"You think he is doing what?" I said in utter shock. "I only said he was having more meetings at the hospital lately. Meetings with other doctors! Not… not the thing you're talking about!"
"Have you seen the nurses at that hospital, Rukia," Nobara rolled her eyes while sipping coffee and Akane nodded her head in agreement. "I'm actually surprised it took this long for him to get off track."
"You need to be careful, Rukia," Akane warned sternly. "His good looks, brains and reputation attracts a lot of attention from the girls."
Well, yeah, he looks better than the average male and is a doctor who became the head doctor in just two years but…
"We've been together for almost ten years, you two," I sighed helplessly. "I'm sure we've already passed the stage of being tempted by wild flowers."
"As much as I think Ichigo is a good guy, I still think you need to keep an eye on him," Akane chewed on her lip thoughtfully.
"We should probably get back to work," Nobara announced while standing up. "Unlike CEO-sama here, we actually have to abide to our working schedules."
"I never slack off," I scoffed.
"But you are going to, now, right?" Nobara winked knowingly.
"You two made me paranoid," I huffed and Nobara just laughed.
"Sorry, Rukia, we were only just teasing," Akane said apologetically. "Don't treat it seriously.
"I know," I nodded. But I still felt unusually paranoid…
With that thought in mind, I went to Karakura Hospital. It was filled with people as always and a pang of guilt stuck me. Ichigo was busy treating people and here I was doubting his loyalty to our marriage.
"Excuse me, miss, but you're not allowed to go in there without permission," a young nurse called and ran up to me.
"It's ok," another nurse told the first one without even looking up. "She's Kuchiki-san."
"Oh," Realisation dawned on the young woman and she quickly bowed. "I'm sorry."
"It's fine," I told her and continued walking.
"Ichigo?" I called while opening the door to his office but froze when I saw a nurse leaning over his desk. Their faces were covered by the computer monitor so I couldn't see. It couldn't be…
Ichigo looked up when he heard my voice, "Rukia? What are you doing here?"
The nurse also straightened up and I realised she was Momo. There was no way she would do something like that.
"Hi, Rukia-chan," she smiled at me and I felt bad for misunderstanding them.
"Hello, Momo-chan. How have you been?"
"Great," she replied but then her face fell slightly. "Except that…"
"Hinamori," Ichigo interrupted warningly.
"Ah, sorry. It's Rukia-chan so I accidentally…" She bit her lip and then bowed. "Um… I have to check up on some patients so I have to go. Bye, Rukia-chan, Dr. Kurosaki!"
I watched her hurry out the door and then turned back to Ichigo with my eyebrow raised.
"What are you hiding?"
"Nothing you need to worry about," Ichigo answered quickly before widening his eyes. "Why the hell do you look like you're about to cry?"
I do…? I touched my face self-consciously.
"Well, I mentioned to Nobara and Akane that you suddenly have a lot of meetings these days and they just kind of… gave me weird ideas."
He stared at me as if I was speaking a different language. "Are you really Rukia?"
"I don't know why I'm getting so worked up over this," I told him in frustration. "It just… I don't know…" I ended my sentence with a sigh.
Ichigo came up to me and rubbed my shoulders, "Breathe…"
"I'm fine," I muttered.
"I'm not doing anything bad, I promise you," Ichigo said solemnly. "It's just we've got a troublesome patient here right now. That's why I've been having meetings to figure out what to do with them. She couldn't tell you because of the confidentiality crap..."
"I know. I trust you, Ichigo," I said with a sigh. "I just don't know what's gotten into me today."
"Maybe you're just a bit tired?" Ichigo suggested. "You only just came back from overseas a few weeks ago."
"I guess," I shrugged and he massaged my tense shoulders.
And... A few weeks later, I found out why.
Ichigo came home to see me sitting on the sofa, staring into space with a blank expression on my face.
"Rukia, what's wrong?"
I felt him sat down next to me and I slowly turned to him, "Ichigo… I…"
"You?" He echoed and waited rather impatiently for the rest of my answer.
"I..." I stared at my hands and then back at him, not knowing how I should say it. "I'm pregnant," I said in a soft voice.
"Oh…" His eyebrows flew up and he gaped at me comically.
"What do I do?" I whispered in a daze. "I have no experience with looking after kids. Will I be a good parent? What if they grow up unhappily? Oh, Kami-sama, do I even have the right to be a mother?"
"Rukia! Stop freaking out," He shook my shoulders. "You'll be fine. We can do this!"
"Stop thinking that way and be a bit happier!" He pulled me up from the sofa and hugged me tightly. "I'm going to be a father! We're going to be parents!"
