This Could Be the Day
Chapter 1: What if Orihime got tired of waiting?
Word Count: 1572
Warnings: mild cursing
Disclaimer: All characters herein belong to Kubo Tite.
The clack of the classroom door as it opened and closed. Chairs scraping across the floor as they were pulled out. Cheery good morning greetings aimed at everyone but him. Books slapped on top of desks. Talking. Papers shuffling. Laughter. The general dull roar of class before the bell seemed to annoy Ichigo more than normal today. It seemed to echo in his head, growing larger, louder, swelling, causing his brows to furrow and his mouth to thin into a tight line.
Forget annoyed, it was pissing him off.
Roughly rubbing a hand over his face, he smoothed his wrinkled brow and wished he could wipe away his bad mood as easily. Ichigo was pretty sure that a lack of sleep from a long night on hollow patrol wasn't helping much either. He was tired, cranky, irritated, and trapped in a classroom with a bunch of people who didn't realize just how badly they were getting on his nerves. Leaning back in his chair, he observed those around him who topped his 'irritate the hell out of me' list. The list wasn't long, but it did just so happen to have all of his closest friends on it.
Ichigo started with the one who seemed to find a way to annoy him on a daily basis -Keigo and his whining. His spastic friend's bids for attention seemed shriller today, enough that it could compete with fingernails on a chalkboard. Unpleasant on any normal day, it was almost unbearable today.
Then, there was Mizuro. His 'Uh huh, Mr. Asano' had a biting sarcastic edge to it, one that would then send Keigo into a lament about how everyone was so cruel. The player, with ever present cell phone at hand, would merely continue with his texting, uncaring of his fragile friend convulsing on the floor.
His eyes flicked to the side and his mouth curled down further. Uryuu Ishida. Need he say more? Between his condescending glare and the supercilious way he pushed up his glasses …Damn, it didn't matter what that guy did, it all pisses me off. Ichigo thought to himself with a groan as he rotated his shoulders, trying to ease some of the tension building there.
Slouching further into his seat, he glanced to the front corner of the classroom where Tatsuki and Chizuru were once again grappling over the mauling of the oblivious Orihime. This was getting old and completely ridiculous. Ichigo was beginning to think that Chizuru did it just to get Tatsuki to rough her up.
Shuddering in revulsion at his disturbing train of thought, he quickly turned his face away from the arguing girls and caught sight of the petite woman next to him. Rukia was positively glowing -the picture of perfect health. Her disgustingly chipper mood, from a night of uninterrupted sleep -no doubt- had him biting back any number of curse words.
Even Chad, who was quiet as always, bugged Ichigo because he had to look to see if he was even there. How a man that big can disappear into the background was beyond him. But he did, and it annoyed him.
And then, there was Orihime.
Even his gentle friend was not spared from his abysmal outlook. Her glazed eyes and slack mouth signaled that she was daydreaming once again and therefore not aware of the temper he was in. Now that, for some reason, just irritated the shit out of him.
Growling in frustration, Ichigo fisted his hand in his hair as Rukia sent him an inquisitive look.
Out of all of his friends, Ichigo could always count on Orihime being attuned to his mood. But lately, it felt like she was slowly drawing away. Not ignoring him, not really anyway. It was more as if she was consistently busy with one thing or another. Club activities. Work. Health advisor projects. Training with Tatsuki. She always seemed to apologize and run off on any of the rare occasions they came face to face. On some level it truly bothered him. And the fact that he was irritated by this made him even more livid.
It was just …
It was just that he thought she was someone he could always depend on. That she'd be there, silently -and sometimes not so silently- encouraging him, believing in him, unconditionally supporting him. He glanced at her again and watched her profile.
Blowing out a breath, he didn't realize that his expression softened while gazing at her, but the dark haired shinigami beside him did. Rukia's eyes widened, a small smile played over her lips.
Ichigo didn't appreciate just how much he needed and wanted Orihime's support until she was absent from his side. She was still there, just not as close, not quite as obliging. She no longer blindly followed wherever he led.
