*le gasp* Is this...is this actually something other than a drabble series from me?? Shock and surprise! XD Finally getting around to doing this chapter fic. I don't guarantee it being as good as Le Belle et la Bete...I'm just not feelin' ambitious like I was back then, don't have the time I did this past summer, kind of workin' on college and career and the whatnot...so yeah...Anyhow, I hope you'll enjoy it a little nonetheless!!
Warnings: Possible character deaths. Just minors though if I kill some of Kubo's characters. Well, I might go slightly main character...I might not...but if you can't handle the deaths of cartoon characters, don't read XD. Also, I may or may not make your favorite character the bad guy/girl. So if you can't handle that either, I suggest not reading.
One last fyi thing, title is a song written by Cole Porter. All chapter titles are classic jazz songs.
Okay, enjoy! :D
Disclaimer: Bleach (c) Kubo Tite
The murderer smiled at her. She didn't smile back. Her eyes glazed and lifeless. The monster didn't mind. He didn't mind in the least. His tongue flicked out to lick at his dry lips as he tilted his head to the side watching the blood slowly flow over her ivory, dirt covered throat. Beautiful.
His fingers hovered over her skin, seeming to caress without touching. But no, touching was not a caress to him. He ran the dull side of the small knife down her torso. The knife. It was an extension of himself, doing so beautifully what he could not do alone. The killer glanced down disdainfully at his blunt nails. If only he had such power. What beauty he could create.
Reverently, he turned the knife so that its sharp edge rested against her skin. The killer nearly giggled when he pushed and more of the thick, red blood seeped out. Breathing in deeply through his nose, he inhaled the scent of her death as he ran the knife from her stomach to her neck.
He lifted her hand as if in greeting at a ball and quickly flicked its knife against the skin. He smiled softly. Almost as if he had kissed her hand. He brought the knife to her lips and quickly sliced through them once. Twice. One last time. Bloody kisses.
He felt the sudden urge to kiss the inside of her elbow, and so he carefully turned her arm, slicing a passionate gash through the thin skin.
And then he snarled and hissed in frustration.
She was no longer bleeding. All life had drained out of her.
He made a furious gargling sound and stumbled to his feet, throwing down the knife with a clatter. The fun had ended too soon. Too fast. He wanted more. More. His face contorted and then spat upon the woman's corpse. He felt unsatisfied.
This had been nothing but pathetic foreplay.
Far off giggling caught his attention. He sneered and picked up the knife, quickly wiping it clean and throwing the bloody handkerchief over her face as an afterthought before heading in the direction of the light-hearted laughter. He would just have to finish with another.
And this time he would take his time with her.
Ichigo Kurosaki stifled a yawn as the man before him ranted, arms flailing about, pot belly jiggling. "She did it I tell ya! The wench! I knew she was nothing but a dirty-"
A sniffle from the other side of the tiny living room interrupted his ravings. The man glared at the woman holding a handkerchief to her eyes. "It's just so terrible, officer. I-I can't believe it. I just can't believe he's dead." She looked up at Shuuhei Hisagi through her long eyelashes, batting them prettily.
"Uh-huh." Shuuhei scribbled in his notebook. "Mrs. Riyalgo-"
"Oh!" she interrupted. "Please, call me Loli."
"Right. So, Mrs. Riyalgo, you say you just came home to find him like this?" he asked, jerking his head towards the corpse draped over the coffee table, its head resting in a pool of its own blood from a gunshot wound to the temple. "But nothing was stolen?"
She nodded her head and dabbed at the corner of her eye. "That's right, officer. Oh it's just awful. Just awful."
"I'm sorry for your loss," the uptight detective muttered. "Did he have any enemies that you know of?"
"Oh! Lots and lots…"
"Liar!" the man bellowed. "Devil woman! Murderess!"
Ichigo pushed up his dark brown fedora with his thumb, studying the big man with bored eyes. "All right, Mr. Riyalgo. Walk me through exactly what happened."
He whirled back to face the honey-haired man, his eyes wild. "It was completely uncalled for! There I was, sittin' on the couch, enjoyin' a cig, mindin' my own business when all of a sudden she swoops in whining and bitching about money this and money that. How I need to get a job or she'll start whorin' herself out. Ha, like she didn't do that already. So I tell her to shut up and one thing led to another and before I know it I've got a gun stuck to the side of my head."
