"Ichigo! Ichigo? Ichigo... Ichi? Ichi! I-chi-go!" each time the name was repeated, the victim who bore this name was poked in the back of the head.
"What?!" the poor soul roared as he whirled around to face the black haired Shinigami that had been calling his name.
"Do you think this needs more color? It looks too dull for my taste," Rukia replied as she held up a drawing of little rabbits dancing.
That was it right there. Ichigo snarled under his breath, and ripped the drawing right out of her hands. He crumpled it up, tore it into twenty pieces, and threw it into the air. This was the twentieth time today that she had pestered him about something petty like this. He didn't care if she colored her rabbits purple or blue! He didn't care if she split miso soup on her shirt! And he didn't care if it had stained said shirt! Ichigo was tired, and just wanted to be left alone. He loved having this pint sized Shinigami around, but not at the expense of his sanity.
Standing up from her seat, she broke his train of thought by roaring out, "What the hell was that for?!"
He rested his head in his hand, and began to rub his forehead. "Rukia, I'm in my final year of high school. The school work is extremely difficult, and takes a lot of work to complete. I'm in the top of my class, and I don't plan to graduate any different. Now, with that said, I want to finish this chapter in this book. If you can remain quiet for the next half hour, I will take you anywhere you want to go, ok?" he begged, a pleading look in his tired brown eyes.
It took everything out of her to stay silent on his reply, but she managed to merely nod in response to him. He wanted her quiet? Then quiet he would get! Rukia watched as Ichigo flipped through the pages of his book, and after a few minutes pulled out her phone and began playing games. To ensure pure silence, she even set her phone to silent. As her game of Fruit Ninja continued on, she noticed that her clock had disappeared at the top of her screen. Closing out of that app, she set a timer, and continued with her game. When the half hour had passed, and the chapter was completed, Ichigo nearly jumped out his skin when a car horn noise sounded behind him.
"Thirty minutes are up and I haven't made a sound. It's your turn to hold up your end of the bargain, Ichigo," Rukia stated as she switched off her phone.
"Geez I never thought you'd take it so seriously, but alright. Where do you want to go Rukia? Ice cream store, sushi bar or tea house?" Ichigo asked. He never expected her to be so adamant about this little ordeal, but it didn't hurt to go out. He was starving anyways, so it was a good reason to pick up food.
"Chappy store," she simply replied.
Taken aback by the quick reply, he asked, "Chappy store? There's one in this region?"
"It's twenty miles east of Karakura by car. It's the country's largest store, and ever since I was asked to take the assignment in Karakura I dreamt of going there," Rukia explained to him, a hopeful look sparking in her round eyes.
Why did this not surprise him any? He should have known that she would want to go to such a fluffy store, but still he never thought she'd ask to go now. Tossing his school book onto his bed, Ichigo turned to his computer to get directions to this horrid store. Oh how the mere idea of setting foot in such a store sickened him. The idea of being surrounded by pink walls, or adorable toys, or screaming children; it frightened him. Yes, the man who could take on thirteen captains, an army of Espada and Butterflaizen, was terrified of a mere toy store. Ichigo would never understand his great aversion to toy stores, but he had a feeling it had something to do with having his sisters' pile of toys once collapse on him. By the time he had opened the browser to type in the name of the store, he had a cell phone put in front of his face with directions on the screen.
Turning around to face the cell phone's owner, he grumbled, "You were looking this up while I was reading, weren't you?"
"Not at all; you read slower than I research. I merely pulled up the location under the app for the store," she replied, a proud look on her face.
Shutting down the computer, Ichigo mumbled to himself, "Course there's an app for that." He stood up from his desk chair, stretched out his tired muscles, and headed for the door. "Let's get going Rukia. I just want to get this over and done with."
