I grab your thin wrist hard and put my sword to your throat. Gin. My own throat tightens as my heart begins thumping loudly. I am almost certain that you can hear it; I am quivering with nerves. Life! Can I do this? Can I really hand over the boy who saved my life to be executed? Nonetheless, I control myself and return your gaze with a steely glare. Duty comes first. I will not break down just because you saved my life, even if it may kill me to hand you over. It is because of more than mere duty. You hurt my taichou; the man you follow with such steadfast loyalty killed one of my good friends, and you are a traitor to Soul Society. This time I will not back down; I will not bow my head and look away, pretend that I didn't see. You will pay for what you did.

"I'm sorry, Aizen taichou," you call lazily to the most traitorous of them all. "I guess I got caught." My grip on my sword and on your wrist tightens.

You turn your head to stare at me quizzically with that ever-present lop-sided smile of yours. "Why?" you murmur in my ear, so softly that no one else can hear, in that soft, intimate, and warm voice that you seem to reserve especially for me. My heart thumps louder as I struggle to remain calm. "Why, Rangiku-chan?" you breathe softly. Life! Please don't make this any harder than it already is. The lump in my throat hurts like crazy.

You know exactly why I am doing this, Gin. Don't ask why. Please. You have always been able to read my face easily. I've always loved and hated that about you. So. With the state my nerves are in, my face must be pretty easy to read. How much knowledge can you discern in my blue eyes, in my features? Read my face now, Gin – what am I thinking? What can you see?

Your smile softens a little and I feel my cheeks going red. You've seen it. You've always been perceptive. You probably know even pain in my heart as it slowly crumbles into tiny pieces. Yes. My heart is breaking. The pain of having to capture my best friend and hand him over to be executed because it is my duty and because he, traitor that he is, hurt my taichou and my friend, is killing me inside, but I do not slacken my grip. As a vice-captain of one of the divisions of the Gotei 13, I must remain calm and steady and cold even when I'm screaming inside, even when I'm breaking down. I can do this.

I move slightly closer toward you and put my mouth to your ear. "Why, Gin?" I ask the question that is burning on my lips and it tumbles out unceremoniously. Please answer. "Why?" Why? Why did you betray Soul Society? Why did you leave me all those years ago? Why are you following that traitorous Aizen? Why…No. I won't think about that.

Here I'm standing like an open book,

In front of you – my page is turning.

Pick a chapter babe, and take a look,

What do you see?

Maybe now you're learning.

My heart's breaking only you can stop,

The pain I feel, I can't give up.

I ask the question that I need to know,

Won't you listen to me?

You turn slightly to answer quietly into my ear. "Because that is who I am." An answer that is no answer at all; an answer that leaves me cold inside.

Because that is who you are? What sort of answer is that? Yet I know. It is because of who you are that everything happened between us. You were just being Gin when you offered me your hand and your friendship. You were just being Gin when you left me sleeping on my pallet, alone in the dark, cold room, to move on with your life and become a shinigami. That is just who you are. I love you and hate you for it, Gin. Gin.

You try to read my face. I want to laugh. I have no idea what I'm feeling. I feel so mixed up inside. I feel anger and rage that you hurt people I love, hatred that you betrayed Soul Society…and me, a burning deep inside my heart that just wants to run you through. Then I feel sadness and grief that we have come to this, pain beyond pain that you have betrayed me, and a desperate longing to just run into your arms and let you right the world again. But I can't. The times when you could just make everything okay by hugging me are long gone – that portion of my life is over and done with – in fact, in my heart, as I press my blade to your throat and my fingers press into your thin wrist; as you smile carelessly and study the traitor that you are loyal to, I see our friendship and everything we shared burning; melting away.

I feel so mixed up inside. I feel hot and cold and this blaze of conflicting emotions in my heart. Then I feel so empty and hollow; helpless, like I'm once again that little girl who tripped and fell, that little girl who cried by herself, who couldn't walk anymore, who couldn't muster the strength to stand up again. I feel like the little red-haired girl who no one cared about enough to offer a hand, to spare a glance, or even a passing. That is what I feel. Please. Give me your hand again.

I hate this helplessness…this timid hesitancy. Why? I know the answer now; it's burning in my heart. I love you, Ichimaru Gin. I don't want you to be hurt or dead. That is why I feel like crying right now; I am afraid for you, and I am angry because you betrayed me and I still love you so much that it hurts. I love you despite everything. I have always loved you and I always will love you, no matter what. This blazing emotion that burns for you will never stop, the flame will never be extinguished or go out. I know that.

Here I'm lying in my bed alone,

What do I feel – another page is turning.

Once again another chapter's closed,

And in my mind, I see our bridge is burning.

I am falling and I can't get up,

It seems so far to reach the top.

The way I feel for you will never stop,

Won't you listen to me?

