Fulfilling renjifan’s prompts ‘adventure’ and ‘hair gel’ as part of a celebratory thank-you in the wake of the ShuuKira community’s opening :) So here's the
Yet another one of my light-hearted fics. I haven't written a humorfic in a while. xD Then again, I've had writer's block for a while. Sorry.
Title: Feverish Burning
Author: Harmony (Silver Harmony)
Characters/Pairing: Hisagi Shuuhei/Kira Izuru.
Disclaimer: Not mine – otherwise this pairing would be canon.
Notes: Cross-posted to shuukira, asterisk_plus, bleach_yaoi and kurosaki_clinic.
Feedback: Very much appreciated, as I would like to write much better Bleach fics. Your concrits mean a lot to me, especially when it tells me what you think of the story and what I can do to improve. Please and thank you.
Summary: An enthusiasm for drink gone wrong.
Although Shuuhei would never admit it, he couldn’t deny that it was maybe a little bit intimidating when Abarai looked down at him the way he was doing now – his eyebrows furrowed, his fists clenching the fabric of his own uniform, his eyes gleaming in irritation. At the foot of the chair in which the Ninth Division vice-captain was sitting, even Rangiku, who was lolling on the floor there, stirred and shifted somewhat restlessly. Then again, she had nothing to worry about; she wasn’t the one who was helplessly covered from head to foot in bandages, pretty much at the mercy of her annoyed kouhai.
‘Seriously,’ the redhead said slowly in a low voice, switching his shadowy gaze between Shuuhei and Kira, who was similarly wrapped up in bandages, sitting on the other side of the room. ‘If you two would actually just shut the hell up about whose fault this was and start telling us what happened to you—’
‘—But I feel so awful,’ interrupted Kira, who turned to face Shuuhei, his features heavy with guilt and regret. He was scratching distantly at his ankle. ‘It was my fault. If I hadn’t been so tactless, Hisagi-san would never have had to endure any of this.’
As soon as Shuuhei heard this, he felt a pang of sympathy and shame well up inside him. He answered darkly: ‘No, it was my fault. I was too stubborn to you, and we ended up like this because of it.’
‘It was never your fault. I’m to blame,’ the blond responded.
‘No, it was because of me.’
‘No, Hisagi-san, I’m responsible.’
‘Kira, it was my fault—’
‘Oh, for fuck’s sake,’ Abarai snapped, throwing his hands up in frustration. He turned towards Hinamori in disbelief. ‘Honestly, can you believe these two?’
‘Sssh, Abarai-kun,’ answered Hinamori calmly. She was sitting together with Kira on the floor, holding one of the blond’s hands in both of her own, stroking the back of his palm reassuringly; she looked at both of the almost-mummified vice-captains with gentle concern. ‘Listen, Kira-kun, Hisagi-san… you do understand what’s happening, don’t you? We can’t blame you for telling Zaraki-Taicho about how you two were drinking with the three of us, but if he’s due to make a report to Yamamoto-Sotaicho about this, Rangiku-san and Abarai-kun and I will need to know what happened to you both last night. After you left together.’
There was a slight pause in which neither Shuuhei or Kira said anything. Shuuhei didn’t particularly want to bring up the incident, after all – it wasn’t something he could think about without feeling utterly humiliated. A strong itch prickled on his forearm, and he reached out to scratch at it. He turned in surprise when he heard Kira groan; the blond was cringing, and Shuuhei instantly knew that his friend felt exactly the way he did.
‘It’s really embarrassing,’ Kira said, his eyes turned to the floor, as if trying to avoid looking at any of them.
‘I’m so sorry,’ Shuuhei uttered under his breath. He cringed and twitched for a moment; his whole torso suddenly felt very itchy.
The blond looked to him in surprise. ‘Don’t be, Hisagi-san! It was my fault—’
‘No, it was my fault—’
‘I may as well go home,’ Abarai cut in impatiently, looking at Rangiku with an expression that made him look as if he’d simply given up. He had actually turned towards the door when the busty vice-captain clicked her tongue impatiently and kicked at his foot; he instantly turned towards her with a dark expression that would have made anyone else cower.
‘Come on, Renji,’ Rangiku gave him a stern look. ‘Give them a break. They just got out of the Fourth Division Infirmary. Goodness knows what the poor things have been through.’
