(Part 2 of the "Fight or Foreplay" Arc)
Fight or Foreplay part 2: “Betting Pool”
A completely and totally INSANE Bleach silly fic, by Mel and Christy.
(Kenpachi + Ichigo + Grimmjow, with assorted people putting their oars in making… ‘suggestions’ :P)
“Betting pool? Seriously?”
“Yeah, I hear the pot’s getting pretty big!”
“Who’s running it? I might put a bit on.”
“Abarai and Kuchiki. Yachiru--”
“Kuchiki-taichou is running the betting pool?!”
“Oh get real, no. D’you really think he’d have anything to do with it? It’s his sister, Rukia. Yachiru has the schedule if you want to go watch the fights.”
“…People can watch?! Seriously?”
“Well, yeah! Why not? It’s a helluva lot of fun as long as you stay far enough away from Zaraki-taichou’s reiatsu. Get too close and you can’t breathe.”
“I thought they’d be hiding it for sure. I mean, if the captains find out, won’t there be trouble?”
“*snicker* Half the captains are already in the pool. Ukitake-taichou’s got money on each way, he says ‘to be fair’.”
“The next one’s tonight, wanna come?”
“I’ve got patrol…”
“All right, I’m in. There’s no way Zaraki-taichou can lose. D’you know what they’ve got the odds at?”
“Ah, uh, Yamamoto-soutaichou! Good morning!”
The elderly shinigami walked past with an acknowledging grunt as the group of shinigami bowed, trailed by his lieutenant.
“…Phew. He’s gone.”
“I thought you said the captains were okay with this?”
“Some of them are, sure. Some of them are ignoring it, some of them don’t know and are not getting told, okay, and Yamamoto-soutaichou really can’t find out! You know how strict he is about enforcing the letter of the law; how do you think he’d react if he found out that a captain and a substitute shinigami are playing with an Espada?”
“Not to mention the flirting.”
“Dude. It’s foreplay. Seriously.”
“Fucking Kenpachi,” Ichigo muttered, slouching towards school. “Fucking Grimmjow. Fucking Yachiru. Fucking Renji. Fucking Rukia…”
“Your harem seems to be growing, Kurosaki.”
“Sorry. You’re not my type.”
“Do we have to go through the whole verb-adjective thing again? Because I know you’re just shittin’ me,” Ichigo growled, glaring ineffectually.
“So who are you scheduled to fight tonight?” Ishida asked, pushing his glasses up slightly. “And do you get any time off to recover?” he asked, eyeing the bruises and bandaids visible on Ichigo’s exposed skin.
“Kenpachi. The bastards only give me one night off a week, when they’re fighting each other instead, and-- hey, how come you know about the damn schedule they stuck me with?”
“Kuchiki-san, of course. She mentioned it when she took my bet.”
“Rukia, damn you!” Ichigo hissed, stalking up to her desk.
“Oh, Kurosaki-kuuuuun, what seems to be the problem?” Rukia smirked, voice sickeningly sweet.
“You’re taking bets from fucking Ishida?!”
“And is there any reason I shouldn’t? His money’s good.”
“That’s not the problem and you know it! This is all your fault anyway!”
“It was your idea to introduce Zaraki-taichou and Grimmjow, you know. You can’t blame that on me,” she said smugly. “And really, since the betting pool is the natural result of that situation, this is all your fault.”
“I didn’t make them be idiots about f-fighting me in the first place!” Tendons were standing out on Ichigo’s neck with the strain of keeping his voice down to something approaching a normal classroom volume.
“Ara, did you nearly use a different verb there? F-something?”
“No I did not! That is all your perverted imagination, and did I mention papercuts? You-- hold on.” He blinked, suddenly looking horrified. “Oi. Those bets you’re taking… are they about the fights, or the… other thing, that’s totally all in your head?”
“Oh, the fights, of course.” She paused just long enough for him to look relieved. “Mostly.”
“What’s all the noise about? Disturbing my research…”
“I believe people are discussing a popular betting pool, Mayuri-sama. I will endeavour to keep them at a sufficient distance to not bother you.”
“Do that. Hmm… what are they betting on? Anything interesting?”
Nemu hesitated briefly before answering. “…Nothing unusual, Mayuri-sama. I believe it to involve the result of sparring sessions involving the Eleventh division.”
“Pah! Neanderthals. Yes, keep them away from me. If it’s not worth researching I don’t want to hear about it.”
“Of course, Mayuri-sama.”
“Oh, hey Yachiru. What’s up?” Abarai Renji turned towards the small pink-haired shinigami, and blinked as she thrust a wad of bills at his face.
“Bets!” she cheered, bouncing up and down. “You’ll keep track, right? Here’s the list!” And she shoved a piece of paper covered in scrawled crayon into his hand with the money and was off again.
