Disclaimer: All characters belong to Tite Kubo
Notes: This is clearly an AU story, but I just started writing on whim the other day so please tell me if I should continue because I'm still a bit unsure :) Also, by no means do I take suicide lightly nor do I promote it. What I write is for the sake of the story.
Rated for: Strong language.


"Where can you run to escape from yourself?" - Switchfoot

(ICHIGO)

9:26 pm

The tower stood approximately two hundred and thirty four meters tall (and this didn't even include the fancy little restaurant situated at the base of it). Every night, it illuminated the city with hundreds of 25-watt light bulbs that were strung across the surface. Couples had romantic dates up on the observation decks all the time. Hell, they probably even had sex up there as well.

Even though I've lived in Karakura my whole life, I've only ever seen pictures of our supposedly famous landmark. You know, the ones where the photos are shot from a chin-up angle to capture the entire length of the structure? Really, the parents should just stop subjecting their kids to such poses; it only makes their children look like fat toddlers.

Anyway, it should've occurred to me that the keepers of the tower weren't just going to let a bunch of idiots scale to the very top and throw themselves over. No, there was a little metal door (which they might've stolen from the house of a dwarf) with the word 'CAUTION' engraved on the surface. It hindered my trek to the highest point of the tower.

Their security was top notch alright.

But in all seriousness, the door looked like one of those portable walls that parents put in front of staircases to prevent the risk of rolling babies. No wonder this was one of the most popular spots for emotionally unstable teenagers to launch themselves over. It was just too damn easy.

I put one leg over the door and swung the rest of my body on to the other side. My shoes made loud clanking noises against the metal stairs as I ran up the final flight. I hadn't constructed a plan of action prior to reaching the top, but there was an enormous surge of adrenaline pumping through me.

Once I reached the roof, I immediately bent over to catch my breath. Up here, Karakura looked like a sea of blinking lights and traffic. The city bustle was muted from where I stood, but the howl of the wind still rang in my ears. I reached down to zip up my sweater. It was fucking freezing out here. Maybe hypothermia would just do the job for me. In fact, it would eliminate the whole spectacle of having my brains splattered on the pavement below.

I slowly walked towards the ledge of the roof and looked straight ahead. Of course all the guys would take their dates for a romantic night out here. The view was undeniably beautiful; even I could see that. But don't get me wrong, I did not come up here to die a beautiful death or whatever (like how that annoying hair dresser Yumichika would always say). I had only decided an hour ago that I wanted to erase my pathetic existence off the face of the earth while shopping for toothbrushes.

Yes- plastic, teeth scrubbing toothbrushes.

Earlier today, I had been contemplating the merits of soft bristles versus medium bristles in a drug store aisle. That was when I realized, 'why the fuck am I buying a toothbrush at eight o'clock in the evening? Do I not have better things to do?'

And the answer was no, no I did not. So conveniently, the Karakura Tower was only a block away from the drug store I was at. And that was how I ended up here.

Obviously, it was not only the toothbrush debacle that pushed me to the edge (no pun intended). I had a lot on my mind lately, and it had gotten to the point where I would probably self destruct from it all anyway.

I had to learn the hard way that people only gave a rat's ass about your presence if you were remotely useful…and apparently I was plenty useful. For as long as I could remember, I've been running around doing stupid shit for strangers all day in order to please them. I mean, it wouldn't be so bad if these people were actually important to me, but they weren't.

But everybody insisted that they were 'important people'. Attending quality dinners and dumb conferences with these snobs consumed all the time I had for myself. Clearly, they wanted to use my abilities to benefit their stupid companies, but I was just a pawn to their success.

I didn't want to model, play soccer, or do any of that crap.

So what did I want? On paper, my life didn't look so bad. In fact, it looked pretty damn good, but there was something seemingly unattainable that was missing. I'd never admit it, but it would be nice to have some people who would do the same shit for me as I would do for them.

Jumping off would be a great, "Fuck you!" to anyone who's ever used me.

I cautiously sat down and dangled my legs over the edge. There was that annual lantern festival going on at the bottom of the tower. I hadn't realized that it was tonight though. Every year, some rich noble family would host the festival, and they would show off that their heir was getting engaged to a member of another noble family. It was all a bunch of pretentious bullshit. I attended the event several years ago with my dad, and the princess looked positively ill. I think she even fainted as the man proposed, probably from all that freakin' pressure put on her.

Everyone looked like little ants from my perspective. It was all glowy in the vicinity below. I decided that I wouldn't jump until the celebration was over. There were probably kids down there, and I didn't want to ruin their night by falling out of nowhere and leaving my guts on display. It wouldn't be right.

