1. The Party
Apparently this is what eternity of boredom will look like for him.
Ichigo was sitting in front of a rather big pile of reports and some other very-necessary-to-go-through papers. Unfortunately he could not afford to slack off, since the old many made it crystal clear that he is expandable as a captain. Yeah, he is a captain...Not that he wanted to be one, but since he is stuck here in Seireitei anyway, he might as well be doing something.
After the Winter War there still have been quite a few open spots and Ichigo could not go back to the Real world anymore due to the many injuries his body (well his very soul really) had to endure. At least he could not go back at the moment. If he was in Seireitei for at least a few decades (talk about being exact!), as he was told, might stabilize him enough so that he could go back to the Real world permanently. Which sounded full of hope at first, but when he realized that after few decades in here, there just might be nowhere to go back to. Ichigo still didn't quite get the difference in time perception, or a flow of time if you will, here and in the Real world. On those many travels back and forth he didn't really have the time or room in his head to ponder about this particular problem.
And now he only gets to go home once in awhile. He is forbidden to use his own body or stay there for a longer period of time. God, how this sucks. And then there is the captaincy. He really did not want to be one. He didn´t. But when he thought of other possibilities as to how to spend the few decades in here, this seemed like a lesser evil to him. It sure looked like it at the time when he was offered the captaincy by the old man. But now...he was not that certain anymore. There is always a sea of papers that he has to go through, meetings with other captains, training his squad and all the other stuff that is captain´s duty. He never thought it would be that much! All the other captains seemed happy and relaxed. How did they do that was beyond him. And on top of all of that he was supposed to learn kido. A thing that he royally sucked at. And with his schedule it seemed impossible to learn it any sooner than in the aforementioned few decades. That really pissed him off. After everything he's done, he still had to prove himself to be worthy, as the old man put it, of the captain seat. That translated into working him like a dog. Which naturally made him exhausted and thus very antisocial. I can understand Byakuya´s behaviour now. God people just piss me off by being. Urgh. He thought to himself. All the while sitting in his chair behind the desk, head in his hands, and dreamily-like staring at the pile in front of him. And there is just no distraction...Only work and more work. I want a distraction. And a teacher of kido. Fuck. The train of unhappy thoughts continues. When all of sudden...
"Yo´ Ichigo! What´s up, man?" shouted Renji already in Ichigo´s office. He entered without any knocking or at least a question whether he can. That was very annoying at the moment.
"Have you been taught no manners?" Ichigo replied in low, dangerous voice.
That stopped the young lieutenant in mid-stepp. He looked once again at the desk in front of him to confirm that he went to the right one. He did apparently. It most certainly WAS Ichigo sitting there with his arms folded, his orange hair looking like he just woke up. But the spoken words sure as hell did not sound like him. They sounded more like... Well, Renji noticed Ichigo´s weird behaviour quite a while ago, but this was the peak. He made a mental note to ask Ikkaku during their lunch today.
"Da fuck, Ichigo? Since when do you care about manners, huh?" he said aloud.
"Hey, sorry man. I was kinda lost in thought...and ….ehm..." Crap, that just made it sound like he was thinking about entirely different matters then he in fact was, realizing just now, what his first answer might have sounded like. He could see that on Renji´s face, that went from surprised wide eyes to a "knowing" smirk on his face. Crap.
"Oh, I see then." Renji replied through smile. Not trying to hide his thoughts from his friend.
Well, too late to say anything, because if he denies aloud what Renji is clearly thinking now, he would only encourage the certainty of his friend. He decided to play dumb instead and changed the topic.
"So what was so important again?" he grinned, trying to look believable, like he was his usual self.
"There is this small party I thought you might want to join." said Renji. "Ikkaku is throwing it." He was already sitting on a chair for guests and winked at the orange-haired man.
"Huh? Is there any reason for him to throw a party? Or is this just one of yours let´s-get-as-drunk-as-possible things?"
"Fuck off!" Renji was grinning, clearly all this being what he hoped to find here. "Of course, he has a reason, you dumbass! He is not becoming a captain, remember?"
He didn´t. But it did not surprise him in the slightest that Madarame Ikkaku would celebrate not becoming a captain. He smirked.
"When and where?"
"I'll come and get you after work today. Be prepared." Renji replied with a smirk of his own.
"And try to do something about that pile of yours by then, other than dreamily staring at it." he added half laughing on his way out of the office. He ducked just in time not to get hit by whatever Ichigo threw at him.
Ichigo could hear Renji´s laughter for quite a while afterwards. It was definitely NOT that funny. Anyways, he should better get back to work, because tomorrow there will be even more papers to go through and because the old man would eat him alive on their next meeting if he was again behind on his work.
