Yay, hopefully this is will be full of many drabbles and fic thingers, since I am starting this for the bad_shield IH fanfic community over on Live Journal. (Thank you CrystalDawn for the idea to make a collection here!) Also, for those who read Liberte Perdue, we'll be uploading the first chapter tomorrow. We've made the new account (which is , fyi), but due to general spam concerns from the site staff, we aren't allowed to upload anything until after 48 hours. So watch out for it! XD
.prompt. Nagicakes (i.e., ombre noctune over here): "Orihime is the owner of a haunted house. Ichigo is the new recruit and needs to be shown the ropes. Spooky, scary things and Ichigo being scared silly is highly encouraged but not mandatory.")
"So the clowns will pop over there, and there'll be bubbles and foam will come out of that shoot."
"The scariest part of the house will be on this end, and that's when there are a few other workers that act like zombies and will start to nibble on people's heads."
"Of course- Wait, did you just say nibble?"
First, Kurosaki Ichigo did not apply for this job willingly. His father signed him up for this on the account of a favor for this woman, his "boss" as it may be. Something about his scary face and how he needed to get his own spending money for Christmas, either way, his good reasons for being here were minimal to none.
Second, this Inoue Orihime character was the softest woman he'd ever met. She worked- no, owned this haunted house, and she's explaining to him what part of the ride the bubbles come out.
Unless those bubbles and foam were going to be made of acid, Ichigo didn't think they'd be scaring anyone.
"Has it ever occurred to you that having people chew at the guest's heads could get you and them arrested for assault?" He asked bluntly, not caring at all whether she would give him a funny look and fire him on the spot. Hell, the sooner he got out of here, the better. Working for holiday-themed events never did go well for him, and sitting in the front yard scaring little kids as they came by seemed like a hell of a better idea than doing this.
But her expression read differently than he'd expected. He genuinely expected her to scrunch her brows and pout her lips, possibly starting a temper tantrum, just because she was a 25 year old woman that acted like a child. The expression instead was that of a bit of curiosity and some disappointment. It was enough to make him scowl harder with his heartstrings being tugged just a bit. He wasn't going to lie, it was an honest-to-god pained expression.
"Never mind, just what's next?" He scoffed, keeping his voice low. He would've started going ahead of her just so he could hide the slight burning of his cheeks, but he knew he would immediately get lost if he did. She knew this place like the back of her hand, and he, being a newbie, well... didn't.
Her previous fervor about her house started right back up and she began to walk ahead of him with a subtle bounce to her step. She kept rambling on about the features and mechanics of a "super room" they just put in, but Ichigo was growing too focused with her to listen about the layout of the building.
Perhaps she was a bit childish and seemingly immature, seeing as she was supposed to be acting 25, but she was awkwardly intriguing anyways. He was definitely aware of her looks, which made it only more baffling how a girl like her could look that good and act so weird.
Maybe it was because she didn't act her age, he found her a bit interesting. His thought process stopped as she halted in front of him and pointed to the next door, a confident look on her face. The strawberry just about ran into her too if he didn't snap out of it soon enough.
"And that... That, Kurosaki-san, is... The room."
"... The room?" He asked quietly, trying not to make the confusion in his voice obvious.
"YES! The room!" She suddenly yelled out, throwing her hands into the air. For those who ask and may already know the strength of haunted house owner, Inoue Orihime, the answer is yes, she did punch him square in the jaw, sending him back a few feet. Ichigo could've sworn he felt a whole lot of teeth rattle in his mouth and it wasn't too long until he could taste the all-too familiar bitter, coppery taste in his mouth that was blood.
"F-Fuck..." He swore to himself out of pain, not intentionally mad at her at all. He was just pissed because it hurt so much. How the hell did she have a punch like that?
"Ah," she let out a small gasp upon noticing she hit something behind her, and quite hard at that. "Kurosaki-san, did you just -" She was in the middle of asking the question of the century when she saw her new temp on the floor, an unsightly trail of blood oozing from his lips. "Kurosaki-san!" She cried, rushing to his side almost immediately.
Inwardly groaning, Ichigo let his eyes roll at her obliviousness to her own strength. "I'm fine, Inoue." He told her gruffly, still holding his jaw quite tenderly. "But you seriously have one hell of a hand," he added at the end, unsure himself of whether it was a compliment or a vague insult.
