Hey everyone, it's been a while. This story is brought to you by a challenge on the Writers Anonymous forum to write about mistaken identities. It's been a while since I tried to publish anything, so here goes. Also, this is a pairing I like more than any other within the Bleach IP. More details will be in an author's note at the end of this. Just to let anyone from the challenge know, this chapter is designed to work as a complete story, but will have several sequel chapters (it's all written on paper, I just need to type it out).
Oh, and for the most basic pronunciation help: In Japanese, 'i' is pronounced 'ee'. There's way more to this, but for simplicity, here's a guide for the exact names used that could cause confusion:
'Ichigo' = 'ee-chee-go'
'Mizuki' = 'Mee-zoo-kee' (it sounds more fluent when done with the Japanese accent)
'Kira' = 'kier-ah' (the 'r' is hard, not soft, as Japanese has no soft 'r' sound)
Satoshi = 'Sah-toh-shee'
These aren't perfect pronunciations, but they're probably 96% there.
Without further ado:
Ichigo Kurosaki was many things: college freshman; big brother; hero of two wars. He even saved the universe in the most recent one; not that anyone would know, however, as these events all took place in the afterlife. He was in a strange predicament—technically dead but still among the living—one thing he was not, however, was savvy when it came to dating. In fact, he was only recently discovering he had enough free time to consider the idea. Who would he ask? He didn't know. There were many beautiful women around him, but being as previously busy as he was, he wasn't sure if any of them liked him just yet. He wanted some practice anyway—he didn't know what a date might look like, and he wasn't about to ask his father—which is the only reason he agreed to a classmate's request to join him on a double-date. Apparently Ichigo was the only single person who wasn't too busy, and besides, Kira at least didn't seem like poor company, even if he forgot to give Ichigo his number or tell him the name of the girls.
Ichigo showed up, a bit early: the restaurant was a cozy place known for good food, and a waitress immediately approached him. "Are you here alone, or expecting someone?" She was very polite.
"I'm here for a double-date."
"Oh, let me lead you to the table then" And she did. Once again, she was very polite, something he appreciated since his naturally orange hair—something not normal for Japanese people—sometimes got him strange looks.
At the table were two girls; one immediately caught his attention with purple hair and orange eyes. She seemed familiar, though he wasn't sure why. She seemed to observe him in the same way he did her. The other girl, whose hair and eyes were not as colourful, was actually the one to speak up. "Are you Kira's friend?"
"Yeah," he affirmed, "though he never told me your names."
"I'm Mizuki: Kira's date. This is Senna: your date."
Ichigo bowed in greeting. "It's nice to meet you Mizuki, Senna." He then sat down on the bench across from them, directly across from Senna which happened to be closest to the window.
"Likewise," Mizuki said.
Senna seemed only slightly nervous, or was that excitement? She stuck out her hand, for a hand-shake; an unusual way to greet someone. "I'm Senna... uh, like Mizuki said. Nice to meet you too."
Ichigo put on a slight smile, took her hand and shook it. His sisters—and father, but he ignored the grown adolescent—always told him not to scowl so much because he intimidated people, so he would try. And it seemed to work as Senna now looked more sure of herself.
"So," Mizuki began, "while we wait, why don't you two get to know each other? Like your name?"
Ichigo felt a bit embarrassed. "Ah, sorry, I've never been on a date before. Name's Ichigo."
"You've never been on a date before? You? With those looks?" Mizuki couldn't believe it.
"I've been busy, okay?" he said indignantly.
"That's fine. It's Senna's first time, too." she retorted, knowing exactly how she delivered the line.
"M-Mizuki!" Senna half-hid behind the table, glaring at her friend. It took a bit of time for her to face Ichigo. "I-I'm sorry, she... well, uh—"
"D-Don't worry. I uh, know a couple of people who say stuff like that." Ichigo really wanted to change subjects.
Ichigo also looked like he wanted to hide, which made Senna feel a lot better about Ichigo: he didn't seem to be a pervert. "Just ignore Mizuki," she said.
"Done," he replied, sighing in relief.
