Rabbit and Carrot

Chapter 37

I should've known.

When Nel pulled Ichigo closer and whispered in his ear I should've figured it out…

"Are you keeping anything from me?" Ichigo stared at me.

We were back at our apartment but I would do anything to leave.

"What did that girl say to you, Ichigo?"

"Answer my question."

"I'm hiding nothing," I bit my lip. "Whatever that girl told you, it's not true. Don't believe it. I don't even understand why she was there in the first place."

His expression was unnerving. The only time I saw him wear that expression was when we first met on the rooftop back in high school. "Ichigo-"

"Stop keeping things from me!"

"Tell me what that girl told you, Ichigo. Please?"

"She has a name," he ignored me. "Her name is Nel. I know you treat everyone like air but at least show some manners and refer to them by name."

"Fine. What did Nel say to you?"

"Tell me the truth," Ichigo crossed his arms. "I want to hear it from your mouth before I hear any more rumours."

"What do you want me to say?" I huffed. "I haven't done anything for you to be grilling me like this."

We stared at each other for who knows how long before he finally opened his mouth, "Ul-"

"No," I covered my ears in horror. "No, no, no, no, no. Don't even go there. Haven't we had this conversation before?"

"She saw you two together around town. More than once," he spat. "Why can't you just tell me truthfully?"

"Of course we'd be together," I tried to reason with him. "He is the head of security around her. I admit I'm spending more time with him than I should, but it's all strictly Kings-related. Nothing is going on between us! Why can't you believe me? And this is just weird! Think about it... We've been keeping our relationship a secret ever since we entered university so why does Nel know about you and talked to you?"

I felt like some husband who's being interrogated by their misguided wife… I mentally cursed. I hadn't been showing any signs of wanting to break up with Ichigo so of course Nel would decide to 'help.'

"Don't try to change the subject. You're keeping too many things from me," he shook his head. "Aren't you the one who doesn't have faith in me? Faith that I can help you or at the least keep what I know a secret?"

"I just don't want you to get caught up in my matters and get hurt. I told you all this before."

"I don't want your protection," he hissed. "I won't try to help or interfere. I just want to know the truth. Why don't you get it?"

"You want to know?" I said softly.

"Yes," he threw his arms up. "That's what I've been asking you for the past, what, month now?"

"Ok, I'll tell you."

"See, you – what?" He widened his eyes.

"Four of our members were kidnapped," I said while watching his face. "So far three of them have shown up dead and one of them is still missing. The girl you were talking to has been helping with these kidnappings and killings." He stared at me with his mouth slightly agape but I didn't know if he was shocked from the information or shocked that I was actually telling him this. "Matsumoto saw one of the kidnappings happen."

He was silent for a minute before closing his mouth, "So…"

"I've been trying to figure out who is behind this with Ulquiorra," I sighed.

He seemed to have deflated. Sitting back in his chair, he rubbed his face and sighed, "Well…"

"You don't need to do anything," I said before he could say anything. "Just stay away from Matsumoto and Nel."

"Yeah, I won't talk to Nel," he nodded slowly. "But why keep away from Matsumoto? I mean, it was just a coincidence that she was there."

I told him all that and he still thinks Matsumoto has nothing to do with his?

"I don't believe in coincidences," I stated. "She called me Kime, Ichigo."

"Someone could've told her to-"

I just stared at him. "What did she tell you to get you to trust her like this?"

"Just because you're leading a double life doesn't mean other people are, Rukia," he shrugged. "Akane and Nobara, was it? Those two girls you usually hang out with. Spend more time with them and maybe you'll understand why I believe Matsumoto is innocent. I really think you should trust people more."

"Rukia, trust me! Please!"

I froze.

"Rukia? Are you alright?"

"I'm fine," I replied and closed my eyes. When I opened them again, I saw him studying me with a worried expression. "I need to go," I ran my hand through my hair. "Don't tell anyone what I told you, ok?"

"I know," he rolled his eyes.

"Feed Chappy for me," I slipped on my shoes and left.

So this is what Nel meant by 'helping.'

Leaning against the wall of the lift I closed my eyes and let out a deep breath. I had been too careless. If I had kept my eyes on him, he wouldn't have talked to Nel and caused all that pointless fight.

"Should I have told him about it?" I wondered aloud.

"Tell who about what?" Ulquiorra asked while stepping into the lift. I always found him in the office so I often forgot he actually lived on one of the floors as well.

"Nothing," I shook my head. "I'm going out by the way."

"Should I send someone with you?"

"No, it's fine. Akane and Nobara keep nagging me about going on a shopping spree with them because I left last time," I massaged my forehead.

He raised an eyebrow and I knew he was wondering why I even bothered spending time with them.

My selfish desire to appear normal, even on the outside…?

No, I was pretty sure I was over that idea.

"To be honest, I didn't know either," I answered his silent question with a sigh.

Ichigo said I should learn to trust people more and maybe I should.

I knew I had trust issues. Anyone who knew me knew that fact. It was a problem that needed to be overcome.

But can I? I couldn't help but doubt myself. In all honestly, seeing Ichigo stand up for Matsumoto with such confidence made me envious. I want to be able to do that, as well.

The previous memory kept coming back and nagging me. To my annoyance, it had triggered more memories from my primary school and junior high school days.

When I was young, I didn't isolate myself from others like the time when I was in high school. Back in primary school, I was like all the other children –happy, bold and curious about anything and everything. I pulled pranks with the boys in my class, had birthday parties and sleepovers with my classmates and caused my sister and servants a mountain load of problems. At that age, I didn't really understand the meaning of being in a yakuza family. I just knew that I wasn't allowed to talk about Kings with other people. Of course, I made mistakes, befriended the wrong people and got kidnapped or was manipulated a few times but, like everyone says, children forget and forgive quite easily.

After starting junior high school, I made new friends like everyone else. When I was in junior high, I met a friend who became especially close to me. Oddly, I felt safe whenever I was with them. My time at junior high school was filled with happy memories because of them. That friend understood and accepted everything about me but then...

"Fuck."

"Pardon?" Ulquiorra looked at me in surprise.

"Don't worry," I shook my head and bit my lip "I just remembered something annoying that happened in the past…"
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