I regret not- oh fuck it, I regret everything.
Harry breathed heavily as he laid down on the 13th Division's training field. His shihakushō was soaked in sweat and clung to him like a second skin. The beating afternoon sun didn't help him either. Calloused hands were red and blistered after hours of clumsily gripping his sword to block Kuchiki Rukia's attacks.
The crazy girl didn't even give me the chance to attack!
A small, dainty foot stomped hard on his stomach. "I didn't say that you could take a break."
He let out a gasped as his hands feebly tried to move the offending foot. The foot only dug deeper into his abdomen. "Fucking… bitch."
A smile graced her small face, glitter and sparkles suddenly sprouting around her. "Huh? What did you say? You want me to dig deeper?"
As she said those last two words he felt the her reiatsu spiking, the weight on him growing to unbearable levels. "Ugh, I give! I give!" The weight was gone in an instant, prompting Harry to turn to his side and protectively curl around his stomach. He coughed a few times, each one rattling his aching body.
"You," he wheezed. "You're still going through puberty and you're already this strong?" He didn't need to look at her to know that Rukia was pissed again. But hey, he had to get at her in some way. At the moment he still isn't fast enough to kick her ass. Literally.
"For the last time I am not a child!"
He scoffed. "If you're not a child, then why aren't you a lieutenant? You have the strength and skills to be one." He let out a long, drawn out groan. "Ahh, why the hell am I a lieutenant? I'm not even strong enough to spar with any of the seated officers, and winning is impossible-"
Tiny hands grabbed a handful of his messy black hair as his head was pulled up, forcing him to stare at furious violet eyes. "My patience have grown thin." Her voice was darker than usual, a low growl escaping her lips.
"You are a lieutenant of the 13th Division. Whether or not you were coerced into the position, it doesn't change the fact that you are now a lieutenant and there is nothing you can do about it."
Her grip finally loosened, allowing Harry to fall down on his knees. He looked up immediately to glare at her. "Oh there's a lot I could do. I could just let people die, I could sabotage hollow raids. There's something seriously wrong with your captain if he allowed a practical stranger to have this much power." he hissed.
"Ukitake-taichou has his reasons for making you as his lieutenant!" She shot back. "He is known in the Gotei 13 for his inquisitive mind and ingenious battle strategies. He's a man that can see who has the potential to grow and how much they can. If he already placed you as a lieutenant despite your abysmal skills the shinigami arts, he is absolutely certain that you are capable to quickly advance your lessens and become a worthy lieutenant."
The girl settled down on the floor cross-legged. "He also won't place you as a lieutenant if you were to sabotage this division. You must've done something that made Ukitake know you won't become a waste of space." An ugly sneer spread across her face. "Though other than the paperwork, I can't see it. You're pathetically weak, and your attitude problems aren't helping anyone."
Attitude problems?! "I-I'm not some spoiled teenager with temper tantrums! I have valid reasons to be angry about my current situation!" He let out a hysterical laughter, shaking his head. "I know that I'm fucking weak-"
"And there you go complaining again!" Ruck shouted. "You keep on focusing on your faults, your problems and weaknesses, and not on improving them!" Her small hands grabbed onto Harry's shoulders tightly. "Whining won't change anything, complaining how unfair your life is won't do a bloody thing! But,"
At last her voice went down to a whisper, the sound raspy after yelling. "You can do something now, to make your life better in the future."
He snorted. "But what if I just want to be a regular shinigami, and not wear this stupid badge?"
Throughout this first session Rukia always quickly answered his questions, whether it be snide remarks or blunt facts. But for this she just kept silent. the two just sat on the 13th Dvision's training grounds, staring at one another. She gave a knowing look to him, as if saying that the answer was obvious. In truth it was. She reiterated the answer just a few seconds ago, and even throughout the sparring session. But, Harry couldn't stop himself to ask the same question.
He wanted a different answer, he wanted an escape.
Rukia looked up, noting the sun was just starting to set. "We'll continue this session tomorrow morning, at 10am and end at around 5, just like today." She sat up, sheathing her zanpakutou and picking up Harry's blank sword, the latter she tossed till it flopped next to him.
"Tomorrow we'll focus on hakuda. Eat lightly; anything heavy will make you throw up when I hit you in the stomach."
Harry nodded, and watched as she shunpoed away. Once he was sure that he was left alone he flopped down on the floor, idly watching the clouds. Her unspoken answer to his question was obvious. Being a regular shinigami? Hah! That's an impossible dream now.
