Ichigo doesn’t actually have friends anymore. What he has are a handful of really irritating keepers, all of which claim they’re friends, namely Orihime and Chado.
Still, he humors them, because total avoidance would lead to questions and Ichigo really doesn’t want Urahara swooping in or, God forbid, his father.
Useless as the man is, Ichigo would prefer if no red flags were raised high enough for the bastard to take an interest.
So Ichigo spends fifteen torturous minutes in Orihime’s false cheer and Chado’s frowning worry before Orihime asks him what he’s doing after school.
"Working," he says simply, and it’s almost true. Ichigo works a lot, now, collecting pennies with the intent of getting the fuck out of the Hellmouth that is Karakura. Not that anybody knows that, of course.
Orihime looks disappointed.
"Kurosaki-kun, it feels like we never spend time together anymore," she says, almost reproachful. "Surely you don’t need to work all the time."
Ichigo offers her a faint, placating smile, one he learned from Urahara.
"Unagiya-san counts on me," he says. "I can’t let her down."
He returns his focus to his meal, and eventually Orihime gets the hint and offers him a disappointed goodbye. A few months ago, he’d feel bad. Now though, he couldn’t give less of a shit.
Ichigo doesn’t believe in keeping secrets, and he never has. It hurts to know exactly how many secrets his old friends now keep from him.
Unagiya and Ichigo, funnily enough, hooked up on the IEA site. Jack-of-all-trades means something in her family, and the supernatural happenings are just another job. She likes Ichigo, having kept an eye on the proceedings of the Winter War from the comfort and safety of her work room mirror, and upon finding him in the IEA database, offered him a job and an apprenticeship.
Ichigo likes her, even if she does get a little annoying.
"I’m telling you Ichigo, people put far too much stock in trinkets," she says as she polishes the knotted hilt of her favorite silver knife. "They think a pendant around their neck will save them from a possession or an enchantment, when all somebody has to do is snap the cord. Tattoos are really the only way to go for personal warding."
"Not everyone’s comfortable with needles, Unagiya-san," he points out absently, not looking up from his translations (Greek, this time). "And anyway, tattoo warding requires a lot of work— it’s so easy to fuck up."
"That’s all magic," she says dismissively. "And with higher risk comes higher reward. Everyone knows that."
Ichigo hums his agreement.
"I guess I’m lucky I know you then," he says. "Otherwise I might be stuck with just that ring."
"Hell yeah, you’re lucky," she says. "Have you found what we’re looking for yet?"
"Well, I have something."
"It’s a ward that prevents the consumption of human flesh. Problem is, it doesn’t actually stop the creature from killing the human." Ichigo frowns. "I think it just makes people taste bad."
"Well, keep looking. That yamauba is going to keep coming back until we deal with it."
"Can’t we just kill her?"
"Find me a spell that’ll work and we’ll try." She glances at her watch. "I’ve gotta go pick up Kaoru from soccer practice. What do you want for dinner?"
Unagiya watches him a moment longer, then turns away. Ichigo spends more time with her than he does at school and home combined. She’s not sure if she should be worried— actually, no, she knows she should be worried. But it’s better, she thinks, that he spends time with her than with no one at all. Better for his wellbeing.
Fewer ways to get in trouble, and all that.
<napoleonbonerparty has joined chat>
<HalfBreed15 has joined chat>
napoleonbonerparty: So a little bird told me you’ve been talking to a certain spark.
HalfBreed15: Yes. He had a setsubun infestation.
napoleanbonerparty: Rumor has it he runs with wolves.
napoleanbonerparty: So are we still on for summer vacation?
HalfBreed15: That depends. Does the invitation still stand for Paris after?
napoleanbonerparty: Is that the only reason you’ve agreed to come?
napoleanbonerparty: We’ll make a nerd of you yet.
napoleonbonerparty: Have you caught up on GOT yet?
HalfBreed15: Yes. Unagiya and I finished it Thursday.
HalfBreed15: I’m not sure how I feel about Cersei as queen.
HalfBreed15: It just feels wrong.
napoleonbonerparty: I KNOW.
<LittleRedSpark has joined chat>
LittleRedSpark: wassup bitches
LittleRedSpark: oh i see you was talking shit 15
HalfBreed15: 15? Is he referring to me?
napoleonbonerparty: Yo, LittleRedSpark! Nice to meet you!
LittleRedSpark: youre the psychic who helps 15 with school bro hook me up
napoleonbonerparty: I keep my school secrets close to my chest.
LittleRedSpark: damn thats cold
LittleRedSpark: game of thrones?
HalfBreed15: He’s trying to convert me.
napoleonbonerparty: We’re going to SDCC this summer!
LittleRedSpark: no shit
LittleRedSpark: thats awesome
LittleRedSpark: are you cosplaying?
HalfBreed15: Napoleon is insisting on it.
napoleonbonerparty: If you don’t I’m bringing my sister’s Cersei dress for you.
HalfBreed15: Red clashes horribly with my hair.
LittleRedSpark: yeah no offense but how are you a ginger?
HalfBreed15: Recessive gene on my mother’s side.
HalfBreed15: How did you know what color my hair is?
