A/N: Hello everyone, I'm back with another YumiKakku fanfic. I really didn't expect to start writing about this pair so soon after my last fic, but lately I have been FASCINATED with Yumichika and Ikkaku.
This fic was inspired by Augusten Burrough's memoir "Dry." It's a bit of a romance/angst/humour if there is even such a category. It's as much about Ikkaku trying to get sober as it is about a romance between him and Yumichika. I hope you like it.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach
Chapter One: I do not have a drinking problem
The time on the clock wall of the Eleventh Division says 8 p.m. I look at the huge pile of paperwork that I completed today and feel a sense of accomplishment that deserves a stiff drink. Unfortunately, Yumichika is not here for me to drink with. He was sent on a mission to the Rukongai to hunt down some rogue Eleventh Division Officer. He's been gone for about two and a half weeks, so that must mean the Rouge is giving him a hard time. That's kind of strange. He's never been gone so long before. I could really do with taking a drink with him today, if only to make him feel guilty by letting him know that I did both ofour share of paperwork, plus the Captain's and Vice Captain's, while he was having fun running around in the Rukongai. Heh. I could already see him getting all riled up as he would maintain that he was not just 'having fun running around in the Rukongai'. I get a strange sensation in my chest as I think about the look on Yumi's face. Hmmm. Maybe I should look for other drinking buddies to take my mind off of…well just take my mind off of things.
It's Tuesday so most likely Hisagi, Kira and Matsumoto are at The Inn. I love that place. It has these extra large sake bottles to go with their wide sake cups. A nice big gulp is the result. I'll just take one or two drinks with them to take my mind off of Yuuu – Ahem, I mean, off of things, then head on home since I have a meeting with Sixth Division Captain Kuchiki in the morning for nine. It's a bit annoying that Yumichika and I have to take on all of the responsibilities of our Captain when he decides to go visit Alice in her Wonderland. Well, that's where we assume he goes when he and his Lieutenant disappear for weeks and no one can find them. And now that Yumichika is gone the responsibility falls on me to go to all the stupid meetings where we talk and exchange documents on the most inane things. Seriously, that part of being a Shinigami makes me want to hang myself. But Yumichika always says that I more likely to die from alcohol poisoning. Che. Why am I thinking about him again? I need that drink.
I arrive at The Inn about fifteen minutes past eight and I see a server bringing a round of drinks for Matsumoto, Hisagi and Kira to add to the bottles already on the table.
"You guys couldn't have ordered a round for me?!" I say as I grab a seat.
"Hey. We just came in about ten minutes ago." Matsumoto says as she starts her second cup and Hisagi orders a bottle for me.
"Yeah, we're trying to find a suitable emo name for Izuru-san here." Hisagi says as he finishes his second cup.
"Why?" I ask, relishing the burning taste of the sake as it hits my throat.
"It's for when he starts his one-man emo band." Matsumoto elaborates, "So far we have "The Atomic Blast Lover."
"That sounds like a sex position developed by Captain Mayuri." I joke and we all laugh, stop, then cringe as we visualised what that might look like.
"Dear God, I need more sake to get that image out of my head." Izuru laments as he raises his hand for more sake to be delivered by the waiter.
"How about Fourteen Minutes to Midnight?" Hisagi offers, continuing our quest to get Izuru an emo name for his never to materialize one-man band.
"Ahh that's too normal," Matsumoto argues.
"I got it! I got it!" I shout out as if I just discovered electricity, "Haiku Crawlspace to My Heart."
There's a pause as everyone considers Izuru to make sure the name suits his face. He was wearing one of his three expressions (sad, more sad and determined); the sad look.
"It's perfect!" Hisagi exclaims causing everyone to start sipping directly from their bottles to celebrate. And we continued to celebrate that way for about the next two hours. Thoughts of Yumi slowly start to fade into the background.
