[Fic] Going Casual - Bleach, Ichigo & Ishida
I've been so insanely busy for the last... well, year, really, that I've hardly written a damn thing. And the less I write, the less I want to write, because it's really hard to get back into it. But I've finally had a couple of days off, and I've used the time to force myself to start writing again. Hopefully I will continue to be at least a little more productive.
The idea for this came to me while catching up on the latest episodes, pretty much springing full-formed into my head, so I figured it would be an easy one to start with.
Title: Going Casual Series: Bleach Pairing: gen, but you don't have to squint to see potential slash Rating: PG-13 Warnings: do I actually need to warn for swearing when Ichigo's involved? It should go without saying Length: 3134
Ishida just can't take it anymore... something needs to be done about Ichigo.
"You have got to be kidding me."
"What?" Startled by the unexpected sound of a familiar voice, Ichigo turned to see Ishida standing a few feet away, loaded down with bags and staring back at him in dismay. "Ishida? What the hell are you doing here?"
"Shopping, obviously," Ishida said. "We've been so busy lately I've almost completely run out of fabric, and I won't even tell you the state of my thread supplies. Who let you out of the house dressed like that?"
"Huh?" Ichigo blinked at him, confused by the random turn of the conversation. He glanced down at his clothes, a pair of extremely faded black jeans and a blue t-shirt with 'Nice Vibe' on the front layered over a red one. He'd even dug up a red and blue terry-cloth wrist cuff that matched. "It's Sunday, idiot, I don't need to be in uniform."
Ishida looked dismayed and pained, like he'd suddenly been struck by a massive headache. "You haven't got a single iota of fashion sense, do you Kurosaki?"
"A single what?" Ichigo felt like he'd been dropped into the middle of a conversation and was expected to know the parts he'd missed. What was Ishida on about? His fashion sense? "I'm in casual clothes, you don't need fashion sense for that."
"Clearly you don't." Ishida seemed unimpressed by Ichigo's logic. "Are you actually here for a reason, or were you just planning to spend the day hanging around and playing in the arcade?"
"Uh..." Ichigo had been on the defensive from the moment Ishida had first spoken to him, and he didn't much like it. Now he felt like he should be defending the fact that he'd planned to spend his first day off in months - not just from school, but from chasing hollows and training his skills as a shinigami - hanging around goofing off and letting off some steam. "So what if I am?"
"Good." Ishida dumped half his bags into Ichigo's arms, and Ichigo was surprised enough that he grabbed them automatically. That freed up one of Ishida's hands, and he promptly grabbed Ichigo by the elbow and started dragging him along. "Come on. I'm going to teach you how not to dress like a little boy who grabbed his clothes in the dark."
"Hey! What the fuck is wrong with my clothes?" Now Ichigo was getting pissed off. Ishida could rub him the wrong way at the best of times, but this was ridiculous. He could easily have dropped the bags and shaken the idiot off, of course, but he wasn't quite angry enough to pick an actual fight in the middle of a public plaza.
"First of all," Ishida said in a superior tone of voice, looking back at Ichigo over his shoulder, "you should never wear red close to your face. Certainly not a bright primary red like that."
"Why the hell not? Everyone else does it all the time," Ichigo said, scowling.
"Everyone else does not have flaming orange hair, Kurosaki," Ishida replied, with a long-suffering sort of patience. "Red clashes and makes your face look ruddy. Second of all, layered t-shirts in primary colours make you look about five years old. Third, 'Nice Vibe'? I can't decide if that's supposed to be some kind of suggestive come-on or just idiotic. Fourth, that horrible wrist-cuff makes you look like a dorky five-year-old, and terry-cloth is so out of style you're at least a decade behind. Fifth, those jeans are so worn and scruffy they make you look like a delinquent dorky five-year-old. Either throw them out or keep them for doing heavy dirty work around the house, but for the love of the gods don't wear them out in public."
"They're comfortable," Ichigo protested, his scowl darkening. "It takes me forever to get them this perfect, and by then I've usually grown out of them." He didn't even know where to start arguing with the rest of Ishida's points, and wasn't entirely sure why he needed to justify himself to a guy who seemed to think ruffles and crosses were necessary accessories to everything.
