“Just wait a moment, Ichi-nii!”
Ichigo halts during his movements to close the door, twisting his hand into a more comfortable position so it wouldn’t cramp up. He was already running late for morning football practice, not that he was actually bothered, but the team had paid him, so it would be pretty unjust not to show up.
He waits a little longer, impatience starting to get the better of him.
“Yuzu, I gotta go, what is it? Do you want me to get you something after school? Is there -” A container is brandished in front of his face and he stops, remembering that he’d left it in the fridge last night.
“Oh. Right, thanks Yuzu.”
“I can’t believe you forgot about your lunch” His sister admonished, staring up at him with furrows between her brows and hands on her hips. “You won’t be able to concentrate on an empty stomach, and then you’d make dad cry because of all your failed tests!”
Ichigo fights the urge to roll his eyes, jeez what’s up with his little sisters always trying to act like they were older than him. Shouldn’t he be the one giving advice?
He reaches out a finger and pokes her on the forehead.
“You shouldn’t frown so much at your age, you’ll get wrinkles.” Turning around, he starts to run on the familiar route he’d taken for the past few years. Yuzu’s answering cry reaches his ears.
“You’re one to talk!”
His elbow twinges for the sixth time so staring hard at the joint Ichigo finally locates the source of his annoyance. Hm, seems to be a splinter lodged in there. Ah well.
His teammates swarm the locker room, chatting excitedly about the injury the goalie had gotten as well as debating what exactly the answer to question 7 is on a Biology test. Some of them pause in their movements to call out praise or ask if he was coming to the upcoming practices.
Shoving his towel into his locker, Ichigo trudges out of the gym after answering their questions half-heartedly; he struggles to remember whether the name of the last guy he’d replied to was Kai or Ken.
An eyebrow twitches in annoyance as he rounds the corner leading to his classroom, bumping into a younger student who squeaks after taking a look at his face. Ichigo watches them pick up speed and scoffs. It just so happened that his expression was a everlasting frown, for awhile he’d in fact tried smiling but that only seemed to increase the fear, it didn’t help that this one time he managed to confuse the Karakura Superheroes into thinking he was Kon.
Knocking on the classroom door only greets him with silence so he steps into the room.
Huh, so he’d actually come early for once. Fourteen minutes to be exact after a quick glance at the clock, he’d never been so early to anything in his life. He wasn’t sure if he liked it.
After a minute or so, distant sounds rouse him from where his head lays pressed against his desk. Looking towards the open window, he moves closer and immediately matches faces to the voices he hears conversing in low tones - Chad and Ishida.
Instinctively, he lowers his reiatsu further to peek down at the duo standing secluded by an old tree.
“- Sado-kun, you can’t possibly be thinking that I tell him.” Ishida is flustered, more so than Ichigo has ever seen him. “I would never humiliate myself like that on purpose.”
Chad speaks slowly but firmly in answer, surprising Ichigo. If Chad was giving advice then this must be important.
“You’d be surprised at what he’ll say.”
A quick shake of the head leaves hair to come loose form behind the Quincy’s ear, Ichigo’s eyes linger on the way the strands frame that slender looking visage. He almost doesn’t hear the other boy respond as he recalls that face unguarded, raw with emotion, so far from the usual rigid manner.
If only he could obtain that for himself. The openness.
“I wasn’t planning on telling him...and I won’t. It’s better this way.” Ishida’s tone has changed into something Ichigo can’t place.
“You mean it’s easier this way, to not risk rejection. Feelings like this shouldn’t be kept to one person, so please talk to him.”
Chad gives the shorter male a long measured stare before flicking his eyes upwards. The Shinigami barely ducks in time, moving back into his seat.
That was close.
Feelings like this? Rejection? That sounded like...
The lesson is his favourite, an insight into character analysis of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. He should be giving his all in staying alert and engaged but somehow a different stream of words flutter about at the forefront of his mind instead of the ones on the board.
Ishida liked someone. Ishida liked someone. As in, he had feelings for someone. In fact, he liked a guy. Though, that didn’t seem at all unexpected.
He lifts his head from staring at his notebook, from where he’d scrawled randomly to make it look like he was working to glower at the back of that raven head, eyeing the sleek locks and narrow shoulders. After staring for a while longer those shoulders stiffen, causing a smirk to appear on Ichigo’s face. It was so easy to rile him up. Fun too - even when Ishida managed to rile him up in return.
But who did Ishida like?
The smirk disappears.
Chad? No, it couldn’t be. It would be way too risky to ask for relationship advice from the guy you liked. Or at least, that’s what he’d seen in a drama Yuzu had made him watch. Besides, he was sure that they were speaking about someone else. The feeling had seemed genuine on the Quincy’s face, and for some reason that annoyed him. Why would Ishida like some guy? It couldn’t be someone in this classroom right?
For the first time in months, Ichigo focuses on the individuals sitting in their chairs.
Studying them, he concentrates on exactly what traits they may have that appeal to the Quincy, was it something in their personalities and looks? Trying to figure it out is troubling itself; because Ishida is always maintaining a gracious facade to everyone he spoke to...everyone excluding himself it seemed.
