Summary: According to popular belief, there is something "going on" between regular hothead Kurosaki Ichigo and new transfer student Kuchiki Rukia. Well…they're only half right. Trouble is: they don't want to admit it…even to themselves. So it's up to family, friends and even the Soul Society to give them the push they need to be together.
Author's notes: My first Bleach fic, hurray! I've only watched up to episode 48 in the series, so the plot of this fic may tread into AU, but then again I'm not sure how to fit this in the actual plot line… So for now, please read and enjoy! Thanks!
FIGHTING THAT FEELING
Chapter One: Rumor has it
He had just closed his eyes, he swore it, and the next thing he knew the door to his bedroom had been knocked down.
"Wake up, my son, the sun finally shines!"
Ichigo blinked wide bleary eyes. He was half expecting to be in bed. Instead, he was on the floor while his father danced the conga and sang 'good morning' in a tone that should not be used so early in the day. It was not long before Ichigo was up on two feet and kicking his father out with a broomstick.
"And what the hell?" he shouted as he slammed the door at a very teary-eyed Kurosaki Isshin. "No father in their right minds would wake their sons up like that! Geez!"
The door opened again, much to Ichigo's annoyance – I really should get myself a lock – and his father walked in again, looking extremely smug for someone who'd just been beaten down by a broom stick.
"Ah, my boy, you've already reached the age of manhood and still your acting like you're two!"
"I could say the same for you…" Ichigo muttered, but was ignored.
"What I've come here actually is to ask…" his father took a deep breath, "WHY HAVEN'T YOU FOUND A SUITABLE GIRLFRIEND ALREADY!"
"What the--" demanded Ichigo, whose ears were screaming out in pain. "You mean – you bloody jumped me for that! What time is it any--" He glanced at the clock on his wall and felt whatever incredulity he had wash over him like a sudden power wave. "It's freakin' six in the morning! Are you crazy? Wait… that was a rhetorical question -- couldn't you have waited another hour to tell me that!"
Wait… another rhetorialc question! Argh! It's a wonder how anyone can get decent night's sleep around here with a loony like you one the loose!
"Love waits for no man!" his father cried passionately. Ichigo felt the vein on his forehead popped. Somehow he knew it; he just knew he'd be getting some asinine answer like that. "Besides, I want to have grandchildren some day!" He gave his son an indignant, childish pout as if that settled the matter. However, Ichigo had just about enough of it.
"Okay, dad, I'm going to give you till the count of three to get your lousy ass out of my room," he warned.
"But…but…what about my grandchildren!" his father cried.
"And even Karin – that sweet sister of yours – tells me that she's seen you hanging with some girl after school. Dark hair, blue eyes, nice legs—"
"Two." Ichigo's eyes twitched. He knew exactly who they were talking about. There was no one else Ichigo knew who had dark hair and blue eyes (he refused to admit that she had really nice legs) – well, there was Ishida, but Ichigo would rather die than admit that he had very nice legs either. He felt somewhat aggravated, that even though Rukia was doing absolutely nothing at the moment to officially offend him, she still managed – in her own indirect way – to cause him some terrible misery.
"C'mon, Ichigo, when are you going to admit that she's your girlfriend and bring her home so that you can intro—"
"Okay, that's it!" Ichigo snapped. "Three! Your ass is toast!" He threw one kick and his father went flying out of his room.
Karin, who had just come out of her room, was graced with the sight of her father sliding off the wall, where a carved outline of his face indented the once fine cement. She shook her head and sighed. "Dad, you should know better that Ichi-nii isn't much of a morning person…"
"Ah…" was the only answer her father was capable of saying because he was back on the floor again, out cold.
Ichigo slammed the door – er well, he picked it up from the floor first, adjusted it back onto the little hinges then slammed it shut. He glared at the said entrance as though it was somehow responsible for his rather rude awakening. In a way, he supposed it was.
Note to self: must install lock.
