Chapter 8: All Wound Up

Disclaimer: Bleach. It ain't mine!

Ichigo was bored. After catching up with Zangetsu for a while, he had taken to wandering around the city. Karakura wasn't much, but there were some pretty interesting people to make up for that.

According to the newspaper stand, it had been over two weeks since he had last been in the world of the living, and he couldn't help but wonder how everyone was. Shiro, Grimmjow, those odd people from the shoten. Of course, Shirosaki and Grimmjow wouldn't be too worried, because they knew that Ichigo was in good hands with Zangetsu. Those weirdos from the shop, he could guess, had at least wondered about where he had run off to, considering that he was mooching off of them for a while.

Maybe it was a bit inconsiderate to just disappear for over two weeks without so much as a goodbye or a note to the people who had cared for him, but the concept was so...foreign. He had been created and nurtured in a lab, he wasn't exactly used to people giving him a second thought. Shirosaki and Grimmjow were usually right over his shoulder, but they knew when he needed distance. Zangetsu didn't really need to be reassured, seeing as he had full access to Ichigo's head.

The people from the Shoten were a completely different story. That brat Jinta was a loud, obnoxious little fuck, but he (usually) meant well, though he would never admit it. Ururu was a sweet heart, and she would always sneak him treats and pamper him silly. Tessai was nice, if a little creepy at times, and he could cook one hell of a meal. Yoruichi was a flaming bitch with a great sense of humor, and she seemed to like turning into a cat so that she could talk dirty to him and no one would be the wiser. Oh, and he could eat like no fat ass ever could. Urahara was...

He was...


Honestly, Ichigo had no idea what to think of him. The idiotic blond was very nice (if his hospitality said anything anyway) and behind his stupid facade, he obviously was really very smart. It interested Ichigo, seeing the shopkeeper act like a happy-go-lucky retard, while he could see the knowing glint in slate gray eyes. It was almost amazing, like he could see the gears turning in the man's head. Seeing the smarter, more dangerous side of the former captain made Ichigo's blood boil with excitement, though he wouldn't deny that he liked the man's smile.

He would figure out the blond enigma someday, but for now, he really wanted to introduce the Shoten to Zangetsu. The old man had shown up at the damn shop a few weeks ago, and it was plain as day that his presence had upset the shop owner, though he had no idea why. Ichigo was going to ask if he was sick or something, because he had this blank look in his eyes and his face was kind of pale, but god, Ichigo was so relieved by Zangetsu's presence that he had forgotten that anyone else existed.

After all, Zangetsu had gone off to the realm of Zanpakuto and Ichigo obviously couldn't come with, so he he had been a bit antsy without his sword for a while. He trusted Shiro and Grimm to be able to take care of him in his weakened state, but he had gotten into a few misfortunes (like being attacked and almost killed and or eaten by multiple hollows). His mind was sated for now though, because he had been training with his Zanpakuto for the past two weeks, and knew that he had gotten stronger.

Zangetsu wouldn't tell him why he was away before the training, but he trusted his Zanpakuto enough to not dwell on it much. There were other things to keep his mind occupied, for example, the ditzy looking, auburn haired, over endowed girl walking down the street while singing ridiculous songs. Next to her was two girls, a red head with red framed glasses (she was eying the auburn haired girl rather lustfully) and a rather boyish girl with spiky black hair (she was scowling at the perverted redhead, who was now drooling with a dreamy look in her eyes).

It was an odd trio, and the moment the ditzy girl spotted the little orange kitten across the busy courtyard (they were in the town plaza, and there were lots of people shopping so they kept almost stepping on the kitty) she ran from her friends, picking up the kitten and swinging him around.

The circular motion made Ichigo feel sick, and the sound of the girl's happy laughter and cooing made him think that she was deliberately trying to weaken him so that she could kidnap him.

He was only half right.

"-e is so cute! Just look at him Tatsuki!"

"Jeez Orihime." The tomboy, Tatsuki, put a hand on the the girl's shoulder, silently telling her to stop squeezing the poor creature to death (if only she knew...). "Look at it, it's about to pass out!" She shouted, snatching the orange creature into her own hands and scowling at Orihime as she laughed nervously.

"Sorry Tatsuki, I guess I got a little carried away!" She looked around, not seeing her Chizuru anywhere. She could have sworn that her friend was just there... "Ano, Tatsuki? Where is Chizuru?"

"What I was trying to say was that she met up with Michiru and Ryo. They left while you were trying to suffocate this poor cat." Tatsuki gave Orihime a dry look, gesturing to the orange kitten, who was staring right back at her. Her eyes narrowed, clearly seeing that this was not a normal cat. There was something in its amber eyes that was so comprehending and human that she couldn't not be suspicious. She had no idea, though, what the hell could be so special about the little runt of a cat (besides its outrageously colored fur).

Great. Now she was loony!

"Oh, I'm sorry kitty-chan!" Orihime wailed, eyes watery as she held the neko before her face, begging for forgiveness. Ichigo inwardly sighed, wondering why the hell he always managed to meet new whack-jobs. It must have been his nonexistent luck or something, because this was one weird human.