Her only reply to that was the sticking out of her tongue. Not wasting another second, she quickly made her way to the front door, only to get caught up by the lock. Every time tried to use this door the lock gave her issues. Ichigo huffed as he watched her fight with it. How hard was it? Quickly unlocking, and opening the door, he grumbled under his breath that the task was pathetically simple. Rukia stopped in the doorway for a minute. She was glad he'd walked ahead of her; she didn't want him to see the sad look that had drawn itself on her face. The entire way to the bus stop she didn't say a single word; there wasn't a point. Now at the bus, Ichigo paid for their tickets to the next town over, and found a spot for him and Rukia to sit on the bus. After a few minutes of the steady, slow motion from the bus, the lack of sleep from the night before began to hit the poor orange haired student. As he started to doze off, a prod in his side jerked him awake.
"Are we there yet?" Rukia asked, a serious look on her face.
"Until this bus stops, we won't be. Let me just try to sleep for a minute; it's not like we won't get there just cause I fell asleep," Ichigo replied.
"What has you so tired?" she innocently asked, now curious why her companion looked like death warmed over.
"You ever think that trying to study for a school test might make someone a bit tired?" he snapped in reply to her.
The very second that reply came out his mouth, he regretted saying it. Both a sadden, and angered look washed over her violet eyes at that comment. She muttered under her breath something to the equivalent of her not needing to be snapped at, and then turned her back to him for the remainder of the ride. Why in the world did he have to say that like he did? Of course Rukia knew school tests were a pain; she went to his school for a few months! Sure Ichigo was tired, but that was his own fault. No one told him to try to cram all of his homework into a single day, and he knew he shouldn't have lashed out at his friend. When the bus reached its destination, Rukia shot out of it before Ichigo even had a chance to get out of his seat. Exiting the bus, he looked all around the area, and huffed when there was no sight of the pint sized Shinigami. Did she have flash step even in her gigai?! He searched every street corner around the bus stop, and searched in every store to find her until he spotted the Chappy store a few blocks away. Quickly Ichigo made his way through the crowded streets, and automatically spotted Rukia inside the store. Now in the store as well, he wasted no time in catching up to the star struck girl, and had hoped that the sight of so many Chappies would have lightened her heart after his comment.
To his dismay, the minute Rukia caught sight of him she growled, "What is it you want?"
"I told you I'd take you to the Chappy store," Ichigo replied.
"Well your job is done for the day. I'll take the bus back later when I'm done here," she informed him as she turned her back to him.
Before he could get another word out, Rukia had already disappeared into the sea of plush rabbits. Thanks to him snapping at her, she now hated him. 'Good going Ichigo!' he grumbled to himself. No matter how tired he may have been, he shouldn't have acted like that toward her. All day long Rukia had been trying to get his attention, and instead of taking five minutes to keep her company, he ignored her. It wasn't like he would get to see her any time he wanted. She was the thirteenth squad's lieutenant; she couldn't just run off to Karakura any time she got bored. Ichigo should have worried with his homework on the actual day he received it, instead of fighting with it on one of the days Rukia would be around. And now, because of her being angry and him being stupid, she probably would leave a day sooner than needed. Stopping on that thought, Ichigo felt a knot beginning in his stomach. The idea of having her leave sooner sickened him. He had to do something to make it better! But what? It was then that it clicked where it was he was standing at; Japan's largest Chappy store.
"You wouldn't have a basket I could borrow, would you?" he asked the store clerk.
"A basket? Sir, we only give our customer baskets when they have large orders to fill. You don't want to fill a basket here; everything costs quite a bit," the clerk replied, hoping they could talk him out of this idea.
"Just hand over a basket," Ichigo grumbled.