After a while, I look at the time. It's a little after ten. I'm not anywhere near drunk; only a bit tipsy. Okay I might be more than that judging by the way the ground tripped me when I got up to go to the bathroom, but I am not drunk. It's still early. I have to be up by at least eight thirty, so I could still go another two hours. And I do that and more. We head over to another bar where Izuru commented that his sake tasted like rice and penis. We all crack up at the joke, but of course never touch that particular sake bottle or anything that he drinks from for the rest of the night. I lost count a long time ago of how many sake bottles we drank, but by four o'clock the following morning, Matsumoto was rubbing her butt in my face. I couldn't help but comment out loud that I usually have to pay extra to get that kind of treatment. I don't remember exactly when she knocked me out but I figured out that that's what happened when I woke up on the pavement back outside The Inn nursing a massive headache and a black eye.
The sun is shining down on my head and without hair to protect me I'm feeling particularly disadvantaged. At that moment I absolutely hate people who have hair. Wait. Sun? Oh shit! I am so late. I shunpo home, which by the way is a bad idea since as soon as I reach home I vomit everything from my toes come up. I look at the time. It's twenty minutes past nine and I can barely stand up let alone make a coherent sentence. Did we drink sake alone last night? This headache feels like the messy after effects of tequila coming to join the party as a nightcap. I stagger out of the bathroom and make my way to the closet only to realize that I'm actually in Yumichika's room. I'm not even going to bother to try to figure out the psychological undertones of why I would wander into my best friend's room (situated about fifty feet from my room) and not my own. Instead, I stumble back into the bathroom, throw some water onto my face and eyes in a vain attempt to get rid of the redness that has my face looking like a tomato.
I skate into the Sixth Division already in a Dogeza pose as I calculate a Kuchiki-worthy excuse. Unfortunately Yachiru isn't here for me to blame it on her, so I have to think a bit more; an extremely difficult feat right now for my alcohol saturated brain. I decide to go with the infamous 'stomach troubles'. Usually all further inquiries are ceased as soon as you mention the word diarrhoea. I announce my presence to Captain Kuchiki and realize that someone is hammering right next door. Oh wait. That's actually just my hangover headache.
"My humblest apologies, Captain Kuchiki. I was detained due to circumstances beyond my control." I amaze myself when that sentence exits my mouth.
"Have a seat Third Seat Madarame." Kuchiki replies, but I have no idea if he's upset or not since he is wearing his only expression; the I-am-better-than-you-in-every-way-and you-do-not-deserve-to-stand-in-my-shadow-let-alone-talk-to-me look. I look up only to realize that Captain Kuchiki is not the only one in the room. Captains Ukitake, Hitsugaya and Unohana are there, together with Matsumoto, Hisagi and Izuru. The place is extremely quiet and emitting a chill that could be from Captain Hitsugaya or it could be from the looks I am receiving. I feel like I walked into a Central 46 inquisition.
"What's going on?" I ask softly so that I lessen the chance of them catching a whiff of my alcohol soaked breath.
Captain Ukitake speaks up.
"Third Seat Madarame, we have summoned you together with Lieutenants Matsumoto, Hisagi and Kira because we have a problem."
I stare at them dumbly wondering what this could be about. Matsumoto, Hisagi and Izuru are sitting in a corner looking utterly depressed; well Izuru looks the same.
"It's about your drinking." Captain Kuchiki says to all of us – the drinkers.
At this moment Yumichika comes to mind. I know exactly what he would be whispering in my ear if he were right next to me. He would be telling me to play it cool because a person with a drinking problem would throw a fit and create a scene as they vehemently denied that they have a drinking problem. But Yumichika isn't actually here, so his powerful words of persuasion come out more like a distant whisper.
"I do not have a drinking problem!" I shout out. I see Matsumoto and the others cringe and try to distance themselves away from me.
"Yes, you do." Captain Kuchiki says in a tone as if to say 'I said so and that's that.'
"And it's affecting your work." Captain Hitsugaya says, "or rather the work that you don't get done." He continues as he looks pointedly at Matsumoto.
"In my defence – " Matsumoto starts up, but is instantly cut off by Hitsugaya.
