Ichigo’s breaths were heavy and elongated, his knuckles stinging from the impact of knocking out yet another idiot who wanted to fight him. Standing upright after being outstretched from his punch, he sucked on his knuckles briefly, lapping up the tiny beads of blood that started to ooze through the bruises on his hand.
“Kurosaki! Fighting on school grounds again?!” a demanding voice shouted.
Ichigo’s head snapped to look behind him, seeing a higher up from his school that was constantly on his case.
“It’s after school, give me a break!” the young man shouted, immediately sprinting off.
“Get back here!” the instructor yelled, not bothering to chase after the delinquent. It wasn’t easy to match up with Ichigo’s speed, his legs were just too long.
Ichigo stepped on one of the fallen idiots from the fight before fleeing from the scene of the crime, yanking his bag off the ground as he left. Sprinting for a good few minutes, Ichigo significantly slowed to a jog, then a limp. Fighting five people at once was bound to have amounted to at least some injuries, and he had a lot to prove for it.
He could feel his shins and knees throbbing from the kicks he got down there. His face started to swell from the punches he took to it, some blood starting to peek through lines of broken skin as the flesh around it bruised and darkened. Even his eye started to swell closed from the black eye he suffered.
It pissed him off. Not the injuries, but just the fact that those pinheads had the gall to pick a fight with him. And for what?
His stupid hair color.
Ichigo hissed his teeth.
“‘Your haaaair pisses me off,’” he mocked. “‘You’re a daaaaaamn SHOWOFF!’ The hell did I even do? Is walking around is too much for ya?”
He stepped in a huge puddle, given from the rainfall the night before. It was a lot deeper than he expected, his shoe sucking in all the water. Cursing loudly, he kept walking but more awkwardly.
“Dammit all. ‘Your hair is too flashy.’ It’s my natural color! How many times…” he grumbled to himself.
Most of the time I'm not even doing anything. Just because I got this stupid bright orange hair from… my mom, it doesn't mean jackshit! I wish bright hair was at least a bit more normal in this country.
Turning onto a bigger street filled with people, he immediately got a bunch of weird looks. Probably more from his bruises than his hair, but it was probably a contributing factor. Usually the stares wouldn't bother him, but today it particularly did.
He wished he had a phone to text his sisters that he wouldn’t immediately be coming home, but they're just going to have to hear it from him later. Not that it mattered, he was usually always safe when coming home late, but the worry was still there.
Civilians did their best to steer clear of bumping into Ichigo as he walked in the middle of the sidewalk. He caught a glimpse of some people's faces, seeing disgust and sometimes fear written on it.
It gave an unpleasant sting to his heart.
But then he just tried to ignore it all, and the world around him as well. There was a place he was looking for, he remembered that he had to take Karin and Yuzu to it a couple of times. Luckily it wasn't too far off from his school. His eyes scaled the signs of stores, restaurants, and office buildings he passed, none of their names being the one that he was looking for.
Haifuku - Salon & Hair products .
That's the one. Taking a sharp right turn, he pushed open the glass doors of the building and stepped inside. Inside to the front were rows of hair products, and a person standing at a register off to the side. Shampoo, conditioner, the like. Ichigo scaled the shelves, coming across the section he needed. Hair dye. Bright colors were often looked down upon in Japan, usually associated with delinquency… or worse. Ichigo got ticked off a lot but he wasn’t a delinquent. He never seeked out trouble, it was always just drawn to him, and his hair was quite a beacon.
It got annoying after a while, constantly being subjected to torment by both instructors and students because Ichigo didn't have black, flat hair.
Ichigo gripped a bottle and glazed over its label. "Black" and "Hair dye" was all he focused on. Good enough.
He took it off the shelf and headed to the register, shuffling in his bag to pull out a wallet.
“Eh… how much?” Ichigo asked, looking down at the funds in his pockets, spreading his wallet folds and yen apart with his fingers as he counted before looking at the registeree.
They were silent, looking at the bruises all over Ichigo in fear, making him roll his eyes.
“C’mon, how much? I can’t have you staring at me all day,” he said, putting the bottle of hair dye on the register table.
“Um, 2400 yen,” they said, scanning the bottle.
