Rabbit and Carrot

Chapter 48

"Y-Yuki…" I was rooted to my spot. She was…?

"Ah… I was surprised when I found out you were Kime, as well," she sighed. "To think my cute underclassman would turn out to be our enemy."

Those years I spent neglecting Kings during my high school life affected me more than I realised… I've gone so soft that I would lower my guards so easily. I gritted my teeth. My skills at judging people have dropped so much even though I promised myself not to all those years ago when- No… now wasn't the time to think about that.

"How did you find out I was Kime?" If it was someone from Kings that told her then…

"Isn't it obvious? From my father, of course," she replied. "Although it took him a while to be able to speak again due to his injuries… All the pain you have caused my father… I won't forgive you!" She ended in an angered yell.

This wasn't the upperclassman that I knew… This was the Silver Snake's daughter and enemy of Kings… While I warned Ichigo about trusting Matsumoto even though she was a suspicious person, I had been doing the exact same thing as him…

"You took everything away from him," she continued to accuse. "And for that, I will do the same for you!" She took her a gun and pointed it at Ichigo's head.

"Stop!" I screamed at her. I wanted to run to his side but the wall of people in front of me prevented me from doing so.

"Yes!" She said with a cruel smile.

"No!" Ichigo, having spat out his gag, stood up and knocked Yuki aside. The gun fell out of her hands and slid toward Ichigo. The ropes that were tied around him fell to the ground and he picked up the fallen gun. He grabbed Matsumoto's hand and pulled her toward him in a blink of an eye. "Despite my doubts, I didn't want to believe this but," Ichigo said and pressed the muzzle against her head. "I guess I have no choice now," he finished with a sad and resigned smile.

"No," I shouted. You should've just escaped when you had the chance…

Only you…You're the only one that I wanted to never have to do this! Once you pull the trigger you'll change forever!

Ichigo hesitated at my cry.

I covered my mouth when I realised my mistake.

Matsumoto used his hesitation as an opening. She grabbed his arms and flipped him over swiftly. Another gun appeared in her hand.

"Stop!" I screamed again and threw one of my daggers toward her with all of my strength. She ducked quickly to avoid the weapon which allowed Ichigo some time to snatch the gun he had dropped earlier.

"You wouldn't shoot me," Matsumoto said confidently. "Your hesitation earlier proves it."

"No," he shook his head slowly and I was surprised to see that his hands held onto the gun steadily. "I don't have to shoot to kill. I can just aim for your arm or leg."

Shirayuki grabbed him from behind and her hands closed around Ichigo's neck. He dropped the gun to try pry her hands away from him. Her hands tightened, causing him to widen his eyes and struggle harder."Shoot him!"

Matsumoto reached into a holster strapped to her belt and took out another gun. This time, before anyone could interfere, she pulled the trigger at point-blank.

Blood sprayed from his chest and he coughed up blood. Shirayuki laughed hysterically and finally released Ichigo's neck. He stared at his chest in mild astonishment before collapsing to the side with a blunt thump.

My eyes were glued to him, afraid that if I took my eyes off him he would suddenly disappear. "No…" The syllable escaped from my mouth. The scenes from my dream rushed back to me. "No!"

Even from my spot on the other side of the warehouse, I could see the ground was being painted red with his blood.

Red…

Everything was red…


Flashback


"Ah…" A five year-old me stared at my hands and knees. They were turning pink from hitting the ground when I fell. "Ow…"

"Rukia-chama," a woman in her late twenties ran up to me. "Are you alright? This is why I've told you many times to not run so fast."

"I'm sorry, sensei…" I watched my kindergarten teacher examine my injuries.

"Come, I'll take you to the infirmary." She held my hand gently and helped me up.

I followed her obediently and hummed happily to myself. The teacher was always so genuinely kind unlike the other scary-looking adults…

"So that's her?" I looked up to see two men I've never seen before.

"Yes, this is Kuchiki Rukia." I stepped away from them. The teacher's face had changed and I no longer recognised her. Her face was contorted by hatred and greed. She had become the same as the other adults around me. I took a small step back. "You'll give me my money, right?"

"Yes, it will be in your account by 3 o'clock this afternoon."

