burning for you

Fire doesn't need light in the way that it needs oxygen. It gives rather than taking, ripping apart the night with hungry flames that devour the darkness like old silk. Perhaps things would be different if fire shed no light; if it were a thing wholly of darkness, where only the sensation of touch could warn you that you were about to be burned.

Hinamori Momo sits in her room and touches the hilt of her sword with hands that are still bandaged.

She'd thought she knew him. She'd thought that she knew everything about him -- that she could interpret his least expression, understand his slightest smile. She'd studied him, followed him, watched him. Her eyes had been hungry for his gentle smile. She had listened for his every word until she had become a vortex of stillness, a silence that swallowed up lesser voices and forgot them.

Those other voices echo in her memory now. Hitsugaya. Kira. Renji. Before -- before Aizen-sama, she had had other people, other friends. After Aizen-sama, she had nobody, and . . .

The banked furnace in her heart roars and drowns those voices out.

And she didn't care.

There should be something shameful in acknowledging such devotion, but now that she faces it, there's nothing of the sort; it's just recognition, as much as recognising her own Zanpakutou had been when she drew it from the flames of her own soul. Rangiku had it right. It's an honor for a vice-captain to receive the final words of their captain. It was an honor for her to receive anything from her captain.

He'd known. He'd used her. He'd . . . needed her.

Treacherously, at the back of her mind, a flame burns; she watches it where nobody can see, nobody else suspect it. It burns black. It burns all the colours of darkness. It casts no light, it sheds no illumination, but it whispers to something in the marrow of her bones that she cannot deny.

Why didn't you ask me, Aizen-sama? I'd have done it for you. I'd have done anything. I'd have done it gladly.

Fresh blood shows red through the thick bandages on her hands as she grips her sword.