His smile seemed to blow away all my worries and a small smile appeared on my face.
"You're going to be a great mum. I can feel it already," He said with a lop-sided grin.
I glared at Ichigo as if I could burn a hole in the back of his head.
"Sure?" Urahara answered uncertainly.
"No!" I protested angrily.
"Yes," Ichigo frowned. "You are strictly prohibited to do any Kings related work for the next year."
"Then what else do you want me to do?" I huffed. "You already told me to cut back on my hours at Kuchiki Enterprise."
"Stay home and rest," Ichigo suggested unhelpfully.
"You want me to be bored to death?"
"Watch some movies, then?" He answered and I scowled at him ferociously. "You can still come to the club but no drinking and no fights."
"Then what's the point," I muttered which made him roll his eyes as if I said something completely ridiculous.
"What? She is our boss?" Someone exclaimed.
A boy around 18 was looking at me with a disappointed frown. "She's the boss of Kings? Are you sure? Kings is really run by the Kuchiki family?"
On one of my recent trips to Karakura High school for a 'motivational speech,' I spotted him mixed up in a fight between the students and saw talent in him. Urahara and Yoruichi seemed to have been watching him for a while and also shared the same opinion. He was recruited but this was his first time seeing me as Kime and not Kuchiki Rukia.
"Are you sure she can actually fight? She looks so weak though," he 'whispered' to someone standing next to him. Unfortunately for him, he didn't notice the look of pure fear on their face.
"How do you think I got into this position if I couldn't fight?" I asked him.
"Oh, the Kuchiki princess can fight?" he said mockingly.
Was I getting old or are kids getting more annoying these days?
"Rukia," Ichigo put his hand on my shoulder and said in warning.
"I know, I know," I sighed. Ichigo held my hand and started to lead me away. While keeping my hand in his, I spun my body and gave the newcomer a roundhouse kick to the stomach that sent him flying into several tables and chairs.
"Rukia!" Ichigo gaped at me. "What do you think you're doing?"
"Just teaching him where he stands otherwise he'll cause more trouble in the future," I said calmly. "I won't do that anymore, I promise."
"You better," he sighed. "I nearly got a heart attack from that. That was really dangerous..."
"I'm sorry, Carrot," I apologised while trying not to laugh. His reaction was priceless! If only someone had recorded that…
While heading to the lift, my phone started ringing. "The hospital?" I murmured when I saw the caller ID and picked up the call.
"Kuchiki Rukia-sama?" The person on the other side asked.
"Yes, that's me. Are you looking for Ichigo?" I looked over at my husband while I talked but he took out his phone and shook his head to say he didn't get any notifications.
"No, we are not looking for Dr. Kurosaki," she replied. "I have called to inform you that Kuchiki Byakuya-sama has woken up."
I stared at the phone in my hand as I slowly processed what I just heard. I pinched myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
"Kime?" Yoruichi tapped my shoulder and I turned to her stiffly.
"K woke up," I told her, still not really believing it. Her expression was the exact replica of mine.
"Get ready for a celebration, guys!" Urahara said happily to the rest of the people in the club. "K is coming back!"
There was a moment of shock and then the whole place erupted in deafening cheers. Ichigo lifted me up and twirled me around and I smiled as the news finally sunk in.
The media had went into a frenzy when my brother was caught in a traffic accident roughly half a year ago. The driver of a truck was driving too fast and it collided with my brother's car at an intersection. To most people, it probably seemed like a normal tragic accident but we knew better. Someone planned it to get rid of my brother.
A month after the incident, someone notified the media that the truck driver was actually a yakuza and that the leader of Kings, K, has gone missing. People began to wonder that since Kuchiki Enterprise was such a big company, it would make sense if a powerful gang such as Kings was working for the Kuchiki family. And since K disappeared around the time my brother was hospitalised someone pointed out that my brother might actually be K. Of course, many people thought this idea was preposterous but a small group of people continued to make assumptions.
As people's speculations crept closer to the truth, we pulled some strings and organised for one of the news channels to interview me about my brother's accident and the rumours.
"I don't know where people are getting these ideas from," I had said on the day. I looked at the camera in distress. "I admit we do give the yakuza some money every now and then so they won't cause trouble for us but we've never tried getting them to work for us… Never in our lives did we think about making Kings come work for us. It's just too dangerous. If anyone has any insight about this, please tell us. I just want to know the truth as soon as possible." I ended my sentence and allowed a tear to trickle down my cheek. "We're trying very hard to keep the company under control while my brother is in a coma. We're already stressed and tired from this whole ordeal and the speculations people are coming up with about us is making everything worse. We are horrified to be accused of partnering with such an evil organisation… We just want some peace and quiet while we sort everything out…"
"I hope your brother has a fast recovery," My interviewer, who was also secretly a member of Kings, looked at me in sympathy.