" So you're ready?" Renji´s head peaked in Ichigo´s office.
Ichigo was still sitting behind his, now empty, desk, leaning against the chair, arms folded and his eyes closed. But he did not in the slightest give the impression of being asleep. There were clear signs in his face that he was thinking, hard, and presumably about nothing pleasant. But when he heard Renji´s voice, he smiled.
"For several hours now. Are you that inefficient with your work, Renji, that you had to come get me this late?" his eyes still closed.
Crap, that wording again, Renji thought. "Who died and made you boss?"
"Let´s go then." Ichigo grinned.
Now something fishy was going on, about that Renji was sure. He sort of had an idea, which was shared with Ikkaku during lunch. Hopefully that man won't say a word about that. It´s not like he is some little princess, who can't hold her tongue, but it was only him and Ikkaku there. And he really is worried about one of his closest friends.
"So you wanna tell me what´s wrong?" Renji asked. They were already walking to wherever Ikkaku is having the party.
"Same ol´, same ol´." Ichigo wearily replied. His voice clearly showing how tired he was. Boy, this party is something he really needs. It for sure will take his mind of those tiring thoughts about his cursed fate. Fuck. And next week he is due with another report and another examination of his progress with kido. The old man sure does like torturing him.
"So who teaches you kido these days?" Renji seems determined to make small talk with him. I hope he cheers up during the party, at least.
"You gotta be fucking kidding me?! Even Kira quit? Was he the third already?! I mean, I am not any genius in this area of fight, but I never made any of my teachers quit on me, for crying out loud! What did you do to him? That guy is the poster boy for patience! Or on second thought, don't tell me. I really don't want to know. Well I do, but I would like to keep the image of the normal you as intact as possible!" Renji exploded without even waiting on Ichigo´s full reply, knowing how it would continue. He was met with angry eyes. Ichigo breathed in for a suitable and loud answer to that, but then he changed his mind and shut his mouth.
"Is Rukia coming, too? And who else will be at the thing anyways?" He said instead, starting a new topic.
"Right, I didn't tell you." Renji started scratching the back of his head. At moments like this they really looked like brothers. "Well, let´s see..Ikkaku, obviously, Yumichika, me, Rukia, Kira, Rangiku,...some guys from the Eleventh, Zaraki-taicho,...god, almost everyone, I guess."
"Should be fun then, right?"
"Yeah...Really, are you ok, man?" the red-head sounded alarmed.
"It´s just..." Ichigo finally broke, not to his liking. "This is not my home, ya´know. And my sisters and friends and everyone is there. But I can´t. I am stuck in here and I only get to go home for visits. Fuck, Renji, I hoped that after defeating Aizen I would be able to go back home, to the routine, that everything would go back to normal! But instead..." Ichigo´s voice trailed off. Not for long though. "And to top all of this. I have to prove myself to the old-man! For fuck´s sake I killed the biggest thread he has ever encountered, for all I know! And I have to PROVE myself? Really?" he sounded very angry now, which also reflected on his reiatsu.
"Oy, Ichigo!" Renji shook his shoulders. "Calm down, will ya? Boy, you really need this party.." He shook his head in disbelief. "And FYI, you are drinking tonight, my friend!"
Ichigo shot him an incredulous look, but remained silent.
"Though if you want to survive it, I suggest you stay away from Rangiku." Renji chuckled.
"I am not suicidal!" Ichigo smirked. Everyone in Soul Society knows how hard Rangiku parties.
After a while they arrived at the destination. It was already dark outside. It was a beautiful night in full blossom. But they did not have time to really notice, since as soon as they set foot on the former training grounds of the Eleventh, where the party was taking place, a hollering Ikkaku was running to them. He was very happy-looking and welcomed the two of them violently.
"Oy, guys! I am soo happy that you made it."
"Tell me, you are not drunk already. Oh, man..." Renji whined. "Hey, Ikkaku! Ichigo is drinking tonight, by the way." Renji winked at the bald guy. The addressed one shot an incredulous look at Ichigo, who simply nodded.
"By the way, congratulations on the cancellation of your promotion." Ichigo added in a slightly ironic voice.
"Thanks." Ikkaku grinned and accompanied that with a powerful blow on Ichigo's shoulder, which made him almost fall down. They both laughed. The evening looked very promising all of a sudden.
"What? What was thaat? I heard that Ichigo will be drinking with us? Huh?" drunken Rangiku appeared on the scene.
"Raangiku!" Ikkaku yelled.
"We are so late. Look at how drunk they already are." Renji whispers to Ichigo at the same time.