"Regardless of how comfortable they are, you've long since passed the state of 'fashionably worn-looking' and crossed into 'ready for the rag bin'," Ishida said. "In here." He dragged Ichigo into the store they'd just reached, a little boutique full of fashionable clothes for men and women. At least, Ichigo assumed they were fashionable - the price tags certainly said somebody was willing to pay good money for them, and the store was pretty busy.
"I am not paying that much money for clothes I'm never gonna wear," he hissed to Ishida, wincing at the thought of what it would do to his wallet. Being a substitute shinigami paid not a damn yen, and didn't exactly leave him free time for a traditional after-school job. His allowance from his father was enough for him to enjoy his rare days off, and that was about it.
"This time it's my treat," Ishida said. He'd stopped to look through a couple of racks, picking things up and studying them critically before either putting them back again or adding them to a growing pile draped over the bags on his other arm. "When you see how much better you can look, you'll not only be willing to wear them, you'll scrape up enough to buy more. Trust me."
He sounded so smug and self-assured that Ichigo was seriously tempted to smack him, but he held his temper with an effort. This was a stupid waste of time, but it wasn't like he'd had anything better to do and it was kind of amusing to watch Ishida acting like a damned girl. It would give him plenty of fodder for later teasing. And he still didn't want to start a fight in public.
"All right, I guess that's enough for now," Ishida said. "You can only take so much in with you at a time, anyway. Go try these on." He hustled Ichigo to the back of the store where a few curtained alcoves had been set aside as fitting rooms, making shooing motions like he was herding a dog or something.
"Y'know, if you're this desperate for a dress-up doll I could just send Kon to you for a week," Ichigo muttered, rolling his eyes. It would get the annoying mod-soul out of his hair, and keep Ishida occupied at the same time.
"But then I'd still be forced to deal with you as an eyesore every time we meet outside of school or battle," Ishida said. "Just put on the damned clothes, Kurosaki. It won't kill you to be well-dressed for once in your life, I promise."
Still grumbling under his breath, Ichigo dumped his armful of bags on one of the chairs provided for waiting people outside the change rooms, and took the clothes Ishida shoved at him.
Five minutes later he stood staring at himself in the mirror, wondering what the hell he was doing. "Well?" Ishida called from outside.
"I look like I'm wearing my school uniform, except it's the wrong colour," Ichigo said. It was true, the tan slacks and pale jade button-up shirt were essentially the same style as his summer school uniform. He pulled the curtain aside, and Ishida looked him over critically.
"Well, at least the colours look better on you," he said, though Ichigo couldn't see that the colours had made any particular difference.
"They're prissy colours," he growled, tugging at the shirt in irritation. "A girl would wear these. Or you, but you're so close to a girl sometimes it hardly makes a difference."
Ishida gave him a cold look and folded his arms. "In point of fact, I would not wear that colour green. It wouldn't suit me, any more than red suits you. But you're right about the style. Take that off, and try this instead." He offered a different shirt, in a warm pale blue. There were laces dangling from it, and Ichigo eyed it warily.
"No ruffles," he warned Ishida as he took the shirt with poor grace and turned to go back into the change room. "Nothing girly. I mean it, Ishida."
Ishida sighed, and pushed his glasses up. "Just put the shirt on, Kurosaki."
This time when Ichigo looked in the mirror, he felt more than a little creeped out. He looked like... he looked like someone had cut the head off a picture of him and stuck it onto a picture of Ishida's body. The shirt hung loose off his shoulders, with a wide neckline that laced up, and full sleeves that came to his mid-forearm. "Oh, hell no," he exclaimed.
"Let me see," Ishida insisted, and Ichigo reluctantly emerged from the room. He felt like a giant dork, standing there in these idiotic froofy clothes - like he ought to be spouting poetry, or something. Or maybe going for the nearest needle and thread, considering just who it was he looked like he was imitating.
