“Ichigoooo~” you called out, opening the door. You peered inside and your eyes fixated themselves on his bed. It was empty. The comforter was splayed over the mattress. You sighed dejectedly and crossed your arms. Yup, he was late...again.
You set your bag down on the clean floor and that’s when you caught sight of Yuzu in the doorway. The young girl always did enjoy your company, so whenever you came over she wasn’t too far behind. She smiled and walked in, holding a stuffed animal in her slender arms. “[Name]!” she called brightly. “Ichi isn’t here yet, huh?”
You shook your head and pointed to the toy. “What’s that, Yuzu? I’ve seen it around the house a lot.”
She smiled. “Oh! This is a toy I found lying around here one day. His name is Boss Tuff, except Ichigo likes to call him Kon. I like my name better.”
“Can I see him?” you asked. She laughed and handed the stuffed lion to you as her answer. You examined the object, scanning over the vibrant colors and the adorable face. After peering curiously at it, you kissed it on the nose and giggled. “He’s cute~”
Yuzu watched you for a moment before laughing. “You really like him, don’t you? Well, you can play with Boss Tuff here in Ichi’s room while you wait for him to come home. I’m sure he’ll be here soon. I’ll come and get him later.” She saluted and skipped out of the room, shutting the door.
You plopped yourself on the bed, your hands running down the soft texture of the animal. “Boss Tuff, eh?” You couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity. “Don’t worry. I like the name Kon better. It’s cute, like you.” You hugged the toy to your chest, savoring the feeling. When you moved, your mom made you throw away all of the old toys that you had stored in your closet. You only had a few left, and she would get angry whenever you touched them, saying you should keep them in mint condition.
Your fingers wrapped around Kon’s paws. “You know, Kon,” you spoke aloud, moving his limbs in a silly dance, “I’m glad you're here with me. Ichigo asks me to help him study, me being older and all, but he’s almost always gone. I miss him...a lot.” You sighed and stopped twirling him. “I wish he would hang out with me as much as he did Kuchiki. But I guess he doesn’t care enough about me to stop keeping me waiting...have you ever felt that way?”
You held him up, staring into his beady, carefree eyes. “When you want to get close to someone, but they share no interest in you? I feel like that. It’s silly, I know, but I’ve never felt like I was really needed in my life. People just expect from me, they don’t need me. And when I accomplish something, I don’t get much praise because it was expected.”
Kon sat in your lap, completely silent. His eyes seemed so troubled and pained now. It must’ve just been your imagination. “But it’s okay. At least I have you, right? You’ll listen to my problems, and I’ll save you from yours...” You traced shapes on his stomach and smiled sadly.
A booming voice called your name from the door. It burst open and Isshin swooped into the room. “You’re still waiting here?! Oh, that no-good delinquent son of mine...” He cracked his knuckles. “Just wait, when he comes home I’ll--”
“I’m home.” The oh-so familiar phrase could only be coming from one person.
You gasped. “Mr. Kurosaki, you don’t have to do that! H-hey! Leave Ichigo alone, he’s not doing anything wrong!” You set Kon on the bed and rushed out of the room, chasing after the adult of the house. Oh boy, what a welcome home gift for Ichigo! A knuckle sandwich from his dad, and a useless attempt from you to save him from his impending doom.
“Your dad is crazy fun,” you laughed, following Ichigo to his room. He scowled.
“Oh yeah, it’s just hysterical when he beats me up after I come home. Not to mention the fact that he makes all of those stupid wedding jokes about us.”
You frowned. “Would you rather he hated me?”
Ichigo’s brown orbs locked onto yours. “Don’t say that, jeez! It’s not like that.” He opened the door and let himself in; you were in hot pursuit. Ichigo turned on his lights while you made your way to Kon, who was still on the bed.
“What the-? Kon, what are you doing here?” he groaned. “I thought Yuzu had you!”
You picked him up. “She did, but I saved him. Did you know he was in a frilly dress? I took it off because I don’t want him to go through an unneeded gender-confusion stage.” You wrapped your arms around him and Ichigo scowled.