"And then she killed you?"
"Yeah, then that bitch killed me! Pulled that damn trigger without even flinching. Look at her now. I'm layin' there on the coffee table, swimmin' in my own blood and she's flirtin' with that bastard."
"Okay," Ichigo snapped his notebook shut and looked over to where Hisagi was trying to avoid the woman's advances and actually get some useful information. "We're done here."
"Oh no we're not," Yammi Riyalgo crossed his massive arms over his chest, grinning sadistically. "I want to watch that bitch get hauled off to jail and then I wanna watch her head roll."
Ichigo sighed. It was always such a pain in the ass when the dead decided they wanted to stick around. He stuck the pad and pen in the inside pocket of his suit jacket and headed towards his partner, ignoring the odd glances and snickers from his peers. One would think Chicago's finest would be used to him muttering to empty air by now, but no. What would they think if he actually told them who or what he was always muttering to? All that mattered is he got shit done. He was part laughing stock, part legend. If they wanted to make fun of him, that was their business. Hell, if he was in their shoes he would probably be doing the same thing.
He stopped before Hisagi, his hands casually stuck in his pocket. "She did it."
Loli gasped and gaped at the unusual man who had suddenly butted in on her interview with the handsome, young detective. "What?! No, I didn't! How could you say such a thing? My own husband! I'm burift with grief!"
"Bereft," he corrected.
"Whatever! I'm really sad, okay? How dare you accuse me!"
A large, muscular man with dark skin, his navy blue uniform snuggly fit, appeared in the doorway just then and jabbed his thumb out at the hallway. "Neighbors say they heard arguing."
Loli Riyalgo's eyes widened in panic. "W-Wait a minute! They…they heard wrong! We were just…" She looked up at Hisagi, her eyelids at half-mast again. "Having a little fun…if you know what I mean."
Hisagi raised a brow. "Chad said they were arguing, might not have meant you and your husband, but I guess it does now. And I thought you said you just got home and found him dead?"
Her eyes and mouth flew wide open, scared. Suddenly she screamed and pivoted on her heel, ready to dart out of the room, but Ichigo caught her by the arm, jerking her backwards. She yelped and then began to thrash and shriek as Hisagi took over and clamped the handcuffs onto her wrists. He gritted his teeth against the growing pain in his ears. "Shut up, will ya?" He looked up at the big man watching. "Yo Chad, mind helpin' me out?"
The policeman grunted and plucked her up by the arm, easily carrying her out as she continued to scream and cry, fluctuating between begging innocence and cursing her late husband.
Ichigo turned his back on the retreating scene and removed his hat, ruffling his hair as he watched them gather evidence and bag the body. "Well, guess that's it."
Hisagi studied him for a brief second before nodding. "Yup, guess so."
Ichigo glanced up at his friend, wondering, not for the first time, why he never asked questions after all this time. How even when he didn't have all the evidence pieced together, he almost always knew the culprit. And was always proven right. Maybe Hisagi had already guessed. As outlandish as the answer was, Hisagi was a pretty smart guy.
Suddenly he heard the sound of a camera and a bright flash filled the room. He whirled around to find Keigo Asano photographing the body, Tatsuki Arisawa at his side. "Hey! Who the hell let you in?! Get outta here you mangy newspaper leeches!" He grabbed Asano by the back of the collar and started dragging him out of the apartment, Tatsuki following close on his heels as her photographer whined.
"Freedom of the press! You're hindering our constitutional right, Ichigo!" she yelled vehemently.
Ichigo tossed Keigo down the hallway and turned to glare at her with gritted teeth. "And you're hindering me from solving a case. And it's Mr. Kurosaki to you, Miss Arisawa."
"Well, Ichigo, according to what I heard you've already solved the case. Again. Tell the admiring people of Chicago just how you do it. They deserve the truth!"
Suddenly his face changed to an extremely amiable expression and he rocked back on his heels. "Admiring people of Chicago, eh?"
Tatsuki grinned, flipping to another page in her notebook. "Yes, yes. Verrry admiring. Adoring."
