Just a little vignette that wouldn't leave me alone. This chapter is PG-13, so you've been duly warned. Also, the year must be around…hm…maybe 1800s, for this fic.

Review if you like. No flames, please.


kaerimasu
-side story


If he had looked away, or fiddled with his thumbs, or even cracked a single word in his speech, then perhaps she wouldn't have felt so heartbroken. Maybe she wouldn't have believed his words so thoroughly. And most of all, Kisuke would have never been able to shatter her heart into countless pieces, of what had once been only memories of his love.

"I…I can't do this any more, Yoruichi," he'd said, eyes boring into hers, almost unblinking. "This isn't working…you, me, this life…I can't do it with you. I don't care about you the way I did before, Yoruichi…I'm sorry."

The statement had been so unexpected that all she could do for a full ten seconds was just stare at him. Stare into his eyes, which never diverted from hers, and feeling cold dread creeping up the base of her throat.

He had seemed so happy when she'd followed him down to the human earth, sharing in his exile from Soul Society. And she hadn't minded at all. Just to live with him was enough; it didn't matter where.

But over the past couple of days, she had noticed the small signs that disturbed her: his distraction, his deep contemplation, and being confronted with one of his many masks that he'd never before used when with her. They knew each other too well to hide behind masks – or so it had seemed.

And then he just came right out and said he was ending their relationship.

Yoruichi pressed on into the dark forest, branches whipping her as she ran, ran desperately, away from something that she didn't quite fully understand. All that she knew was that she had to run, because if that something caught up, something terrible was going to happen…

When Kisuke had refused to give reason for his statement and had refused to listen to her reasoning, she'd cried. Yoruichi could admit it because it was something she did rarely, if ever. And, for her to even cry at all, Kisuke must have known – must have known how his words affected her, how deep they stabbed, how wounded she felt.

But he had done nothing.

Not a hand on her shoulder.

Not a kind word for her mind.

Not a single valid reason. Just nothing. Just stood there until she had fled.

As she stopped in the forest, panting from more adrenaline than lack of stamina, Yoruichi slumped down with her back against a large tree. The dense trees had broken out into a huge, even meadow, and as she saw the moonlight roll off the rustling grass, it turned out she hadn't been fast enough to escape that which she had been running from, after all.

She had been running from the truth – and the thought of the truth, and reality, which her mind had kept at bay. The naked truth being that Kisuke didn't care for her. She wouldn't say love – Kisuke had never said he loved her – but he no longer cared enough to even have her around. And after all they had shared, she knew they could never go back to being best friends as they had been before.

It felt strange that she should feel…well, nothing. She could only feel the physical – her stinging eyes, her sweaty skin – but beyond that, her heart felt like a void. Kisuke's eyes had been too open for the emotion in them to be joking, and he would never joke about things like this with her.

So what should she do now…?

There was always the possibility of returning to Soul Society, since she'd told no one about her leaving…but in the same second she disregarded that idea. No. She hated that place. She did! Yoruichi shook her head to convince herself. They had banished Kisuke…and for that, even if she couldn't stay with her lover, she wouldn't return there, either.

No, not lover…ex-lover.

So, she guessed, whenever she decided to go back to the village, she'd just have to tell him that she wouldn't be leaving. He'd probably be surprised. Maybe annoyed or indifferent. But she would be close to him, not lovers, but close in proximity…

Yoruichi sighed as she looked up to the sky. The night was gorgeous, stars twinkling against the black velvet. She just sat there for a while, feeling nothing in particular and rather removed from her emotions, just watching, sitting. Something was in her throat, but she couldn't cry…she felt too distant to cry any more.

She'd miss him, a lot. Miss the little things that quirked his personality, the little things that only she had ever known about him.

Never again would she see Kisuke smiling at her in that lazily detached way of his, all masks down, in that way that let her know he was taking her seriously but listening all the same.

Never again would she feel Kisuke's lips upon her own, a man ravishing a priceless treasure, enveloping her in his comforting resonance of warmth and safety.

Never again would his hand untie her ponytail while her mind was distracted by his kiss, fingers slipping to caress that sensitive spot at the hairline of her neck.

Never again would she hear him panting softly next to her ear, body over hers, their legs tangled together as she stroked his back.

Never again would she curl up against his side and talk quietly for an hour or two, basking in the afterglow of their making love, their talks not having to make much sense because they just wanted to remain intimate, ecstasy having brought them to such a closer level that they wished to keep it, forever…

All of that and more, never, ever again.

Yoruichi looked back up at the sky and decided it didn't seem so beautiful after all.

She'd cry if she could.


owari