DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN BLEACH
I was reading through some old reviews. By the time I was through, I was like : "Fuck this, I'm writing." So I finished this chapter today~
Rukia sighed in relief as she put the microphone down. The hall was quiet before they broke into an enormous round of applause, it was obviously a standing ovation and Rukia was glad she did Wicked some justice in the very least. Rukia would have been dead if Rukia got anything Korean, she knew absolutely nothing about that department since nothing K-Pop appealed to her. Hearing those songs over the Japanese airwaves made her seethe in irritation, she could stand that sound.
The MC salvaged himself and began to praise and ask questions, Rukia answered them earnestly. She saw Kaien near the front, he had been applauding her with a proud expression on his face. Rukia couldn't help but smile until she saw something bright near the back.
Unadulterated orange hair along with those intense amber eyes.
Rukia could spot him from a mile considering how ostentatious that shade of his hair was. His eyes were fixated on her and so she looked away from him before she found the opportunity to leave the stage. Rukia began to breath easy while humming the tune of the song she had sung softly. Kaien greeted her and gave her a high five as they stood among the crowd to watch the others sing before reaching the results.
Rukia began to wonder, why did the King bother to watch the show when she was in it? She was completely and absolutely sure that he disliked competitions like this and there was no way he would come here for her so what was he doing here? Kaien shook her from her daze.
"Hey Rukia, you still there?" he asked.
Rukia nodded abruptly. "Y-yeah, still here."
"Good, I don't want you leaving now." he joked.
She laughed. "My physical self and my soul aren't going anywhere Kaien." she replied.
He grinned in his usual carefree manner. "That's good then, I wouldn't know what I say to the Fukukaicho if you did up and leave."
She smiled. "I don't know about Momo's wrath but it does sound dreadful."
"Dreadful is only half of it." Kaien joked in a lighthearted manner.
Rukia smiled at him warmly, it was fun to hangout with Kaien. Not to mention how this was also an opportunity to determine her feelings. That incident with Grand Fisher has kept her thinking for a while. About why she couldn't cut Mugetsu yet she could cut through Kaien's image so easily, the thought disturbed her and it baffled her to great lengths.
Yes, love was somewhat trivial in this scenario where she fights against monsters to keep the world safe and sound but still...
These new feelings bothered her, it distracted her and it also confused her. How could she ignore them when they bothered her almost daily? Yes, it was an impossible feat.
Rukia crossed her arms on reflex.
It was true that she felt warm inside whenever she was around Kaien but she felt so uneasy around Mugetsu. She still had her nervous bouts with Kaien and all but she had them because he was a guy and who wouldn't be nervous around a good looking guy?
Well, there was Momo...
But she has Toshiro in the friendzone...
"Hey Rukia, that Yakisoba stall looks good. Want some?" Kaien exclaimed.
Rukia was taken aback by his sudden outburst before suddenly laughing. She held back her laughter and nodded with a smile. "Sure... Sounds good." she replied.
"Wait here, I'll be back real quick."
Kaien went off his own merry way and the sight of him made Rukia smile. Not because he was Kaien but because his carefree way was just so laughable. Rukia sighed as she crossed her arms. If only she could afford go be that carefree, that would be nice after all that's she's been through.
What a whirlwind of events...
Rukia looked around her saw how students would deliberately avoid her, then again. She did stand out like a sore thumb, she was wearing her Student Council uniform and all. It was only natural for students to go around her, she was the Shinigami after all.
Shinigami... Meaning Soul Reaper or the Grim Reaper.
They come when there's death.
In this case, trouble but still.
"Now that I think about it. Why Shinigami...? Why is the position called the Shinigami and why am I qualified for it?"
Rukia felt a hand on her shoulder, her reflex nearly kicked in but she managed not to. She didn't want to throw every person who touched her into the ground. She turned around and found Renji smiling at her, she shook her head and sighed. "Renji, you surprised me."
"You look like you're in deep thought." he pointed out rather bluntly.
Rukia shrugged. "That's the least of it." she scoffed.
Rukia pointed towards the Yakisoba stand, Renji saw were she was pointing at and began to laugh.
"Carefree as ever, even with hollow's out there, all he cares about is food." Renji joked.