"What the hell?" a voice suddenly said from behind. That scared the shit out of me.

I gripped onto the ledge to steady myself. When I turned around to see who it was, I was definitely not expecting to see the freakin' princess of the Kuchiki family standing before me. Not that I knew her personally, but I had once seen the girl in a wheeled carriage during the New Year's parade.

I felt severely under-dressed beside her. She had on a traditional Japanese kimono with sakura blossoms embroidered into it, and her hair was done up with fancy golden pins. I must've looked like a gaping idiot in my zip-up and sweatpants (I didn't think it was necessary to dress up since I was going to eventually jump off a building anyway).

"Say something you fool!" she suddenly snapped.

I narrowed my eyes at her. If this was going to be my last day, I couldn't care less about how 'noble' this chick was. Her prissy attitude pissed me off, and she completely ruined my moment. Now that I was distracted, the rush I felt from before was gone.

"Are all princesses rude as fuck, or is it just you?"

"Oh, I'm the rude one? And I'm not a princess you moron."

I glanced at the edge, then back at her. Jumping now didn't seem like such a bad idea after all.

(RUKIA)

9:15 pm

I let out a breath of exasperation as Yoruichi fixed the butterfly pin in my hair. "Stop fidgeting, will you?" she scolded as she jabbed it back in. I winced.

"The weight of everything in my hair will lop off my head, and then they'll have a headless heir to the clan," I said dryly.

Yoruichi laughed. "Quit worrying! I've met your fiancé, and he's a perfectly fine gentleman," she exclaimed. Her elbow nudged my side, "He's a cutie too!"

"And probably a pompous jerk," I muttered under my breath.

"Hmm?"

"Nothing. Hey, how did you get out of an arranged marriage? You're part of the Shihouin clan, aren't you?" I frowned. She gave me a stern look, and put both of her hands on my shoulders.

"Look, Byakuya is doing what he thinks is best for you, and his intentions are nothing but pure. Try not to look so bitter…for him, okay?" she said. I nodded reluctantly, but didn't say anything.

"Well if it isn't our little Rukia, all grown up and turning into a young woman!"

I turned around to see Kisuke Urahara making his way towards us. He nodded at Yoruichi. "Shut up Urahara," I snapped at him.

He raised his eyebrows. "Now that isn't how the heir to the Kuchiki clan should be acting. Luckily, you have Yoruichi here to teach you how to be a lady."

Yoruichi elbowed him in the gut. He immediately crouched over in pain. "Ow!"

"We'll leave you alone now, Rukia. I'm sure there's a ton of people who wish to speak to you. See you in a bit!" she winked at me then grabbed Kisuke's arm and pulled him away.

"Hey wait!" I called out after her. I didn't want to be left alone, but she had already blended in with the crowd. I weaved through the throng of people until I spotted my brother sitting at a table. He was carefully writing his wish onto a sky lantern with his calligraphy brush. I hadn't decided what I wanted to write on mine yet.

I walked over to the table and waited for him to acknowledge my presence. "What is it, Rukia?" he finally raised his eyes at me.

I wasn't sure what to say. I hadn't really thought much of approaching him, but I should've known that I needed a reason for disrupting him. "I um…I was wondering when we were going to light the sky lanterns," I asked dumbly, even though I was well aware of the answer.

"In an hour," he replied. He resumed making quick brush strokes onto the lantern. "The knot of your obi is tied rather crudely. Please go find Yoruichi or Kiyone and ask them to fix it."

I blinked, unable to form a response.

"Quickly," he added.

I nodded curtly then turned away from him. I began to hastily walk in the opposite direction. I couldn't let Nii-sama see me shed any tears; that would only make him angry. I wasn't even sure why I felt so upset, he was never one to express warmth in his words to begin with.

I wiped my eyes with the sleeve of my kimono and tried to find a place where I could be alone. The area was too crowded with little kids begging their parents to buy them lanterns. It seemed like everywhere I walked, people wanted to hug me, or praise me, or whatever.

"Rukia!"

"Hey Rukia!

"Oh Ruuuukia!"

I felt like I was going to puke. I lifted the hem of my kimono and simply ran. Colour and voices whirred past me as I blindly headed towards the Karakura tower.

"Rukia, where do you think you're going? You're supposed to be up on stage soon!" a frantic woman tried to grab at my wrist. I vigorously yanked my hand back and entered the tower's elevator. I quickly pushed a button to close the door. "Wait!" she cried out.