She ignored the redhead’s undisguised mutterings of complaint as she turned her gaze back to Shuuhei.
‘Now,’ she said brightly, her large bosom heaving. ‘You two were going to tell us what happened?’
Really, when Shuuhei thought about it, he supposed that he and Kira didn’t have much to lose. The two of them already looked pretty pathetic the way they were, the whole of their bodies fully covered with bandages, surrounded by the respectively sympathetic, annoyed and curious expressions of their three friends. Kira was scratching at his shoulder with frustration, looking as if he had an unbearable itch.
The dark-haired lieutenant groaned.
‘Alright, alright,’ he gave in. ‘Look… when Kira and I left last night, we didn’t end up going to my house.’
Rangiku and Hinamori looked at him with surprise.
‘We… got caught up elsewhere.’
Kira covered his mouth with his hand as he yawned widely.
‘Sometimes I wish you’d relax,’ Shuuhei frowned at him as he closed Rangiku’s front door behind them. ‘Come on, we all organized to drink together for that very reason. Let go of tension for a while, you know. And here you are, worrying about your work tomorrow. You work so hard.’
‘You can talk,’ the blond retorted. ‘You work harder than anyone I know.’
‘I could say the same for you.’
Kira shook his head; his cheeks were flushed, and Shuuhei knew that he was a little drunk. He regarded his friend’s colored features and sleepy eyes with interest.
‘…Ah, let’s not think about it anymore, Hisagi-san. Thanks for letting me crash at your place. We should both get some sleep. Have a lot of work to do tomorrow.’
The dark-haired vice-captain grinned.
‘See, that’s exactly what I’m talking about. It’s all about work for you. Even when you should be relaxing, you’re thinking about work.’
‘You won’t feel so confident when you’re dying of exhaustion tomorrow,’ the blond retorted, looking at him in amusement. Shuuhei rolled his eyes, but smiled, nonetheless.
With that, they walked out of Tenth Division together, into the road. It was late already, and the streets of Seireitei were empty; only a few shinigami were about, lumbering around rather drowsily for their night watch or any other similar duties. They looked as exhausted as Kira looked. Shuuhei, strangely, still felt quite awake.
They had walked together for a total of about two minutes when they heard some distant gruff voices shouting, and the intense spiking of reiatsu. Kira looked suddenly more awake than before; he looked at Shuuhei, and Shuuhei looked back at him. They knew who it was – Iba and Ikkaku, probably having yet another friendly spar. In the middle of the street, too, from what it sounded like.
The dark-haired lieutenant shook his head.
‘I’m tellin’ ya, I have no idea where he gets ‘em from,’ came Ikkaku’s rough yell, accompanied by the bright silvery ringing of blades clashing. ‘He has a stash, someplace. He never spends anythin’, but one day he’d just pull out another jar like it’s magic, or somethin’.’
‘Wouldn’t mind finding out where.’ That was Iba’s hoarse laugh. ‘If he has an unlimited supply, surely he wouldn’t mind sharing with you. You’re his Third Seat, after all.’
‘’Course he’d mind, dumbass. And you’re just tryin’ to get me to share with you.’
The bright clanging and grunting continued. Kira turned towards Shuuhei, looking puzzled to hear this conversation.
‘Are they talking about sake?’ he whispered.
The dark-haired vice-captain shrugged. ‘Sounds like it.’
They just stood there, together, for some time. The sounds of Iba and Ikkaku’s friendly spar still echoed not too far away from them. Kira’s head was lowered; he seemed rather contemplative about something. Shuuhei had just opened his mouth to ask when the blond, without missing a beat, answered his question.
‘…An unlimited supply,’ he uttered, thoughtful.
Shuuhei broke out into laughter.
‘I can’t believe I’m hearing this,’ he said. ‘I can’t believe I actually just heard you say that. This must be the first time Kira Izuru has ever forgotten work in favor of liquor.’
‘Hisagi-san, I always drink. With you, at that,’ the blond protested.
‘I didn’t say you didn’t,’ Shuuhei grinned. ‘It’s just amusing that a few minutes ago, all you were thinking about was getting enough rest to get to do your duties properly tomorrow.’
Kira frowned to hear this, and seemed to think hard about it.
