Rukia stared at the open door of the empty small house, finding the silence unnerving. Ichigo had said that he would be there soon, and that she should not wait for him but should just go inside. So there she stood, book clutched to her small chest, trying to keep her heartbeat steady.
She herself wasn't even sure what was the cause of her unease. 'It's not like you've never been to his apartment before...' Rukia mentally scolded herself for her being afraid of nothing. Yet she felt a sense of dark foreboding as she crossed threshold and flicked on the light.
• x x X * X x x •
Ichigo glanced at the clock while packing the rest of his things. He'd stayed for a while after class to talk to his teacher about an upcoming project but ended up losing track of time. 'Rukia's going to be waiting for me… I promised her that I would meet her at 4:30. Darn, she won't be happy.' He thought to himself. Sure he had told her that he might be late, but he cringed slightly at the thought of her kicking him again for another stupid reason. An upset midget with the ability to kick hard was not something to be taken lightly. Even so, he couldn't help but smile slightly, imagining Rukia's stubborn pout as she informs him on how rude it is to keep a lady waiting or something like that. With that thought, he picked up the rest of his things and headed out.
Pulling out his cell phone he turned it on to find six missed calls. But before he was able to check who had called, the cell phone went off. "Hello?" He answered.
Expecting it to be Rukia calling, he was surprised to hear his brother. "Finally you pick up! Took you long enough…"
"What do you want?" Ichigo asked immediately.
There was a huff from the other end, "Why do you always assume that I'm calling because I want something? Hm? Aren't I allowed to call my brother just to say 'hi'?"
"Idiot, you always want something whenever you call." Ichigo sighed
"Heh, you know me too well. Anyway, can you stop by the store, or someplace that sells food? I'm hungry and we don't have anything to eat."
"Why don't you just raid the fridge? I'm certain Yuzu wouldn't mind if you ate some leftovers."
Ichigo stopped walking "Aren't you at Dad's house?"
"Why not? I thought you were going to spend the day there."
"Didn't feel like it. Hey, did you finish off the rest of the chicken?"
Ichigo frowned with unease as he noticed the odd edge to his brother's voice. "When was the last time you ate anything?"
There was a long pause that only added to Ichigo's worry. The reply was quiet and rushed."Two days ago."
"Two days?! You haven't eaten for two days!?" Ichigo sighed, massaging his temple to try to ward off the oncoming headache. "Ok I'll get you something, but you need to stop starving yourself. Where are you?"
"Ok, great! Now, could you not buy from that little corner store that you went to last time? The clerk was being a real pain..."
Worry continued to swell inside of Ichigo as his brother ignored the question and continued talking. "If you're not at Dad's then where are you?"
His brother continued to ignore him "Oh! Actually, stop by Urahara's. That creep still owes me for-"
"Shiro! Stop ignoring me and answer the question! Where. Are. You." Ichigo was practically yelling at this point, anger and worry crashing over him in waves as various situations played themselves out in his mind, each one worse than the previous one.
"Chill out bro, I'm at home. That's why I asked you to get me something." There was a pause and then, slightly confused, his brother asked "Hey, Ichigo... You home already? That was fast."
Also confused now, Ichigo answered "No, why?"
"Someone just turned on a light down the hall."
Ichigo frowned, not liking the dark, heavy, tone of voice his brother suddenly started using. 'Who would be...?' His eyes snapped wide as he mentally cursed himself out. 'Rukia! I told her to wait for me at the apartment! I thought Shiro was out today... Oh this is bad... This is bad!' Snapping himself out of his panicked daze he yelled into the phone again, "Wait! Shiro! Don't-!" But the phone had already been hung up.
Breaking into a sprint, Ichigo cursed under his breath while dialing Rukia's cell phone number. Cursing even more when it went straight to the voicemail. 'Rukia... please be okay. Please, let me not be too late!'
• x x X * X x x •
Closing the door behind her, Rukia looked around at her immediate surroundings. It was a comfy, small, place (though rather large as far as apartments went). The dark wood floor and doorframe contrasted greatly with the white walls, but Rukia quite liked the effect it had. The door entered directly into a small living room. A couch and a coffee table sat in front of a large television mounted on the wall. A hallway on the far right side of the room stretched out to several other places in the house. In the corner across from the door was a rather antique looking desk, facing the wall. It seemed out of place in the otherwise modern room.
