Rabbit and Carrot

Chapter 52

Friendship can be broken by the simplest of things. I hadn't meant to make Akane sad…I wonder what things would be like if I didn't make the decision to hide my relationship with Ichigo…? I stared at the grave in front of me as I pondered over these questions.

When I got back to the apartment the night before, Akane and Nobara had locked themselves in Nobara's room. I heard the faint sounds of sobs and didn't have the heart to knock on the door. I still didn't have the courage to face them when I woke up this morning so I escaped the apartment and came to visit my sister.

The great Kime fearing two girls who don't even know the basics of martial arts… What will people think?

"Nee-sama, I miss you," I sighed and hugged my knees. "If you were here, you would have pointed out what I was doing wrong, right? Then all of this probably wouldn't have happened… Now I'm making it sound like you're the one at fault. I'm sorry, Nee-sama. Please forget what I just said. I have no right to say those irresponsible things since I was the one who caused you to die."

"I thought I told you to stop thinking like that," a pair of hands wrapped around me and I jumped in surprise. Ichigo ruffled my hair and I leaned against his shoulder.

"You know, for a moment there I thought you were my sister," I sighed.

"I'm sorry," he murmured.

"You did nothing wrong. I was just hoping for the impossible," I smiled sadly before noticing the two people standing behind Ichigo.

"Rukia-san," Nobara bowed. "I'm really sorry about yesterday. I wasn't thinking straight."

Akane's eyes were red as if she had just finished crying, "We didn't know anything."

I stared at them with wide eyes before I looked at Ichigo.

"We decided to hear your side of the story but when we couldn't find you at the apartment this morning, we thought you had sneaked off to meet up with Ichigo-kun," Nobara answered before he could. "I got really angry and was ready to drag Akane to go back to Bunkyou."

"I bumped into them at the train station when Gin and I went to pick Matsumoto up," Ichigo scratched his head. Upon hearing that, I finally spotted the couple a few metres away. Matsumoto waved at me and I returned the gesture. They then walked up to my sister's grave, kneeled down and prayed.

"It was chaotic at first but I eventually cleared away their misunderstanding," Ichigo was still talking and he sounded as if he had completed some difficult mission.

"I thought you started dating Ichigo after you heard about what Matsumoto-sempai did in junior high school," Akane hugged me without warning. "But to think you guys were already dating since last year… I'm so sorry, Rukia-san!"

"Hey, hey, what did I do in junior high?" Matsumoto spoke up when she heard her name.

"Ah… Um," Akane fidgeted slightly under her gaze.

"You went out with the boy Akane had a crush on in junior high the day after she told you about it," Nobara explained bluntly, causing Akane to become even more flustered.

Matsumoto stared at them blankly before bursting into laughter, "Oh, him! No, no we weren't going out. That time, I did ask him to come with me after school because he was stirring up some trouble by spreading rumours about Kings and I had to teach him a lesson but nothing else happened after that."

"Liar!" Nobara argued. "He didn't look like the type to cause those kind of trouble!"

"Looks can be deceiving," I reminded her in a soft voice. She shut up immediately, but everyone else did as well when we all thought of a certain long-haired upperclassman.

"W-Well…You should've said something when I told you about Akane's feelings, Rukia-chan" Nobara scolded half-heartedly after a while to break the tension.

"I didn't know what to say," I replied with a resigned smile. "You guys aren't angry anymore?"

"How could we?" Nobara exclaimed. "After all the things you went through… only an idiot wouldn't think you two suited each other!"

Akane nodded, "I was never expecting much from my little crush so don't worry about my feelings. I'll be alright. I wish you two the very best!"

"Rukia-san," Nobara clapped her hands together and looked at me. "Can you please forgive me? I really regret saying those words."

"Of course," I said with a smile. "I was never angry in the first place."

"Rukia-san, you truly are an angel," Akane hugged me again.

"Thank you, Akane-san," I patted her back. It was the first time in a very long time that someone other than my sister called me that…

"Hisana-san, your little sister has made some great friends," Ichigo faced my sister's grave.