Mizuki let out her own indignant 'Hey!' but nearly withered as both turned on her. "Okay, okay: no more innuendo." Still, she wanted to roast Ichigo a bit and test his character. Senna was her best friend, after all. "But 'strawberry'?"
Ichigo's scowl returned. "My name means 'number one guardian', not 'strawberry'."
"Well, Mister Guardian, I'll have you know Senna doesn't need any protection. Her dad's the chief of police here and she's a double black-belt in Karate." Her chin was propped up by her hand as she waited for the response.
"That's good, knowing how to defend yourself can be a real life saver. And no one's dad is as embarrassing as mine, so don't sweat it." He said this to Senna, now intent to ignore answering her friend directly for at least the next few minutes.
Senna smiled at the compliment. "Do you practice martial arts?" She was waiting for his answer with more than slight anticipation.
Ichigo couldn't help but smile in response—she seemed so full of life. "Yeah. Karate and some other stuff... it's kind of a mix now."
"Oh, can you show me?" She was pretty excited if the way her arms balled into eager fists on top of the table said anything.
"Uh, sure. But here isn't a good place. Maybe another day?"
Senna pulled her phone from a pocket in her skirt. "What's you number?" Ichigo told her, and she added him as a contact, then called just to make sure it was right. "Can I call you when I'm free?"
"Sure." Senna's stomach then growled, to her seeming embarrassment, something Ichigo understood but didn't see as a big deal: people get hungry.
Ichigo didn't mind, but Mizuki seemed annoyed. "Why isn't Kira here?" She whispered as shook her head. "Sorry Senna, I thought Kira would be here by now. We can order now if you want."
The three of them ordered and ended up in more small talk while waiting, and all seemed to be going well. Mizuki could see the budding chemistry between Ichigo and Senna, and wanted to give teasing them a try. "So Ichigo, do you like Senna?" The tone of her voice was apparent, and Senna responded exactly how she wanted.
"M-Mizuki! We just met!"
"She makes a fair point," Ichigo interrupted. "It's been maybe fifteen minutes?"
"Ichigo, I'm so sorr—" This time Senna was interrupted by Ichigo, who was chuckling.
"Don't worry about it, I wouldn't mind hanging out with you some more."
Mizuki saw the two caught in a small moment—not a moment where two people might kiss, just a moment where they seemed to connect more in a non-verbal way. Kira wasn't around, and she didn't want them going off on a tangent without her, so she made her witty remark: "And what about me?"
"I don't know..." Ichigo began, dripping with sarcasm, "you might not be the best influence on Senna."
Senna picked up on his sarcasm and played along: "You're right. She's convinced me to meet with strangers. You never know what could happen~" she sing-sang the last part for emphasis.
Mizuki let out an exasperated sigh. "Alright, alright, I get it: you're into each other." Her shoulders slumped a bit.
Picking up on her best friend's concern, Senna leaned over and gently asked, "Hey Mizuki, is Kira normally this late for dates?"
"No, he isn't. He hasn't even sent me a text. Ichigo, has he said anything to you?"
Ichigo shook his head. "Sorry, he forgot give me his number and never asked for mine. Do you think he's in trouble?"
Mizuki shook her head. "I don't think so. Nothing serious, at least."
Ichigo's instincts told him otherwise, she was definitely worried about something. "Do you want to go look for him?"
After a few seconds of thought, Mizuki relented. "Yeah, I do, but what if he comes here while we're out?"
"What if me and Ichigo look for him and you stay here?" Senna asked.
"Senna, your dad would kill you if you did that."
"It'll be fine."
The door burst open and two young men came in, panting, and the waitress quickly approached them and lead them to the table.
"Kira! What happened?" Mizuki had finally let go of her building tension, the result of which was loud enough that everyone in the restaurant looked over to them, though not for too long.
After catching his breath, Kira was able to respond. "Sorry Mizuki, Satoshi's homework took longer than expected and my phone died. We came here as soon as we could."
"Wait. You're Kira...? Mizuki's date?"
Everyone looked to a properly confused Ichigo.
