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Unknown Element

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Ichigo generally knows the reason why people dislike him. The thugs on the street dislike him because he can beat the shit out of them easily. His teachers dislike him because of his hair--no matter how many times Ichigo has tried to tell them that it’s naturally orange--and because of his perceived “punk” persona. Arisawa Tatsuki dislikes him because- Well, that’s not quite right. Tatsuki doesn’t necessarily dislike Ichigo, she just sees him as the sort of rival that she can attack at any time of the day. Even in the middle of class. She also finds some sort of perverse joy stealing Ichigo’s lunch. It’s infuriating.

The same could be said about Ichigo’s father--the “attack at any time of day” part, not the “steal Ichigo’s lunch” part, although Isshin would probably not pass up the opportunity to steal Ichigo’s lunch, either. (He would do anything to get more of his beloved daughter’s delicious cooking!) Ever since Ichigo started middle school last year, the Goat-face had begun attacking Ichigo out of nowhere. Ichigo knows for a fact that his dad doesn’t dislike him--even though he may have reason to. Ichigo’s parents have never been really cagey about the fact that he was adopted, and the odd circumstances in which this happened. It’s not every day you pick a baby up off the street, after all.

Ichigo is not the born child of Isshin and Masaki (unlike his sisters). Not that many know this, however. People always tell Ichigo that he looks a lot like his dad, even though as far as Ichigo knows, they are not related. Ichigo has actually considered that his dad cheated but discarded this idea almost immediately. His dad just loved his mom too much.

Anyway, Ichigo is usually perceptive as to the reason why people dislike him. This is why it is so baffling to him as to why Ishida Uryuu hates him so much. Ichigo had never even met the guy before this year (either he didn’t go to the same school, or they had just never been in the same class), so he doesn’t know how Ishida somehow developed such an everlasting disgust for his entire existence.

It would be less baffling if Ishida acted this way around everyone, but he doesn’t. Ishida’s generally not the nicest person around, but he remains civil and coldly polite with everyone at school. Everyone except Ichigo.

There have been several instances in which Ishida has shown this particular animosity towards Ichigo.


The first happens in just the second week of them being in the same class.

It’s one of the first warmer days of the year, and everyone in the classroom is restless, eager to get outside and enjoy the weather. The teacher is droning on about something or other, literature, history, nobody’s listening. Some brave student has cracked a window open and the breeze coming through is nearly intoxicating; the faint scent of freshness and new that only comes in the spring is spreading through the room.

Ishida, in the seat directly in front of Ichigo, is spinning his pencil (mechanical, blue, decorated with crosses) around and around his fingers, and Ichigo is almost entranced by the regular movement. Sunbeams shine through the classroom, illuminating dust particles floating in the air. A breeze from the open window ruffles a piece of paper that someone has taped to the wall.

Suddenly, something slams against the window, and Ishida startles, letting out an oddly high-pitched yelp. The pencil falls from his fingers and clatters to the ground. It rolls under Ichigo’s desk. Something that sounds like a faint snort floats up from somewhere across the classroom. It’s probably Tatsuki.

The pencil is a bit too far behind Ishida’s chair for him to be able to pick it up, so Ichigo reaches down and grabs it. After a moment’s hesitation, Ichigo prods Ishida with the pencil.

“Oi, Ishida-san. Your pencil, here.”

Ishida proceeds to tense up like the pencil was not a pencil and something closer in construction to a knife. Or perhaps a cattle prod.

Ichigo looks down at the object in his hand. Yep, it’s a pencil. Nothing special, aside from the pattern, which appears to have been painted on by hand.

“...Ishida-san?” Ichigo narrows his eyes and goes to poke Ishida with the pencil again. Before he can, though, Ishida whirls around and proceeds to pin him with such a look of pure disgust and vitriol that Ichigo actually flinches backwards. Seriously, it’s as though Ichigo is something particularly nasty that Ishida has found on the bottom of his shoe. That also insulted his mother, or something.

Ichigo briefly (stupidly) considers a third poke with the pencil, but scraps that idea almost as quickly as he comes up with it. Ishida would probably try to bite his nose off. Damn.

Ishida turns back around, and Ichigo slowly, carefully, quietly places the decorated pencil onto his own desk. Meanwhile, Ishida has pulled out his pencil case and already extracted a near-identical pencil from its depths.

Ichigo keeps the pencil. It ends up on his desk at home, and it for Ichigo to use it, so it gains an odd place of honor in the corner.

It isn’t until later that Ichigo realizes that nobody else in the class had reacted to the whatever-it-was hitting the window. Huh. Weird.


The second incident happens just over two weeks later. Classes have just finished for the day, and Ichigo is trying to avoid Tatsuki, who’s been badgering him to join the karate club. Tatsuki’s convinced that they’re rivals (or something) and can’t wait to get a sanctioned opportunity to kick his ass. Ichigo’s not about to give her that opportunity.

He’s made it to the shoe lockers without incident, and is actually quite proud of this. Tatsuki is quite good at ambushing, so it’s a testament to Ichigo’s growing sneaky (stealth) skills that he’s made it this far. He’s a bit thirsty, and decides to buy some milk from the vending machine.

To his surprise, Ishida is at the vending machine. He’s just pushing the button for a can of black coffee when Ichigo walks up behind him.


Remembering their most recent interaction (i.e: pencil, look of disgust, etc., etc.), Ichigo’s greeting gets chopped off at the end and he stands there awkwardly like a brick. Or a particularly fat gaping toad. Or something.

Ishida whirls around, and this time he doesn’t look so much disgusted as enraged.

“...Um. Ishida-san-- what-” Ichigo chokes out, taken aback.

“Stay away, you murdering filth. Leave me alone, or better yet, just leave.” Ishida’s words are biting and bitter. Like poison. Or coffee. Gross.

“...Excuse me? I’m not sure what you mean, I’ve never-”

Ishida interrupts him.

“Don’t pretend you don’t know anything, you shinigami scum. I know your kind.”

He proceeds to sprint out the door. Very fast. Ichigo is left in the dust, more than a little confused.

“Shini...gami?” he says under his breath. He puts his coins into the machine and presses the button for milk. “What in the-” Ichigo reaches into the machine and finds not just his milk, but Ishida’s abandoned can of coffee as well.

Unfortunately, Ichigo’s encounter with Ishida allowed Tatsuki to find him. He hears her approaching and quickly grabs what’s in the machine’s delivery bin and shoves it in his bag. He then straightens up and tries to leave as quickly as possible. It’s not fast enough. Tatsuki’s already here.

By the time he gets home, significantly more dusty, tired, and bruised, (Tatsuki really doesn’t play around), it’s past five in the evening and he is press-ganged by Yuzu into helping with dinner. He rushes up to his room, unzips his bag to pull out some notebooks that he’ll need for his homework later, and then drops his bag on the floor. He’s somewhat surprised when a can of coffee rolls out of his bag along with the long-forgotten milk.

Ichigo doesn’t drink coffee. It’s bitter and gross, and without copious amounts of milk and sugar, practically a crime against humanity. The can ends up (strangely perhaps, or not) next to Ishida’s pencil on the corner of his desk.