The Kidnapping of Kurosaki Ichigo [Chapter 1: It's a Living]
Pairing: Hichigo x Ichigo
Disclaimer: I DO NOT own the wonderful world of BLEACH because life is evil like that.
In the marketplace, the women gossiped with worried faces. Every now and they, they'd reply in hurried English, "I wonder how the king is feeling right now..."
The others shook their heads sadly and replied, "Ne t'en fais pas! (Don't worry!) He's a strong man, but just imagine having your own son go missing like that."
Another woman spoke up in English once again, "Oh no dear, he isn't just missing; he was kidnapped!"
"Kidnapped! Goodness gracious me!" A few of the younger women gasped in horror.
From the side of the marketplace sat a young man of no more than 18 years of age with his hat pulled down over his face and his feet up on the table before him. He sighed exasperatedly and pulled the hat off his head to reveal a head of bristly white hair. When he'd sat himself down at a coffee shop in the middle of the market strip, he'd hoped to pick up some interesting local gossip to tell his uncle, but the people were talking of only one topic in particular.
A couple brushed past him, talking feverishly, their English was very bad, "Did you hear? About the Prince?"
"Of course, of course! What do you suppose will happen to him? Oh, I hope he's still alive."
The white-haired boy pulled a foul expression. If he heard one more person chatter about the missing prince, he swore he'd kick them to death. Prince this, prince that, prince, prince, prince, blah, blah, blah. But what really annoyed him to no end was the fact that no one could get their story straight. He'd heard a vast spectrum of different theories, all ranging from the stupid to outright insane.
A pair of young teenage girls scuttled past and joined another large forming group. Their faces were wide with shock when a friend whispered to them. One of the girls let out a shrill squeal and spoke hurriedly, "Mon Dieu! (My God!) I thought it was just a rumour. So it's true then, the prince has disappeared?"
Something snapped in him and the white-haired boy's hand twitched towards the salt shaker on the table, raised it above his head, and aimed for the group of girls. He gritted his teeth. He honestly didn't care if he hurt them. But before he could release the shaker, a hand firmly gripped his wrist.
The boy flinched, turned quickly to meet the face of his uncle. The thickets of brown hair that fell down past the man's shoulders, his long tattered coat and dark glasses gave an overall menacing appearance, but the boy wasn't perturbed. "You weren't planning on throwing this at those girls now were you, Shirosaki?"
"Oh, Zangetsu, It's just you," Shirosaki chuckled, a strange echoing sound, and a sly grin spread across his features, "Would I ever do such a thing?"
The older man gave his nephew an all-knowing stare. If there was one thing he hated about his young nephew, it was his talent for finding trouble, not matter where they were. "I should've sent you back to England when I had the chance."
Shirosaki's smile quickly turned into a glare, "No, not happening. You said we were in this together, Naples or nowhere."
"I know, I know; Naples or nowhere." Zangetsu repeated. He walked around and after pushing Shirosaki's feet off the table, leaned against it. He let his gaze wander around the marketplace. Because of their generally strange appearance, people would occasionally glance their way, but wouldn't give them a second glance as they walked past. This peacefulness was something that neither of them had gotten much of lately. It was nice to be able to be in public without the fear of getting arrested.
"Sometimes I forget," Shirosaki muttered softly.
Zangetsu turned to the white-haired boy, "Pardon?"
Shirosaki was looking off into the crowd. "Sometimes, I forget we're in France. It's so much like England it's scary." He scowled, "And it certainly doesn't help when they're all talking in English. I can't relax properly if I think I'm going to get jumped at any second."
Zangetsu couldn't help but tousle the boy's hair, making him yelp. "It's because it's fashionable, that's why. Once the Parisians and the royals started speaking English, so did everyone else." Of course, the French were still their own people, but they took a strange pride in mastering a language not their own. Zangetsu found it charming, but all Shirosaki could do was complain about it.
The pair fell into silence and the endless sounds of the marketplace surrounded them; the carts, the livestock, the people. It would've been like a holiday, if they hadn't been there for business. "So," Shirosaki finally broke the silence, "Did they supply the goods?"
The uncle gave his nephew a quick once-over, "Just exactly how strong are you?"
The comment caused a racket of protest from the younger one. "I'm very strong! Strong enough to take you on right here, right now in fact!" His complaint died down when he noticed the small grin spread lazily across the older man's face. "No way. No, no way!" His face broke into a big grin, "How much are we talking abut here?"
"140 pounds of pure opium are packed, sealed and ready to be shipped to England tomorrow morning, not far from here at Le Havre." Zangetsu commented smugly.
