"... What? Ami, say it properly."
"Come on, we can't help you if we don't know who it is."
"Don't you trust us?"
Mumble. "... Kurosaki Ichigo."
"Kurosaki... Ichigo? Which class?"
"Oh... wait, isn't he the guy with orange hair? Mizuiro's class?"
"Who? I don't remember... orange hair? Is he some sort of..."
"Don't you remember? You've seen him, remember that time Don Kanonji was filming here and some guy kicked up trouble and tried to rush in or something?"
"... Oh God, that's Kurosaki Ichigo?"
"Oh! Er, I didn't mean it like that, Ami! But... don't you think he sounds a bit like a... well, a troublemaker...?"
"... Well. I know... but... maybe he had his reasons? I mean, I don't think he makes much trouble in school... And he's not a gangster! I mean, he's smart and everything. He ranked 18 in the exams! And..."
"All right... calm down..."
"Oh shoot, that's the bell... Look we'll talk after class!"
Whisper. "... Er, wait... Wasn't there a girl with him that time...?
"Yeah, heard she's a classmate or something..."
"... Are they...?"
"I don't know. But there've been rumours..."
"Why didn't you tell Ami?"
"Well... I mean, they're just rumours, right? And it'd be better for her if she got a proper answer, instead of just wondering if she should have or not..."
Sigh. "... I hope you're right..."
The next morning, the person in question walked into his classroom to stop, eyes narrowing, as he saw Mizuiro and Keigo at his desk, heads bent over something...
"Oi, what're the two of you looking at?"
Keigo would have jumped ten feet if Ichigo's hand hadn't grabbed his shoulder. "Yargh! Ichigo! We didn't hear you come in..." he yelped.
Mizuiro backed away, letting something white drop back on the desk."Ah... Ichigo..." He beamed innocently. Too innocently.
"What the hell is this?" Ichigo asked suspiciously as he stared at the rectangle of white paper. An envelope, plain except for a small, pale pink flower in a corner. Kurosaki Ichigo, it announced in neat, black-ink words. "A letter? From who? And why'd they leave it at my desk?" He eyed his friends. "And why are the two of you looking at me like..."
"You IDIOT. What do you think that is?" Keigo howled at him. "Someone's written you a LOVE LETTER!"
Silence descended on the classroom and the corridor outside it as everyone within hearing distance froze, mid-action, to turn and stare at them.
Mizuiro considered crawling under a table and hoping Ichigo couldn't reach him there when he unstuck enough to try to kill them.
Keigo, who had no such chances, twitched in a vain attempt to move and run for his life but fear... had... paralysed... him... He could see several veins start to pop on Ichigo's temple...
The teacher walked in.
All hell did not break loose right then and there, but a sizable portion of it wrecked a good bit of damage. Later.
I have something important I'd like to say to you. Could you please meet me outside the gym after school today? I would be very honoured.
Ichigo blinked. Stared. "This is a love letter?"
Keigo and Mizuiro wondered how their friend had managed to survive school life so long without picking up some of its most essential, important facts.
"It just says she wants to tell me something," he pointed out.
"What else could she want to tell you?!" Keigo yelled. He was lucky the rooftop was deserted except for the three of them, Mizuiro thought, covering his ears; hadn't this morning taught him anything?
"I don't even know who this is," Ichigo pointed out irritably. "Why the hell would she want to do that?"
"... If I remember right, she's in the school choir..." Mizuiro said thoughtfully. "A bit quiet, but quite cute, really."
"I thought you were only interested in older women."
Mizuiro looked wounded. "Good social skills are always important. And I can't help it if women of all ages find me..."
Keigo's howl of protest drowned out the rest of his words. Ichigo ignored them to stare dubiously at the note again.
"So I'm supposed to go meet her?"
They stopped arguing long enough to roar in perfect unison. "YES OF COURSE."
"Ah... she doesn't deserve someone like you," Keigo mourned. "How could anyone be so callous? Young love, so sweet, so innocent, and he..."
"I still don't know who she is. I don't want a girlfriend! The stupid rumours all over school are bad enough."
"Come to think of it, does Kuchiki-san know about this...?" Mizuiro mused before remembering she'd have to be stone deaf to not know. Ichigo glared murder. He backed off. "Never mind..."
"Do I know about what...?" someone asked, curious.
They looked up to see Rukia looking down at them, lunch box in hand.
"Ah! Kuchiki-san! What are you doing up here this fine day?" Keigo sprang to his feet. "Come, join us!"
She smiled dazzlingly. "Thank you. The weather was so fine, I thought I'd come up to the roof for my lunch to enjoy it. But do I know about what?"
"Someone's written Ichigo a love letter! But you were in class this morning, so you must have heard, right?"
"Oh, that, why yes, I heard. It's so sweet!" She beamed and Ichigo could tell she was laughing at him even if it didn't show. Quite. But well meaning people didn't smirk like that and her coy chuckle was clearly a well disguised cackle.
"No. It. Isn't," he ground his teeth.
"Well. You should still go," Mizuiro said. "It'll be really rude if you don't. You could just tell her you're not interested in dating yet or something..."
So. After school. The gym. Ichigo reluctantly dragged himself round the corner and found the place almost deserted. Well, except for a girl with brown hair standing nervously by the gym doors and a few passing students, and...
He stalked over to the nearest bush and kicked. Hard.
The bush yelled.
Ichigo glared. It obediently rustled to reveal Chad. And Mizuiro, hiding behind him. And Keigo, still clutching at his leg as he groaned.
Chad stared back at Ichigo, then nodded and obligingly grabbed the other two boys by their collars and dragged them away.
Which left Ichigo alone to deal with The Girl. Kurosaki Ichigo had faced down big ugly Hollows without turning a hair. All he really had to do was go up to her and politely tell her he wasn't interested; how hard could that be?
Right. So when she looked at him nervously and blushed and said his name, he did not wonder if backing off right now might not be a good idea.
"Er. Yes. I got your letter..."
"Ah... yes... I..." She seemed to have trouble saying whatever it was she wanted to tell him. "I just wanted to say that I--"
He turned. "What the...?" And met the gloved heel of Rukia's palm right as she hit him...
"Yargh! What the hell?! Not right in front of her!" he yelled, turning to watch his body fall over while Hioshi Ami stared in shock.
"There's a Hollow attack! Come on!" She snapped, grabbing him by the sleeve.
"Couldn't you have waited a few more seconds?! Let go of me! How the HELL am I going to explain that...?!"
The story was all over school the next morning.
Tatsuki walked into class to hear Ogawa tell Orihime "and she said a whole bunch of monkeys jumped off the gym roof on her and she nearly fainted but then Ichigo finally turned up and helped her! And then he said he wasn't interested in dating, but she says she'll wait for him if she has to, and..."
... That was the stupidest thing she'd ever heard. Except for the time Orihime's apartment had gotten that hole in the wall; that had been slightly stranger...
Something struck her later. "Orihime? How come you never tried confessing to Ichigo? Knowing what he's like, he's never going to get interested unless you grab him..."
Orihime blinked. "Oh no, methods like that won't work on him," she said sagely and went back to humming.
She was probably right. Sometimes, Tatsuki thought, Orihime really did seem to know better than the rest of them...