But for now, it seemed as if he needed to play the role of a kitten, as degrading as it was. He meowed quietly, licking the tip of the girl's nose to show his acceptance. In the back of his mind, he noted how her flesh was rather sweet, but not more so than her scent. The other girl, Tatsuki, her scent was much more masculine and strong.

Orihime giggled, holding her hands out pleadingly to Tatsuki, who sighed, rolling her eyes before handing the kitten to her best friend. Orihime smiled, cradling the kitty like a baby and petting soft orange fur. The kitten purred, tail flicking lazily.

"Well," Tatsuki drawled, smirking as gray and brown eyes looked to her. "It's a boy."

Orihime just laughed, squealing "He's so cute!" while the kitty looked away, hissing under his breath about perverted humans.

"So what are you gonna do with him?" Tatsuki asked, eyes narrowing at the kitten, whose eyes narrowed right back at her.

"I wanna keep him! We'll have so much fun together Tatsuki! I can make him a sweater, and we can have tea parties, and he'll grow up to be a big strong cat that saves the world from an evil tiger-monkey bent on stealing all of the strawberries on the planet so he can get revenge on the giant pig m-"

At this point in time, people were giving Orihime weird looks as she talked on and on and on about who knows what. Tatsuki sighed, knowing that when Orihime got like this, she just ranted to her hearts content. A glance at the orange kitten showed that he too was rather exasperated, if not a bit annoyed. After a few minutes, Tatsuki had enough.



"Why don't you take the cat, and we can see if he has an owner." She suggested, succeeding at getting Orihime's attention. The busty girl blinked, before laughing sheepishly, glancing down at Ichigo. He was trying to push his face away from her over sized bust so that he could breathe.

"You're right, I guess he might already have an owner..." Her smile came back full force. "But that doesn't mean that we can't have fun until then! Let's go, neko-chan!"

Tatsuki just smiled, running after Orihime, who was already skipping down the street.

Ichigo sighed, slumping into Orihime's warm arms. His current situation was rather annoying, but what better way was there to fend off boredom than to meet odd humans? He would visit the Shoten some other time...

Four days later...

"Oooh!" Orihime drooled a little, staring at the delicious cake. Today, Tatsuki was going to sleep over, so she baked a cake for dessert. It was a strawberry cake, to be precise, topped with whipped cream, and fresh strawberries scattered over the entire thing. Next to her, the orange kitten sat, staring wide-eyed at the yummy looking treat.

Two days ago, Orihime had gotten a little collar for the kitten. It was black leather, with a black bell. She had also bought a little charm that attached next to the bell in the shape of a strawberry. She never saw the kitten's eye twitching when she had first put it on him.

And so Ichigo sat, in his cute strawberry collar, staring at the delicious strawberry cake. This girl must think herself to be so funny. Oh, the irony.

Later that day, when Tatsuki and Orihime were sitting on the couch, watching a movie and eating a slice of cake, Ichigo took the liberty to leap onto the table and eat the rest of the dessert, and then he moved onto the bowl of fresh strawberries on the counter. He was so caught up in the heavenly flavor that he didn't notice the two girls entering the kitchen until Orihime screamed, "Oh no! My strawberries!"

He promptly choked on the berry, trying to hack it back up. Tatsuki picked the feline up, patting his back until the berry dislodged from his throat, hitting her right in the cheek. Her eye started to twitch, a vein popping in her forehead, and she could swear that the damn cat was smirking at her. Orihime just laughed.

"Ichigo-chan! It's the perfect name, Tatsuki!" She giggled. Ichigo just groaned, slumping in defeat. Only this weird girl would be able to create a new name for him that just happened to be his actual name.

Tatsuki snickered. "What clued you in, Orihime? The collar, appetite, or gay hair color?"

Ichigo growled, so called 'gay fur' bristling. 'Oh no she didn't!' This girl was so asking to get her ass handed to her! Hissing, Ichigo swiped his claws at Tatsuki's arm (he had enough decency to not hit a girl in the face).

"Why you-!" Tatsuki yelled, chasing the neko around the house. She mistook his laughing for terrified meowing, which was only half of the case.

Outside, gold and blue eyes watched in amusement. Shirosaki turned around, walking on the air and away from the apartment. He glanced at the panther, snickering. "So, how long do ya think it'll be till he runs into that shop dude?"

Grimmjow purred curiously, laughing. "Naw, it's more like, how long will it be until that crazy fucker finally gives in and goes looking for dear Ichigo? That, my fellow bastard, is the question."

Shirosaki laughed. "I couldn't o' said it any better, pussy cat."

I finished finals today, YAY! No more school for me, thank god. Sorry for not updating, but I promised myself that I wouldn't do anything with fanfiction until I was completely done with school for the year. Thank god, now I have an entire summer to be lazy and write because I'll probably have nothing better to do!

Thanks for reading, beloveds!


Bloody Sorrow