‘…You’re right, as always,’ he agreed, after a while. ‘Let’s go. We should sleep.’
Shuuhei was still grinning in amusement. ‘Admit it. You were thinking of checking it out.’
‘Of course I was,’ the blond responded, and for a moment, the dark-haired vice captain was surprised that his friend had admitted it so clearly and bluntly. ‘I know that it’s Zaraki-Taicho, but you don’t hear about something like an unlimited stash of liquor and just ignore it. I’m afraid I mightn’t be quite as responsible and mature as you, or as you think, Hisagi-san.’
This rare, rebellious side of Kira was ridiculously endearing for some reason, but that wasn’t on the forefront of Shuuhei’s mind. They stood there wordlessly yet again, while they both thought about this. Nearby, they could hear Ikkaku and Iba indulging themselves in some other topic of conversation. Shuuhei took a quick survey of his surroundings; it was quite late, and very quiet, and he knew that most of Seireitei would be in bed by now…
‘…How is this relevant?’ Abarai demanded. ‘This is boring. We just want to know how you got all those bandages.’
‘We’re getting there, Abarai-kun,’ Kira protested, reaching out to scratch what looked like a terrible itch on his leg. ‘I thought all of you wanted to hear the whole story.’
‘We don’t need to hear the irrelevant parts,’ the redhead retorted.
Hinamori shook her head.
‘Abarai-kun, we need to hear everything,’ she said, idly taking hold of Kira’s wrist to stop him from scratching the side of his neck. ‘If we’re asked to report in and make a statement, we have to know what we’re dealing with.’
‘All of it sounds relevant to me,’ Rangiku purred. ‘It’s entertaining. I can already kind of see where this is heading.’
Shuuhei felt a headache slowly coming on, and slowly began to massage his temples. ‘Yeah, I bet.’
‘…You’re right, Kira.’
The dark-haired vice-captain looked over at him. ‘I said, you’re right. Let’s go check it out.’
‘Hisagi-san,’ the blond said calmly, sounding mild and gentle and looking very, very patient. ‘You do know that it’s Zaraki-Taicho we’re talking about, right?’
Shuuhei raised his eyebrow and pointed out: ‘You were the one who said that we wouldn’t just hear about a stash of liquor and ignore it. Come on, this is interesting. We’ll just check it out. We won’t steal any.’
‘I’m sure,’ answered Kira, crossing his arms.
‘Well – I’m not ready to go to bed yet,’ added Shuuhei, completely ignoring the way Kira had clearly seen through his self-convincing attempt. ‘It won’t take long. Let’s go.’
‘We have work tomorrow—’
Before the blond had even had a chance to finish, the dark-haired lieutenant had turned around in the direction from which they had come. He pulled on Kira’s wrist and began walking towards Eleventh Division, pulling him along.
‘Live a little, Kira,’ he said, turning around briefly to wink at him.
The blond only sighed and nudged at him with his knuckles.
It didn’t actually take them very long to get there; after all, the road was clear and they were both quite wide awake now. Throughout the walk, Shuuhei did actually decide that what they were doing was pretty crazy - maybe he wouldn’t have felt so adventurous if he hadn’t had a drink already. But at the same time, he felt strangely perfectly sane. He wouldn’t admit to himself, though, that it might have partly been a reaction to Kira’s endearing rebelliousness.
He vaguely looked over at the blond; sensing that he was being watched, the blond looked back. Shuuhei smiled at him.
They got past the guards without much trouble. The two guards unlucky enough to have been stationed a night shift at the entrance to the Eleventh Division looked pretty tired and bored themselves; and it wasn’t as if they could be bothered wasting time debating against two vice-captains…
‘…What did you tell them?’ Rangiku asked, stretching, still relaxing on her stomach at the floor near Shuuhei’s feet.
‘“Your Third Seat sent us here”,’ he shrugged, looking down at her. ‘Well, it wasn’t a lie.’
Hinamori chuckled. ‘Clever.’
To Shuuhei’s delight, they even got directions to Captain Zaraki’s lodgings when he asked. He thanked the guards and moved in, with Kira in tow; the guards had barely closed the Division gates again when the blond stopped, clutching suddenly at Shuuhei’s arm.
‘They’re awake,’ he said under his breath. ‘Most of them are awake.’