"You heard well, oh goddess of the party. Ichigo is drinking with us tonight." Ikkaku continued very dramatically.
Rangiku, seemingly out of nowhere, pulled out a bottle of sake all the while laughing. She offered it to Ichigo with the utmost innocent look on her face. He took it without a word.
"What?! And what about me, huh? I don´t get any?" Renji protested. But he broke into laughter as soon as he saw Ichigo´s face. The sake was strong. Ichigo had trouble breathing for a while and his eyes were ready to pop out of his head. The three spectators were laughing really hard.
"Gimme that." Renji took the bottle from Ichigo. And took a big sip himself. "Ah, good stuff. Hitsugaya´s?"
"When do I drink anything else?" Rangiku winked at the man. All of them laughed.
Renji and Ichigo managed to get to the same mood as everyone pretty quickly. And Ichigo was fun, when he was drunk. People liked him very much, but that changed once he was "forced" to stay permanently in Seireitei and his moods and attitude changed. But now when he was drunk, he acted like his old self - carefree with no manners. He joked around with everybody. Even spared a bit with Kenpachi. All and all, the evening was great. Right until Ikkaku decided to be funny.
"Hey, Ichigo" a blow to his shoulder, "I heard you all of a sudden have some stick up your ass, that right?"
Now Ichigo was pretty damn sure, that Ikkaku meant that literally, since that idiot was laughing his ass off and Renji was scowling at him. Rangiku looked a little surprised, Yumichika had an all knowing smirk on his face and Zaraki simply did not care what they were babbling about.
"That was good, right Renji." Ikkaku managed to get out in between laughter. He looked like he really amused himself. He was lying on the ground in a sort of fetal position and he would at random intervals hit the ground with his fists all the while laughing like crazy. Yeah, he was really drunk. Nevertheless, this made Ichigo see red with fury. He was mad, very mad. And the one he was mad with was surprisingly not Ikkaku, but Renji, who was, from the look of it, clearly the one, who put this fucked up idea in Ikkaku´s small brain.
"Who told you that?" Ichigo almost snarled. And Ikkaku still laughing just pointed his finger at Renji, who suddenly looked very alarmed and sober.
"Calm down, Ichigo. I didn't tell that mutherfucker squat! Really, you gotta believe me..."
But Ichigo was not listening. He was already on the move, his eyes already fixed on his prey. All the tension stored up in him, the alcohol in his veins and the look on Renji´s face, just made him wanna see blood. Lots of it and definitely not his.
As if to make him want to fight even more, Yumichika added: "Why, Renji, you sure did mention something about possible something in between Ichigo and..." He did not get to finish the sentence. This time Ichigo positively snarled. And Renji was up on his feet and retreating, trying to be as far from the orange-haired devil as possible.
"You did not...RENJI!" he roared.
"Abarai, don't you dare run. You are a former Eleventh, we don´t run." Kenpachi all of a sudden looked interested.
Renji froze where he was, frantically trying to come with a plan how not to get killed tonight. Fuck, maybe the party was not such a good idea, afterall. They left their zanpaktos at their respective barracks, so that was good. No, it is not good. Crap, he is getting closer. But he can't use kido at least! Argh, you idiot, you can't either. Fuck. Fuck! But I have been training under Kuchiki-taicho, I have to be able to get him down, I...Renji did not get the luxury of finishing his feeble attempt on strategy. Ichigo put all his anger in his blow and his fist connected firmly with Renji´s ribs. The sound they made was definitely not good. Renji went flying in the air. Surprised and wide open for any other attack. Ichigo made the best of that chance and jumped up in the air to hit the sorry bastard for second time. He kicked from above hitting his stomach, adding to the force of gravity. When Renji landed, he made a small crater on the ground. No, it was very good, that the party was outside, where they could not demolish anything other than themselves.
Now the crowd was starting to gather and cheer. The guys from Eleventh were roaring themselves hoarse to make Renji snap out of it and teach this snot- nosed punk a lesson, as they have put it. Kira and Matsumoto cheering for Ichigo, not that he heard them or cared for that matter. He has set his razor eyes on the kill. He will make that bastard pay. For everything. For his stupid ideas about Ichigo dating guys, for him being stuck in the Seireitei, for him not being able to control his reiatsu better and even for him being ever born with such a fucked up fate! He will die for all of that.
"Ichigo! Snap out of it! Fuck, it´s me Renji! You don't want to kill me!" Renji recognized that look and knew he was in trouble. But this time he was ready for anything the young captain would try on him. He will not go down so easily. He cannot do it to his captain and to the Eleventhers, who are cheering for him and trust in him. He will not lose!
