Ok, this is going to be multi chapter, though you may not believe me once you reach the end. I haven't got any pairings planned so requests are welcome. It won't guarrantee me writing that pairing, but I will seriously consider it, unless it's something I really don't agree with e.g. Zaraki/ Yumichika.
I'm also looking for a beta if anyone's interested. This is currently unbetaed, so if I've made any horrific errors you'll have to notify me as I obviously haven't spotted it.
Disclaimer: If Bleach was mine, Yumichika would be in it a hell of a lot more. As he isn't, we can therefore assume that I don't own it. All profit to Tite Kubo, not me.
It was instinct to shout. They wouldn't have heard him, couldn't have heard him; Luppi had already wrung the last shreds of consciousness from the both of them. Hitsugaya- taichou was already down, fallen somewhere in the undergrowth. Yumichika was the only one free; a desperate move keeping him just clear of the Espada's grasping tentacles.
And there was nothing he could do.
"Running won't do any good Shinigami." Called Luppi. "I'll catch you and kill you, just like I intend to do with these friends of yours." He waved the tentacles holding the two Shinigami to emphasise his point. Yumichika frowned at the threat, but did not move from his hiding place. Revealing himself would do no good. He had to think.
"How about if I jab the pretty one full of holes?" A multitude of long spines grew from the tip of one tentacle. "Will you come out then?" Yumichika had to hold himself back from attacking the arrogant Espada. The immediacy of Rangiku's danger was horribly apparent to him, but there was nothing he could do. The Espada would cuff him away like a bothersome fly were he to attack, and then he'd be in the same position they were trapped in. He had to distract Luppi from his current threat, free Ikkaku and Rangiku and retreat, as much as the thought of flight rankled with him.
"But how do I distract him?" Yumichika growled to himself.
In a stroke of black luck, the decision was taken out of his hands.
"Think fast Shinigami!" shouted Luppi, plunging the spines towards Rangiku's prone form.
Yumichika had a split second to decide what he should do; and it was no decision at all. The move was so instinctive, that he was not even aware of the shift.
Not until he stood in front of Matsumoto, impaled on Luppi's barbs.
The Espada blinked at him, momentarily taken off guard. Yumichika smiled at him, blood threading from the corner of his mouth, chest convulsing as he tried to draw air into his shredded lungs. "Fast enough?" he quipped, spitting out the blood flooding his mouth.
"Still useless, Shinigami." Grinned the Sexta Espada. "Surely if you can't put up a decent fight you could at least make it interesting? This is just pathetic." He twitched the spines, and his grin grew wider as Yumichika screamed. "Then again, this could be very entertaining."
With a flick of the Espada's limb, Yumichika was flying. He watched his blood flow as the barbs were wrenched free with the distant knowledge that he would be dead at the end of this encounter. Already the blood loss was drawing him out of himself, watching his own defeat as if from a distance. The defeat galled him, but he contented himself with the knowledge that if Luppi was focussed on him, that meant he was distracted from hurting the others.
Luppi's second strike was too fast; he was bleeding again before he'd even realised he'd been struck. The pain hit him a moment later, and he shrieked until his throat was raw. Faintly, he heard the sound of metal shattering as his zanpakuto broke; the solid feeling of Fuji Kujaku's hilt in his hand evaporating as the entirety of his right arm felt as if it had been set alight.
"Ahh, music!" giggled Luppi, clapping his hands. "Oh, but I was right. You are very entertaining, even if you can't fight." He struck at Yumichika again, grinning as the Shinigami screamed. "If you make those pretty sounds whenever you are wounded, I would keep you as a pet."
Tentacles reached out and trapped the injured Shinigami before he could hit the ground, drawing him up until he hung limply in front of Luppi. "Can't have you dying too quickly." The Espada reasoned. Yumichika spat the blood in his mouth at the Espada in response, flecking his white hakama with crimson.
The tentacle wrapped around his right arm tightened. Yumichika looked at Luppi in horror as he realised his intent. "Scream for me." The Espada grinned, and crushed the arm in his grasp.
Yumichika's shriek rang out, over the harsh crack of the bones in his arm and the laughter of his tormentor. He clamped down on the scream, biting it furiously back. Breath flowed through his clenched teeth in desperate gasps, as he struggled to gain back what he'd lost by screaming.
Luppi scowled. "You're meant to play along." He wrenched the shattered limb again, but Yumichika endured this time without a sound, though he blanched white.