“Huggin’ on him like that.”
“Why?” you asked, confused. Ichigo looked irritated for whatever reason and walked over, snatching Kon from your arms. “H-hey!” you cried. “What are you doing? Give me my Kon back!”
His eyes narrowed. “Your Kon? You just met — I mean — Yuzu just showed him to you today! ‘Sides, I was the one who found him and brought him home. He’s pretty filthy, I wouldn’t be cuddlin’ him.” He stuffed Kon into his dresser drawer and sat down. “Now, uh...can we start?”
You nodded, sighing. “Uh huh. Sure, let me see the assignment.” You were tutoring him in English since he wasn’t doing so hot. You came from America so your English was practically flawless. In exchange, he would teach you a bunch of complicated phrases in Japanese and things like kanji. You really sucked at those.
The two of you got to work. Ichigo would have to take a Japanese word or phrase and say it in English, using it in a sentence. His vocab test was coming up soon. You conversed in both Japanese and English, and when you made mistakes, one of you would get irritated while the other would laugh it off.
When the hour trickled down and the work was finished you stood from his bed. You stretched your arms over your head and tried your best to reach for the blank ceiling. “Thanks for the tips, Ichi. I appreciate it.” You started putting your things away in your bag. He watched you for a moment before Yuzu knocked on the door and let herself in.
“Where’s Boss Tuff?” she asked. You looked over at the drawer and walked over. You pulled it open carefully, the wood squealing as you did so. You gently picked Kon up, shut the dark abyss of Ichigo’s dresser, and pulled the toy into your embrace. Yuzu had a pleased look on her face. You strode over and bent down to her level.
“Here you go. One Boss Tuff at your service!”
Ichigo took his headphones out, trying to make sense of the last phrase you went over, you guessed. He had turned away from you when Yuzu walked in.
She shook her head. “You really like Boss Tuff, don’t you? You can take him home if you want...like a sleepover! But only for a night or two.”
“Really?” you asked, surprised. “Thank you, Yuzu!”
Ichigo’s tan hands wrapped around the plushie, plucking him from your grip yet again. “Hey,” he growled. “No one’s taking Kon. Sorry, [Name], but he stays here.” He tossed Kon on the bed and you watched, frowning.
“Um...okay then. I’ll be going. See you tomorrow, Ichigo?” You slung your bag over your shoulder.
He nodded. “Sure. If ya want. Bye, [Name].”
So you guessed he wasn’t walking you to the door. You lingered there for a moment awkwardly until Yuzu started to lead you downstairs. Excitedly, she asked you if you would stay for dinner. She cooked up something and didn’t want you to leave just yet. Neither did Isshin. You were afraid that in a sudden burst of passion and tears, you would be thrown into a pool of hot guilt until you stayed. You didn’t want that to happen. You simply agreed and let your parents know where you were and how long you would be staying, thanks to your good ol’ cellphone.
Karin looked up at you when you sat at the table. “You’re still here?” she drawled. “You should’ve gone while you still had the chance.”
It was seven o’ clock sharp and Yuzu brought out the pot of who-knows-what to the table. Ichigo came downstairs. His stomach grumbled so loudly that you could hear it all the way from your seat. He saw you sitting there with his sisters and father, gazing at you as if he didn’t understand what was going on. You smiled at him briefly until he took his own place at the table.
“Lemme guess, Yuzu and my dad?”
“Pretty much,” you grinned.
He shook his head, eyebrows furrowed like always. He started to serve himself when his dad punched for him. “[Name] is our guest!” he bellowed. “She should get her food first! Ichigo, I thought I taught you better than that!”
“Apparently not,” Ichigo muttered.
You laughed a bit to yourself, taking the spoon. You started to get your rice, the light, heavenly smell rising from the cooker and swirling through your nostrils. Yuzu watched you get your portion. You didn’t want to take too much to be polite, but you took enough so that she would feel at ease. You didn’t want to make a big deal out of this.
“So, [Name],” Isshin started, “I don’t trust my son up there with you all alone. If he ever tries anything, call me with this!” He handed you a pink plastic whistle. You stared at it for a long time, knowing that he was serious. Karin sighed and the vein on Ichigo’s temple throbbed.
