Disclaimer: If I owned Bleach… it wouldn't be anywhere near as amazing. I'm not a genius like Kubo Tite, after all.
A/N: I am so, so sorry. I don't even remember why this took so long to get up, as I've had this chapter done since before I even uploaded the story onto FFnet. All this needed was a quick check for spelling and grammar errors, but I kept procrastinating on doing it.
I can't give guarantees that the next update will come sooner, despite that the chapter's done. College has kept me pretty busy so far.
But I managed to get a GPA of 3.2 for my first semester, which meant that I got to prove my cousin wrong in her claim that public school graduates go down a full grade point during their freshman year of college.
Hopefully, this chapter makes up for it a bit… it's one of my favorites, if only because of all of the characters that I get to introduce in it. Hopefully, you'll all like it even more than I did… especially copperheadedfightingninja, who reminded me that this story was sitting here collecting dust.
Thanks also to everyone else who waited for this story to be updated, and to those who reviewed: Mortimerscross, lover1487,and LuminousWeb.
Happy belated holidays, everyone, and happy early New Year!
"Um… Soi-fon-neechan?" Orihime asked tentatively. "Please don't kill Kurosaki-kun."
"So that's how it is." Another voice piped up, rife with mischief. "Kurosaki-kun, huh?"
Ichigo tried to say something, anything, in his defense, but it was muffled by the location of his face.
"Be quiet, human." Soi-fon snarled, twisting the sword slightly, then, in a louder voice, "and Orihime, just be a good little damsel in distress and wait for your sisters to save you from this… this… man."
"Methinks they doth protest too much." The unknown speaker commented with a giggle. "Well, he is kind of cute… I think. It's hard to tell, with his face being where it is, but judging from those muscles… nice catch, Orihime-chan!"
"R-Rangiku-neechan!" The caramel-haired girl squeaked, blushing heavily.
"Rangiku …" Soi-fon growled in a far different tone. Her blade pressed a little harder against her captives' neck and Ichigo held his breath, resisting the urge to gulp.
"Have you tried getting him drunk yet?"
"Rangiku!" The warning tone became a scandalized one.
"What?" The buxom blonde sounded genuinely confused, but all one had to do was glance at her eyes to see that spark of mischief. "Sake makes everything better, especially—aw, would you look at that? The back of his neck is all red, and so is her face… they look like giant, human-shaped tomatoes!"
The eldest sisters' eyes narrowed ever so slightly. "Or blood."
"Come on, Soi-fon-neechan, stop teasing the boy. Killing doesn't solve anything, and it's so messy!"
"It's only messy if it's done incorrectly." The psychopathic—in Ichigo's opinion, although there were a great many who would eagerly agree with him were it not for their self-preservation instincts—woman sniffed. "Just ask Rukia-chan or Yachiru-neesan, they'd tell you the same thing."
"Rukia-chan's a kidou specialist and Neechan spends all day riding around on Zaraki Kenpachi's shoulder while he kills people messily, so they don't count." Rangiku said firmly. "Come on, if we get him drunk enough, he'll think it was just a dream." She smirked. "A very good dream." Her expression began to resemble that of a shark. "And hey, if he's lucky, I may even be in it. How'd you like to get up close and personal with Matsumoto Rangiku, cutie?"
"Rangiku-neechan…" Orihime began, a strange look on her face.
"Apparently, he doesn't like it too much." Soi-fon cut the youngest sister off in a wry tone, eying the pallor her prisoners' face had taken on.
"That's only because he can't breathe, Soi-fon-neechan. He needs to relax, too, and I've got just the thing to help him do it!"
"You think that sake solves everything." The other woman muttered, shifting her grip on her blade so that she could turn to glare at her younger sister. Ichigo seized the opportunity to come up for air.
"That's because it does." The blonde informed her. "Now let them up, I'm sure that Kurosaki-kun's smart enough not to run away."
Ichigo nodded frantically, and reaffirmed his earlier pledge to offer up everything he owned to the god's. Assuming, of course, that he got out of this mess before getting killed by the crazy lady with the sword.
Hearing Rangiku's undeniably evil chuckling, he couldn't help but feel terrified out of his wits—er, slightly perturbed. Yeah, that sounded better, less like something that Ishida and Tatsuki would never let him live down and more like something that would earn him a sidelong glance with a raised eyebrow and a snide comment about him actually knowing that word.
