Stuck In My Head

I do not own Bleach or its characters. Not yet, anyway... (laughs maniacally)

"I'm headin' out!" vermilion-haired Ichigo Kurosaki called over his shoulder as he headed towards the front door, clutching a piece of toast in his hand and his bookcase in the other.

"Have a good day!" Yuzu called from the kitchen, while Ichigo's other sister Karin and his slacker father only made grunting noises that, to them, passed for heartfelt expressions of farewell. Ichigo was too used to their behavior to pay it any mind, and walked outside without bothering to look back. He had only taken a few steps past the wall that housed his bedroom window when he felt something falling just past his head. He didn't have to turn around to know that it was Rukia, taking the sneaky way out of his sleeping quarters by jumping out the window. As always, she landed on her feet like a cat, then quickly managed to catch up with him.

"Morning, Ichigo," the dark-haired Shinigami said casually as she smoothed out a few stubborn wrinkles in her uniform skirt. Ichigo said nothing, just automatically handed her the toast he'd filched from breakfast. She took it gratefully, as it was the only food she'd get until lunch. They walked in relative silence as she nibbled on the buttered bread, going slow so as to make it last as long as she could.

"Jeez, just eat the thing already!" Ichigo groaned. "Just 'cause you're obsessed with rabbits doesn't mean you gotta eat like one!" Rukia stopped eating and glared at Ichigo until he got tired of ignoring her and turned in the girl's direction, glaring back just as strong. Then Rukia lifted her toast to her mouth and tauntingly took a bite, chewing as slowly as she possibly could. Ichigo sighed in frustration and turned back to the sidewalk, while his female companion went into a fit of laughter at his reaction. To the casual observer, it would seem that the two had practically nothing in common, but they were actually so close that they felt comfortable teasing each other with reckless abandon.

"Oh, is poor Ichigo feeling grumpy today?" Rukia taunted in a sing-song voice.

"Just shut up!" The orange-headed teen grumbled while Rukia struggled to keep from laughing at his expense again. They walked quietly until they were on the school grounds, when Rukia suddenly spoke up.

"Hey, Ichigo...You know about modern music, don't you?"

"...Huh?" the taller of the two grunted as he cocked an eyebrow. Since when was Rukia concerned about human culture? "Uhh...Well, I'm familiar with some stuff, but I don't listen to the radio too much these days. Why?" Rukia gazed skyward as she bit her lower lip, as if pondering how best to word her thoughts.

"Well...Yesterday, I was walking home with Inoue-chan, and this car was passing by, right?"

"...Yeah..." Ichigo agreed, patiently waiting for her to get to the point of her experience.

"...And so, as this car was driving, he had the windows rolled down, and I heard this song...Well," she admitted with a sidelong glance, "...Not very well, but just a bit of the melody. And I didn't give it any thought, but last night when I was trying to sleep, I just kept hearing that tune in my mind, over and over again..."

"Oh, you mean you got it stuck in your head?" the boy interrupted, cottoning on. Rukia blinked and gave him a bewildered expression, confused by the odd colloquialism. When he saw his friend's uncomprehending face, Ichigo tried to re-state himself. "...It means that when you hear a catchy melody or something, you just find yourself thinking about it without realizing it." Rukia nodded, as if accepting his explanation.

"Hmm...Well, would you happen to know how one gets a song 'un-stuck' from their head?" the girl queried. Ichigo scratched his head as they continued to walk toward their homeroom.

"Well, the best way to forget a song that's bugging you is to learn it and hear the whole thing yourself. At least that's what I heard. How much of the song do you know?" Ichigo suddenly asked curiously.

"I told you..." Rukia said with a sigh, "I just know the melody."

"...Well, could you hum it for me?" Rukia suddenly blushed at the prospect of having to 'peform' in front of someone.

"Oh, no, I couldn't--" she began, to which Ichigo let out another groan.

"It's not like you're on 'Star Search' or anything! Just hum it! I'm not sayin' that I'll know it, but there's always a chance..."

"Okay, okay!" Rukia acquiesced, coming to a stop outside their classroom door. "Okay, here's the part I know. Now don't laugh or I'll beat you up, Ichigo."

"Why the hell would I laugh? Jeez..." the teen said as he struggled to hide a smirk. After a few seconds of silence, Rukia began to hum. At first listen, Ichigo could tell it was a sweet and soulful tune, probably from before his time (or hers for that matter). Once she was done, Rukia opened her eyes and turned them upward to await response from her much taller friend.

"...Well? Do you know it?" Ichigo put his thumb and forefinger around his chin and glanced at the ceiling, giving him the serious look of the archetypical 'deep-thinker.'

"Hmm...that sounds like an old one. For some reason, it seems kind of familiar. Can't place it, though..." Rukia sighed and turned her back on him, walking toward the entrance to their homeroom.

"Just as I help at all," she muttered in false exasperation. Ichigo stuttered indignantly before he could retort.

