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Pei Yi ([personal profile] lacewood) wrote in [community profile] toxicskyremix2006-01-08 05:31 pm
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bleach - the only adventure: one

Part One: All Aboard!



Kurosaki Ichigo, aged fifteen, sat on Platform 4 of the Karakura train station and ticked off, on his fingers, all the reasons he could think of for Killing His Goddamned Father. One, the old man was /crazy/. Two, it would be doing the world a FAVOUR. Three, it couldn't be healthy for Karin and Yuzu to grow up with a lunatic in the house. Four, people who thought that jumping on their sons while wearing yellow and purple striped pajamas was an indispensable family bonding ritual had to be put away for their own good before their sons /killed them/. Six, who the /hell/ enrolled their son in a military academy /without telling them/?

Seven, and then accused their son of dishonourable conduct with women so they could use it as an excuse to send them to said goddamn military academy? And it wasn't as if Ichigo had been /doing anything/ other than talk to Orihime. Or that it'd been /his/ fault that she'd tripped on the stairs and /fallen/ on him. Or that he'd /caught her/ - (what was he supposed to do, let her fall?) And -

"So. Think boot camp'll be fun?" Karin asked beside him, derailing him from reason nine, killing him would make Ichigo feel better. He considered ten, Karin would approve. And probably help too.

On the other hand, she sounded entirely too cheerful about the whole thing. A bloody-minded kind of cheerful, true, but still cheerful. Ichigo scowled. "Oh, I can't wait," he said.

"Karin," Yuzu said, a little reproachful. "Don't talk like that! I'm sure it's a nice place, Seireitei Academy is the best school in the country!"

Reasons to /not/ kill his father: one, Yuzu would be upset. Two, mother wouldn't have approved. But mostly, Yuzu would be upset.

"You two should be in school, you know," he said. "It's not like I couldn't send myself off, I just have to get on the train when it comes."

"But this is the last time we'll be seeing you in months!"

"It's only a couple of hours away by train. Dad says I might come down on weekends, remember?"

"But it just... won't be the same."

"Anyway," Karin said, "someone had to stop you from killing the old man." She twisted around to look over the bench they were sitting on and examined the comatose, bound and gagged figure tucked neatly behind it. "Think he'll wake before the train comes?"

"Hope not," Ichigo muttered. He scuffed a boot, so new the leather still gleamed without polish, against one of his trunks. He'd tossed the school coat on top of them because nobody wore thick, blue serge coats in the middle of September unless they were asking for a heatstroke, and anyway, all those gold braids and buttons were going to /blind him/ if he had to see them on himself one second longer.

A glance at the station clock said that the train should have been here two minutes ago. Well, what do you know, it was late. Not that that was a surprise; looked like even trains specially chartered for crazy elite military academy students had trouble sticking to a schedule after all. He thought of the full day train ride between Karakura and the capital and was a /little/ thankful for small blessings.

Behind them, a grunt suggested that the old man was finally waking up.

"Think we should just leave the old geezer here and go home before the train comes?" Ichigo said, staring at the ceiling and scratching at the starched white collar of his shirt - what the hell did they make these things out of? Cardboard? It /felt/ like it.

"Brother, it's not that bad," Yuzu tried to sound encouraging and failed. Then she added, "the train's here." Pointing, a small speck of black roiled in the distance, growing ever larger as it approached.

"Knew I should have run," Ichigo muttered, watching his doom bear down on him.

"Hey, it's only boarding school. If it didn't kill the old man, what's the worst it could do?"

"It could /turn me/ into the old man!"

Karin paused, then twitched. Gave him a funeral stare. "We promise to put you out of your misery if it does?" she said, out of the corner of her mouth where Yuzu couldn't hear.

Ichigo returned the look. Sometimes he wondered about Karin, he really did. Behind them, their father made a gurgling noise. "I'll hold you to that," he finally said.

The train pulled into the station with a screech and crash of churning gears and brakes, drowning further conversation. Clouds of steam and soot billowed in the air around it, and got into their eyes.