"YOU BASTARD!" Ichigo roared. Matsumoto echoed him for some odd reason, maybe it was just the gallons of sake she had tonight.
"All right! Wanna fight? Huh? Come and get it, you little kid! I won´t hold back anymore!" Renji yelled back. He was definitely in the mood for fight now.
Both of them sprung to run at each other at the same time. To an unschooled eye it might have looked as if they were teleporting, that´s how fast they moved. All the while cursing and throwing punches at each other. Renji would get a good opening and flung his powerful left hook in, making Ichigo dug a solid groove in the ground with his own body. But that did not stop the youngster. He immediately got up and ran back at his opponent. They were able to cover each other's blows for a while. But then Renji stumbled upon some fucking branch and Ichigo saw his chance. He pounded Renjis chest very hard for a while until the other was able to kick him off. Ichigo wiped the blood running from his torn lip. He looked like the devil himself. His face all dark and bruised. His knuckles bloody from all the beating he did with his bare hands now. This fight was not pretty. In was not the typical Shinigami fight, with swords and spells and tactics. This was a drunken, kill-or-be-killed bar-like fight. Renji didn't look any better. He was on his knees coughing up blood. His left lung was ruptured for sure and he might have sprained his ankle on that fucking branch. Branch, really branch?! You gotta be fucking kidding me. A lieutenant and I stumble on some stupid little branch and sprain my ankle. Amazing.
For a while then, they were just standing, breathing heavily and staring each other down. Now the aim of the fight was already somewhere else. Now it was the fight of the pride and honor. Not one of them would go down easily. The spectators forgotten. There was nothing for them except their opponent and the intention to kill.
Never underestimate two drunken soldiers.
But their fight was not at all quiet. Not that either of them noticed, but about halfway through their fight, the patrol came to see what was going on. Tonight was the patrolling night for the Sixth division, squad of Kuchiki Byakuya. The guys saw immediately that this was out of their league. They had to call the captain, reluctant as they were to do such an action. Kuchiki Byakuya was not well-known for his warm personality. He appeared on the scene just as the two idiots were trying to figure out how to get the other one down.
"Kurosaki Ichigo. Abarai Renji. Does either of you have any acceptable reason for making me wake up in the middle of the night?" his cold monotone voice cut through the sudden silence as the spectators registered his presence. Ichigo and Renji stopped. Renji looked like he was about to die. The last thing he needed, was to have his captain arrive at the scene. Fuck. The party was a very good idea, indeed. I am not letting Ichigo drink ever again. He thought.
"My sincere apologies, sir." He went immediately on his knees and bowed his head. Waiting for the punishment to come. But Ichigo? That was a whole different story. Even though the alcohol was long gone from his blood and head, his teeny attitude remained. He stood more straight now, even as if he was trying to tower over Kuchiki-taicho, who was in one flash-step right next to him. Renji dared only to look from under his bowed head. He, unlike the other man, had a very good idea what would happen if he did anything other than that. And Ichigo just stood there, arms folded and confident look in his eyes. Granted, he was never afraid of Kuchiki Byakuya, being the only person in whole Seireitei maybe or at least the only young person in Seireitei to do so. Byakuya stood right in front of the young captain his cold eyes locked on Ichigo´s.
"You are no longer a Substitute Shinigami. You are a captain now. You should act accordingly."
"Fuck you, Byakuya." Ichigo glared at the man.
"You heard me." he hissed. And that was it. In a blur of movements, in not longer than a second, the young man was lying on the ground. His left hand was held by Kuchiki in an unnatural angle. To make it look even worse, Kuchiki Byakuya kneeled on the orange-haired man, never changing the angle of the arm and leaned in to whisper something into his ear. The rest of the party, apart from Kenpachi, who again lost any interest now that no one was fighting anymore, stood there in a shock. They were not certain if they should or could disappear. They wanted to, but with Kuchiki-taicho one never knew. So they stayed put and waited. Whatever it was that the older captain whispered to Ichigo, it made him angry and he was very desperately trying to get away from the grip the other man had over him, calling him names even. The only thing he achieved though was a dislocated shoulder. After that the older man leaned in again and whispered something. It was much shorter this time. After that he stood up, as gracefully as only one of the Kuchiki clan can. He made his way through the field never looking back at his own lieutenant, who was still bowing his head.
"Abarai, we will settle this tomorrow." His voice barely hearable and as cold as ever.
And when he was only a few feet away from the rest of the party, he said: "I believe you all know where to spend the rest of the night."
English is not my native tongue, so I would like to apologize for any grammar mistakes I might have there. Thank you for reading this. And also this is my very firs fanmade fiction, so please fire away all your criticism it is welcomed. :)