Authors: furiosity & incapricious
Fandom: Harry Potter & Bleach
Genre: Crossover | Drama
Rating: R [overall] (this part: PG)
Pairing: Harry Potter/Draco Malfoy
Disclaimer: JKR and Kubo own. We only play. You do not sue.
Length: 3000 words (this part)
Summary: In which Draco's shikai is still fascinating, Vagrant Darter is incensed, Harry is helpful, a new threat appears, and everyone just wants to be friends.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
14 x The Weight of Duty
"Your shikai is very interesting, Draco-kun. Congratulations on your achievement."
Draco bowed and raised his eyes to Hajime's. "Thank you very much for noticing it, Konishi-senpai."
As if anyone could fail to notice it after the show you gave them, Vagrant Darter groused.
Draco scowled inwardly. Stop your complaining. You like the attention.
Vagrant Darter sniffed. No, you're the one who likes it. I'm just a victim of your vile underhanded trickery.
Whatever helps you sleep at night.
"Draco?" Hajime was looking at him, eyebrows slightly raised.
"I'm sorry, I became lost in my thoughts for a moment," Draco said, bowing again. He'd been staring into Hajime's eyes, too -- all thanks to his stupid, wilful zanpakutō.
Who's stupid? Vagrant Darter interjected, but he sounded very pleased with himself.
The fight had ended quickly -- the Hollows had been immature; God only knew what had possessed them to gather in this remote corner of nowhere. The students were now waiting for Lieutenant Ise to finish taking notes and reopen a senkaimon. Until then, Draco had no choice but be painstakingly polite to Hajime, who finally had an excuse to approach him in public.
"What were you thinking about?" Hajime asked, seemingly focussed on a dirt-streak on his sleeve. His long dark hair was loose today, and Draco wondered if he'd purposely removed his hair tie before showing up on the practice field. He liked it when Hajime's hair was down; they both knew it.
Draco glanced around to make sure no one was within earshot. "Do you want me to say I was thinking about you?"
Hajime's cheeks turned a pale pink. "Were you?"
"No," Draco said. "My zanpakutō was giving me a hard time."
I'm giving you a hard time? What a joke. Anyway, you should've just told him you were thinking about him. Then he'd be fucking your brains out by midnight, am I right?
"I see," Hajime said. "So you're just teasing me on purpose."
Draco smiled. "You shouldn't ask people about their private thoughts like that."
"I suppose you're right," Hajime said, smiling back. "I apologise if I've offended you."
Draco wondered what they looked like to anyone who might be watching them -- his guilty conscience suggested everyone could see, instantly, that the two of them had a past.
Past? Admit it, you'd still drop trou if he so much as twitched a finger, Vagrant Darter cackled.
Draco ignored him. His rational mind knew that since it wasn't normal for males to have such relationships, people probably just saw an upperclassman indulging a junior. It could have seemed troublesome if Hajime were talking to Sugita, Kabaike, Yuuki, or any of the other girls in Draco's class, but Draco was very obviously not a girl. So it was all right to be seen with him under these circumstances.
"Can we meet alone after we go back?" Hajime asked, as though reading Draco's mind.
"Haji... uh, Konishi-senpai--"
Hajime sighed. "I don't mean for that. You've told me how you feel, and I agree with your reasons. I just want us to talk. Isn't that all right?"
"I've got detention," Draco said, frowning slightly. Talk? They'd had maybe two conversations unrelated to sex during their entire affair. What was there to talk about? And what was the point of meeting in order to talk? "Besides--"
"Yeah, I know what you must be thinking," Hajime said with dignity. "What would we talk about? But I'm sure we could find a suitable topic. I thought we might become good friends."
"Friends," Draco said, tasting the word with no small measure of incredulity. "Don't you think it would look a bit odd for someone like you to befriend one of your juniors?"
"I feel lonely without you," Hajime said quietly, and it was Draco's turn to blush.