"LAST STOP FOR SEIREITEI!" the conductor roared over the noise. Karin and Yuzu leapt up, and Ichigo reached wildly for his coat. Before he'd had even time for one last, annoyed thought about chucking this whole mess and just going /home/, a porter had seized his luggage, Yuzu had hustled him into a carriage, and the train was pulling out of the station again while Yuzu and Karin waved (or rather Yuzu waved and looked tearful. Karin settled for a crook of her arm and a grimace). Ichigo managed a half-hearted sort of wave back, just for Yuzu, and that would have been the end of it, except -

They really should have used more rope.

"SON! THE HONOUR OF THE KUROSAKI RESTS ON YOUR SHOULDERS! DEFEND THE MOTHERLAND! DO NOT DISGRACE YOUR FATHER! EAT YOUR VEGETABLES AND DON'T FORGET TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH EVERY NIGHT, I KNOW YOU -"

Ichigo slammed the window shut and beat his head against a convenient wall.

-----

Ichigo spent maybe ten minutes standing in the corridor, scowling at the passing scenery and hoping Karin and Yuzu could take care of themselves with the crazy around. A lurch in the train's motion reminded him that there were still two, if not three hours left before they got to Sei-bloody-Reitei, and he couldn't spend the whole time standing out here, so turning, he began going down the corridor, eyeing the compartments as he passed and hoping for an empty one.

He went through six carriages without any luck, looked out a window, and saw that if he didn't find a seat soon, he'd have to turn around and go back the way he came. The bad thing about coming on at the last stop, he was beginning to realise, was that all the good seats had been taken already, and no one was going to welcome a random stranger barging in on their noisy parties. And he didn't /want/ to either. Ichigo had three hours of peace and freedom left; he intended to keep them even if it killed him.

At the end of the carriage, he squinted into a silent compartment and found it empty apart from the hat, book and neatly folded coat left sitting on one of the seats. A glance up and down the corridor told him no one was in sight; maybe he was lucky and their owner had gone off to join another party. Sliding the door open, he dropped into a seat, relieved.

"Stupid old man," he muttered. What the hell was wrong with Ichigo just going to some normal school like everyone else? He didn't /care/ that Seireitei was the most prestigious school in the country or that his father had been there (how the hell /had/ they accepted his father if they were the most elite school in half the world anyway?)

Somewhere in the distance, he heard girls' voices, shrill and bright. (What was it Tatsuki had said? Hey, it could be worse, at least Seireitei was co-ed, she'd pointed out when she'd heard the news. What, he'd asked, suspicious. What do you /think/? she said, then smirked. Ichigo had opened his mouth, shut it, then opened it again after a very, very long moment. I'm going to /kill you/, he'd decided. And then she'd almost broken his nose in the ensuing fight.)

And while Ichigo sat in an empty carriage, being dragged ever closer to what his father liked to call "His Destiny" and Ichigo liked to call his old man's /phenomenally stupid ideas/, Tatsuki and Chad and Orihime would be back in class listening to Mrs Onazaki and lazing through lunch and being normal and bored and shit. Ichigo missed school already, and he wouldn't have imagined being able to if you'd asked him to two weeks ago.

How much could change.

The girls' voices, he suddenly noted, were growing louder. Or at least /one/ girl's voice was, sharp over the noise of the train. Another voice, lower, less clear, accompanied it, but it was /her/ voice that marched down the corridor, passing compartment after compartment until he had to sit up just as the door shot open to reveal a tall boy with red hair and a black-haired girl so short she looked half his size standing next to him.

"- haven't even gotten off the train and already you've gotten points deducted from the house!" she was saying.

"We're not /there yet/, how the hell was I know the prefects would be such tight asses on the train?" the boy grumbled.

"You were /smoking/. Out the /window/. Are you stupid? You're just lucky you weren't caught by a /teacher/, that's all -"

"No, I was caught by your tight-ass cousin, that's /so/ much better -"

Ichigo leaned back in his seat, eyeing them. And maybe if he was lucky they'd ignore him and they could go back to arguing /outside/ and - His luck ran out.

"Hey, what're you doing here?" the boy asked by way of distraction. For the girl's size, he looked like he was having a hell of a time fending her off.

