(Rated T for random language)
Rukia clasped her hand over her mouth, attempting to stifle the scream that had risen in her throat as she witnessed Tatsuki's death. Terrified and trembling, she found herself unable to get up. Shouhei began whimpering at the sight of his mother. Rukia quickly took him into her arms and tried to silence him, but it was too late.
Metastacia's ear had heard the sound and was now looking in the direction they were hiding. Rukia cursed under her breath as she frantically tried to get Shouhei to stop making sounds. Metastacia slowly began walking towards the heavy thicket, pulling out his sword once more. Rukia tried to get as far as possible from the opening, holding Shouhei as closely as she could. 'This is the end,' she thought as the footsteps grew closer.
Rukia closed her eyes as the footsteps of the creature slowly came towards her. By this time Shouhei had also gone quiet, clutching onto Rukia's jacket tightly.
There was an eerie silence as Rukia tried to control her breathing, waiting for them to be discovered. The footsteps had stopped as she opened her eyes slowly and listened. Nothing.
Rukia looked out and saw the two figures were gone, as well as Tatsuki's body. She finally realized what had scared them off. The fireworks had ended and a group of people were passing by, on their way home. Rukia suddenly caught sight of the two figures hiding within the shadows of the trees opposite her, looking at the exact place where she was hiding. They knew she was there, and she had to get out before it was too late. Without a moment's hesitation, she quickly grabbed Shouhei and joined another group of people who had been passing by at that time. She dared to glance back to see the figures coming out of the shadows, watching her.
When the group finally got to the edge of the park, Rukia quickly ran and caught a taxi. As they made their way home, she began breathing deeply, trying to make sense of what had just happened. Shouhei was next to her, playing as if nothing had happened. Rukia decided to go home since work did not seem like an option after what she had witnessed. She wasn't even sure if the police would have believed what she had seen, and wondered herself if what she had seen was just her imagination.
Rukia wearily opened her apartment door and stepped inside. She found herself thoroughly exhausted, unable to hold Shouhei for another moment. She placed him down and walked to the phone.
She called her boss Kenpachi, who was extremely furious with her.
"Listen, Kuchiki, if you don't get to work in ten minutes, you can forget ever coming back!" he growled on the phone. Rukia was absolutely furious and told Kenpachi where he could shove his job before throwing down the receiver.
She couldn't believe what had just happened. Not only did she just go through a nightmarish event, she was now without a job and responsible for a child. Come to think of it, she had never been fond of kids in the first place. They were just too loud and messy, and were more of a nuisance for her. Yet now, one had been thrust upon her all because she had been too stupid to mind her own business.
Shouhei seemed to take a liking to Rukia's messy apartment as he began crawling excitedly around the floor, throwing around anything he could reach. "Hey, stop that!" Rukia groaned as she grabbed him and pulled him away from her things. Shouhei looked at her for a moment before letting out a piercing wail. Rukia sighed in frustration, not knowing what to do. "Look, I'm sorry, ok? Will you please stop crying??" Shouhei stopped for a moment before his eyes brimmed with tears again and went off.
This was going to be a very long night.
She searched frantically for anything to get him to quiet down, finally finding her old chappy stuffed animal, and gave it to him. This seemed to calm him as he began to play with it. While he was busy with the toy, she settled him down on the couch and quickly picked up her phone to the only person she trusted.
"Hello?" A gentle voice replied. Rukia attempted to control her trembling voice as she spoke.
"Nee-san... Listen, I know it's really late, but do you think you can come over for a while? I really need to talk to you." Rukia knew however hard she tried to sound calm; her sister knew something was wrong.
"Rukia, what's going on? Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, Nee-san. If you can't come, I understand, it's really late, anyways." Hisana quickly replied, "No, I'll be there in ten minutes." Rukia smiled, thanking her sister. She knew Hisana would always be there for her, no matter what, to which she was thankful for.
"Oh, also can you bring some baby stuff. You know toys and bottles?" Rukia asked.
Hisana stayed quiet for a moment before answering, "What on earth do you need those for?"
Rukia started growing frustrated, "Look, can you just bring them? I'll explain when you get here."
After putting down the receiver, Rukia turned around. She was shocked to see Shouhei losing complete interest in her stuffed animal and throwing around her magazines. She yelled in frustration and grabbed him away.
She was relieved when her sister finally came. On seeing Shouhei, she looked at Rukia in shock. Rukia shook her head and had her sister sit down as she recounted the entire story.
Hisana stared at her in disbelief after Rukia was finished explaining what had happened.
"Rukia, this is crazy! Are you sure you're not drunk?!"
Rukia stared at her sister for a moment and just fell on the sofa in frustration. Hisana looked at her sympathetically. "Look, Rukia. You need to call the police. If someone murdered his mother, they need to arrest them."
Rukia looked at her sister with annoyance. "So what am I supposed to tell them, Nee-san? That this kid's mom was murdered by some sort of mutated freaks that probably would have done the same thing to me had I not been able to get out of there?"