It wasn't like Hajime to be so direct, and Draco had no idea how to react -- he had never thought Hajime might do something like this. He had been sure he would stay away until graduation, and after that he'd be too busy settling into life as a member of the Gotei 13 to spare his old Academy flame much thought. He glanced to his left and saw Potter gazing in their direction, clearly not hearing whatever Sugita was telling him.
"Shit," Draco said, looking aside sharply. "My roommate is staring at us."
"Does he know?" Hajime asked in a low voice.
Draco's eyes widened. "Of course not! I would never tell him about my private life."
"I insist, Draco-kun," Hajime said loudly. "I'll ask our prefect to send you an invitation to Block F so you can show us your stages of release." In an undertone, he added. "Well, you are roommates. He may know more than you think."
Draco gave a nervous, high-pitched chuckle. "It's really nothing special, Konishi-senpai. Please don't let me trouble you with frivolous things." Then he, too, lowered his voice. "No way; Potter's too oblivious -- he doesn't even know I'm gay."
Frivolous? Vagrant Darter screeched. You nearly bust my metaphorical balls, and then you have the nerve to call your dirty tactics frivolous?
"All right, we're done!" Lieutenant Ise called and flash-stepped to a rock shelf a few yards away. "Seniors, please make sure everyone's got a Hell butterfly."
Draco was glad of this excellent opportunity to ignore Vagrant Darter's yammering. Having a constant spiritual companion had a very inconvenient downside -- you couldn't have a bloody thought without running commentary. Honestly.
The only item remaining on the detention list was mucking out the laboratory. The Shinigami Research Institute maintained a campus laboratory for testing its education-related devices, and it would have been fine if it hadn't been for the research animals. They weren't kept at the laboratory; the technicians simply brought whatever animals they needed with them every day. However, since there were special barriers all around the laboratory structure, the animals were basically allowed to do as they pleased in between tests. For them, Draco supposed, a visit to the Academy lab was something of a holiday, and none of them hesitated to express their joy via copious amounts of excrement.
Draco wrinkled his nose. He'd rushed here as soon as Ozu dismissed the class, but it had been wasted effort -- all the good tasks had already been taken. Sighing, Draco scribbled his name in the appropriate column and started towards the laboratory. For the first couple of years at the Academy, detention just meant having to do everyday cleaning out of turn, but students in upper years had to pick tasks off detention lists posted outside Building 42 every morning -- the listed jobs were all in areas off-limits to younger students.
The lab structure loomed ahead -- Draco would have liked to say it was dark, ominous, and noisome, but it was actually a cheerful, squat building with hand-painted designs on the walls -- the product of bored technicians' minds waiting for test results. He'd only been inside once before, and that had been for an errand, not detention. All the equipment -- weird devices resembling instruments of torture, a few skeletons, and approximately eighteen million rolled-up reference charts -- was arranged along the left side; the right side had a wall-to-wall computer, and the floor, just as Draco expected, was covered in droppings. At least there was no proper roof -- just wooden slats a foot or so apart -- so the smell wasn't too horrible, and once Draco used Demon Arts to sweep out all that could be, he was used to it.
Demon Arts did not provide any way of scrubbing floors, however, so Draco fished the push broom out of the supply closet and went out back to fetch water. When he returned, lugging the heavy bucket and cursing under his breath, he found Potter standing in the entryway, looking around with an expert's air.
"The lab, huh? Tough break," he commented, as though they were in the dining area talking about the weather.
"What are you doing here, Potter?" Draco asked politely, setting down the bucket and wrapping the wet floor-rag around the broom. "I don't recall you getting detention."
"I saw you had the lab, so I thought I'd help out," Potter said. "This place is nasty."
Draco leaned on the broom handle. "Really. Mucking out animal droppings doesn't fit your profile, Potter. It's neither heroic nor dangerous."
"Don't be like that," Potter said in a breezy tone, grabbing a dry rag and a second push broom from the closet. "Shouldn't you just be grateful for the help?"
Draco rolled his eyes. "Thanks, I suppose. I'll do the back, you do the front, then."
