"I seriously can't do this," I awoke to find a soft voice whisper angrily. I examine my surroundings groggily. The walls and ceiling were painted white and there were various machines placed around me.
The hospital, my brain supplied and I sighed mentally.
"You shouldn't say that," the voice that replied the first one was calm but also contained a bit of anger.
"I didn't know she would do this," the first voice forced out. "You still want me to do this even though she's in this condition?"
"You were the one who said you absolutely had to do this."
I moved my head slowly despite the pain and saw Ichigo and Ulquiorra sitting in the sofa that was placed against my hospital room. Ichigo had his hands clenched into a fist and was scowling at the ground. Neither of them realised I was awake.
"But I can't do this to her now," Ichigo said in a low voice.
"You want to drag it out longer?" Ulquiorra replied. "It'll just cause more pain."
"I know that," Ichigo snapped and ran his hand through his hair in frustration. "I know that but…" His voice trailed off.
I only heard the latter half of their conversation but it was enough. I smiled wryly. So I wasn't the only one thinking about breaking up…
"But what?" I spoke up as I sat up slowly, causing the two men to look at me.
"Rukia! Are you feeling OK?" Ichigo rushed to my side. "How long have you been awake?"
"Long enough to understand everything," I answered vaguely.
"You mean you-" Ichigo widened his eyes.
"Let's break up," I looked up at him. He opened his mouth but nothing came out. "I'm happy that you wanted to considerate and not bring it up because I'm hurt but ending this now will be better for the both of us." Where were these words coming from? I wondered. The words were coming out easier than I expected. I don't know if it was because of the sedatives still in my blood but I couldn't feel any emotional pain from what I was doing.
Why do you sound so sad? I wanted to ask him. You sounded so sure about it mere minutes ago…
Ichigo was gripping on the rails of my hospital bed so hard that the bed was shaking slightly. I watched him but he was looking down. A minute passed and he, after seemingly making up his mind, stood up straight.
"Thank you for understanding," He said softly and, without another glance, walked out the door. When he left, a part of me – a large part – shrivelled up and died.
I was secretly hoping I had misunderstood their conversation but… I stared at the empty space he was standing in before. That's it? Nothing else? Was I that unimportant to him that he could let go of me so easily…?
"Rukia-sama," Ulquiorra tapped on my shoulder and handed me a tissue. I started at it in surprise before quickly wiping away the tears on my cheeks.
"I didn't even realise I was crying," I laughed humourlessly.
"Should I get Kana?" He offered.
So he knows it himself that he is bad with emotions? I laughed again at the thought and Ulquiorra's frown deepened.
"Are you OK?"
"I'm fine," I reassured him after my laughter died down. "You don't need to get her." He wasn't reassured at all so I changed the subject. "How long have I been unconscious?"
"Two days," he replied. "Your right wrist is sprained and you have mild concussion and a few scratches and bruises." Along with the bandages on my head and hand, there were several smaller bandages on my arms and legs.
"Only?" I widened my eyes. Didn't I fall from my bike?
I recalled the memories of that night. I was flung off my bike and when I was falling I saw Ulquiorra and…
"You caught me?" I asked in bewilderment. How did he manage to do that?
"Actually, to put it more accurately, you fell on me," Ulquiorra corrected. "I lost my balance and we crashed to the ground."
"Oh… Are you hurt?"
"I have a broken rib," Ulquiorra said with his usual straight face.
"Sorry," I apologised sheepishly. "So… when can I leave the hospital?"
His eyebrow twitched, "You should get more rest before worrying about that."
"Tell me," I insisted. "I'm feeling fine."
"Only because of the painkillers," I heard him say under his breath and rolled my eyes. "The doctor says you can leave the hospital anytime but if you feel dizzy you have to return straight away."
I nodded happily. I hated hospitals but then… That means… How do I face him?
"I can arrange for him to move out," Ulquorra suggested as if reading my mind.
"No, it's fine," I told him. A Kuchiki does not run away, I thought in determination.
"I'll tell the doctors, then," Ulquiorra nodded, bowed slightly and left the room.
I stared at the now empty room.
My heart and mind, like the room, was empty as well. Nothing was left except a prominent and suffocating ache. Without warning, my vision blurred and I hastily rubbed my eyes.
I was always a bit envious of the other girls in my class. To them, it was normal to date boys but, for me, there was the constant worry of them being from enemy gangs or leaving me when they find out about Kings or, even worse, revealing Kings' secrets to everyone. Just when I start thinking there was someone who I could be with something always happened to make me change my mind. But Ichigo had been different. He accepted me completely and tried his best to adapt to the world I belong in. He did everything he could for our relationship. But in the end he, too, slipped away from me.
