Hidden behind a large tree, I scanned the area wearily. The address led me to one of the warehouses at the edge of town. The one I was supposed to enter seemed to be empty. There wasn't a single person near the warehouse and the lights inside were all turned off. Ignoring the bad feeling in my stomach, I walked up to the warehouse while pulling up my hood. After walking around the perimeter, I found an open door and slipped inside.
It took my eyes a while to adjust to the dark but when it did all I saw were cargo boxes. I kept close to them as I walked around the warehouse, trying to find the person who I was meant to meet. The whole place was silent except for the sounds of the delivery truck passing by outside occasionally.
"Kime," I jumped when I heard my name and turned around quickly. A man who seemed to be around 25 years old stood there with his hands in his pockets. I couldn't see his face properly because of the darkness but I could see that he had wavy hair.
"Who are you?" I narrowed my eyes and reached for my knives that were in the sheaths strapped to my thigh.
He helped up his hands, "Woah, I'm not here for a fight. I'm just here to make a delivery. The name's Sean, by the way," He made a gesture and another person emerged from the darkness. "Do you recognise him?"
I squinted, trying to see in the dark, and then widened my eyes. The newcomer was holding a person captive. One arm was wrapped around the person's neck while the other was resting a gun against the captive's head.
"Tomi!" I took a step forward but the man with the wavy hair pointed a gun at me. Tomi and my eyes met. He didn't seem to be hurt or drugged so I regained my composure and just glared at the man who introduced himself as Sean.
"Oh, you can't have him yet," he said cheerfully. "You need to make a choice."
Before I could say anything, another man appeared on the other side of Sean but, unlike the other, it was obvious he was struggling with his captive.
"The fuck, man, let me go!"
Even in the dark, his hair still stood out like a sore thumb.
"Ichigo?" I couldn't contain my horror.
He stopped struggling and looked up at me in shock. He tried to break free of the man's grasp but froze when he felt the cold nuzzle of the gun against his cheek.
"Let him go!" I hissed at Sean. "He has nothing to do with this."
"Oh, but he does." I wanted to punch the smirk off his face. "He has everything to do with this because he is YOUR boyfriend, dear Kime."
He was right… I gritted my teeth in frustration.
Misinterpreting my silence for resignation, he continued to say in a gleeful tone, "So Kime, who do you choose to collect?"
"I am in no mood to play your silly game," I replied icily.
"You have no choice, Kime," he replied and then chuckled at the irony of his words. "Choose one of them and I'll kill the other right here on the spot."
"Like hell we'll listen to you," Ichigo roared and head-butted his captor. The man hissed in pain and released his hold on Ichigo. He spun around and sent a kick to the man's stomach.
"Tomi!" I barked while running toward Ichigo.
From the corner of my eye I saw Tomi grind his heel into his captor's foot. He snatched up the gun and shot the man without a second's hesitation. As Sean's attention was diverted I pulled out my knife and threw it with all my strength at the man who brought Ichigo here. He was on his knees, clutching his bruised stomach. The alarmed shout from Sean made him look up curiously in time to see my knife flying toward him but before he even had the chance to react, the blade struck him between his eyebrows.
Sean cursed loudly after seeing his comrade fall and Ichigo just stared at the dead man lying by his feet.
"Ichigo, duck!" I rammed myself into him and we toppled over. I heard the air whoosh out of his lungs as he hit the ground. Not even a second later, the bullet whizzed past our heads and hit the metal cargo box with a loud clang that echoed for a solid minute.
Tomi lunged toward Sean and pinned him to the ground.
"Call Ulquiorra," I told Tomi and threw my phone to him. Ignoring the threats and curses flowing out of Sean's mouth like a river, I turned back to Ichigo and watched him climb to his feet while biting my lip. "Are you alright? I'm sorry I pushed you over so suddenly."
"I'm fine," Ichigo reassured me with a smile while rubbing the side of his head. "I just hit my head a little. Give me a warning the next time you do this, ok?"
"Yeah, I will… Sorry," I said sheepishly. "Ulquiorra will be here soon so-"
"Watch out!" Ichigo exclaimed suddenly while pulling me behind him. I started to voice my confusion just as I heard a loud bang. Ichigo convulsed once and slid to the floor.
"Fuck, he had another gun?" Tomi cursed before stepping mercilessly on Sean's hand and confiscating the weapon.
I fell to my knees and gripped Ichigo's arm, "Ichigo?"
"'Sup," He replied before grimacing at the pain radiating from the bullet wound in his shoulder. "Being hit by a bullet hurts more than I expected."