Ichigo shrugged. "Needed a seat. This was the emptiest one I could find. Don't let me get in your way, I'll probably just sleep the rest of the -"

"Where'd you get on?" the girl asked. "And what's your name? Which house are you in? You're a first year too, right?" She shut the door with a brisk clap and the noise sounded suspiciously like a guillotine.

"Got on at Karakura. The last stop. I'm Kurosaki Ichigo." He looked at them. "And you?"

"I'm Kuchiki Rukia. This idiot is Abarai Renji. Sit /down/, Renji. And hand them over."

Renji sank into the seat beside Ichigo. "Hand what over?" he groused in what looked, even to Ichigo, like the worst attempt at innocence he'd ever seen.

The girl somehow managed to fold her arms and /still/ keep her balance in the swaying train. "What do you /think/?" she asked.

"Hey, your cousin looked me over. What makes you think I still have - OW!"

She removed her boot from his foot and had a hand in the boy's jacket before Ichigo could even blink. She shook the packet of cigarettes in her hand and smiled, poisonously. "Well, since you've already turned all your contraband over to my cousin, these weren't in your pocket, and it'll be no loss when I throw them out the -"

"Don't you dare!"

"Window!"

The cigarettes sailed out before he could stop them.

"Dammit, Rukia! Ikkaku was going to pay good money for those!"

"Well, lucky him, it looks like he can keep his money!"

"Bitch!"

So much for quiet, Ichigo thought from his corner, watching them go at it hammer and tongs.

"You still haven't told us which house you're in," the girl said, looking up from her retrieval of what looked like a switchblade from the boy's left trouser leg while he yelled and tried to kick her off.

"House? I don't know."

"You don't /know/?" the girl said, incredulous. "Did you even look at your acceptance letter? And which prep school are you from? I don't think I've seen you around before."

"Prep school?" he echoed blankly. "What? I just went to a normal school back in my town -"

""You /didn't go to prep/? How'd you even get into Seireitei?!"

EVen the boy was giving him a disbelieving look. Ichigo returned their stares with a defensive scowl. "My dad enrolled me, okay? I didn't even know I was coming here until two weeks ago! I don't know a thing about houses or prep schools or... whatever this is about! /God/, I should have just killed him..."

The girl gave him a considering look, then leaned over and plucked at the coat Ichigo had dropped on the seat beside him. She searched it until she'd found the school badge pinned to the right breast, and raised her eyebrows and flashed it at him. The gold pin showed a camellia.

"You're in the same house we're in," she said. "The first three years are divided into five houses. They're all named after flowers: Camellia, Lily, Willow, Lotus and Chrysantemum. After third year we get streamed into our specialisations, so there aren't houses anymore, but until then, everything you do reflect on your house, and points get added and deducted based on student's conduct. This idiot here," she pointed at the boy, "has already gotten points deducted for being caught smoking."

"Oh shut it, Rukia. Nobody asked you to give them a goddamn lecture. You're a first year like the rest of us, no need to start acting like a /prefect/ yet."

She gave him a disdainful look, nose in air. "I'm just trying to be helpful, unlike some people -"

"You just don't want him to be stupid and get more points deducted from the house."

"How'd the two of you know each other anyway?" Ichigo interrupted. "Went to the same 'prep school'?"

It wasn't going to make things any easier if everyone here already knew everyone else from their prep school thing. Maybe Ichigo /should/ have asked a few more questions, or at least read the student handbook. But shit, it wasn't like he /cared/, right, he just didn't want /trouble/.

Renji shrugged. "No. She went to some prissy girl's prep, can't remember what it was called. I went to a co-ed. Knew each other from before that, back when we were in foster care."

Ichigo's eyebrows rose. Foster care. Well, that might explain some things. He looked at them and decided he didn't want to ask about it.

Rukia had finally sat down and picked up the book she'd left on her seat. It was the handbook, Ichigo recognised, noted the all-too-pleased look on her face and considered bolting from the compartment.

"Which specialisation are you aiming for?" she asked, crossing one slim leg over the other and demurely smoothing her skirt as she settled herself.

"Specialisation?"

"Did you even /know/ about Seireitei before you got the letter? There are three military divisions, army, navy and intelligence. Then there's medicine, and research and development, for those who don't want to do military work."

