by Impervious Marr
Summary: Companion piece to 'Written Notes'. In this place that is too white and much too silent, Kurosaki Ichigo finds solace in music and melodies as he loses the abilities to track time and to judge what is right and wrong. Set in the distant future.
Warnings: AizenIchigo, insanity, ramblings and sadness. D:
A/N: Epilogue! Thank you for sticking by These Melodies if you have all this time! I love everyone who's read this story, especially reviewers/favers! :333 There might be a chance where I'll edit the previous chapters, but not by much - maybe I'll even leave it as it is.
I love you all.
I'm telling you know, though, you can choose not to read the sucky epilogue, 'cause like... It sucks. Eh. I hate the endings in any stories that I write, because... I can't get them right XD;
By the way...
YES, IT IS FINISHED FINALLY OH MY GAWD. I HAD TO REWRITE THIS CHAPTER SO MANY GODDAMNED TIMES. LIKE OMG. WTF. YEAH. WHAT THE HECK.
Read and review, please, and thank you! Enjoy! :D
E L E V E N
The Angel They Won't Let Go
The final confrontation had both sides calmly regarding each other before any swords were drawn. Aizen needed no scrunity to be done for the lower ranked Shinigami - he was focused on the Soutaicho with a calculative look, and the ancient Shinigami looked at his former student with resigned sadness.
He only glanced at Byakuya - who had a resolution in him, which sadly, will not be fulfilled.
Hate me all you want for your broken sister - but you will never kill me.
And those eyes narrowed, as if they knew what Aizen was thinking.
He merely smiled pleasantly, turning his attention to the battle at hand.
"I give you no chances to submit to me - but if you wish to be in this battlefield, know that your life is nearing its course," Aizen spoke mildly, as if they spoke of the weather, and not the matter of life and death.
Soi Fon was the first one to speak up, riled by Aizen's apparent arrogance. "You traitorous bastard, how dare you assume we will turn our backs on Soul Society?!" she demanded, her haori put to the side for the battle ahead; her diminuitive figure hiding her immense strength as a Shinigami captain. "And to think that we would actually desire to join in your mindless massacre?!"
"It was merely a statement, not an insult." He placed his hands on his back, tilting his head lightly towards his enemy's ranks. "Some of them are still very young, Soi Fon. They do not wish to die."
Some of them shifted uneasily, and the guilt in their faces spoke of the truth.
"So you assume that your Arrancar are not the same? Don't tell me they wish to die for your cause, Aizen."
She spat out the word Arrancar. Aizen had to hold out a hand to the side to keep the Numeros settled. His Espada, at least, were impassive - even Grimmjow, who simply glared and kept his temper in check.
It still amazes me how Ichigo can influence such a change in his personality.
Aizen shook the errant thoughts from his head. This was not the time.
"No, they follow on their own free will."
Komamura was the one to speak up this time, though silently.
"A will, I suppose, manipulated by fear? I find it hard to believe you are capable of deserving respect."
Halibel didn't even resist the urge to snap. "You will not speak of Aizen-sama in that way." She shifted her arms and settled impassively; resolute; behind her master and beside Stark and Borrogan. "We follow him to further his ambitions. You have no right to assume our principles."
"And I had no idea that Hollows were capable of such things such as principles," Hitsugaya retorted, crossing his arms, already riled up enough to join in the battle of words.
"Child, dispel that perception that Hollows are mindless creatures," Stark drawled lazily, narrowing his eyes. His shoulders were still slouched in an extremely casual pose - but his expression betrayed something dangerous. "We might be born from fear and despair, but we have minds of our own and we choose what to follow."
Aizen chuckled, startling everyone from their seething.
"Now, now. I believe we are running out of time."
"Sousuke, you will regret this," Ukitake said gravely, as he unsheathed his twin blades. "Reconsider. There is a large chance that the balance between the dimensions will be disrupted and the damage will be irreversible."
"I know that."
Aizen smiled pleasantly and it shouldn't surprise them - but it was horrifying to see such an errant consideration for thousands of souls in that one, simple smile.
Finally, the Soutaicho sighed after keeping quiet through the whole exchange.
"Sousuke, just what have you become?" Yamamoto asked quietly, then shook his head before anyone could breathe in a word. He stood straight, hands upon his unmasked zanpakuto as he shifted. "You will not be swayed by words or actions - that much I can see."
The word was like a signal - everyone took out their individual weapons, harnessing them as the shadow of war loomed ominously. Aizen simply held the hilt of Kyoka Suigetsu, and so did his top three Espada. Yamamoto narrowed his eyes, and his voice boomed through the battlefield.
"You will not break through our ranks, Aizen Sousuke, and neither will you survive from this battlefield should you fall. My Shinigami will stand resolute and will not be swayed."
Aizen shifted his foot, and pandemonium erupted - the faint sounds of flash-stepping and sonido ripping the air, ending with sword clangs. At the first strike, he unsheathed his zanpakuto and smirked - the only thought in his head of a orange-haired boy who was waiting for him back in his palace.
"They are at the first gate, Aizen-sama. Should we send out some Numeros to stop them?" the Arrancar asked respectably, inclining his head at all times.
He honestly hadn't thought that they would be foolish enough to breach through his defenses when the date of the war was so close nearby. He had to give them credit for making past the first gate; not many were capable of doing that... In their first visit.
He looked down at the floor below and the grand doors that the Arrancar exited from - knowing fully that it would take them at least hours to reach his throne room - and he had a little more time to spare - so why not.
Just to entertain them.
'Them' being the crew conducting a long overdue rescue mission for two people who didn't exist anymore. They would be displeased at the news, of course - but who knows...? Maybe he would even have time to bring them to her room.