"Fighting it won't do you any good; I can find ways to make you scream." A tentacle shifted languidly until it hovered in front of his face, brushing his feathers. "How about I put holes in your pretty face instead of your friend's? That's a fair trade."
Yumichika froze at the suggestion, terror chilling him. Not his face. Anything but his face. The Espada could do what he liked to Yumichika's body, but damaging his face would destroy him. The spikes twitched in front of his face, and he flinched despite himself.
It was the wrong response. The tentacle in front of him, spines still dripping with blood after piercing his chest, drifted close until it stroked the feathers he wore.
The barbs tore into his face before he could reply. With his good eye, he saw flickers of red and yellow float past, before his vision was obscured by his own blood. Pain flooded through him as the spikes tore free of his flesh, but it was more than that. It was his face. His beauty. The Espada had destroyed his beauty.
He didn't scream. Tears flowed down his ruined face, burning the open wounds; something horrific, more intense than physical pain, cut him deep. But he did not scream.
"Fine." Sulked the Espada. "If you aren't going to be fun anymore." The tentacles holding him up unravelled their grasp and slowly he began to drop. Yumichika was too weak to save himself, and wouldn't have anyway if he could. The damage had already been done, his mind already locking itself away from the hurt, fleeing from the truth of his ugliness.
He closed his eyes as he fell, against the pain of his disfigurement, the loss of his beauty, vaguely aware that the ground rushing up to meet him was going to Hurt.
The blow never came.
Gentle arms closed around him, mindful of the injuries he had sustained, and carried him down. The reality of the fabric against his cheek brought his consciousness crashing back, the pain with it.
"Hush, little one." Soothed a voice as a scream bubbled up in his throat; there was not enough air in his lungs to scream anyway, too much fluid. "You're safe." He clung to the feeling of those arms around him, instinctively clinging to awareness even as his mind tried to flee from the reality of his mutilation. Adrenaline had held back the effects of blood loss, but as that strength flowed out of him the frightening weakness flooded in and choked his lungs.
Gasping for breath, he forced his eyes open, a useless gesture as his sight was masked by blood. The face of his rescuer hovered over him, a vague image tinged with worry that was not apparent in his voice. A familiar face...
"Urahara." He murmured through a mouthful of blood, unable to work up the strength to cough and dislodge the fluid. Somehow, through the immediate pain of his damaged face and broken body, he remembered why he'd allowed it to happen to him. "Ikkaku? Rangiku?"
"Safe." Urahara assured him, his voice rough with forced cheeriness. "You've done an admirable job."
"I'm dead." In Eleventh Division it paid to get straight to the point, so he was used to being blunt. He felt the arms holding him tense, though what he could see of Urahara's face revealed nothing.
"Now, now; there's no need for that." The tremble in Urahara's arms belied the truth of his words. "We'll just hand you over to Fourth. Unohana- taichou will patch you up, good as new."
"No!" he felt Urahara flinch; his vehemence had startled the other Shinigami. "It's over." He gasped fiercely through the blood that choked him. "I've lost everything. Better to die."
Wracking coughs seized him, ripping through him and stealing what little energy he had left. Urahara set him gently on the ground, and sat behind him, allowing Yumichika to rest against him. "Remember to breathe." Whispered the Shinigami in his ear, as he obediently followed the rhythm of Urahara's breathing to try and regain his own.
"Such an ugly ending." Yumichika wheezed, blood spilling from the holes in his chest as he struggled to breathe. Despite his efforts, his breathing faltered and he no longer had the strength to force it.
"Injuries can be fixed." Urahara's voice murmured to him. "Don't fret over your face. We'll fix it."
Yumichika tried to refute him, tried to tell him that the damage was done, but the pain in his chest had solidified, a block through which oxygen could not be forced, no matter how he struggled. His blinded eyes widened as he instinctively fought, spasms rippling through him as his body panicked. He heard Urahara panic similarly, but the Shinigami was far off, too distant for Yumichika to care.
The fight was a short one. Deprived of air, his body failed, giving up its half hearted effort to keep him alive.
The breath wheezed out of him into silence. He didn't draw another.
Honestly, it is multi chapter, this is just the mother of all cliff hangers.
Constructive criticism appreciated. Reviews fuel my ability to write the next chapter. Flames will be used to fuel the fire I roast Mary Sues over.