The noise was so loud I could barely hear myself think but I found it somewhat relaxing. I had missed this place more than I realised.
"So… Everyone here is a yakuza?" Akane asked timidly while looking around.
"Yeah," I nodded. "Welcome to Urahara's Club," I added as an afterthought.
"Kime! When did you come back?" Yoruichi ran up to us.
"We arrived this afternoon," I replied. "Oh, these are my friends Akane and Nobara. This woman here is Yoruichi." They greeted Yoruichi but she just stared back at them in surprise.
"So what Renji said really is true," She said under her breath before giving me a big smile and ruffled my hair. "Good job, Kime. You've made friends!"
I slapped her hand away, "You make it sound like it's the first time I've done this."
"Well, it has been a long time…" She said and shrugged.
"How are things going?" I asked her to change the subject.
"No troubles at all," she said happily. "Unlike your side, though."
"We know we we're facing against now so it won't be long before we can get to the bottom of this."
"Wha… you're starting to sound like a real leader," she ruffled my hair again and draped her arm across my shoulder. "Ah, he's already here so won't you go see your hone-"
"Shh!" I covered her mouth hastily which caused Akane and Nobara to look at me weirdly. "Let's go…" Giving them a forced smile I led them to one of the tables near the back.
How do I explain this…? As I frantically searched for an answer, he had already spotted me and waved.
"Ichigo-Kun?" the two girls behind me exclaimed and I groaned.
"You're a yakuza?" Nobara stared at him in shock.
"No, he isn't an official member yet," I cut in before he could reply. "There were some special circumstances…"
"I'm not an official member?" Ichigo asked and raised an eyebrow.
Oh, that's right.
"…Yeah he's a member of Kings," I sighed.
"So you knew each other all along?" Akane looked at us with a frown.
"Uh, yeah… we had to pretend to not know each other well for uh… certain reasons…" Ichigo replied while scratching his cheek.
"Wow… we couldn't tell at all…"
"Hello, Kime," Urahara walked up to us while waving. "You two must be Akane and Nobara."
"This is Urahara," I introduced him. "He built this underground place."
"Woah, that's so cool!" Nobara shouted.
"Why, thank you."
"Did you build that lift as well?" Akane asked excitedly.
While Urahara kept them two entertained I ruffled Ichigo's hair and sneaked a quick hug. "I didn't think you'd come here so soon."
"I was talking to Yoruichi-san and Urahara-san about some things," he replied. "Asking them about what I can do to help Kings and stuff."
My face fell and Ichigo quickly said, "I won't fight if I have to, I promise. I thought of other things I can do and was asking them if they would let me. I can be like my old man and treat wounded Kings' members. Wasn't there a doctor at our apartment back at Bunkyou? I can be like them."
"I guess…" I relaxed. I had thought he would insist on coming with us and sprouting lines like 'protecting my girlfriend' but this was a nice surprise.
He looked like he was troubled with something else as well but before I could ask Akane and Nobara came back from talking with Urahara. For some reason, the kimono-wearing inventor had brought up that he was the principal of Karakura High School, the school I went to, and the two wanted to go have a look at it. Even though I told them it would look really suspicious if we went to the school at night they wanted to look at the school as soon as possible. After ten whole minutes of them pleading me, I gave in and we left the club.
"So Rukia-san was the student president," Nobara murmured while looking at me with her hand resting her chin.
"You're amazing, Rukia-san."
"What else are you hiding from us?" Nobara nudged playfully.
"I'm not trying to hide anything," I laughed whilst feeling slightly guilty.
"What did it feel like? Being at the top, ordering students around?" Nobara asked with an excited smile.
"It was tiring," I admitted truthfully. "There was a ridiculously high number of delinquents at our school so I spent most of my time chasing them back to class, confiscating cigarettes and fixing up uniforms. It was very boring."
"Was Ichigo-kun really a delinquent?" Akane asked and I nodded.
"He was the most infamous delinquent in the area."
"How did he end up joining your gang?"
"It's a long story," I replied Nobara hesitantly. What do I say and what do I hide? "He joined the wrong one at first. Silver Snake's gang were pretending to be us and causing trouble around the area. When we took care of that problem, Ichigo joined us." Something like that…? Yeah. That should be enough information.