"And a great boyfriend," Nobara added before turning to me. "Man, you should've seen how angry he was! He yelled at us and everything. It was so scary! I finally realised why he was the most well-known delinquent now."

"But it also showed how much he cared for you," Akane sighed happily. "I want to hurry up and meet a boyfriend that would do that for me, too!"

"I'm sure you will, Akane-san," I reassured her. It felt a bit weird to say that since I was the one who caused her heart to break in the first place.

"Ah, I just realised," Nobara shouted. "I felt so angry before that I dragged Akane out before we even had breakfast! And now that I'm not angry anymore I feel so hungry!"

"Let's head back then," I suggested. "I'll get my chef to cook a late breakfast for you two. Are you two hungry?" I turned to Matsumoto and Gin.

"We had some food on the train," Gin replied. "We're going to go see K now so I'll see you guys later, ok?"

"Yeah, we'll head over to Urahara's later," I said before remembering something. I left Ichigo's side and walked up to Matsumoto.

"I know it sounds ungrateful of me to say this after everything you did but why didn't you get rid of Shirayuki before she had the chance to discover your identity and punished you?"

She looked at me in surprise, "You left her alive after knocking her unconscious so I didn't think it was my place to do it. I thought you wanted to deal with her yourself. At least it seemed that way… She was so fixated on trying to kill you," she replied with a troubled expression. "Was I wrong?"

"No you did nothing wrong. It's ok," I said slowly and waved goodbye to them. She was right, in a sense. I wanted to punish her because she target Ichigo but why would she be so obsessed with wanting to kill me? Last year, it was my brother who was on the ship with Silver Snake, not me. All well… it'll be a bit troublesome but I guess I'll just have to make her tell me the next time I see her and end this meaningless fight.

Akane tugged on my sleeve, "Ichigo-Kun said you're chef's dishes are really yummy. Is it true?"

"Of course, Akane-san," I reassured her. "His pancakes are the best!"

Akane and Nobara cheered happily. They walked at a fast pace, eager to get back to my apartment, while Ichigo and I walked at a slower pace behind them.

"It's amazing how fast things were patched up between us," I couldn't help but say.

"Friends sometimes have fights with each other but it's only the real ones who will come back to your side," Ichigo said as he wrapped his arm around my waist.

"And from whom did you steal that quote from?"

"Hey! I thought of that line myself," he frowned. "Have some faith me in."

"Yes, yes, I have a lot of faith in you," I grinned before surprising him with a hug. "Thank you for helping me explain to them. I had no idea how I could've fixed this misunderstanding. Nobara was so angry at me last night."

"No problem… but it was weird finding out Akane's feelings for me…" He said and I smiled wryly.

"How do you think I felt when Nobara told me?" I scoffed.

He then lightly traced my lips with his thumb, "It's been such a long time since I've seen you smile like this. I've missed it a lot."

"Ah, the two lovebirds are being lovey-dovey," Nobara exclaimed.

"W-we are not," I stepped away from him hastily as the blood rushed up to my cheeks. She saw my reaction and started to laugh harder despite Akane's efforts to make her stop.

"Rukia-sama!" Renji strode up to us quickly. "Where were you? I couldn't find you anywhere!"

"We were visiting my sister," I replied. "What's wrong?"

"Uh… Please just get in the car. Byakuya-sama is waiting for you at home right now. He'll explain every-"

"Rukia? Kuchiki Rukia?" An unfamiliar voice called. "Is that really you?"

A couple in their late fifties was slowly walking up to us. The woman came up to me and tried to hug me but I took a step back in alarm, arm flying to my hidden dagger.

"You've grown so much," she cried. "Ruru-chan…we're finally able to meet you!"

"W-who are you?" I glared at them.

I had a strange feeling that I've seen them before but I couldn't remember where.

The man placed his hand on his wife's shoulder and they looked at me with teary eyes. "We're your parents!"
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