Useless Notes: I live!

Small-time thug Iceringer runs into a little trouble while on the way home from a pick-up job for his boss, Grand Fisher.

Disclaimer: Bleach doesn't belong to me and neither does the song Stay Beautiful. They belong to Kubo Tite and Diggy-Mo.

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Shining Velocity

7. Con me once, shame on you.

Con me twice, shame on me.

Con me thrice and I'm never handling money again.

The thug known only as Iceringer walked down the road, keeping his eyes on the path ahead and his hand on the unusually large stack of bills deep within his overcoat. He pulled his hat down lower to avoid instant recognition, which might have been useless, since anyone hardly knew him or his gang or even his boss, Grand Fisher. He knew it and he didn't like it, but Iceringer figured that a job at a small-time, wannabe gang like this was better than no job at all. He bit the inside of his cheek in frustration. He'd been in the gang for three years already- three wasted years, if you asked him- and the sooner he got out, the better. Grand Fisher was one hell of a shitty boss and didn't know squat on running his own group. Maybe once he'd built up enough creds, he'd be able to convince a few of the guys to join him instead, and then Iceringer wouldn't have to worry about a thing.

If only it were as easy as that. If it was, he'd do it. Thing was, it wasn't. Hence the dilemma. Grand Fisher may be a stupid man, but he was a strong man too. And the problem with Iceringer was that he was just the opposite- whatever he lacked in brawn, he made up in brains. But even then, that wasn't saying much. Because as much as he tried to deny it, Iceringer would always have the smarts and mentality of a two-bit thug. He'd never achieve the status of renowned and respected gang boss, simply because he wasn't smart enough for the job.

He grunted and pulled his coat closer to his neck. Partly because of the cold, and mostly because of the money he was carrying. He'd done this plenty of times before, doing the money pick-ups for that Grand Fisher bastard, and usually, he wasn't one to lose his cool so early on. But Iceringer had this odd feeling that something was going to happen today, which was why he wasn't as calm as he should have been. The empty warehouse his shit-boss and his shit-gang occupied was still a few miles away and he knew he still had a lot of walking ahead of him. And so, in order to keep himself from suffering from an immature panic-attack, Iceringer willed himself to calm down and instead think about how much he'd get from the large stack he was bringing along. Maybe not much, knowing Grand Fisher. But then again, you could always talk to him and if you got lucky and if the big lug suddenly grew some brains overnight, then yeah, you could expect your raise. But that was only if you got lucky. And if he actually did grow some brains overnight.

Iceringer was so lost in thought, that he failed to notice the scrawny young kid turn the corner he was about to pass. The kid was running quickly and from the way he was panting, it seemed he'd been running for quite some time. But because Iceringer was busy thinking about the one hundred and five ways for ripping his beloved boss apart, he didn't notice the kid running straight at him.

And so obviously, they crashed into each other.

Iceringer shook his head and hurriedly leapt to his feet, feeling slight relief once he felt the wad still sitting in his coat pocket. Then, he angrily turned to the kid who was still on the sidewalk, rubbing his head in surprise and pain.

"Oi. Kid." He didn't even bother to lend the kid his hand. But that was okay. The kid sprung to his feet just as quickly and darted behind Iceringer.

"Name's D-Roy," he panted, trying to make himself smaller than Iceringer's already small back. "Hide me for a bit an' you won't regret it, I swear."

Iceringer raised an eyebrow. "And why the hell would I do that?"

"They're here!" D-Roy squeaked and hid himself behind his new friend.

Iceringer turned and saw three men suddenly appear in front of him.

One of them- the biggest; the one with a flame of red sprouting from his hair- moved forward and calmly confronted Iceringer. "You best hand him over, bud. He's got something we want."

Iceringer turned to D-Roy and shrugged. "Sure. Don't even know who this kid is anyway."

Behind him, the kid gave a little shriek of fright and tried to talk to Iceringer one more time. "Please, mister! They've been after me 'cos of my inheritance see, an' they won't stop till they get it! Y'gotta protect me, else I die!"

"And why the hell should I care?" Iceringer retorted, still sore on being knocked over like that.

D-Roy gulped, looked at the three men frantically, then back at Iceringer. "Fine. Listen mister. Y'protect me now an' I'll give ya a part of it- that's ten grand in all. Ten grand! Come on mister, please, y'gotta protect me! I don't wanna join 'em!" And for added measure, the kid thrust a heavy wallet into Iceringer's chest. The surprised man was momentarily taken aback by the sudden offer, but once he tossed the wallet to check the weight, it had become official.

He turned back to the huge man standing in front of him and drew out a gun immediately after pocketing the wallet. "You got yourself a bodyguard, kid," he smirked, cocked the gun and aimed straight at the big man's chest. "Back off, big guy. Else, the gun go boom."

The shortest (and fattest) of the three stared at the gun angrily. "How 'bout I make your head go boom?"

But the man still standing in front of Iceringer (why did he look so calm?) held up a hand, instantly silencing his friend. "Quiet, Nakim," he said.

"Tch," he grunted and spat at the sidewalk. "Do what y'want Edorad. Like I care either ways."