"Wh-what the hell? I try to help you and you just say somethin' like THAT! Well, I don't give a damn if you never forget that freakin' song!"

"Whatever," Rukia said with a wave and a smirk as she walked through the open doorway. Ichigo growled under his breath, then reluctantly followed her.

"Hello, Rukia-san!" came the infatuated voice of Kiego from the back of the classroom, to which the petite girl responded with a facetious smile before walking over to talk to Inoue and her friends. Ichigo couldn't help letting a small chuckle pass his lips at her convincing acting, not to mention how his friend kept worshipping the ground at her feet despite the fact that she obviously had no interest in him.

"Hey, Ichigo!" Kojima said with a wave as the orange-haired boy approached the two. Kiego, however, was off in his own little world, where the only coherent language was long-winded soliloquys on Rukia's beauty.

"Damnit, when are you going to just give up on her?" Ichigo said with a frown, immediately shattering Kiego's crystalline fantasy. The lovestruck boy blushed furiously.

"W-well excuse me for being a romantic! I just don't get the opportunity to be around her all the time like YOU are!" Ichigo rolled his eyes as he slumped into his seat, dropping his bookcase carelessly to the ground. For a while, they sat in uncomfortable silence. Then Kojima leaned into Ichigo's line of sight.

"...What?" the gruff boy said, a little ruder than he intended to.

"Nothing," the shorter teen responded at first. "Actually...I just noticed that you were humming." Ichigo stared at him in confusion for a moment before his eyes widened.

Oh God...I was humming! His thoughts suddenly went dark as he recalled the only person he could remember in the last ten minutes who had come remotely close to singing.

That...that little bitch! Now it's stuck in MY head too!

As the little bit of melody that Rukia had hummed repeated itself in his mind like a broken record, he knew what his only option was now. He had to know that song...If not to help Rukia, then at LEAST to forget about it himself!

"You two!" Ichigo said in a growl as he turned to a startled Kojima and Keigo. "Do you know this song?" Without warning and to their bewilderment, Ichigo began to hum. It took them a moment after he finished to recover from their shock. "...Well? Do you know it or not?"

"Uh...Why do you need to know?" Kojima asked innocently.

"Yeah, what's the big deal?" Keigo chimed in. "Besides, forget that--just seeing you mumble the tune was priceless--"

"SHUT UP!" Ichigo yelled, a vein throbbing on his forehead. "I need to know so that I can forget about the damn thing! I don't know if I'll even be able to sleep if I'm thinkin' about it!"

"Okay, chill out!" Keigo implored, waving his hands up and down as if doing so could help his irritated friend calm down. "Now let's see... Can you hum it again?" Ichigo blanched, but decided to swallow his pride and repeated the stanza by ear.

"Hmm..." Kojima mumbled once Ichigo had stopped. "Is that a newer song? I can't really tell."

"Yeah, that's what I would've thought, but see, I think that it's not. Maybe from a couple decades ago or so," Keigo said with a furrowed brow. Before the three could continue their discussion, the teacher arrived and they split up to get in their seats as class began.

By lunchtime, Ichigo and the three had gotten no leads on what the song could possibly be, much less a potential artist. As they unwrapped the bread they'd bought at the school cafeteria, an imposing dark figure walked past their desks. Deciding that any options were better than nothing, Ichigo stood up and called to the tall boy.

"Hey, Chad!" The human wall turned at the sound of his nickname and walked back to his friend.

"...Ichigo," he said simply. The orange-haired teen let out a sigh at Chad's inbred soft-spokenness, but decided to ignore it.

"Hey, do you know this song?"

"Hmm?" Chad grunted, but Ichigo had, after a few moments spent flitting his eyes around in embarrassment, started to hum. Chad stared at him so hard afterwards that Ichigo felt almost self-conscious, something he was not prone to feeling.

"Well, Chad? Any luck?" The muscular transfer student only shook his head before heading off towards his own desk.

"...I think we scared him off," Keigo said in mild astonishment.

"Hey, Kurosaki," Ishida said passively as he took a drink from his juice box and approached them. He blinked and took a better look at the trio, all sitting on their desks looking oddly pensive. "Uhh...What's going on?"

"Oh, Ichigo's got this song stuck in his head and we're trying to figure out what it is," Kojima answered with his head supported by his own hands. The Quincy's eyes widened as he nodded, comprehension setting in.

"Hey, you know, I'm pretty good at this sort of thing," Ishida said confidently, pushing his glasses up on his face. "Even if it means I'd be helping you, Ichigo, (whose eyes narrowed at the little reminder of the strife between the two Hollow-slaying groups) ...I'll give it a try. How does this song go, anyway?" Ichigo sighed as he stood up and started to hum. "Hmm... wait," the bespectacled teen said confusedly, " it goes like this?" To the trio's utter horror, Ishida began humming, and not very well. Once the Quincy had finished, Ichigo was glaring at him.

"No, not like that! It's more like..." he hummed the tune again, but Ishida interrupted him.