"Good," she huffed and, without another look in my direction, she left.

"Sensei…" I tried following after her but I was thrown into the boot of the car.

"I kind of feel bad for you, little girl, but it's your fault for being a Kuchiki," one men sneered before slamming the boot shut.

The car rumbled into life and lurched forward. I hit the roof with my fists but it was no use. I hugged my knees in the darkness but no tears came – yet. I bit my lip and tried to remember what my brother told me to do if I was ever kidnapped. With practiced movements, I twisted the first button on my blouse. A faint green light blinked three times signalling the tracker had been turned on and I went back to hugging my knees.

Sometime during the journey I had fallen asleep because when I woke up again I found myself in a warehouse. The whole place was filled with people. Being able to only count to 50, the little me gave up quickly trying to figure out the total number of people there.

"Ah, the little princess has awoken," the man who was sitting close to me declared. I shuffled away from him and hugged my knees while fighting back a sudden wave of tears.

Nee-sama… Nii-sama… Hurry up, I'm scared…

"Yeah, that's right. We've got your sister," a man talked into a phone while walking up to me. "If you call the cops, she's going to die… What? You want proof? Geez… Here."

The phone was thrust into my hands and I stared at it.

"What are you doing? Talk!"

"Kya!" He kicked so hard I was knocked off my chair. "N… Nii-sama…" was the only thing I managed to choke out as the tears fell down my cheeks.

"Don't cry, Rukia. We'll be there soon. Remember the drills. We've practiced this scenario before," my brother said but before I could say anything else, the phone was snatched away from me.

"No, Nii-sama," I tried to get the phone back but I was kicked aside.

"Are you satisfied now?" The man said into the phone after glaring at me. I burst into tears."Alright, the meeting place will be…"

"You're so damn noisy, you know?" Another man came out and grabbed my wrist. I was lifted into the air.

"Stop it," I cried harder and squirmed to escape his hold. "It hurts… My arm hurts. Let me go!"

"Shut up. This is why I hate little kids," he spat in my face and threw me to the ground.

I crawled away from him and sat against the wall while hugging my legs. Scared that I would be hit again, I kept my sobs as quiet as possible.

I have to stay quiet and not cause trouble, I thought. Nii-sama will be here soon…

My knees and elbows bled from being thrown onto the floor and bruises were already forming all over my body. My shoulder was throbbing and pain flared up from my hip whenever I tried to move.

"Oi, what are you doing over there?" The man who was on the phone with my brother noticed me. "Don't tell me you're trying to escape." I was frozen to my spot by fear, unable to do anything while I watched him walk closer to me. He suddenly grabbed my arm, causing me to gasp out in pain, and pulled me back to the chair I was on before.

"No, let go of me. Don't touch me," I struggled against his hold but the difference in our strength was too big. He easily pushed me down on the chair and held me there as someone passed something to him.

"This should keep you quiet for a while… Move and I'll shoot you!" He waved his gun before he grabbed a fistful of my hair. I started at the dirty cloth in his hand as he tried to press it against my face.

"No…" I sobbed but he ignored me. I tried shying away from it but his other arm kept me in place. "Stop…!"

Something inside me clicked.

I kicked the man in the face with all my strength. The cloth fell out of his hand and he clutched his broken nose. "You!"

I picked up the gun that he had dropped and shot him. He gave a pained yell and I stared at the rapidly forming puddle of blood.

"Fuck, that little bitch is crazy," I heard someone yell.

"No, don't shoot her dumbass. We need her alive for the trade!" Someone else yelled back.

I turned to the crowd and shot at everyone near me. Some collapsed to the ground instantly, while others tried to get away.

"What the fuck are you doing? She's just a kid!" Someone ran toward me but I shot them before they were able to reach me.

"Someone fucking take that gun from her!"

Realising I was out of bullets, I crouched down beside a unconscious man and searched his pockets numbly for another gun but I only found a pair of daggers.

All well… I stared at it and shrugged. I got back on my feet, all the pain I had felt before had seemingly disappeared.

"Fuck the trade, just kill her!" Another person yelled in panic.

"Monster…" someone whispered. It was the first of many names people would call me.

"Mon…ster…?" I repeated to myself. The word felt strange in my mouth.