Rukia smiled softly. "Isn't it nice though... To be carefree in this situation?"
Renji crossed his arms and sighed. "It's a luxury we all can't afford nowadays."
Rukia laughed through her nose. "It hasn't been too long but I feel like I've been at this forever..."
"As descendants from the Royal Family... We all feel the same way. Theoretically speaking, we're all just reincarnations... But of who, we don't know. The Emperor is still the Emperor and Lord Aizen is still Lord Aizen. That's the truth."
Rukia looked up at Renji who was standing right beside her. "Hey Renji, what is the Shinigami...?"
Renji shrugged. "The harbinger of death perhaps? Or maybe one who collects the dead."
"You know what I mean." she asserted.
He looked down at her with a nonchalant expression. "An important person."
Rukia sighed exasperatedly and shook her head in disappointment. "More riddles..."
Renji grinned. "Sorry but you're still too new to this..."
"So do all of you have this verbal agreement to absolute secrecy?" Rukia asked casually.
"The Shinigami's always new... Shinigamis are usually on a need to know basis." Renji replied.
"For the enemy, you know an awful lot about us." Rukia pointed out.
Renji scratched the back of his head. "It's rather common knowledge but do you know what other things people call the Shinigami?"
"The Dog of the Council?"
Renji sighed. "Yeah, you're just a hound who obeys their master's orders."
"You mean Kaichou...?" she asked.
"It's not just her."
Rukia sighed for the hundredth time and shook her head again in complete and utter disbelief. "Man... Just what have I gotten myself into?"
"You could have walked away you know."
Rukia chuckled and smiled. "If only I was a coward... Kurosaki gave me an opportunity. All I had to do was run away and leave everything to Kaichou, then I wouldn't be involved but I chose not to. I'd rather be unable to do something I can do rather that being unable to do something because I don't have the capability to."
"How admirable of you."
"Admirable?" she scoffed.
Renji looked at his wrist watch before putting his hands back in his pockets cooly. He managed a smile at Rukia before speaking. "Looks like its my shift."
"Oh? What's the Soccer Club doing?"
"I'm not telling, it you want to know then find us yourself."
Rukia shook her head and sent him off his merry way, Rukia unbuttoned her blazer and took note of how nice and cool it was that way. It's not that it was hot or anything but she loved the cold. Maybe she should have brought her regular uniform to blend in with the others, maybe they wouldn't discriminate her as much.
She looked at the people around her.
"It's no different whether I'm popular or important. I'm still too different."
Kaien came running back with two played of Yakisoba in hand along with a careless grin on his face. He gave her the small paper plate full of piping hot yet delicious-looking Yakisoba. Rukia had to admit that it smelled fantastic.
"One order of Yakisoba." he stated before remembering something. "Oh yes, chopsticks." he exclaimed before reaching from his back pocket to bring out two sets of chopsticks wrapped in plastic. "Here ya go."
Rukia on a grateful smile and tool them. "Thank you."
"No problems there, anything for a good bite to eat... And anything for the Shinigami." he joked.
Rukia managed to get the chopsticks free from its plastic casings, it was also the type that was already split from the very beginning. How convenient indeed. She grabbed a good mouthful and blew at the noodles softly before eating the lot of it.
Okay... This is actually pretty good.
"Even students can cook good if they try." Kaien pointed out.
"Are you trying to imply that you can cook?" Rukia asked with a mocking smile.
He shook his head and ate his Yakisoba eagerly. "Nope... Can't cook. Not even instant food, it just winds up tasting bad."
Rukia had a disbelieving expression on her face. She raised her eyebrow and had a smile of mischief on her face. "So the Jack, Kaien Shiba can't even make 3-minute instant noodles?"
"I managed to burn them..." Kaien admitted.
"So there are some things you can't do."
He shrugged. "I'm only human."
Rukia grinned at him, it just seemed naturally to do so. Though this smile sort of surprised him, it was just do natural and so real. He rarely saw such genuine expressions on someone's face.
"But you're an extraordinary human."
This was probably the first time Rukia saw Kaien looked so unguarded. He was always smiling and sometimes serious but even then, he had a smile on his face. This time, his face had a look of disbelief and his eyes were rather wide. He suddenly looked away and kept a steady frown.