Just as he was about to dive back into bed and catch up on the remaining hours of sleep he could possibly get before he really did have to wake up, the door to his closet slid opened and a girl, who – as his father so nicely described it – had short dark hair and midnight blue eyes. She slid out; the pajamas she borrowed from Yuzu slipped half-way up her calf, exposing those really nice legs.
Ichigo didn't know whether to be horrified of the fact that he had actually thought those words or to go out into the hall again and beat his father with a broom for planting the idea into his head in the first place.
Rukia noticed his bad mood and frowned. "What's with you?" she said. "You look like someone just jumped you in your sleep."
Now that didn't qualify as 'worthy' of answering. Instead, Ichigo pulled the sheets up over his head and grumbled something incoherent into his pillow. He could hear Rukia walking around his room behind him, no doubt gathering her clothes to get ready.
"You should get up," she said. "You don't want to be late for school, do you?"
"Go away," he mumbled, pulling the pillow closer towards his ears. Maybe if he wished real hard she'd stop talking.
"Where's Kon?" she asked.
"Don't know, don't care," he said shortly.
"Hmm…that's funny…he's usually up by now," said Rukia thoughtfully.
Ichigo crossed his arms. "Who cares?" he said. "It just means more sleeping time for me. God only knows how hard it is to shut him up."
"Hey, I heard that, you bastard!" Ichigo turned his head slightly and was met with Kon's beady-eyed glare. From his stance, there was no uncertainty that Kon was very much ready to kick Ichigo's butt. But the fact that he was only three inches high, stuffed with cotton and bore the ferociousness of a cuddly rabbit dispelled any effect he could've had in that threat.
"Ah, not you too -- go away! Leave me alone! It's too early for you two to be bugging me already!" He threw Kon out from under his blanket and a pillow at Rukia just for good measurement. He heard Kon hit the wall and Rukia dodge his pillow, followed by an unmistakable cry of pain and an irritated sigh.
"Jerk!" Rukia took the pillow and threw it back at Ichigo, who did not see this coming and ended up getting hit squared in the face.
"Bitch!" His voice was muffled by the pillow. When he pulled away, Rukia had already slammed the closet door shut behind her. "Hmph!" Was the last sound he heard from her before the closet room went completely quiet.
"Serves you right, Ichigo!" On the floor, Kon was getting back on his feet. "That's what you get for being a total—oof!" Ichigo had thrown the pillow at him. "Ow…"
Ichigo rolled on his side, mumbling something in his sleep when he felt an audible cry of terror rip through his ear drums. He had jumped so high his head made a crack on the ceiling. He looked around frantically, his broom stick held closely in hand.
"What? What? Where's the monster? Where's—"He blinked a profound number of times, confused and disoriented as to where he was, when he finally realized that he was back in his room, completely safe and void of any 'monsters'. But…where had that scream come from?
"Mmmfp! Mmmorhf!" Glancing down, he spotted Kon, on the floor, being squished between his the floorboards and his feet. "Mmmff! Mmmff!" Wearily, Ichigo removed his foot off his face. Kon immediately gasped for air, his face reverting from the blue tinge it had taken a while ago back to its regular yellow/gold color. "That—gasp—was—gasp—the most—gasp—horrendous—gasp—thing—gasp—I've ever—" Unable to continue any longer, he lapsed into a severe coughing fit that sounded so severe that it was unlikely he'd be submerging back any time soon. However, Ichigo got the idea of what Kon was trying to say.
"What the hell were you doing on my bed for?" he said.
Kon wiped his watery eyes and took a deep breath. "Ugh…Nee-san wanted me to wake you up."
Ichigo looked around. "Where is she?" he asked. "She left already?"
"Yeah, a long time ago! She tried waking you up a few times, but you since you slept like the dead—"
"Oh, shit!" Ichigo looked upward at his clock. 8:20.