Hisana shook her head and got up. "All I'm saying is that those guys are still out there. If they were after the child, they will try to find him. You're life is in danger too, and I think that any kind of help is welcome." Rukia nodded silently, closing her eyes.
On seeing her sister's exhaustion, Hisana told her to go change into some comfortable clothing while she took care of Shouhei. Rukia thanked her sister for her help and went to change quickly. When she came back, she was pleasantly surprised to see Shouhei playing happily with the toys Hisana had brought. "You're a natural," Rukia grinned.
After making some hot tea, Rukia and Hisana quietly sat on the couch and looked out the window. "So, what will you do then?" Hisana questioned her sister. Rukia just stared out the window, unable to respond since she didn't know herself what she was going to do. Everything that happened tonight just seemed so unreal, that she was just waiting for herself to wake up and realize it was all a dream. But each passing minute made what happen so real that Rukia was lost within her thoughts.
Hisana spoke softly, "Well, whatever you choose, I will be there for you."
Rukia smiled at her sister. She always could count on Hisana, no matter what the circumstances. This situation was no different. It was getting very late and Hisana insisted that Rukia stay with her for the night, yet Rukia refused. "You have your own family to take care of. Nisama and the kids need you and besides, I can handle one night. Maybe tomorrow I'll have a clear head and can decide what is best."
Hisana reluctantly agreed and went to her bag, pulling out some baby supplies. Smiling, she said, "I was wondering why you were asking for these over the phone. Good luck." Hisana gave her sister a warm hug and left.
Rukia sat down quietly on the floor, watching Shouhei play. "What am I going to do?" she asked, and felt her head begin to throb with pain.
She was so absorbed in her thoughts, that she didn't realize Shouhei had come to her and placed his small head onto her lap and fallen fast asleep. She looked down at him, knowing that she couldn't let whatever those things were get him. She was going to go to the police tomorrow, but for now she was so tired.
Taking Shouhei into her arms, she slowly went to her room and placed him gently on the bed after changing him into the clothes her sister had brought. The pain in her head began to get worse and she had no doubt she was in the midst of a full blown migraine.
She searched for her purse where she kept her medication but she could not find it anywhere. She tried to remember the last place she had seen it.
"Ok, I took it for work. I had it in the park when I met the woman…but did I have it when I left?" Rukia froze when she realized she had set her purse on the ground next to Tatsuki. With everything going on, she had left it there.
If those men had found the purse, they would know where she lived.
Just then, she heard someone outside her apartment. A soft murmur revealed that it was more than one person. Her fears were confirmed when she heard a low growl. Quickly and quietly, she ran into her room and grabbed Shouhei. Half awake, he stared at Rukia with curiosity and irritation but he seemed to know she was very frightened and did not complain. The doorknob to the main door began to shake as the creatures tried to get in. Rukia quickly ran to her bedroom door and bolted the locks. Quietly, Rukia and Shouhei stayed within the room as the creatures began to get more impatient.
Suddenly, Rukia heard the door fly off and crash near her bedroom.
They were inside.
She could see shadows of them under the crack of her door. She looked around frantically, trying to find any other means of escaping. The only option was the small window that led to the fire escape. She quietly tried to open the window, hoping to get out without them knowing. Yet the window creaked loudly as she opened it, and within minutes, she heard the figures moving towards her bedroom. Cursing, she opened the window and jumped out onto the fire escape.
Holding Shouhei with one hand, she quickly began running down. She heard her bedroom door open and looked up. Rukia gasped as the grotesque face of Metastacia had appeared, giving her a cold smile before leaping out of the window.
She finally got down and began running. As she turned, four more creatures came out of the apartment and began chasing her. Shouhei grabbed onto her and looked frightened.
She quickly turned into a dark alley and hid behind a dumpster, hoping the creatures had not seen her. She heard them passing by, but did not move until she was sure they were gone for good. As the sounds died down, she began to get up. Yet again, she heard another pair of footsteps and quickly went and hid behind the dumpster.
Another pair of footsteps however stopped in front of the alleyway and stood for a moment. Then they began to quietly approach where Rukia was hiding. Rukia stood in shock and knew she had to do something, or both she and Shouhei wouldn't live to see the dawn. She searched frantically around her, trying to find something to use as a weapon. The only thing that came even close was an old empty glass bottle that was near the dumpster.
Rukia's nose wrinkled at the heavy stench coming from there and grabbed the bottle. Shouhei watched her with curiosity as she put a finger in front of her lips, telling him to be silent. She quickly turned to the sound of the footsteps, which had stopped a few feet and were walking closer hesitantly.
When she saw the shadow of the figure close enough, she took a deep breath before jumping out from behind the dumpster and hitting the figure as hard as she could with the bottle. There was a loud grunt as the figure collapsed. Rukia blinked before letting out a furious curse. The person who was there was not one of the creatures. It was just a man. An unconscious man, thanks to me, she added bitterly.
She could see none of his features except for a mess of bright orange hair. He groaned again, rubbing his head slightly before pulling himself up slowly. He checked his hands and cursed when he saw blood. His eyes instantly met with Rukia, and she gulped at the intensity of his amber eyes upon her. For a moment, he stared at her furiously before getting up and walking towards her, still massaging his head. "You better give me one good reason why the hell you hit me with a bottle, midget!" he growled, his eyes blaring.