The first thing Harry Potter saw was endless white. The first thing Harry did was close his eyes and repeat in his head that it was worth it, that his sacrifice was worth every ounce of agony he went through to kill Voldemort once and for all.
Back so soon?
Nothing seemed to change the last time he was here. Death still had the ragged hood hiding his face, still held the dull scythe.
Still had the Deathly Hallows sign glowing where its right eye would have been.
You promised your parents that you would live for them. And yet you have given your life once more to kill Tom.
Harry tilted his head. "You're more chatty than last time, Death."
It kept silent.
He let out a sigh, ruffling his already messy hair. There wasn't much to do in this white void; might as well chat with the being. "I didn't break their promise, Death. I lived."
But you died again in less then one year.
"My parents said to live for them, live a life where I would die with no regrets. And I did, I died with no regrets."
How about the boy you killed.
The question took him off-guard, but Harry knew instantly who Death was speaking about. He answered without hesitation. "I do not regret killing the boy."
The boy was innocent.
The boy only wished to protect his mother.
And yet you killed him.
A pregnant pause, one that Harry cherished. There was only so much he could take of Death's polyphonic voice.
You say you do not regret it, but why are you so sad that you killed the boy?
Harry looked away from the being, remembering the child. Rigel Lestrange, the child of Rodolphus and Bellatrix Lestrange. He had the eyes of his father, and the face of his mother. And Merlin, he was so innocent. The boy was only six. Six! His world revolved around his parents.
Rigel already had the mark on his arm, The tattoo so large on his thin arm.
Rigel wanted to kill Harry because Harry was a threat to his mother's life.
So the little boy - so wanting to make sure that his mother would be alive to give him hugs and kisses every night - held tightly onto Hermione's arm as Dobby apparated everyone out of the manor.
And the minute the group landed close to Bill and Fleur Weasley's home, little Rigel was scrambling to take Ron's wand so he could press it on his Dark Mark and call Death Eaters to his location.
All for the sake of helping his mother.
Harry didn't have time to realize that Bellatrix fatally wounded Dobby, didn't have time to know where the hell he is or worry how far gone Hermione was. All Harry could notice was Rigel seconds away from having the tip of Ron's wand pressing on the mark.
Harry was an expert in casting the killing curse by then that he said those two words without a second thought.
"Because he's innocent." Silence permeated the air, the Deathly Hallows sign boring down on him.
You would still do it again. Kill the boy.
"To protect the people I love."
Then Death did something unusual, something so chilling and haunting.
He could hear laughter from all ages, from a baby's gurgle to an elderly's wheezes. Its rigid posture bent forward, hood shivering as Death laughed and laughed and laughed.
Oh little boy, so interesting. So very interesting.
Its head snapped back, the Deathly Hallows clashing with his own green eyes.
Was it for the greater good? Oh baby Albus would have taught you well.
"No," The one syllable cut off Death's amusement as it then changed to curiosity. Harry grinned at Death.
"I did it because I was selfish. I was selfish for the safety of the people that I love. Rigel had to die. He was seconds away from calling Death Eaters when we were not in any state to fight back." Harry took a shuddering breath.
"And I had to kill him myself. Kill him so that his blood will be on my hands, so that the sin will be on my shoulders."
So you are both selfish and selfless.
Harry shrugged. "In that moment, yes."
No no, little one. You are both. Have been. Always. Then to his horror, Death moved towards him. It floated, the cloak's fringes dragging on the white ground.
The Philosopher's Stone; selfish because you wanted to protect your home, selfless because you manipulated your comrades and made them leave.
It circled around him, the Deathly Hallows always fixated on him.
Your suicide; selfish because you wished to be with your … 'family', selfless because you killed the horcrux within you and wanted to bring Voldemort down for purely valiant reasons.
It stopped behind him and brought its dull scythe to scrape across his neck.
And now this, your second suicide and murder; selfish because you are tired of life, selfless because you lived your life with no regrets for your parents.
Its 'chin' rested on his right shoulder. Harry ignored the rapid beating of his heart, the cold sweat and clammy hands.
"So? Everyone thinks about those things. Selfish reasons to motivate them, and selfless reasons to justify their actions."
Oh, but never at the same time. Harry could feel that Death was pleased. And you, you have so much courage within you.
"I was sorted in Gryffindor, I'm not surprised."
No no no, little one. Little Harry. Precious.
Bone hands wrapped around his throat.
All humans are cowards. Young Hermione was a coward for placing more faith on adults and not herself. Tiny Tom was a coward for running from Me. Baby Albus was a coward for not accepting that he is a human being, that he makes mistakes.