“Thanks!” he called after her, squinting at the childish handwriting. “Now if I can just work out what she wrote… okay, fifty from Pachinko-head on Ken-chan, that’s Ikkaku betting on Zaraki… ten from Makimaki on Ken-chan. Who the hell is Makimaki? Uh… Aramaki, I think? Next is… one hundred, nice! From Nene-chan, betting that Grimmy will get into Icchy’s-- damn, I didn’t know Yachiru knew what that meant.” Blushing slightly, he cleared his throat and looked at the note again. “Nene-chan. Who’s Nene-chan?”
Frowning, Renji considered which female shinigami he knew had names that might be abbreviated as ‘Nene-chan’. “Isane? No, she’d bet on who would need the most bandages or something like that. Nanao… no, Yachiru calls her Book-chan usually. Um…
“…Nemu? Mayuri-the-freak’s lieutenant is betting on Grimmjow verbing Ichigo?!”
Shaking his head, Renji wrote the assorted bets down in his notebook, then turned back to the note. “Last ones. Fifty from Boob-chan -- well that one’s easy to work out. Matsumoto. So, fifty from Matsumoto on Icchy beating Ken-chan tonight, with accompanying rude drawing from Yachiru disagreeing, and another fifty on…” His eyes widened. “…Ken-chan getting into Grimmy’s hakama?!”
“Rangiku-san, how could you?!” Yumichika wailed.
“How could I not? She gave me twenty to one odds!” Matsumoto smirked. “Besides, you should be happy that I think your captain can top an Espada.”
“Eh? Oh, I’m not upset about that,” the Eleventh squad’s fifth seat officer sniffed. “Of course Zaraki-taichou will top. He is the very embodiment of seme,” he beamed, flipping his hair.
“…Then what are you upset about?”
“You bet on Ichigo to win their fight!”
“Soutaichou.” Sasakibe’s voice was serious. “There is definitely something odd going on.”
“Hmmmm.” Yamamoto Genryuusai’s brow creased as yet another group of chattering shinigami hurriedly shushed each other as he approached.
“Shall I investigate?”
Shunsui’s hat was tipped down over his eyes as usual, muffling his voice slightly. “Who are you betting on?”
“…I have too much work to do to waste time on such a ridiculous pastime,” she said frostily.
“Oh? That’s a shame… I was going to ask you to take my bet in,” he said mournfully. “I suppose I’ll have to get up…”
“Hand it over.”
“Really? But no, you’re busy, I should--”
“Taking care of errands for my captain is part of my job,” she sniffed, adding pointedly “However ridiculous and petty they might be.”
“Ah, Nanao-chaaaaan, you’re so good to me! Lovely, lovely Nanao-chan! Sweet Nanao-chaaaa--OW!”
Leaving Shunsui behind rubbing his book-shaped bruise, Nanao started towards the Sixth’s office, then paused. Seeming to come to a decision, she turned towards the Eighth’s barracks first.
“It’ll be more efficient to do them all at once,” she muttered under her breath, adjusting her glasses with a sigh. “Since everyone will ask me to deliver them anyway…”
Fifteen minutes later, halfway to the Sixth, Nanao was brought up short by a voice from behind.
“Ise-san! Good timing! Would you do me a favour, please?” Rukia called, waving.
“Ah, Kuchiki-san. Certainly.”
“Are you going towards the Sixth squad’s office?”
“That is in fact my destination,” Nanao sighed, showing her a thick wad of banknotes and slips of paper. “Everyone wants to bet before the fight tonight.”
“Perfect,” Rukia said, a strange glint appearing in her eye for a moment. “Would you add this one to your stack, please?”
“Eh? Of course, but can’t you just pass it on yourself?”
“Er, um, I have to get back to the living world before lunch hour is over,” Rukia said hurriedly. “I only came back to pick up a few things, and, well… that bet’s better coming from someone else. You’ll understand. Anyway, I have to go! Thank you so much!”
“…You’re welcome,” Nanao said faintly, watching her run off. Curious, she picked Rukia’s bet out from the middle of the stack where it had been pushed, unwrapped the note from around the cash and read it, one eyebrow lifting. “Ah. I see.”
“Yo, Ise-san! Business?”
“Entirely unofficial,” Nanao said dryly, producing a large wad of cash and numerous scraps of paper. “Have you a moment?”
“Sure! Captain’s out, paperwork’s… mostly done, and I’m at your disposal,” Renji grinned, pulling out his notebook.
“Thank you. First, Kyouraku-taichou would like to put fifty on each way.”
“Heh. Same as Ukitake-taichou,” Renji snorted.
“And probably for the same reasons,” Nanao sighed. “Enjouji-san would like to bet twenty on Zaraki-taichou…”
They worked their way through the stack of betting slips, including several relating to the ‘it’s foreplay’ rumours; Nanao read those bets out as unemotionally as the rest, and Renji managed not to blush too hard as he wrote them down.
“Is that the last one?” he asked finally, seeing only one more slip of paper in her hand.
“Almost.” She adjusted her glasses, looking at the slip with a strange half-smile. “This is an anonymous bet, to be paid out to the Shinigami Women’s Association if it wins.”