So this is what letting go of someone you love feels like…
I bring my hand to my chest. My heart was beating like usual but, to me, it's already dead.
I hug my knees and rest my head on top of my arms.
"Rukia-san," Nobara gasped when she saw me. Due to Ulquiorra's insistent persuading, I had stayed home for another day after being discharged from hospital before going back to university. "What happened to you?"
"We thought you just caught a cold but… but…!" Akane ran up to me looking as if she would burst into tears at any moment.
"I'm fine," I reassured them with a smile. "I just got into a little accident." They continued to look at me worriedly but I ignored it, "So, did I miss anything while I was away?"
"Nothing that you can't catch up on," Nobara shrugged. "The professors are all in a hurry to finish teaching everything because the tests are in a few weeks, though."
"I'll give you a copy of my notes," Akane suggested.
"Thank you, Akane-san."
"Ah, it's Yuki-sempai," Nobara pointed out before going over to her and gesturing at me. "Look at what happened to Rukia-san!"
"Oh, my," she looked at me with wide eyes. "What happened? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, I just had a bad fall" I reassured her with an exasperated sigh. Everyone back at the apartment had asked me the same question so I've gotten really sick of repeating that sentence. "Come on, we better go to class…"
"Matsumoto!" Yuki called out before I could escape. I sighed as I prepared myself for the same ordeal to happen all over again. When she came over, I realised Ichigo was following her over here and immediately regretted not leaving sooner.
"First Ichigo got hurt and now Rukia-chan as well!" Matsumoto shook her head worriedly. "You two have really bad luck! Right, Ichigo?"
He glanced at me but avoided my gaze, "I guess..."
"Come on, we really need to get to class," I tugged on Nobara and Akane's sleeves.
"Rukia-san, wait up," Akane called as they ran up to me. "What's wrong?"
"Yeah, did something happen between you two? He seemed a bit cold toward you today."
Oh, nothing much… just that we broke up… Nothing much at all.
"Don't worry about it." Something in my tone stopped them from asking anymore and they didn't say anything until we arrived at our lecture room.
Akane and Nobara were right, it didn't take me long to catch up on what I missed out. My day passed uneventfully and I left the campus as soon as my lectures ended despite the complaints those two made. My last class ended at 8PM so I had to hurry back to my apartment. I felt a bit of relief when I found it empty and I changed in black jeans, a simple white tank top and a thin, black jacket in record time before heading out again. Ulquiorra was already waiting in the lobby and we, along with several other Kings' members, headed out silently.
"Are you sure you are up to this, Kime-sama?" Ulquiorra asked for the umpteenth time. We were all in an old and empty house. We kept the lights off to avoid attracting unwanted attention. Ulquiorra, Gin and I were watching the warehouse across the street from the window while the rest sat in chairs or leaned against the walls while they waited for our orders.
I refrained from rolling my eyes, "It's just a sprained wrist... In any case, I should be asking you that question, Ulquiorra. You're the one with the broken rib."
"I am fine," he replied.
"Don't push yourself too much," I told him. After all, looking after the members are part of a leaders job. "You can stay in the car, you know, I won't mind."
"Who knows what will happen if you're left alone," Ulquiorra said under his breath.
"What did you say?" I frowned but he avoided my gaze.
"Someone is coming," Gin announced when he spotted a car park outside the warehouse and we all straightened up. Three people got out of the car. While they exchanged a few words with the short man standing at the door a truck arrived. The driver waved to the other four, the short man waved back and then the giant doors of the warehouse opened slowly. About 7 people came out from the warehouse and started moving the cardboard boxes that were on the truck inside. Once they finished unloading the cargo, everyone except the short man went inside and the doors slid closed again.
Our eyes then focused on the figure standing guard. Ten seconds passed, then twenty, then a full minute slipped by followed by another but there was no movement from the guard or within the warehouse. After five minutes have passed, the guard finally moved. He searched his pockets and produced a cigarette, lit it and took a long drag from the stick of poison. The end of the cigarette burned brightly in the dark night like a miniature sun.