Curiosity drew her over to the desk for some reason. She'd been invited over several times by Ichigo for various school-related reasons. So she wasn't quite sure why this desk, which certainly had been there before, suddenly seemed so fascinating. A piece of paper the desk specifically caught her attention. It seemed to be a rather formally written letter, judging by the elegant script used. However she realized that it was written in a language she had never seen before. At the bottom someone had scribbled something in blue pen. This writing was extremely sloppy and hardly legible, but she was sure that it was in the same language as the letter itself.
"Don't you know it's rude to enter peoples' houses without knocking and then go reading their mail?"
Startled, Rukia dropped the book she had been holding and snapped her head around to see who was there. The sudden movement causing her foot to catch on the desk chair, sending her falling to the ground. Everything went black for a second as her head collided with the floor. Looking up, she saw the blurry silhouette of Ichigo.
Head throbbing from the impact with the floor, she opened her mouth to yell. "Ichigo you idiot! First you make me wait here all by myself! Then you decide to scare me by sneaking up on me! And after all that you have the nerve to let me fall without even trying to help me up afterwards!? I probably got a concussion from that!" she stopped her rant, her vision clearing enough to realize that the person leaning over her was not Ichigo. Whoever they were, they looked like Ichigo, only paler and with longer, white, hair pulled loosely into a low ponytail. A pair of dark sunglasses shielded his eyes from view, prompting Rukia's first thought of this new, not-Ichigo person to be: 'Who wears shades inside?'
The person laughed, sending shivers down Rukia's spine and bringing back the sense of dread that had filled her before. "Who are you?" She said as flatly, trying not to show the fear that she felt.
"That's not very nice to say either. I should be asking you the same question, seeing as how you just walked into my house and all," the person said, smirking in a playful way that made Rukia all the more unnerved.
Against her better judgement, she answered "I am Rukia Kuchiki, and I did not just walk into your house! I'm just waiting here until Ichigo—"
"Ah… you know my brother." He clicked his tongue then sighed, thinking 'Well that complicates things slightly...' Looking down at the girl again, he noticed her watching him cautiously.
"…Brother?" She asked skeptically. 'That would certainly explain why he looks like Ichigo. But I didn't know he had a twin.'
Smiling again he nodded. "Yeah, Ichigo and I are brothers. It would have been nice for him to have informed me that he invited company over." He took a deep breath, trying to ignore the growing pain in his empty stomach. 'Hurry up Ichigo...'
Rukia instantly felt guilty for being so rude. "O-oh. I'm sorry. Ichigo never mentioned..."
"Not surprising. I tend to jump around from place to place a lot, plus I'm just not very social." He took a breath before offering a friendly smile. "So I guess I should introduce myself: Yoshiro Kurosaki. Though 'Shiro' is what most people call me. Either that or 'Shirosaki' if Ichigo's around and you want to be formal without being confusing. And yes, I am an albino." He lifted up his shades, displaying reddish irises. Rukia said nothing, which he seemed glad about,
Seeing that Ichigo had an identical twin brother seemed strange to Rukia and she felt quite unsure about it all. Her head still hurt a lot and she was starting to believe that she actually did get a concussion. Ignoring the pain and the uncertainty she still felt, she reached up, certain that she could not stand on her own at that moment.
Shiro's mind was racing, telling himself that making contact with this girl could be dangerous with the state he was in. 'But I want to make a good impression… I don't really understand why though. Besides, I'm just helping her stand up. what's the worst that can happen?' Throwing caution into the wind he grabbed her hand. The feeling of her pulse under his fingertips was maddening to him. His eyes fixed on her thin wrist as the sound of her heartbeat seemed to resonate through him. '…Her heart is beating too fast… she's scared… terrified… I should stop… need to stop… stop… make it stop…' He tried desperately to breath slowly but it was a futile attempt. He winced slightly as a sharp pain ran through his stomach and his vision started to blur.
Rukia was currently completely confused and starting to feel scared again. As soon as Shiro had helped her up, he had locked up and seemed oblivious to her as she called his name to get his attention. His grip on her arm tightened and she realized that his breath had become shallow and raspy. She struggled to pull herself free from Shiro's grip but only managed to stumble back into the desk, the back of her hand catching the corner and scratching it. She frowned as a drop of blood ran slowly down her hand.