He could see tears welling up in the corner of her eyes and he immediately regretted his words. Clearly she didn't punch her workers very often, or if she did, she cried an awful lot. Ichigo was about to open his mouth and continue spouting what would surely be more unhelpful gibberish, but she sniffled and stood up. The same tiny hand that had sent him flying just moments ago was now held out in front of him, motioning he should take it so she could help him up. He, for some odd reason, was reluctant in taking it, but when he did, all he thought of was how small and soft it was in his own, quite larger hand.
"Let's go, Kurosaki-san," Orihime sniffled again, using her free hand to wipe a few stray tears. "We need to get back to the front so we can get you an ice pack."
He didn't want to admit it, but her crying was bothering him a lot. Not in an annoying way, but it made him feel like he was the biggest jerk in the history of jerks even though it was her that had the super punch. "O-Oi, why are you crying?" He had to ask, unable to keep it in any longer.
She dropped the slightly damp hand just a bit to look at him with big, confused gray eyes. "You're bleeding," she told him simply.
"Yeah, but that really doesn't answer my question," he replied right back to her, trying really hard to ignore the dull throbbing in his cheek as he spoke. Oddly enough, she didn't say anything back but only managed to flush a light pink before spinning on her heals to go back the way they came. He tried to keep his mouth shut, seeing as it hurt less when he didn't move it much, but what was odd was that she never explained the secret room, nor said a word in general on the way back.
But what definitely said a lot without speaking a word was the fact she continued to hold onto his hand all the way back to the front of the house.
As much as he thought no one would come to her haunted house, there had been a lot of families with children that showed up. Instead of screams and horrified squeals like there usually was supposed to be in an attraction like this, there were giggles and fits of laughter, both from children and adults alike. The plethora of people definitely explained how she managed to stay afloat with this "side business" of hers.
Letting out a pained sigh, the redheaded teen held the chilled ice pack closer to his face as he lounged in his fold-out chair. Surprisingly, his job had been to sit in the chair between the killer daisies exhibit and mutant cupcakes robots and press a button every three minutes to send out a multitude of bubbles. Yes, the house was filled with bubbles most of the time due to the many parts of the place using bubble machines, but if that's what gave the families their kicks, he wouldn't question it.
Why she had given him such an easy job, he didn't know. He had offered to run the explosion of glittered football players, which had to be reset every five minutes due to technical issues that had yet to be fixed, but she declined. She also told him no when he offered to stay in "The Room", even though he didn't know what was in it. She just shook her head way too fast and told him to stay with the bubbles. "It's safer," he remembers her telling him.
This was by far the most bizarre job he'd ever had before, especially considering it was supposed to be a haunted house that turned more into a fun house, but oddly enough... He really didn't mind it. He was even growing embarrassed at the idea of asking her if he could come back and work here again. But he didn't know if he wanted to come back because of how easy it was with the decent pay, or because of her – Orihime, the haunted house owner.
Well, for now it would be something he'd figure out later. Now he needed to focus on his job (as well as his new black and blue bruise from the punch), rather than his curiosity over a pretty, yet childish haunted house owner.
Only, he would've been able to focus if someone didn't keep poking him in the back from behind. After grumbling and pressing the bubble button again, he snapped around to see who exactly it was prodding him. Lone behold, no one was there. He could only stare at the empty space before he scratched at his head confusedly and turned back around, waiting for another few minutes to pass. They did, and he hit his button like he was supposed to, but at the same time, there was another poke.
"Just who the hell is doing that?" He scoffed to himself, turning back around to find more empty space, but a small giggle rang into his ears.
For a short moment, he left his post to figure out the stupid poking and giggling from nowhere, leaving his ice pack behind. It wasn't right to assume, but he thought Orihime wouldn't mind too much at all. She even said he could go away for a bit, if he really needed to, as long as he wasn't gone for extremely long periods of time. It would be short, he told himself, so it wouldn't be a big deal to leave for a moment.
"Who's there?" He asked into almost silence, and again, received a small giggle as a response. It sounded familiar, but he couldn't place his finger on it. And he knew it definitely couldn't be Orihime, since she was monitoring the front at all times.
A few steps ahead of him and a turn to the left would've been the smart choice. However, he took a right instead and ran into a very unfamiliar frozen figurine with the face resembling the human face without the skin on it. He did indeed jump back a bit, finding it to be a bit gruesome and bloody, but it quickly passed. It was just a damn figurine, for heaven's sake, he didn't need to get so wigged out by it.