"Extraordinary...? I'm not worthy to be called extraordinary. Especially by someone like you." he answered with a kind of sadness in his tone.
"But you deserve it."
He looked at her, his eyes were glowing an eery shade and he felt a little different. "Trust me... I don't." he said before looking at his hands. "Not in the slightest."
Rukia closed her eyes and sighed. "I won't pry but just accept the compliment because I think you deserve it."
He shook his head and smiled at her. "Alright Kuchiki, thanks. Now then, once you're through with that, should we go to the haunted house?"
Rukia raised an eyebrow. "We have a haunted house?"
"Yeah, class 1-B has one. They say it's real scary. Up for the challenge Rukia?"
"I'm game for anything."
Ichigo scowled heavily, he was becoming increasingly annoyed with himself. He felt so irritated, he just wanted to scream or smash something. He was so ticked off with the fact that despite walking away from the auditorium, he winded up following Rukia and Kaien anyway. Well, it wasn't like he had anything better to do.
He gritted his teeth and felt even more pissed with himself.
Still though, that damned Fukukaicho was right. He was worried, but he couldn't tell Momo the real reason for his worries. He didn't want to risk telling her how dangerous Kaien could be if he suddenly lost it. Ichigo was sure that Rukia would be able to handle him if it should ever come to that but he wasn't sure if she would come out unscathed.
Her little crush for him was rather obvious.
It wasn't hard to imagine what kind of trauma she'd get.
He thought of the last time Kaien couldn't control himself, even Ichigo was scared. He was forced to contain him, though then again, Ichigo was the only one who could keep him under control. To begin with, he was the reason why Kaien had those impulses.
Ichigo shook his head and kept the two of them in sight.
It had been nagging him the very moment he entered the school grounds, there was something very wrong in the air. It felt suffocating yet he could still breath just fine, the air just felt a little heavy. He didn't like it and that's what made him even more worried about the Shinigami.
It's incidents like these that wind up with bad endings and if it was a hollow then Kaichou should have already taken action. They've been nearing the midpoint of the SeiFest yet no alert has been given to evacuate the students for some fake reason. None of the student council members have been notified about any hollow and the Joker Strategist Ulquiorra didn't notify any of the Jokers.
In fact, even Ishida should have noticed something.
Ichigo didn't like this at all... If something happened to Kaien and Rukia then even he couldn't bring things under control. Hell, even Orihime should have noted the strange atmosphere. She's the president, it's her responsibility to keep the school safe and knowing her personally, she would rather choose her duties over her personal feelings so this was unlike her to simply let this slip.
He breathed in and tried to look for Momo, if anyone could be trusted right now. It would be her, she would be willing to help out provided that it would keep Rukia safe. Ulquiorra was out of the question, he was both reliable and unreliable. He was also a tactician so he might end up playing mind games with Ichigo. Orihime was always reliable, the very fact that she isn't around meant that she wasn't available right now. He doubted a muscle head like Renji would notice, that man was all brawn and no brain.
Grimmjow wasn't around, he had to go to Germany for the duration of the SeiFest. Nelliel tagged along with him because the family thing involved her too, how it involved her, he didn't know and he didn't want to know. Hitsugaya was sure to notice and Matsumoto was probably off playing hooky.
He ruffled his bright tangerine hair in frustration and he accompanied it with an irritated groan. He was just to ticked off right now, he wanted to smash something really badly. Where the hell was everybody anyway!?
Everyone who mattered was missing.
"Fuck this." He cursed to himself.
He ran off in the opposite direction, that's where Momo was.
At least she wasn't too far off, his Reiatsu usually went a little wild whenever he tried to percept his surroundings. He couldn't keep it down and use Reiatsu perception, it kinda sucked but he couldn't complain. If he was right then she was probably chilling in the Student Council Room, chilling and hiding. He made his way up the stairs with a sense of urgency, his steps were light and swift. He quickly made his way to the room and he didn't bother to knock, he just slid it open without a second thought.
He narrowed his gaze at the room.
He at least expected to find more than just one member but then again, he only needed this one. He scowled heavily and pressed on in a forceful manner, his hand latched onto her wrist and she managed some form of protest.
