A/N: Written for totchipanda as a make-up fic on the Livejournal flashfic community.
The pairing says it all. Surprise wallsex for the win?
It was the silence that brought her, not eventually but all in a rush one day in the middle of what the living called October.
Of all the shinigami currently twiddling their thumbs in the Seireitei waiting for Aizen to drop some sort of cosmic safe (or possibly a piano, one never knew with that man), Zaraki Kenpachi was the man best at shutting the hell up.
Matsumoto Rangiku was not in the mood to talk. She was quite certain she would never be in the mood to talk again until one Ichimaru Gin lay dead and twitching at her deeply satisfied feet. However, neither did she want to be alone with the mocking echoes of his high, irritating voice or the marks and scuffs he'd left on the edges of the furniture in her quarters (he was never as graceful with her as he was with everyone else, it was a sort of vulnerability she'd been pathetically grateful to him for showing her). She wanted someone to keep her company but not say a damned thing unless it was necessary.
That was much harder to find than it should have been.
Byakuya, who ought to have been perfect, proved oddly talkative when left alone with her over a short period of time. He began telling stories in his low, monotone drawl, not really talking to her but seemingly unable to tolerate the silence between them. It would have been funny if she hadn't been so desperate.
Komamura only lasted half as long-- he'd been dying to talk to someone about Tousen and about the astonishing fact that he wasn't there anymore, and especially about the reasons behind that fact, namely Aizen and therefore by extension Gin, and leapt on the chance to pour out his soul to a startled and horrified Rangiku.
Unohana was very good at not speaking, but somehow whenever she was around Rangiku's words started coming out all on their own and she invariably ended up weeping inconsolably on the female captain's floor, wishing she was completely, stunningly drunk off her ass so she wouldn't have to deal with this.
Ukitake did decently, but the sound of his constant agonized coughing drove Rangiku around the bend in less than half a day.
"Goddamnit," she said to no one in particular while standing in the middle of a thoroughfair. "Is it so impossible to find someone who can just shut up and stay that way?"
"I know one," said a bright voice behind her that even sounded pink. "Ken-chan hates talking unless he's fighting."
"Of course," Rangiku breathed, clapping a hand to her forehead. "I can't believe I didn't think of that. Thank you, Yachiru-chan!"
Yachiru only beamed and skipped off to wherever she was attempting to go today, no doubt hopelessly and irreconciliably lost as usual.
Rangiku fixed her senses on the not-very-distant tower of Zaraki's reiatsu and got there in six and one-half flash-steps. "Hi," she said to the slouched figure sitting in the shadow of an alleyway. "Do me a favour and don't open your mouth for at least the next week or so. I'm just going to hang out here, okay? Good." She sat down two feet away, leaned against the cold stone wall, and breathed a sigh of utmost relief.
Zaraki stared at her, but didn't say a word.
Hallelujah. At last.
Eventually Yachiru came back, and set in to yammer incessantly at high speed for hours on end.
Somehow, in the looming aura of Zaraki's total silence, she seemed to make no more noise than the wind or the scuffle of footsteps. She didn't affect Rangiku's blissful calm in the least.
With Zaraki there, the ghosts of Gin's voice didn't dare come within eighteen blocks of her. They were only voices, after all, they didn't have the menacing power of Shinsou's edge to back them up.
Occasionally, with no seeming schedule or rhythm, Zaraki would stand up and relocate to a different place. Rooftops seemed to be a marginal favourite, but alleyways and random trees seemed to be nearly as common a choice. Whatever he chose, she followed without a word, smiling faintly to herself and relishing the blessed quiet.
Sometimes, rare times, he slept, sitting cross-legged with his nameless sword propped against his shoulder, head slightly bowed but clearly about to jump up and kill something at a moment's notice.
