It was past midnight by the time Unohana-taichou finally left the fourth division. The halls were quiet and shadowed with every patient sleeping quietly and only a minimal guard. It stood to reason that no one, no villain anyway, in their right mind would attack a hospital. So at most, they had only to worry about patrolling division members who were keeping an eye on their few patients.
The fourth had never been known for their soldiers. It was easy enough to sneak around. Easier even when one could explain their presence. Though Rukia had the feeling it would have been a lot easier if she hadn’t needed to bring Renji along.
Rukia worked her jaw. “When I said quietly, I didn’t mean make as much noise as possible,” she hissed, tossing a glare over her shoulder that he probably couldn’t see anyway.
He muttered under his breath, but knowing better than to argue with her, he shut his mouth. Which was good because Rukia was feeling on edge enough as it was.
Peering around the corner, finding it empty, Rukia crept into the hallway, Renji right on her heels. She’d been here often enough; she could find her brother’s room with her eyes closed and both hands tied behind her back. Fifth door on the right, probably closed because nii-sama couldn’t sleep with open doors. One of his many random paranoias.
Her heart was pounding in her chest, and not for the first time did Rukia question the logic of her actions. The reality of her decision. If she was really doing the right thing or if she was just overreacting. Or maybe, it was just time that she decide rather than straddle the fence.
Ichigo was her friend, and he hadn’t killed nii-sama though he had the chance to do so. Yamamoto said he was a traitor, but Rukia wondered who had really done the betraying first. She knew Ichigo, or at least she thought she did. She trusted Ichigo had a good reason for the decisions he made. At the very least, Rukia wanted to ask him herself.
But first, she had to help nii-sama. And he wasn’t going to find that help here in Seireitei. Not only would she not allow Kurotsuchi-taichou within ten feet of her brother, she suspected that the crazed scientist wouldn’t have the first clue how to help him properly. There was only one other person Rukia could think of who could be any help. And if she had to turn traitor to find said person… well, Rukia would do it.
She and Renji arrived at her brother’s door, closed as she expected it would be. Rukia slid it open quietly, ushering Renji in ahead of her as she glanced into the shadowed hallway again. Nothing stirred; no one was watching. All was well so far.
Inside nii-sama’s room, it was equally silent and still. The moon filtered in through the thin curtains. Allowing enough illumination that Rukia could see her brother lying in his bed, tucked into the blankets and fast asleep. Drugged, more like it, on one of Unohana-taichou’s special concoctions. Something to soothe frazzled nerves and assure a dreamless sleep.
Rukia stood at the end of her brother’s bed and chewed her bottom lip. One hand fell to Sode no Shirayuki, seeking reassurance.
Beside her, Renji shifted from foot to foot.
“Rukia,” he whispered though it wouldn’t bother nii-sama in the slightest. With the drugs, her brother wouldn’t wake until mid-morning, and by then, they’d be long gone from here. “Are ya sure about this?”
She turned toward him. Her face was full of disbelief.
“Don’t tell me you’re backing out now, Renji.”
He shook his head. “No. I’m jes makin’ sure ya know what yer doin’. We can’t exactly turn back after this, yanno.”
Renji was right, of course. This was a one way street. There’d be no turning around once Rukia took that first step. They couldn’t come back. Well, they could, but their return would find them in a jail cell awaiting execution. Rukia had already been down that road before. She didn’t want to travel it again.
Was she sure?
They betrayed me first.
If you want to know why, ask the fucking old man.
He claimed that I was not his enemy. That he did not want to see me dead.
Rukia sucked in a deep breath, opened her eyes. She had only spent months sleeping in Ichigo’s closet. She’d trusted him enough that at their first meeting, she was willing to break the rules so he could save his family. He’d come for her in Soul Society against all odds. He’d risked his life for a woman he barely knew. Had risked everything to keep his promise to her and see it through.
She trusted Ichigo if nothing else. So yes, she was sure.
Rukia inclined her head and stepped toward the bed. She gestured to nii-sama’s sleeping form.
“Yes,” she replied with absolute certainty. “So help me pick him up. We’ve got to leave before someone decides to check on him.”
Renji, for his part, did so without argument. Why he’d chosen to help her, Rukia did not know. But she suspected it was for the same reasons as Rukia herself.
He trusted Ichigo just as much.
There had to be a reason, a valid explanation. Rukia wanted to hear it for herself, from Ichigo’s own lips, and if she had to run away in the dead of night with her friend and her unconscious brother, then so be it.