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"I'm gonna ask if he's a shinigami."

Keigo and Chizuru-senpai barely get to Arisawa before she goes charging on. At their feet a little terrier mutt and a hare are bouncing desperately to keep a honey badger from bulldozering right through them.

She still drags them a couple feet forward, mind; she only stops when Mizuiro clears his throat and steps in her way, smiling winsomely.

"I didn't know you would go so far to get detention with Ichigo, but approaching the yakuza-looking young man while Kagine-sensei is about to go charging in would certainly do it. Good plan, Arisawa-san, good plan."

Keigo only breathes when Kisaki sits with a disgruntled sort of harrumph, and hurriedly lets go of Arisawa's arm before she can uppercut him with it. He checks over his shoulder quickly, trying not to look like he's staring.

This time around the man with the sky-blue hair and his panther daemon aren't blocking the gate out of the school yard; they're conspicuously leaning against the wall on the other side of the street. The man even has his hands tucked behind his back to lean on, projecting 'I'm harmless'... well, projecting it really badly, honestly. In fact he's mostly projecting 'I'm feeling too lazy to chase you down but do come in arm's reach, because I'm still hungry'.

Kagine-sensei and his bulldog are standing under the gallery, the man with his arms crossed forbiddingly and the dog sitting with his head low, all the way across the courtyard but still pretty much facing them straight on.

The panther is washing her face.

To be honest Keigo knows why Arisawa reacted like that. The guy isn't invisible or anything and he's dressed fairly normally (okay, the lack of jacket in winter is a bit, uh, get dressed, dude) but he pings odd, even worse than the bald dude who gave Keigo a brain aneurysm by accidentally seducing his sister.

And it's been almost a year since the Thing Nobody Talks About and the start of the Brood Olympics, and yet this week every time Ichigo wanders off for detention -- detention he received for fighting on school grounds with Scary Blue Panther Dude -- he's friggin' smiling. One time Keigo's Yoshie heard Rikuto hum a song. Neither Kurosaki has ever hummed a song. Ever. It makes no sense.

It makes a lot of sense if the guy is a shinigami.

But. Hrrm. Ehem. Mngh.

A big black daemon bounces through the yard, ignoring their little group entirely as she goes straight for the gate. Her person races after her to catch up, orange-haired and scowling almost as an afterthought.

"Grimmjow, what the fuck," Ichigo calls out as he slows down before the gate, "you're not supposed to come here!"

Blue Guy ambles closer casually, answers something they can't hear at this distance. Arisawa and Chizuru-senpai look at each other and then Chizuru-senpai slowly and deliberately lets go of her arm.

Well. As long as Ichigo is there. Keigo follows, wincing, at the back of the group, as they wander closer along the wall at an angle supposed to hide their approach.

"That's some fine rules lawyering," Mizuiro's little monkey daemon mutters from her perch on his shoulder, tail coiled around his neck.

Keigo blinks, and then snorts. Ichigo is standing with his arms crossed forbiddingly and his toes right on the gate line. Rikuto, meanwhile, has hopped up on her back legs and hooked a big heavy front paw around the panther's neck to drag her closer, so that she's about seventy percent over the line but not, technically, out of the yard either.

Blue guy is smirking like a douchebag.

"--And I'm gonna get another week of detention at this rate -- hey, it's not funny--"

"So I'm being a huge fucking nuisance, huh."


Blue guy smirks down at Ichigo some more; Ichigo glowers back, brow furrowed canyon-deep and weight on the balls of his feet like he's ready to throw down -- and in the silence between them Keigo and the rest hear the rise of a perfect, rusty, deep-chested purr.

Blue Guy bursts into mad cackles, leaning hard on the side of the gate. Ichigo takes all of three seconds to turn a violent red. Keigo has half his hand stuffed down his mouth and still shrieks.

He gets elbowed by like three people to keep him quiet. Ow.

"Ohmygod," his Yoshie squeaks, eyes just as wide as his. At Keigo's side Chizuru-senpai is holding both fists up by her shoulders and grinning like a demon. It's terrifying.

"That's a guy I knew it--"

"Knew what?!" Arisawa splutters.

"One of us, one of us!" Chizuru-senpai's hare starts chanting, bouncing around her feet. "One of us, one of us!" Chizuru-senpai herself starts up on.

Arisawa predictably punches her in the arm with one of her Heaven's Punishment side-hooks. Chizuru-senpai barely goes 'oof'. That woman is insanely resilient, it's kinda terrifying.

"Kurosaki Ichigo is a fellow gay," she intones, deep-chested like a demon. "And now Hime-chan shall be ours!"

Then Arisawa suplexes her into the grass around the nearest tree.

Keigo meets Mizuiro's eyes and they both casually sidestep well away from the sudden death match. If that takes them a bit closer to the gate, hey. Total coincidence. Cough.