They scrubbed the floors in silence for a while, and Draco's crawling unease grew. Potter had a reason to be here -- any moment now, he would broach the subject, and Draco wasn't all that sure he wanted to hear it. He wrung out the rag for the eighth time, fetched more water, and did his best to focus on the floor.
They were almost done when Potter finally spoke. "What's with you and Konishi?"
Draco wished he would have kept his mouth shut, really. "What do you mean?"
Potter paused in his cleaning and turned to face him. "You were talking to him before we left the real world."
"Oh, I see," Draco said. "In that case, what's with you and Sugita? You were talking to her."
"Don't dodge the question, Malfoy."
Oblivious, is he? Vagrant Darter remarked with a gleeful cackle.
"I don't see how it's any of your business, but Konishi-senpai was impressed with my shikai and invited me to Block F to demonstrate it for his classmates," Draco said, attacking the floor with the broom again.
"Is that all there is to it?" Potter asked.
Draco kept his face smooth, though his heart attempted to imitate a frantic caged bird. "What else could there be? Don't tell me you're jealous the seniors are interested in me and not you."
"Listen--" Potter began, but there was a noise in the doorway, and both of them turned in that direction.
The newcomer was probably a man, judging by his stature, but he didn't look even remotely human; if anything, he seemed like a Hollow. Black-and-white makeup covered his face; he had golden cone-shaped covers on his ears and wore a weird asymmetrical hat that resembled a meat fork. He was in a captain's haori.
"Good afternoon, Captain," Draco said, bowing; Potter followed suit.
The freakish apparition took no notice; he walked straight to the computer and began pushing buttons on the console. His fingernails were painted blue, and the middle nail of his right hand was as long as the finger itself. The number on the back of his haori was twelve. Twelfth Division Captain Kurotsuchi Mayuri. So that was what the books meant by "a little eccentric". If this man was a little eccentric, Draco was only a little bit gay.
"No need to interrupt your conversation on my account," Captain Kurotsuchi said in a high, nasal voice without turning around. "Also, stop staring at my hat and go back to your duties."
Draco spoke first; they'd been told to keep talking, and by all that was holy, he was going to keep talking when the order came from someone as scary as this bloke, captain or no.
"Are you lot having shikai practice tonight?" he asked, scrubbing with renewed vigour. He wanted to get out of here, fast.
"Not tonight," Potter said. "The Demon Arts Level 3 test is in two days, so nobody has time. Good thing we're done here, because I need to study as well." He put his rag into the bucket and replaced the broom in the closet, casting wary glances at Captain Kurotsuchi.
Draco, who had finished as well, went to dump out the water and wash out the rags.
"So you're having one in two days' time?" he asked upon returning.
"When I said go back to your conversation, I didn't mean you should try to hide what you're saying, brats," Captain Kurotsuchi snapped. This time, he did turn to look at them, and Draco realised the man was...
...crazier than a shithouse rat, Vagrant Darter finished helpfully.
"We're very sorry, Captain," Draco said quickly. "It's our native language, and we speak it without thinking--"
Captain Kurotsuchi brightened, and Draco wished he hadn't. He looked even more disturbing when smiling -- way too many overlarge teeth in an already nightmarish face.
"Oh, really?" The captain took an ominous step forward. "What language did you say it was?"
"English, sir," Draco said, wishing Potter would pull some of his legendary heroics out of his arse and dispose of this creature already.
"How intriguing!" Captain Kurotsuchi said. "Say, would you two be interested in becoming my test subjects? You're precious Academy students, so I'll only drug you six times a day and minimise side effects whenever possible! I also won't operate on you unless you want me to. I will even let you sleep in your dormitory when I don't need to keep you awake for testing!"
Worst. Sales pitch. Ever, Vagrant Darter commented.
Draco glanced at Potter, who was gazing back with a look of such sincerely horrified helplessness that Draco would've felt sorry for him if he hadn't been busy feeling sorry for himself.
"There you are, Mayuri-san!" called a cheerful voice from the doorway.