The dark-haired vice-captain looked around. Kira was right. The main streets in Seireitei may have been quiet; but they had forgotten that the Eleventh Division was often a place of revelry, and that many of the Squad’s shinigami were awake even this late in the night. Almost all the windows in the buildings that surrounded them had light streaming through their windows. Shuuhei could feel all the different reiatsu still stirring, still moving around, and he could very faintly hear the voices of the shinigami inside the buildings.
Kira began pulling at his sleeve.
‘Not a good idea,’ he said, with more urgency to his voice. ‘Let’s leave.’
Shuuhei stopped him. ‘The guards will get even more suspicious if we leave now,’ he reasoned under his breath. ‘We just came in. We may as well have a quick look. We’re already here, anyway.’
The blond gave him a sudden pleading look that made him almost automatically say fine, Kira - anything you want. He blinked. He shook his head of that thought; he had no idea where that even came from.
‘Let’s go. I’m still curious. We’ll be fast,’ he murmured. ‘After this, we’ll leave.’
He turned around and began walking, and only felt relieved when he heard the crunch of the blond’s hesitant footsteps behind him, following him. It was true that he was still curious; but now, seeing that half of the Division was still awake, he felt a lot more wary than before. He walked quickly, but tried to look confident as he did so; one or two shinigami passed them along the way, and he greeted them normally, as if he and Kira were meant to be there. Behind him, Kira said nothing.
It only took them a matter of minutes to reach Captain Zaraki and Lieutenant Kusajishi’s lodgings. It was a small house – very simple – a building that looked like its purpose was just to provide a roof over their heads, with nothing lavish; it certainly didn’t look like it could hold enough space for a secret stash.
Shuuhei looked at the house in confusion, with his hands on his hips.
‘This house isn’t even worth peeking through the window,’ he said, and immediately felt guilty afterwards for saying it. ‘Not that we wouldn’t get killed by Zaraki-Taicho if we did.’
‘Yeah. The lights are on – he must be at home.’
They stood there helplessly for a moment.
‘…Maybe it’s in Zaraki-Taicho’s office,’ Kira suggested. ‘Not that I’m advocating that we poke around there, because it’d surely be locked up already. But Ikkaku-san did say something about him just pulling a jar out occasionally. Sounds like he might keep some in the office, in a drawer.’
‘Zaraki-Taicho doesn’t look like someone who spends a lot of time in the office, though,’ the dark-haired shinigami answered, raising an eyebrow.
The blond laughed at this. ‘You’re right.’
Shuuhei grinned at him. It was rare, these days, seeing Kira laugh, and it was always a welcome sight. He was glad that the blond had seemed to relax; he was even gladder, somehow, and content, to think that it was Kira with him at this moment, and not someone else.
‘Well… you never know. He might have a locked drawer in there that only he can open. So, Hisagi-san?’ asked Kira, clapping his shoulder with a small smile.
‘Sure, let’s go,’ he answered. ‘You’re right. It probably isn’t a good idea to poke around in—’
He suddenly stopped.
‘…Hisagi-san?’ Kira asked.
There was a separate rooftop, right behind the main house. It was a building only slightly taller than the main house; Shuuhei had thought, at first glance, that it was a different property. The house in front of it was blocking his view. He took a few steps sideways, to get a better look at the building.
The rooftops and walls, in its patterns and coloring, matched, even though it was a separate building. Shuuhei wasn’t sure, but it certainly looked like it was part of the same property. It was dark; not even the faintest trace of light streamed through its windows.
There was no doubt that there was no-one inside.
‘You don’t think…’
‘Ah,’ interrupted Kira, looking at the building with interest. ‘I remember Yumichika-san telling me about that. He told me that he thought that the house behind Zaraki-Taicho’s main lodgings must be where the captain kept all his hair gel, because he knew that Zaraki-Taicho takes even longer than him to get his hair done, and that the captain often locked himself in there for hours. Everyone in Eleventh Division is too scared to go in there – only Unohana-Taicho’s been seen going in, on occasion.’
‘Kusajishi in the vice-captain meetings. She always talks about how Zaraki-Taicho sometimes drinks with Unohana-Taicho,’ Shuuhei said, pointing his finger at it. ‘That’s it. That’s it, Kira.’
The blond’s eyes suddenly widened.
