"Ow, watch it," I hissed at the girl who was dabbing at the wound on my shoulder. She apologized quickly before bandaging my wound.
"I can't believe you didn't realise the wound on your shoulder," Ulquiorra shook his head. Even though he was facing the wall, I knew he was frowning at me in disapproval. "Should we run a check-up on your nerve system?"
"There is nothing wrong with it," I retorted. "I was just a bit distracted."
"Rukia-sama, when I arrived at the scene you were close to fainting from blood loss."
"I was close to fainting. But I didn't. There's a difference." Contrary to what I thought I hadn't dodged the bullet completely. It actually grazed my shoulder and the wound was steadily bleeding without my knowledge. The girl had finished bandaging my shoulder and I had to lie on my stomach on the table so she could treat the bruises that were forming on my back.
We were currently in one of the buildings owned by my brother that only Kings' members were allowed to enter. Although I allowed Drake's group to join Kings, only the highly trusted members of Kings were allowed inside the apartment that I was staying at.
"All done," the girl said in a cheerful voice.
"Thanks," I sat up and winced at the pain flaring up from my back and shoulder. I was hurting all over. Stupid metal bats...
"You're welcome, Kime-sama," she bowed and left.
"You can turn around now," I told Ulquiorra after putting my shirt back on.
The pink handprint on his face that I had caused when he forgot to turn around before was still there and I had to avoid looking at his face to prevent myself from laughing. "Let them rest tonight. I don't have classes on tomorrow so I'll come here as soon as I wake up."
"Are you really going to let them join Kings?"
I nodded, "Just for a while, they need the protection. I could tell from that guy's eyes that he wasn't lying about the threat they received. If I accept them then whoever our enemy is won't touch them. Plus, if Drake is hurt, Miyako wouldn't be happy about it."
"Our enemy doesn't seem to mind attacking our members though."
"We'll get them back for that," I said darkly. "Have there been any more kidnappings?"
"There'll be another missing person soon," I bit my lip. "If they keep up with that one person per week agenda…"
"I'll call everyone back for tonight."
"That's a good idea," I nodded. "Hopefully those 15 people will provide us with relevant information."
"Do you think their answers will be reliable?"
"We'll just have to see," I frowned. I didn't like all these uncertainties either but there was no other choice but to rely on them at least until we could find other people who knew about the kidnappings. I bid him good night - or good morning since it was already half past two – and went back to my apartment on the top floor.
When I entered my apartment I saw Ichigo sitting on the couch with Chappy on his lap. He looked over and I froze.
What was I supposed to say? I began to panic. Am I supposed to act normal or apologize or ignore him?
I walked past him stiffly, forcing myself not to look at him as I walked past to pick up Chappy and headed to my room.
"Rukia," he called and I stopped but didn't turn to face him. "I'm sorry about before… I-"
"It's fine," I cut him off and closed my eyes. "It doesn't matter now," I started to walk again. I was not trying to run away from him.
"Don't die on me," I heard him say softly.
"I won't," I replied.
He was about to say something but was interrupted by the doorbell. With a frustrated sigh he went to get the door and I returned to my room.
"Ulquiorra," I heard him greet and I swivelled around just in time to see Ichigo leave our apartment. I watched the door swing shut in shock.
I ran to the door and flung it open but the corridor was already deserted.
Why was Ichigo meeting up with Ulquiorra?
"So… what did you and Ichigo talk about yesterday?" I asked in what I hoped was a nonchalant tone. I eyed him carefully but he kept his eyes on the road.
"Nothing that will concern you, Kime-sama," he replied and I swallowed a groan.
"Tell me," I insisted. "I'm curious."
"Kurosaki-san told me to tell you this when you ask about it, 'Curiosity killed the cat, Usagi-Kaichou. I'll keep my nose out of your business if you do the same.'"
That idiot Carrot! I balled my fists. "Who do you work for? Me or him?"
"I work for K, Kime-sama."
Was that a smirk? Did Ulquiorra just smirk at me?
"We're here," Ulquiorra announced and effectively cut me off. "They are probably already waiting."
I glared at his back as he walked to the door.
Just you wait, Ulquiorra, I'll find out what you two are hiding!
When I got inside the building, Drake and his friends were lounging in one of the recreational rooms. Although the other members of Kings obviously didn't trust the newcomers they had enough decency not to cause any more trouble. Everyone knew these people might lead us to figuring out who our enemy was.
I cleared my throat when I entered the room and everyone looked my way. "We just have a few questions to ask you and then you can go back to doing whatever you were doing before."
I went to sit in the chair opposite Drake. "Firstly, do you know this woman?" I said and pushed a photo in front of Matsumoto Rangiku toward him.
"No…" He said to my surprise. "Before we do any of this, I want you to apologize."
I looked at him with a frown, "I already did…?"
"Not to them you didn't" Drake gestured to his friends with his chin.
Oh… That's right… I looked at them and they stared back, waiting for me to talk. A few of them had their arms in slings and some even had a broken leg even though I didn't remember breaking any bones. All of them had at least one body-part bandaged. The girl who got stabbed in the back glared at me ferociously.
Sensing this wouldn't go anywhere if I didn't do something, I got out of my seat again.
"What happened yesterday was entirely my fault. I should've checked the address before I started the fight. I hate it when members of Kings get hurt because they are my family so I understand what you all are feeling. I'm sorry and please forgive me," I gave them a 90 degree bow. When I was met with silence, I looked up and was met with a room full of shocked faces. I slowly straightened up and frowned. "What's wrong?"
"Holy shit," a girl near the back squealed. "She really did apologize. I should've recorded it!"
I glared at her, "I did not do this to be ridiculed."
"Forgive her attitude," Drake said hurriedly. "We really didn't think you would do this. We accept your apology."
"We highly advice you forget your past impressions of us," Ulquiorra spoke up and Drake nodded.
"Well then… About Matsumoto Rangiku… I've seen her a few times but I don't know much about her," he rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "She's sometimes with the people who drive the white van."
I knew it, I narrowed my eyes. "Have you ever talked with any of them?"
"The woman who drives the van came to talk with us three months ago. From what I heard, the two were going around making sure people kept their mouths shut about what they were going to do."
They've been planning this since three months ago? They were way ahead of us then. What to do…
"Who are they working for?" Ulquiorra asked while I was still thinking.
"I don't know," he said regretfully. "We're not high up enough on the ladder to know about much. I just know that those two are the ones who take care of kidnapping Kings' members and then dumping their bodies on the streets later. And keeping our mouths shut, of course."
It seemed unlikely that just the three of them were behind this shenanigan. "If it's just the two of them, why did everyone obey them so willingly?"
"Are you kidding me?" he scoffed at my question. "Who said anyone obeyed them willingly? Everyone who defied them disappeared the next day..."
After asking him and his followers some more questions we were able to learn that the two people only appeared when there was a job to be done. They appeared as quickly as they disappeared and the number plate on their van always changed.
I had thought we would learn everything we needed to after questioning them but rather than getting more answers, we had even more questions. These people were capable of getting rid of anyone opposing them… But that also meant the gangs left in the area were in some way helping our enemy and would all know something about the people behind the kidnappings...
Well, if they can do that, then so can we, I decided determinedly and stood up. Just because we had been lying low didn't mean that we were a weak yakuza group. If they think they could taunt us like this and get away unscathed they were dead wrong."Ulquiorra, let's go," I responded to his curious expression with a smug smile. "It's high time we broadened our territory."