Author’s Note: Ichigo’s position of having his arms outstretched is a refence to his line, “Woo't drink up eisel?” which is itself a reference to how the soldiers mocked Christ on the cross by offering up a sponge soaked in vinegar to drink, when he said he was thirsty. I’m, uh, well, a big geek. Yes. Sorry about that. But I love obscure shit like this. Makes me all tingly.




Born to Play It



Tatsuki stood beside Orihime and gaped openly at the stage, where Ishida was putting the final touches on the costumes Ichigo and Sado wore. Orihime seemed under no similar state of shock; on the contrary, she had an expression on her face similar to that which she wore when the waitress placed an enormous banana-split-with-sweet-bean-paste-and-jalapenos sundae before her.


“Ishida’s the natural choice for costume director, of course,” Tatsuki said. “And Horatio only ever gives Hamlet a few three-word replies, so I guess Sado is perfect for that role.”


She squinted and scratched her head, perplexed. “But whose bright idea was it to make Ichigo play Hamlet, again?


Orihime looked at her friend, and smiled before turning back toward the stage. “Kurosaki-kun, could you just do a bit of after Hamlet jumps into the grave? Right after Gertrude says, ‘O my son, what theme?’ ?”


Ichigo’s omnipresent glower deepened as he recalled the lines that followed the prompt, then nodded. He angled himself toward where Hamlet would face down Laertes and took up a posture of defense, the tightness of his shoulders communicating his grief and rage.


“I loved Ophelia,” he declared passionately. “Forty thousand brothers could not, with all their quantity of love, make up my sum.” Then he added a contemptuous, “What wilt thou do for her?”


Orihime poked Sado, who looked started until he realized she wanted him to speak Claudius’ role. “Um. O, he is mad, Laertes.”


Orihime patted his enormous arm approvingly before stepping up with Gertrude’s next line. “For love of God, forbear him.”


Ichigo narrowed his eyes, and swept his arms out at his sides. “ ‘Swounds, show me what thou'lt do: Woo't weep? Woo't fight? Woo't fast? Woo't tear thyself? Woo't drink up eisel?” His scowl turned into a vicious slice of a smile, infinitely mocking. “Eat a crocodile?”


He dropped his arms and stood there a long moment, still, the very picture of resolution. “I'll do't,” he stated quietly, firmly. Determination blazed in his eyes, and his hair almost seemed to quiver from the intensity of it.


Then he relaxed and gave a sheepish little grin, signifying the end of his little impromptu performance. Orihime clapped and clapped and clapped, until Ichigo came over and stilled the motion of her hands by trapping them in one of his own.


“Thanks, Inoue-san,” he mumbled, and ambled back toward the other boys.


Tatsuki was speechless.


“Okay,” she said at last. “You’ve convinced me. If anyone can do intense, it’s Ichigo.”


When she got no response, she turned to Orihime, only to find her friend gazing at Ichigo with shining eyes, hands still clasped together over her prodigious chest where he’d stilled them. And he, for his part, was both avoiding her gaze and sneaking glances at her as a flush of colour scalded its way over his cheekbones.


“God, you’re a hopeless romantic,” Tatsuki groaned, passing her hand over her eyes in resignation.


“No,” Orihime corrected, smiling brilliantly first at Tatsuki and then at Ichigo. “Hopeful. I’m a hopeful romantic.”