‘You think so?’
‘It has to be,’ the dark-haired lieutenant answered. ‘Look how big the building is. Think of how much sake he must have in there.’
Kira looked at him mock-disapprovingly. ‘You really sound like you don’t plan on stealing any, Hisagi-san.’
‘I don’t,’ he insisted. ‘But it’s pretty fascinating, don’t you think? An endless supply of liquor? Even you can’t deny you’re at least a little curious.’
‘To be honest, no,’ the blond shook his head, frowning. ‘Now that we’re this close to it… I can’t really deny it.’
Shuuhei almost burst into laughter.
‘Come on, then,’ he grinned, glad that Kira was pretty much on his side now, for the most part. ‘We’ll take a peek.’
Together, the two of them took the small side path that led to the building behind, careful to keep under the cover of the darkness. They crept as quietly as they could; Shuuhei deduced that he probably wouldn’t be here, creeping around like some kind of burglar, if he hadn’t had anything to drink before. It was completely insane, and strangely thrilling at the same time.
As they passed the house at the front, they saw through the side window that Kusajishi was already curled up in her futon, asleep, and that Captain Zaraki was still ambling around the room, wide awake.
They were careful to suppress their reiatsu as much as they could, hoping that they were totally undetectable.
Their hearts only stopped beating so loudly when they finally reached the door to the building. Shuuhei reached out to the doorknob, and turned it; it was unlocked.
Everyone in Eleventh Division is too scared to go in there.
‘We’re in luck,’ he whispered, looking back at Kira with a victorious smile.
‘Not totally,’ the blond whispered back, pointing at the Keep Out, Bastards sign stuck to the door. ‘Quickly, in. Otherwise someone might see us.’
They slid inside quietly, and Shuuhei carefully closed the door behind them. It was very dark inside. However, despite this, Kira must have immediately seen something, because his gasp filled the silence of the musty air around them.
The dark-haired vice-captain whirled around in reaction; his eyes were beginning to adjust to the blackness. And soon enough, he discovered that he had indeed been right. Barrels upon barrels came into his eyes’ focus; in the dark, he could just faintly make out the word ‘sake’ scratched onto the side of each barrel. His eyes widened. This was a storage building, from what he could see; it was only one room, and stacks of barrels lined its walls.
They walked further in, looking around in awe. Never in their wildest dreams had they ever seen so much sake in such a small space before. Kira was right. The dark-haired lieutenant had to fight with himself to keep from lifting one of the barrels.
‘This is unbelievable,’ the blond said.
Shuuhei was so stunned that he could barely speak. It really was unbelievable. It was unbelievable, first of all, that they were even here, that they were led here just because of a conversation they’d unintentionally eavesdropped upon. It was unbelievable that they’d even dared to enter a building that was declared off-limits by such an intimidating captain. And it was totally unbelievable that here, in front of their eyes, lay a secret, limitless supply of liquor, just as they’d perhaps only half-believed.
They had come here, to see if it was true, and here it all was, right in front of their eyes.
The dark-haired lieutenant walked around, looking at the barrels. Dust filmed some of them; he traced a line on the surface of one of the barrels with his fingertip.
‘Hisagi-san,' Kira’s voice suddenly said. ‘Come, look at this.’
He turned around, and walked over to where Kira was standing. The blond pointed at the barrels in front of him. It was only then that Shuuhei realized that this particular section of barrels was marked differently.
‘Not For Pussies. Keep Your Fucking Hands Off,’ he read the labels aloud. ‘What do you suppose is in there?’
‘Probably a different brand of liquor. Maybe something stronger,’ the blond mused. ‘Let’s open one. I’m curious.’
Shuuhei chuckled. ‘Are you Kira Izuru? I can’t believe you actually just said that.’
‘I’m not going to drink any of it,’ Kira elbowed him playfully, in mock-scorn. ‘We’re already here. We may as well take a look.’
‘Hey – maybe it’s something dangerous. It’s not marked as sake, so it might not be sake,’ Shuuhei suddenly warned. ‘Be careful.’
The blond grinned at him, reaching out to lift one of the topmost barrels in front, which was at a height just a little taller than they were.