"Oh," Ichigo said, blank. Then added, in an attempt at self preservation, "I'll read the handbook later, you don't really have to explain all the rest -"

"Too late," Renji muttered at him from the corner of his mouth. Rukia ignored them to open the book and rest it on her knees.

Ichigo blinked and Renji squinted at the book. "What the hell, you /doodled/ in your handbook? What happened to Little Miss Model Student?"

"They're not /doodles/, they're to help me remember the rules better."

"Who the hell needs to remember the rules? And those are /stick figures/, what use're those?!"

"If I told you, then I'd have to kill you."

"Oh /please/ -"

"How do you know which specialisation you're going to anyway?" Ichigo asked, since if he was going to be force fed information, he might as well make it information he was a /little/ curious about.

"Your grades, probably. And I think you're supposed to choose end of third year," Renji said, stretching out one long leg to kick the girl in the knee. "Oi, RUkia, /shut it/, no one wants to hear you pretend you're a prefect now! We're going to get enough of that later!"

"I am /not/ acting like a prefect."

"Oh /sure/, 'Seireitei has very strict rules about conduct and attire. For examples on how /not/ to ear the uniform, just look at Renji over there -' too bad they don't have rules about not having sticks up your asses - FUCK! Bitch, you didn't have to throw that!"

"Rule 34, swearing and bad language in any form will not be tolerated from students," Rukia quoted primly.

Renji snarled and swiped at the long scratch the book had left down his nose. "Yeah well, you can take your rule 34 and stuff it -"

"Renji - put that down! That's mine! You're not throwing it out the -"

"Should have thought of that before you threw it at me!"

Renji had shot to his feet and headed for the half opened window; Rukia scrambled up and landed a good, vicious kick at the back of his knees - Renji stumbled and crashed on top of Ichigo, who howled under the sudden weight but still managed to see the book fly out of the window.

"Bloody hell, get /off/ me!"

"Fuck, Rukia, you bitch!"

Rukia leapt on top of them and tried to stick her head out the window in an attempt to get her rulebook back. Renji twisted under her trying to get up and /she/ went down with a yelp too and -

The door crashed open.

"Yo, Renji, you /done/ with your girlfriend yet? I'm still waiting for those cigarettes you said you ha-" a bald boy demanded, then saw the mess. Ichigo swore and managed to wriggle out just enough to sit up and swear, louder now he wasn't getting the air crushed out of his lungs.

"You people are /crazy/!" he yelled.

The bald boy looked him up and down and raised an eyebrow. "Haven't seen you around before. What's your name?"

"God/dammit/ - Ichigo. Kurosaki Ichigo."

"Well, Madarame Ikkaku here," the boy drawled. "New to this, are you? Important to get in with the right kind of crowd for this kind of thing, you know."

Ichigo gave him a look. "What?"

The boy grinned. "Just a word of advice for the young and green. You don't look half bad; you need people to hang around with, come look me up. My crowd does pretty well for itself."

Ichigo shoved Renji off with an elbow and grimaced. "Thanks. I'll bear that in mind," he said. Renji rolled over with a oath, and Rukia sat up and glared around her.

"If you're looking for the cigarettes Renji was going to sell you, I threw them out the window," she told Ikkaku, smoothing her dishevelled hair and brushing the lint from her sleeves.

"Hell, Kuchiki!"

"You know very well that cigarettes are forbidden, Madarame!"

"That's the whole point! Geeze, you're not going to be as much of a tight-ass as your cousin, are you?"

"Will you all stop calling my cousin a tight ass! He merely respects the rules of Seireitei, unlike /some/ people -"

"Hey, I call it like I see it. And c'mon, we're not the only ones calling Byakuya the biggest stick-up-ass prefect the school's ever seen, it's been going on since he /entered/. Oi, Renji, Iba says if you don't come get your stuff soon, he's filching the contraband you left in your coat. Try and wrap things up with your girlfriend before he actually /finds/ anything.""

"I didn't /leave/ any in my coat, do I look /stupid/," Renji managed. "Geroff, Rukia, you're /heavy/, what, do you have rocks in your pockets?"