Shiro knew he was fighting a losing battle. He knew he was scaring Rukia to the point where she was shaking by not letting go of her wrist. 'But that smell… No! This is one of Ichigo's friends… Then again, a little couldn't hurt…'
He blinked, finally hearing Rukia call his name. 'Just a bit more... I can hold on until Ichigo arrives. Then it will all be fine. Where is he!?' He laughed weakly, other hand subconsciously gripping across his abdomen. "Sorry Rukia I-" Before he finished his thought, the scent of blood reached him. His self-control snapped and, in a second, he had Rukia pinned against the wall.
Rukia winced again as she was roughly shoved back. Fear crashed over her, turning her insides to ice as she wondered what this maniac would do to her. Struggling furiously, she smacked him across the face sending the sunglasses flying. Her blood ran cold as his eyes, now a piercing, predatory, yellow-on-black, turned back on her. With his free hand he pinned her injured hand to the wall. She was completely vulnerable and that terrified her.
"Rukia…" his voice rasped with an inhuman echo. A deranged smile crept onto his face as he leaned in to whisper into her ear, "…you're bleeding." He slid his hand down her arm until he was holding her both her wrists. Then slowly brought her injured arm to his, planting a light kiss on the back of her scratched hand.
Lifting up his head, Rukia noticed a small drop of blood on his lower lip. Her blood. His tongue flicked out to taste the droplet, revealing unusually pointed teeth. Rukia shut her eyes, trying to make sense of it all. 'Why did I trust him when he said he was Ichigo's brother!? There was no way to prove what he was saying. There's no way this... thing could be related to Ichigo! This guy could be a serial killer, or something. But he did seem friendly… Then why why did he suddenly pin me against the wall like this? What happened!? What is he going to do!? Somebody help me!' Finally getting over some of the shock she screamed.
A shadow of remorse flickered across Shiro's face before the sadistic smile returned. He leaned down slightly and licked the wound on the small girl's hand. An oddly bitter taste filled his mouth and his eyes snapped open in disgust. 'Ack- Why does it taste so terribl—Urf!' He grunted as something heavy collided with his side, knocking him away from Rukia and onto the ground.
Rukia blinked as the weight disappeared of her arms. Standing in front of her was Ichigo, looking nearly as frantic as she felt.
"Rukia, I'm so sorry. I got here as quickly as I could. Are you okay? Did he hurt you?" His eyes shone with concern as he spoke.
"Ichigo! Behind you!" Rukia called as Shiro raised himself up. His eyes still glinted wildly and Rukia trembled slightly.
Ichigo sighed. 'What have you done to yourself this time, Shiro?' He lunged at his brother, tackling him to the floor where the two of them wrestled for a bit. Ichigo cursed as his brother bit down on his arm in protest, breaking the skin. He felt two distinct pricks of pain before his arm went numb. Pulling his arm free, Ichigo grabbed his brother under his chin as his other hand moved to the back of Shiro's head. With a swift motion, Ichido snapped his hands around. There was a single, loud, cracking sound before his brother fell limp beneath him.
He stood slowly, facing away from Rukia as he tried to slow his heavy breathing. "Rukia. You're hurt. You should go home."
Wide-eyed, she stared fearfully at the back of her friend's head, unable to move. "Y… you killed him… You just… killed him…" her voice was trembling and barely above a whisper. 'D-did he really just... kill his brother...? Ichigo...'
Without turning Ichigo answered. "Don't worry, he will be fine. You should go home."
Rukia knew something was wrong. She could feel that her friend was different but she couldn't tell how. "W-what are you?"
He looked at his arm where it had been bitten. Already it was starting to heal over. "What am I? You don't want to know what I am. I'm sorry I never told you before… Rukia… I didn't want to frighten you. And I'd really hoped that I could've kept it a secret for longer." He turned slowly to face her, brown eyes glinting slightly, two fangs protruding slightly from under his upper lip. "I am a monster…"
It was all too much for Rukia, the pain in her head grew to overshadow any other thoughts. Darkness edged into her vision. She never even felt herself hit the floor.
And there it is, the start of my next story. Sorry to leave it on a cliffhanger like that, but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. This is my first time writing a longer, multi-chapter fanfic, so I hope it doesn't fail epically. I'm quite a busy person, and can't promise a day or anything like that. Nevertheless, I will try to upload chapters within reasonable time (especially if I left it as a cliffhanger). I already have up to chapter 4 written, so the next chapter will be uploaded the chapter 2 soon.
Special thanks to amulet1412 for beta reading and editing.
Bleach belongs to Tite Kubo
I hope you enjoyed reading this. Comments, critiques, and questions are always appreciated.