He put a faster spring into his shunpo, leaping from one rooftop and crossing over to another without having barely any weight into the first.
Two different voices calling him, one cute and ever innocent, the other loud and determined. Ichigo tried to be faster. He considered slipping into bankai. He was that desperate.
Ichigo hated to run away from anything. And if it was just a battle that Kenpachi wanted, a simple spar, he wouldn’t be sprinting so quickly. He would have already just given in and pummeled Kenpachi into the dirt as the captain wanted. Or on the off occasion, found his own face smashed into the pavement. It was a give and take relationship.
However, it wasn’t a simple spar that Kenpachi wanted. Somehow, someway, his intentions had shifted. While he was still interested in fighting Ichigo to the death on a daily basis, he now desired something else to color their encounters. And Ichigo wasn’t given more than a moment’s pause to figure out whether he wanted it or not.
Kenpachi’s intentions had been utterly clear. Honestly, kissing someone out of the blue could really only have one meaning. And Yachiru was even worse! Attacking him out of nowhere with her football-tackle hugs, calling him “kaa-san” and asking him to read her bedtime stories.
Normally, Ichigo wouldn’t mind either. He had younger sisters, after all. He knew how to take care of children, and it seemed they were fond of him, too. He wouldn’t mind helping Yachiru with her homework – did child Shinigami even have homework? Or for that matter, did Toushirou? – or playing some sort of game. But it was the nickname that bothered him. Ichigo was no one’s mother, and most importantly, he wasn’t a woman.
Somehow, both she and Kenpachi seemed to have missed that vitally important fact.
Sucking in a tired breath, Ichigo leapt to a higher building, nearly missed his footing in his fatigue. And he pummeled onwards, never breaking stride. Behind him, Kenpachi and Yachiru were a close presence, for once managing not to get lost. How ironic. It appeared they only knew how to get where they were going when they were chasing their prey.
Dear kami, he’d been reduced to prey.
Below him, someone called out his name. It might have been Ikkaku or Renji, judging by the blur of faces he’d briefly glimpsed. But he didn’t have time to stop or chat. Ichigo was currently running for his life. All he wanted was one goddamned minute to think!
But this he could only do on the run. So as Ichigo frantically looked for a place to hide, though his radiating reiatsu was a beacon to practically everyone in Soul Society and possibly Hueco Mundo as well, he tried to pull his mind into some sort of coherent order. Behind him, father and daughter were relentless in their pursuit, Yachiru even giggling as though this were some fine game of cat and mouse. Rather than Ichigo running desperately for his sanity.
Kenpachi and kissing had never really coexisted in his mind before. Then again, for his age, Ichigo was remarkably out of touch with his libido. Keigo reminded him of that on a daily basis, especially since he couldn’t seem to appreciate the mounds of bounding joy that were Inoue’s breasts. Keigo’s words, not his.
It wasn’t that he’d entirely disliked the kiss. It had been surprising, true, and a bit sloppy considering Ichigo had been gasping for breath after their usual death-defying spars. Yachiru egging on her Ken-chan in the background had sort of killed any sense of romance. Not that Ichigo was hoping for romance or anything.
Honestly, it was entirely understandable that Ichigo had freaked – in simple terms – and took off running. If anything, Kenpachi was the last captain he would have ever considered to be… gay. Then again, Yumichika was his fifth seat, and well… he did have that demonic gay charm. Still, Ichigo didn’t think he could ever call Kenpachi that to his face. Maybe he was more interested in the person than the gender?
Yeah, that had to be it. Ichigo was sticking with that.
Ichigo, however, was pretty certain that he was actually gay. Yeah, Inoue’s breasts did nothing for him. Nor did Yoruichi’s joy in walking around naked, just to see him blush. He knew what she was doing; he wasn’t that stupid. That damn woman liked teasing him.
So if it wasn’t that he disliked the kiss, it was that he wasn’t given a moment to consider whether or not he liked Kenpachi before they were springing all sorts of questions on him. And well, Kenpachi was a good fighter, and they shared a lot of the same views. Considering Yachiru’s attachment to him, he couldn’t have been that bad of a man. And well, Kenpachi had always been one of the ones willing to come to Ichigo’s aid. Even if it was in the interest of finding a decent opponent.
Kenpachi was an attractive man; he’d overheard people saying it enough. Though the ladies of Soul Society were more likely to whisper it than admit it aloud. It wasn’t proper to discuss the finer attributes of a mindless beast like Kenpachi – Byakuya’s words not his, though Byakuya’s hadn’t been as polite.
Ichigo could admit to himself that Kenpachi was attractive. And the kiss had actually been pretty nice, all clumsiness aside. A part of him wondered if it could be better if they actually attempted in it unison, rather than quickly stolen in a moment of spontaneity. He could find out, if only he stopped attempting to flee.
That’s right. It was time he faced this like a man. No more running. Ichigo skidded to a halt, sending roofing tiles flying, only to shatter against the ground. He was a man, after all. An Aizen-killing badass. He didn’t need to escape from-
“Kenpachi!” Ichigo exclaimed, whirling around only to come face to face with said captain. As though the man had been standing behind him the entire time, just waiting for him to come to some sort of conclusion.
Kenpachi grinned, the wind causing his bells to jingle and Yachiru happily kicking her feet on his shoulder. “Ya finally stopped runnin’,” he commented, looking very much like a predator that had finally caught his prey.
“Ya could’ve given someone a minute to think,” Ichigo shot back, drawing up straight and squaring his shoulders. He was a man, after all. He could take this like one.
Shrugging, the captain dug one finger into his ear, tilting his head to the side. “If I’d done that, you’d have run away.”
And the fact that he’d just finishing attempting to flee seemed to have completely escaped Kenpachi. Ichigo resisted the urge to point that out, however, because it was no longer relevant. It would only delay the inevitable.
He considered what to say next, but Kenpachi beat him to it. “It’s as simple as saying I like ya. Take it or leave it, Ichigo.” This was punctuated with another fanged grin, and really, it boggled Ichigo’s mind that Kenpachi could say it so plainly.
But then, the captain had never been one for beating around the bushes. He preferred to just slash them the hell down and leave the clean-up for lesser, more bored folks. No need for subtlety, not for Kenpachi. He just went after what he wanted and let the dominoes fall as they would.
“Yeah!” Yachiru agreed with her usual bubbly cheer. She grinned at him, too. Eyes sparkling. “Come join the family, Ichi!”
Really, how could he resist such a heartfelt plea?
Kenpachi rolled his shoulder, giving her a little shake. “Alright, brat. Let the grownups handle their business.”
Yachiru considered the request for several seconds before agreeing and leaping from his shoulder. She gave them both a hearty wave and then vanished in a blur of pink and black, no doubt to chase down Renji and Ikkaku. Who Ichigo thought he had passed a few clicks back.
This left the two men alone, Ichigo hating that his cheeks were probably flushed as all hell. Though he could just say it was because of the running and leaving it at that. No way was he blushing. No way in hell.
“So what’s your answer?” Kenpachi asked, barreling right into the matter at hand. The man had no sense of delicacy, even with a situation as embarrassing as this one.
Ichigo twisted his jaw, considered for a few seconds more, and then decided that Kenpachi always did understand actions better than words. Only, it was a little awkward because Kenpachi was a good head taller than him. He had to resort to grasping the captain’s face and pulling it down to meet his. Kenpachi didn’t seem to mind.
And Ichigo found out that he was right. The kiss was much better the second time around, tasting faintly of sake and citrus.