"You don't have any!"
She shrinks back and pout like she's five, but I reckon that by now she should know her Captain. She should know that that petulant child look never works on him. And it doesn't. He completely ignores her and continues speaking, but I interrupt him. I feel that I must make it known that I do not belong with these hardcore alcoholics like Hisagi, Izuru and Matsumoto that drink sake like it's milk.
"Listen, if this is about coming late to the meeting today - "
"It is about a series of behaviour patterns, Third Seat Madarame." Ukitake cuts me off. "For instance, I can smell sake off of you right now. You smell like a distillery." His voice is so kind, that I find it difficult to raise a counter argument. "You have lapsed on your paperwork. You completed all of your paperwork that was to be processed and administered to other Divisions yesterday, but you neglected the fact that they were overdue by two weeks."
"And you, Lieutenant Matsumoto," Hitsugaya interjects, "You have completed none."
"But I never complete my paperwork. Why is it a problem now?"
Everyone sweatdrops. Seriously, this is her best argument?
Hisagi and Izuru are sitting there trying to be as still as possible in the hopes that they channel their inner invisible man and disappear into the tatami mats.
"That goes for you too, Lieutenants Hisagi and Kira," Hitsugaya continues, completely ignoring Matsumoto, "Lately you two have been lapsing on many of your duties due to your drinking."
Hisagi and Izuru don't even bother to argue since they're still hoping for that invisible shield to kick in.
"We feel that it would be in everyone's best interest if you four enter into a treatment centre." Captain Kuchiki says.
This is so unbelievable it's hilarious. I can't wait to tell Yumichika about this over drinks. Don't worry; the irony is not entirely lost on me.
"We already have a treatment option available for you," Captain Unohana says, her eyes crinkling as she smiles as if she just told me that I won money and not the dirty stigma of being an alcoholic that is so badly off he has to go to rehab. This is getting out of hand and I refuse to go down without a fight.
"Listen, I can cut back on my drinking. I do not need to go to no fucking rehab."
Captain Unohana smiles even more and my bones are chilled. Okay, so maybe rehab isn't so bad after all.
"It would only be for a month."
I feel so betrayed by these people, but there is absolutely nothing that I can do about it.
"Your Captains will take up your duties for the month until you return."
"I can't see why he couldn't continue doing that all the time." Matsumoto mutters.
The intervention ends with the promise that Matsumoto, Hisagi, Kira and myself will enter into rehab the day after tomorrow. They give us the rest of today and tomorrow off in order to get prepared. Che. We get no warning if we have to fight Hollows, yet we get a day and a half to mentally prepare ourselves for whatever lies ahead at this rehab. Anyway, we chose to look at the bright side and we all agree that this means that we can drink tonight without that annoying concern that we have to be at work in the morning. This time the irony is completely lost on us.
I reach home (and by home I mean Yumichika's room – I'm still not going to analyze why I choose to be in his room) to find that Yumichika has returned from his mission.
"The hell have you been?!" I shout at him as I plop myself down on his futon, "I was beginning to wonder if you defected and shacked up with some woman in the Rukongai."
"And miss this warm reception? I think not." I notice his stinging sarcasm and look up at him to see that he's tying his obi, but is having trouble.
"You alright?" I ask in a highly annoyed tone, which by now he knows is me being worried about him. I see all of his anger at me leave his face as he looks at me.
"That stupid rogue kept setting up traps for me. I broke my left arm in six different places when I fell into one of his traps. I got it healed in the Fourth Division but it's still sore."
I get up and take the obi from his hands to tie it. He doesn't put up a fight like he usually would. He hates accepting help from anyone, so I know that he really must be in a lot of pain.
"You should be more careful, ya weakling." I mumble. I don't look him in the face; my eyes focused on the tying of the obi as if I'm disarming a bomb.
"Thank you." He quietly says after I finish, causing me to look up from the obi and I see his eyes. There is something there that I'm missing in the look, but I was never good at reading emotions. I begin to feel uncomfortable under the scrutiny of his gaze and I quickly tear away as I mumble something along the lines of "Che. Don't worry about it," though it probably came out more like "Che. Dohmullbowllit."
