Warning: Could be a bit fluffy.

Chapter 3

Very Happy Life

The alarm went off indicating the start of another day but Ichigo was in no mood to face it. Last day had been too much already. He groaned and slammed his hand down on the noisy thing hard enough to make it crack under the pressure. He didn't understand why he was being so affected by all this…he had never been interested in anyone's love affairs till now.

Hell, no one ever came to ask me for "help" on their love affairs till now.

Now, what was he supposed to do?

He could ignore the whole incident like it never happened and tell Renji to make his own damn move when they meet next. Or maybe he could ask Rukia about what she thought of him when she returned.

Both the options were risky – he would either get taunts or unnecessary drama or gushes and he wasn't ready for either of those. Plus, the thought of Rukia kissing and hugging Renji in a more than friendly way wasn't going down with him too well. Slowly, silently he got up from his bed and walked towards his room's window and opened it to let in some fresh air to cool his mind but patch of bright red was enough to make him regret his decision and he immediately shut it.

What the hell is he doing here?

Now, poor Ichigo forgot that people can easily open windows unless you lock them and so the aforementioned window was opened making way for the red-haired shinigami, currently the enemy of his sleep.

"Yo," greeted Renji as he stepped inside.

"What do you want?" Ichigo asked shortly.

"I hope you didn't talk to her about, well, me, did you?"

Ichigo looked to his side and said, "No. I forgot."

Renji frowned.

"How can you forget?" he barked, clearly frustrated by his nonchalance.

"I just did, now will you kill me for it?"

Renji sighed and shook his head.

"I forgive you and your forgetfulness 'cause I thought it would be weird for you to go and ask her straight away. You know, we need a plan," he said in a serious tone.

Ichigo's eye twitched in irritation, "What plan now?"

Renji paused with a tense, thoughtful expression on his face - arms crossed and brows furrowed. After a few moments, he stated rather plainly, "I don't know."

Ichigo felt himself burn with anger, "Like hell you don't!" he yelled. "Then why did you come here to talk about it?"

I hope you don't expect me to plan it for you. He added silently.

"I thought you'd plan it out for me."

Joy.

"I'm sorry but I'm no good at these things. If you want a plan, go ask someone from Shinigami Women's Association maybe…or someone else. Honestly, all this is becoming a pain in the ass for me and I'd rather spend my time doing something worthwhile than planning how to start your love affair," he said gravely, his scowl even deeper than usual. "Go plan it – whatever and make your own damn move. How do you think I can even help?"

Renji looked crestfallen. And angry.

He took slow, dangerous steps towards him until they were only three feet apart and pointed an index finger towards his chest.

"Apart from the fact that every member of SWA is a lot weirder than you can imagine and they'd ruin everything before it even starts, my taicho is a temporary member too."

"What, Byakuya is - "

Renji interrupted and took another step forward and grabbed Ichigo by his collar, "And did you know that Rukia was already a member? Granted, she rarely attends their meetings but she still is a member. A member, Ichigo."

Ichigo scowled and Renji let go of his collar and started walking away from him in the opposite direction.

"But the main reason I came to you is because there's no one who knows Rukia better than you do. If anyone else would have asked, she would have just sweetly smiled and denied it."

Renji's hands were stiff by his sides as he spoke.

"Just how she does when anyone asks if there's anything going on between you two," he turned around and glared at Ichigo accusingly.

As the implications sank in, Ichigo felt his face heat up.

"Th-there's nothing going on between us!" he stuttered, shaking his head feverishly.

"Sure, there isn't," Renji narrowed his eyes and muttered obnoxiously. "Then why wouldn't you help me if nothing's between you two, eh?"

When Ichigo didn't answer, Renji sighed audibly and continued, "The only reason I came to you is because you and Rukia know each other very well and if you asked her about me, she wouldn't just smile that cutesy smile of hers and say, 'Oh, what are you talking about? Of course not!' But you," he shot an accusing finger in his direction, "don't even want to help!"

He sighed dejectedly and turned around to leave, "Thank you so much for being such a nice friend," he muttered sarcastically and started to move out of the window.

"Alright, alright. I'll ask her, fine?" said Ichigo, finally giving in.

"No it's not fine!" Renji barked turning around. "I want a plan so that she doesn't lie! I thought about it a lot yesterday and she might even lie to you if you ask her straight away."

Ichigo wanted to strangle him right then. Even if Rukia would have turned him down out of honest disinterest, the bastard would have deemed it 'a lie to elude an uncomfortable situation.'

"Renji," he said gravely. "I give you time, go think whatever plan you need to. I won't say anything about it to her until then."

"You promise?" Renji asked hopefully like a small kid, his eyes wide and lips parted.

"Yes, yes I promise! Now get out!" cried Ichigo exasperatedly. There was so much he could take.

Renji grinned widely though a little nervously.

"Fine, Ichi. Thanks a lot. I'll come back tomorrow with a plan then."

He opened the window, grinned, waved and left, leaving the impression of his being behind.

God, this is not going to be easy.