He really hated that guy sometimes, even if they were friends. Stupid, stuck up, prissy jerk who insisted on being the smartest guy around… wait, why was his back suddenly lighter? And where had the sword at his neck gone?
"There you go, sweetie." Rangiku crooned as Soi-Fon reluctantly took a step back. "Now, let's just sit down and have some sake while we talk things over. I'm sure we can… is he running away?" She blinked. "Now that's rude."
"Wow, look at how fast Kurosaki-kun is!" Orihime commented. "He's even faster than Soi-fon-neechan!"
"I wouldn't be so sure about that." The dark-haired woman growled, starting after the fleeing teen. However, a hand on her shoulder made her pause. "What is it now, Rangiku?"
"There's no need for you to go after him, neechan." The blonde informed her cheerfully. "After all, he's heading right for—"
Several high-pitched, feminine shrieks cut through the relative quiet, followed by a far deeper voice alternately cursing and apologizing.
"—Our other sisters." Rangiku finished with a villainous smirk.
"PERVERT!" Despite the distance, they could hear the shouting quite clearly.
"NO, I'M—GAAH! GET OFF! MY HEAD'S NOT EDIBLE!"
"I COULD BITE HIS HEAD BETTER THAN THAT!"
"Um… Kiyone… Sentaro's not here…"
"I KNOW THAT, ISANE-NEECHAN! I'M JUST PRACTICING!"
"OW! PERVERT-KUN THREW ME OFF!"
"FOR THE LAST TIME, I'M NOT—"
"BAKUDOU NO ICHI: SAI!"
"Well," Rangiku began after the screaming had stopped. "It sounds like they're having fun, doesn't it?"
"Yeah, it does!" Orihime agreed. Soi-fon stared at them, wondering—not for the first time—if she had been switched at birth.
"I say we kill him." Rukia declared without preamble.
"Seconded." Soi-fon concurred quickly.
"Thirded." Kiyone said.
"Fine, kill me!" Ichigo yelled. Due to Rukia's kidou, he was unable to move, and had begun to wonder if there was actually some truth to what Orihime had told him earlier about her being from heaven. At the very least, her sisters—who had gotten dressed, thankfully—could not be human. "But get this thing off my head first!"
"I don't recall giving you permission to breathe, human, much less sully our ears with your babbling." The crazy dark-haired midget woman with the rings at the end of her hair snapped. "And refer to Yachiru-oneesan with the proper respect!"
"Oneesan?" He echoed. There was a giggle in his ear, and he turned his head just in time to see the pink blur jump to his other shoulder. "There's no way she's your older sister. She can't be more than five years old!"
"I'm way older than that!" Yachiru argued.
"Older than that, too."
"Silly! I'm… um…" She frowned, and started counting on her hands. "One… three… seven…" She jumped down from his shoulder and took off her shoes. "…Eleven… fifteen…"
"Look, can't we just pretend that none of this ever happened?" Ichigo asked the other three pleadingly.
"No!" They growled in unison.
"I got it!" Yachiru jumped back onto his head. "I'm one hundred and eighty three years old!"
"… No. You're not." The cowherd told her, sweatdropping.
Orihime was wrong, he decided. There was no way that these four were from heaven, although a place somewhat lower than that was a distinct possibility.
"Yes, I am." The little girl retorted. "Just ask my imouto's!"
"They're not your little sisters. They're probably not even related to you!" Ichigo argued. "You don't even look like each other, and you have different last names!"
"How dare you question our ways, puny mortal!" Soi-fon roared, leaping to her feet and glaring down at the captive. Rukia and Kiyone chorused agreement as they joined her, and the little pink-haired demon started chewing on his head. Again.
"Puny?" The orange-haired teen repeated incredulously. "I'm taller than the four of you midgets combined!"
"…WHAT DID YOU SAY?!"
"It looks like they're getting along great, doesn't it Isane-chan?" Rangiku commented. Isane choked on her mouthful of tea.
"Are you sure?" Orihime asked nervously, putting down her cup. "Soi-fon-neechan just drew her sword…"
"Don't worry, Rukia-chan's stopping her, see?"
