Ichigo yawned, blinking blearily, feeling a tick form above his eyebrow at a persistent knocking on his door.
"Ichigo? Ichigo, you need to get up now."
"What?" he snapped out, shifting to his side on his bed.
Mihane slid the door open slowly, poking her head in. "Ar-are you okay Ichigo?"
"Why wouldn't I be? I'm just trying to sleep," he replied, glaring at her through sleep deprived eyes.
"Ichigo, I-I'm sorry but you need to attend to Master Byakuya," she spoke gently. "You're his personal attendant now, aren't you?"
The words stilled Ichigo as he realised the implication of the title. Personal attendant.
As if on cue, Mihane added, "It's not quite time for Master Byakuya to get up so you have time to get him breakfast and get his bath ready."
Ichigo glared at the wall. "I'm not going to be his little pet."
Mihane frowned, stepping into the room. "Ichigo… please… you know what will happen if you don't do as you're told."
He flinched, grinding his teeth.
"Really Ichigo, is doing as you're told so bad? Surely this is better than the alternative."
Ichigo felt his anger swell and he sat up abruptly. "Better? This is better?" He gave a bark of a laugh. "I should be home. Instead I'm stuck… being… it's like I'm a rare…" He clenched his hands into fists, his scowl darkening as he shook in anger before he took a calming breath. "Forget it, I'm f-I'll do my job, okay? But don't tell me that this is better. I don't know what your life was like before this, but I-my…"
"You… have a family, don't you?"
He didn't reply, instead resting his elbow on his knee and his chin in his hands.
"How did you… how did you… uh… become…" she stuttered out nervously.
"People want things they can't have," Ichigo said bitterly.
There was a long pause as Mihane twisted her hands together in concern.
Noticing her worry, he gave her a half smile before he shook his head, laughing, ruffling up his hair. "Forget about it Mihane, it's a boring story and you're right, I'm here now. So don't worry, I'm going to be good."
I'm not going to let you worry. He pushed himself up, patting her head and grinning. "I'll go get the master his breakfast."
Ichigo stared at the food on the tray, resisting the urge to chuck it away.
I'm going to get out of this hell hole, he thought murderously, stepping hurriedly to Byakuya's room. He didn't knock, instead he simply used his hip to slide the door open and stormed in.
He stopped upon realising that the noble was still sleeping. His sleeping figure was almost completely different to when he was awake. A long arm was tucked underneath his head, the ebony lengths falling over his pillow. Byakuya was lying on his side, one leg off the edge of the futon and the other tangled in the sheet and his free hand clutching onto the mattress. He looked so at ease with his mouth open, an almost dumb look on his face.
Ichigo scowled, not allowing himself to think, for even a moment, that he was cute. He tapped his foot, finding it irritating when the chain around his ankle jiggled.
When Byakuya didn't awake, Ichigo put the food down and kicked him-gently so as to not incur his wrath. It wasn't that he was afraid, but he hardly needed a whipping right now.
Byakuya gave a start, blinking rapidly before he sat upright, slate grey eyes darting around before he noticed Ichigo. Immediately, his façade slipped into place and he stared, one slender brow raised inquisitively. He coughed gently, straightening.
"Is there something you need Ichigo, or do you always intend to wake me up in that manner every morning?"
Ichigo smirked. "I thought you wanted me as your personal attendant. You should know that it means all the extras."
Byakuya took a breath, not allowing himself the pleasure of snapping back. "Such as being awakened by a kick?" he questioned.
He crossed his arms. "Well hurry up and eat. I don't want to waste my time here all day."
Smiling thinly, Byakuya straightened his bed sheets. "You will be 'wasting' your time here because you're going to be staying with me all day. You aren't going to be having leisurely days off; you're going to be working. Now, while I eat, I expect you to prepare my bath. I like it reasonably cool with some bath oil in it."
Ichigo scowled but didn't move.
"Did you still want something Ichigo or are you going to run my bath?"
His lip curled in distaste. "Fine, I'll get to that. Enjoy your food."