-x-

"I'm back!" Rukia said as she came in. Ichigo noticed that she was wearing a different outfit this time. A word of praise was on the tip of his tongue but he swallowed it down.

Rukia was dressed in a long, diaphanous top with broad, long sleeves and a white vest underneath. It was paired with denim shorts which Ichigo found too short to ignore. It was simple. It was cute. It was dashing.

"Hi," he greeted casually and turned back to his books.

"Do you do anything except study?" Rukia asked as she hit his arm lightly.

"Yes," Ichigo answered shortly.

"But I've been here twice and I've only found you studying!" she accused as she placed herself on his bed.

"You're saying as if it's a crime," he answered turning towards her.

Rukia shook her head in mock pity, "But you need to have fun too, ne?"

Ichigo frowned, "Not everyone's got so much time. Besides, once I clear my entrance I would have ample time to 'have fun'."

Rukia chuckled, "Fine, fine. Do your studying! So, till when are you going to study?"

Ichigo, who was solving the last sum of the second last exercise of the third last chapter of his Math course book, told her to keep quiet for a while. She shrugged and started looking for some nice manga in his room to pass the time. She opened the closet she used to sleep in, in hopes to find something. Her eyes widened when she saw the place was still the same as it used to be two years ago - her bedding was folded neatly and kept on the side and her nightsuit that she had stolen from Yuzu was kept in a neat pile next to it. And what shocked her the most was the letter she had left for him the day Byakuya and Renji had come to take her for execution was also there. It was a bit crumpled and slightly torn but not dusty. It looked as if – as if someone used to pick up and read it from time to time.

"Ichigo," she breathed disbelievingly. "You still have it?"

Ichigo whipped his head around at the tone. Rukia was standing in front of his(formerly hers) closet and had that letter in her small hands and she was looking at it with a surprised expression. Her reaction made him blush and he scratched the back of his neck nervously.

"I-uh, well I didn't really need it so I left it that way," he answered in hopes that she'd leave the topic and turned back to his books in a failed attempt to get back at that hideous problem.

Wait a minute, where did that formula come from?

"You still have it," she said softly.

He didn't turn around to show his reddened face and only hummed in answer, mentally cursing himself for not hiding that note in a better place. His face became twice as red as before when Rukia started to laugh. Laugh? And here he was thinking she'd turn towards him and say something sentimental.

"W-What's there to laugh at?" he shouted, clearly pissed at her reaction. "I must have kept it there and forgotten about it - "

Rukia rubber her eyes as she stifled another chuckle, "I never thought you were the sentimental type. I mean I thought you must have thrown it by now but," she closed her eyes and shook her head gently.

Ichigo started to speak but couldn't. He had been caught red-handed and he couldn't imagine how much of a sappy idiot he must be seeming now. It would have been even worse if she had found the short poem he had written in her absence, that was now sitting in his desk's drawer. He cursed his carelessness again and decided to hide it in some place better in case she decides to play Sherlock later.

"I'm not sentimental!" he said or more like whined in protest. "I just…I just - "

"Nah, don't worry about it. It's fine, really," she cut him and raised her eyes to meet his, "I'm just a little surprised, that's it. And this is a very pleasant one." She said and smiled a smile that was so heavenly, so peaceful and so different from her usual playful one that even heaven itself would have paled in comparison.

Ichigo felt his heartbeat quicken and cheeks heat up in response.

"Ahh – well ," he stuttered nervously and started to play with the pen in his hand in a failed attempt to distract himself.

"I told you not to worry about it," she waved playfully before smirking, "Now, I guess you're not returning to studying, are you? How about performing the tests Soul Society gave?"

Ichigo groaned.

Damn. Must hide that poem in a better place.

-x-

The sun was shining high in the sky and a thin sheet of sweat was covering his skin. He raised his arm and sliced another ice pillar that Rukia had erected into two vertical halves.

One by one, he went on slicing more of those perfectly white, erect pillars till all of them were done. He stopped and took a few deep breaths.

"How many more to go?" he asked between his tired breaths.

"Two hundred more," she answered him flatly.

"But I've already done a hundred! Isn't that enough?" he complained.

Rukia shook her head.

"I too think it should be enough but according to these orders," she raised the sheets in her hands, "two hundred pillars are still left."

"Alright then, bring 'em on! You aren't tired, are you?" he asked. He was concerned about her draining too much reiatsu for these tests but Rukia was never tired when it came to her job.

"Of course not, baka! Now, let's make another fifty!" she said excitedly and stabbed the ground with her sword, giving rise to fifty tall and identical ice pillars.

Ichigo sighed and flew forward. "Here we go."

One hour later

"Phew! We finally did it!" Rukia exclaimed as she sipped from her water bottle.

"Yeah," Ichigo agreed and plopped down beside her on the pipes.

It was an abandoned ground and usually no one used to pass by and even if anyone did, they won't be able to see them but still, just for precaution, Rukia had used spirit walls she'd bought from Urahara to surround the park so as to confine their spiritual pressure.

"Who the hell designed those tests anyway?" he asked casually as he took the bottle from her hand and started to sip, letting its coolness wash his tiredness.