"Oh Ruler," Rukia intoned, "mask of blood and flesh, all things in the universe—"
"On second thought, Orihime-chan, you may have a point." The blonde amended hastily. "Oi, Rukia-chan!"
Halfway through the incantation, the dark-haired girl faltered and lost her hold on the energy. Kiyone paled. "Uh-oh."
"Uh-oh?" Ichigo repeated, frowning slightly. "What's… hey, where are you all go—"
The cowherd blinked dazedly at the newly formed clearing—or to be honest, crater. It was hard to see through all of the smoke, although he was able to make out that all of the trees that had been there three seconds previously had somehow vanished. It smelled like something was burning, and he hoped that it wasn't him.
"What the heck…?" He muttered, before becoming acutely away of a pain in his head. "GET OFF! WHAT ARE YOU, A BULLDOG?!"
"Wai'm Yafee'oo!" The deceptively tiny monster replied through a mouthful of orange hair.
"JUST GET OFF ALREADY!"
"Neh wa'! 'E'uh-'oon!"
Somehow, Ichigo managed to translate her words into something resembling understandable Japanese. "I'M NOT A PERVERT, DAMMIT!"
"I'M NOT A SUPER PERVERT EITHER!"
And that was the scene that the rest of Yachiru's crazy family found when they managed to pick their way through the rubble left by Rukia's botched kidou. At first, all that they could do was watch, stupefied, as the teen ran around trying to get their older sister off.
"How did he survive?" Isane wondered, gaping at the miraculously unharmed—if slightly singed and badly bitten—cowherd.
"Who cares?" Soi-fon asked. There was an excited, even eager gleam in her eyes. "This just means I get to kill him myself!"
"Hey, I wanted to kill him!" Rukia protested.
"And I wanted to kill him more!" Argued Kiyone.
"Too bad, I saw him first!" The eldest of the trio said smugly. "Well, second. Right Orihime?"
She blinked. The spot next to her, where she had been directing the last few words, was surprisingly empty. "Orihime?"
"Kurosaki-kun, hold on!" There was a sweatdropping and exasperated sighing session as the five women watched their youngest sister chase the straight man and crazy demon-child comedy duo. "Yachiru-neechan, you really shouldn't try to eat people! They might not like it!"
"I know, it's strange, but some people really do feel that way. So can you please—oh no, Yachiru-neechan, please don't bite down harder! Kurosaki-kun, I'm sorry, I'll get her to let go!"
"Aw…" Rangiku grinned. "Isn't that adorable?"
"So what?" Rukia asked with a scowl. "I'm still killing him."
"No, I'm killing him!" Kiyone told her.
"I'm better at kidou!"
"You almost blew us all up a minute ago!"
"Only because Rangiku-neechan distracted me!"
"Well, I'm older!"
"So what? I'm—"
"I'm older than the both of you!" Soi-fon shouted at them both. They 'eep'ed and promptly dove for cover behind Isane, who turned her head to look at them with a sigh. "I'm killing him, and that's final!"
"Who says we have to kill him?"
For one long moment, Rukia and Kiyone stopped whimpering, Soi-fon stopped snarling, and they joined Isane in gaping at Rangiku. The blonde was grinning in that half-smug, half-evil way that sent a chill of fear down their spines.
"No." Soi-fon said immediately.
"What?" Rangiku blinked. "But I haven't even told you what my idea is yet!"
"You don't have to." The dark-haired woman told her. "I can already told you that it will never work, and will probably end with all of us hung over and the area around us destroyed and on fire."
"You say that about all of my plans!"
"That's because they're all the same." Kiyone reminded her. "All you ever come up with is for us to get drunk. Really, really drunk. And both times that we actually listened to you, we woke up the next day in weird places with really bad hangovers and most of our clothes missing."
"Exactly!" Matsumoto said, grinning and giving her sisters a thumbs-up sign. "But this one has a twist!"
"What kind of twist?" Soi-fon was suspicious, but also curious.
"Well, you know how now that he's seen Orihime naked he's dishonored her, right?"
"Right…" Isane nodded.
"That's why he has to be killed." Rukia snarled.
"Well, killing him isn't the only way to restore her honor, you know," Rangiku pointed out, "even if it is the therapeutic way."