"H-hey! Don't just drag me!" She yelled.
He narrowed his eyes at her and tugged at her wrist. "Don't play coy with me. You know why I'm here Hinamori." He snarled.
"Well yeah! But you can't just barge in! I was just going to come look for you since no one's answering my calls!" Momo snapped at him.
Ichigo released her wrist and a red mark surfaced from where he grabbed her. She fixed a stray lock of brown hair and tucked it nearly behind her ear as she glowered at him. She crossed her arms and her mouth moved to form a firm line. "Calm down King. It's obvious that you're worried, I don't like this feeling too. I've noticed it from the very start but it only felt dangerous now."
"Then we should get going then." He replied assertively.
Momo sighed exasperatedly. "Not until we assess the situation."
Ichigo raised an eyebrow in disdain. "How typical of the Student Council."
"Maybe if the Jokers paid a little more attention to their tactician then maybe they wouldn't get tossed around as often." She replied sarcastically.
"Shut up." He retorted.
She glanced out the window and her face grew darker. She brought her hand up and her Zanpakuto came to her in flames, Ichigo could feel the heat of it and he would probably get burned badly. She commanded the flame with such ease, it was somewhat terrifying but then again... The Shinigami's Zanpakuto was just frightening. Every single time he was around her, he was pretty sure that one touch from her Zanpakuto could give him frostbite immediately.
"This is definitely a hollow... It seems to he lurking in the shadows of the school complex." Momo stated.
Ichigo scowled even further if that as even possible. "The shadows?"
"Well yeah, every shadow here would be dangerous."
Ichigo quickly brought his hand up and he looked at his watch, the clock hands were pointing to 3:40 in the afternoon.
"It's still early... When it hits 4:00 or 5:00 then the sunset kicks in."
"That would be bad, we'd like to avoid the shadows."
"Therefore, we find Rukia and Kaien then." She shot back.
He frowned deeply. "Where?"
Momo pondered over this for a moment. "The haunted house...?"
Momo held her Zanpakuto more firmly. Having a firm grip on it, she then grabbed Ichigo's wrist and began to drag him out of the room and towards the school grounds. "I can feel it, they're in the school grounds." She stated as she ran.
Ichigo nodded as he jerked his wrist away from her grasp. "Aren't you worried about people seeing some freaky flamey sword?"
Momo smirked. "I use Kido, people won't see it."
"You can use Kido to do that?"
Momo shook her head as she decided to jump off the stairs as opposed to wasting time running down them. "It's common sense. I can hide Zangetsu for you if you like."
Ichigo hopped over the railing and landed on his feet, parkour style. Momo was thoroughly impressed by the gesture because he was flashier than her. "Well go figure... I'd rather not be stopped for carrying a big sword so yes please." He replied.
"No need for sarcasm... Geez." She scoffed as she stopped for a moment. She put her palms towards him and did some kind of a gesture before muttering a few words. His Zanpakuto glowed for a brief moment before Momo stopped altogether. "Okay... That should be good."
"Thanks... Now where did you say they were?"
Momo rolled her eyes and smiled. "Haunted house."
He grinned. "How terribly cliched."
And on that note, the pair continued to make a run for the haunted house.
Rukia knew that something was terribly off about the place. She acknowledged that the haunted house was well done and it was aesthetically good. That wasn't the off thing, something just felt strange. It was a huge venue and admittedly she and Kaien were thoroughly lost. Kaien may be a good fighter but he had no proper sense of direction and sadly, so did she.
Haunted Mazes were such a pain in the ass, it was too dark for her to tell where they were and which way they were going.
Being lost wasn't what made it strange. Something was off in the air and she could feel something rather eery and downright creepy. The Shinigami feared that she sensed a hollow and she hoped she was wrong, it would be horrible to fight one in such a dark place. Rukia was definitely in a disadvantage and that applied to Kaien too.
"Sorry Rukia, all directions look the same to me."
Rukia sighed. She could cheat with her Reiatsu Perception but that would completely defeat the purpose. Also, Reiatsu Perception only worked when she could sense some Reiatsu outside. As of now, there were only normal people so she couldn't use it.
She looked at Kaien and wondered if he sensed the strange aura too because he looked calm.
