Rabbit and Carrot

Chapter 16

It was a sunny day. I shielded my eyes from the sun with my hand and found my sister sitting on a bench in the distance.

"Nee-sama!" I ran toward her.

"Rukia, slow down else you might fall," my sister turned around, revealing a blood-covered face with rotting flesh and-

Springing up to a sitting position, I gripped my chest and breathed slowly as my heart pounded away. A week had passed since my sister's… passing but I was still numb from shock.

All day, every day, I would sit on the floor with my back against my bed petting Chappy and watching the world go by through the floor-to-ceiling windows. I didn't go to school, didn't leave my room except for that trip to the cemetery.

Oh, God, the funeral…

I didn't know how brother could still stay sane after my sister's… the incident… But quite a few times I saw my brother stare off into space, or facing away with tears threatening to spill out. Everyone was affected by… the incident… Sister was the one in charge of Kings while brother took care of Kuchiki Enterprise.

She was like a queen to all of us. She…

I hugged my knees and squeezed my eyes shut but opened them again when sister's bloodied face appeared again.

My sister's face haunted me every waking hour and even in my dreams.

I had been the reason my sister left us. If only I hadn't been kidnapped and made brother divert his attention away from my sister… If only I'd been more cautious about Ichigo and the fake Kings' actions… If only I'd realised sooner I would've ignored my brother's orders and got out myself… If-

I was standing on the line between sanity and insanity, to say the least.

I heard a knock but didn't answer it. A maid shuffled inside, "Rukia-sama, you have a visitor."

I heard more footsteps and I saw Ichigo for the first time that week.

I must've been a sight to him. I hadn't bothered to make myself look presentable. My hair resembled a rat's nest and my cheeks were tear-stained.

Anger filled my whole body and I climbed onto my feet. It was his fault!

I grabbed the front of his shirt with one hand and raised my other hand, ready to slap him. He lifted his face and our eyes met. My hand wavered then dropped back down. I bit my lip and looked away.

No, the rational part of me yelled. I wasn't being fair to him. He had no idea what was actually happening during my kidnapping.

"Rukia," his voice seemed hollow and his eyes were bloodshot. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean for this to happen. I don't know what else to say. I'm sorry, Rukia. I really didn't know… I-"

"I know," I croaked out. My throat ached from all the sobbing. "It's ok. You didn't do anything wrong."

We stood in silence.

Then, without warning, I was pulled into Ichigo's embrace. I leaned against his chest with my ear listening to his thumping heart and my eyes slid closed on its own.

"Rukia," his voice made me open my eyes again. "Why didn't you tell me? About the real Kings…? I wouldn't have..."

"I tried," I told him. "But you looked so happy…" I felt him nod and I fidgeted with my sleeve. I felt tears forming in my eyes and I let them fall freely down my cheek and onto Ichigo's tanned arms. The past week, I'd been contemplating what I should say to Ichigo. I still didn't know whether to hate him or forgive him. One part of me screamed at me to beat him unconscious and throw him off the top of this building but another part told me I shouldn't be blaming him.

Then when he showed up at my apartment I decided I had to tell everything.

"Rukia."

"Hmm?"

"I don't know how to explain it but… I never really wanted to join a gang. But when I was younger, my mother and I were out walking and she was mistaken for a gang's target and was shot. I saw my dad try everything to save her but in the end she... she died and I…" he sighed heavily. "It was stupid of me, but I thought if I joined a gang, I could find the people who shot her and…"

"Kill them, Ichigo?" I finished the sentence for him with a hollow voice. "I'm sorry, but I can't imagine you doing that."

"I know, I can't either," he rubbed his neck. "I've thought things through and, yeah, it's better if I stay away from that world...I'll be a doctor, like my old man, and cure people instead."

"That's what I've been trying to tell you," I said and shook my head. "And Ichigo…"

I closed my eyes and indulged myself in the feeling of resting against him, in his arms. This may be the first and last time we're in this position, I thought before opening my mouth. "Remember how you asked me if I've ever held a gun and shot or killed someone?"

I felt him stiffen but I didn't wait for an answer from him. Now that I had made a decision to tell him, the words flowed freely from my mouth refusing to stop.

"The answer is yes, Ichigo. Throughout my childhood, I've seen people wield guns and knives, running at others with the intent to kill. I have held a gun. I have used it to shoot people and kill…I-" I calmed myself before continuing.

"Nii-sama was the CEO of Kuchiki Enterprise, a lawyer and a yakuza boss. From the time Nii-sama took us in, he made me attend all kinds of fighting and self-defence classes imaginable. Nee-sama had the basics down pat from living in the streets and Nii-sama let her take care of Kings when he couldn't. She had great fighting and leadership skills. No one objected and everyone respected her."

"When I was in kindergarten, I was kidnapped for the first time. It scared sh*t out of me, but the classes paid out. I escaped my captors but," here, I took a deep breath before continuing.

"None of them survived. I don't remember it clearly but I vaguely remembered picking up a knife and… I suppose Nii-sama saw something in me that time because the classes became more frequent and the course was stricter. Gradually, I had become my sister's helper in taking care of Kings. Nii-sama decided I would be the future leader of both his company and Kings. Everyone started calling me Kime. Short for Kings no Hime – the Kings' princess. At first, it was fun. I got to hang around the gang but then the... jobs… started. I was sent out, along with others, to take care of groups of 'problems' that popped up in neighbourhood. Shooting and fighting became an everyday routine and I hated every bit of it."

"When I was in junior high, Nii-sama told me I would take his place in future and, to say the least, I was utterly disgusted. We fought and he threatened to kick me out of the house if I didn't change my mind about leaving Kings -which he eventually did. That's why I've been living here since I started high school. I never wanted to go back to that world. It was meant to remain that way but… but…"

I reached for a golden object which was on my desk.

"Bullet shell?" Ichigo asked and I nodded while biting my lip.

I let it roll in my opened palm. "I found this in my sister's hospital room."

I turned to face Ichigo and I looked into his eyes. After spilling out the things I kept bottled up, my mind was clearer.

"Ichigo, the gang you joined is made up by people who want to take over Kings and I can't let that happen. There's a traitor within us and they killed my sister." I tightened my grip on the bullet shell it made indents in my palm. "I'm going back to Kings to find that person, Ichigo, I know who he is."

"Nii-sama and Nee-sama accepted that, in the world we live and lead in, dying of natural causes was never an option. I guess I refused to accept that truth. I was running away. But I've thought it through, too. Nii-sama never wanted to inherit Kings from his father, but leading Kings was a must when you're a Kuchiki heir. Now that Nee-sama has left and Nii-sama is still the current head of Kuchiki, he needs someone to help him."

I swallowed once before saying the next sentence.

"So I've decided to be the next Kuchiki heir. And the first thing I'm going to do is make those bastards who f*cked with us pay."

Although I said those words, it took me another whole week before I was able to return to my old self.
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