Across the store, he heard a sudden burst of giggling. When Ichigo looked he saw a group of high school girls staring in his direction and whispering to each other behind their hands. When they saw that he was scowling at them, they giggled again and hid their faces.
"Hmm." Ishida was frowning as well, tapping his lower lip with one finger as his eyes travelled slowly over Ichigo's body. That made Ichigo feel even more uncomfortable, and he crossed his arms and glared.
"No, there's still something not right," Ishida finally decided, shaking his head.
"You think?" Ichigo snapped. "This is a waste of fucking time, Ishida."
"Actually, we're making progress. This is better than the last shirt, and they're both infinitely better than what you were wearing to start with." The smug tone was back in Ishida's voice, and this time Ichigo was having a much harder time resisting the urge to smack him. "Now try this one."
Ichigo scowled, and Ishida smirked back at him. They matched each other stare for stare, and something in Ishida's eyes convinced Ichigo it would be more trouble than it was worth to argue. "Fuck it," he snarled, and snatched the new clothes out of the other boy's hand. He was going to make Ishida pay for this, one way or another.
Five outfits and almost half an hour later, Ishida was completely baffled and Ichigo's already limited store of patience was clearly running dry. Nothing he'd tried had looked quite right on the redhead, and Ishida wasn't sure why. He'd never had so much trouble finding a style that suited someone before.
"Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place," he finally concluded with a sigh, reseating his glasses. "Our builds aren't that different, but nothing I would wear is working for you. Hmm. Maybe a different store?"
From the murderous look in Ichigo's eyes, Ishida's suggestion wasn't exactly being met with overwhelming enthusiasm. "Fuck that," he snarled. "I've wasted hours on this fucking nonsense. You can shop to your heart's content, but I ain't playing along any more. I'm going to the damned arcade."
More giggling from nearby drew their attention, and they found another clump of girls snickering behind their hands. This group was different, though; they had a couple of bored-looking athletic-type guys hanging around with them, clearly boyfriends who'd been dragged along whether they liked it or not.
Actually, looking from Ichigo to the jocks, Ishida had to admit there was a significant resemblance. Ichigo was just as well built, and just as bored and irritated. The comparison made Ishida flush, flustered that he'd even thought of Ichigo in the context of a boyfriend.
Unfortunately, apparently he wasn't the only one the comparison had been obvious to. "Aw, what's the matter? Lover's quarrel?" one of the two guys taunted them in an overly sugary voice.
"I thought all fags loved shopping," the other one agreed, laughing. "Or are you just having an argument about the perfect colour to match your eyes?"
"C'mon," the first said to their girls. "You don't wanna shop in a store where fags buy stuff. You might end up looking like one."
The girls giggled and blushed, both scandalized and titillated. Ishida ground his teeth, far more angry than embarrassed. It was hardly the first time he'd been called something like that, and really he had to expect it based on his hobbies and his admittedly exquisite fashion sense. That didn't mean he had to put up with it, though. Plenty of bullies who thought the delicate-looking, studious Quincy would be the perfect cowed target had learned differently over the years, and these idiots would just be next in a long line.
He opened his mouth to say something appropriately scathing in return, and nearly choked as the air around him suddenly became too heavy to breathe. It was something he was used to experiencing, but so out of context here in a clothing store in the real world that it took him a moment to identify it. Ichigo's reiatsu had skyrocketed so suddenly and intensely that it seemed to make everything around them shimmer like a heat mirage.
An ordinary person wouldn't be able to see it or feel it, of course, but it would translate as an aura of danger surrounding Ichigo. Accompanied by the tight look on the redhead's face and the cold fire in his narrowed amber eyes, only a completely oblivious idiot could possibly miss the fact that they'd just pissed off someone it would have been better to leave alone.
Ichigo took a step forward, fists clenched, and the jocks actually took a step back. Their girlfriends were smarter than they were; they squeaked and scurried off to the far side of the store like frightened mice, watching from a safe distance with wide eyes. Presumably idiotic pride kept the boys in place, but that wouldn't last long. Ichigo had been intimidating enough when Ishida first met him, when the other boy was nothing more than a delinquent teen who could see ghosts. Now that he'd been honed by more deadly battles than Ishida could count, Ichigo was more than just intimidating. He was terrifying.