She closed her eyes again and decided to focus. All she needed was focus, even the tiniest amount of Reiatsu would do. All she needed was an image to go on so she could get out. If Kaichou knew that she was procrastinating, Rukia's head would he on a silver platter. It took a while before she managed an image from the outside. Before she could have a better grasp of the image, she felt something.
It was brief.
But for a second there, she could have sworn that she felt a hollow. Not the one hiding in the shadows but something else. Something stronger than Grand Fisher.
Rukia opened her eyes and looked around. "Nothing...?" She mumbled to herself.
It was true that she was merely an amateur. But she couldn't simply dismiss the bad vibe. Her perception skills were top notch, it was unlikely that she imagined that. Rukia had always viewed herself as a little braver than the rest. She decided to doubt herself the moment the electricity went out. When she looked around her, all of the animatronics powered down and the eerie lights went off.
Two heartbeats later, she could feel something gripping her heart. There was something in the maze and it still wasn't the hollow in the shadows. Rukia gritted her teeth and shut her eyes, she needed to concentrate. She needed to know where such malicious Reiatsu would come from.
No. The energy I definitely here.
When she opened her eyes once more, that's when it hit her.
"Yo Queen... Aren't you a little too slow? King said you were better than this?"
Rukia turned around slowly and brought out her cellphone as a flashlight. Her pulse raced as she quickly flashed her light. "K-Kaien...?"
This couldn't be Kaien.
The man standing in front of her was white, pure white. Everything was the complete opposite of Kaien. His hair was white, his face was white, but his eyes were black. The irises were gold and everything else was just, white.
What made her terrified was his grin. He had such a sickening grin.
"Maybe, you know it is Kaien though. Don't you Queen?" The thing replied.
"You're not Kaien."
He grinned wider. "Don't lie to yourself Queen." He replied creepily before approaching her. "You know it to be true. This is Shiba Kaien."
And he was right, the Reiatsu signature was completely his.
"Who are you and what are you doing to Kaien!?" Rukia yelled.
He smirked. "Absolutely nothing."
"Then who are you?"
He cocked his head to the side. "Asking the right questions. I like you Queen."
"Answer the goddamn question."
He laughed a maniacal laugh. It was hysterically eerie. "King calls me Shirosaki. It's easier for him that way, maybe you can call me Hollow-sama."
"Hollow-sama?" Rukia narrowed her eyes.
Rukia suddenly felt a spike in the Reiatsu in the air. She smiled when she figured who it was and instantly felt relieved. Something broke through the maze walls and Rukia had to squint her eyes to see. The orange light was blinding as it came flooding in.
"Hey, you! We had an agreement, keep out of Kaien jackass!"
Rukia shook her head when she finally saw that unruly head of tangerine hair.
"Must you be so crass Kurosaki. I don't feel so ladylike anymore."
Rukia quickly looked behind Ichigo and found Momo trailing him from behind. She looked battle ready, they both did. "Momo, you came! Something's wrong with Kaien!"
Momo gave Ichigo a sideways glance. "I can see that... Kurosaki will have to explain later."
Ichigo frowned before stepping forward and shoving Rukia behind him. It was of of him to be this protective of student council members. Rukia had caught a glimpse of his face and she had never seen him this serious before.
That thing that looked like Kaien grinned from ear to ear. "Hello King, quite a reunion."
"Shirosaki, go back inside and leave Kaien alone. We've got no time for you."
"Looking for the other hollow?" Shirosaki taunted.
Ichigo didn't answer.
"You want that small fry? I keep his body. Would you like to make a deal?"
"Kurosaki, I think we should just deal and take care of him later." Momo stated from behind, her grip on her Zanpakuto was tightening.
"So King, is it a deal?"
Ichigo looked back at Rukia. He didn't appreciate that look on her face, but he knew it was all for Kaien. He couldn't possibly let someone like her down. Not when she was genuinely concerned for Kaien. He clenched his hand into a fist before taking another step forward.
"Nicely done King... The hollow's this way."
AN: If you've read my note, the one I posted in my main fic, Coffee With A Dash Of Showbiz... You know I've lost my story files. I'm glad I was able to remember enough of this chapter to make it again. Sorry for the really long wait.
AkaBaka-chan signing off~