"Yeah, that's me. Who are you?" And now that he thought about it, "And why are you eating with them?"
Ichigo couldn't believe it. "Well, my classmate Kira invited me to a double date here at six PM, but he never told me who the dates were."
Mizuki, beginning to realize the situation, followed him up. "And you never said who you were bringing"—she pointed—"so we figured Ichigo here was the guy."
"Well he's not," Kira stated, worried about this unknown person, "so he should—"
Everyone stopped when Senna burst out laughing and pointed at Ichigo. "You," she was thoroughly laughing, "showed up on the wrong," but Ichigo really liked the sound, "double-date." And there was no mockery in her tone whatsoever. Mizuki joined in, and even Ichigo had to laugh at himself. The two new boys also laughed, though not much. Ichigo made to move his plate, being polite, but Senna placed her hands over his. "Please stay, it's been fun."
Surprised at the request, Ichigo thought about it: His actual dates never showed up, so why should he prioritize them? And Senna wanted him to stay. "Sure." He scooched over to make room for the two boys, but there wasn't quite enough room due to Ichigo's shoulders taking up as much space as they did, so Kira sat beside Mizuki and Satoshi beside him. It was cozy on one side, but nobody minded too much.
Kira and Satoshi ordered their food, and after half an hour everyone had eaten. It was also apparent that Ichigo and Senna had gotten pretty comfortable around each other within that short time. Senna liked wolves, ice cream, and autumn, and Ichigo had,in one way or another, offered to take her to see wolves, eat ice cream, and take her through Karakura's nearby forest once the leaves started turning. He wasn't being very intimate when he offered, he just figured it would be nice to do those simple things for her. She had accepted all the offers.
A mild cross of King's Game and Truth or Dare had started, where one person gets to order someone else to do something and then pass along the right to order someone else to do something to the person who was ordered. Penalty for refusal of an order was drinking a glass of water. Everyone had drank at least two glasses, and Ichigo and Senna both had at least two more than the next contender. Part of this was because Satoshi was feeling a bit sore that his date had been hijacked. Not that he knew Senna well enough to be jealous, he just wasn't expecting to feel like a fifth wheel when he could otherwise be doing something more enjoyable.
It was nearing nine PM when the date had concluded, Mizuki needing to get home by eight-thirty, and therefore Kira would join her. Satoshi decided that was a good time to leave as well. Ichigo was surprised that Senna didn't go with them, and when she explained how she lived in the opposite direction, he still balked internally. That wasn't acceptable behaviour in his metaphorical book. He asked for the receipt and paid for both himself and Senna, offering to walk her home. She accepted, and the two were off a few minutes later.
"So," she began, wrapping an arm around Ichigo's, "what happened to the double-date you were supposed to be on?"
Ichigo shrugged with his free shoulder. "No idea, I don't have his number and he doesn't have mine."
"Then why'd you come?" She really wanted to know more about their serendipitous meeting.
"Well, Kira—not yours—seemed desperate and I felt sorry when he started begging; reminded me of a friend. So I promised I'd go. He gave me the place and time, and I went."
It was nearly dark and the streetlights illuminated their way as they went, and Ichigo almost didn't notice that Senna was leading him to a park. Almost. "Well, thank you for coming then. I had a lot of fun with you."
Under the light, Ichigo could see Senna's contagious smile and couldn't help but crack a small one himself. "I had fun, too. If you ever want to go out again, just call me."
Senna seemed to light up like a firefly. "I will!" Then she dragged Ichigo to a particular hill that overlooked the park and some of the nearby suburb lights. "It's not the Ferris wheel, but the view is still nice."
He looked at her in surprise. "You like heights?"
She stepped forward and extended her arms out to the sides. "I love them! You feel so free because you can see everything; it helps put things in perspective. All those tests stop mattering, and no one cares about who's prettiest. It must be nice to be a bird."
Ichigo was a captive audience, and found it hard to say anything, but when she looked back, it was more effective than when one of his younger sisters, Yuzu, had done it. He really didn't want to disappoint. "Yeah, it can be nice, seeing the whole picture. Maybe we can go on a Ferris wheel together?" He knew actions were better than words, and he meant everything he said. She must have, too, because she hugged him.