"You owe me twenty dollars for throwing my book out the window," Rukia informed him.

"WHAT THE HELL?"

"Well, obviously I'll need to /replace/ it, since you threw my brand new copy /out the window/."

"Are you crazy? That book didn't cost twenty dollars!"

"I assure you it did, and I'll show you the price on the book list too if you like!"

"Yeah well, I'm not fucking paying for it! It serves you right for throwing the stupid thing at me /anyway/."

"Do you want me to /make/ you give me the money?"

"What're you going to do, sit on me till I hand it over? I'm broke anyway! You can have my copy if you need the goddamn thing so much, not like I'm going to read it."

Ichigo stood and wavered between sitting back down, and escaping the compartment before he got any more involved with the bickering lunatics sprawled on the floor of the carriage. Ikkaku had disappeared already, lucky bastard. A prolonged screech and a sudden heave in the train's motion settled the question for him by throwing him off his feet back onto the floor.

"GARGH."

"Fucking hell!"

"Get your elbow out of my eye!

"SEIREITEEEEEEEEEEEI!" the train's loudspeakers boomed. "ALL STUDENTS TO ALIGHT AND ASSEMBLE ON PLATFORM!"

"What are you trying to do, suffocate me? Let go of my collar!"

Oh yeah, this was getting off to a /great/ start.

-----

Urahara hadn't /really/ chosen his office for its excellent view of Seireitei Academy's main entrance and courtyard (he'd been more interested in the fluke in the school plumbing that meant that all the water pipes congregated in a small room just beside his office, and properly utilised, told Urahara what was happening in every bathroom, and some places not bathrooms, in the main compound). He'd also liked the small skylight that overlooked the roofs and offered, he told everyone, wonderfully clear views of the night sky, just right for star gazing and astronomy.

But he wasn't one to say no to a convenient benefit either, and now, telescope resting on sill, he propped his elbows and leaned out to watch the courtyard mill with students back for another year of character building, education, and amatuer criminality. Somewhere in the eastern end, Soi Fong was haraunging an unfortunate lower year who'd made the mistake of getting in her way; over in the west, Byakuya was cutting a swathe through the crowd via the sheer force of his contempt for his fellow men. Kaien, he noted, was simultaneously waving at familiar faces and dragging a younger, stockier boy behind him.

It took maybe fifteen minuts for the upper classmen to herd the first years into a confused, chaotic mass in the centre of the lawn. He tapped the telescope on the sill and studied the crowd. They looked a /very/ interesting bunch; Seireitei got more entertaining every year, as he told Yoruichi (not that she ever listened). That small girl so short she was nearly invisible in the crowd had to be Byakuya's younger cousin, the family resemblance was really quite striking. But she wasn't the shortest, he noted; somewhere on the edges, a grey-haired boy who looked at least three years too young to be here was trying to stand apart from the crowd and not quite succeeding because another girl (black-haired, the right age), kept trying to pull him back in.

But the figure he chose to really watch was easy enough to spot - not too tall, perhaps, but enough to be seen, and certanly it was bright enough. An orange-haired boy was being jostled first one way, then another, a scowl of epic proportions gracing his features. Urahara lowered the telescope and smiled. Well, at least he could tell Isshin his son had arrived safely, if he asked. And - had nearly gotten into a fist fight five minutes after reaching the school too. The Kuchiki girl (what were the names of those distant cousins of Byakuya's again?) calmly elbowed him in the gut before it actually degenerated into one, though, such a pity.

The door behind him creaked open, and Tessai looked in.

"Staff meeting's beginning soon, Boss."

"Ah." A glance at the clock told him he was right. "I almost forgot the time. I'll be down in a minute, Tessai."

Tessai looked past him to the window and his eyebrows rose behind his dark glasses. "Got here safe?"

"But of course. Why wouldn't he?" Urahara said, folding the telescope and setting it on the table.

"Didn't expect him to send him here. Not now."

"Kurosaki always did like his traditions. And it all works out well enough, really."

Tessai pushed his glasses up his nose. "Going to be a difficult year," he said, non-committal.

"But at least it'll be an /interesting/ one, hm?"


tbc