Kurosaki Ichigo, by all means, told his legs not to get up and yell, “What the freaking hell are you doing here!”
Chapter Five : Mental Torture
Kurosaki Ichigo, by all means, told his legs not to get up and yell, “What the freaking hell are you doing here!”
But he was there. Kuchiki Byakuya, introduced as a student from, what the hell, Tokyo University, to conduct a study. What kind of study? Oh, definitely that was what Chad and Orihime wanted to know and their eyes were still fixed on Byakuya. Ishida nearly unnoticeably sent a “Wtf is this now?” gaze Ichigo who did the same thing to Rukia who had her mouth open.
Pick up your jaw, baka.
“Hajimemashite? My name is Kuchiki Byakuya. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.”
The Kuchiki Captain bowed.
Obviously, the girls found him sexy and hot and downright dumbfounding as there was a rise of murmurs and giggles from them. Those dopes… Thathandsome face, that fair skin and that wonderful stature… Behind all of those was a hideous captain-beast who made him a bed spacer in his own room!
Nothing could surprise Ichigo at this moment in time…
… or not.
“Oh…” the Principal was saying now, “Please address him as Kuchiki-taichou.”
What? Taichou? Did he just say Kuchiki-taichou?
“What on earth for!” Ichigo scowled, his eyes tracing any reaction from Byakuya’s face.
“Because he is a Captain.” Ochi-sensei was saying now.
The “taichou” explains that part but he wanted to know why he had to be addressed such here in this world! What, he came from the Gotei 13 Tokyo University Division?
“Wait. Kuchiki?” Keigo blurted out, “Are you related to Kuchiki Rukia-san?”
All eyes turned to Rukia.
“She is my sister.” Byakuya replied as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a high school girl to have her brother step into class and claim to have a need to conduct a study involving them.
“Kuchiki-san, why have you never told us you had a handsome brother from Tokyo University!”
Because she didn’t have such a brother.
“You should’ve told us he was coming over. At least we could’veprepared.”
Where “prepared” meant “beautified ourselves”!
“Ah, but I didn’t know he was… coming over today…” Rukia smiled faintly at her female classmate before sending Byakuya a wondering look.
“The whole semester.” Byakuya corrected.
“THE WHOLE SEMESTER!” Rukia, Ichigo, Ishida, Orihime and Chad chorused.
Yes, the surprise was too intense to have sent Chad into doing something loud.
Ichigo felt his body phasing through the chair, sinking as though he were sitting on mud. Apparently, the women had no qualms letting Kuchiki-taichou stay in their class to mingle with them and observe but to Ichigo, it was torture of all sorts. It was deprivation of human (Shinigami, Hollow, hybrid, whatever) rights. It was disrespect to all that is living, right and pure, for god’s sake!
“Um, excuse me…” Ichigo finally managed to clear his throat. Byakuya sent him a glance to entertain him almost as if they did not know each other… as if he did not stay in Ichigo’s room, claimed his bed, and broke every right of Ichigo’s that he could.
“Excuse me, Bya–Uh…Kuchiki-taichou.” Ichigo began, reluctant to having been forced to call Byakuya by surname and with “-taichou” affixed to it, “What exactly are you going to study about us?”
“That’s a good question.” Byakuya replied, “But if I told you, then you’d be too conscious to act normally.”
Screw that. If he wanted to observe him normally then he could’ve done it in secret. That would be more natural. Way to go, Byakuya. You just scored a point for idiocy.
“I understand my presence compels you to act somewhat differently but everything I do is all part of my cause.”
What, was he a mind-reader now?
“After all,” Byakuya was saying now in the most casual way Ichigo had seen him do “I assume none of you has an inclination to do crazy things, say, like kiss a faux body?”
The class laughed in unison. Ichigo was mentally slapping his forehead and Ishida groaned. Rukia gave off a faint smile. That was it and the next thing Ichigo knew, Byakuya was sitting somewhere in the room, taking notes, asking questions and joining discussions even! What was Byakuya trying to do! It was as clear as sunlight. The 6th Squad Captain hated him. Holy shit. A mere “You. Me. Out. Let’s settle this!” could have sufficed but no. He had to undergo this torture, these mind games, this humiliation!
The bell rang. Lunch! A little piece of salvation!
Ichigo looked behind him to say something, expecting to see Keigo but found Byakuya’s face instead.
“HOLY FU-- ATHER, MOTHER, BROTHER, SISTER!” Ichigo bellowed as his head darted back in baffled alarm, “What are you doing!”
“I figured we should let him join us eat.” Mizuiro was flashing a brilliant smile that Ichigo wanted to tear off.
“Oniichaaaaaaan!” Keigo pranced beside Byakuya whose stern eyes flashed and eyed the high school student who was beside him.
Was he just called “oniichan”?
“Baka, who do you think you are calling him “oniichan”!” Tatsuki stepped in and slapped the back of Keigo’s head right on cue.
“Oi, Ich- Kurosaki-kun!” Rukia’s approaching voice cut whatever it was anyone was going to say but stopped upon seeing Byakuya looking at her.