Rangiku would curl up and present her back to Zaraki, staying a respectful two feet away at all times. His sword might not have a name, but she wasn't stupid enough to think that made its edge any duller or its owner any less powerful. He could chop her into tiny pieces half-asleep with no problem. Two feet wouldn't save her if he suddenly decided that he felt like slaughtering her on whim (not unexpected), but she felt better about it anyway.
She wasn't sure how long she followed him around. When her duties called, she was there instantly and worked harder than it ever looked like she was working (a talent, one she'd taken some time to perfect, despite the fact that it was completely useless and served only to anger Hitsugaya when it made him think she was slacking off). Once they were done, she flew back across the city to wherever Zaraki was, sat down, and happily shut up.
The arrangement was perfect. As far as she could tell, she could just keep doing this forever and would never have to deal with those goddamned voices ever again. It was heaven. The real kind.
Then came the letter, and hell broke loose in her all over again.
It was sent with a tiny (almost cute, though she would never ever ever say that out loud) hollow that died almost instantly upon setting foot in the Court. The letter was addressed to her in a very familiar scribbly script she would have known anywhere and had very passionately never wanted to see ever again.
Dear Ran-chan, said the letter.
Hueco Mundo is very nice. The decor is a little dull, but Wonderwyce is seeing to that so it should be downright homey when he's done. My roommates are great, very personable people, most of them only try to kill each other once or twice a week and are wonderful conversationalists (did you know that if you hit a stone wall hard enough, you might actually win? I never knew that until I met Grimmjow. Fun fellow, you'd like him). The food is nothing to write home about, but Yami's learning and it'll probably be fairly decent by some time next year.
You should really come visit. You'd have fun.
I miss you! Chuu
After reading it three times and committing it to memory, she ignored the outraged shouts of the first squad members who had come to retrieve it for the Overcaptain's perusal and calmly diced it into sad papery molecules with Haineko.
"Fuck you," she said equanimously, turned on the spot, and vanished.
Zaraki only looked up disinterestedly when she landed in a black, pink, and auburn storm of silent fury on the rooftop beside him. She didn't say anything, of course, but her stance, demeanour, and the raging typhoon of agitated reiatsu told their story very cleary-- this woman is about point six inches from killing the next thing that moves, so you had better not plan on breathing for the next little bit unless you have something sharp and pointy on hand for self-defense. If you do, good for you, but it's probably still a good idea to run like bejeezus for the nearest bomb shelter. Just sayin'.
"What's wrong?" he asked, voice dry and craggy from disuse, not looking at her.
"I need to kill something," she said, voice barely restrained from screaming hysterically at the top of her lungs. "Got anything handy?"
Zaraki stood up and shook himself down leisurely, then inspected the edge of his sword. "Lookin' kind of dull lately," he commented to no one. "Could use a good scrap to sharpen her up."
Needing no more invitation than that, Rangiku drew Haineko and lunged at him, not bothering to hold back since she knew that at her very best she might be able to give him an uncomfortable rash on his elbow, and that it was far more likely he would accidentally obliterate her by inhaling Haineko's particles and sneezing reiatsu.
For the next two hours or so, she pounded on him mercilessly with everything she had, pouring her hurt and rage and loneliness into her graceful but hopelessly slow moves.
Somehow, he managed not to kill her, but this was most likely merely a sweet folly of chance and not anything intentional on his part.
When she finally collapsed, he picked her up off the ground with one hand, peered into her half-closed eyes and said "Not bad. Another hundred years or so and you might have scratched me." Then he slung her over his shoulder and took off, aimlessly zooming through the blinding sky of Soul Society until he found a suitable rooftop.
Then he dumped her unceremoniously on her behind and sat down beside her, once again menacingly silent as usual.
Rangiku almost cried with relief. No long emotional talks with Unohana, no blunt but touching queries from her captain, no tactless blustering questions from Renji... just some stress relief, and then quiet. The only thing that could possibly make the situation better was some sake and dango, but she was too tired to get up and find some.