"You trying to pick a fight?" Ichigo's voice was low and steady, though the leash on his temper was clearly just this side of slipping. "Sure sounds like it to me. 'Cause if you wanna end up in the hospital, I'll be happy to put you there."
"I... I..." One of the idiots seemed to be having trouble speaking. The other one apparently couldn't manage words at all; he just stood there and trembled, eyes wide as Ichigo's reiatsu flared higher still.
"What, did you think all 'fags' were pushovers?" Ichigo's smile was not a nice one. It was the one he wore just before he made the move that sent Zangetsu plunging into his enemy's body for the final time. "Next time you're thinking about mouthing off or bullying someone, maybe you oughta think about this instead. Now get the hell out of here, I don't have time to bother with fucktards like you."
For just a second, Ishida thought the morons were actually going to be stupid enough to try to keep holding their ground. Then one of them broke and ran, and the other followed a moment later when he realized his friend had left him to face the monster alone.
"Heh." Ichigo's dangerous smile turned satisfied, and his eyes were gleaming as he faced Ishida again. Though he was wearing the clothes he'd started out in, he looked absolutely nothing like a delinquent dorky five-year-old to Ishida anymore. Instead he looked like someone who was confident enough in himself to wear whatever the hell he wanted to, and fuck whatever anyone else thought. He looked like Ichigo, in short. And although Ishida had no doubt Ichigo could scare the shit out of any real world bully even wearing a frilly dress, the clothes he was in now suited his attitude far better than anything Ishida had tried on him today.
"All right, you win," Ishida said. He was a good enough tactician to know when to concede defeat. "We're wasting time here. You wouldn't look like you if you dressed any other way. Even if you are occasionally an eyesore. Let's go to the arcade."
Ichigo looked surprised, but apparently he wasn't inclined to look a gift horse in the mouth because he didn't question Ishida's sudden turn-around. "Finally. First round of games is on you. Only fair, since you've wasted half my damned afternoon."
"It wasn't that long." Despite his exasperation, Ishida was smiling faintly as he gathered his bags and left the store with Ichigo. "Fine, whatever. I suppose you've been uncommonly patient and deserve a reward. But..." He looked sidelong at his companion, wondering if he was about to get his ass kicked. "You... I mean... you're not, are you?"
"What, patient?" Ichigo gave him a disbelieving look, which turned into a snort as understanding dawned. "Oh. That. What the hell difference does it make? They thought I was. Now if they run across some timid queer who can't defend himself, they'll always be wondering if there's a bad-ass boyfriend like me lurking around the corner." He smiled again, clearly very satisfied with himself.
Ishida wondered how many people would believe in the massive softy hidden under Ichigo's tough-as-nails exterior. Times like this, Ishida appreciated being one of the few who got to see under that thick shell.
"Hmm." Sudden inspiration dawned, and Ishida looked at Ichigo with a new eye. "You know, maybe I really was just looking in the wrong store. Soft casual looks don't suit you, but you can look hard without looking like a reject from the eighties..."
"Don't even start!" Ichigo exclaimed. He punched Ishida on the shoulder hard enough to make him stumble. "I like my clothes just fine the way they are, damn it! Lay off, already!"
"Fine, fine," Ishida agreed, aware that he'd long since exceeded Ichigo's tolerance level for the day. In his head, though, he was already making plans. He didn't know much about counter-culture styles, but he could learn easily enough. Punk, leather, industrial; all of those would suit Ichigo's attitude and enhance his look.
Next time he caught Ichigo in a good enough mood - or just enough by surprise - to be able to drag the redhead shopping, Ishida would be much better prepared. He'd get Ichigo into attractive clothes if it killed him... which it just might, considering Ichigo's current attitude towards the whole thing.
But at least Ishida's last sight on earth wouldn't be the giant eyesore that was Kurosaki Ichigo in casual clothes.