"Dumbledore and Hermione aren't cowards!" He hissed. He tried to pull away from the boney hand (rotting flesh, blood tipped nails). It only tightened its hold.
But they are. They are humans. They scare oh so easily. They are scared of the unknown, scared of losing all rational thought. Scared for themselves. But you? You are never scared.
The hold tightened even more, his breaths laboured. You, little Harry, Precious, precious precious Harry. You are fearful. Fearful of others. Fearful of the safety of your family. Fearful of not following their expectations.
The voices were caressing his ear; it was innocent and seductive, wise and immature. But never, have you ever, allowed your fear to overwhelm you and make you cower.
He was being strangled by Death. He was dying when he was already dead.
And his chest was fucking burning.
Little Harry, Precious precious. You've captivated me.
I want you.
If she thought Chigusa's swordsmanship was sad, his hakuda skills was just depressing. You fool, block instead of dodging! No, what type of stance is that? It looks like you're just doing a pirouette - wait, you definitely did…
Thirty minutes into their second lesson, and Rukia finally had enough. Rushing forward she blocked Chigusa's flimsy arm strikes and kneed him in the stomach. The force was enough to have her fukutaichou double over and spit out a glob of saliva.
Cold violet eyes watched her student fall down on his knees, clutching at his chest. "I'm not expecting anything great from you in hakuda, but you're not even trying. Where was the killing intent from yesterday?"
The boy didn't respond. He just sat there, arms wrapped around him, breath uneven and harsh. This is not going to work. Oh, Rukia knew from the moment she set eyes upon him. He wasn't driven; Chigusa had no goal, no dream.
I can be one of the best teachers in Seireitei, but all my skills will be useless if he doesn't want to get better. And… it seems that our conversation yesterday only made it worse. There was no mistaking the bags under Chigusa's eyes, his pale skin and messy uniform. He had a rough night, most likely from thinkingg over what she said to him yesterday.
She bent down, her forefinger poking the top of her student's head. "What do you want to do?"
She stepped away from her lieutenant, wiping the sweat from her brow with her uniform's sleeve. "You thought over what I said yesterday. Are you going to try and be a lieutenant, or will I have to tell Ukitake-taichou that you'll be unable to fulfil all your duties indefinitely?"
The boy finally looked up, and she couldn't help but see how lost and vulnerable he looked. What was once vibrant green eyes now looked dull and distant. He didn't look at her; he looked through her.
"I… I don't know."
Rukia swallowed back a sigh. I'm more of a psychiatrist than a tutor. Nevertheless, she knew how important it was to have Chigusa get some sort of drive. Lack of ambition led to shorter life spans, after all.
"It all just sprung on you, right? The sudden fame, your quick graduation and immediate promotion. You don't know how to react." While Chigusa didn't agree to her deductions, he didn't disagree either. "Tell me again, what was your original plan?"
He didn't respond for quite a while, but Rukia was stubborn and resilient. She could wait.
"Before I enrolled in the Academy, or after?" At last, some progress.
"Your first plan, then."
It was unnerving to see her caustic and cynical lieutenant so quiet. So melancholic. "I wanted to sleep." His hands, bandaged in white gauze after the blisters he received from yesterday, clenched into a tight fist. "I just wanted to keep on sleeping."
Chigusa closed his eyes shut, teeth grinding. "I'm so tired, Rukia. So, so tired. I'm sick of seeing blood, sick of just constantly fighting. I just wanted to sleep."
She knew he wouldn't cry. From the look of his face, Chigusa long lost the ability to do so. "Then what changed your plans? What made you enroll into the Academy to become a Shinigami?" Surely he knew what the job of a shinigami was. It wasn't for everyone; They were demanded to fight, demanded to protect but bleed and let other bleed.
His shoulder shook, then arms and fist. "My zanpakutou," he whispered. "My zanpakutou made me go back and become a soldier once more."
Rukia called for a week-long break after. While his goal was unusual, it was still something that she could work with. The need to control his zanpakutou and not rely on it was more than enough to push her lieutenant to learn the shinigami arts.
Besides, I have other problems to deal with. The chat she had with him answered some questions but opened another can of worms.
Could it possible... Chigusa could remember his past life? 'Become a soldier once more'? One of the criminal syndicates in Rokungai might have taken advantage of his high reiyroku. But didn't he say that he cut himself off from everyone during his first two years as a soul? It would certainly explain his lack of understanding of the aging process here. But then, how the fuck did he enroll into the Academy?