He ran for his closet, flinging clothes behind his shoulder as he tried to find a suitable wear. Meanwhile, Kon was in the middle of a war-zone, with attire-missiles coming down by the second. And for someone who was barely as tall as the coffee table in the living room, attire-missiles could be a very dangerous and lethal thing.
"Ah! Wait! Ichigo, don't—oof!"
His entire world went black for just that second. Ugh, thought Kon distastefully, as he was met with a particularly smelly sock, his clothes smelled just as bad as his feet! When he found his way out of Ichigo's mountainous clothing, Ichigo had already ran out the room and shut the door closed behind him.
Kon sulked in the center of the room, wondering exactly what his real purpose for being there was? Ichigo treated him just like his run-down laundry. Then he thought about Rukia, and his world fazed with twinkling stars and giant blue flowers; it was that imprint alone that reminded him why he put up with Ichigo's incessant bad behavior.
Rukia shivered. It was likea great chill passed by her, which was weird considering it was hardly even windy outside. Her bearings were forgotten, however, when she heard Ichigo running to catch up with her; he was half-jogging and half buttoning up his collared shirt, looking, unsurprisingly, disgruntled.
Really…he MUST have gotten jumped while he was sleeping.
Rukia rolled her eyes. "I told you to get up," she told him curtly.
"Ah, bite me," he retorted.
Ichigo yawned, feeling his eyes moist up from his dire need to fall dead on the desk. The only thing that was actually keeping him awake was his sheer will to not fall dead on the desk
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
Ichigo nearly fell out of his seat in surprise but had caught himself in time before he actually did. He threw the person responsible for his near slip an intense glare.
"Well, I wouldn't be this tired if some idiot hadn't woken me up at two in the morning, screaming their bloody face off, Rukia," he said venomously.
The said girl merely frowned at him. "There was a Hollow. What am I suppose to do? YOU'RE the one with the powers, remember?"
Ichigo scowled. Mostly because he felt better about doing it and the other because he didn't want to admit that what she said was right. He did have the powers, so he was responsible. But hell… like he was ever going to tell her that. Instead, he lowered himself in his seat and tried to listen to what the teacher was saying.
She had definitely won THAT round, Ichigo thought bitterly. Great… just great… why does she ALWAYS have to be right?
He proceeded to sulk even more at this.
"So…what happened this time?"
"What?" said Ichigo, distracted.
Keigo grinned cockily. That smile alone was enough to let Ichigo know that these two can NOT be trusted.
"You and Kuchiki-san."
Ichigo scowled. Why did he have a feeling he had heard this conversation before?
"What about me and Kuchiki-san?"
"Well, you two were obviously whispering something to each other during class," said Keigo, who looked extremely proud that he had caught this minor detail, "had to be something interesting if Kuchiki-san was smiling about it the whole time." There was a hint in his tone that suggested he wanted to know what that something was.
Like hell I'm telling you freaks! "It was nothing," said Ichigo shortly. "Kuchiki-san was just being annoying again. Honestly, that girl really knows how to press people's buttons…"
"Yours in particular, right Ichigo?" Mizuiro chuckled, but his smile soon faltered at the Look Ichigo gave him. Mizuiro was prompt to change subjects. "Anyway…what's for lunch?"
Ichigo rolled his eyes. He definitely knew better. "Answer me this, you guys, why don't you people just DROP it already?" he said heavily.
"Drop what?" Keigo said.
"Don't play dumb with me. You know what I'm talking about," growled Ichigo.
Mizuiro continued playing innocent. "No, I'm afraid I don't. Please be more specific."
If looks could kill, Mizuiro and Keigo would've been on the floor, dead.
"Me and Kuchiki-san," hissed Ichigo, like it was some bad flavor in his mouth. "When are you and the rest of Karakura population going to quit pestering me about her? It's been at least a year already and you're still insisting we're together!"
Mizuiro looked momentarily puzzled by this. "You mean you aren't together?"
Ichigo wanted to pull out his hair. "For the last time, we are NOT an item, nor will we ever be!"