... Kagine-sensei is stalking in. Gack. Keigo turns to Ichigo, ready to hiss out a warning even though that's gonna bring the attention of Blue Maybe-Shinigami Panther Dude down onto him.

Blue Maybe-Shinigami Panther Dude is still leaning against the side of the gate all loose and smiling, and his eyes are hooded as he looks into Ichigo's face and yet also... Um.

Like, if he was bald and looked at his sister like that, Keigo would call his parents to ask what they think of becoming grandparents.

"Aaah, damn, I actually don't remember a time I laughed that hard. Nice."

The way Ichigo looks back is also...


U. M.

"Kurosaki!" Kagine-sensei snaps.

"--oh, damn it. Sensei! Hey. Did you meet my good friend Gri -- Giru....maru. We're in a meeting group together for people with panther daemons."

"Are you kidding me, that's the delinquent you were brawling with last week!"

"... We were maybe a little excessive in our usual greetings of friendship. So I agree the detention was totally deserved--"

"A detention you're supposed to serve right now!"

A heavy sigh. "Yeah, yeah, I'm going."

Ichigo turns -- sees them, blinks, waves carelessly with just his fingertips, thumbs still in his pockets. His face is still all relaxed -- not smiling anymore but it's not difficult to imagine it smiling either. It's so strange.

"Our little sourpuss is all grown up," Keigo cries on Mizuiro's free shoulder as Ichigo wanders off back to his detention room. Mizuiro pats his head absently, looking at his cell phone.

(It's weird that Kagine-sensei hasn't said a single thing to Blue Guy. When Keigo looks back at the gate he finds them still staring each other down, Blue Guy looking carelessly amused. Jesus the sculpted muscles on that guy's arms, he really should wear a jacket over his t-shirt, he's gonna give Keigo a complex. If this is the kind of guy Ichigo goes for then damn but he has expensive tastes.)

"Alright," Arisawa barks as she joins them, still dusting herself off. "We saw nothing."

"Hmm," Mizuiro goes. "Yes, they need some time to actually hook up. Wouldn't do to spook Ichigo before that."

"... But after that," Arisawa mutters darkly, throwing the gate and the guy lazily pushing away from it a suspicious look. "I swear to God if I have to protect another too-trusting friend from shitty asshole men and that friend is Ichigo--"

"--How is Ichigo too trusting," Keigo chokes out.

"Have you seen who he runs around with," she retorts with flat disbelief. "Ghosts, monsters, gods of death and who even knows what else -- oh, if it's about his sisters or Orihime he's suspicious as a demon but about himself? Hey, I punched you once, and you punched me back, I can trust you with my life now, right? How is that not completely naive?! Doesn't that guy look like the cliché douchebag your parents warned you about?"

Keigo and Mizuiro nod despite themselves, daemons cowering slightly as her honey badger stomps around. Arisawa crosses her arms and lifts her chin, vindicated.

"But of course no one would have thought to warn Ichigo. Ugh. Someone has to give him the talk."

Keigo clears his throat. "Uh, after they've hooked up?"

"... Well, contrary to Orihime, Ichigo can probably punch his face in himself if he pulls a love 'em and leave 'em."

"Also it's not like boys have any purity to preserve," Chizuru-senpai adds, joining them. There's grass all over her hair.

Keigo makes a noise of protest. "Hey, I'll have you know I'm very p -- uh, forget I said anything."

His three friends stare at him blankly, and don't say a single V-starting word, but he can hear it anyway and wilts a little bit.

"Anyway," Mizuiro says dismissively. "We saw nothing for now, but let's schedule an interrogation for the first of next month?"

Arisawa nods slowly. "Yeah, might as well."

The group breaks apart, the girls going to their after-school clubs as Keigo and his best friend walk out of the finally empty school gate. Keigo can't help cackling a little.

"A boyfriend! A bad boy boyfriend! Ichigo with a boyfriend -- oh my god they've got matching daemons, too, that's ridiculous. And matching weirdass hair and matching craziness about punching and bleeding out -- I can't believe it. Ichigo dating!"

"Yes, now he's guaranteed to lose his virginity before you," Mizuiro says, light like an assassin's blade.

Keigo and Yoshie stop in the middle of the sidewalk, goggling with shocked betrayal.

"It's going to upset all the betting pools."

"--Okay, I'm with Arisawa, he cannot date before he is twenty."

Mizuiro and his daemon turn to give them matching sorry looks. "Oh, dear, did you really expect you would lose it before you were twenty?"

Keigo's best friend walks away with his Akane riding unconcerned on his shoulder, leaving Keigo and Yoshie crumpled in tears in the street.

When they look up Blue Guy is sitting on a low wall past the very first corner from their school with some other, massive guy, and his panther watches them unblinking like she's vaguely considering dinner.

Keigo could admit to having overheard and scope out the guy his good friend is breaking into soft-eyed smiles over, but he chooses the better part of valor, picks up his daemon, and absconds hurriedly.