She bit her thumb. To enroll into the Academy, you must take the entrance exam where you will be tested on all four shinigami combat skills. You must have a certain amount of reiryoku to even be able to pass the entrance gate, and have the basics of hakuda, zanjutsu, hoho, and kido. She looked over the Kuchiki compound, idly watching the occasional koi fish that scratched the surface of the pond. These requirements not only weed out weak souls but also prevent newly arrived souls from entering.
And yet Chigusa managed to pass through. It can't be because he managed to obtain his zanpakutou's shikai; they only found out about it after he was accepted in. She let out a sigh. "I'll have to see his results in the Entrance Exam," she muttered.
"Rukia." That one word brought her away from her musings. Turning to her right she was faced with her brother, Kuchiki Byakuya. The 6th Captain of the Gotei 13 was still in full shinigami garb, his white haori immaculately ironed with his division number emblazoned in the back.
"Nii-sama," Fluid grace that was becoming of the Kuchiki nobility, she stood up and gave a bow. Her brother gave a nod in return, accepting and bringing the end of formal greetings.
Byakuya stepped out into the compound grounds, swiftly taking out his white tekkō. "Walk with me, Rukia." Without any hesitancy she joined her brother, a step behind as they ventured the grounds. As they walked across a small red bridge that passed by the koi pond, Byakuya finally spoke.
"Something is bothering you, making you unable to complete your duties as efficiently as usual."
"Yes, nii-sama. Ukitake-taichou has asked me to tutor Chigusa Koga, the new lieutenant of the 13th Division, in the shinigami arts." Ruck could practically feel the disgust from her brother.
"Why? Is Chigusa-fukutaichou more incompetent than what I have seen?" She chose neither to agree or disagree to his question.
"I have only taught Chigusa-fukutaichou for two days; the first in zanjutsu, the second in hakuda. From what I've seen, his skills in just those two fighting styles are lower than that of a recently enrolled soul in the Academy."
Byakuya suddenly stopped in the middle of the bridge, leaning at its dark red railings. "Such abysmal skills. What is Ukitake-taichou thinking, allowing a whelp to take on such a demanding position?" He looked towards his adopted sister, who also joined him in gazing out in the compound. "You wish to see how he fared in the entrance exam?"
"Yes, nii-sama, along with any of his tests and classwork if possible. It will help me prepare a more efficient method in teaching Chigusa-fukutaichou, along with understanding his thought process."
Byakuya's fingers tapped on the wooden railing. "I am curious as well. If what you are telling me is the truth, then Chigusa-fukutaichou found a hole through the entrance exam. I will help you in this endeavour, Rukia."
While she merely nodded her head in acquiescence, inside Rukia was jumping for joy. Another way to connect with nii-sama! I will not fail him. Besides, she too was curious about her student. The skills she'd seen didn't match up with the supposed power-house that Ukitake-taichou and the lieutenants said.
You are hiding something, Chigusa, and I plan to dig every little secret out into the open.
"What do you want to do?"
It was a simple question to ask, but so difficult to answer. What do you want to do? By Rukia's not so subtle hints, it was obvious he was being asked about his plans for the future. What do I want to do with my life now?
He was sprawled across his futon, staring at his beige ceiling in the 13th Division barracks. light seeped through the cracks underneath the shoji doors, but it was dull enough to not bother him. He looked at the corner of his room, where the blank sword was propped. He kept it by his side just for ornamentation, something that made him look normal. But he knew his zanpakutou was with him, flowing through his blood and pumping through his heart. Hmm, interesting that I have a heart even though I'm just a soul.
His goal, that was what Rukia wanted to know. It was a good question to ask; knowing his goal, she'll be able to motivate him to work. But giving me a week to think about it… isn't that a bit much?
"What do you want to do?"
Many things. He wanted to sleep. He wanted to kill his zanpakutou. He wanted to be back home, back to his dimension with his type of heaven. Or hell; he did kill so many people. Rigel…
"What do you want to do?"
What did he want to do?
"I want to die again." The minute those words passed his mouth his heart stopped beating for a second. He could imagine it, see the black cracks appearing first where his heart would be, then continue to engulf his entire body. Black pigments, black blood, black sin.
"I want to kill you."
He knew the cracks were now caressing his face, most likely wrapping around his eyes to make it look like he still wore his infamous glasses.
"I want to destroy my life as Chigusa Koga,"
Dark, hysterical laughter, followed by condescending teases and coos.
"And go back to being Harry Potter."
"What do you want to do?"
"I just want to go back home."