"Now that I think about it…He was probably my first love," I murmured. I watched the clouds swim by slowly in the bright, blue sky as I lay on the soft grass with my head resting on a pillow. The trees rustled in the wind and, somewhere in the distance, a bird called out to its companion. I closed my eyes and relished in the peacefulness.
A few days after the incident at the restaurant, Nobara and Akane had left Karakura to return to their hometown to spend time with their families for the rest of the holidays. Kuukaku, Miyako, Ganju, Nel and her brothers had moved into Karakura, announcing that they were now members of Kings. Miyako's informant, Drake, was also accepted into Kings but he chose to stay in Bunkyou to help Ulquiorra since he was more familiar with that area. Now that Matsumoto didn't need to be a spy anymore, her and Gin had started organising their wedding. The whole gang was buzzing in excitement and everyone helped to prepare.
The two people who were my parents were caught by the police recently. They were apparently on their wanted list for a long time now because they made a living by being con artists but they always managed to slip away. My brother had asked if I wanted him to fight the court case for them but I declined. They had nothing to do with me and after knowing what they were doing, I felt slightly ashamed to know that they were my parents. A thick envelope appeared at Urahara's club and inside were all the documents my parents had used to try trick Silver Snake. With solid evidence like that, the two of them were sent to jail and that was the last I ever saw of them.
The media kept reporting about the massacre that had happened and saying it was caused by a dispute between two gangs but they didn't provide any more information other than that because we pulled a few strings. After being released from the hospital, Ukitake and Shirayuki disappeared without a trace. "The two of them wanted to thank you for telling them the truth," the nurse in charge of them had told me. "Ukitake-san regrets his actions, saying the matter could've been resolved if he had stayed rational, and he wishes to tell you that they will never show up in front of you again." She was obviously curious about what had happened between us but her job as a nurse prevented her from asking any questions.
Ichigo had kept pestering me about what I told Ukitake at the hospital until I finally told him what happened between me and Nobuyuki. When I finished telling him my little story, he was at a loss for words and we've avoided that topic ever since. I knew he wanted to talk about it again because I could tell he had a lot of questions to ask me but he was probably staying silent for my sake.
My pillow sneezed and I frowned, "Don't move."
"Sorry," Ichigo said and rubbed his nose. I rested my head back on his thigh and he patted my head absentmindedly.
"After he died, I cut ties with Kings because I became afraid of what I was capable of doing." I said after a while and held up my hands. "How easily these hands could take another's life."
He clasped his hands over mine, "And you distanced yourself from others because you didn't want it to happen again?"
I nodded, "I was already weary of people in case they turned out to be traitors but after that, I began to worry about not trusting people enough. It sounds very stupid, right?"
"It's not," Ichigo frowned. "You're improving. You've made new friends and you'll keep making more. You have our whole life to overcome your bizarre trust issue."
"'Bizarre?'" I repeated and frowned. "Of all the adjectives you could've used, you used that one?"
"It was the first word that came to my mind."
We sat in silence for a while before he spoke up again. "You're really strong, you know? You've experienced so many painful things and yet you face the future so bravely."
"I'm not brave," I said bitterly. "If I was, I would've been able to stop so many things from happening. If I had had the courage to seek out Nobuyuki's father and explained the truth to him, I could have prevented so many deaths from happening and-"
He cursed under his breath and covered my mouth quickly. "I knew you were going to start another rant. Sorry, I shouldn't have brought up that subject." I tried to pry his hand away from my mouth but he stayed there stubbornly. "It doesn't do any good for you to keep sending yourself on guilt trips like this. It'll only make you feel worse."
"But I-" I managed to free my mouth but as soon as I started talking, he covered it again.
"What you're doing isn't repenting for your actions. You're just giving yourself a hard time. Promise me you'll stop blaming yourself for the things that happened," he said and then his face softened. "Please? Seeing you make yourself go through all that pains me as well. I like it better when you are smiling."
"Ichi-Nii," we heard Karin call. "It's time for dinner!"
"Ok," Ichigo shouted back before helping me back on my feet. "Let's go back before my old man starts a tantrum about us not wanting to eat with him," He started walking to where Karin was waiting for us but I grabbed onto his hand.
"Ichigo," I said and he looked at me with his eyebrow raised. "I'll always be burdened by my actions. Once a person takes the life of the other, the memory of their victim will continue to haunt them until the day they die."