"That's our signal," I announced and headed for the door while pulling up the hood of my jacket. The owners of that warehouse was a fast-growing gang in Bunkyou. We've kept a close eye on them for a while so that when they got out of line or got too strong, we could uproot them before they stirred up trouble or when requested by certain people. Recently, there have been reports on them importing illegal weapons and that action was under our 'getting out of line' category and was also why Gin had joined us. He insisted on coming and I guess it was because he hated other people snatching his customers away. The only people who were allowed to sell weapons in Kings' territories are Gin and his staff and no one else. Controlling accessibility to weapons and whatnot is one of our ways to maintain control over other gangs.
Leaving the rest of the group in the shadows near the building, I approached the man.
He stiffened when he saw me approach, "Who?"
In response, I pulled my hood back slightly so he could see my face, "Yami, It's me." He relaxed and I hide my face again.
"This way," he turned and we followed him to the back door of the building. Within Kings, there is a secret subdivision that responds only to the Kuchiki family consisted of carefully selected individuals and Yami is one of them. They are sent by us to infiltrate gangs who will be potential threats to us. Yami joined this gang shortly after it was formed and, over the past years, he gained the trust of the leader of this gang and became one of the higher ups. He was also the one who informed us of the dealings.
"Everything that was ordered this month have just arrived," Yami reported in a whisper. "They haven't sold anything from this batch yet."
"What about the ordering forms?"
"They've entrusted them to me," he replied with a hint of pride.
"Good job, Yami."
Before entering the warehouse, I looked at Yami again, "No regrets?"
"None," he said firmly. "My loyalty lies with King."
"Nothing will be left, you know? Nothing," I emphasised.
"I already knew that when I took on this role, Kime-sama," Yami shook his head. "I know where my true home is and it's not here."
"Then we better get started. Leave the leader but I don't care what happens to the small fries," I stated and Yami unlocked the door. He went inside first to lead the way.
We found the members of this gang lounging in a large empty space in the middle of the warehouse. It was obvious they thought this business would last because there were already a line of desks with computers on them, a few sofas and even a TV. We saw some people, including the leader, diligently checking over the order forms as a few people talked on the telephone to confirm customer purchases. There were also a few guys just sitting around chatting or watching TV. All of them were completely relaxed and unsuspecting.
I could roughly see about 40 people and we only had 15 people. Common sense would say that they would win because they had more people but the people I brought along with me were all experienced in fighting.
"What's this?" I said in a deliberately loud voice. "Selling guns? In Bunkyou?"
"Kime," The leader recognised me immediately and the rest of his men all stood up. Now… he would either fight us head on or beg for forgiveness… "Don't do anything rash or you'll find yourself in deep trouble."
Oh, so he decided to resort to petty threats?
"Deep trouble?" I scoffed. "And what would that be?"
"We've joined Silver Snake's group," he answered while watching my reaction. "If you cross us, he will definitely get revenge."
"He is dead," I rolled my eyes at his boring answer. "Let's get this over with," I said under my breath and everyone behind me tensed, ready to fight.
The leader took a step back when he realised we wouldn't back down and quickly ordered one of his subordinates to call Yami.
"You don't need to do that. I'm right here," Yami stepped to the front and the leader gaped at him.
"Yami... why are you... You betrayed me?!"
"No," Yami walked toward him calmly while taking out a gun. "I was never on your side in the first place."
"Don't move!" A man demanded gruffly and pointed a gun at Yami's head. "You always seemed a bit odd to me but I never knew you were scheming this all along!"
The leader scampered behind his men immediately and Yami clicked his tongue and, without hesitation, shot the man in the head. The man slid to his knees and then fell face down on the ground. "Well," he said to the corpse with a shrug. "To be honest, I never liked you either…"
"Yami!" The members of the other gang yelled in horror. A few ran toward him, blinded with anger, and in response we joined in the brawl. Before going to them, we had already cut open a few boxes and collected some guns to use.
"Kime just stay here, we'll deal with it," Ulquiorra grabbed my shoulder. "The recoil from the gun will be bad for your wrist."
I pursed my lips into a thin line, pocketed the gun and took out my own knife.
"You'll still be moving your wrist, Kime-sama," he looked at me in disapproval and gestured to a chair nearby.
"Then what's the point of me coming here?" I huffed and sat down.
"Mascot…?" I heard him say in amusement as he left.
I crossed my arms and sighed. Ulquiorra and the others moved with practiced coordination through the crowd. The warehouse was filled with the noise of gunshots, pained cries and fist-fighting. I suppressed another sigh of boredom. Dammit I want to join in!
"Kime-sama," Yami appeared beside me. Amongst the chaos, he had knocked the leader unconscious, tied him up with a rope he found somewhere and was dragging him along like a pet. He handed me the end of the rope.