"That's what I'm doing! It's dunnn, dun-dun-dah-dum, right?"

"No, it's dumm...dum-dum-duhn-duhh..."

"You know, if you're not going to be patient with me, then there's not much I can do to help, is there?" Ishida growled, his own patience evaporating quickly. The two comrades-in-arms were glaring daggers at each other when Rukia happened to walk up, asking them what they were doing with an irritated expression on her face.

"Rukia!" Ichigo said urgently, which made the tiny girl jump. "How's that song go?" To his annoyance, she only looked at him quizzically.

"Huh? What song?"

"THE ONE YOU WERE HUMMING BEFORE!" He yelled louder than he meant to, just because the entire situation was frustrating him. The female Shinigami furrowed her brow in concentration for a moment before "ohh"ing in recollection.

"Oh, that thing? Don't worry about it, Ichigo, I actually--"

"OH FORGET IT!" The eldest Kurosaki child growled while stomping off, not catching what she said as he left the classroom.

"...What's with Ichigo?" she asked in bewilderment, more to herself than any of the boys around her.

"I dunno," Ishida sighed, "..but he seems really focused on that song for some reason."

Ichigo slowly walked along the sidewalk alone, sighing in exasperation. Not a single one of the people at school, or even Urahara (whom he had asked purely out of desperation and whose store he had just left) could tell him anything about Rukia's mystery tune.

Why doesn't ANYONE know about this song? Am I going to have this thing stuck in my head for the rest of my life?

These pessimistic thoughts, along with a lyricless melody that had not left him for the entire day, repeated themselves like a broken record in the auditorium of his mind, making it a rather noisy place at the moment.

"...I'm ho--" the teen began as he slid open his front door, only to have his mouth met with a flying kick and his ears assaulted with "Don't show up late for dinner, damnit!" He flew into the floor with a thud as Yuzu yelled salutations to Ichigo from the kitchen and Karin complained about him getting to the table because she was hungry. Ichigo was feeling too apathetic to fight back today, so Isshin got away unscathed for once and Ichigo ate dinner with a purple bruise on his cheek. Dinner was a quiet affair that night until Ichigo unconsciously began to hum again.

"Hmm? Ichigo, what's that you're humming?" Yuzu asked innocently while Karin snickered something about 'her oldest brother going senile.'

"Hey!" Ichigo growled at his dark-haired sibling, "I had to deal with enough crap today that I don't need--"

"...I sat on her floor

Biding my time

Drinking her wine..."

"..To hear it coming from my own sister, t--" he suddenly stopped when he heard his father singing to himself, a thing he could honestly say he had never once witnessed in his short life.

"We talked until two

And then she said,

'It's time for bed...'"

Isshin blinked and stopped singing under his breath when he noticed that his entire family was staring at him from across the table.

"Oh, sorry--what is it?"

"T-that song... What is that?" Ichigo said with astonishment as he realized that the words his father was clumsily reciting matched the tune Rukia had been humming almost perfectly.

"Oh, this? I wouldn't expect you to be familiar with it, Ichigo--It was a song that your mother and I used to listen to a long time ago." Almost on cue, he ran over to the gigantic poster of Masaki Kurosaki fixed to the living room wall and knelt before it, sobbing almost comically. "Oh, my beloved I miss y--"

"She knows you miss her, damnit! Just get over here and finish dinner!" Karin said in her typically icy tone while Ichigo got up from the table.

"Hey, Ichigo, are you finished?" Yuzu called as she looked at his half-finished plate.

"Yeah, I'm done--I got some studying to do..." He yelled distractedly over his shoulder as he ran up the stairs, to where Rukia was undoubtedly hiding in his closet. He threw open his bedroom door only to hear music quietly drifting out of his bedside CD stereo. "...Huh?"

"Oh, hey Ichigo. Done with dinner already?" The teen could only look bewildered at his closetmate as the music player droned on.

"Hey... I thought you didn't know this song!" Rukia looked at him innocently as she shrugged her shoulders.

"...I didn't. Luckily, Tatsuki-chan happened to know it and she gave me a copy. I WAS trying to tell you at lunch, but..."

I can't believe it, Ichigo thought blankly. I went through all this trouble just to...

He wanted to scream out loud, but all that got out of his mouth was a low sigh as he fell back onto his bed. Rukia looked at him, a pitying smile on her face.

"Well, if it's any consolation, Ichigo...thanks for going through all that for me." Ichigo blinked and luckily managed to come up with a weak retort.

"...I didn't do it for you. I just got that damn song in my head and I had to find out what it was."

"Oh, sure, sure..." Rukia agreed, but there was an almost warm skepticism in her voice as she hit the replay button on the stereo. Ichigo smiled in spite of himself as the song he'd spent all day thinking about started to play again.

I once had a girl

Or should I say

She once had me...

A/N: And that's my first Ichigo/Rukia fic! Pretty silly and random, but I just think it's funny when people have songs stuck in their head that they don't know. Oh, and the song... "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," by The Beatles.