Instead, she dragged herself across the courteous two feet until she was curled up only inches from his legs, smiled, and passed out. She might wake up dead (again) the next morning for her presumption, but she was too relaxed to care.
Instead, she woke up with her head rather awkwardly pillowed on a pair of painfully hard-muscled calves, and a to finger poking her cheek unrelentingly over and over again.
"Hey, is she alive, Ken-chan?" Yachiru asked interestedly. "She looks really dead. I haven't seen a dead person in a long time, though, so maybe I'm wrong? I dunno. But she looks dead to me. What do you think?"
Rangiku moaned and refused to open her eyes no matter what they did to her. Every muscle in her body hurt, including some she would swear up and down on a good day didn't actually exist. She felt like she'd been tenderized like a steak and then jumped on a couple of times by an unnaturally large person with very spiky boots (just for good measure). In short, she felt like shit, and Zaraki's lap was fantastically uncomfortable to say the least.
"Get the hell off, you vulture," she croaked, and sat up (which took every ounce of willpower she had, and then several hundred more she borrowed with her soul as collateral).
"Oooh, she's alive! Ken-chan, she's alive! I thought you were dead," Yachiru explained unnecessarily, "but you're okay. Somehow."
"That's a matter of opinion," she muttered, running a hand through her matted hair and realizing that even if it killed her for real this time, she would have to make it to a shower or something roughly equivalent some time within the next thirty seconds or so.
Suddenly, to her deep surprise, she found herself slung (very painfully) back over a bony shoulder and flying at shocking speed across the Court. Before she even had time to really figure out what was going on, she was dropped gracelessly onto her (hard and splinter-prone wood) porch.
She swore artfully, then risked a glance upwards at the giant figure blocking out the sun.
"Clean up," he said with all the menace at his disposal (rather a lot). "You stink."
For absolutely no reason at all, she felt crushed for a moment. Then she realized that she was within twenty feet of an actual hot water shower, and forgot all about the blow to her ego in favour of the heavenly bliss of soaking her abused body for the next hour or two.
Resolutely ignoring the partially broken chair in her kitchen which had been fine until it met a certain idiot man who walked around with his stupid goddamn eyes shut, she headed for the bathroom and commenced to spend the rest of the afternoon saturating herself with clean hot water and pointedly not thinking about anything at all.
When she was done, she put on a fresh uniform, located Kenpachi and sat down one foot and seven inches away from him. "Thanks," she said, and then shut up as usual.
Zaraki grinned wolfishly.
Ten minutes later, she fell asleep in a manner much akin to a rock falling off a cliff. She tilted precipitously, obviously struggling even while asleep to maintain the courteous distance, but failed seconds later. Her head landed with a quiet but still cleary audible thunk on Zaraki's shoulder, and her voluminous chest quashed itself against his immobile arm.
Yachiru, when she found them a short time later, clapped her hands gleefully and told Ken-chan that he and Big-boobies looked very sweet together, a cute couple to be sure, and then Zaraki looked at her and she turned around and disappeared very quickly.
Rangiku, lost in a haze of dreaming but just aware enough to understand the situation, realized three very dangerous things all at once.
1.) Zaraki Kenpachi smelled surprisingly good, a sort of wild feral smell like fangs and claws and the first sharp taste of winter on the wind.
2.) The Two-foot Courtesy was completely shot to shit. She could hardly get closer if she tried... actually, she could, but that had to do with the third dangerous thing.
3.) The Itch was back. That was a nickname she had made up years ago for the strange and essentially uncontrollable urge she sometimes got to touch things, usually people.
Before, whenever it came she always just touched Gin a lot until she felt satisfied (and he did too, usually that happened first). However. Gin was not here. And Zaraki would probably break her into little cream-and-auburn twigs if she tried anything remotely like any of the things flying through her head in the moment.
Thinking back, she realized that the Itch had actually come back a while before, probably some time during the sparring match. Fighting usually turned her off, but somehow this one hadn't. Quite the opposite.
