DISCLAIMER: I do not own Bleach or any of it's characters. The end.
The first time they met, Yumichika broke Ikkaku's nose.
The bald man had been stalking through Rukongai, his quest for better fighters never ending. He was somewhere around the 79th or 80th district, he wasn't really sure anymore. People were huddled against buildings, shying away and eying him suspiciously as he walked through, sword across his shoulders, scowling as he passed. Not expecting to find any good battles in a place like this, he walked quickly, eyes barely scanning the civilians.
It was only by chance that he even saw Yumichika, but once he did he couldn't look away. The other man was standing by an alley entrance, concealed by shadows, making Ikkaku strain to see the details of his figure. Once his eyes adjusted, he found that several things stood out about the stranger.
For one, he was dressed quite nicely for someone who lived in the slums of Rukongai. He had long black hair, tied back elegantly while a few strands fell by his face. Glowing violet eyes pierced through the darkness he stood in, and Ikkaku shivered, feeling as if those eyes were looking straight through him to his soul. The man had a slight frame although Ikkaku couldn't tell if this was from lack of food or just his natural body type. All in all, the man had a very mysterious, feminine look to him. But one last thing caught the warrior's eye, and it was this that made him grin.
He was carrying a sword.
Normally, Ikkaku wouldn't bother with someone so weak looking, but he hadn't had a good fight in a week or two and he was getting restless. As such, he donned his famous, maniacal grin and confidently made his way over to the man. As he approached, the surrounding people scattered, avoiding him at all costs. His target, however, stood calmly, evenly meeting his gaze. Stopping a few feet before the man, Ikkaku drew his sword, pointing it at his intended opponent.
"Hey! Wanna fight me?"
The long-haired one raised an eyebrow, seemingly unfazed by his abruptness. "My, my. Cut right to the chase, don't we?" He said as he walked out of the alley and around Ikkaku. Finally seeing him in sunlight, Ikkaku was a bit stunned at how flawless the pale skin was. How did anyone get this, for lack of a better word, pretty while living in Rukongai? He was shaken from his reverie as the other spoke again.
"At least tell me your name first. It's very ugly not to introduce yourself."
Ikkaku blinked, confused at the man's wording. 'Ugly'?… Regardless, he replied as requested. "Madarame Ikkaku."
His opponent smiled, nodding his head as he drew his own sword. "Ayasegwa Yumichika."
The bald man grinned wider, crouching into fighting position. "Well then, Ayasegwa Yumichika, see if you can keep up!" With these words, he leapt forward, blade aimed for the man's jugular. In a flash, Yumichika countered the blow, pushing Ikkaku back with surprising force for such a slight man. Quickly using his sword sheath to defend himself, he once again brought his blade down. However, before steel could meet flesh, Yumichika twisted his body, releasing his hold on Ikkaku's sheath. The sudden lack of force threw the man off balance, giving Yumichika an opportunity to swing at his back. Luckily, Ikkaku dropped to the ground, the sword cutting through the air above him. Jumping to his feet, he promptly locked swords with the other man once more.
This continued on for they didn't know how long. Both men rapidly shifting from offense to defense, neither managing to get ahead. Finally, as they were both beginning to lag with exhaustion, Ikkaku swung his sword underhand, catching the bottom of Yumichika's weapon. Pivoting on his foot, he turned and pulled upwards, catapulting the opposing sword out of its owners hands and over Ikkaku's shoulder.
Ginning, Ikkaku lowered his arms and threw his head back to laugh in victory. However, just as he closed his eyes and was about to open his mouth, a palm crashed into his nose. He cried out at the sickening 'crunch' sound that alerted him to his now obviously broken nose. Before even having a chance to process what was happening, he felt a hand grab the hilt of his sword at the same time as he was kicked in the stomach. Falling back, his weapon was left behind in the hands of his opponent. As he landed on the ground, he used his newly-freed hands to try to staunch the river of blood flowing from his nose. Finally looking up, Ikkaku found himself face to face with the blade of his own sword.
Yumichika merely smirked. "Never let your guard down. Just because I lost my weapon, doesn't mean I lost the fight."
Ikkaku stared, wide-eyed at the man he had formerly thought to be weak. Of course he had been stupid to let his guard down, he knew better than that! But what was really surprising was that Yumichika knew that. Everyone Ikkaku had fought up to this point had surrendered as soon as they lost their weapon, sometimes sooner. But this man in front of him… he understood.
Ignoring his silence, Yumichika smoothly tossed Ikkaku's sword, flipping it so that he was carefully holding the blade while the handle was offered to Ikkaku. Keeping one hand on his still bleeding nose, the bald man nodded his head as he took his sword back. He carefully stood while the other man retrieved his own weapon.
Chuckling slightly, he spoke. "Heh, you're not bad."
Yumichika smiled as he sheathed his sword. "You are quite skilled yourself. You're style is much more beautiful than most."
Ikkaku raised an eyebrow, not quite sure how to respond to a complement like that. "Um, thanks?"
