Renji stood in front of me immediately, blocking me from their view. "Leave," Renji growled. "We warned you that if you showed up again, we would take legal action!"
"You want to take us to court?" The man exclaimed. "We're just here to take back our daughter."
"We had been through this process before," Renji's voice was scarily calm. I've never seen him so angry… "We won that court case and Rukia-sama is legally under out care."
What… What court case? No one's mentioned this to me.
"No, she was under Hisana's care," he retorted. "She's dead, now, so we are her rightful carers!"
"Despite the death of Hisana-sama, Byakuya-sama still remains as the legal guardian of Rukia until she turns twenty."
"You can't keep her away from us forever!" The woman wailed. "I want my daughter back!"
"Please leave now," Renji told them again in a stern voice. "This is a public place. We can sue you for defamation for causing this commotion." He turned to face us and sighed, "Rukia-sama, let's hurry home. Your brother is waiting for you."
"Are they really my…?" I stared at them, not knowing what to feel.
"Yes," he replied grimly. I stared at their backs with my mouth slightly opened.
"I want to talk to them," I said and Renji stared at me in shock.
"Tell my brother I'll be home soon," I pushed passed Renji and walked up to the two adults who stared back at me in shock. "H... Hello."
"Ruru-chan," my mother's eyes were filled with tears. She touched my face and then covered her mouth. "All these years… finally…"
"Let's go somewhere so we can talk easier," I told them and headed for a nearby café. After seeing us leave, Renji reluctantly left with Ichigo and the others while talking rapidly into his phone.
"How have you been?" My mother still had tears in her eyes and I fiddled with my sleeve uncomfortably.
"Fine… How about you?" I replied hesitantly.
"Alright, I guess," my father replied gruffly.
I avoided looking at their faces as an awkward atmosphere settled around us. Our reunion… It was totally different to the ones in the dramas my sister used to watch, to say the least. Mother cried but Farther seemed distant as if he had something else on his mind.
"Ruru-chan, do you want to come live with us?" My mother asked hesitantly after a while.
"I…" I frowned at her question.
"I'm sorry," she apologised. "It's really sudden, right? We'll let you think about it for a while."
"Thank you… Why are you finding me now after all these years?"
"We had no choice," There was a loud bang when my father kicked the leg of the table. "That stupid Hisana wouldn't let us go near you. Thankfully, she's dead now so we can finally meet you!"
I gripped the table. How can he talk about her death like that?
"Ah… Your father doesn't really mean it," my mother said quickly after seeing my reaction. "He's still a bit angry about how she just took you and left us all those years ago. Your father has always been bad at forgiving people…"
"Sorry, I need to go to the bathroom," I mumbled and stood up.
She looked taken aback, "OK… Let's go shopping later? We've never done anything as a family. I'll buy you anything you want."
I wanted to tell them I didn't need them to do that but I nodded anyway and headed for the toilet. I washed my face at the sink and stared at my reflection in the mirror. "Parents…" The word sounded foreign. I had accepted that my family was different to everyone else's long ago. I didn't have any qualms about it.
"Family…" I said the word softly but rather than seeing the two adults I saw my sister, brother and everyone at Kings. Whenever my sister spoke of our parents, she always told me they were drunks and gamblers who also physically abused us. I've never met them before so I just took her word for it but today… The two of them just seemed like two lonely, old people. I don't know what it's like to be in a normal family but I felt the happiest with Kings. Maybe the awkward atmosphere between my parents and I will improve over time but… Kings will definitely be more important. I already left Kings once and I'll forever regret doing that. I won't make the same mistake again.
With my mind made up, I left the bathroom. When I was a few tables away, I saw the two engrossed in a hushed conversation. I frowned when I caught snippets of their discussion.
"This isn't what we agreed on," I heard my father say in a low voice. His hand tightened on the phone, "No… you can't change that now."
My mother snatched the phone from his hand, "We can't take her there. She'll become suspicious… Can't you change the location… No, that's impossible… We can't do that… Even if you do that…No, you're not listening to me! She's coming back."
I approached them slowly. "Who was that?"
"Oh, it's just a business partner," My mother quickly pocketed the phone and smiled widely at me. "Ruru-chan, sorry I was really thirsty so I ordered another cup of latte. We'll leave after it arrives, OK?" She looked up at me with a raised eyebrow when I didn't sit down. "What's wrong?"
"I'm leaving," I stated and headed for the door.
"Wait," my father grabbed my wrist. "Don't be rude and just leave like that. Where are your manners?"
"Let go of me," I shook his hand off. "You're planning something, aren't you? Someone sent you here right?"
"W-What are you talking about?" He replied stiffly.
There was the sound of footsteps outside and I tensed. A group of men rushed in through the front door and I gritted my teeth. They ran toward us and, without any hesitation, I jumped through the window. The broken glass rained down on me and I closed my eyes to prevent shards from getting into them. I broke into a run straight away and I brushed glass from my face before I reopened my eyes. There was a group of people standing guard outside and they started chasing me when they saw me. I cursed under my breath and ran faster, dodging crowds, toppling things over to block their path and making sharp turns but I couldn't shake off my pursuers.
Someone grabbed my arm from behind. Their hand covered my mouth to muffle my surprised shout and they pulled me into a nearby alley.
"Shh!" I stilled and looked up to see Ichigo looking outside the alley with a tight expression. He pulled me further into the alley as the people ran passed without noticing us. When they were gone, Ichigo relaxed and released his hold on me.
"What are you doing here?" I hissed.
