Joyride

Notes: Because the first thing we saw a young Rukia do was to steal water and stomp repeatedly on a man's face. I don't think it's beyond her at all to steal a car, especially if it's for Ichigo. Well...I hope this turned out all right!


"Rukia?"

The jangling of metal against metal; soft, measured breaths; the sound of shifting cloth. Silence.

"Hmm?"

"I hope you know this is illegal."

Her shoulders slammed against the steering wheel. Sitting up straight, messy hair and all, Rukia stared irritably.

She just looked at him for a moment, then, abruptly smiling, nodded. "I'm trying, but I'm finding it rather difficult to care," she returned with that same twisted smile. "It's not like anything's going to happen, Ichigo. Loosen up! You've been as stuffy as Nii-sama lately, just fighting hollows and doing what you have to do and such. You really need to give it a rest. And for God's sake, it's like you've never done anything illegal before."

And if he was going to answer her in honesty, he really hadn't. Unless you counted sneaking through Soul Society to save her head from the chopping block—which he didn't; crimes in alternate dimensions were immediately disqualified—and a few other minor things, he hadn't done anything horribly illegal. The look on her face said she couldn't claim the same, however. Twisting his father's keys in the ignition of his father's car, Rukia smiled. She nodded happily as the well-kept engine roared to life. "Excellent," she said. "We'll just take a quick ride, and bring it back before he's done responding to that emergency call. He won't have a clue."

And as long as he was being honest with himself... her grin would have sent the devil scurrying away in fear. Her pitifully pleading eyes would also have had any man on earth laying down his life for her. Despite the fact that he knew that she knew that he couldn't say no to those eyes, and despite the fact that he really, honestly tried to meet her gaze and give her a flat out no, he failed. Quite miserably, in fact.

And on that note, she squealed out of the driveway, mounting a Chappy plush on the rearview mirror and almost turning the neighbor's fat feline into a smoking pile of cat meat.

Kurosaki Isshin owned an impressive scarlet Corvette convertible. Rukia had stolen that scarlet Corvette convertible.

Ichigo tried to wrap his mind around it all, and again, failed rather miserably.

Instead, he focused his attention on Rukia. Her hair fell smoothly to her shoulders, charcoal black and just a bit messy over her challenging violet eyes. A glossy mouth turned up in what could only be called a smirk. She looked dangerous.

She was dangerous.

Ichigo wondered why he couldn't stop looking at her.

"So," Rukia said conversationally. "What does that red light mean?"

Ichigo snapped his head up, eyes wide. He hadn't noticed how quickly Rukia had gained speed. They were now approaching a red light at fifty miles per hour. A stream of traffic crossed the intersection, completely oblivious. In a few moments, they'd be part of a traffic sandwich. "It means stop or we'll be mincemeat, you insane freak!"

It seemed that the word "gradual" was not to be found in her vocabulary, because instead of easing onto the brake, she nodded and jammed her foot onto it, bringing the car to a gut-wrenching stop. Ichigo gasped and coughed a couple times to make sure his lungs were still there. Pulling at the locked seatbelt, and thankful that the airbag hadn't come out and broken his nose, he leaned back. "Slowly..." he groaned, sure that slamming against his seatbelt had completely squashed his internal organs. "I meant...stop...slowly."

Unharmed, she blinked several times, pursing her lips together. "Ohhh... I see." She nodded.

"And the green light?"

Ichigo was almost afraid to explain it to her. "Go," he rasped out at last. "It means you're allowed to go."

"How sweet!" Rukia smiled and waved to the stoplight as she passed. "Thank you!"

Ichigo wondered if it was possible to melt in his seat and die. Rukia pressed on the accelerator, absentmindedly tinkering with her Chappy toy. "You know, this is pretty fun. I've always heard that driving is a wonderful experience, but I didn't know, since I hadn't really tried it before."

Oh. Wonderful. Ichigo wondered how much one had to endure before they could claim not guilty by reason of insanity. Because when Rukia ended up in jail for this insane escapade, he'd be stark-raving bonkers, he was sure of it. "Do you mean you've never driven before? Rukia, you idiot! There's a lot to learn about cars before you should even try to drive one! I really, honestly hate to have to play the voice of reason, but stop this car right now!"

"Can't."

"Why can't you?" Was he yelling? Yes, he was yelling.

"That."

Rukia pointed in the rearview mirror. "I don't know much, but flashing lights aren't good, are they?"

By now, nothing could surprise Ichigo. "Not particularly," he sighed.

"Oh. Should I kill it?"

"K—kill? The policeman?" Ichigo hoped for the sake of his sanity that he had heard her wrong.

"Yeah. What else should I do?" Rukia growled and flipped her hair away from her face, tossing back the single lock of hair that always seemed to be falling in between her eyes. "He's gaining on us!" After a moment, she sighed. "Oh, well. I can take care of this." Braking in a squeal of rubber, she swerved over to the side of the road.

"Good!" she said, once they had come to a stop. "I thought that might have been the brake."

And if it hadn't? They were about thirty feet away from a bridge. Under that bridge was about twenty feet of nothing and then a river. Ichigo didn't even want to think about it.

The car pulled in behind them, turning the sirens off so the lights were the only thing on. "What do I do?" Rukia whispered, but there was no time to answer. Rukia spun to face the approaching official.

The policeman sauntered up to her window. "Can I see your license and registration?"