"I guess it can't be helped," He rubbed his neck and sighed. "Then... I guess I'll help shoulder the responsibilities."
"And how will you do that?" I asked in surprise.
"We'll figure that out later. But not now because I'm starving," He shrugged and made his way to where Karin was waiting.
What kind of reason was that? I stared at him in disbelief before shaking my head with a sigh.
When I caught up to Ichigo, I found him scowling. "What are you doing here?" He demanded gruffly. I looked at the person he was glaring at and had to stop myself from sighing out loud.
"What? You have a problem with me going on a walk with my girlfriend?" Hitsugaya was significantly shorter than Ichigo but he stood his ground.
Karin and I slapped our boyfriends on the back of their heads at the same time and they each gave a pained yelp in surprise.
"How long are you going to continue with that immature behaviour?" I sighed and rubbed my temples. "You should really learn from my brother. Has he ever treated you like this?"
"No…" He answered with a small voice. I frowned at his odd reaction. Did something happen between Ichigo and my brother?
"Exactly, now go apologise," I sighed.
Ichigo seemed to have thought of something and turned to face Hitsugaya, "If you hurt my sister I will hunt you down no matter where you are in the universe."
"I've never planned to hurt her and I never will," Hitsugaya retorted.
The two males glared at each other for a moment longer before seemingly forming a truce. Hitsugaya and Karin started walking again and we trailed behind them. Ichigo didn't apologise but I guess that worked too…
"Now, that wasn't so hard was it," I said to him with a pleased smile. "So, what made you change your mind about him? Your face changed when I mentioned my brother."
"Nothing you need to be worried about," he answered.
"Fine, don't tell me," I answered and he was surprised by how fast I gave up. I'll just ask my brother the next time I see him, I thought while mentally rubbing my hands together.
"By the way, Rukia… Just checking, does Ulquiorra call you 'boss'?"
I frowned at his question, "Stupid, why would he? The only one who is allowed to be called 'boss' is my brother."
"I knew it," Ichigo said under his breath.
"Nothing," He quickly said and vaguely and I frowned. What was he hiding from me?
I kept sneaking glances at him but he seemed to be in deep thought so I kept my questions to myself.
After a while Ichigo cleared his throat and, without meeting my gaze, he asked, "So… Do you still like that Nobuyuki guy?"
"Would I even be here if I did?" I replied while trying to keep a straight face. So he was actually worried about that all along?
"I see…" he answered with a nod but I knew he was still bothered by it.
"Ichigo, I love you with all my heart," I reassured him. Baka Carrot, I hissed in my head, making me say all these embarrassing things! "What happened in the past with him doesn't matter as much anymore. Right now, I'm with you and that's all I care about."
"I know that," he huffed before wrapping his arm around my shoulders. "I just can't stop thinking about all those unhappy experiences you've had." He looked at me with sad eyes but before I could hit him for looking at me like that, he broke into a smile and said determinedly, "Alright! I'm going to counter all those sad memories you have by giving you good ones."
"What? How will you do that?" I asked but he just grinned.
"That's for you to find out, my Usagi-Kaichou," he pulled me back into his embrace and pecked my forehead.
I eyes widened and I touched my forehead. It should've been the first time he's kissed me there but somehow the sensation felt oddly familiar…
I caught him trying to hide his smile and I narrowed my eyes dangerously.
"I didn't do anything!" He said as innocently as he could but then he suddenly sprinted away.
I ran after him as fast as I could. Karin and Hitsugaya stared at us in surprise but I didn't care. "Baka Carrot, come back here and tell me!" I yelled after him but he just laughed breathlessly. I saw him round a corner and hurried after him but then a pair of hands wrapped around my waist. I looked up in surprise to see Ichigo grinning down at me. He spun me around so I was facing him.
"Ikissedyouinyoursleepwhenyouhadyourfever," Ichigo said it so quickly that I nearly missed it.
"Y-you what?!" I squeaked uncharacteristically. "I can't believe you attacked me in my sleep! What else did yo-"
Warm lips captured mine in a kiss and my eyes widened to the size of the moon before sliding closed on their own. His arms wrapped tighter around me, as if he knew that his kiss was making my legs forget their job. I clung onto the front of his shirt as the world melted away and my thoughts flew out of my mind. I couldn't even recall what I was angry about mere seconds ago.When he pulled back I was still in a daze. He smiled and rubbed his nose against mine, "We'll start our collection of happy memories with this."