“Yeesh, that price is kinda pulling my leg,” he complained, pulling out the needed amount and handed it to the person at the register. “And uhhh, one quick question. I’ve never dyed my hair before and—”
“You haven’t? I would’ve thought…”
“I get that a lot. My hair is natural.”
Ichigo cleared his throat. “Uh, anyway. I was wondering how to dye my hair. You should know, right?”
“Oh, yes. Um, basically you wash your hair first, then put the dye in. Let it sit for about an hour or so. If it doesn’t come out as dark as you want then just repeat it,” the register person said, putting the bottle of hair dye in a bag.
“Okay, thanks. Also, no bag. I have one already,” Ichigo said.
Taking the bottle out of the bag, they handed it to Ichigo who hastily shoved it into his school bag. Without any other words, he left.
“Karin? Yuzu? You two home?” Ichigo shouted in his home as he walked in the front door.
“I’m here!” Yuzu said from the kitchen. “Karin is upstairs.”
“Alright, good to know." He slipped off his shoes, taking off his socks with it, relieving himself of his soggy sock and shoe.
Yuzu peeked out from the kitchen to look at her brother who was heading upstairs.
“Ichigo, did you get into another fight?”
“I didn’t get into a fight, it’s more like I was attacked,” he growled.
“Do you need help cleaning your wounds?”
“Nah, I’m fine, but thanks. Oh wait, can you toss me an ice pack?”
Yuzu whimpered, pitying her brother’s injuries as she went to the freezer. She stood on her tippy toes to reach into the top shelve of the freezer to pull out a big ice pack. Closing the door with her foot, she brought her arm up behind her, she swung it forward and tossed the ice pack to her brother.
He caught it in the crook of his elbow, saying "Thanks," quickly.
Ichigo quickly headed upstairs and into his room, dropping off his stuff. Squatting down, he unzipped his bag to take out the bottle of hair dye.
“Yo, Karin. You gonna need the bathroom? Cuz I’m gonna be in there a while,” Ichigo shouted for his sister to hear, stripping from his clothes, leaving himself in a tank top and his boxers.
“No. Don’t stink up the bathroom, Ichigo!” she yelled from her room.
“‘Stink’?! I ain’t taking a dump!” he barked.
He could hear Karin snicker, and he clicked his teeth as he snagged a pair of scissors off of his desk, picked up the ice pack as well, and went into the bathroom. Placing the scissors down on the sink ledge, he stared at himself in the mirror.
“Oh yeah, ice pack, ice pack,” he hummed, holding up the ice pack onto his eye which was nearly entirely swollen shut. “Uh….”
Ichigo went into the cupboard behind the mirror to pull out a box of bandaids. Realizing he couldn’t put on bandaids with one hand, he put the icepack down to pull the bandaids out of the box. Not bothered to clean the wounds, he just peeled out a bunch of bandaids to put it on his face. They were the only wounds he really cared about, ignoring the rest on his arms. It concerned him a little, seeing how dark the bruises started to get.
He thought about whether to wet his hair using the sink or the shower. Realizing that the sink would probably be too small for his fat head, he went over to shower. He slid open the shower door and pulled off the extendable shower head with his free hand. He turned on the water, it spraying all over the walls of the shower. Leaning into the shower, he aimed the shower head at his hair, letting his hair become soaking wet. It was cold, and it made goosebumps run down his back. He stood there for a while, his hair starting to fall down from its once spiky style.
Is this a good idea…? Do I hate myself this much to dye my hair? he thought.
Before he even realized it, he was back in front of the sink, looking in the mirror with the bottle of hairdye in hand.
Now or never, I guess.
Taking a deep breath, Ichigo took the ice pack off of his eye to rest it onto the sink’s edge. He popped open the bottle of hairdye and poured a whole lot of it into his hair. He watched the black glob sink into his roots, corrupting his hair from a bright orange to a pitch black.
He watched the change happen, starting to use his fingers to mix it in. Ichigo closed his eyes, trying not to think much about what he was doing. After a bit, he opened his eyes again, seeing his hair nearly entirely black. He put in another glob in and mixed it in.
He took the scissors he left out and began to trim some of his hair, making sure that his hair wouldn’t return to its super spiky state. He watched black strands fall into the sink, slowly piling up one after another. Looking back up, his hair was nowhere smooth, but the spikes were definitely reduced. His hands hung limp in the sink as he looked at himself, hair dye dripping onto his shoulders.
