I never told you true

The more Rangiku talked with Kira over a cup of wine, the more she realised that the two of them never knew the same man.

To her, Gin was still at root the boy who'd met her on the road and offered her food. Even when she caught his wrist at the Execution Scaffold -- he the Captain of Third Division, his zanpakutou still wet with Kuchiki-taichou's blood -- even then, he was still Gin to her. Not Ichimaru-taichou. Ichimaru-taichou was someone else.

But as she listened to Kira's halting confessions, she heard about a man whom she'd never known. One who deliberately kept Kira on a string, and played with him there; one who ran his Division on a razor's edge as much for amusement as for efficiency; one who was cruel just for the pleasure of it.

She'd always thought of Gin as a fox, but not a cruel fox. A nice fox. A fox with a sense of humour. A fox whom it wasn't unreasonable to care about.

After all, she wasn't someone like Kira, who kept on putting his hands back into the fire to get them burned again, who deliberately clung to what caused him pain . . .

. . . was she?

Kira loved -- no, Kira was addicted to -- the Ichimaru-taichou that he knew. He couldn't think of how to live without him. Ichimaru-taichou was his sun, his moon, his stars, his light in the darkness, his darkness deep inside. Kira didn't know anything about the playful boy who Rangiku met on the road, the young man who cared about her, the shinigami in training who could still be kind.

Rangiku loved that man. She didn't want to know Kira's Ichimaru-taichou. She didn't think that she'd like that person.

"We can't both have been wrong," Kira said in one of his more lucid moments. "One of us must have loved the real man, mustn't they?"

And all that Rangiku can say is, "Yes, of course."

Because the alternative is something she refuses to consider; that he was someone else entirely from the man that either of them knew, and that neither of them will ever, ever have the man they loved back.

Ever again.