Byakuya watched the boy leave, a strange feeling passing over him. Every time he met with Ichigo, a strange feeling of expectation filled him, only to be constantly disappointed by… by what? By the fact he wouldn't do as he was told? By the fact he wouldn't break like everyone else? That he was something different and unattainable?
He pulled the food to his lap, frowning at Ichigo's behaviour. He should have brought it to him directly, not left it on the table.
Ichigo would always disobey him, even in small things and it irked him more then he would have liked. And what was worse was he was spending time worrying about that. Sighing heavily, he began to eat his food, pushing the fiery young man out of his mind.
Ichigo muttered to himself, kicking the door open before going to the bath and struggling to turn the tight faucet.
He had almost managed to turn on the hot water when he saw a delicate lower body slip through the bathroom window, revealing a rather petite, ebony haired girl with bold, violet eyes.
Said eyes widened and the girl straightened, her traditional robe of embroidered lilies falling around her slender form.
"Wha…" he stood quickly, delivering a swift kick, knocking the small girl against the open window. "You're a pretty confident burglar." He pointed, a vein pulsing dangerously in his forehead. "What the hell do you think you're doing? You come here for the safe or something?"
"Wha-what?" the girl cried back, standing properly. "How dare you. Of course I'm not here to steal! Who the hell are you?"
"That's my question," Ichigo snapped back.
"What on earth is all of this ruku-" Byakuya began as he flung the bathroom door open, stopping dead upon seeing the young woman. "R-Rukia? What on earth are you doing?"
Rukia crossed her arms, cocking a hip. "I was planning on surprising you but this crazy man kicked me and accused me of being a thief."
Byakuya frowned, glancing at Ichigo. "Is this true Ichigo?"
Ichigo gave a start before nodding, also crossing his arms. "Well… yeah. What the hell was I meant to do? Some stranger comes climbing through the window like some sort of cat and you expect me to just let it happen?"
"Stranger?" the small girl raged, glaring at him. "I am Byakuya's sister, Rukia Kuchiki."
"Freaking hell, you people are ridiculous. How the hell was I meant to know that?" Ichigo demanded. "I don't even know anything about you Kuchiki's."
"This servant has some nerve brother. He is a servant, right?"
"I'm no servant!" Ichigo growled, placing a hand on his hip. "And don't talk about me as if I'm not right here."
Byakuya held up a hand. "Silence Ichigo."
He scowled but grit his teeth and did as he was told.
"Rukia, please just be calm. Ichigo is… he is new. He doesn't know much about us either. I had not told him of your visit either. But as for crawling through windows, you should know that that is highly inappropriate."
Rukia flushed. "I just wanted… I had only wanted to surprise you brother."
Byakuya gave a slow nod. "I know Rukia, but you were meant to come early this afternoon and give us time to prepare."
She pouted, shifting her arms again. "Fine. I'm sorry brother, okay? I'm very sorry for wanting to greet you."
He sighed, reaching out slowly before pulling his hand back. "Alright Rukia. Well, there's no need to dwell on this issue anymore is there? Come Rukia, have some food while I get ready."
Rukia sighed. "I've already had breakfast brother. Fine, I can tell when I'm not wanted." She leisurely approached Ichigo, one finger tapping his chest. "Ichigo, is it? I hope that you learn some manners before we meet again, brat." She gave him a thin smile before she walked away, head high and back straight.
Byakuya let out a breath, glancing at Ichigo. "What on earth did you think you were doing?"
"Saving you from getting robed," he snapped, turning the faucet.
Byakuya leaned against the bathtub, hands gripping the cast iron side. "Ichigo," he began, turning to look at him, one brow raised patiently, though he hardly felt it. "Did you really… kick her?"
"Y-yes," he muttered, glancing up.
"I-I appreciate that you were… attempting to help me, but if anything of the sort happens again, you will be punished."
Ichigo growled, glaring at him. "If you don't want me kicking things, maybe you should actually update me on stuff that that. How the hell am I not going to annoy you, and don't pretend you aren't because I know you are, when I don't even know exactly what I'm doing?"