“Okay, I don’t know about you but I’m going up to fill my stomach.” Ichigo spat out and stood to go. Byakuya’s face did not noticeably change but Rukia saw the quizzical flash in his eyes.
“We eat our lunch up on the rooftop, Niisama.” Rukia said.
“N-niisama?” Keigo exclaimed, “-Sama?”
“What does it matter to you, dingbat?” Ichigo started off and lifted Ishida by the collar, “You’re coming, four eyes.”
“Ah, what! Kurosaki!”
Byakuya stood up and walked with the gang of students who were all too eager to know anything and everything there is to know about him. Ichigo walked ahead annoyed. What the hell did he think was he doing anyway? Who was he, Byakuya Lord of the “I-can-do-anything-harharhar”? Ichigo turned to his side to somehow complain to Rukia but found the space empty. He stopped walking and looked back and saw her walking beside her beloved Niisama who was now being flocked by women. Well, there were guys around him, too, since he offered to treat everyone.
What is it with the rule that she must walk by her brother when they are in public as much as possible? After all, they weren’t in Sereitei any longer. But what does it matter to him anyway?
Tsch. Fine walk with your damned snooty brother.
“What’s with you?” Ishida said. Ichigo had been in so much thought he had not noticed Ishida approaching.
“I’m annoyed to the core.” Ichigo replied simply and stormed off and up to the rooftop that served as his sanctuary.
Oh, right, the whole class was now there, scattered in groups like islets after Kuchiki-taichou gave away the free lunch.
“Say, you look so beautiful you’d pass as a girl.” Chizuru was eyeing him closely face-to-face as she fixed her glasses.
“I beg your pardon?” Byakuya and Rukia chorused.
“She said you looked like a girl, Bya-Kuchiki-taichou.” Ichigo said as he checked his lunch.
“Oh, but it’s flat!” Chizuru was almost wailing as her palms laid flat on Byakuya’s chest and the latter gasped in either surprise, contempt or both. Ichigo choked on his onigiri and Orihime grabbed Chizuru’s arm.
“Aww, is my hime jealous?” Chizuru squealed and proceeded to squeeze Orihime’s body between her arms.
“Ah, no. It’s just that… it’s… what you’re doing… impolite.” Orihime stuttered.
“Kuchiki-taichou, you look popular among women.” Chizuru started again but still hadn’t released Orihime from her hug, “Aside from good looks, what’s your secret?”
“Secret?” Byakuya asked, perplexed.
“Yeah, why girls like you, flock to you, after you.”
“Yes, I’d like to know, too.” Mizuiro was now interested. Chad and Ishida looked at each other.
“I don’t have a secret.” Byakuya answered honestly and took a light bite on his onigiri.
For someone who’s the one conducting a study, he’s the one being asked questions.
“Oh, then with all the ladies around you perhaps you have some experience in bed?” Chizuru spat out directly. It almost sounded like “Shinsui is doing a pole dance”. Byakuya choked on his onigiri unceremoniously and was hitting his chest with his fist.
Tatsuki slapped the back of Chizuru’s head out of instinct and surprise as well as embarrassment, “Why’d you have to ask something like that!”
“Hey, he’s a ladies’ man! It’s fine!” Chizuru reasoned out.
“Fine!?” Ishida spoke still shaken from the bombed question, “He’s choking on onigiri!”
“He’ll be fine.” Ichigo shrugged, watching Rukia hand her brother juice and stroke his back as she asked, “Are you okay, Niisama?”
Hey,he choked on onigiri, too, just a while ago. Why didn’t Rukia, uh, anyone ask him if he were okay?
“Yeah, it’s okay to speak about these things but only between guys, Chizuru.” Keigo was frowning, “And, no, lesbians don’t count!”
“Men.” Chizuru said simply, paused for a while and slapped Keigo as she said, “That’s just not fair, you impudent thing!”
“But it’s true!” Keigo shot back teary-eyed as he rubbed the back of his head, “Guys could talk about that any time for as long as there are only guys around! Tell them, Ichigo!”
“What?” Ichigo’s eyebrow crooked after swallowing, “How did I get roped into the conversation?”
“You’re well and able. Tell them!”
“Tell them what!”
“That guys talk about these things randomly when it’s just us guys.”
“Video games, women, vice, fantasies, sex…!”
Byakuya’s eye twitched.
“KEIGO, SHUT UP!” Ichigo bellowed followed by a full swing of his arm towards Keigo who was sent flying a few inches above the floor and a good distance away from the group. Ichigo gave Byakuya a quick glance worthy of Shunpo and found “Bankai” written on his face. Great, Keigo, you just encouraged him.
“Oww…” Keigo got up, rubbing his cheek, “You didn’t have to be so harsh.”
“You didn’t have to include me in the first place!”
“But what about the times we watched Hentai?”
“I wasn’t with you!”
“And the times we played DoA Extreme to ogle?”
“I don’t play that!”
“What about dreams about Kuchiki-san?”
“THAT’S JUST YOU!” Ichigo was now beet red.
Dreams about Rukia? Tsch.