Rukia smiled at the policeman with wide, innocent eyes. "What are those?" she chirped.

Ichigo could not refrain from slapping his head.

"License and registration, please," the man repeated.

"Oh, whatever. I'll figure out what they are on my own, then. Hey, you, what does this button do?" Rukia pointed to the windshield wipers. Without warning, she started them. The policeman was sprayed with a mist of wiper fluid and water.

He went stiff and ground out his next words slowly and with exaggerated patience. "Are you aware that you were going eighty miles per hour? That's thirty-five miles over the posted speed limit."

Rukia nodded. "That's really neat. You wanna know what's cooler, though? I'm not gonna lie to you. Usually I'd say that he made me do it or something, but I don't want to have to bother about all that this time. It gets really boring having to cry all over guys to make them let me go."

"Please step out of the car, miss. I'm afraid I'm going to have to take you and your companion to the station. May I have the names of your parents, please?"

Rukia leaned against the steering wheel. "I'd tell you if I knew. Anyway, I'm sorta getting tired of this. No time." She grabbed the chappy bunny and unzipped a zipper on its head, pulling out a small and rather pathetic-looking object. A small, toy duck head mounted on a spring swung back and forth in her hand. "Look at this!" Rukia cried enthusiastically. The policeman made the mistake of looking.

He blinked heavily and fell to the ground, totally out of it. The duck head swung back and forth in the aftermath of its use.

Ichigo stared. "Wh—what the—?"

Rukia replaced the toy and smiled at Ichigo, her mood shift almost bipolar. "I thought I might need this. Remember? The memory modifier. I love this little thing."

Ichigo did remember. She'd used it on Inoue and Tatsuki once, with rather disastrous results. "Remind me never to do anything you'll want me to forget."

He looked down at the policeman, who sat up, dazed, and wished them a nice day, walking away murmuring something about feeding the ducks on his way home and meeting up with an evil, furry black rabbit.

Rukia leaned back into the car's seat, closing her eyes very briefly. She opened them and nodded happily at the sight beyond the bridge. "Anyway, it's time to relax." The sun glinted through the clouds and reflected flawlessly on the still surface of the water below the bridge. The wind sent ripples across its surface, making the sunlight sparkle in waves across the concrete structure, and the soft breeze rustled their hair through the open top of the car.

"Relax?" Ichigo asked.

"Yes, that's why I brought you out here."

Ichigo blinked at her. He leaned back in the seat and looked up to the sky, where one bird chased another through the air, dipping and weaving with wings outstretched. Crossing his arms behind his head, he tossed her a glance. "Why?"

She shrugged her shoulders. "I dunno. Lately, you've been all caught up with hollows and Aizen and all those things that aren't here, aren't alive, and I figured that, beyond beating you to a pulp, there wasn't a way to get you to take some time to loosen up. So..hurry up and relax so we can go," she said huffily. "My compassion has limits, you know, and I've just about reached them."

He smirked and closed his eyes. "I'm going to ignore you for a bit."

She elbowed him, but left him alone after that. After a few minutes, he secretly glanced her way and saw a smile. With the town and the people he cared for in danger, he had no right to loosen up, but maybe...maybe it was okay to relax...just a little bit.

"Rukia."

She gave him a glance that pretended to be irritated. "Mm."

"Thanks."

When they did go, the ride was much smoother than it had been before. They arrived home to silence, and Rukia looked at him for a moment, a question in her eyes. He nodded, and Rukia smiled at him, pulling the keys from the ignition and handing them to him before racing away. "Now don't be an idiot and get some fresh air once in a while!" She seemed ready to throw her shoe at him, but thought twice.

Ichigo unbuckled his seatbelt and slipped from the car onto the pavement, not daring to move. He closed his eyes.

"She's a crazy one, isn't she? Must be tough to handle."

Ichigo nodded. That was exactly how it was. "Yeah, but she really is worth—" He stopped suddenly, sitting up. "Crap! Dad!"

Isshin looked down at the orange-haired boy beneath him.

And Ichigo knew what was going to come next. Some heartful lecture about stealing (which his father would naturally assume he had done) and then he would be tackled and pinned to the ground while Isshin mourned to Masaki how horrible their son had become.

He waited for it. He was just too tired to resist.

"Dad..." And besides, as tempting as it was, he couldn't let Rukia take the blame. "It was my fault, and—"

"I saw Rukia-chan borrow the keys to the car," Isshin said, "so I decided to pretend to head out on an emergency call." Isshin sprawled out on the pavement beside Ichigo. "She's worried about you. And you know, if you weren't here, I'd totally pick her up, so don't let a girl like that go to waste, my boy!"

"Filthy old man," Ichigi growled, standing abruptly and kicking his father's knee. He walked away.

Worried about me?

He sighed, rubbing the mark from the seat belt that would most certainly become a bruise.

She sure did have a funny way of showing it.


Author's Notes: So...yeah. I suppose this is really just a collection of nutty events sandwiched into one sort of, kind of, totally insane story. I really hope it's able to give you a smile! (As opposed to a disappointed "why-in-the-world-did-I-even-read-this" sort of sigh.) Either way, thoughts and suggestions are always welcome. And...in case anyone is wondering... yes, the memory modifier in the manga looks like nothing more than a toy duckie mounted on a spring. So cute! Anyway... Please Review?