“What the hell?! What kind of asshole do you think I am?! I don’t go around molesting girls, so take that damn whistle back!”
That started a fight that was just begging to happen. Isshin and Ichigo stood up, yelling at each other. You finished your food quietly and giggled at the sight. Karin asked Yuzu for thirds while the two were distracted.
“Besides, Mr. Kurosaki,” you prodded. “Ichigo doesn’t need closed doors to take advantage of me. I mean, think of when we’re out of your sight altogether. He could just steer me out of the group’s view and corner me, or maybe even do it in the open-”
Isshin gaped at you, his eyes as big as dinner plates. He did a highflying jump kick at Ichigo. His yells were full of anguish. “NNNOOO! Why didn’t I think of this before?! Ichigooo! You keep your filthy hands off the ever-so-innocent [Name]!”
“Dammit [Name]! What the hell?!” Ichigo shouted. He fended off his father. You scooped up a spoonful from the bowl Yuzu handed to you, taking a bite. The silver spoon was drizzled in a mixture of ice cream, sprinkles, and a thick chocolate sauce.
When dinner was over, you thanked everyone and headed for the front door. This was your second attempt at leaving. Hopefully you would be able to make it out this time. Isshin wanted Ichigo to walk you home, but you politely declined. Instead, you headed out by yourself.
The air was brisk and chilly and had a sharp bite to it once you were unprotected. A streetlight nearest to you flickered ominously. You walked down the streets, which were sleek and glittering from the light drizzle earlier. The wind whistled in your ears and softly brushed your hair back, your skin tingly from the temperature drop.
You got home safely. You let your hand slide down to the doorknob and you stopped. The tears rushed down your cheeks and you leaned forward, resting your forehead on the door. Your back quivered with every sob and you had to calm yourself down before entering your place. Otherwise, your parents would question you. You didn’t want that. You eventually dried your tears and tried to get rid of the empty feelings. You turned the key, which you had pushed in not moments before, and disappeared into the comforting warmth of your house.
The next few weeks were similar. You practically ran to Ichigo’s house hoping that he would be up in his room. You expected him to be gone, just like he was every day. Then Yuzu would lend you Kon to ebb away the rejection she knew you must’ve felt. You would spill your thoughts, recollections, dreams, goals, ambitions, and innermost desires with the doll. He was a source of comfort that you hadn’t even thought of before. In turn, you would peel him away from the girly clothing and refrain from baby talking or roughhousing with him.
One day you opened Ichigo’s bedroom door and to your surprise, saw that he was lying on the mattress. It almost looked like he was knocked out. You gasped and walked over, bumping into the bed when you were close enough. Kon, who was on Ichigo’s chest, rolled off to the side. Your heart raced and you took a cautious step forward.
“I-Ichigo? Are you okay?” You reached over. Your skin just barely brushed against his when he jerked up from his sleep. The plush toy fell to the floor from his movements. You stared at him, your cheeks red with embarrassment. You didn’t want him to get the wrong idea, like you were a pervert or something. He sat up all the way and his piercing eyes locked onto yours. Your face was on fire.
“[Name],” he murmured.
You bent down and picked the fallen Kon up, holding him protectively. “Jeez, Ichi! You scared me. And why are you so abusive to Kon here? He’s not even doing anything to you.”
You set him on the bed, making sure he was sitting up straight. Ichigo watched you like a hawk before standing up. His hands wrapped themselves around your shoulder. Before you knew what was happening, he bent down and tilted his head, his face centimeters away from yours.
“Ichigo...” you breathed. You couldn’t believe this was happening to you.
He smiled and the space between you disappeared. You gasped in the kiss, your eyes widening at first. But then you realized you had to take advantage of this and your eyes fluttered closed. Ichigo lifted a hand and tangled his fingers in your hair, making you shudder. He pulled away from your lips, inching back slowly, only to start leaving a trail of kisses down your neck. His other hand slid down to your cleavage and he squeezed your breast. It was enough to make you moan.
