Ichigo's mind plays a nasty trick on him.
The heat of Ishida's body pressed against Ichigo's backside and the Soul Reaper had a sudden, crazy image scream through his mind.
One half of a heartbeat later, Ichigo deflected a dozen acid bombs with his zanpaku-tÃ´ before Ishida gave him a hard shove.
'Get away! What do you think you're doing, Kurosaki?'
Ichigo, however, didn't answer. He chose, rather, to rush the Hollow that they were fighting and sliced his sword in a smooth downward arc. The Hollow's head split into two neat halves just as Ichigo suddenly registered a spirit arrow whizzing straight for him.
He ducked a second before the Quincy's arrow sank into its intended victim's left eyeball. The Shinigami turned on Ishida with an irate expression.
'I had this one!' he screamed, jabbing his sword toward the general location of the Hollow.
'Why did you jump in front of me, Ichigo? Do I look like I need to be /protected/?
Of course Ishida would be put out with Ichigo's help. The Soul Reaper's frown deepened.
'Hmph. Fine, the next time we fight an acid-spitting maggot Hollow, you can sacrifice your soul, right off the bat and I won't do a thing to stop you!'
Ichigo stormed away, heading back to school and to his body. He could only imagine the horrible things that Kon was doing, at this exact moment, to ruin his reputation.
Ishida hurried after him, pushing his glasses up his nose as he went.
'I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself in battle, Kurosaki. I don't need a Soul Reaper to save me'
Ichigo stopped short and whipped around, nearly causing the Quincy to smash, face-first, into him.
'I thought we were past all that I hate Soul Reapers crap' he folded his arms over his chest and fixed Ishida with a questioning glare.
Ishida, again, righted his glasses, using one long slim finger to do so and gave his orange-haired companion a look that clearly stated that Ichigo didn't know shit. The Quincy remained silent, however, choosing not to confirm nor deny Ichigo's presumption.
Ichigo's right eye twitched.
Ichigo blew a frustrated breath just before fisting Ishida's neatly pressed uniform shirt and yanking him forward.
'Well, do you hate me or what?' -Ichigo's eyes narrowed in suspicion, suddenly- 'Now that I think back, your arrow did come awfully close to hitting me'
Ishida rolled indigo eyes and wrapped fingers around Ichigo's wrist, attempting, in vain, to pull the other boy's hand away.
'You're wrinkling my shirt, Kurosaki'
'You're breaking my heart, you dork'
Ichigo did, however, release the dark-haired boy, none-too-gently and fixed him with a look of disdain as he endeavored to smooth his crumpled shirt.
'Whatever. I need to get back to school. Kon's probably tried to drag Orihime in a broom closet, by now' a shudder of horror passed through Ichigo's body.
Ishida noticed and smirked at the Shinigami, 'Like you wouldn't want to be pressed against her in a broom closet, yourself. Kon's simply brave enough to follow through with the idea'
Again, Ichigo stopped short. This time, though, he turned on Ishida slowly, his eyes burning with indignation.
'What did you say? How would you know anything about what I want? You don't! So just shut the hell up!'
Seconds ticked by while Ishida calmly stood, beneath the fire of the orange-haired boy's breath and with his shirt (again) fisted in Ichigo's hands. The Quincy's only movement came when he had to right his glasses, once again, finally meeting Ichigo's glare, as he did so.
'Fine. You're not into girls. Orihime in particular. I get it, now. Could you please let me go?'
Ichigo blinked. Stared. Then blinked again.
Ishida could swear he saw when the light turned on within Ichigo's brain; knew exactly the moment that his innuendo had, finally, sank in. The Soul Reaper released him with an affronted snort.
'You're. . .you're. . ./gross/! Look, I'm not the one that had his leg tangled around mine and his hand. . ./touching/ and- and. . ./touching/'
Ishida did his own fair share of blinking while Ichigo floundered about, his hands, well, touching himself.
'What are you going on about, Kurosaki?'
Ichigo rolled his eyes and swung out his arm, fingertips nearly sending Ishida's glasses to the ground.
'Back there! When we were fighting! Better yet, when I was saving you from getting acid in the eye' -he jabbed a finger into Ishida's face- '/you/. Were. Touching me!'
Ishida's jaw dropped and his glasses slid all the way down his nose. Sapphire eyes bulged with disbelief.