It was hard to process this new look. Ichigo didn’t recognize it as him. So he just kept staring at himself, and hoped to realize it was him that he was looking at.
Ichigo sat in between his sisters as they all watched television, towel still sitting on his shoulders, holding up the ice pack up to his eye. Yuzu and Karin often shot glances at their brother’s new hair color, obviously put off by it.
“Okay, Ichigo. What the hell did you do to your hair?” Karin blurted out.
“I dyed it.”
“DUH, but why?!”
“Geez, Karin, is it so much of an issue to want to change up my look?” Ichigo responded, his answer feeling vaguely forced.
“Uh? Is this the same Ichifart I’ve known all my life? You were always so defensive about your hair, and how you kept it orange out of spite!” she shouted, shifting onto her knees to get closer to Ichigo’s face.
“Sometimes things change! Drop it already!” Ichigo yelled, leaning into his sister’s face, in turn making her lean back.
“Hey, calm down guys,” Yuzu said from the other side of Ichigo.
Karin and Ichigo had a staredown for a bit, before Karin clicked her teeth and sat back down, huffing and folding her arms.
“Just wait until dad has something to say about this.”
And like perfect timing, the Kurosaki father burst through their front door.
“HELLO, MY WONDERFUL CHILDREN!”
“Hey dad,” Ichigo said, not looking away from the TV.
He didn’t get a response, humming in question as he turned to look behind him. He was immediately greeted with two shoe soles to the face, sending him flying into the TV.
“Hey, don’t break it!” Karin said.
Ichigo screamed, turning it into a groan as he rubbed the back of his head, lying face down. He tried to sit up, but his dad stepped on his right arm, and grabbed his left. The once orange haired boy shrieked at the top of his lungs.
“Who are you and what kind of burglar are you to so calmly sit by my daughters?” Isshin asked.
“DAD, WHAT THE HELL?! IT’S ME, ICHIGO!”
“Oh!” he said, stepping off of him. “I almost didn’t recognize you because your hair is bl-bla- ICHIGO, YOUR HAIR IS BLACK?!”
Sitting up and winding his shoulder, Ichigo said, “Yeah? What of it?”
“WHY WOULD YOU DESECRATE THE BEAUTIFUL GENES YOUR MOTHER BESTOWED UPON YOU?!”
Ichigo’s eyebrow twitched. “It kept getting me in trouble.”
“Trouble? Like what?”
“All of my instructors hate me. Punks keep taking it as an invitation to pick a fight with me because they think I’m showing off!”
Isshin just stared down at his son, the one comedic expression on his face beginning to melt away into actual disappointment.
“You have gotten soft.”
“The Ichigo I raised would’ve never— never altered how he looked because of some itty bitty targeting.”
“Hey, it’s not—.”
“Didn’t you love your hair color, Ichigo? How much it made you look like your mother?”
A weight slowly began to press on Ichigo’s lungs.
“Listen, son. Your hair color was a gift. And I’d hope it’s something that reminds you of your mother. Because to me, it sure does. And it makes me feel relieved whenever I see it.”
Ichigo looked up at his dad, his face wrinkling into the slightest bit of regret.
“Get up, Ichigo.”
Ichigo stood up, now eye level with his father. Isshin held out his arms and embraced his son. Ichigo didn’t hug back, but he did accept what was being received. Suddenly, he was being spun around, both of his arms pulled behind his back as he got a foot pushing into his back.
“LETTING YOUR PA CATCH YOU IN A HUG?! YOU’RE SOFTER THAN I THOUGHT!”
“OW OW OW OW! LET GO OF ME!”
“Aw, dad! Give Ichigo a break! He’s already all beat up!” Yuzu said.
Isshin let Ichigo go, sending him flying onto the floor face first.
Standing over him, Isshin said with a glint in his eye, “About that hair, Ichigo. Are we letting you grow the black out or are we giving you a buzz cut?”
Ichigo shrieked, flopping onto his back and sitting up again, “For the love of everything, I’ll just grow it out! Don’t give me a buzzcut!”
Karin jeered, "Black doesn't fit you anyway, Ichigo."