll go into it a bit at the end of the story, but for more info, go to the "Bitter Medicine" section of my profile. Hope you enjoy!


Looking back on it, he had felt it. That single moment when the decision had been made. He felt the air shift…no, not just the air. Everything. It was like his very innards had switched places and something simply wasn't right.

But Ikkaku Madarame was never one to think so deeply, so he immediately brushed it off as nothing.

It was a decision that now, standing wide-eyed with shock, rubbing a stinging cheek, he deeply regretted. In order to understand, we must return to that single moment, when everything changed…

Whether Ikkaku knew it or not…


The battle field was dark and bloody, but then again, what battle field wasn't? Ikkaku was thoroughly enjoying the many battles he was being challenged with as the many adjuchas surrounded him. Without even thinking, he called out to his comrade. His friend.

"I'll take these care of these ones, Yumi! And don't even think about interfering!"

And there it was. That was the point when Ikkaku realized, yet denied, that something happened. Had he bothered to look, he may have seen the narrowed, calculating eyes of the eleventh division 5th seat and made the connection. But he didn't, and he ignored it.

He laughed loudly as severed limbs and shattered masks fell around him. The battle invigorated him, his body pumping him full of adrenalin. When the last of the hollow finally disintegrated, he turned to find Yumichika. His eyes landed on the feathered shinigami and few yards away, taking on three adjuchas that had to be at least twice his size. Without even thinking, he leapt between his friend and the enemies, quickly finishing them off.

This had happened many times in there friendship, Ikkaku fought anyone and everyone and Yumichika took whoever he could get. But something changed that day. The battle now finished, the bald man laughed again, grinning widely.

"That was some fighting, eh Yumi-"

SMACK!

Ikkaku was left speechless. His head was turned to the side, twisted by the force of the blow Yumichika had just dealt him. Slowly, hesitantly, he turned back to stare at the man in front of him who was glaring at him like he was trying to burn a hole through him.

"WHY DID YOU DO THAT!?"

Normally, Ikkaku would have yelled back, cussed up a storm, perhaps even thrown a few punches of his own. But the very fact that it was Yumichika that had hit him and was now yelling at him left him feeling much less himself than normal.

"W-what?"

Yumichika's eyes narrowed more. "That was my battle. Why did you interfere?!"

Blinking dumbly, Ikkaku could do nothing but stare. He had no answer to that question. It was simply the ways things had always been with the two of them. Ikkaku took fighting very seriously, and attempting to assist him was practically a crime. Yumichika had almost lost his first friend this way at the beginning their friendship, and as such was careful to never repeat such a mistake. But the same was never reversed. Ikkaku always took on Yumichika's opponents if his own had not left him satisfied and no problem had ever arisen because of it. Until now.

Shaking his head, Ikkaku tried to regain some of his personality. "Wait, what are you talking about?! My fight was over and you looked like you could use some help!"

"Well I DIDN'T!" Yumichika leaned in, his face inches away from Ikkaku's and his finger pressed against his chest. His voice was low, and dangerous. "If you ever interfere again, you'll be my opponent." With these words, The vain death god stalked away, leaving a shocked man behind him.


As soon as the door to his room was shut firmly behind him, Yumichika sighed, slumping slightly against the wall. It was harder than he had expected to behave so harshly to his friend, his best friend. Very ugly indeed. But he had to, he just couldn't take it anymore.

He was tired of Ikkaku's constant mocking, teasing, and threat making every time he was concerned over the bald man's well-being. He was tired of being treated like the bad guy every time he unconsciously took a step towards the battles were he could practically see his friend's life slipping away. He was just tired. And darn it, Ikkaku was going to learn something from this or he was going to die trying!

…Although he really hoped it didn't come to that…


The next few days were strange for Ikkaku. He tried to talk to Yumichika about what had happened on their last mission, but each time he was simply given a cold reply of "The only problem was you butting into my fight. Don't let it happen again, and we wont have a problem" before he walked away.

Roughly a week after the incident, they were called on another mission. Adjuchas had been appearing more often lately, and it seemed another group had popped up in the real world. They traveled down, quickly finding the hollows they had been told about. For awhile, it seemed almost like things were back to normal. Ikkaku took on the largest grouping he could find, swinging Hozukimaru with glee and excitement, while everyone else took the rest.

Once his opponents had been defeated he turned around and spotted Yumichika. The feathered man was locked in battle with a massive hollow. It's skin was a sickly green color, its mask shaped like a grotesque anteater, while it's entire body seemed to be compiled of slimy, tangled tentacles. The sheer size of it was enough to be a challenge. Ikkaku, out of habit, immediately moved to step in. Sensing his reiatsu, Yumichika quickly called over his shoulder.

"Don't you DARE!"

