“What the hell is he doing?” Ichigo demands of Renji, who looks equally perplexed.
The redhead grunts. “How the hell should know?”
Ichigo huffs. Renji is being no help. But then, Ishida isn’t either. He’s just standing there, staring at the bespectacled kid across from him. He hasn’t drawn his bow or anything.
Behind the other guy – who had introduced himself earlier as Ootori Kyouya, second in command of the Host Club, whatever the hell that is – are an array of similarly dressed teenagers looking just as baffled as Ichigo feels. Though the twins are whispering to each other as they glance at Renji, who doesn’t seem to notice they’ve been ogling him for the last fifteen minutes.
Which is how long Ishida has been staring at Ootori. Ichigo’s got the weirdest feeling that they are somehow duking things out on a mental battlefield. And that their polite words are really just euphemisms for the intent to rip out entrails and cause bloody mayhem.
“While your suggestion has its merits,” Ootori says with a cold tone, an inclination of his chin that proves how superior he thinks he is, “I fail to see how it benefits the host club.”
Ishida, too, lifts his chin, eyes flashing. Of course, that trick really doesn’t work on Ootori because he has glasses, too, but old habits die hard. “If our enemies are indeed hiding themselves in your esteemed school, then it is in your best interest to have us around as protection. After all, you can’t earn a profit if there’s no one around to pay, now can you?”
Ootori looks momentarily thoughtful at this, consulting the notebook clutched in one arm. “Hmm,” he says. “You will have to be put to work.”
“As a matter of course,” Ishida says, tilting his head and gesturing over his shoulder to Renji and Ichigo. “See my brainless bodyguards? That’s what they’re here for.”
“Hey!” Ichigo replies, indignant, in the same moment that Renji bristles, “Oy!”
Ootori has the audacity to smirk as he glances past Ishida and looks over Ichigo and Renji from top to bottom, as though weighing and assessing their usefulness in a single glance. “They might prove some worth.”
Ichigo feels insulted, and judging by the way Renji vibrates with fury, so does he. Ishida, however, doesn’t care. “Then we’re agreed?”
Ootori snaps his book shut and nods sharply. “We’re agreed.”
And somehow, Ichigo feels like they’ve just struck a deal with the devil.