"What are you…No. No, no, no, NO." Realization had come to Soi-fon first. "Not even you are crazy enough to think of what I think you're thinking of. And on the off-chance that you are that crazy, than actually stop and try to think past your constant drunken haze and see just how insane, foolish, and idiotic what you're thinking of is and stop thinking of—"
The well-endowed blonde pulled a bottle of sake seemingly out of nowhere. It took less than a minute for her to turn her deadly, determined older sister into a giggling, stumbling drunkard slurring something about 'pwiddy black kittiesh, wuv yoo Yoruiji-shama' and giggling.
"Anyone else not like my plan?" Rangiku asked sweetly, taking out several more bottles.
"Um… Rangiku-neechan…" Isane began, eying the alcohol nervously. "…What is the plan?"
"Huh? I didn't tell you?" Apparently, she had dipped into her own stash of sake while her sisters weren't looking.
The three sober women shook their heads.
"Well, who can see a girl naked who isn't also a girl?"
"Think younger, and not blood-related."
Three seconds passed in silence.
"No. No, no, no way—"
"Yes way!" Rangiku declared cheerfully after she had forced Rukia into a state of intoxication so great that she was hugging Soi-fon, who was hugging her back. They were squealing about 'teeny bunny wunnysh' and 'Yoru—hic!—iji-shama.'
"Not to sound like I don't support the plan or anything…" Kiyone was eying the pair nervously. Competitive she may have been, but she was also quite intelligent. "Because I do, I definitely do, I don't need to be drunk or anything! But he's seen you naked too. And Soi-fon-neechan."
"Yes, but I'm me." The blonde said. "And Soi-fon-neechan already wants to kill him."
Put that way, it almost made sense.
"Besides, they make such a cute couple, don't you agree?" Rangiku pointed, and the sober duo turned towards the youths in the question.
During the ten seconds that they watched, Yachiru managed to cover Ichigo's eyes, and, since he couldn't see where he was going, he ended up running right into Orihime the next time he turned around. Their heads collided and Ichigo toppled to the ground, clutching at the large bump he now had while Orihime frantically apologized and fretted over him. He looked up at her, his mouth half-open to tell her that he was fine, realized that she was still stark naked, let out a strangled yelp, re-covered his eyes, and started to dash away from her for some semblance of a safe haven while she did the same thing, only covering different body parts.
Yachiru, who had escaped being crushed between their heads by jumping to safety at the last possible second, watched and giggled for a few seconds before going back to torturing the orange-haired teen and causing the whole mess to start all over again.
"See?" Rangiku asked. "They're perfect together!"
"Okay, screw hangovers, I need to be drunk." Kiyone declared, grabbing the sake bottles from the older blonde. Isane just groaned.
"This won't end well, will it?" She asked in a resigned voice.
A/N: Those of you who know the Tanabata legend probably have a pretty good idea of what Matsumoto's planning. But I still hope I can manage to put a twist or two on it to surprise you anyways. :)
Here's a bit from the next chapter, for those of you who haven't already read it on my lj.
"YAMA-JII AND ICHI-NII AND EVERYONE ELSE, BREAKFAST IS READY!"
"Karin…" Ichigo began in a half-agonized, half-horrified whisper. "Made… breakfast?"
Karin never cooked. It wasn't that she was bad at it or anything like that; it was simply that she didn't cook. It just wasn't something she did.
Karin would only cook, in her own words, if the world were ending and Yuzu had lost all sense of taste and memory of her past ventures in the kitchen. He looked out the window, and, failing to see any fire or hear any screaming, wondered what the heck was going on.
"Not all by herself, of course!" Isshin replied cheerfully. "You didn't expect Yuzu to cook for all of our guests on her own, did you?"
The strawberry nodded thoughtfully, his hands still clamped over his ears. "That actually makes… wait." He blinked. "Guests? What guests?"
"FOOD!" The all-too familiar—and painfully high-pitched and noisy and oh kami-sama, what had he done to deserve this torture?—squealing was the only warning Ichigo had before a pink blur stampeded past his open door. LOUDLY. "CANDYCANDYCANDYYAAAAAAAAAAY!"
"Wait up, Neechan!" A taller, blonder bolt of lightning darted after the blur. "I want more sake!"
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