The other man nodded and began to walk away. Realizing that he was leaving, Ikkaku quickly rushed after him. "Hey! Hey, hold up!"
"Where do you think you're going?"
Ikkaku vigorously shook his head. "Oh no, I need a rematch! This time I wont let my guard down!"
Yumichika sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Look, I'm exhausted, and I don't want to look at you when you're all…" He trailed off, gesturing to Ikkaku whose nose and chin was covered in dried blood and whose clothes were stiff with sweat and dirt. Ikkaku looked confused, but Yumichika continued before he could question.
"Plus, I don't want a rematch if I'm just going to beat you again."
"Just, clean yourself up, get some rest, then come find me." And with that, he walked away, leaving Ikkaku to fume as he watched him disappear.
Sure enough, two days later, Yumichika found himself once again cornered by the bald man. And once again, after a lengthy battle, Ikkaku was defeated. The same happened three days after that. And the day after that. Pretty soon, they were going to bars together and pooling their money to rent a room. And pretty soon, Ikkaku was ready to move on.
"Come with me."
Yumichika raised an eyebrow. "Oh? And why should I?"
"There's nothing here for you anyways. Plus…" Ikkaku grinned. "I still haven't beaten you."
The other man returned the grin. "And that's my problem?" He laughed softly. "Well, I suppose there's no harm in tagging along with you for awhile…"
'Awhile' turned into weeks, and months, and eventually years went by as the two evolved from merely companions to true friends. They traveled through the levels of Rukongai, searching for bigger and stronger opponents to fight. The vain man was always there for his friend, whether he was too drunk to walk or took on too many thugs at once, Yumichika protected him. On days when they found no suitable fighters, they fought each other. Still, Ikkaku could never beat the smaller man.
One night, in the middle of the summer, the two were setting up camp in a small forest outside of 34th district. They were low on funds and it was warm enough that a hotel was not necessary. They stayed up for a couple of hours, talking and joking, before Yumichika stood to put the fire out. Just as he was moving towards the fire, the ground beneath them shook. Just as suddenly as it came, it stopped. This repeated several times almost like…foot steps.
The two warriors stood back to back, swords drawn, searching for the source of the disturbance. The leaves began to rustle, and before they had time to respond, a giant tentacle, sky blue and covered in scales, crashed through the trees, causing the men to jump back to avoid being crushed.
"What the heck is that!?" Yumichika cried. They looked on as the rest of the creature was revealed. The tentacle was actually the tail of a massive, wolf like creature. It's head was covered by a bone white mask, shaped like an animal skull with drool covered, razor sharp teeth and two horns on either side. Ikkaku's eyes widened.
"It's a hollow!" While he had never seen one in person before, he had heard enough about them to know what they were facing. The monster let out a load roar before leaping at the two figures. Both raised their swords, slicing at the creature before jumping out of the way again. They took turns, one would strike, then fall back while the other attacked as well. But then, as Ikkaku fell back, letting Yumichika get a hit in, the hollow screeched at the attack and swung it's tail. While it missed Yumichika, it got Ikkaku. The bald man winced as he heard several ribs crack, definitely broken.
"Ikkaku!" Before Yumichika could rush to his companion's side, the hollow turned back to him, taking the opportunity to bring its claws down across the man's chest. He cried out, falling to the side as he bled. Ikkaku coughed up a bit of blood as he looked up. The beast twisted back and sprang at him, mouth open and teeth bared. He closed his eyes, waiting for his death to finally come.
But it never came. He heard a clash, but he didn't feel anything. Opening his eyes slowly, he was shocked at the sight. Yumichika, slightly hunched over from his own wounds, was holding off the hollow. His sword was held firmly in front of him, locked with the teeth of the monster mere inches away from his face.
His friend never responded. Still pushing back against the massive beast, he leaned forwards and coughed up a few mouthfuls of blood. Finally, the hollow jumped back, releasing it's hold on Yumichika's sword. Ikkaku moved to sit up, but stopped as the pain in his chest increased. He cursed under his breath. He had probably already punctured an organ, and if he moved to much he would probably just end up dying before he could be of any help. Although it didn't matter much, because Yumichika never asked for any. Instead, he wiped his mouth and ran towards the creature again. He swung, but wasn't fast enough as the creature leapt over him. As the hollow landed, it turned and snapped, catching Yumichika's arm in its teeth as the bone snapped. He cried out, and the creature released him and once again raced towards Ikkaku. And once again, Ikkaku found himself behind Yumichika as he held the hollow off. He held his sword with both hands since his sword arm was now broken. Still, he held firm. However, the bald man noticed his friend's legs and arms shaking, his face screwed up in pain.
Wrapping an arm around his chest, Ikkaku shakily got to his knees. "Yumi, stop! You're hurt, I can take care of my-"
Ikkaku blinked in shock. "…What?"
Yumichika turned his head slightly, looking at his friend out of the corner of his eye. "You're hurt too. But I can still fight."