"Alright, forget the deal. I'm getting rid of her," a man ran hysterically toward me and I tensed in alarm…

What seemed like decades later, I heard a voice whisper in my ear.

"Calm down… Rukia, calm down…It's OK..."

I looked up to see my sister. She was cradling me in her arms. There was a deep cut on her upper arm and I looked down at the bloodied daggers in my hand. Did I hurt… her..?

My sister gently took them away and she hugged me tightly. She was shaking, I realised. Crying, too…?

"I'm sorry, Nee-sama," I apologised for hurting her but she just wiped her eyes and shook her head. There were about a dozen people, all staring at the scene behind me with badly concealed shock. Curiously, I turned my head to see what they were looking at and…


FLASHBACK END


I blinked a couple of times in confusion.

That's right… I was in a warehouse because of a kidnapping - not mine, but Ichigo's.

"Rukia… Rukia...?" I felt arms wrapped around me tightly.

My eyes focused on the person in front of me and my eyes widened. "Ichigo…?" His hands fell to his sides and I stepped back. But how… I started at his blood-soaked shirt. He had collapsed… He… "You... You need to lie down…"

"You… Monster…!" I looked up at the voice. Shirayuki was staring at me in genuine fear.

Shirayuki! Anger welled up from within me and I took a step toward her.

Splash.

Looking down, I realised I had walked into a puddle… of blood. It finally occurred to me that it became oddly quiet and I realised it was because I couldn't hear any pained cries or whimpers. The only ones left standing were me, Ichigo, Matsumoto and Shirayuki. Everyone else was…

It happened again, huh… I stared ruefully at my hands. I then pushed the thought out of my head and continued to make my way to Shirayuki and Matsumoto.

I needed to finish this.

"Rukia, stop, no more," Ichigo stood between me and the other two girls and grabbed my wrist.

"Let go," I glared at him and he avoided my gaze.

Ah… after seeing this side of me… Of course he would have this kind of reaction…

He turned to face the other two, "It doesn't have to be this way… Why does everything have to be ended with violence for y-?" He stopped midsentence and stiffened.

"Ichigo…?" I took a step toward him just as Shirayuki stepped back. She held up a blood-stained knife and looked at it in disgust before shaking the blood off.

"You're really annoying, you know?' Shirayuki frowned at him. With a shaking hand, Ichigo touched the wound on his abdomen lightly. It came away slick with blood.

Shirayuki raised the knife again and I lunged at her before she could do any more damage. She lost her balance and we tumbled onto the ground. There was a dull thud when she hit her head on the concrete floor of the warehouse and blood oozed steadily from the back of her head.

I clicked my tongue. She was already unconscious…

The sound of someone groaning caught my attention. "Ichigo," I ran up to him. He was lying on his back and his chest and stomach were covered in blood but he was still breathing. How is he even alive…?

The bullet wound from before was still healing and yet he got hurt again. I blocked out the negative thoughts and concentrated on Ichigo. I took off my hoodie, folded it and pressed it firmly against his bleeding abdomen.

"Ichigo, can you hear me?" I shook his shoulder and bit my lip.

Please… don't end up like the dream!

I shook his shoulder harder, "Wake up… Please… I'll do anything just… Open your eyes, baka Carrot!"

My jacket was already soaked, I realised and panic welled up inside me. My vision blurred with unshed tears.

"Anything…?" He asked weakly and I breathed out in relief. His eyes opened slowly but they were out of focus.

"Yes, anything," I promised him and leaned down to hear him properly.

"Then... Trust… Rangiku…"

What…

Of all the things he…

After everything he went through, he still trusts her? Why? I wanted to scream at him.

I gaped at him for a few seconds before making up my mind. Although every rational part of me warned me not to, I decided to listen to Ichigo.

A promise is a promise… after all… If this doesn't end well. I'm blaming you forever, Ichigo. I'll haunt you forever.

I looked up just as she struck me hard on my temple with the grip of her gun.

Pain flared up from my temple and all the energy drained from my body. I started to fall but I couldn't summon any energy to support myself.

I saw a small, triumphant smile on Matsumoto's face as she aimed her gun at me before my vision went black.

Damn you, Ichigo.
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