The other captains and vice-captains are here. I ignore them. I see nothing but you, with that careless, crooked smile, your eyes closed casually. Have you no fear? Do you not care? Do you? I'm scared for you, Gin. I want you to be safe. I don't want to walk away from you like a heartless, cruel person when you need me the most, but I'm still angry. I…I don't know what I feel anymore. I don't want to do this, Gin. I remember that as a child you defended me from bullies. You got your nose broken; your cheekbone scraped; a black eye; and a gash in your arm just for me, yet you never complained. You cried from the pain, yet you never blamed me, rebuked me. At that moment, I wanted nothing more than to embrace you, to wipe away your tears and pain, to see you smile. I still want that.

I don't want to do any of this, and yet I want to. I hate you so much and I love you like crazy. I want to thrust my sword right through you and I want to just kiss you. I want to beat you up for following Aizen and becoming a traitor and I want to cry on your shoulder because you hurt me so bad. Gin. You always did make me feel confused. I feel like crying right now, in front of you, in front of Tousen, in front of Aizen, in front of Yamamoto and all the other captains and vice-captains. The only thing stopping me is my pride.

Suddenly, a golden shaft of light surrounds you. I let go of your wrist and jump back, my hands burning with the pain of being enclosed in that shaft of light. You begin rising in the air, still wearing your casual smile, always smiling. Ignoring the fact that I feel like someone is stepping on those broken fragments of my heart. Ignoring the look on my face that probably tells you quite plainly that I didn't want to have to let go.

You smile slightly. "I'm a bit disappointed," you remark nonchalantly. "You could've held on for a little longer."

Don't wanna walk away,

Don't wanna let you down.

Don't wanna see you crying,

Just wanna see you smile.

I'll never walk away,

I'll never let you down.

I'll never leave you crying,

I realize, as I untangle my fingers from your long, thin ones that I didn't want to let go. I didn't want to let you go. Please don't go and leave me behind. Despite the hell that you've put me through so many times, despite how much that hurts, despite the fact that you betrayed me and left me so many times, despite the fact that you are a traitor to Soul Society, despite the fact that you are following a traitor, I still love you with all my heart. I always have and I always, always will. You are everything that I could possibly want. You found me when no one else was looking. You saved me. You taught me to soften up, to love. I fell in love with you. You fell in love with me. You helped me find myself in you, Gin. It doesn't matter what you've done, what you've said. I forgive you, Gin, and I believe that one-day, you will come back. I know that despite everything, you also love me still. I know that you love me, that you always have, and that you always, always will. I am sure of that.

That is why I cannot say goodbye. You probably realized this a long time ago; that is why you never told me when you left me, and you left me many times. As a young boy, to follow your dream of becoming a shinimagi. As a young man, to become vice-captain under Aizen taichou and then later, Captain of the Third Division in your own right. You never once told me goodbye. I have never and will never tell you goodbye.

Please don't walk away - leave me behind,

With these crazy feelings.

No one is to blame - aint that a shame!

But I still believe in you, oh you,

You're my every dream come true.

And that is why,

I just can't say goodbye.

How do you say goodbye to something you love so dearly that it fills every particle of you, that sometimes it hurts how much you care for them? How do you say goodbye to someone you want to stay by your side for all your life, someone you want to always laugh with and joke with and just be with? Someone who lets you be yourself, with no pretenses or disguises. Someone who lets you do whatever you want to, who lets you say what you think, who tells you that he loves you? Someone who kisses you so tenderly, who takes you on moonlit walks in the dark, who shows you a whole field of butterflies and glow-worms? Just how do you say goodbye to someone you love? How?

My heart is utterly, completely, and wholly broken. I am screaming inside, weeping and screaming. Grief fills my broken heart, pain engulfs my entire body. I begin to shake uncontrollably, my shoulders shaking with the effort of not crying in front of everyone that I respect. I will not cry. I cannot cry.

You turn slightly back to me and study my pale face. You face softens; the smile disappears from your lips; your amber eyes actually open for a fraction of a second. For once, I can read your face. There is sadness, pain, regret, wistfulness, and…yes, love. "Sayonara, Rangiku," you tell me, your voice gentle and soft. "Goodbye." I hear the words that you didn't say but meant to – "I'll see you again someday, I promise". I just look at you, then I close my eyes in pain. It is too much. It is just too much. I can't take it anymore. You look at me tenderly for a moment. "Sumimasen," you add quietly, your voice full of tender love and gentle regret. "I'm sorry."

I look at you for a moment, memorizing your face. You slowly rise higher and higher and then disappear. I want to cry, but I won't let myself. After all, you taught me that goodbyes are not forever. I will find you, Gin. I swear it. I will see you again, and I will tell you the words that I could never say before. I love you, Gin. I love you with all my heart and soul. You're everything that I could want and I won't lose you again. I love you, Gin. I really do. I don't know how you'll get out of this mess, and I don't know where I will find the strength to see you again, to forgive you again, but I will find a way. Somehow. I swear it. I love you will all my heart and soul, Gin. It has taken the process of losing you to admit to myself what you mean to me, and that is the first step toward finding you again. I will do it. Someday. Somehow. Someway. But I will do it.

Oh babe, you, oh you,

You're my every dream come true.

And that is why,

I just can't say goodbye.

And that is why,

I just can't say goodbye.

But when I do, Gin, please, please, Gin, don't turn away. Please. I love you. I just can't say goodbye.