"What's the matter?"
I tell Yumichika about my Rehab predicament and the right bastard laughs at me like never before. I mean roll on the ground, slap his knees, point and laugh kind of laughing.
"Ya always have to overdo everything, eh." I say after he wipes the tears from his eyes.
"That may be true, but you're the one going to rehab for your excesses." He says with a smirk on his face.
"You should be joining me. Yer addicted to yaself. I shouldn't have to be doing this alone." I gripe.
"Hmm, why can't you just say that you'd miss me for that month that you'd be gone?" He flicks his hair for effect.
"Miss you? Ha! The alcohol? Now that's something to miss." I say but feel a strange pull in my chest again. He makes an exaggerated face of being so insulted.
"What an unbeautiful thing to say, Ikkaku. When I was in the Rukongai I know that I missed you smelling up my room with sweat and stale sake and of course I missed your rude, brutish behaviour."
I take a whiff at my underarms. Yeah, I do smell.
"This is what a man smells like!" I say rather defensively.
"That's what an alcoholic who didn't bathe this morning smells like." He says and ignores my snarl, "I think that this rehab thing would be a good idea."
"What?! You're supposed to be on my side Yumichika!" I growl. I feel so betrayed. It's like Aizen all over again. I could do with a drink.
"I am on your side," He walks over and sits down next to me on the futon and looks directly at me; piercing me with those stunning eyes of his. I hate it when he does that. I feel really exposed. Not that I have anything to expose. "Ikkaku, when you're with me and you drink, it's okay. You don't get drunk. But when you do get drunk, it's ridiculous. You make a proper fool of yourself. You're even more violent and you make stupid decisions." My mind instantly returns to that comment I made to Matsumoto last night that left me with a black eye, "If Captain Ukitake says that you have to go to rehab, I think that you should go. Besides, being an alcoholic is not beautiful."
"That beautiful shit just had to come in, huh?" I mumble in a sotto voice.
"Being beautiful is everything, Ikkaku." He says with a tone as if he just told me 'of course the sun rises in the east.' "Don't worry; I'm sure that you'll like it. It'll be like a spa!" He continues on his quest to make me see the bright side, "I'm sure that it'll be fabulously designed with a totally equipped dojo for training. You know, to sweat out the alcohol."
I start to like the idea. Detoxing doesn't sound so bad. He sees my enthusiasm rise and continues to paint his picture.
"It'll probably have really great food. Captain Kuchiki is organizing this isn't he? So we know you'd most likely get top class stuff."
My eyes light up at the thought.
"And think of all the ugly and beautiful people (much less chance) you'd see there and can come tell me about."
I stare at him and he has this glazed look in his eyes. I snap my fingers to bring him out of his reverie.
"Hey! Is this fantasy for me or for you?"
"Sorry," He mumbles and pouts a bit because I interrupted his fantasy. Seriously, does he ever have an ugly expression?
"Well, I think that this could be good for you. You might learn a few things about yourself." He continues.
"Che. I don't wanna learn anything about myself." I reply like an irritable six year-old. I might as well stomp my feet and throw a tantrum. Yumichika notices as such and hits me over the head.
"You're behaving like a child. How unbeautiful. We of the Eleventh Division face our problems and fights head on, no?"
I stare at him. Hmmph, he is the only one that can make me see reason. Maybe I can tell Captain Ukitake to let me do an At-Home-Do-It-Yourself treatment with Yumichika instead. Okay, I realize that I'm still running from my problems there, so scratch that thought. I'll go to the stupid rehab.
"Yer right. I'm from the Eleventh Division and I don't back down."
"Ah. There's the Ikkaku I know and love."
For whatever reason I fall into a deep blush at the statement. I don't know if Yumichika notices this or not since at that moment he suddenly decides to get up and move over to the back veranda. Hmmm. Maybe rehab can clear up all of my bad habits.