My back slammed against the wall of the elevator. I clutched the rails until my fingers hurt. How would Nii-sama react if he found out where I was? He'd kill me without hesitation. My hands were trembling now. The speed of the elevator going up wasn't helping the hammering in my chest either.

When I finally arrived at the top floor, the doors opened for me to exit. I walked outside and examined my surroundings. I was on an observation deck, and there were a couple of people looking through binoculars into the sky. When they spotted me, they had expressions on their faces that implied that I must be crazy.

I probably did look crazy with my stupid kimono and runny mascara.

I spotted a flight of metal stairs and decided to take those. As I scaled up the steps, I came across a small CAUTION gate, but I easily jumped over it. A million thoughts burst in my head as I ran. What was I supposed to do once I got up there? Jump off?

I couldn't help but smile at the thought of my body sailing across the sky and splattering into a glorious mess right in front of Nii-sama. Maybe he'd care then. Or he'd just use my body as a footstool. Either way, it didn't matter anymore, I wasn't going to get engaged to some fool today.

When I got to the top, I hadn't expected to see somebody else there. "What the hell?" I heard myself say as I approached the figure.

A boy with bright orange hair was sitting on the ledge with his legs suspended above the city. He grabbed onto the ground in a startled manner and twisted his body to see me.

After getting a good look at his face, my heart started to thump wildly. He had the exact same facial features as Kaien Shiba, my old mentor. A rush of nostalgia made my body go numb. I thought I really was going to vomit this time.

I clutched my skirt nervously, a little surprised at how…handsome this guy was. I mean, his hair was orange for God's sake, I certainly wasn't expecting him to look like that. But for some reason, he was oddly familiar- aside from his similarity to Kaien that is. He stared at me with those determined puppy dog eyes. "Say something you fool!" I finally managed to choke out.

The boy raised his eyebrows.

"So, are all princesses rude as fuck, or is it just you?"

Of course he was going to be a douche bag, they all were. But admittedly, I was taken aback by how...disrespectful he was right off the bat. It was almost refreshing to be treated somewhat normally for once. I crossed my arms. But who was he to mouth at me like that? "Oh, I'm the rude one? And I'm not a princess you moron."

He jumped up from his sitting position and pointed an accusatory finger at me. "Yes! I almost lost my balance because of you!"

I rolled my eyes, "Weren't you going to jump off anyway? I only would've sped up the process, besides, you're in my way."

His eyebrows furrowed. I was amused by how puzzled he looked. "Wait…you're not planning to kill yourself tonight are you?"

I flicked off a speck of dust on my arm. "What's it to you?"

His mouth opened, but he stumbled over his words. "But- but you're that Kuchiki girl! You can't just leap off a fucking building!"

I narrowed my eyes at him. I was so sick of everyone treating me like being a Kuchiki was the only thing that mattered about my existence. "Why not?" I snapped. To prove a point, I began to walk past him and towards the edge. Before I could take another step, he grabbed my wrist and yanked me backwards.

"Don't be impulsive," he growled.

I pulled my hand away from his grip. "Who do you think you are?"

He exhaled deeply. "Look, I'm sorry. But what the hell are you doing up here anyway?"

This guy was just a stranger, I wasn't about to just spill my guts out to him. "Because my rabbit died ," I said flatly. Thankfully, I wouldn't have to worry about Chappy after tonight because Kiyone always fed her.

"You're crazy."

"So I've heard." I blew the piece of hair in front of my face.

When his expression hardened, I finally realized where I'd seen him. How could I have missed it before?

"Wait, I know you! You're that guy who's dating that local model…Ori- Ori-"

"Orhime," he muttered. There was a tense look in his face.

"Yeah, Orihime Inoue! I can't believe how hypocritical you are for telling me not to jump 'cause last time I heard, you were getting pretty famous yourself Ichigo Kurosaki," I pointed out.

He was quick to cut in. "I'm not famous, alright? And we're not dating anymore." A scowl crept on his face. "You don't seem like the type who'd keep up with tabloids anyway."

I resented that he thought he knew me or something. "Oh so that's why you're up here, 'cause you're a heartbroken shmuck," I immediately hissed.

"Shut up!" He paused, then quickly added, "I mean, just tell me why you're really here damn it!"

I looked at him with bemusement. "None of your business."

"Wow you really are a brat. Why don't you just go back to your stupid ceremony and leave me the hell alone?" he snapped.

"I don't take orders from you! Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be over there until you finally grow the balls to jump. Call me if you need someone to give you a starting push," I said sarcastically. I turned away from him and took a seat by the staircase.

His face twisted into a menacing glower. "Fine!"

"Fine!" I shouted back.