"Mhm." He started to march back towards the apartment, stroking his strong chin as he studied the ceiling. "Well, Tatsuki – I assume I may call you Tatsuki – here's what I'd like you to tell the fine people of Chicago." He turned on his heel, now in the doorway, a sudden furious expression on his face. "Fuck off!" He slammed the door in the reporter's face, ceiling chips falling down into his hair. Wildly, he wacked at his hair, trying to get the offending white pieces out.
"Oh that'll make you popular," Hisagi commented as he pulled out a revolver with his pen that had been kicked under the couch.
"Like I give a damn."
"Okay, okay. Suit yourself." He turned to a comrade. "Dust this for fingerprints, will ya?"
They fell into silence as they worked; Yammi's huge body being rolled out created a quiet thunder. Ichigo glanced up to see that the spirit had left. Either he'd found peace at seeing his wife being dragged out, kicking and screaming or he'd gone with her to watch her suffer. Perhaps torment her if he was strong enough to mess with her mind.
He sighed and swept his hand down his face. Well it didn't matter to him one way or another as long as it didn't bother him again. He didn't ask for this damn "gift", as his mother had called it. He didn't ask to be exposed to all this insanity from a young age, because it was almost always insanity. The normal people, the people who died in peace didn't pester him. It was the tormented, unfinished business types. Occasionally it was someone who was simply sad about leaving their loved one behind or someone who had never told them how they really felt or something along those lines.
But usually it was this.
"Alright, Ichigo. Think we're done here?"
Twenty-seven years old and he was already more than ready to retire.
Tatsuki fell in next to Keigo in the cab, grumbling and spewing. "That bastard! Who the hell does he think is?! All high and mighty thinking he's above the rest of us. Well I'll show him! I'll bring him down to our level. I'll shake his throne so hard-"
"T-Tatsuki," Keigo interjected as he tried to fix his broken camera. "You've…uh…you've tried that tactic for the past year. Don't you think you might need another approach?"
The fiery reporter shot him a seething glare and he sunk back into the stiff seat, bending deep over his camera. With a suddenly weary sigh her head fell back onto the seat, turning it slightly to stare out at the passing buildings. "Maybe you're right, Asano…"
He nearly dropped his camera in shock. "Huh? I am?"
"Yeah. Maybe I do need a new tactic…but what? What would get him to open that lockjaw of his?"
Keigo didn't answer, and they silently rode the rest of the way, out of the slums and into downtown Chicago. By the time the cab pulled up to the Tribune Tower, Keigo's camera was fixed but Tatsuki's problems weren' could be the story of her career, the story that could push the Tribune up the ranks, leaving the competition in the dust. It was so close, just within her grasp. Stubborn ass, she growled inwardly.
As she walked up the steps, she casually glanced up her towering, neo-gothic home-away-from-home before pushing through the glass doors and heading towards the elevator. She adjusted her deep blue, wool hat that fit snugly over her unruly black bob and unbuttoned her matching long, wool coat, revealing a dark brown long-waisted dress that hung on her slender body. "Well, Keigo. Get those photos developed fast. If I can't think of another solution I'll reveal how barbaric he is to the poor, righteous, truth-seeking press. Doubtful it'll put one dent in his popularity though. I think he's even beginning to make Mr. Capone nervous!"
"Oh good grief, don't call me ma'am, you boob. I feel old enough without you reminding me!"
A compliment to the contrary was on the tip of his tongue, but he paused to contemplate whether that would be a good idea. Before he could make up his mind the elevator dinged and opened its doors to the hustle and bustle of the press floor. He sighed a little and retreated to his desk to prepare developing.
Tatsuki marched off to her desk and plopped down in her chair to glare daggers at her typewriter. Insolent, mocking little machine.
"Welcome back, Tastuki!" a cheerful voice suddenly called out.
The reporter glanced up and couldn't stop the smile that spread across her face as her ball-of-sunshine best friend came up to her desk. "Thank you, Orihime. " She glanced at the gigantic carpet bag hanging on her shoulder and the scarf around her neck. "Going home already?"
"Yeah! I got that article done on the new gardens at the church, so there's really not much left for me to do here."
Tatsuki chuckled at the slight exasperated tone in her voice. "A little too easy, huh?"