"How long have we been in here?"
"About 40 minutes," he answered and I nodded. I stood up and brushed imaginary dirt off my pants.
"They'll be here soon," I raised my voice and said. "Are you guys done yet?"
"Yes, we are," Gin walked up to me with his usual grin. He had some blood on his cheek and behind him was a sea of bodies. Some were just unconscious but others were bleeding profusely and on the brink of death. I checked for Yami's reaction but he was just ruffling through the drawers of one of the desks.
"Got the papers," he held up the documents.
As if they were waiting for us to finish all along we heard sirens ringing outside. I pulled my hood a bit lower and went to meet them with Gin, who had finished scanning the forms Yami found.
"Good evening, Officer Kyouraku," I greeted the policeman, who was a lean middle-aged man with long wavy, brown hair. Kings have affiliations with people from the government, especially with the police. They sometimes, like tonight, seek us for help to eradicate their problems and we rarely refuse because when we aid them they are indebted to us. With the police turning a blind eye on our actions, it's easy to perform certain tasks. But, of course, they don't know the relationship between Kings and Kuchiki Enterprise.
"Ah, Kime," he tipped his policeman hat. "Long time no see."
"Gin has the evidence of the trades," I told him and Gin passed the stack of paper to Kyouraku. "The culprits are inside some are unconscious and tied up and others are… permanently unconscious. The leader is with Yami." I pointed to Yami and he waved at the officer.
"I see, thank you, Kime," he said as he flipped through the papers. "You make my job so much easier, like always."
"You're in charge of the clean-up though," I reminded him. "And as for the weapons in the warehouse…"
"Hmm... Let's see... We were engaged in a gunfight when we conducted the raid and a stray bullet hit some explosives, causing the place and everything in it to burn down. How's that sound?"
"Everything, huh? Well then, congratulations on the successful raid, officers," I said mockingly. "Ah… but make sure the fire happens after we leave, though."
"Of course," he replied. "I don't really want K after my head."
"I don't like this," I heard a male standing behind Kyouraku mutter. "Relying on the yakuza. This isn't right."
I peered past Kyouraku to look at him. He seemed pretty young and inexperienced. I patted his shoulder, "This is the truth, newbie. Deal with it or quit." With that, I returned to the warehouse to supervise the transporting of the free weaponry. We found the keys to the truck and Gin used that to take the weapons to wherever he keeps Kings' stash of artilleries. While we were doing that, Kyouraku and his team lead the defeated gang members into their police cars and also called the morgue.
As we were leaving the premises, I waved to Kyouraku and he returned the gesture. A second later, the warehouse exploded into flames.
"Time to head home, then. Good job tonight everyone. I apologise for staying on the sidelines."
"You have an injured wrist." Ulquiorra reminded.
"And you have a broken rib," I retorted and rolled my eyes. This was becoming annoyingly repetitive.
"Your wellbeing is more important than mine, Kime-sama."
Ok, woah, did not expect that from him at all.
"Everyone in Kings is equally important," I said slowly. "By the way… That guy mentioned Sil-"
"He is dead," Ulquiorra reinforced in a voice harsher than usual.
"But his body was never found…" I mumbled half-heartedly before noticing something.
I walked to a blonde-haired man around my age standing at the back of the crowd. He watched me come closer to him and the fear was evident in his eyes.
"I haven't seen you before." I heard whispers from behind me but I shut them up with a glare.
"I only joined a few days ag- ah!" He doubled over, gasping in pain, and clutched his stomach.
I kicked him again and placed my foot firmly on his back. "People only join King after either me or K approve of it. So tell me honestly. Who are you?"
"I was part of the other gang," he gasped out. "H-hid behind some boxes during the fight and followed you guys outside."
I looked at him and then at the people around in me exasperation. "And none of you realised he was here?"
A series of apologies rang through the crowd and I sighed deeply. I grinded my heel into his back. "We don't like imposters."
"I'm sorry," he gasped as the air was forced out of his lungs. "I really didn't want to get caught by the police. It was a rash and stupid decision."
"Good that you know," I added more pressure.
"I won't do it again," he wheezed.
"Indeed," I lifted my foot but pulled out the gun. Before he could escape, I shot him. He slumped to the ground without making a sound. I twirled the gun on my finger before pocketing it again. "Guess I ended up doing something, after all."
Ulquiorra observed the body on the ground, "Kyouraku-san won't deal with this one for you."
I shrugged, "But you will, right?"I heard a soft sigh, "I'll fill out the documents when we get back."