With a cart as his companion, he began his long, lengthy trek through the rabbit filled store. Glancing at the first aisle, every item screamed Rukia. Chappy plushies, Chappy hats, Chappy shirts, Chappy blankets, Chappy umbrellas, Chappy cupcake makers; every form of Chappy like thing imaginable was here! With that being the case though, it meant that there was nothing he could get here that she wouldn't like. That at least made this all a bit easier. Grabbing a handful of plushies and key chains, Ichigo began tossing random items into the basket. By the time he finished in the first aisle, six plushies, four key chains and three figurines were already sitting happily inside the basket. Could these items alone do the trick? He stared for what seemed like an hour at the bunny items, and then turned his cart in the direction of the next aisle. Apparel; this was sure to work. Rukia always seemed happy when she saw a Chappy shirt, and also sad that she didn't own one. A whole year's worth of them should fix that! Throwing an arm full into the basket, Ichigo continued on toward the socks. He grabbed ten pairs and tossed them in as well, and then tossed in a few pairs of knee high versions. Yes, this would fix everything. How could Rukia be mad or feel ignored after this? How could anyone feel ignored after being given all of this?! Ichigo felt a tad sick since he knew he was merely trying to buy her back, but this was sure to work. Buy her back? He shook his head at his own thought. That made her sound like an auction item! Throwing that thought out his mind, Ichigo gave his basket a shove in the direction of the next aisle. As he struggled to turn the cart, he quickly jerked it back toward himself. Rukia was in that next aisle; he couldn't have her see this stuff! He had to hide it, and quickly!
"Sir, can you please explain to me why you're behind the counter? Customers can't be back here," an employee asked as she gawked at the orange haired student next to her.
Crouched behind the checkout counter, basket and all, was Ichigo. This was the perfect hiding spot! Rukia would never see him lurking here! But as that hope came, it also went. The next in line was none other than the upset Shinigami, who's only item was a candy bar. Thanks to a crack in the wooden counter, he could vaguely see her as she set the candy on the scanner.
"Find everything ok?" the clerk asked with a smile.
"Yeah, I guess so. Is there a tea house nearby? I need to kill a couple of hours before heading back to my city," Rukia replied, a strong depressed sound in her deep voice.
The clerk kindly gave her directions, and as she exited the store, Ichigo could only watch her go. He felt even worse now. She was going out of her way now to avoid him. 'I'm pathetic. I ignored my best friend, and for what? To get a better grade than the guy next to me? She's more important than that!' he told himself. Climbing out from behind the counter, Ichigo thanked for the clerk for letting him hide, and continued on his way. By evening's end, the pain he was feeling from upsetting Rukia had transferred to his wallet when the bill was rung up. 'If this doesn't do something, I don't know what will' he thought as he somberly gazed at his empty wallet.
As Ichigo dragged himself into his room, tired from lugging all the Chappy items across the city, he was astonished to find his room empty. A little slip of paper sat on his bed which read, "Ichigo: Needed back in the Soul Society. Not sure when or if I can come back."
Despite knowing that truthfully she left because of him, and now being alone, he couldn't help but smirk. "Just wait till you get home, Rukia."
Just as that comment left Ichigo's mouth, Rukia opened the door to her room. Her jaw dropped, along with every item she had been holding. Her bed had purple, Chappy printed sheets with Chappy pillows and plushies covering it. Along her walls were Chappy stickers and posters, and one nice little koo-koo clock that had Chappy pop out it every hour. The floors had multiple Chappy rugs on them, and a nice Chappy lamp that sat by the bed. Turning toward her desk, Rukia was surprised to see that the walls and floors weren't the only things affected. Her desk had Chappy brand crayons and markers, along with a rabbit shaped sketch pad. The desk chair even had Chappies imprinted on it! Several Chappy figurines sat happily on the desk, with one holding a little sign that had an arrow on it. Following the direction of the arrow, she wandered to her closet, opened it, and gasped. Every shirt, coat, jacket, scarf and pair of gloves had Chappy sewn onto them. Though everything was amazing, the last item found won over her whole heart. Sitting adorable on the floor of her closet was a three foot tall Chappy plushie dressed in a strawberry suit. A note was tied to her little paws, which Rukia quickly removed to read.
"Rukia, I'm sorry for everything. We hadn't seen each other in over a year, and yet I ignored you when you were finally here. I know a few stuffed toys don't fix anything, but if nothing else I got you to smile. Next time you're here I'll actually pay attention to you, so don't be gone for another year and a half - Ichigo," the note read. Rukia couldn't help but smile at the words written, until she noticed the last line which instead gave her a good laugh. "And by the way, because I'm broke from buying all these stupid rabbits, you're buying lunch for the next six years."