‘We’re in a room full of sake. What else could it be? It surely—’
Before he even finished speaking, the barrel’s lid came sliding off and crashed loudly on the ground between them; the barrel itself slipped from Kira’s fingers, and toppled over on its side. A cry was ripped out of both of their throats as a thick fragrant liquid spilled over them both, the barrel emptying itself over them before rolling sideways and falling to the ground with a loud thud, the noise echoing in the space around them.
Shuuhei looked at the other shinigami with complete shock; a goopy greenish liquid was dripping from both of them. Kira, with his facial expression, resembled a blond, wet pup after an unwanted bath. The dark-haired vice-captain was sure he must have looked pretty much the same.
And then, suddenly, his skin began to prickle.
‘…And?’ Abarai asked. He and Rangiku were quickly getting interested in the story now; and Shuuhei thought they would’ve been, especially where sake was concerned. Hinamori was also sitting quietly with Kira, listening to his story intently, her eyes wide.
He looked over at the blond, who suddenly began blushing.
‘…And… well, that’s it.’
‘What?’ Abarai asked. ‘No way, Hisagi-san. You expect us to believe that's it?’
‘No… no, that’s it,’ he answered, feeling his face grow hot; he knew he was blushing, too, and quickly turned his eyes to his lap. ‘So… we left, but we got caught, and we had to explain ourselves. Then we went to Fourth Division to get our skin treated from the gunk. Got bandaged to keep us from infection and scratching. That’s it.’
Abarai and Rangiku looked at each other.
‘I don’t believe him,’ the redhead said.
‘Neither do I,’ Rangiku pouted. ‘There must be more to it than that.’
‘No,’ answered Kira, covering his mouth with his hand. ‘That… was it. Really.’
‘Oh, shit,’ Shuuhei swore. A searing itch tore through his skin; he reached up and began scratching at his forearm. ‘What the hell is this? It’s itchy!’
Kira suddenly ripped into his own shihakusho to scratch at his torso, and Shuuhei could see, even in the darkness, how red the skin of his chest had turned.
‘It’s – the muck is burning through the fabric.’
‘Shit. Crap,’ the dark-haired lieutenant kept swearing; he could feel, now, exactly what Kira was talking about. Whatever the goopy fluid was, it was seeping through his uniform, making it stick to his skin, and the fabric rubbing against it made him even itchier. The material scraping against his legs was hot, like a burning, and left him unbelievably itchy. He instantly tore at his own hakama, struggling to take it off, to scratch at his legs.
‘My thighs,’ the blond cried. He started pulling at his obi. ‘They’re burning—’
And suddenly, in his panic, he slipped on the puddle of gunk that had pooled around their feet. He toppled over. He thrust his hands in front of him; he landed on his hands, and one of his knees.
‘Kira!’ Shuuhei yelled. He knelt down, to help him up; however, the blond didn’t even notice, scratching furiously now at his hands, which were covered in the liquid.
‘Oh. It’s – help me—’ the blond gasped, his fingers moving back towards his hips; his fingernails began scraping feverishly at them. ‘It – it’s burning – I can’t—’
Shuuhei was itching all over, and he could see his own skin turning beet red, but he didn’t spare a second thought, not when Kira was begging him like this. He pushed Kira back, so that the other shinigami was sitting on the floor, and instantly began to pull at the blond's obi. Kira was still struggling to tear his own shihakusho from his shoulders, scratching hard at his collarbone.
‘Hisagi-san, hurry,’ he said urgently, practically whimpering as he clutched at Shuuhei’s wrist. ‘Please, take it off – I need – oh, God—’
‘—WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS?’
In horror, they both turned their heads to the doorway. And there, watching them sprawled half-naked and panting on the floor in a pool of green muck, was an irate-looking Captain Zaraki, his hands crossed at his chest and a murderous look on his face.
Standing behind the captain, Shuuhei didn’t think that Ikkaku and Ayasegawa even noticed that he and Kira were scratching themselves, because they were too busy blushing and covering their mouths with their hands.
An uncomfortable silence fell over the room. Shuuhei sat there quietly, scratching idly at his bandaged shoulder. Kira’s eyes were turned to the floor. The stares of the other three vice-captains were getting very uncomfortable; the dark-haired lieutenant knew that there was a lot that they wanted to ask. But there was no way in hell that he was going to say anything.