"You'll be ok," I tightened my hold on his hand as if my life depended on it. Ichigo's forehead was covered in a sheen of sweat and his breathes were laboured. A distressingly large puddle of blood had formed around him. The bleeding isn't stopping, I realised with a hint of panic. "Ichigo, keep your eyes open," I murmured while pressing on the wound with my hands. "Don't sleep, ok? Stay with me…Tell me what to do since you're a future doctor, Ichigo."
When he didn't reply I shook his shoulders relentlessly but his eyes stayed firmly shut. "Carrot, please wake up. You can't be unconscious forever, you know…? If you wake up now, I'll let you keep attending my classes… Stop sleeping, you lazy head…!" Blood seemed to flow out of his wound at an even faster rate, completely dyeing my hands in red, and hysteria bubbled up inside me.
"Kurosaki Ichigo," I tried shaking his shoulder again, this time more violently. "What's with that peaceful expression on your face, get up!"
"Kime-sama," Ulquiorra tapped my shoulder. I looked up in surprise. I hadn't even heard him or the ambulance arrive. "Let the paramedics take him to the hospital. You need to be treated as well."
I looked up at him blankly before the pain registered. Turned out the first bullet had grazed my shoulder when I ran to push Ichigo. I stared at my shoulder, covered in blood, before loosening my grip on Ichigo's t-shirt and standing up. I watched in silence as they placed him on a stretcher and wheeled him to the ambulance before being led to the hospital myself.
"Are you sure you're up for it?"
"Yeah, I'm fine," Ichigo replied as he changed out of the hospital gown. Miraculously, the bullet just grazed the surface of his shoulder and the doctors said he would be fully healed within a couple of weeks. There was a small bump on the side of his head caused by him colliding with the floor but the swelling would subside in a few days.
He finished changing, walked over to me and placed his hands on my shoulders, "It's been three days. I'm fine now so stop worrying, ok?"
"I promised Akane-san that I would go to her birthday party," he broke me off. "And you know I never break my promises."
"If you start feeling dizzy I'm sending you back here," I mumbled. "You lost a lot of blood…"
"Yes, Usagi-Kaichou," He gave me his usual lopsided grin before going around the room, packing up his belongings. I stared at him, mesmerised.
How long has it been since I saw that smile?
The incident at the warehouse was still fresh in my mind and the sight of Ichigo being so still was etched into the back of my eyes. After getting that address, I returned to the apartment with Ichigo. Noticing that there was something wrong with me, Ichigo followed me when I left the apartment. That was when the person I threw the knife at had approached Ichigo, pretending to be a member of Kings and told Ichigo to go with him...
For the whole time that Ichigo was unconscious, I sat in the chair beside his hospital bed. The nurses and doctors came and went but I just stayed there, refusing to move, sleep or eat. When he finally woke up, I was stuck between being angry at him for worrying me so much and being happy because he finally woke up. In the end, I just flung my arms around him and scolding him half-heartedly while tears of relief fell from my eyes. We sat there alone in his hospital room for the whole afternoon as he patted my head and telling me he would be fine before I finally let go of him. And I had stayed with him ever since, only leaving to get food. I was practically living in the hospital room with him. It should've been against the rules of the hospital for me to do this but i guess being rich had its benefits.
"Rukia, let's go," Ichigo's voice broke my chain of thought. "Or is your shoulder hurting? Do you want the doctor to have a look at you again before you go?"
I brought my hand up to my injury self-consciously. I wore a long-sleeved shirt so people at the party won't see the bandages. It throbbed under my touch and I fought back a wince. I hated gunshot wounds. And of all the places the bullet could hit, it just had hit the same place Drake shot me before. "I'm fine. It doesn't hurt anymore," I lied. "I've been through worse, you know that."
"If you say so," he replied skeptically.
"Ichigo, don't move around too much in case your bullet wound reopens."
"I know, I'll be careful" he replied while rolling his eyes
"Ichigo…" I started to say hesitantly. "I never really thanked you, right? Thank you for shielding me."
"Silly, you don't need to thank me. I'm your boyfriend. If I don't protect you, then, who will?" He ruffled my hair before leaving the room. I trailed behind him silently while watching his broad back.
I didn't dare to tell him but every time I looked at Ichigo's face, a wave of guilt would wash over me and threaten to suffocate me.
Ichigo ended up in that situation because of me.
He got hurt because of me.
He was unconscious for a whole day because of me.For the past year, I've often wondered if dating him was a good idea but for the first time I wished that, with all my heart, he hadn't met me.