Draco saw that their saviour was another captain -- tall and slender, with long white hair. Were they having a damned convention on campus today, or what?
"Why are you here, Captain Ukitake?"
Draco's eyes widened. Ukitake was a legend; he'd been captain of the Thirteenth Division for something like a thousand years. Except he didn't look a day over forty if you ignored the white hair.
"Oh, I went by your office to pick up that new medicine, and your subordinates told me you were here," Captain Ukitake said. He gave a bashful smile that could have disarmed several platoons of deranged chimpanzees on cocaine, but Captain Kurotsuchi looked unimpressed.
"That idiot Akon sent the wrong data over this morning, and now we've got to re-calibrate everything," he said. "I have your pills here somewhere..."
He began patting his uniform, and Draco sensed that this was their best opportunity to get the hell out before things got ugly -- or uglier, considering Captain Kurotsuchi's visage.
"Let's go," he mumbled to Potter, stowing the broom.
"Hey, you boys!" Captain Kurotsuchi shouted, but Draco flash-stepped away as soon as he was out of the lab's protective barrier. He leaned against the dormitory wall, heart still jumping, when Potter appeared next to him.
"That was seriously creepy," Potter said.
"I heard he never passed the captain's test, just became one when the previous captain disappeared. I bet he doesn't even have bankai," Draco said.
They looked at each other, and Draco's earlier panicked state morphed into uncontrollable glee. He began to laugh quietly, stifling the sound in his palm. A moment later, Potter joined him, and they didn't stop laughing for what felt like at least twenty minutes.
"What was with him?" Draco managed finally. "Test subjects? What the..."
"Stop looking at my hat," Potter foghorned, and that broke them up again.
Draco had insisted on joining Sugita at dinner, which had prevented Potter from attempting to restart their conversation from the lab. Despite the warmth he'd felt during their shared moment of mirth, Draco had no intention of talking about Hajime with Potter.
After dinner, he'd escaped to the bathhouse, and then he'd holed up in the library with several dozen Demon Arts reference books, artfully arranging some unrelated but thick volumes on the desk so that his face wouldn't be visible. He meant to avoid Potter until Potter found something shinier to think about.
But when he returned to the dormitory, Potter was sitting cross-legged on top of his sleeping mat with a notebook in his lap.
"Hey," Potter said, sliding the notebook to the side. "Can we talk?"
"We've got taijutsu practice in the morning," Draco said, pulling his yukata out of the wardrobe and beginning to strip.
"Just tell me you're not doing anything that'll get us expelled."
Draco paused, half-turning. "Us? You must be joking, Potter; even if I were doing anything against regulations -- which I'm not -- that wouldn't affect you just because you're my roommate." Shouldn't he be appalled that I'm gay?
"What, so you think I'd just sit here and wave goodbye if you were kicked out?" Potter demanded. "I have no intention of staying here if you're not here."
With an effort, Draco rolled his eyes. "You just say the sweetest things. Why do you care if I stay or go?"
"Why wouldn't I care? We're friends, aren't we?"
Draco's throat seized in an unfamiliar way. "You've got plenty of friends--"
"Not really," Potter said. "You're the only one who really knows me."
He totally wants in your pants, Vagrant Darter observed.
"You shut up!" Draco exploded, then realised he'd said it out loud. "Um, my zanpakutō, he's being a pain in the arse," he added. "Potter, what's with you? I had no idea you intended to valiantly follow me into the sunset, you know."
"I didn't either," Potter said with a sigh, looking down. "But I heard you say Konishi's given name when you were sleeping, and then there was that time he walked into you, then I saw you two talking earlier... I'm not as clueless as you think. And--"
"And what?" Draco sat down on his mat. "You've decided to stage an intervention before your stupid gay roommate brought eternal shame on your head? Is that it?"
"It's not like that, Malfoy, I--"
"Just leave me alone," Draco snapped, turning his back as he settled under the covers. "Don't get involved in my business. We're not friends, Potter. We never were."
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