Yes, he thought as his eyes caressed the curve of her cheek, Orihime was still there, but for some reason Ichigo missed her.
His rotten frame of mind began two days previous.
They were on the roof as usual for lunch, sitting against the safety fence rimming the edge as a light breeze whispered over their heads. The sun smiled a benediction down on them from a clear blue sky, putting everyone in a good mood and looking forward to break next week. Rukia, Tatsuki, and Orihime were joining them on the rooftop for once at Mizuro's request.
The group had decided to take a short trip to the beach over summer break and they need to finalize their reservations on a beach house before they ran out of time. They were anticipating five nights of simply hanging out at the beach, sightseeing and just enjoying each other's company, all while not being in a life or death situation for once.
At least that had been the plan …
Until Orihime had stammered out, "I really have some things to do at my apartment that I've been putting off for far too long." She had then looked up and smiled brightly at everyone. "B-but I hope you all have loads of fun."
Her announcement opened up a floodgate of reactions.
"How terribly cruel! The lovely Orihime is going to deny us her presence. This is unacceptable!" Keigo cried out, stamping his foot before falling to his knees, imploring an oblivious Orihime. "How can we go to the beach without our divinely abundant goddess present?"
Mizuro and Chad both glanced first at Ichigo, trying to gauge his reaction, before they looked at Orihime with concern, but otherwise made no comment.
"It's your decision to make of course," Uryuu responded, pushing his glasses up his nose, catching the sun as he did so, "but it does seem strange that you wouldn't want to go. You were excited when we talked about this before. Did one of us do something to offend you?" He asked politely, watching Kurosaki from the corner of his eye.
"Oh no, it's nothing like that! I just have some things to do, that's all." Orihime sent them all a reassuring smile in turn -except for one- before going silent and chewing on her lower lip.
Tatsuki and Rukia's eyes narrowed in thought. Neither one missed how Orihime avoided a certain someone's gaze. They shared a glance, made a vague hand gesture and nodded their heads before Tatsuki stood. "Orihime, can I talk to you for a minute?"
Orihime broke out of her absorption with her shoes -they were really nice shoes, too- and blinked her eyes up at her best friend. "Umm, sure Tatsuki-chan." She replied slowly, with an unmistakable hint of unease coloring her tone.
Tatsuki reached down and pulled her friend unresistingly to her feet before tugging Orihime out of sight of the others behind the air-conditioning units. Everyone's eyes followed them in silence, everyone except Rukia's. She was trying to decipher Ichigo's expression, curious of his narrowed eyes and dark scowl. The tense redhead had one hand clenched into a fist beside his thigh, while the fingers of his other hand beat a steady cadence on the roof. His eyes had followed the two girls until they disappeared around the corner and then he turned his head away, seemingly dismissing them from his thoughts.
Interesting. Rukia thought to herself, grinning delightedly at his perturbed appearance. She and Tatsuki were right, something was irritating Ichigo, putting him more on edge than usual. The indigo-eyed shinigami would bet her beloved Chappy bobble head that she knew just what he was stressed about, too.
Mizuro cleared his throat and spoke up, "If Orihime doesn't want to go, we can't force her but-" he barely paused to push Keigo away and continued to talk over his friend's disappointed tears, "I need to reserve the cabin today or we'll lose out on it."
"Hey, Ichigo," Rukia leaned over and punched him in the arm, "go get them." She smirked at him in her superior manner, "We need to come to a decision and lunch is almost over."
"Why send me?" He growled back, slamming down his uneaten lunch.
Another punch to the arm.
"Fine," Ichigo yelled at her as he slowly unfolded his body, "just quit hitting me." Muttering darkly about midget bitches, he turned away to retrieve his two friends.
He didn't see Rukia's gleeful smile of anticipation, or notice that she stole the rest of his lunch. She was still hungry after all …
A/N: Thanks for reading. -Rairakku
6/22/09 -I have reposted Chapter 1, this is the newly revised content. The other bothered me greatly. Thanks and enjoy.
11/27/11 –I'm in the process of rewriting all 30-some chapters of this story before writing any more for it. Please be patient with me, I'm not going to abandon it.