Bleh. As if he wanted Ishida to be nice to him.
Copying down a few bullet points he goes back to his observation after grimacing at his handwriting. Looks like I’ll be spending more time trying to decode what the hell I’ve written rather than actually doing homework. Ah well.
Mizuro? Whether it was due to all those girlfriends the guy had or because he didn’t seem Ishida’s type, it just didn’t ring any bells. Didn’t Ishida once introduce an upperclass girl to him too?
What about that guy in Ishida’s archery class? The one who the Quincy spoke regularly to? He was tall and muscular and looked similar to Renji, so maybe that was Ishida’s type. But didn’t that guy already have someone...
Keigo? This one made Ichigo pause.
After it was discovered that Ichigo’s friends were being affected by his powers, everyone had decided to be let in on knowing about Soul Society and what went on (with Tatsuki aggressively needling him about the dangers he’d brought to Orihime).
And as much as it relieved Ichigo to be free of the burden of keeping his part time job a secret, it baffled him too. Urahara had insisted on having everyone stay close knit and offered work placements in his shop with a sly demeanour.
As stupid as the offer was, Keigo accepted and was placed into working shifts with Ishida. And Ichigo wouldn’t have known how well the two were getting along if it hadn’t been for Urahara, who remarked constantly about them with specific looks in Ichigo’s direction, once he’d given a strange line: “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer”. Oddly enough, Urahara’s weird line would echo in his mind so he made frequent trips after school to the shop, much to the ex-Shinigami’s amusement.
Man, but Ishida could like anyone though. There were tons of guys he’d meet working at the shop too. Lost in his thoughts, Ichigo comes up with another consideration before he can stop it.
Maybe Ishida liked – no, no. Not going there.
Curious looks are thrown at him as he waits outside the classroom, hands in his pockets, back pressed against the wall.
Ichigo watches the door with feigned casualness, though inwardly he fumes at how long the other is taking. The rest of his classmates had cleared out instantly after the bell rang but the bespectacled boy had remained in his seat to speak to the teacher, neatly placing his things in his bag so unlike Ichigo’s crammed booklets and stationary.
He’s sure he’s bent half the pages in his haste.
After what seems like aeons Ishida finally comes out...and proceeds to walk right past him, eyes locked onto his phone.
“Hey.” He tries to make his tone amicable but some of his annoyance at having to wait so long leaks into the word. The Quincy looks over his shoulder, waiting for him to continue.
“Come have lunch with us on the roof.”
Ishida rolls his eyes and sighs.
“You could at least phrase it as a question Kurosaki.”
“So? Is that a yes?”
Ishida sighs again, shifting his bag on his shoulder.
“What, why can’t you? We’re your friends aren’t we?” Ichigo’s tone has now become defensive; he pushes off of the wall to stand in front on the other, continuing to keep his hands in his pockets.
“Just because you happen to be my friends doesn’t mean I have to follow you on your every whim Kurosaki.”
“Well, why can’t you?”
“Why can’t I what? Follow you on your every whim or have lunch with you?” Ishida’s hand comes up to push his glasses upwards. The glint of his silver bracelet catches Ichigo’s eyes, half hidden underneath the dark sleeve of Ishida’s sweater and he is suddenly reminded of how much he dislikes it when Ishida hides himself behind that motion.
“I obviously meant the second one dammit Ishida!”
“Keep your voice down Kurosaki.” Ishida sighs once more, this time in exasperation. The trickle of students walking down the corridor has stemmed, but the few who do remain cast wary looks in their direction. Two girls are whispering excitedly to one another, every five seconds they curiously steal a look at them.
“Don’t tell me what to do!”
“Then don’t tell me to keep my voice down!”
“Fine, I’m leaving.” Ishida moves around Ichigo to exit the corridor’s doorway but a grip on his wrist stops him in his tracks and forcefully spins him backwards.
Ichigo doesn’t mean to pull so hard but evidently he has underestimated his strength, the shorter boy’s phone lands on the carpet with a dull thud, facing upwards while he himself stumbles into a warm chest. The Shinigami reacts, wrapping an arm around his waist to steady him.
One of the girls lets out a strangled squeal, much to his confusion.
They stay frozen, standing there like that. Every fibre of Ichigo’s being says he should do something, say something, but a clear command has yet to enter his mind. His thoughts stutter like white noise and it’s only the sharp slap of reality that draws him out of his state.
Ishida is pushing away from him, furiously tucking his hair back from his face to glare openly at him. The Quincy opens his mouth, no doubt to berate him on unwanted physical contact but is interrupted by a familiar notification sound.
They glance down at Ishida’s screen, which buzzes highlighted with a text and Ichigo catches sight of a name before it’s picked up.
Ishida looks as if he wants to continue but instead focuses back on his phone.
“We’ll speak later Kurosaki.”
The Shinigami is left stationed still with a hammering heart, wondering. Just who the hell is Kenji?