"You'll eat your words later, Kurosaki, I guarantee you that."
Ichigo groaned, and muttered something about how all his friends were born idiots.
Mizuiro chortled again. "Aw, c'mon, Ichigo, don't tell me you haven't ever thought about it before! The rest of us have!"
"I figured," said Ichigo bitterly, "considering you fools won't leave me alone without saying at least ONE damn thing about me and Kuchiki-san!"
"Well, how can we not?" said Mizuiro, "you two are always together. Whenever she calls, you never hesitate to answer her. And whenever you're gone, coincidentally she just happens to be gone too!"
Yes, that was true, thought Ichigo to himself, but those were for entirely different purposes, which he couldn't afford confiding to Mizuiro and Keigo and the others, otherwise not only will that cause him to be the laughing stock of the whole school but Rukia will surely kick his butt for telling classified information. Besides, he doubted 'I hunt down crazed, revenge-seeking, spirit-obsessed stealing ghosts as a part-time job' would get Mizuiro and Keigo to stop jumping into conclusions about him and Rukia.
"Plus, you do tend to get a little over-protective of her," said Mizuiro suddenly – well it was sudden enough to Ichigo anyway.
"What?" he choked.
"He said you're a little possessive over Kuchiki-san," said Keigo happily. Seeing the glowering look on Ichigo's face, he said hastily, "Just a little!"
Ichigo's face took on the usual scowl.
"That's not true," he said, defensively.
"It IS true," said Mizuiro, persistently. "You never let any guy come near her unless you're around!"
"Yeah, like me!" Keigo said, pouting. "I'M harmless!"
Yeah, right…Ichigo thought, smoothly ignoring him. "That's because we have hormonally driven lunatics like you and Keigo around, who only think with their—"
"Hey! That's not true!" Mizuiro squeaked, his face turning a bright shade of pink.
"Yeah, just because we have more flare with ladies than you do, doesn't mean our bodies are run by our testos—"
"--and since Kuchiki-san is so annoyingly naïve sometimes, anyone would take advantage of that," said Ichigo loudly, giving Keigo a cold glare. "I'd do it for anyone, not just her," he added briskly, seeing that his words were doing nothing but make the situation worse for him.
Mizuiro smiled. "Uh…huh…" he said, in a tone that suggested he did not believe him.
Ichigo was just about ready to knock the stuffing out of him when he spotted Rukia herself someplace up ahead of them, staring curiously at a vending machine.
"Hey, Kuchiki-san!" called Keigo in a sing-songy type voice. "What are you doing there all by your lonesome?"
Ichigo felt his eye twitch again. Somehow…just somehow…he knew the fates were deliberately doing this just to annoy him. And was it just him, but was Mizuiro smirking at him? Another twitch. It's been doing that WAY to many times lately. He really did need to consult a therapist; all this idiocy in the atmosphere was beginning to have drastic affects on his body functions!
Rukia merely frowned, still staring at the vending machine. "Inoue-san told me this is where I can buy a drink, but I'm afraid I do not see any drinks around here. Just this giant box."
Mizuiro looked confused, Keigo was too busy cooing over Rukia to notice, and Ichigo was incredulous. He'd almost forgotten just how little Rukia new about the real world. He didn't care how modern she said her vernacular skills were. Japanese comics sure as hell didn't count as a great guide to the twentieth century!
He looked at Mizuiro, who was still bemused as to HOW anyone – anyone really -- could not understand the basic functions of a vending machine. And as for Keigo – Ichigo's expression dropped – he was still an idiot, he thought flippantly.
"Ooh, does Kuchiki-san need some assistance?" said Keigo, who looked suddenly hopeful, much to Ichigo's displeasure. "Here, if you want, I can—"
"Kuchiki-san, let me help you with that," said Ichigo, shoving Keigo out of the way.