"It's a promise!" she demanded.
He rubbed her hair lightly. "You can count on it."
Half an hour later Senna was leading Ichigo to her house; the conversation still going. "So what school do you go to?"
Senna turned on Ichigo and stopped their progress. "You're in university?"
"Yeah, are you?" He was suddenly worried he was dating someone well under age.
She shook her head. "Dad isn't going to be happy... what year are you in?"
"First year. Are you still in high school?" he really hoped he hadn't just promised a date with someone that could put him in jail.
Senna was less worried, however, as she breathed a sigh of relief and nodded. "Yeah, my last. Well, I think dad will be okay with this. What are you taking, anyway?"
Oh, right, her dad was the chief of police. "Wonderful," he thought. "Medicine, I'm going to be a doctor," he said.
"Oh, I think he'll be okay with that... so that makes us a couple now, right?" She didn't seem to have a problem being so forward with Ichigo, who cracked a small smile. Apparently he liked the idea.
"How about we go on a few dates first?"
"Yeah, that makes sense. Just don't try to... uh, do anything inappropriate or dad will skin you alive." She let out a dying laugh.
"I'd skin myself. No way I'm giving Karin and Yuzu a bad example; my dad's bad enough."
"Are Karin and Yuzu your sisters?" She didn't know much about Ichigo's family other than his embarrassing dad. "And how embarrassing is your dad?"
"Yeah, they're my sisters," he replied. "And whatever happens, we keep this a secret from my old man for as long as possible." He was dead serious.
Senna giggled, "He can't be that bad."
"He'd tell your dad he wants grand-kids if he found out tomorrow." He was still serious.
Senna had trouble believing it, and the idea caught her completely off-guard. But the more she thought about it... "So we definitely don't tell him. What about your mom?"
Ichigo took a moment before speaking, his voice sombre. "She was killed years ago."
"I'm so sorry." She felt bad for bringing up what had to be a painful memory; not just dead, but killed.
Ichigo wrapped an arm around her shoulder and started walking them in the direction they had been going last. "Don't be, you didn't know." Aware of Senna's fallen mood, Ichigo tried to cheer her up. She didn't deserve to feel so down. "Besides, it's been a good night, and I'd rather save that talk for later."
Senna nodded her head, and began humming to fight off the sad feelings. She felt heat rise to her cheeks and a weightless feeling—the good kind—when Ichigo said it sounded good. The only thing left was to meet her father, and that would hopefully go over well. She had a good feeling. As they neared her house, she considered how lucky she was that Ichigo ended up on the wrong double-date. Ichigo felt the same. Perhaps a gift would be appropriate for the Kira(s) who caused this whole, wonderful mishap?
I'll be honest, I feel very out of form from a lack of practice when it comes to structuring my stories in the second draft.
Hey everyone, sorry I haven't updated my other stories lately. A few things have happened, and priorities have shifted, but I'm not abandoning them. I've also changed tactics in how I write: I will now write the entire story before uploading it. This story will be the only exception in that, while the first draft is fully complete on paper, I haven't converted the rest of it to the second draft digitally. The rest will get the full digital second draft before I start publishing. And honestly, it's paying off big time. How?
For reference, I currently write about 460 words every page of standard lined paper (on average: I did quite a bit of number crunching to get that), and 2 1/2 pages (about 1250 words) have turned into 2690 words in this first installment just by converting it into the second draft as I type it out.
And that leads to this: I'm actually pretty excited about a new story that's currently over 150 written pages long. It's a combination of something rarely done and something I've seen a few authors try but never fully accomplish. And it all started at "What if Ichigo..." And I'm just about to start the last story arc in it (once another shorter crossover story's first draft is complete). So hopefully it's up and chapters start to get a weekly release before the end of this year. But even if it gets released next year, there's another shorter two-part story (the first draft of both is already complete) that's getting its second draft and release soon(ish).
And if you don't mind, please consider a review. Thanks.
Have a great week and God bless,