Pairing: Renji/Rukia

Written because Rukia's one of the only female Bleach characters I actually like :)

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Rukia had spent so many months planning a surprise birthday party for Byakuya that she'd forgotten her birthday was actually before his.

Renji, however, had not.

It was one of his great gifts, remembering dates. His only gift, Rukia would often announce. Renji was certain Rukia had no idea that her opinion did hurt, even if he knew it was only a joke.

While Rukia was busy planning Byakuya's surprise party, Renji was busy planning hers.

That Orihime bird had enthusiastically agreed to help, and Urahara was only too happy to hold it in his basement. Ichigo had reluctantly agreed to find decorations and his younger sister, Yuz-whatever, was making food.

All in all, Renji had to congratulate himself on his brilliance.

He had forgotten one insignificant little detail.

Rukia hated surprises.

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After promising to clean Ichigo's room for a month , Ichigo had given Renji enough money to take Rukia out for dinner on the night. Ichigo probably would have given him the money anyway, but he enjoyed watching Renji suffer, and hated cleaning his room.

Renji also had to borrow some of Ichigo's smarter clothes and ended up being dressed by the substitute shinigami when he matched a vibrant purple shirt with a green blazer.

He left Urahara's that evening and arrived at Ichigo's with a bunch of flowers in hand, knocking on the door. Ichigo's father had been forced out of the house for the night, thankfully.

Rukia opened the door, clothed in a simple blue dress that matched her eyes, along with a smart black jacket. Renji thought she was breathtaking – but then, he always did.

"Shall we?" he asked in an uppity imitation of Byakuya. Rukia laughed and took his offered arm after giving the flowers to one of Ichigo's sisters to put in a vase. She looked very happy – Renji wondered why. He knew exactly why he was so happy, though.

The dinner went smoothly, although Rukia had to count out the money after Renji got confused and put down far too little.

He then guided her towards Urahara, hoping she wouldn't realise they weren't going back to Ichigo's. He had only just remembered the surprise party after leaving the restaurant – he'd been too busy memorising every smile, every laugh, every word she said.

As they were walking, Renji casually wrapped an arm around Rukia's shoulders to protect her from the chill of the night. Rukia leaned in to him and began talking. "I'm glad you did this for my birthday and not some surprise party or anything – I really hate surprises."

Renji froze.

Rukia looked at him curiously, and Renji gave a nervous laugh. How could he have forgotten? He was such an idiot.

"Well, does anyone like surprises, really?" he asked nervously. "I'm sure Kuchiki-taicho hates them, as well."

"Oh, no, Byakuya-sama secretly loves surprises, he just doesn't show it," Rukia told him like it was obvious. Renji gulped audibly.

"So… you really hate surprise birthday parties?"

"With a vengeance," Rukia replied, eyes burning the way they did when someone insulted Chappy the rabbit.

"Oh," Renji replied weakly, and began walking again, not sure what to do. Should he tactfully guide them back in the direction of Ichigo's house, even though no-one would be in, and then run back to Urahara's and call off the party?

"So, why are we going to Urahara-san's shop, anyway?" Rukia asked innocently.

Renji sighed – he couldn't lie to Rukia. She always knew, somehow. The disadvantage of growing up together.

"Well, you see… it's like this," Renji began, and then explained the whole situation because, just maybe, she would be willing to go to the party if it was no longer a surprise.

At the end of his explanation, Renji looked up to see Rukia's reaction, and was shocked at the large smile on her face. He'd expected her passionate anger that he couldn't help but love, or her unusual bout of revenge.

What he didn't expect was for Rukia to wrap her arms around his waist, stand on tip-toe, and press a gentle kiss to his lips.

"I already knew, idiot. You're not very subtle," she said, words ghosting across his parted lips. And then she took his hand and began dragging him to Urahara's shop.

Renji, a smile creeping onto his still-tingling lips, acknowledged that he was the one who had ended up surprised.

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