"Kurotsuchi taicho and his squad. They were the ones who wanted to assess your powers and requested Captain Commander to send someone to have you take them."

"Should have known it was that sadistic bastard," he muttered sourly. " And since you know me the best, you were sent."

"No! Okay, maybe that's one of the reasons but I was mainly sent because of my abilities. Like this ice pillar test, see?"

Ichigo nodded and stood up, "Let's get back now."

"Okay! But first, give that badge to me," she pointed towards the gray badge pinned to his robes. Ichigo removed it and handed it to her.

The gray badge was a special device for recording the rise and fall of Ichigo's reiatsu to see its consistency, density etc. in accordance with his activities.

Rukia bent and switched off the spiritual pressure trapping walls and picked up the box shaped contraption. They shunpoed to his house and were there in a few moments.

Ichigo quickly slipped into his body while Rukia got back into her gigai as luckily for them, Chappy was on the bed reading some shoujo manga while Kon was fast asleep.

"So, going back to those books?" she asked teasingly after slipping into her gigai.

"Ahh, not now Rukia. I'm tired," Ichigo answered without making any effort to get up from his lying position.

"So let's go out and have some fun! You should take a break sometimes," she nudged his shoulder playfully causing Ichigo to groan and dig his head deeper into the pillow.

"No, I just want to sleep," he told her - his voice a bit muffled because of the pillows.

But Rukia wasn't giving up so easily and started to shake him by his arm.

"Come on now, you idiot! How can you be so boring?"

She kept on pulling his arm and shaking his body and kept muttering something or the other to persuade him without giving up. She started to poke his head with her long, bony finger and that's when Ichigo finally give in.

"Okay okay, I'll come with you. Now, just stop it!" he growled as he threw her hand away from his head.

"Yes! Now go get ready," she cheered, completely ignoring his rude gesture, and ran to the bathroom to wash her face and fix her hair.

He smiled at her retreating form – if there was someone who could shake him out of his stubbornness, it was Rukia. He quickly changed out of his pajamas and went downstairs to find Rukia waiting for him.

"Let's go," he smiled and they got out of the house.

-x-

It was evening time and the weather was pleasant. A soft wind was blowing across the town and it was very peaceful – a perfect day for two lovers to stroll around and murmur sweet nothings into each others' ears but Ichigo and Rukia(not really lovers, apparently) were up to something else.

"Why that café only? It's too far off plus I've never even heard of it before!" Ichigo asked Rukia, irritated at her stubbornness.

"I just want to! Inoue told me about it and she said it's got real good food!" she answered.

"But there are so many cafés here too and you see that one?" he pointed towards a small but neat café on the other side of the road, "That one serves delicious snacks at a reasonable price."

"B-but I want to go to that one only!" she protested.

"There must be some reason about why you're being so insistent about it. What's so special about that café?" he asked.

Rukia fumbled with the hem of her top and blushed.

"You won't take me if I tell you," she mumbled. "It's a bunny café."

"Oh," Ichigo said plainly. "You're right, we shouldn't go there."

Rukia kicked his shin, "Jerk! That's why I wasn't telling you!"

Ichigo rubbed the sore spot and chuckled, "You know the way?"

Rukia beamed and giggled like a little schoolgirl, "Yes!"

They began to walk to the café but suddenly Rukia stopped when she noticed a giant wheel in the distance.

"An amusement park?" she gasped.

"Yeah, opened a year ago. You wanna go?"

Rukia looked up at him and nodded, "Yes!" she said excitedly as she had never gone to one before and took Ichigo's hand in hers and started to run in the wheel's direction.

They reached their destination in twenty minutes and Ichigo quickly got tickets for them. The two entered the park and Rukia squealed – yes, squealed – as she gazed at the many available rides and Ichigo watched her with an amused expression on his face. Rukia turned to him and said, "I want to sit in that wheel!"

Ichigo looked at the sky and shook his head, "Wait for an hour. We'll be able to look at the sunset from there."

Rukia nodded, "Then where should we go first?"

"Let's go to the roller coaster. It's my favourite ride."

"Okay!" Rukia cheered, ignorant about what a roller coaster really was, and they walked towards the ride. When they reached, the colour from Rukia's face drained at the sight of the super fast ride running on twisted tracks and its screaming passengers.

"Are you sure it's for fun and not torturing?" she whispered, eyeing the weird ride.

Ichigo chuckled lightly, "It's thrilling, Rukia. Unless you're too scared to try."

"I'm not scared!" she protested. "I'll sit on this weird train."

"A roller coaster," he corrected.

"Whatever," she snapped.

The roller coaster came to a halt and passengers started to come out of it. Rukia shot scared glances at some of them who were too dizzy to walk straight. She gulped and convinced herself that she wasn't so weak to become dizzy after a stupid ride.

Maybe.

The line started to move forward and their turn was just about to come when a voice interrupted them.

"Kurosaki-kun! Rukia-chan!"

Orihime was waving frantically to them from a few feet away with her right arm while her left warm was around Tatsuki's arm.


Thanks for reading! And do tell me your thoughts on this chapter!