‘You do know that we’re just going to sit right here until you tell us exactly what happened, right?’ said Abarai pointedly. ‘You can’t be acting like that and convince us that there’s not more to it.’
‘I don’t believe that you just walked out of there, got questioned, went to Fourth Division and that was it, either,’ added Rangiku. ‘Something must’ve happened in that room, before that. What was it?’
‘Seriously, Matsumoto-san,’ he cringed. ‘Just let it go.’
The Tenth Division vice-captain’s eyebrows furrowed in protest; she opened her mouth, then, to begin attempting to goad the truth stubbornly out of them. However, she had barely had time to do this before a loud knock sounded on the front door, interrupting her. Shuuhei almost cheered. He saw, too, that Kira’s face had changed into an expression of relief.
‘Come in,’ he called.
The door slowly swung open, and in came Madarame Ikkaku and Ayasegawa Yumichika; the former looked uncomfortable, with his hands in his pockets, and the latter looked slightly amused, with one lazy hand on his hip. They eyed both Shuuhei and Kira as they walked in.
‘The captain won’t charge ya for trespassin’,’ Ikkaku said outright.
The two bandaged vice-captains both sat up straight; Rangiku, Abarai and Hinamori looked at the bald shinigami with surprise. Behind the Third Seat, Ayasegawa raised a playful eyebrow. He was clearly interested at their reactions.
‘But… but last night, he was so mad,’ said Kira. ‘How come?’
‘He has his reasons,’ answered Ayasegawa smugly, crossing his arms. ‘The most important one being the fact that he wouldn’t want Yamamoto-Sotaicho to confiscate all his booze. Unohana-Taicho wouldn’t be happy about that. They’re both quite proud of their collection, it seems.’
Kira and Shuuhei looked at each other with wide eyes.
‘So, he said he won’t make a report. But he does want compensation for the barrel of hair gel that you wasted. He said that it was Unohana-Taicho’s secret recipe… I’m pretty impressed, actually. Apparently only the thickest of skins, the strongest of scalps, can tolerate it.’
‘Save the health and beauty report for later, Yumichika,’ Ikkaku cut in, before turning back to the two bandaged shinigami. ‘So, he’ll put that barrel on your tab.’
‘Sure, we’ll pay,’ said Kira immediately; he was obviously relieved that this was all that they were going to be penalized with, because all the tension that had crossed his face suddenly began to ease. Shuuhei, too, nodded. He felt the way the blond looked, and was glad for it.
Ikkaku nodded back in approval, looking sideways at the Fifth Seat near him. ‘Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Thanks to the both of ya for pointin’ out the way to his secret stash of sake, though. That’s a mystery I’ve been tryin’ to crack for a while.’
‘His secret stash of sake and hair gel, you mean,’ Ayasegawa corrected.
The Third Seat rolled his eyes, and turned on his heel. ‘Whatever. Come on.’
‘Thank you, Ikkaku-san, Yumichika-san,’ Kira called out.
Ikkaku lifted a hand; Shuuhei wasn’t sure whether the gesture meant you’re welcome, or get bent – probably a bit of both. The two Eleventh Squad officers began walking off without another word as Abarai, Rangiku and Hinamori said goodbye to them.
Suddenly, however, Ikkaku stopped while he was halfway out the door.
‘Also…’ he said, turning around slowly, ‘the captain said he’d appreciate it if both of ya’d never – well, ya know – engage in that kinda thing in front of him, around him or near him ever again.’
Shuuhei and Kira both groaned. The relief that had, for a moment, distracted them from their embarrassment couldn’t have dissipated faster. The Third Seat took their dark looks as his cue and walked out, closing the door behind him.
An awkward silence filled the area that they left behind. For a few moments, no one said anything; Shuuhei was relieved, because he didn’t really want to say anything – and he was fairly sure Kira didn’t, either. However, it was Rangiku who ended up breaking the silence, looking between Shuuhei and Kira interestedly.
‘Engage in what?’
‘Don’t ask,’ the two of them said, in perfect synchronization.
They both ended up getting the day off work that day; after their three friends had left, Kira stayed there at Shuuhei’s house for the whole day, resting together with him, claiming that he would never drink again.
But they still cracked open a jar of sake to pass the time, the only jar left in the house – and bitched about how they should really have access to some magically limitless supply.