Rukia blinked several times before her face turned just as red as his. "Midget?! Well tell me then why the hell were you sneaking around here?!"
"None of your business." he said coolly.
Rukia crossed her arms and raised her brow. "Same to you."
They glared again at one another before the sound of Shouhei's voice brought Rukia's attention to him. She quickly grabbed him while the man looked at the child, his brow rising slightly.
"Where is Tatsuki?" he asked quietly.
Rukia looked over at him as he watched her suspiciously. He knew Shouhei's mother?
Rukia looked over at Shouhei sadly and that was enough of an answer apparently for the man. He sighed heavily before pulling out a phone and quickly dialing a number. "Oye, Renji. Kurosaki here. It's confirmed. Tatsuki was killed. Yeah, I have Shouhei and someone who Tatsuki must have given him to in order to protect him. Right, I'll bring them to headquarters."
He turned off the phone and turned to her. "You both are coming with me."
He walked over to the end of the alley before turning back, only to see Rukia had not moved from her spot.
"Didn't you just hear me?" he asked in irritation.
Rukia held Shouhei tighter. "Yes, but that doesn't mean I will actually follow you. I don't even know who you are."
The man crossed his arm and observed her with growing impatience. "Fine, have it your way. Don't say anything if one of those hollows comes and kills you off."
Rukia narrowed her eyes at him. "Hollows?"
The man rolled his eyes and pointed outwards. "Yeah, hollows. You know the one who killed Tatsuki. The one who are after you. The one who will jump down at you from the roof if you don't move right now!"
Rukia's eyes widened as she looked up to see two hollows gliding down from the building above. She quickly ran over to the man as he grabbed her free arm and ran out of the alley.
She turned and saw the two leave the alleyway, but not follow them.
She finally turned her attention to the man when they suddenly stopped…in front of a motorcycle. "What the…"
"Get on," he muttered as he quickly took his seat. Rukia shook her head and moved away. "There is no way I'm getting on there! If you haven't noticed, I have a child in my hand and you are hurt. I do not trust you at all on that!"
Ichigo growled in anger and got up, glaring at her before walking over to the nearest car. He pulled out a large set of keys and opened the door, motioning for Rukia to get in. She ran in quickly and Ichigo got into the driver's seat.
Rukia looked at him angrily as he started the car. "You fool! You had a car and you wanted to take that?!"
He shrugged as the car screeched and sped through the intersections. "It's not my car." He said simply.
"Then?! Whose is it?"
Ichigo shrugged and Rukia sighed in exasperation. "But you have the keys!"
"Yeah, but these keys open pretty much anything and everything. So yeah, this isn't my car and I would appreciate it if you put on your safety belt."
Rukia stared at the man in front of her and shook her head, still putting on her seat belt without a word as Shouhei watched her.
"Can't believe this…" she muttered as the man turned his head sharply.
"Look, you're the one who had to get all high and mighty by first hitting me with a bottle and then refusing to cooperate by going on my motorcycle. It would have been fine!"
"Just…be quiet and drive!" she yelled.
She was really beginning to hate this man. Why was she following him anyways?! Why was she trusting him enough to let him take her to who knows where.
Her answer however was quickly answered as a loud thud on the car roof caused her to gasp.
"Shit…" he muttered as he swerved the car, causing the hollow that had latched onto the roof to slide off. Rukia was now literally shaking as Shouhei held onto her tightly.
"Why are they after us?" she asked, this time not hiding the trembling of her voice as they swerved again to avoid another attack.
The man's eyes turned fractionally to her before sighing. "You will find out soon. Just…trust me to get us out of this ok?"
She looked at him, and nodded slightly as she held onto Shouhei for comfort.
When he was sure there were no other hollows following them, he quietly pulled into an abandoned warehouse. Rukia stared at the old building, her heart thumping at the mere sight of the decaying rubble, and seriously wondered if she had made the wrong choice. The man looked at her for a moment before walking over to her. "Don't worry. This building is protected by my men, so no hollows should come. They only come out anyways during the night, and dawn is approaching. We will stay here until then."
Rukia hesitated for a moment before nodding, following him inside. She noticed several others standing in the shadows, watching them carefully as they made their way in. They reached a small room with seating and the man motioned her to rest until they were ready to move again. As she stared at the small room that she would be forced to remain in while waiting for the sunrise, the young man turned around. "Oye, by the way, my name is Kurosaki Ichigo. Since you never bothered to ask beforehand," he added with a cocky grin.
Rukia turned to him and raised her brow. "I didn't think it was of any use for me…" she said, earning a scowl from him. She watched him for a moment as he turned around and just as he was about to walk out, she called him again. He looked around, the scowl still there, which made Rukia smile slightly. "I'm Kuchiki Rukia."
To be continued…
A/N: I'm so sorry I took so long to update this. I feel very bad, and hopefully will update this more often. Many thanks to those who took the time to read it!