Orihime sighed and fiddled with a stack of papers on the edge of Tatsuki's desk. "Well…I don't want to complain, but…after six months here I was just expecting to do a little more than…" she wrinkled her nose, "garden committees and hat fashions."
Tatsuki smiled fondly at her childhood friend. They'd grown up in the same corn-grown small town far south of Chicago. Tatsuki had left as soon as she had graduated high school, but Orihime had stayed behind to take care of her ailing brother. When he died, she'd stayed a little longer in order to take care of affairs and find someone to fill her spot at the local newspaper. As soon as she could, Orihime came to Chicago to join Tatsuki who helped her get her job here. Tatsuki understood her growing impatience, but even though Orihime Inoue had more talent in her little thumb than some of these jokers that got the big stories published, she was still a woman. That meant an excruciatingly slow climb up the ladder if there was any climb at all.
She clenched her fist in the air. "Just hang in there. And fight, fight! You'll get that big scoop one of these days!"
Orihime smiled. "You're right. Thanks." She tightened her scarf. "Well, see you tomorrow, Tatsuki."
"Sure thing." She watched her walk away, smiling slightly at her odd but beautiful friend. Suddenly an invisible light bulb appeared above her head and her body perked up. Her eyes darted back and forth as her mind whirled around the new solution that had walked up to her desk. It was so ridiculous it might actually work. Well…it didn't hurt to try, right? She pushed up out of her chair. "Orihime!"
The young woman whirled around, looking at her expectantly.
"Hey…I think I might have a chance for you to get that breakthrough story."
Orihime's eyes grew wide. "What?"
Tatsuki waved her hand in the air. "C'mere. I'll run it past you."
Ichigo sat with elbows on his plain, oak desk, rubbing at his temples. Every once in a while a particularly strong spirit would give him a violent headache and apparently that Yammi guy had been strong. Not strong enough to bring home the bacon for his wife, but just enough to leave Ichigo with a roaring headache.
"Hey, old man, that orange hair hurtin' your head now too? About time you get the same pain the rest of us have to endure."
His eyes lifted just enough to glare at the smart-mouthed woman who had waltzed into his office. "Don't you have work to do?"
She came around his desk and plopped her small body on top of his desk, crossing her legs as she stuck a cigarette in her mouth and deftly lit up. "Nope, you do most of it for me, boss."
"Do you mind?"
She touched her hand to her short black hair and blew smoke into his face. "Not in the least."
He coughed and tried to wave away the smoke. "Dammit, Rukia! Get that smoke out of my face and get the hell off of my desk!"
"So, how'd it go? The guy still hauntin' ya or is he off your back?"
Ichigo glared at the only person outside of his family who knew his secret. "He's not hauntin' me. But he might be hauntin' his wife."
"Oh? She the one who offed him?"
"Yeah. You leaving me alone now?"
"No. I'm bored."
"Well go make a pot of coffee or somethin'." He went back to rubbing his temples.
Without warning, she smacked him upside the head.
"Ow! Fuck, Rukia! What the hell was that?! I've already got a screaming headache!"
"I'm your secretary, not your errand boy."
"Well what the hell do I pay you for?!"
She stared out the window behind him for a second…and then shrugged as she took another puff. "I have no idea."
He groaned. "You're as annoying as that damn reporter that stalks me."
"Tatsuki Arisawa and her minion?"
"Hmm…why don't you just give her an interview and be done with it?"
"Because that'd be giving in! I'd lose a year-long fight!"
"…Right. You're an idiot."
"Get lost already!"
"Fine, fine. You're no fun anyway." She uncrossed her legs and slid down on to the wood floor, smoothing her dark green, stick-straight dress. "I think I'll just go home early then."
Just then Hisagi stepped in. "Hey Ichigo, you got a visitor."
Ichigo scowled up at him. "What? Who?"
He shrugged. "Some dame. Never seen her before."
"Did you catch a name?" he ground out. His patience was skating on thin ice.
"Uh…hmm…" He scratched at his chin as Rukia walked over to peek around the corner. "Oh! Orihime Inoue."
"Never heard of her. Send her back."
"She's not a piece of mail."
"Well give her to someone else, I don't care. I'm not in the mood to hear some broad's sob story and-"
He was interrupted by Rukia's exclamations. "Ooh! Aww!"