Byakuya stared at Ichigo through his long fringe. "I thought I told you to call me, Master Byakuya."
He snorted as he waited for the bath to fill. "You really want to talk about that now?"
"Ichigo, you need to learn how to show respect and do as you're told. But perhaps you're right; I do need to tell you more about how... everything… but I can only do that if you actually listen to me. To make myself clear, you will call me Master Byakuya, as we already discussed and you won't go around…" He took a breath to calm himself; somehow just being in the boy's presence managed to aggravate him. "You won't go around kicking people, do you hear me? If you don't know what is going on, then either ask, or just pretend you do know and simply smile."
Ichigo bent over the bath, twisting the faucet off. "Alright, alright! I get it Master Byakuya. I won't kick anyone anymore. But you have to admit that climbing through a window is a fai-"
"Ichigo, it won't be discussed anymore, are we clear?" he asked coldly, eyes level with his.
He shrugged. The guy was clearly an overprotective brother, something he could understand so he let the attitude slide. "Fine, I'll get out of your way so you can bathe."
"Wait a minute Ichigo; I need you to help scrub my back…" He watched Ichigo freeze and allowed himself a small smile. "Or did you forget you were my personal attendant?"
Ichigo's jaw clenched tightly before he glanced back at the noble through narrowed eyes, a light blush gracing the caramel skin. "You don't actually think I'm going to do that, do you?"
Byakuya rose one brow, exhaling softly.
Scrunching up his face, Ichigo finally turned around completely.
There was silence for a moment as they looked at each other.
"Well are you going to get in the freaking bath?" Ichigo demanded.
Byakuya hummed before turning around and disrobing, surprising Ichigo with the suddenness of it.
Feeling heat flood his face, Ichigo quickly turned away, a hand pressed to the side of his face. "Maybe you can warn me before you do that?"
"I didn't know that you would be offended by it. It should hardly matter because we're both men," he replied as he stepped into the water.
Ichigo coughed, shifting his weight to his other foot. "That doesn't matter; you don't just strip off without warning people."
Byakuya was surprised when a snort of laughter sounded. He had laughed? Quickly he clamped a hand over his mouth. Why was he laughing? But somehow, he couldn't help but find Ichigo's reaction somewhat… endearing. "I'm sorry to have embarrassed you Ichigo. Please, you can turn around now. I'm in the bath," he told him, watching Ichigo's stiff back.
Ichigo peeked through his fingers, apparently satisfied to find him in the bath. Still he hung back, frowning slightly.
"What's wrong?" Byakuya asked, watching him quizzically.
"Well… I don't know where anything is in this room. Where's the scrubbing brush?"
Byakuya pointed to wooden cabinet, painted ivory. "It should be in there, along with my oil."
Ichigo nodded, searching through the cupboard.
"Please be sure to put everything in its rightful place," Byakuya warned him.
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever you say."
Byakuya frowned slightly as he watched the boy who had finally managed to locate the brush and some oil. "How… how are you finding it here?" he asked, hoping he had imagined the hesitation he swore he could hear in his voice.
The bright headed boy's brown eyes met his in a scowl. "You're seriously asking me that? Sorry, but no matter how well you treat me, I'm sure as hell not happy to be here. And I don't intend to stay for very long."
Irritated with his answer and with the fact he asked in the first place, Byakuya stared at him coolly. "Well, we'll just have to see about that, won't we?"
Ichigo didn't reply, just scowling deeper before standing up. "How about you just shut up and let me clean your back Master Byakuya?"
Holy balls! I know, I haven't updated for ages!
I promise I'm not dead or anything of the like and I am assuring you, this story is far from forgotten.
I apologies sincerely for being MIA for a while there and hope that I'm going to be able to make it up to you! Haha :)
I've finished uni for the year, so it should be possible.
Anyway, I want to thank-you all for your continued loyalty, support and reviews, because they mean the world to me. Hope you enjoyed this chapter, see you next time!