No, wait. That did happen.
Does not count because it was not intentional!
“You don’t have to be so loud, Kurosaki.” Ishida added.
“I haven’t heard Ichigo talk about any of the things you mentioned.” Chad said lowly.
“Because I never do!”
Except in his thoughts and dreams but those don’t count!
“Fine, are you gay, then?” Chizuru tactlessly spurt out again.
“NO!” Ichigo glared, a red hue persisting upon his cheeks, “And I can prove that by whatever righteous means necessary!”
“Then I’d like to see you kiss Kuchiki-san!” Keigo dared as he hurriedly hopped back towards the group only to meet with Ichigo’s and Byakuya’s fists and toss off again.
“Explain how you’ve been with Kuchiki-san without even being attracted to her!” Chizuru demanded and plopped beside Rukia, clutched her and rubbed their cheeks together, “I mean, wook at her pwetty widdle face. No way you wouldn’t feel even just a teensy bit of a crush for her!”
“Ara…? Please stop that.” Rukia was releasing a faint smile.
“Chizuru-chan. Stop that, please.” Orihime was in panic now, looking at Ishida or Chad for any support but found none.
“Woman, lay your hands off my sister.” Byakuya muttered, only his eyes moving.
“I don’t have to explain anything!” Ichigo glared. If ever he were to forget something right now, it would be the fact that Chizuru was a girl just so he could hit her, “AND STOP DOING THAT!” Ichigo gripped Chizuru’s hands and pried her off Rukia.
“Ow! What is it with you!” Chizuru was now glaring back, “If you don’t like Kuchiki-san then why are you reacting like that!”
“You didn’t have to be harsh with Chizuru, too.” Tatsuki was looking weirdly at Ichigo.
“Ichigo.” Chad spoke, “Are you okay?”
“You don’t look okay.” Ishida was saying now.
“Maybe we should just change the subject, ne?” Rukia was wearing her award-winning smile.
“Right, right! Why don’t we talk about… hmm… Let’s see…” Orihime was enthusiastic about the new idea brought to the table.
“Let’s get this straight.” Chizuru looked at Ichigo, ignored Rukia and Orihime, “You’re not gay?”
“Yes!” Ichigo nodded.
“And you’re only friends with Kuchiki Rukia?”
“And you’re not interested in her in anyway? And by that I mean hormonal and love-stuck and not otherwise.”
Byakuya’s gaze zoomed at Ichigo.
Fire in the hole!
Ichigo felt like something gripped his stomach and dragged it down towards his ankles. Rukia was not speaking, not moving but looking at him – just like that. Something was horribly wrong. Now would be a good time to wake up. Wake up now. Wake. Up. Now.
“So, Ichigo…” Keigo crawled towards them, “It’s okay if I ask Kuchiki-san to go out with me?”
“What?” Ichigo snapped to attention rather clumsily, “What? No! I… I mean, yes! I mean, no! I… I mean…”
“What?” Rukia finally spoke, “You mean what?”
“I mean what does that have anything to do with me! If she wanted to then why the heck would I have to have a say in it!” Ichigo pouted and looked at anyone and anything else except any Kuchiki in the vicinity. Ichigo got up, took his juice box with him and walked off muttering something no one understood.
Ichigo looked through the crisscrossed wire fence and felt the wind on his face. He felt like his shoulders, his feet, his arms, his body and even his breathing were all heavy. Something was speaking in his head and he was darned sure as hell it was neither the Hollow nor Zangetsu. What was wrong? He really wasn’t interested in Rukia in the first place and Rukia was not interested in him just the same. Ichigo cringed and felt something stuck in his throat. He continued to sip on the empty juice box, producing rough gargled sounds as he gripped the box.
“Umm…” said a female voice from his right. Ichigo veered his head, expecting to see Rukia but found Orihime instead.
“Oh, what is it Inoue?” Ichigo reverted back to deep thinking mode as he continued to contemplate.
“Ano… Are you all right?” Orihime was hesitant to ask.
“I’m all right.”
“Are you… sure… Kurosaki-kun?” Orihime continued, “You really don’t… look very well.”
A short pause.
“Kuchiki-san doesn’t look so well either.”
Ichigo stopped whatever it was he was thinking and slowly moved his head to look at Rukia. The petite Shinigami was caught looking at him and she took the look away immediately before attending to the circle of students with her.
“Sorry about what Chizuru said. She’s like that but she’s really nice.”
“I know.” Ichigo said, “I probably got up on the wrong side of the bed.”
“Then find the right side and get up from it everyday.” Orihime smiled.
Ichigo blinked and looked at Orihime before stifling a small laugh and nodding. Past Orihime, Ichigo could see the group he had left.
“Kuchiki-san, I swear I will do everything for you just date me!” And Keigo clung to Rukia’s arm.
“GOD DAMMIT, KEIGO, I TOLD YOU STOP DOING THAT!”
And there was a sound of a juice box harshly smacking a male high school student’s face.
- End of Chapter 5 -
Author: I like this chapter because of the various conversations but it was hard since there were many characters in the scene. Waah!