I rested my head on the table and tapped on my desk calendar with my pen – last week of October.
Our midterms were being held in a fortnight.
I was planning on studying with Ichigo but he insisted he study alone.
"Do I have to be separated from you so soon?" I mumbled to my student president badge that was sitting on my desk. It wasn't fair. Why should I have to step down from the student president position because some idiotic carrot failed his test? It wasn't fair!
The term slipped by frighteningly fast. If I knew time would fly by this fast, I would've spent every waking hour tutoring Ichigo. But following Ichigo around wasn't as bad as I thought. Out of all things, it feltnormal to be with him and his friends, riding motorbikes and going to arcades…
Chappy hopped onto my desk and nudged my head.
Right, I was supposed to be studying. I sat up and opened my chemistry textbook. My pen slowed to a stop after a few questions. I sighed and leaned back on my table.
Once tests were over, I won't need to be with Ichigo anymore. I was never overly close with anyone in my class as it would cause problems… After the tests, I would be back to my old lifestyle -school, student council and…
"I don't want that…" the words slipped from my mouth. I blinked. What was I saying!
I rubbed my face, sighed and went back to studying.
By the time I went through all my subjects, it was well into the night. I cooked myself some noodles and ate my late dinner at my desk while scanning through my notes.
No more Ichigo meant I could return to my peaceful life. I should be relieved, happy even, but in truth, I was feeling anything but.
'Itami mo kurushimi mo subete wo uketomeru yo
Dakara nakanai de
Waratte ite ichirin no ha-'
"Hello?" I said into the phone, a little bit breathless from scrambling around my room trying to find that stupid piece of technology.
"Hey, Rukia," Ichigo said from the other end. "You got anything on tomorrow?"
"Do you… want to come watch my race?"
I bit my lip. No, I can't I need to study for my tests…
"…Sure, where's it at?"
Idiot. I mentally hit myself.
I was lost. People were everywhere.
Why were so many people interested in a street race between two reckless teenagers anyway?
I was looking around, trying to find that carrot-head, when I stumbled into an argument.
"Watch where you're going, midget!"
I looked to my left to see an annoyed boy with spiky, light-blue hair and light-blue eyes muttering obscenities at a petrified girl about the same size as me. I recognised the girl as Momo, a friend of Ichigo's.
"Hey, she already apologized," I stepped up beside her.
"Rukia-chan, it's ok," Momo smiled at me but her voice was shaking. She couldn't stand loud voices. I wonder why a girl like her would befriend delinquents.
I let out a small cry as someone yanked my wrist.
"Watch your mouth, ochibi-chan," a smaller version of Bluey hissed. "No one talks to aniki like that."
I frowned when I tried to pull my hand back but couldn't. Bluey junior was cutting off my blood circulation…
"Knock it off, Grimmjow," a voice growled. Ichigo was standing near the edge of the crowd and glaring at Grimmjow. I didn't even realise a crowd had formed around us.
"How about no,"Grimmjow raised an eyebrow, obviously amused. "Your girl pissed me off first."
I wasn't sure if he was referring to Momo or me but if it was the latter, I was prepared to punch him in the face. If it was the former… I would do the same, too. Momo deserved someone much better than him.
Ichigo seemed unfazed by his comment, "If you've got something against her, beat me in the race."
"Oh? Fine," Grimmjow smirked, "But if I win, I get that chick. A girl for a girl, right?"
I was about to protest when Ichigo said, "Fine. She's one annoying midget though."
Oh he did not just say that! I narrowed my eyes at him. Who's he to place me in a bet like I was some object? And I am not annoying!
"See you at the race," Grimmjow said in an amused voice. Bluey junior huffed. Before he left he let go of my arm but then pushed me into Ichigo.
Both of us let out a surprised cry. Being caught off-guard, Ichigo tripped when I was pushed into him and that lead me to falling as well.
Both of us froze.
This. Wasn't. Happening! Part of me yelled. Not again!
Yes, again! The crazy side of me cheered.
Ichigo grabbed my shoulders and pushed me away so we weren't k… so our lips weren't touching anymore.
"What are you trying to do? Suffocate me?" Ichigo grumbled quietly, not meeting my gaze.
I looked away to hide my blush, "You should've saw it coming. It was you're fault we fell."
"Whatever. Get off of me. You're heavy. And I need to get to the race."
"Right," I untangled my limbs from his and climbed off his chest. Ichigo stood up, still refusing to look at me. He started to walk away.
"Wait, good luck," I said, grabbing his arm. He winced.
Oh, no. I stared at his pained expression then let go of his arm.
He held his arm gingerly, "Thanks, see you after."
I watch him leave, the crowd parting to let him through. I then ran up to him just as he was reaching for his helmet and grabbed his unhurt arm. I dragged him into a nearby alley before he could even react.
"How bad is your arm?"
"Nothing's wrong with it…"
"Oh really now," I grabbed his arm, making him grimace in pain. "Your wrist is sprained isn't it?"
"So what," Ichigo shrugged. "Let me go, I've got a race to win."
"Like you can win with that injury," I narrowed my eyes. "Give me your helmet. Jacket, too."
I sighed and took his helmet from him, "I'll go."
"No way," Ichigo crossed his arms.
"Didn't you say this race was important? And that you needed to win so you wouldn't let your gang down or something?"
"Stop talking as if I'm going to lose," Ichigo huffed.
"Give me your jacket." I pulled on his sleeve.
"Don't make me knock you unconscious."
"Nothing. Give me your jacket!"
"You'll get found out. You're too short."
"I'll cross that bridge when I have to."
I clicked my tongue, "Ichigo, you made a bet with that guy, didn't you? If you lose, then I have to go with him! I'm not going to let it happen!"
Ichigo took off his jacket, "Sorry about that, by the way."
"Stay here until I come get you," I stood up.
Ichigo's jacket was big, I had to fold the sleeves a bit to make it fit, and it smelt faintly of disinfectant and strawberries. I stifled a laugh. Strawberry scented detergent!
I quickly put on his helmet and rode to the starting point. I avoided everyone's gazes when I got there, in case someone realised. The more I thought about it, the more I realise what a crazy idea this turned out to be. Although I had stayed on the bike so the difference wouldn't be too big… How could anyone mistake a 144cm girl for a boy nearly 180cm tall?
"Where you always this short?" Grimmjow asked from his place beside me. His bike was black and glinted in the moonlight.
I flipped him the finger as Hisagi stood in front of us, showing us the route of the race. Our eyes met and I immediately knew he knew and that he knew I knew he knew-
Anyway, all he did was nod and told us to get ready.
The route led us around the part of Karakura that was run-down, the first one to return to the starting point wins. People would stand around the route to make sure we didn't make shortcuts. If we hit anyone, it was our responsibility and the race would be postponed.
It was currently midnight so I doubt much people would still be around.
Both of us gripped out handles tightly and waited for the traffic lights to change.
Grimmjow zoomed ahead as soon as the lights turned green. I cursed and quickly followed suit.
I trailed closely behind Grimmjow for the first quarter then, just as we were rounding a bend, I cut in front of him. I gave him the finger as I sped past, laughing at his shocked expression.
I hit the brakes as a truck the size of a mountain drove past me at the intersection with its driver swearing his head off at me. The truck was so close I could've touched it if I reached out.
Once the truck was out of sight, I sped off again with my heart still pounding crazily and searched for Grimmjow in the side mirrors. I sighed in relief when I saw he was still behind me.
I arrived at the finish line ten minutes later without any more dramas. The people supporting Ichigo cheered happily while those who were in the same gang as Grimmjow's glared at me. As I parked the bike, I felt a piercing gaze and searched the crowd. I sucked in a breath when I saw Gin staring right back at me.
I waved to everyone before rushing quickly to the alley where I left Ichigo.
He was standing at the opening of the passage and I hurriedly passed his helmet and jacket back. "Congratulations on winning, Carrot," I whispered to him and quickly left the alleyway. "Oh, by the way, you owe me one for this!"
Just as I was leaving the area, I saw Gin's snake-like smile among the shadows. I cursed and sped away on my own motorcycle. Why was he here?