LittleRedSpark: you posted photos of your latest protection charm
LittleRedSpark: it required a lock of hair
LittleRedSpark: i assumed it was yours
HalfBreed15: Oh right.
napoleonbonerparty: With that knowledge I put forth the cosplay idea of Oz Osbourne.
napoleonbonerparty: I’ll be Buffy.
HalfBreed15: Aren’t you a six and a half foot tall Indian dude?
HalfBreed15: You’re right.
LittleRedSpark: thats awesome
napoleonbonerparty: Hey Red, I’ve gotta ask. Are the rumors true?
LittleRedSpark: which ones?
napoleonbonerparty: You run with wolves?
LittleRedSpark: well kinda
LittleRedSpark: its complicated
LittleRedSpark: i used to be friends with the wolves in my area
LittleRedSpark: but then they got stupid so i only hang with the one
LittleRedSpark: naturally the creepy pedo one but at least hes funny
HalfBreed15: That sucks.
LittleRedSpark: yeah whatever they were holding me back
napoleonbonerparty: Yo what Territory are you on? My Papa used to be an Emissary for the Leroy Pack before the Argents fucked them.
LittleRedSpark: argents? wer friends with the argents now
LittleRedSpark: or wer supposed to be
LittleRedSpark: ever heard of the hales?
napoleonbonerparty: I heard they died out.
LittleRedSpark: well theyre back
LittleRedSpark: theyre kinda fucked i stay away from that mess nowadays
napoleonbonerparty: I hear that. Pack mentality just isn’t what it used to be. I blame the internet.
HalfBreed15: Wait a second.
HalfBreed15: You two get to hang out with wolves and kitsunes and vampires and I’m stuck with bitchy ghosts and family legacies?
HalfBreed15: Fuck this.
LittleRedSpark: vampires? legacies?
napoleonbonerparty: My girlfriend’s a vampire. Very sweet. She tends to hang on the VeganVamps chat.
napoleonbonerparty: 15 recently discovered his mother’s a rebel princess of the Quincy race and his Dad is the former head of some Noble Family in the Spirit World.
napoleonbonerparty: He’s as blue-blooded as they come, poor thing.
HalfBreed15: I am the product of some Shakespearean bullshit.
HalfBreed15: And all I got was this stupid badge.
LittleRedSpark: oh thats fucking creepy
LittleRedSpark: and somehow disappointing
HalfBreed15: It’s also useless. And monitors my spiritual power should I ever get it into my head to be a shinigami again.
HalfBreed15: Currently it’s at the bottom of the river.
LittleRedSpark: dude they tried to tag you
LittleRedSpark: kill them ALL
HalfBreed15: I’d rather leave. Less to clean up afterward.
napoleonbonerparty: So he’s coming to live with me and my girl in the City of Love.
napoleonbonerparty: PERMANENT SLEEPOVER!
HalfBreed15: I’m rethinking my plan to move to Paris.
napoleonbonerparty: You’re such a prick.
HalfBreed15: I’m not the kind of guy who asks for vengeance. So as soon as I finish my apprenticeship, I’m off to America, then France.
HalfBreed15: I’m hoping to continue my studies in spiritual workings shinigami-free.
LittleRedSpark: youre a better man than me then
LittleRedSpark: oh right i came on here to ask if anybody knew how to wake someone from an eternal slumber curse
LittleRedSpark: obvsly i’m not in any hurry or anything but a cure would be nice
napoleonbonerparty: True Love’s First Kiss usually works. Barring that… I’m not sure.
HalfBreed15: My boss and I had a case in Osaka where the girl had been spelled by an ex-boyfriend for grimy purposes. An injection had her jumping out of bed in about five minutes. It’s tricky though— you have to get the dosage just right or else they’ll overdose. You need just under the amount that would kill them.
LittleRedSpark: no shit
LittleRedSpark: well ill get right on that thanks guys
<LittleRedSpark has left chat>
napoleonbonerparty: Holy shit. That kid talked to me.
HalfBreed15: Yeah. I didn’t think he was talking to anybody.
napoleonbonerparty: You must have thawed him out.
napoleonbonerparty: Dude if he’s really the Spark from the Hale Pack…
napoleonbonerparty: He’s a fucking monster.
napoleonbonerparty: In a good way.
napoleonbonerparty: In a 'save his entire town' way.
napoleonbonerparty: He’s taken on entire covens of witches on his own.
napoleonbonerparty: He decimated the American Argents.
napoleonbonerparty: And has a treaty with the Calaveras.
HalfBreed15: I don’t know what that means.
napoleonbonerparty: The Argents and the Calaveras are two of the strongest hunter families of the Western Hemisphere.
napoleonbonerparty: They turn werewolf packs to dust.
HalfBreed15: Oh. Shit.
HalfBreed15: Well, that’s pretty cool.
napoleonbonerparty: THAT’S PRETTY COOL? THAT’S ALL YOU HAVE TO SAY?
napoleonbonerparty: WE JUST TALKED TO A WESTERN LEGEND.
napoleonbonerparty: THERE ARE SONGS WRITTEN ABOUT HIM.
HalfBreed15: And we’re done. I’ll talk to you later, Abhi.
<HalfBreed15 has left chat>
napoleonbonerparty: You fucker.
<napoleonbonerparty has left chat>