"No. You're too injured. If you try to fight you'll die."
"I can still-"
"I'm stronger than you!"
Ikkaku froze. Yumichika's words rang through his mind, echoing. His chest tightened with emotion and in that moment, he realized something. He was not offended. Neither he, nor his pride was hurt by those words. He was horrified. Because it was true. Yumichika was stronger, and because of that there was nothing Ikkaku could do. Not now. Yumichika turned away, eyes clenched shut.
"Please…Just let me protect you." And with that, Yumichika pushed the hollow back again. He ran forward, blade slashing at whatever he could reach. And Ikkaku watched, and prayed. After only a few minutes, Ikkaku's nightmare came true. Yumichika managed to impale the monster in the side, but this only angered it. Twisting its body, it grabbed the man, its teeth wrapping around his lithe body. The creature shook it's head side to side, the body in it's mouth flailing limply.
Ikkaku was preparing to stand and fight or run or scream or something. But then, to his surprise, Yumichika managed to raise his sword and bring it down on the creatures head, right in between the eyes. It's mask pierced, the hollow howled, dropping Yumichika to the ground. Ikkaku watched in sick fascination as the hollow disintegrated in front of there eyes. Only when the last speck had faded away did he stagger to his fallen friend.
"Yumi! Yumichika! Come on, wake up!" He placed the smaller (he never noticed how small oh gosh he looked so small) man's head in his lap as he patted his cheek. Noticing all the blood (so much blood how can someone so small small small have so much blood?) He quickly reached over to grab one of their blankets, laying forgotten on the ground from the battle. He pressed down on the wounds coating Yumichika's chest, trying to stop as much of the bleeding as he could. Seeing the blanket becoming wet with blood, he pressed harder. His roughness was rewarded with a groan from the man in front of him.
"Yumichika! Stay with me! Please, talk to me, say something!"
"Yeah, that's right, just stay awake, ok?"
"This isn't…very beautiful…huh?"
Ikkaku stared for a moment before laughing (hysterically. Or maybe he was crying, he couldn't quite tell).
"Of course that's what you say. I shouldn't even be surprised." He looked down at his hands and felt a spark of hope when he noticed that the bleeding was slowing. "Ok, I'm going to try and stop as much of the bleeding as I can, and then we'll find a medic or, or something, ok? You're gonna be fine." (Oh please be fine what will I do if you're not fine?)
Yumichika chuckled. "I'll be fine…It takes… more than this… to get rid of me…" He began to trail off, his word slurring a bit more. "..'m strong…"
Ikkaku felt like crying (but he didn't, because he wasn't the one who was bleeding and shrinking and dying…). "I know. I know you're strong…" Yumichika's eyes had closed slowly and Ikkaku patiently waited for them to open again (please open please open). "…But you shouldn't have to be…"
The fallen man looked confused. "Hmm?"
"You shouldn't have to be so strong, just to save me." The bleeding was slowing, there was hope (like light, like life, hope…) Carefully, gently, the bald man placed his friend's arm over his shoulder and slowly stood. They then cautiously began to make their way out of the forest. Ikkaku kept talking.
"I promise, you're never going to have to be this strong again."
Yumichika sighed, closing his eyes again. Ikkaku looked down at him, his protector. Despite being unsure of whether or not his friend was conscious, he finished his vow.
"From now on, I'm going to protect you."
Yumichika survived. Staggering into the town, Ikkaku was lucky enough to find a healer who would help them. While they almost lost the vain man a few times, he managed to pull through in the end. He was still left with quite a few scars on his torso and right arm, much to his chagrin. He compensated by wearing only long sleeves which covered them (years later, after following a certain indestructible man and a pink haired girl into the Gotei 13, they had enough money for him to by some accessories so he could properly cover the scars on his arm. Ikkaku always said he looked good in orange…)
True to his word, Ikkaku became almost scary over-protective. For almost a three months after the hollow incident, Ikkaku wouldn't let him fight at all. It wasn't until Yumichika gave him a firm kick to the crotch that he let his friend join in the tussles again. However, anytime it even looked like he might be having trouble, Ikkaku would jump in to protect him. Reversely, Ikkaku refused to let his friend assist him in any fights he got himself into. He trained harder, got stronger, and made sure that he never needed protecting again.
Yet he still couldn't beat Yumichika during spars.
Eh, I don't care for the ending. I never do...
This was just an idea I had for a different take on how these two met and why Ikkaku is the way he is. I thought it would be interesting to have their roles almost reversed (since it is generally assumed that Ikkaku is the stronger one). Please review and tell me what you think! I'm cool with flames if it's about my writing. Please do not comment like "WTF that's not how they met Ikkaku's stronger I imagine it differently!!1!" If you have your own version of their meeting, that's cool, good for you. Like I said, this is just a concept I wanted to try out.
Other than that, any and all reviews, critiques, flames, suggestions, or comments are completely welcomed and encouraged! Thanks for reading! ~BFMS