"That sounds like something from a manga," Akane said and giggled. "Your life is so interesting, Rukia-chan."
"Sometimes I really wish I was someone else, though," I admitted with a sad smile.
"It must be tiring," Akane commented empathetically. "Leading a double life and all that."
"Yeah…" I couldn't find it in myself to tell her that I had already grown used to lying and that I was actually referring to the people I've killed.
I unlocked the gates and doors with the key Urahara gave me and we walked around the school slowly. I took them to my classroom, pointing to where I sat in class, and also showed them the student council room. Nothing much has changed since I graduated, though. The most obvious difference was the size of the science labs which made me briefly wonder where Urahara got the money to do this.
When we finally left the school, the moon was already high up in the sky and the streets were completely empty.
"I told you we should've come here tomorrow," I sighed as we walked. They looked like they were going to fall asleep on the spot.
"No, we're fine," Nobara said while stifling a yawn.
Oh, no… please not now…
Why was he here?
Nobara and Akane seemed completely terrified when they saw a lab-coat wearing adult male running enthusiastically toward us at full force while carrying a bag of things he bought at the convenience store.
"How is my cute third daughter doing?" He pulled me into a tight hug. "That stupid son of mine won't let me see you. Said you had some friends over or… Oh, hi there!" Isshin waved to the two girls behind me when he realised that they were there.
"Hello," they replied hesitantly and looked at me in confusion. Before I could explain, Isshin kept talking.
"Ah, Rukia-chan you have to help me," Isshin looked at me with teary eyes.
"You know that Hitsugaya boy?" Isshin scanned the area before leaning in close. "He's dating our Karin, you see."
"Oh," I widened my eyes. Really? That rude brat and Ichigo's sister…?
"My stupid son heard about it and got super angry," Isshin sighed. "He had a big fight with Karin and he left the house before even having any dinner! You must to talk to him about this for me…"
"I'll do my best but uh… do you approve of them?" Isshin did seem quite protective of his daughters…
"Of course," he surprised me by replying straight away but then his face became all serious. "But if he tries anything to hurt her I have a whole clinic full of operating knives and other equipment…"
"I-I see…" Run, Hitsugaya, run!
He winked at me, "Of course, if my son does anything bad to you I'll give him the same treatment as well!"
Nobara tugged my sleeve, "Rukia-san, who is that? Calling you his third daughter… I thought you don't know who your dad is."
"Ah, I'm not her dad, but I will be soon. Well… Father-in-law but it's the same thing, right, Rukia-chan?" Ichigo ruffled my hair with a smile and then wiped an imaginary tear away. "You all are growing up so fast."
"Who's your son, sir?" Nobara asked curiously.
My heart skidded to a halt. Oh, this isn't going to end well…
"I think you know my son as well," Isshin continued, oblivious to my horrified expression. "His name is Kurosaki Ichigo. My son has really good luck… finding such a wonderful girlfriend like Rukia-chan here, don't you agree?"
I stared at the ground as if my glare would make it open up and swallow me.
Please someone – anyone - get me away from here…!
"Ah, it's getting really late," Isshin realised after checking his watch. "Don't stay out too late, girls. It's very dangerous. Please continue to take good care of my son and my future daughter-in-law. Bye~"
And he left just like that… after causing an immense amount of damage.
"Rukia-san… is it really true?" Akane asked in a small voice. I nodded after a slight hesitation and Nobara glared at me before grabbing my shoulders tightly.
"You and Ichigo-kun are dating?"
I couldn't meet her gaze, "Yes… We had to keep it a secret…"
"Why?" Nobara demanded, a bit forcefully.
"Nobara, stop," Akane cried out in surprise. She tugged on her arm but Nobara didn't let go of me.
"No! This is really wrong! Why, Rukia?" She asked again. "You knew… You knew about how Akane felt and you still did this!" She shook my shoulders so hard I nearly lost my balance. "Do you even think of us as friends?"
"I do," I told them with as much sincerity as I could muster.
"I don't believe you," her words froze my heart. "You knew how much Akane liked him and yet you did the exact same thing Matsumo did!" She continued to glare at me before leading Akane away.I was completely numb. Unable to think of anything to say or do, I just stood there and watched the two of them leave.