“Huh? That’s unusual,” Renji blinked. “All right, I guess…”
“The bet is fifty… on Abarai-fukutaichou getting into Kurosaki-san’s hakama first.”
He nodded absent-mindedly, starting to write. “Got it. Abar--WHAT?!”
Nanao blinked calmly. “Do you need me to repeat it?”
He could feel himself turning as red as his hair. “I-- but-- wha-- who?!”
“As I said,” she shrugged, turning the paper around so he could see for himself. The page was covered in cut-out letters, glued down to form something that looked like a clichéd ransom note. “The bet is anonymous, and since it was put into the middle of my stack I really can’t say who it’s from…”
“More like ‘won’t’,” he growled, grabbing it out of her hand and glaring at it. “Rukia gave this to you, didn’t she?”
“Oh?” She blinked again. “I believe Kuchiki-san is in the living world right now; it’s school hours, is it not?”
“--Oh. Yeah. That’s true.”
“And one more bet before I leave, if that’s all right?” Pulling her wallet out of the breast of her kimono, Nanao pulled out a note and held it out to him. “Twenty on Kurosaki-san, if you please.”
“Soutaichou. I have succeeded in gathering the information required.”
“Ah, good! So, Sasakibe… what’s going on?”
“It appears to be a betting pool…”
“Yo, Ikkaku! Who’re you betting on?”
“Iba-san! Do you even have to ask?” Ikkaku grinned sharp-toothed at the Seventh squad’s lieutenant. “My captain’s a shoo-in!”
“I hear it’s been ties all this week,” Iba grunted, sitting down next to him and swiping his bottle for a drink. “What makes you think he’ll win this time?”
“Ha! How much you lost so far?”
“…A bit.” Ikkaku grabbed the bottle back with a little more force than absolutely necessary, glaring. “How much have you lost?”
“Me? I’ve been betting on ties,” Iba grinned, pulling a wad of cash thick enough to choke a Hollow out of his kimono.
“Then buy your own booze, asshole!”
“Captains’ meeting! Captains’ meeting!” The announcement rang through the inner offices of the Seireitai, accompanied by the clatter of mallets on wooden plaques. “Captains’ meeting! All captains and Abarai-fukutaichou are to report immediately!”
“…Hoshit,” Renji whispered, eyes huge.
The room was silent except for the faint chime of Zaraki’s bells as Renji knelt, eyes on the floor in front of him. All the captains were lined up facing each other, with Yamamoto-soutaichou seated at the opposite end of the room, hands folded over his staff… and glowering.
“It has come to my attention,” he growled slowly, voice dark, “that members of the Gotei 13 are attending and betting on arranged matches between Zaraki-taichou, the Substitute Shinigami Kurosaki Ichigo, and the Sixth Espada, Grimmjow Jaegerjaques. This has been taking place for nearly a week… and no-one saw fit to inform me!”
Mayuri perked up, looking interested, and then suddenly scowled. “‘Nothing unusual’, my foot! Oh, well, I suppose Nemu hadn’t heard the details… hmph.”
Kyouraku and Ukitake looked at each other, eyes wide, and then hurriedly burst into speech, talking over and around each other. “Ah, well, Yama-jii, it’s not so bad really! Nothing to get upset about!”
“After all, it means Zaraki-taichou is getting his daily exercise without destroying buildings here in Seireitai!”
“It’s good for squad morale and, um, emotional rapport?”
“A chance to observe the Espada’s fighting methods…”
“…and really, the fact that he’s willing to play along indicates that he’s not that bad…”
“…possibility of influencing him to our side, in fact…”
“…we could end up getting useful information on Aizen’s plans,” Kyouraku said enthusiastically. “I hear you can bribe him with sour apple candy!”
“He won’t throw a match for it, though,” Zaraki rumbled thoughtfully. “Or pocky.”
Several captains looked at him disbelievingly, and he shrugged. “What? Yachiru tried.”
“Ah, well, that makes more sense,” Komamura muttered.
“Enough!” Yamamoto-soutaichou’s staff hit the floor with a loud *crack*. “I didn’t call you all here to make excuses or to try to explain your squad members’ conduct! This meeting has only two objectives. First! I wish to make it clear that I am to be notified of any future incidents of this or similar nature immediately!”
Assorted variants on “Yes, sir,” were snapped, growled, or mumbled, according to the speakers’ individual natures (and the current states of their consciences).
“Second!” The elderly man’s eyes narrowed. “Abarai-fukutaichou!”
Renji swallowed hard. “…Yes, sir?”
“I believe that you are one of the principal instigators of this… betting ring?”
Sweat was running down one of his forehead tattoos. Renji blinked it away and shut his eyes, awaiting his doom. “Yes, sir.”
“Hrm. Good.” There was a faint rustling sound, and then a choking noise from Kuchiki-taichou’s direction. Disbelief?
“Fifty on a draw,” Yamamoto said crisply. “Dismissed!”
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