Shirosaki laughed victoriously and shook the man's shoulder, "I just knew coming to France was a good idea! Hahaha!"
He chuckled softly, "Funny you say that, coming from the same boy who whined non-stop on the sail over."
Even the brash insult couldn't dull the white-haired boy's spirits, because come tomorrow; their problems were all but solved.
In the cover of night, two burly English men carried a long bag into the old stone cathedral. Nothing stirred as they fumbled their way around in the dark with only the moonlight to guide them. They slowly moved into the side hall where, lying flat on the floor was an array of open coffins. The men ignored the shivers that ran up their spines at the sight of the wooden caskets and tossed the long bag down onto the floor.
The bag writhed slightly and groaned. As the men untied the rope, a head of bright orange hair stood out from the murky grey inner lining of the bag.
"Can't we just kill him and be done with it?" One of the men spoke up. His voice echoed faintly around the room.
"No," The other replied, "our orders were to bury him alive, poor bastard. If we don't follow what the boss said to the letter, I fear we would join that lad in coffins of our own."
Neither of them enjoyed the thought of casket lids closing down on them and slowly getting lowered into the ground as they yelled and hollered. With a light shudder, one of the men pushed the thoughts away and reached into the bag. He pulled the boy out with a tug and laid him onto the ground.
It was the missing prince, Ichigo Kurosaki. He was ambushed on the outskirts of Paris and the trails of dried blood down from his temple indicated that he was hit sharply over the head and knocked unconscious. The only indication that he was still alive was the steady rising and falling of his chest. His jewels were missing as well as the small crown that usually sat atop his head. A thick strip of material was tied over his mouth in the unfortunate event that he should wake up early.
"Put him in the coffin beside that other one," One of the men pointed over to the closed coffin in the corner. It seemed that the coffin was already preoccupied with a poor dead body, no doubt. There was always a fresh body in the cathedral, waiting to be buried, waiting to finally get put to rest. The pair grabbed him by his arms and feet and carried him over to the casket, lowering the unconscious boy into it.
When the pair stood up straight, an unwanted sound of horses-hooves clattered in the distance. To heighten their worries, there were the loud sounds of gunfire. "Shit! It's the Gendarmes! They've found us!" One of the men panicked. "What do we do?"
"Hush!" The other hissed, "Just close the coffin and bolt it shut. They're looking for the living, not the dead; they won't check in there."
No longer caring about discreetness, they fumbled with the lid and the sounds of the bolts being fastened echoed through the cathedral. "Let's get out of here!" The men tossed their tools into the now body-less bag, slung it over their shoulder and escaped out a side door and back into the darkness.
The cathedral was once again silent. The main hallway appeared untouched, aside from the newly occupied casket. The plan to put the unconscious prince into a coffin was a devious one indeed. Not a single soul would've guessed to look for the prince in such a location, especially if they pinned their hopes on him still being alive.
Only a few minutes away from the cathedral were the cause of the earlier gunfire. A simple horse-drawn carriage thundered across the dirt road, it's covering tarp flapping violently in the wind. Much to the passengers' annoyance, the Gendarmes weren't far behind.
Two cloaked and hooded figures sat at the reigns while the taller of the two controlled the swift movements of their horses. The other carried a revolver and was slowly filling its chambers with bullets.
"No, Shiro," A deep voice came from the taller man. "Don't you dare return fire."
Ignoring Zangetsu's comments, Shirosaki pulled down the hood of his cloak and turned to point the firearm at the horses in the distance. He squinted and pulled the pin back, ready to fire.
"Shiro! Cover your hair!" Zangetsu tugged the hood back over his nephew's pale hair and face. With a loud bang, the bullet fell wide of its target and shot through the branch of a nearby tree.
The carriage passed over a bump in the ground and Shiro was jolted forwards, nearly thrown onto the back. He threw his uncle a foul look and turned back around in his seat. "You made me miss."
Zangetsu kept his eyes focused on the dark path ahead of him, "Very few people have white hair like you do, Shiro. If we're going to pull this operation off successfully, it would be better if we don't get caught, don't you think?"
"Fuck that," Shiro objected, but still holstered his gun. "We've never been caught yet. These Gendarmes can't be any worse than Scotland Yard. " He looked again at the police horses. They were much further behind now. Shiro could only make out the flickering light of their lanterns and hear their shouts and stray bullets hitting their surroundings.
Zangetsu took a longer route than need be to loose the Gendarmes. He rode the horses quite some distance from their destination, then doubled back around the other side. And with the thickets of trees and darkness on their side, they made a quick escape.