"Saving your ass," Ichigo replied in a harsh voice that surprised me. It was rare to see him so angry. First Renji and now Ichigo, as well... "C'mon, we need to go meet up with your brother." He grabbed my hand and started walking. He was abnormally tense and his tight grip on my hand was hurting me.
"Ichigo?" When he didn't reply, I called out in a louder voice. "What's wrong?"
His stopped and slammed his fist against the wall. "Everything! This is wrong," He hissed. "Parents aren't supposed… They're not...I-"
"It's OK, Ichigo," I stepped up him and ruffled his hair. He was angry about that. I wanted to laugh but cry at the same time. Ichigo was so kind… "I wasn't expecting much from them anyway. During the few times my sister answered my questions about our parents she mentioned they were selfish people... I knew they had ulterior motives."
Was I saying those words to comfort him or me? The question appeared in my mind momentarily but I pushed it away.
"People don't usually approach me out of the blue like that unless they want something. I'm used to it already," I smiled up at him. Look, I wanted to tell him, I'm fine so stop showing that scary expression.
"No," He pulled me into a hug. "You deserve better than this!"
"Thank you, Carrot," I whispered, wrapped my arms around him and pecked him on the cheek. "Now, come on, my brother hates waiting."
We stayed in the small alleys to keep out of site and, luckily, while on our way home we didn't run into those people again.
"They came by once, a long time ago," My brother said in a tired voice once I got home.
"I know," I fiddled with my sleeve. "They came over once, right? Nee-sama had a big fight with them."
He nodded, "They came by a while ago as well. That's why I didn't want you to stay at this house in case they came over again."
"But they found me on the street," I stated. "What happens if they show up again?"
"I'll be taking legal precautions… but the final decision is up to you since they are your parents."
"To me, they're just strangers. My family is Kings and my home is here," I said with confidence and a hint of pride. "They obviously had no intention of reuniting with me and were just trying to trick me into a trap."
"Do you hate them?"
I stared at the tea swirling in my cup before replying, "No, I don't think so. I don't know what to feel toward them but after today… I think it's best if I don't see them again."
"I should've been more careful so that this wouldn't have happened," he sighed. "I'm sorry you had to go through that… I had no intention of letting you meet them. When they showed up here a few weeks ago, I sent people to keep tags on them. After Hisana took you and left them, they became professional fraudsters but we are still trying to figure out why they've suddenly come back for you."
"Useless!" Shirayuki huffed and stomped her foot. "Do you really want our forgiveness or not?"
"It's because you guys suddenly changed the plan. We had it all ready to go! To capture her while her guard was down when my wife would take her shopping!" Rukia's father replied in anguish.
"Please don't turn us in to the police," Rukia's mother cried. "We're really sorry!"
A while ago, the two of them had approached the recovering Silver Snake and Shirayuki to trick them into buying their fake insurance plan but everything went wrong when Shirayuki found out that they were related to Rukia and started blackmailing them. Ever since then Shirayuki has been threatening to hand them over to the police if they don't cooperate with her.
"I don't wish to hear excuses," Shirayuki retorted with a hiss. "I should have known you two weren't capable for the job..."
"Shirayuki? Who are you talking to?"
The white-haired girl jumped at the sound of her father's voice and she turned to see her father entering the front door. When he found the two adults kneeling in their living room he came to a complete stop.
"Aren't you two the scammers that came to us a few months ago?" He demanded and then turned to his daughter. "Really… what were you doing this time?"
Shirayuki bit her lip. Why was he talking to her in this way? All she wanted to do was help him! "I… made them try to bring Kuchiki Rukia to me…"
She braced herself for the scolding but all Silver Snake did was sigh and, from certain aspects, that was even worse.
"Get out of my sight," He glared at the two people in the room. Once they left, albeit angrily, he turned to his daughter. "I already told you to forget about it last year," he said to her. "It was a silly plan of mine that resulted in too many preventable deaths. I don't want you to do stupid things like me. It's not worth it."
"Why would you call it silly?" She looked at him in horror. "She killed Nobuyuki! She needs to be punished."
"Shirayuki, enough. Just stop," Silver Snake shook his head. "I wasn't with you before because I was concentrating on recovering in another place but now that I'm here, I'm not going to let you continue this anymore. Using the members of my gang without my knowledge and going up against Kings… You don't know what you are getting yourself into. Nothing you do will bring him back… Some things you just have no choice but to let go."
"Don't hide it! I know you hate her as well, father. Just give me one more chance," she pleaded. "I promise it will work if we think of a plan together and if worse comes to worse, we can just reveal the secret about their double lives!"
"This is why I'm telling you to stop, Shirayuki," Silver Snake said sternly, raising his voice. "You don't understand much about the yakuza world. You don't even know our most important law about never causing the two sides of society to clash."
"I'm sorry, father," Shirayuki apologised softly and bit her lip. If only I could've been a bit more useful… I should've tried harder to kill her that day, she thought with regret. Then father would be happy like before, when Nobuyuki was still alive…
"Just one more try, father," Shirayuki pleaded softly. "She's in Karakura. You have connections in Karakura, right? Just one more time. If it doesn't work then I'll stop but if it does work then we will be able to avenge Nobuyuki! It won't make him come back but the thought of her death is constantly on your mind, right? You'll feel much happier once we get rid of her."
"Fine," Silver Snake said after a long silence. "But I'm only agreeing because even if I don't, you'll just go off doing something behind my back again."She cheered happily but he just looked on in worry.