Ichigo glanced at Rukia curiously. "What the hell kind of reaction is that?"
She looked back at him with a grin on her face. "Well…I guess that'd kind of describe her. 'Ooh' yet 'aww' at the same time."
The detective stared at his secretary like she'd lost her marbles.
"Don't look at me like that! Come on, you've gotta talk to her! She's too cute to pass up!"
"Will you leave me alone if I see this chick?"
"For how long?" he asked suspiciously.
"Fine, tomorrow too. But I won't go any further!"
"Deal. Bring her in, let's get this over with."
Hisagi shook his head and stepped out to inform her she could go in. Ichigo raised his brow at Rukia.
"What?" she asked.
"Deal begins now."
"Fine, fine. But you be nice to her, you hear?"
"I'm always nice," he growled.
"Ha! Nice like a porcupine. Look, I know you got a heart in there somewhere, so how about letting it show every once in a while? Might do you some good."
"Rukia," he warned.
"Okay! I'm scramming!"
When she finally left, Ichigo breathed in deeply and closed his eyes, relishing the silence, focusing on the pounding in his head, willing it to ease up. He was concentrating so hard he didn't hear the tentative knock on the doorframe or the soft cough or his name being called.
What did jolt him out of his focus was a crash-bang in front of his desk. His eyes flew open and he frowned as he looked around the empty office. "Hello? Rukia?" A soft groan sounded from somewhere and his scowl deepened in confusion. He jumped suddenly when slender fingers appeared on the other side of his desk. Then a mess of auburn hair and finally a pair of glasses peered at him over the edge of his desk.
Her soft voice made him bound out of his chair and nearly run around his desk to help the young woman who had fallen. "Dammit, what the hell happened? You all right?"
She adjusted her glasses before taking his hand and got to her feet, a deep blush on her face. "Eh heh, sorry about that. I'm fine. I just slipped on…something…I think…"
His eyes widened slightly in understanding of Rukia's ambiguous description. The 'ooh' part was her wonderfully unfashionable body, curves that were struggling with the thin style of her modern dress which was baby blue and a size or two too big for her waist, attempting to compensate for her ample chest. He wondered if she even bothered with binding her breasts like so many women were doing these days. Delicate ankles peeked out from the long, slim skirt and her nervous feet shifted in sensible, low-heel, brown shoes.
The 'aww' part came into play with her whimsical glasses that seemed a bit big for her face as she kept adjusting them. Masses of auburn hair were piled funnily onto her head in a style that belonged in 1907 rather than 1927. She swept her hand across the haphazard do as she reached down to retrieve her brown, wool coat.
"Thank you, Mr. Kurosaki. I'm sorry. I'm sometimes clumsy like this."
He blinked rapidly and was surprised to find he had to wipe a small smile off his face. "No, that's all right. Please, sit." She did, and he eyed her cautiously as he rounded his desk and sat in his own chair. "So, you have a case?"
Her head jerked up as her mouth fell open. "Oh! I…I…" He scowled as she bit her lip and looked down to fiddle with the coat that lay in her lap. Ichigo groaned inwardly, she's a weeper. But then she suddenly snapped her head back up. "No, I'm sorry. I don't have a case. I'm sorry. I…I'm supposed to tell you that I got a death threat and I need your help and then to observe you as you work to find out how you solve all your cases, but…but…I just can't. I'm sorry."
He gaped at her as the strange woman continued to twist the brown wool in her hands. "What?!" he finally bellowed. "What are you yammering about? Find out how I… Who are you?!"
"I…I'm Orihime Inoue, reporter with the Chicago Tribune."
Ichigo angrily jabbed a finger towards the door. "Out!"
Yup, Hime's in glasses :DD I LOVE her in glasses!! I've been dying to put her in glasses. You know that one library spread by Kubo? Ugh, TOO adorable!!
And Rukia smokes for a reason. I'll get to it. But smoking is B.A.D. Disgusting. If you've ever had to kiss someone who smoked, it's no walk in the park. More like kissing an ash tray. Plus there's the whole cancer stick thing. So yeah, don't do it XD.
Alrighty, let me know what you honestly think! Thank you for reading!! :D