Rabbit and Carrot

Chapter 17

"Password?"

My eyebrow twitched as I stared at the tall guard standing in front of me. I stood in front of him with my arms crossed and my finger tapping on my elbow impatiently. I had abandoned my hair tie and glasses.

Kime does not own those accessories, Kuchiki Rukia does.

We were currently standing in a very empty and very spacious flat plane surrounded by a simple wooden fence. I looked at the old, wooden building in front of me. A sign that had words written in calligraphy above the entryway read 'Urahara's Club'. The last time I was here was three years ago, but nothing had changed.

Except for the password.

I chewed on my lip, thinking of what I should do.

I grabbed his tie so his face was level with mine, "With this face, do I really need a password?"

I gave him my iciest glare and he paled. "Kime-sama…?"

"No, I'm your f*cking mother," I spat and he flinched.

Oops, accidentally reverted back to my old, old self from the time before I left Kings. But at the same time, I felt relieved. I belonged here after all…

"Woah," Ichigo whistled from behind me. "Calm down."

I rolled my eyes.

"I apologise, Kime-sama," the guard bowed and led us to the garage beside the shop. "It's been too long since you came here so I wasn't sure… Welcome back, Kime-sama." He bowed again after he opened the garage's gates.

Ichigo let out another whistle when he saw the interior of the 'garage'. It was one of Urahara's many inventions – a gigantic elevator.

I walked in and Ichigo quickly followed.

The guard eyed Ichigo warily.

"He's with me," I explained simply. He nodded and retreated from the garage's opening. There was a hum as the lift descended into the ground. When we arrived, there was a chime and the door slid open again.

"Welcome to Urahara's Club, Ichigo," I murmured before stepping outside the elevator.

I watched him scan the vast underground area that Urahara had somehow built.

A bar lined the whole left side of the club while TV's, gaming consoles, arcade machines and pool tables lined the opposite side. In the far end, there was a stage that a band usually played. Right in front of the stage was an area tiled with coloured, pulsating lights. The space in front of the elevator was taken up by tables, chairs and lounge sofas. The whole place was completely packed with people.

But they weren't just anybody.

Each one of them, even the bartenders and waiters, were members of Kings. Nobody else was allowed to enter here, the guards made sure of that.

Unlike the partying atmosphere a club usually has, the one here was heavy from the passing of my sister. But I was about to change that.

I hadn't recovered from my sister's death, yet, either. Only after getting the head of my sister's shooter would I allow myself to move on. And I'm sure everyone else was thinking the same.

I made my way to the stage quietly, already attracting some attention.

"Was that Kime-sama?" I heard someone whisper as I walked passed.

"No way, she hasn't shown up for the past three years."

"Yeah, didn't you hear about the fight she and K had. Man, I thought World War 3 was about to start…"

"I think you've had too much to drink..."

"Wait," I said when I finally realised something. I turned to face Ichigo. "Why are you even here?"

"What? Oh," he cleared his throat and stood straighter. "I'm your knight in shining armour and here to help the princess until she completes her mission."

"Did you forget to take your medicine, Ichigo," I stared at him incredulously. For one, I'd really thought he'd keep a distance from me after the conversation that took place in my room. "I can take care of myself. And I thought you weren't going to touch gang business again."

"That thought's postponed," he explained simply. "And c'mon, every princess needs a knight in shining armour. You're ruining fairy tales here."

…Who was this person in front of me and what have they done to Ichigo?

"Fine, do whatever you want," I sighed and rolled my eyes. We reached the stairs to the stage and I began climbing it.

In my peripheral vision, I saw him bow dramatically. "Understood, Usagi-Kaichou."

My eye was beginning to hurt from all the eye rolling I had to do. With a determined look I walked to the centre of the stage and grabbed the microphone.

And then I realised something.

I hadn't thought about what I was going to say.

Sh*t.

My gaze slid offstage to where Ichigo was standing and he gave me a thumb's up.

Well, here goes nothing.

The room fell quiet when they realised who was on the stage.

"Uh," I scanned the room and took in everyone's surprised but expectant faces. Taking a deep breath I announced. "I'm home…?"

There was a pause, then…

The room erupted into claps, cheers and roars. A door to my left burst open and a man clad in a kimono and green-striped hat followed by a tanned girl with a black ponytail entered the club. Both of them looked at me in disbelief. Yoruichi, the tanned girl, threw her arms in the air and cheered before coming over and giving me a tight hug.

"I knew you would come back, I knew! Right, Kisuke?" She nudged a male in a kimono beside her.

"Welcome back, Kime," he greeted while hiding his grin behind a large, white fan.

"Welcome back, Kime-sama!" the rest of the room roared in unison. Glasses were raised and toasts were made.

I looked back at Ichigo, who seemed a bit out of place and gestured for him to come onto the stage.

"Ahem," I called and they all fell quiet. "This is Kurosaki Ichigo, my…"

"Her boyfriend," he said cheerfully into the microphone.

I stared at him, shocked, and so did everyone else. I even heard a few shattering sounds and curses when people dropped their drinks in surprise.

I covered the microphone with my hand and turned to him, "What did you just say? Are you out of your mind? Do you have any id-"

My mind went blank when he pulled me into his arms. I felt something soft and warm on my lips.

The room was in uproar. First, their princess had come back and then it turned out she had brought a boyfriend along with her.

I hit his chest repeatedly but his lips wouldn't leave

…and I kind of didn't want him to, either.

Eventually, quite regrettably, both of us finally ran out of air and we broke apart. He rested his forehead against mine and I got drowned in those eyes again. The warmth had returned to his eyes and they shone even brighter than before.

"What'd you do that for, you idiotic carrot?!" I accused weakly.

"…What's going on here," an icy voice said.

I turned to see my brother, stepping out of the elevator, with Renji close behind him.

The room was eerily silent.

There was no doubt he saw the whole thing.

Beside me, Ichigo's eyes widened.
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