"Thank you," I wiped my tear away and gave her a small smile.
Most of the rumours soon died down once the interview was broadcasted but we were still wary. Urahara and various members of Kings spread the word that they weren't happy about the rumour of Kings working for Kuchiki Enterprise. We also appointed someone in the gang to pretend to be K to clear away any leftover suspicions.
From then on, everything went smoothly. The culprits turned out to be a newly formed gang who wanted to prove how powerful they were by targeting someone famous. Unluckily for them, they chose the worst possible person to attack…
"Nii-sama, how are you feeling today?" I sat in a chair next to his hospital bed. When he first woke up, he had trouble moving because he was unconscious for so long but after a few weeks of rehabilitation he was able to recover most of his motor functions.
"Fine," he replied without looking up from his newspaper. "The doctor said I should be able to go home at the end of the week."
"Really? That's great news. Urahara and the others are going to be ecstatic."
"When I go to Urahara's club, I'll be announcing my resignation as K."
The only sound in the room was from the clock on the wall.
"But…" My mind was totally blank.
"I'll also be stepping down from my position as CEO of Kuchiki Enterprise. I think what you've done for Kings and the company while I was in my coma is more than enough proof that you are capable for these positions."
"Why so sudden…?" I asked while my mind was still processing his words.
"You heard the doctor, too, Rukia," he said with a tinge of regret. "I can't regain 100% of my motor functions."
"You don't have to be on the front lines, Nii-sama," I pointed out but he shook his head.
"Good leaders fight alongside their subordinates, Rukia," he said. "And I want to go back to being a fulltime lawyer."
When my brother said that, it got harder for me to argue.
"Can you postpone your announcement for another year?" I enquired hesitantly which caused him to look at me with a deep frown. "You've been busy rehabilitating so I never got the chance to tell you but um… I…. You're going to be an uncle…" When I was met with silence, I looked at him uncertainly, "Nii-sama?"
The expression he had was something I've never seen before. I saw traces of surprise and happiness but a hint of sadness which made me think of my sister. Did my brother ever wonder what his life would be like if she was still alive? When he married my sister, did he also wish to one day become a father?
"… I suppose I'll wait," he finally said after a long silence. "Congratulations, by the way."
"Thank you, Nii-sama."
"Is your baby a boy or a girl?"
"I don't know yet," I replied. "Ichigo said we'll be able to find out when I'm around 17 weeks pregnant."
"Yo, Rukia," Ichigo poked his head in the door and waved at my brother. "We should leave now if we don't want us to be late."
"I was waiting for you to finish your shift," I said and got out of my chair. "I'll come by again tomorrow, Nii-sama." He gave me a small nod before going back to his thoughts.
"So what were you two talking about before I arrived?" Ichigo asked when I joined him in the corridor.
"I told him I was pregnant," I replied and rubbed my still relatively flat stomach. "He asked about the gender of the baby."
"It's still too early to determine the gender."
"Yeah, we'll just have to wait and see," I shrugged with a smile but then frowned. "If it's a boy, I hope he doesn't end up being like you. Even though we've been married for a couple of years now, I still see nurses trailing after you at the hospital. You don't even make an effort to stop them."
"You can talk," he scoffed. "I don't say anything to them because they automatically disperse when they see you."
"Oh, do I sense a hint of disappointment? Does this mean you'd rather I not show up at your workplace so you can enjoy being surrounded by girls every day?" I raised my eyebrow and clicked my tongue.
"They can flock around me all they want but they'll never get my attention," he huffed.
"Oh, and why is that?" I tried to ask nonchalantly as I fought the urge to throw my arms around him.
He draped his arm over my shoulder and pulled me closer as we walked, "Because I already have the best wife in the world."
This time I really did hug him.
"R-Rukia?" He said in surprise but wrapped his arms around me anyway.
I wanted to tell him how much I love him and how happy me makes me feel but when I opened my mouth, I closed it again. His confidence was already ridiculously high anyway so he doesn't need me to boost his ego anymore, I decided. I tried to think of something cheeky to say but when I looked into his eyes I found myself saying, "I'm really glad I met and fell in love with you, Carrot."
He pulled me back into his arms and rested his chin on the top of my head, "You don't know how long I've waited for to hear those words from you."
"Well… Now you have," I replied while staring at his happy expression.
Have I really never told him that?Damn… Looks like I still ended up boosting his confidence after all.
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