Ikkaku halted, mid-step. He watched as his friend continued swinging Fuji Kujaku at the deformed creature. Never in his life had he felt so… helpless. His stomach was tied in knots. He shook his head. Don't be stupid, Yumichika's just as strong as you, he can take care of himself…

At that moment, the hollow let out a roar before firing some sort of slime from the mouth of its mask. Yumichika tried to dodge, but still got hit on his left arm. The slime clung to him and he found the momentum pushed him back until his arm was stuck to the building behind him. He pulled at the slime, only to find that it had hardened, binding his arm to the wall.

Ikkaku made another step forward, only to be stopped again by a glare and a harsh snarl from his friend. After trying unsuccessfully to break the substance from his arm with his zanpakuto, he gave a sigh before giving his arm a mighty tug sideways.

Ikkaku winced. Yumichika had pulled his arm from out of the cast, but unfortunately, since the arm that had been trapped was the one without the arm-warmer, the action caused the skin of his hand and forearm to be ripped away, left behind since it had fused with the deadly substance. Ikkaku stared at his friend's blood covered, skinned arm and thought for a moment that he would throw up, right there on the battle field. Yumichika glanced at him, noticing the paleness of the bald man and grinned sarcastically.

"What, don't tell me your worried?"

Ikkaku's head snapped up and suddenly he understood. Yumichika was quoting him, using his very words against him…


Ikkaku looked back at the feminine man, grinning wickedly. "I'll take care of this! You just stay out of the way!"

Yumichika held a hand over his mouth as he watched his friend be deeply sliced, shoulder to hip, and fall bleeding to the ground. Ikkaku staggered up, determined to fight and yelled as the other tried to reach out to him. "Don't interfere!"

Cracking an eye open, Ikkaku smirked at Yumichika's concerned looks toward his heavily bruised, deformed face and broken ribs. "What, you're not worried about me are ya?"

"Don't you dare interrupt this fight!"

"Outta the way!"

"You're such a worrier, I'll be fine!"

"I wont forgive you if you interfere!"

"THIS IS MY FIGHT!"


Ikkaku continued watching as his own harsh words played through his mind. His insides clenched again as he looked on as his friend continued to fight with one arm dangling uselessly at his side. Was this how Yumichika felt all the time? Was this what he went through every time Ikkaku mocked and yelled at him? The bald man suddenly felt very guilty, and hoped he wasn't about to pay for his words with his friend's life.

Yumichika slashed at the hollow, slicing through the tentacles wrapped around its body. Ikkaku flinched as a tentacle crashed into the ground, bringing his friend to his knees. Yumichika picked himself up before flashed stepping behind the creature, swinging his sword again. He kept himself moving, avoiding more of the dangerous slime. Luckily, he saw a short window of opportunity as the creature inhaled to fire the substance again, allowing him to use flash step once more and, releasing a burst of reiatsu for extra power, bring his zanpakuto down on the center of its mask, cracking it clean in half. He landed on the ground, panting, as he watched the hollow disintegrate.

"Yumi!"

The shinigami turned just as Ikkaku reached him. He smiled slightly before passing out in his arms from blood loss.


Yumichika slowly regained consciousness. He groaned as he opened his eyes and was assaulted by a harsh light. Blinking rapidly, he quickly became aware of his surroundings. He was in the 4th division barracks. He looked down at himself, noticing that most of his wounds had been healed, although his arm was still wrapped up in bandages.

"They were able to heal it, it's just gonna be sore for awhile."

Yumichika turned to locate the source of the voice and suddenly noticed Ikkaku sitting in a chair next to his bed. He smiled.

"Well that's good. For a moment I was afraid I was going to have to deal with some ugly scars."

Ikkaku chuckled. "Of course, that's what you were worried about." There was a moment of silence as his expression turned serious. "…I'm sorry…"

Looking at his friend, Yumichika knew what exactly what he was apologizing for. He could see it in his eyes.

"It's ok." There was another moment of silence, both lost in their own thoughts. Finally, Ikkaku spoke again.

"I'm not… going to change though…" He looked at the floor awkwardly. "…I don't think I can…" He looked up with surprise as he heard Yumichika chuckling. The narcissist smiled and placed his uninjured hand on top of the bald head.

"Ikkaku, I neither expected nor want you to change. Fighting alone is who you are. I just want you to… understand."

The other man nodded and in his mind, promised that he would never make light of his friend's feelings when he battled without him. Never again would he mock his concern or grow angry when he showed desire to step in. He chuckled and shook his head, ridding it of the other's hand.

"Well, either way, I'm glad you're not dead."

Yumichika chuckled as well. "Yes, dying just to prove a point would be very ugly indeed."

And they both laughed, each glad that the other had somehow managed to survive.


Well, I hope you enjoyed! I know they might be out of character in some places, but I tried my best to stay pretty true to them. Please review with any comments, good or bad, or suggestions for other characters to do in the series (Anyone you want to see get a "taste of their own medicine"). Thanks all! ~~~BFMS~~~