Amaranthine

#1
Amaranthine
Prologue
[hr]

Ichigo glared at the bowl of ramen in front of him. The day had been long and tiring, and the fact that the nurse he had asked out for dinner had said no didn't help him one bit. It'd been what? Seven years since he took down Aizen. Losing his powers was one thing, that sucked. Granted, he did regain them, but the time in between had been painful in its own way. He clacked his chopsticks and prodded the noodles. One of the strands twitched, and he watched with a raised eyebrow as it uncoiled itself and flopped back into the broth.

"Don't play with your food Ichigo," a rather feminine voice told him, pulling him from his reverie.

Looking up he noticed the familiar lavender haired woman he had come to call as a mentor, friend, and that one time... Well, nevermind that time. He didn't find it surprising that she had not changed one bit in her looks. If anything, it almost felt like she had put on some height. Not that it would do her any good, he was still a head's taller. Letting himself roll his eyes down, he moved past her bust and took a good view of her dress.

It was a full body piece, with a flowery arrangement holding it together at her left shoulder. Lacking any defining creases, his eyes stopped at her legs and then made their way back up to her face where he found a sly smile and a twinkle in her playful yellow eyes.

Let it be known that Kurosaki Ichigo did not like that twinkle. Ever.

"Yes?" He dragged the question, dreading already the coming answer.

She slid into the seat next to him and signalled the cook for a pair of chopsticks. "What? I can't visit a friend nowadays?"

Ichigo grunted in passing acknowledgement. Visiting friends in recent times meant that something was desired, especially if said friends happened to be shinigami or some quirky derivative thereoff. "You know," he started, "the last time a friend came by, I had to police a nutcase with a god complex."

Unhappy with the delay with the chopsticks, she deftly moved her hands over his and took authority over his. Without so much as a resistance from him, she grasped a mouthful of noodles, bought herself close to his bowl and with a quick snake-like attack; devoured them with elegance; not a single drop missed.

In retrospect, he mused; maybe that nurse saying no wasn't such a bad thing after all. "Does Urahara-san know you're paying visits now?"

The Shihoin princess rolled her eyes and took another bite of noodles. "What he doesn't know, won't hurt him."

Ichigo snorted lightly. "Please don't make me sleep with a knife at night..."

Yoruichi grinned, and then the twinkle in her eyes brightened.

Ichigo sighed, "So?"

In the pause he admitted, inwardly, that right now--he really could go for a swing or two. He didn't even have to say anything, she'd come alright; prove herself as the Goddess of Flash. He'd show her, he mused, his bankai.

She straightened, looking him in the eyes, clear and serious. "We need some insurance."

He opened his mouth, but was silenced as she put a finger to his lips and continued. "Yes, there are shinigami who we could take along, who know the magic--but they lack the purity that you've got. After all, whom can forget that the mere after-shock of a parry could blow away mountain tops."

"That was a long time ago, and you know it." Ichigo groaned inwardly. "That and I don't like the word you just used, 'purity'." Pointing at her with a piece of naruto between the chopsticks, he continued "makes it sound like I'm some god damn battery."

"In more ways than one," Yoruichi smiled warmly, then leaned forward and slowly enveloped the piece, lips resting on the sticks and then slowly pulled away.

He lightly coughed, ears slightly red and glared at her, the twinkle in her eyes returning.

"Alright, whatever; you ain't gonna leave me, least I could do is keep you some company. I won't ask why, it's always dangerous; but where I can't ignore." He said as he bought some soup to his lips and sipped it down.

"Muken." She answered crisply.

He froze. With that instant, all other chatter he chose to hear died away; leaving him intently focused on her.

"Who else?" Ichigo asked calmly.

Yoruichi looked at him curiously. "Who else what?"

He reached into his back pocket and withdrew is wallet. Opening it, he retrieved several hundred yen notes and placed them on the table. Flipping the wallet close, he placed it back. "You've secured your 'insurance'," he added the quotes, "so that leaves the rest, who else?"

"Just a friend," she added lithely.

A tiny voice in the deepest reaches of his mind howled, you imbecile!

He chuckled, "you have friends?"

"Ara~" she moved closer, her right arm trailing down his left, pressing into him and pushing away from the bar; "I happen to know... just the right one."

"Then, I'm in your care; Yo-ru-ich-i-san." He added without missing a beat as he slid his hand around her waist, through the gap of the arm spreading across his chest. The restaurant had in reality gone nearly silent as all eyes trailed to them.

She leaned into his ear, blowing gently, smiling lightly as she felt his body lock up. "Good, I wouldn't expect," her left hand began drawing symbols on his chest, "anything less." Reiatsu leaked from her fingers, caressing.

"What are you-?"

"Bakudo 4: Suimin."

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Suimin (Sleep)
 
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