Bad. Very, very bad. Patently not good in any way. The very antithesis of a good idea, if anyone asked her common sense, but of course no one was.
"Er," she said, waking up the rest of the way and standing up. Because she was not suicidal, next she said "I think I'll be going now," and made to jump off the roof and go Elsewhere.
Zaraki, unfortunately, said absolutely nothing and thus totally broke her resolve.
"Shit" she said eloquently, then turned smartly around, knelt down and stared him very hard in the eyes. "I'm going now," she said slowly, praying to every god she didn't believe in that he would say something and break the horrifyingly powerful attraction currently consolidating its hold on her stock in sanity.
He only met her eyes and grinned that awful, sharp wolf-smile. That smile that said fine, babe, but you're welcome to stay if you don't mind getting a little roughed up.
"Shit," she repeated despairingly, then gracefully gave up and shoved her face into his with as little subtlety as she could manage.
The message was abundantly clear.
Approximately three point eight seconds later, Rangiku was up against the nearest wall with her uniform half-shredded and out of the way in all the important places.
Her last rational thoughts summed up to something resembling this:
1.) I'm an idiot, born and blessed,
2.) Oh good, so he's fairly normal in this and that respect after all,
3.) I hope I survive this,
4.) I wonder what Gin would think if he knew,
5.) Not thinking about that, am not am not am not,
6.) Ouch, dammit,
and then lastly,
Past that it was a tangled but very fun maze of unexpectedly pleasant sensations that probably should have hurt and a relentless wild rhythm that drove all thoughts of Gin or anything else completely out of her head.
She ruined his hair-spikes, left bite-marks all over his neck and shoulders (this last with some effort, he had to be letting her since even swords normally couldn't mark that skin), scratched the merry hell out of his back, and reached the end feeling a good deal better about the world in general despite knowing that she would be in a whole load of pain the next day.
Neither of them made a sound beyond some very lewd breathing noises. Silence was their trademark, after all.
After collecting herself, she turned around and said "Thanks," just the one word.
He grinned, teeth glinting wickedly, and winked.
She'd be back the next day, probably just to sit and not talk. Some other day the Itch might come back, and in that case she had made a mental note not to bothering agonizing over it and just go ahead and stick her tongue down his throat. It had worked admirably this time around and knowing Zaraki, probably would next time too.
Rangiku went home and composed a long, painstaking letter to her ex-lover, not skimping on the exclamation marks and strike-outs. Then she read it out loud to the broken kitchen chair. Then, she lit it on fire and watched with a satisfied smile as it shriveled and dissolved into pathetic ashes in its little pink bowl on her table-top.
"See you, bastard almighty," she said, and saluted mockingly.
She dumped the ashes in the garbage and went to sleep in her own bed without a qualm, falling asleep almost instantly.
The voices, nonplussed, turned around and went back the way they'd come, not bothering to leave a note. It wouldn't be any fun bothering her any more.
The kitchen chair, when she woke the next morning, was still broken, but just a chair.
She cracked open a bottle of sake as the sun crested the horizon and toasted her newfound freedom. "Here's to up-shutting,"she said, and laughed. "Thanks, bell-boy." She decided right there and then not to ever call him that, in the interest of self-preservation. "Here's to you," she said, toasting again, and then just for the hell of it because it titillated her-- "bell-boy."
"Who?" asked a coarse, gravelled voice from the vicinity of her kitchen window.
"Oh shit," said Rangiku, then smiled helplessly and went to unlock the door ( this was more in the door's best interests than his, but no matter).
Convetional heaven be damned. She'd take this contented silence any day of the week, including Sunday.
In the next five minutes, these things happened:
1.) Nobody spoke.
2.) The chair broke the rest of the way and had to be humanly euthanized,
3.) Matsumoto Rangiku realized that she was happy. Really and truly.
It was worth losing the chair just for that.
A/N: I DON'T EVEN KNOW. D: