Content: Ichigo/Orihime; Tatsuki (with maybe hinted one-sided Tatsuki/Orihime)
Prompt: 042, triangle @ fanfic100
Notes: Vague future-fic, fluffy and cute. Others in this challenge can be found here.
Apparently, no one ever told Orihime that dates traditionally only involve two people.
They made it all the way to the fair before Orihime said excitedly, "I haven't been to this festival in years! I wonder if they still have those little cakes? Kurosaki-kun promised to buy me one after he meets up with us!"
"Only one? That's pretty light for you--" Then the meaning of those innocent words sunk in, and Tatsuki was reminded why sometimes she wondered if dropping Orihime on her head as a baby would've helped her cognitive processes. "Orihime!" she said, exasperated. "Ichigo asked you to come to the fair on a date?"
In retrospect, Orihime's invitation had been a little on the vague side -- Ne, Tatsuki-chan! I'm going to the fair next weekend! Do you want to come too? -- but she'd assumed that Orihime would have mentioned an important detail like, By the way, my boyfriend is coming too, we're going to spend all our time holding hands and making gooey eyes at each other, is that okay? but it didn't seem like the other girl had ever considered that her best friend might not enjoy being a third wheel.
Tatsuki rubbed her forehead and pointed out, "Orihime, come on! What am I gonna do when the two of you sneak off and--" She made suggestive groping gestures in front of her chest.
Orihime repeated the gestures thoughtfully, in a way that made Tatsuki think that she thought she and Ichigo were going to go play with stress balls. She protested regardless, "We're not going to sneak off anywhere!"
"Well, maybe you should be thinking about sneaking off with him," Tatsuki said, practically, turning her face away.
Would they just get it over with and go exclusive, as in, no longer inviting friends along on their dates? Maybe it was just Orihime being Orihime, but there was no need to play coy and act like they weren't dating, oh, gee, we just happened to be in the same place at the same time and somehow we started holding hands. The whole school knew already.
"Why should I sneak off with him? We're going to the fair," Orihime said, a bit petulant, and then her eyes widened. "Oh, you mean--" She made the groping gesture, this time with some awareness of what it indicated. "Oh, no. Kurosaki-kun said he'd buy me one of those little cakes..."
Tatsuki rolled her eyes. If Ichigo had half as much difficulty figuring out how teenagers did things, maybe Tatsuki really would have to go with them and coach them in the birds and the bees and the fun things they could do together. Pitiful.
But maybe then, at least, they'd realize that dates were excuses for making out, and not make Tatsuki watch as her best friend became more and more tangled up in Ichigo, and grow farther away from her. The thought stung, a lot more than it should have, and for a moment Tatsuki really wished that Orihime knew this sort of thing without being told. She didn't want to have to sound... jealous.
That just wasn't a Tatsuki thing to sound like. Besides, what did she have to be jealous about? She didn't want to be the villain here, trying to steal Orihime from something that made her happy because she didn't want to get left behind.
Orihime had already been hurt that way, and Tatsuki couldn't do that to her again.
They saw him leaning on a wall outside the entrance to the fair, and Orihime's whole expression lit up. She started waving, even though Ichigo's expression had been turned to them, expectant, from before they'd even come into view.
"Yo, Ichigo," Tatsuki said, and shoved her hands in her pockets. Now she'd witness what was almost certainly going to be an entirely one-sided fight, with Ichigo attempting to pound some sense into Orihime's thick skull and having no more luck than Tatsuki ever did.
"Yo, Tatsuki," Ichigo said, nonplussed. Orihime trotted up and grabbed his hand and beamed at him, and Ichigo's lips quirked up in an answering almost-smile, fingers sliding to cradle hers.
They were so cute Tatsuki was going to be sick, but they'd skipped the fight. "Surprised to see me?" she prompted.
Ichigo shrugged. "Probably not as much as I should be. I'm kinda used to Inoue going everywhere with you barking at her heels."
"Jackass," Tatsuki muttered, and lifted a fist to wordlessly promise him pain if he kept that up. In response, Ichigo draped an arm over Orihime's shoulders, as if to say, You wouldn't hit a guy being cuddly with his girl, would you?
Try me, buddy.
Oblivious, as per her usual, Orihime said excitedly, "Come on, let's go in. It smells wonderful in there, and-- oh, I think I see balloons!"
"Those are for kids, Orihime," Tatsuki reminded her, but Ichigo didn't seem to care either way -- probably as long as she didn't try to get him to take one, he was okay with whatever made her happy. Even, it seemed, Tatsuki's presence on their date.
But neither of them even looked at her as they turned and started moving to the gate, and Tatsuki watched them, their legs moving almost in unison. Maybe she'd wander off in the other direction... She'd get something to drink, and then drift towards the basketball court and see if anyone was there with a ball. They'd never notice she was gone, and she'd get to be the good kind of friend: the kind who isn't a third wheel, and knows when she isn't wanted, isn't needed.
Even if she didn't want to know that.
She jumped at the unexpected interruption of her thoughts, and whipped around. Ichigo's head was turned back, his expression taut and uninterested, the same semi-dark expression that Orihime had always found so funny. Orihime peeked out from under his arm, taking in the distance between them.
"Aren't you coming?" Orihime said blankly.
Tatsuki waved, extremely self-conscious now. "Aww, you guys don't need me. Enjoy yourselves! Have fun."
"But I thought Tatsuki-chan was going to come with us." There was something in her voice, almost like a pout. That meant that Orihime was thinking about something that was going to make her depressed, and then she would get in one of her moods...
"Come on." Tatsuki laughed, to defuse that oncoming regret. "You two don't really want me hanging over your shoulder while you're making kissy faces, right?"
As if Ichigo even knew how to make a kissy face -- but he was, oddly, not fazed by her question, and turned to face the balloons again. "Just get your ass over here," he said to them. "The cakes are my treat."
What, Tatsuki thought numbly, he's going to pay for me too?
You weren't supposed to pay for a third wheel. You weren't supposed to insist that they come along on a date they weren't invited to.
Orihime was smiling at her.
Okay. Maybe they actually wanted her here -- weren't going to leave her behind. And that meant that she still got to keep her two closest friends, when any reasonable person would've ditched her long ago.
Thank god they were idiots.