'Are you /insane/!? I would /never/' -Ishida quickly closed and opened his mouth several times- '/touch/' -his face flamed hot with indignation- 'you!'
The Shinigami sneered, 'What, then? Are you saying that I imagined it? Did you think I would have been too busy to notice that you were molesting me?'
There was a stare-down, then. Ishida certainly didn't know what to say in reply to Ichigo's wild allegations. In fact, he was a little worried. Had the Hollow done some mind trick on the Shinigami?
Finally, he cleared his throat and pushed his glasses up his nose.
'We should get you back to Rukia, Ichigo. I think' -he cleared his throat, delicately- 'I think something's. . ./wrong/ with you'
Ishida took a chance on meeting Ichigo's gaze and when their eyes met, he was horrified to feel his face growing warm, once again. Ba-bump!
Ichigo shook his head slowly, 'I can't believe this. You're denying everything!'
Ishida had enough, 'Of course I'm denying it, you idiot! That's because I didn't do what you think I did! I don't know what that Hollow did to that small brain of yours, but you can rest assured that I would never touch you!'
Whiskey-hued eyes observed the faint tinge of pink crossing Ishida's face. Indigo eyes, bright and sparkling with annoyance and humiliation, in turn, steadily avoided meeting Ichigo's stare.
Unexpectedly, another image raced through the Soul Reaper's mind and Ichigo's jaw went slack. Ba-bump!
His expression must have shown his complete and utter horror as the Quincy's hand was suddenly a light touch upon Ichigo's arm.
Ichigo swallowed hard as Ishida's soft contact upon his body became a heat too much to bear. He shook the other boy's hand from his arm and turned away from him, legs moving again in attempts to hurry him back to school.
'You're right' he finally said, 'I think that Hollow did. . .something. To me'
He should have apologized, only this was Ishida and besides that, Ichigo wanted the subject dropped, immediately. He was already embarrassed properly enough, as it stood.
. . . . . . . .
Rukia Kuchiki stepped back and folded her arms over her chest.
'Everything appears to be in order, Ichigo. Nothing's wrong with you physically that I can tell'
Back inside his body, Ichigo fixed Rukia with a skeptical look.
'Are you sure? One-hundred percent, without any trace of a doubt, sure?'
Rukia's dark eyes narrowed, 'I'm sure. Why? What happened back there? I got the call that you guys had defeated the Hollow-'
'And mind tricks weren't listed as part of his arsenal, right?' Ichigo interrupted her from his sitting position upon the rooftop of the school.
'Ri i ight,' Rukia confirmed slowly, yet again, 'So why the questions about mind tricks, Ichigo?'
Ichigo's scowl reached new proportions, 'Nothing. Look, if I'm okay, physically, can you give me a few minutes, alone?'
Rukia stared in thought and at Ichigo until the boy fidgeted beneath the weight of. Finally, she released a breath and spoke.
When Rukia had gone, Ichigo laid back, bending his arms and resting his head on his hands.
So the Hollow hadn't had any special mind-tricking powers. Well maybe he had and the Soul Society simply didn't know about them. Small chance, yet that was the only thing that Ichigo had, at the moment; that small hope that the images which had invaded his mind hadn't been triggered by some insane part of himself.
Ichigo closed his eyelids and attempted to block out the reformation of that last unwanted image he'd had of the Quincy.
However, the dark-haired boy's face still came closer to his own. Ishida's lips still parted and his tongue still slid over his lips, moistening them.
And the imagined version of himself still leaned in and still touched his lips to Ishida's.
The real Ichigo suddenly cursed and gripped handfuls of his orange hair, pulling hard.
'Come out!' he screamed to the images, in frustration.
'I can't believe that you sensed me, Kurosaki. Will wonders ever cease?'
Ichigo bolted upright, eyelids instantly opening. The unimagined Ishida was coming from behind a stack of crates, pushing his glasses up his nose and looking a tad awkward about being discovered.
'You were /spying/!?'
'I was. . .curious. If anything was wrong with you' Ishida's gaze fell and one foot traced a pattern on the rooftop.
'You were. . .worried? About me?'
Ishida's indigo eyes snapped up and again with the blushing. He swallowed a couple of times before answering, 'Of course I wasn't worried. You really have an exaggerated imagination, Kurosaki'