“I love you.”
He paused for a moment. You weren’t sure if he was doing this to soak it in, but the look in his eyes showed a tinge of regret and a trace of troubled thoughts. He kept this same look before returning to your neck. He suckled on the sensitive flesh, backing you up against the wall. You let out a cry of surprise and you were going to call his name again when...
...you saw Ichigo standing behind the one you were currently making out with. You tensed up and froze. Your jaw slackened. Ichigo’s face mirrored yours. After another few seconds, his thoughts clicked. That was when he clenched a fist and ran over, punching the other Ichigo in the back of the head.
“HEY!” he roared. “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?! GET OUT OF MY BODY, KON!”
“Kon?” you whispered. You put your hands on this Ichigo, feeling the bulging muscles underneath. With all of the force you had, you shoved him backwards with a yelp. You put your hands up to your neck, feeling the sticky saliva that rested there. “Wh-who the hell are you?!” you shouted, pointing at both of them.
The second Ichigo gritted his teeth. “You can see me? Well, dammit! [Name], get out of here! I’ll explain everything later.”
“Why are you butting in?” The first Ichigo whined. “Leave us alone! We were just making progress!”
“Get out of my body!” the second countered. “I swear, Kon, if you don’t go back to your place, you’ll be sorry when I get my body back.”
The first Ichigo grinned. “Oh yeah? Not if you can’t catch us, right?” He grabbed you and swept you into his arms. You screamed loudly as he jumped through the open window, both of you tumbling to the hard ground below. He smiled brightly at you, eyes lively.
“Don’t worry, [Name]. I won’t hurt you. I’d never hurt you.” He lunged for the nearest tree branch and hopped on it, his arms securely wrapped around your body. He took another terrifying jump and landed on the rooftop, his nimble feet pounding against the concrete. You wrapped your arms around him tighter, fearful of what was to come.
“Who are you?” you demanded. He slowed his sprint almost immediately. Eventually his pace trickled down and he glanced down at you curiously.
“It’s me, Kon! Don’t you remember? We met awhile back...I was in the toy, though. I was planning to use Ichigo’s body for fun today and you came over! It was pretty cool. You know, you’re the first girl who’s ever been so nice to me. I’ve been looking for someone like you. I’m so glad you were nice to me, I was getting lonely. For a minute there, I thought I’d never have someone to love me. But then you came! Remember? ‘You’ll listen to my problems, and I’ll save you from yours’. You said so yourself.”
He dodged a sudden flash of a gleaming sword and stopped running altogether. He set you down gently; handling you like most would their fanciest china set.
Ichigo, the second one, stood in front of you. His face was filled with fury. “Kon...stop running around like a coward. Let [Name] go you psycho mod-soul!”
Kon blinked and then frowned. “No way! You don’t even see what’s so great in front of you, so--” His sentence was cut short when Ichigo grabbed him by the collar, dangling him in the air. You choked back a scream in surprise and started to run over to stop the fight. Ichigo held out a hand to you, signaling for you to stop.
“[Name], look.” He hit the butt of his palm on Kon’s forehead. A small pearl came out and Ichigo caught it in his hand. “This,” he muttered, holding the ball for you to see, “is Kon.” The body slumped in his grasp. He set it down and as soon as you blinked, he was gone. That was, until Ichigo’s real body sat up. He stared at you with a grimace on his face. “See?” he grumbled.
You felt sick. “Then, Kon is...he...Ichigo...”
The only thing that ran through your mind was that you had kissed his body, and he wasn’t even in it. Amongst all of the confusion and twisted thoughts, that thought was the one that came to haunt you. And what was a mod-soul? Why was Ichigo out of his body?
He walked toward you and you took a large step backward. “No!” Tears ran down your eyes. “L-leave me alone!” You turned heel and ran to the fire escape near the roof. You glanced over the edge. Shakily, you flipped your body over to crawl down. Your steps were slow and easy. Down, down, down...until your foot slipped on the wet metal. Your voice left your lungs when your body swung backwards into the open air. Plummeting inside of you was your own stomach.
You gulped and shut your eyes tight, feeling broad arms encircle you from the impact. Your sudden drop ceased. Your heavy breathing was apparent in the calm surroundings. You clenched your eyes shut still, not wanting to face who it was who caught you.
“Hnnarghkkk...” a low voice rumbled underneath you. “Kon, you idiot! What the hell were you thinking?”
Your eyes snapped open. You tilted your head down to see that you were in Ichigo’s arms. But he was smiling at you, a tender look in his eyes. So that was definitely Kon...then where was Ichi? You looked down further to see that Ichigo was holding Kon’s feet, standing upright on a branch. It seemed Ichigo was waiting to catch you on the branch but Kon jumped without thinking and caught you in his arms bridal-style. He was so happy to have “saved” you that he didn’t notice Ichi below him, his arms raised in the air.
Ichigo collapsed, Kon still standing on his crumpled form. He eventually jumped off the branch, which had only been about three or four feet from the ground. He set you down carefully, and in an unexpected display of emotion, lunged for your chest and buried his head in-between your breasts. You blushed heavily, unsure of what to do.
“I was worried about you,” he cried, his voice muffled from his current...um...position. “Ichigo didn’t think his body would be able to reach you fast enough, so he put me in. He dropped down to get you, but I beat him to it.” He grinned triumphantly. His bright eyes were so full of adoration and bliss when he looked into your own.
Ichigo dropped down from the branch and grunted. “Kon, you bastard! You’re gonna get it!” The two started a game of cat and mouse while you watched, totally confused. After seeing the look on your face, Ichigo grumbled and walked over, taking your hand.
“Where are we going?” you asked weakly, still horribly lost in all of this.
He didn’t even look at you. “Hat-and-sandals guy...he’ll explain it...”
You blinked and kept silent, trailing after Ichigo as if your life depended on it. And who knew? Maybe it did. It was almost peaceful following him like that. That was, until Kon started after you. He shouted that he felt left out. You smiled even though you still didn’t have a clue as to what was going on.
“Ichigooo!” Yuzu called, waiting at the bottom of the stairs. “Hey! I know you’re up there, so come down!” No answer. She put a finger to her lips. “He went up not too long ago. Hmm...Ichigooo! [Name]’s here for you!”
There was scrambling and a crash. You blinked and started up the first step. You turned to Yuzu. “I think I’ll just go see what’s up. Thanks, though!” You ascended the stairs. You wanted to know what the sound was all about.
You opened the door and peered in, feeling nostalgic. It had been more than two weeks since you came over to see Ichigo since the last incident. When you entered the room, you saw both Ichigos facing each other. They were both posed in a threatening stance. Rukia was sitting on the windowsill, obviously waiting for Ichigo to follow her. She saw you and waved. You returned the gesture.
“[Name]~” Kon called, obviously possessing Ichigo’s body at the moment. You giggled and said hi. You were still shy about the obvious feelings he had for you. Ichigo glanced over at you from the corner of his eye.
“Hey! What the hell are you doin’ here? Kon was going to wait here peacefully.” His tone was so sour and bitter. But you knew the real reason why, and it wasn’t anything too bad. He wasn’t mad at you. He was more irritated at the head-over-heels mod-soul.
“I could go with you,” you offered. You learned all about Ichigo’s life as a temporary shinigami and it was an adventure to you. It sounded like something you should take advantage of rather than just dismiss. Kon immediately nodded feverishly in agreement.
“Yeah! Let [Name] come, and I’ll go too!”
“No way,” Ichigo deadpanned. “You wanna get yourself killed? You stay here, or better yet, go home.” Even though he meant this to be his way of saying, ‘I care too much for you to get hurt’ it was still annoying. An idea flashed in your head and you couldn’t resist.
“Okay. Kon and I will go home.” You walked backwards out of the room, beckoning for the other boy. “Come on, Kon, let’s have that sleepover Yuzu was telling us about.”
Crash. Boom. Bang. Groan. Grunt. Giggle.
“Interesting,” Rukia tittered, large eyes soaking in your complicated triangle of love.