"Heh... Didn't know Inoue actually had something this scary in the house," he chuckled to himself as he took a step closer to the thing. He ran his finger over the plastic face, a small smile growing on his face. "Damn, this could be fun to freak people out with though." Looking at the rest of it, the entire thing appeared to be a life-sized statue of a female that looked like it walked right out of the morgue. But was this the same thing that gave out those giggles from earlier?
It already looked a bit too heavy to just turn around, so he wrapped his arms around the mannequin and felt up the back in search for the battery pack. After finding nothing initially, he figured it was in the base of the neck, since that was the only other logical place.
But something was odd as he used both hands to search for it, paying no mind at just how close he was to the doll. The skin on the neck of this thing was way too soft to be that of a doll's. Did Orihime maybe get it from overseas or something? It was like a high-class statue.
Chills and shivers went up his spine as fingers grazed his own back and the mannequin leaned it's head forward, the cool plastic on the crook of his neck. It giggled again before whispering in a low tone, "Kuuuuroooo-saaaaaakiiiii..."
Kurosaki Ichigo like to say he wasn't easily scared by these things, but he was just so unsuspecting of this he yelped quite loudly and jumped backwards yet again, taking the so-called "statue" with him in the process. It screamed just as loudly and it ended up beneath him, hands flailing around and just about punching him in the exact same spot as before.
He panted heavily with his heart racing as he quickly pinned the hands above the head, scowling harder than he ever had in his lifetime. "Who the fuck do you think you are, trying to scare the shit out of me like tha-"
"K-Kurosaki-san! I-It's me!" A small, muffled voice came from behind the mask. The familiarity of that voice made his eyes widen. He loosened his grip on the wrists and shifted it so he could just hold them with one hand, so his free one could peel off the mask and unveil the person beneath.
He should've seen it coming.
Orihime was currently pinned beneath him, her big gray eyes just as startled as his probably were while sticky, sweaty strands of auburn stuck to her face. She seemed to breathe just as deeply as she looked up at him for a moment, before her eyes shifted from confirmation to apologies.
"I-I'm so sorry, Kurosaki-san!" She apologized quietly, feeling her wrists become free again as he shifted off of her. "I was just trying to get you into the spirit..."
At the moment, he wasn't answering her. It wasn't because he was angry, oh no, he wasn't angry at all.
He was still outright freaked by what she had managed to accomplish. Inoue Orihime, a woman he had known for no more than 12 hours, scared the hell out of him. Anyone that actually knew him personally would know that it took a lot to get him that freaked.
"A-And... I'm sorry for earlier..."
Instinctively, he raised his hand to graze the bruise and rolled his eyes back to her. "It was an accident, Inoue," he scoffed lightly, seeing her return to a sitting position. It seemed she felt genuinely bad for this round as well, seeing as she refused to meet his eyes at all.
"I-I also had another motive for doing what I did too..." Orihime quietly confessed, her fingers bunching up the fabric of the white, but fakely bloodied tunic she wore. Her words interested him again and he tried to look hard at her, despite it being relatively dark.
"I-I was hoping..." She started slowly, doing her best to hold back her stutters. "I-If I got you scared enough, you might want to come back and work here again... I wanted to show you how fun it could be here."
Ichigo was surprised at her bold statement. He just about told her this place seemed fun anyways, tricks or not, but he bit his tongue and glanced away again, his cheeks starting to burn like earlier.
"I was going to stay longer anyways..." He told her. Earlier he wasn't sure if he was going to ask to stay here longer, but it looks like he answered both their questions anyways without a second thought. He didn't even need to look at her to hear the loud gasp from her mouth.
"R-Really?" Orihime suddenly sounded much more enthusiastic, but it only made Ichigo grow more flushed. Flustered, he stood to his feet quite quickly with the desire to get back to his post quickly.
"I-I should really get back to the bubbles," Ichigo spoke quickly, soon finding just how lame that sounded, even if it was just to her.
"Gambatte!" She cried out to him as he distanced himself, only making him bring his hand up to his face and a loud slap resounding through the otherwise quiet area. But behind that hand, a small, very stupid grin grew. A very excited smile about the fact he would be working longer here with Inoue Orihime, haunted house owner, and he knew one thing was for sure.
Smiles in a place like this were contagious, because he could hear her cheering herself on as well just down the hall.