He shoved his hands into his pocket and fished out some change. He slipped it into the slot and pushed a couple of buttons, all the while Rukia watched in fascination. The machine grumbled and with a small 'pop!' something fell into the carrier. Ichigo pulled out an orange juice carton and then gruffly handed it to Rukia.
She blinked several times before taking I, mumbling a thank you as she turned her head again to stare at the 'giant box'.
Ichigo rolled his eyes and ushered Mizuiro and Keigo to leave with him.
"Bye, Kuchiki-san, bye!" Keigo waved at her. As they turned the corner, he let out a dreamy sigh, irritating Ichigo even further. "That Kuchiki-san…is so…so…"
"Finish that sentence, I dare you," said Ichigo, his brown eyes flashing dangerously.
Mizuiro chuckled. "Aw, c'mon, Ichigo, admit it already."
"Admit what?" said Ichigo sarcastically. "That Kuchiki-san is going to obviously be the end of me?" He snorted. "Yeah…well, I've already established that fact a LONG time ago."
"Oh, I don't know about that," said Mizuiro pleasantly. "I think you enjoyed it a little bit."
"What makes you say that?" Ichigo demanded. He was REALLY getting tired of this.
Mizuiro shrugged. "Anyone with eyes can see you're soft on her. I mean… if you weren't you wouldn't have been smiling the way you did the whole time you were with her."
Ichigo opened his mouth to say something to that, when to his horror he realized he had nothing to say. He hadn't been smiling! He thought. But there was a lurking uncertainty that made his thoughts all the more unclear to him. And the fact that Mizuiro was grinning like he had just won the lottery didn't do favors for Ichigo's already bubbling temper. He opened his mouth again; knowing exactly what he wanted to say to wipe the stupid smile off Mizuiro's face, when he heard his name being yelled from all the way on the other end of the hallway.
"What the—whoa!" It was like she teleported; one minute she wasn't there, the next she was pulling on his arm and dragging him towards the stairs. "Hey, Ruki—Kuchiki-san, let go! What the hell are you—"
"No, time!" she said. "We need to talk—again!"
"But…but…no!" He was aware of Mizuiro and Keigo's presence, and the last thing he needed was for them to think they had gotten everything pegged about him and Rukia and start an even bigger rumor than before.
Rukia, evidently, didn't notice a thing, and glared. "We. Need. To. Talk. Now!"
She refused to relinquish her hold on him and proceeded to pull him by the arm.
"Ack—wait! Let go!" he yelled.
"Aw, whine later, will you? We have a job to do!"
Mizuiro chuckled amicably as he waved them goodbye. "See you later, you two! Have fun!"
Ichigo poked his head through the door, baring his teeth at his friend. "Why you little—"
"C'mon! We've got to hurry!" Rukia grabbed him by the collar again and pulled him back.
The last thing Ichigo heard before he departed the school grounds was laughter – mock laughter – from both Keigo and Mizuiro. They obviously thought it was a laugh to see Ichigo in denial being dragged off. Dragged off by the very girl they thought he had a more-than-platonic relationship with, no less. Ichigo had a bad feeling that by the time he got back…things would've already gone from bad to exceedingly worse.
"Anyone with eyes can see you're soft on her. I mean… if you weren't you wouldn't have been smiling the way you did the whole time you were with her."
He hadn't been smiling at all, he thought, but remembering the look of utmost assurance on Mizuiro's face made Ichigo feel not in the least bit confident with his feelings. And even an idiot like Keigo looked so sure of himself.
At least…I don't think did…
Ichigo frowned before shaking his head. "Ugh… why the hell am I even wondering about it?" he muttered. Keigo and Mizuiro were idiots, what the heck did they know?
"What's the matter?" Rukia said. She was looking at him closely and slightly…concerned.
Ichigo shook his head again as they kept on running. "It's nothing…" he said. And this time to convince himself, "It's nothing…"
A/N: Well, please let me know what you think. Was it good, bad, needs improvement, were characters okay, etc…? Thank you!