"Listen bud, maybe we can talk this out together, just you an' me huh?" the big man named Edorad held up his hands in a peaceful manner. "Got no weapons on me, see? Maybe we can talk this out civilly? Huh? What you say?"

Iceringer lowered his gun, but only a little, so that it was now aimed at the man's crotch instead of his chest. "So, talk."

"Kid's got something we want and we're chasin' him to get it back, see." Edorad explained slowly. "That's all. You ain't involved in this, so best back off an' give the kid to us."

Iceringer shrugged. "Can't. Kid just hired me 'bout a minute ago to be his bodyguard." Then, he raised his gun again. "Say your prayers, man."

"Big deal," the third member of the group- tall and yellow-haired- suddenly spoke up. "How d'you know it's real money he paid you with?" Beside him, Nakim laughed loudly. Edorad meanwhile, gave them a glance, but nodded at Iceringer. "Ilfort's right. Go ahead, man. Check it."

Iceringer raised another eyebrow and turned to D-Roy, who now looked scared shitless. This only convinced him to open up the wallet, only to find out that it was filled with a few stones and a huge mess of papers. He turned on D-Roy angrily and waved the gun at the frightened kid's face. "You conned me! Ya little brat! I knew I shouldn't have wasted my time on you! Ya little bastard, you're gonna pay!"

D-Roy now screamed for his life and made to run off, but Edorad fortunately, stepped in time and held Iceringer's wrist tightly. "Maa, maa, no need for violence now is there?"

"Lemme go, y'bastard! I'm gonna kill this son of a bitch!" Iceringer yelled angrily, uncharacteristically losing control. But Edorad only tightened his grip.

"Man, for a guy carryin' so much money, y'sure are pretty obvious," Nakim laughed, as he walked up behind the now-frightened thug, with Ilfort following close by.

Iceringer turned towards them in shock, momentarily forgetting his anger. "The hell?"

Ilfort only laughed in reply. "Well you were pretty obvious, with the way you were walking you know. The only thing missing was a sign around your neck to confirm it."

"And if you don't mind, we'll be taking this now," a new voice spoke up from Edorad's direction. Iceringer could only watch as the tall, lean man with braids slipped his fingers into his coat pocket and drew out the large wad.

"Shawlong!" D-Roy grinned over at the newcomer. "Took ya long enough."

He nodded. "Good job, D-Roy, everyone."

"What- what the hell is this?" Iceringer sputtered, now remembering to talk. "Y'can't just take it, y'know! That ain't mine, ya bastards- that's the Grand Fisher's money you're handlin', you don't realize?"

"Who?" a rough voice came up from the alleyway behind the whole group. And as soon as he'd spoken, the owner of that voice came out of the shadows, his blue hair sprouting out of his head wildly. "Grand Fisher, he said? That bastard ain't even worth shit."

Everyone laughed and Iceringer only scowled deeply. Edorad had already let go of his wrist, but took his gun away at the same time as well, leaving the thug defenseless. "And who the hell are you guys supposed to be?" he said angrily, no longer giving a shit about the lost money. "The new kids on the block?"

Shawlong scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Something like that." Then, he turned to their blue-haired leader and gave him the wad of money. "And stop scowling at us like that. Look on the bright side- at least you're not dead yet."

Behind him, Ilfort, Nakim and D-Roy roared with laughter, while Edorad only shook his head. Iceringer turned up to glare at the blue-haired man instead. "An' what the hell's with that hair color? What're ya tryin' to be- some sort of cat?"

But only he looked amused by this. Everyone else just turned to the man in question, expressions of surprise on their faces. Oh Iceringer knew how to work up a crowd alright. Riling up people was definitely one of his talents, and to his credit, the insult worked.

The blue-haired man stepped closer to the still-angry Iceringer. "What the hell did you just say?"

"I said," the thug continued, obviously not giving any thought to this at all. "What the hell you bleachin' your hair like that for? You look like a fucking cat."

The man cracked his knuckles. "Say that again one more time, will ya?" He glared a warning over at Iceringer. "Come on. Just one more time." And because Iceringer wasn't too smart, he was only too happy to comply.

"Pussy," he sneered. "That's what the whole lot of you are, ain't y-"

But he never did get to finish that sentence. As soon as the insult flew from his lips, so did the fist of the guy in front of him- the guy he so stupidly made fun of. If Iceringer could watch the whole thing again, he was sure he'd still see it in slow motion.

Blue's fist connecting with his jaw. Iceringer's jaw going slack. Iceringer's lean build hitting the sidewalk. Slowly, Iceringer felt his vision darken, and he briefly wondered how Grand Fisher would react once he found out his money got stolen. And by some amateur, two-bit gang, no less!

"You tell your boss," he heard the blue-haired man's voice talking to him just before he blacked out. "You tell your boss my name. It's Grimmjow Jaggerjaques. Got it?" Blue scoffed and spat at the ground. "We're comin' after your boss next. An' then we're takin' over the city."

But Iceringer couldn't answer; not when his head was still spinning. Loud guffaws of laughter were the last things he heard before slipping into the darkness and before finally conking out.

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A/N: For those who don't remember Iceringer… well I don't really know how to describe him here. He was one of Ishida's first opponents in Hueco Mundo, I think. And yes, I'm well aware that a couple of the lines here made the characters sound Irish.