Suddenly, they emerged from the woodlands out into the small clearing of at start of a village. An impressive stone cathedral stood out at the edge. The metal cross at the top of the steeple shone in the moonlight. Zangetsu pulled firmly at the reins and the horses thundered to a stop. As the adrenaline pumped through their veins, the pair leapt down from the carriage and hurried up to the large wooden front doors.
Shiro got there first and gave the hanging padlock a quick shake, "Shit, it's locked."
"Of course it is." Zangetsu sighed. They didn't have enough time to search for another entry so he pulled out his own revolver out of the inside of his coat and shot the lock. Luckily it was rusting and was easily blown apart. He kicked the doors open and they both rushed in.
With Zangetsu in the lead, they noiselessly scuttled pasts the rows of seats, past the pulpit and through a door on the left that lead into the side hall. Through the darkness, they saw rows upon rows of wooden coffins lay open on the floor.
"Ah-hah!" Shiro noticed the two closed coffins in the top corner. "Y'know, I thought you were crazy, telling the suppliers to hide the opium bags in a coffin, but it's actually quite smart."
Zangetsu chuckled, "I'm much smarter than you give me credit for," When they hurried over to the closed ones, he picked up the top end of the bolted coffin.
Shiro paused, "Wait, aren't you going to check?"
Zangetsu raised an eyebrow, "Do you really think they'd bolt shut the coffin of a dead man? It's not like he's going to want to get out or anything."
Shiro burst out laughing, the metallic sound reverberating off the walls and echoing twice over. There was a somewhat insane edge to his laugh that sent tiny prickling chills up the backs of the less courageous folk. He was still laughing as he picked up the base end of the coffin.
"You have a twisted sense of humour, don't you?"
The laughter finally ceased so that Shiro could respond, "It just comes with being raised by vagabond like you."
"Vagabond? Why you little..." Zangetsu muttered as they lifted the coffin up to their chests. They had to hurry quickly. Zangetsu had bought them a little bit of time, but it wouldn't last long. With Shiro walking backwards, they quickly shuffled out of the room and back into the main hall.
"Jesus Christ, it's heavy!" Shirosaki panted and narrowly missed slamming the side of his hip into a table of unlit candles, "Almost feels like there's actually a body in there."
"Well, 140 pounds of opium is about the weight of, I dunno, an average young male? So at least it means we haven't been gypped." Zangetsu readjusted his hold on the coffin, "Plus, It'll be easier to ship back to Portsmouth if it feels authentic. It was the easiest way I could think of to get it out of the country unchecked. Simple, but effective."
Shiro threw him an 'I-honestly-couldn't-give-a-fuck' look. Once they exited the cathedral with little-to-none ease and stumbling, they could once again hear the sounds of shouting Gendarmes. They'd finally gotten back onto their trail, and they were close. They shuffled back to the carriage a little faster than before, pushed the coffin onto the back with the barrels and bags and pulled the tarp over the top.
Not wanting to hang around any longer, Zangetsu sat one again at the reins and whipped them down sharply, encouraging the horses to move. Shiro grabbed the side and swung himself into the passenger's seat. As he looked behind him, he could once again see the glittering lights of the Gendarmes lanterns. They'd left not a moment too soon.
Shiro chuckled again and pulled the hood of his cloak back over his bright white hair, "We did it, Uncle. We fucking did it! Ha-ha! We're finally going to Naples!"
Zangetsu couldn't help but grin too, "All in good time, nephew. Don't celebrate just yet; We've still got to get this back to England."
'Well, yeah, but that's a piece of cake." Shiro smirked.
The horses were running at full tilt down the dirt road. Their hooves clattered noisily against the ground and the wind whistled past them with the faint light of the moon shining down on the ecstatic expressions on their faces.
Unbeknownst to both of them, inside the coffin was not 140 pounds of opium, but the next heir to the French throne. With all the shaking from the carriage, Ichigo slowly began to stir. He drowsily opened his eyes only to see nothing but pitch black. Where was he? What the hell had happened? He could only think these thought for a few seconds before a large bump in the road smashed his head onto the coffin lid and knocked him back into unconsciousness.
I'm just telling you now that I've never spoken a work of French in my life and in this fanfic, my recounts of actual history will be a bit askew, but it's for the good of the readers! And if there are any French-speakers who know I've written something wrong, feel free to correct me :)
I really like the plot to this, just putting it out there. And I'm writing more for my other two fanfics where I can, when I can. But assesment is a bitch.