Two thin arms winded themselves around Aizen's shoulders from behind. He sensed the intruder inside the room moments ago - so he was not surprised.
"You seem amused."
"I am amused," Aizen said, laughing as he tugged the boy into his arms. "Trying to sneak up on me again?" The boy in question scowled at Aizen's deduction, petulant.
"I'm never going to catch you off-guard, am I?"
Aizen rewarded him with an insufferable smile. "No."
"Wonderful," Ichigo drawled lazily, before shamelessly flopping himself across Aizen, and the throne, looking down at the floor below. "Now I know why you like this room so much... You get to look down on everybody." He closed his eyes, head upwards as he scowled lightly. Aizen sighed, already relaxing into his seat.
"Yes, Ichigo? No more of that wonderful piano of yours?"
"I'm taking a break. Ulquiorra's out and he's busy tryin' to prepare. Grimmjow's with him. Gin's with Kira and Ran-Ran. Nel's sleepy. And I'm lonely." He cracked an eye open and smiled at Aizen's chastened look. "By the way, you owe me a walk outside."
"Brat," Aizen replied, chuckling, bracing arms under Ichigo and lifting the boy easily. He immediately flash-stepped downwards, and Ichigo shook his head lightly, dazed. Aizen promptly placed him down and Ichigo stood up, supporting himself on the other man. "And about today..."
"That tone again. I'm guessing you're too busy lording it over everybody else?"
"Strange choice of wording - yes, I do lord over everyone else, thank you very much." Aizen ducked his head to give a kiss and Ichigo melted. "But not busy. Although, we do have visitors."
Ichigo immediately frowned.
"Hmm," Aizen hummed cryptically, and Ichigo blinked at the response. "They're your old comrades."
His frowned turned deeper - but he knew, that long ago, Aizen promised him that he would never remember about them.
And he never did.
The irrational fear from long ago was now buried in the deepest pits of his thoughts, and he was grateful.
"Is that so?" was all the orange-haired boy said, before smiling carelessly and slinging his arms around his neck. "Okay. Don't be too rough on them, because you have a war to prepare for."
"Mmm, I won't."
Aizen knew that the promise was meant for many things. Promise that he won't be too rough on them - promise for that walk he owed Ichigo - and mainly, above all, the promise that he would never remember to hate Aizen again.
But I don't need to.
Ichigo relaxed, all the tension from his shoulders gone. "I love you."
I'm never letting you go.
The breach inside was almost too easy. Rukia simply treaded on - they didn't have much spare time to think about it, and they needed to sprint to the throne room as fast as possible. Aizen would be there. They weren't even authorized to be here - all the others were too busy preparing for the war ahead - and they saw an opening for a rescue mission, and took up the chance.
She knew he'd be there.
And then, they'll be taking Ichigo and Orihime back.
Behind her were the few people close enough to think that Ichigo was a dear friend - Ishida, Chad, Renji, even - Urahara was on standby. He said that a device that Rukia had would open an artificial Gargantua to enable reinforcements should the need come - but Rukia's own self-determination led her not to press the button yet.
When they faced that bastard, only then they would need help.
She sprinted throughout the halls at full speed quite easily, alone - they split up with the knowledge that it'll be easier to find the room this way - knowing that the throne room would be near the top - and having the only set of grand doors.
She stopped abruptly, skidding lightly and panting.
She grasped her hand tightly and pushed.
She stepped inside, almost expecting a direct confrontation - but disappointed when there was no one to spear her sword into. Her face was filled with rage and she wanted revenge, for taking away Ichigo from them, for making everyone suffer. And the most prominent fear - what if Ichigo was -
She will not think about that. She knew that Ichigo was still alive - he'll never give up. That she knew.
"Good afternoon, Kuchiki."
"Aizen!" she bellowed, almost to the point of screaming as she turned wildly for the source of the sudden reiatsu pressure. "You come out here right now, you coward!"
The air shifted and suddenly Aizen appeared right in front of her. Her heart stopped - Aizen looked much more menacing up close than ever before.
Maybe it was the incoming war, or his own domain - but whatever it was...
"Such words. Contradicting the fact I have no fear, Kuchiki." Aizen stepped up lightly, hands behind his back as Rukia resisted the urge to pick up her sword and charge directly.
"Shut up - I have no time to hear your words! Now give him back!"
"Give who back, Kuchiki?"
"Ichigo! Ichigo - give him back, you monster!"
"I don't like screaming, Kuchiki. People should ask very nicely what they want."
Her eyes widened considerably when Aizen smiled then she was brought down to her knees forcibly, her knees slamming onto the floor and her vision had black spots everywhere from the inability to breathe and the pain in her bones.
Oh god oh god oh god Ican'tbreathe -
Aizen decreased the pressure slightly and she gasped for air.
"You breach into my palace and immediately demand for Ichigo to be brought back. I admire manners, Kuchiki - but you have none of the ethics taught to you by your brother. Am I correct?" Aizen asked lightly, pacing around her battered body.
"Go - to - hell," she gasped out loud, and Aizen sighed, regarding the girl with mild dissatisfaction.
"Pathetic. Very well... I'll let you speak freely."
The pressure was lifted from Rukia and she coughed. She kept her head down, fists clenched.
"Give him back," she repeated.
She snapped her head up.
"But - you don't - he never joined your ranks, that I could see - why are you keeping him - why!?"
"Let me tell you a few things, Kuchiki... The Ichigo you came to know doesn't exist anymore," Aizen replied lightly, and watched as Rukia's face distorted into confusion, apparent fear - before anger.
"That's a lie! Ichigo isn't dead!"
But he could see as plain as day the doubt that clouded her eyes. Aizen scoffed, turning away.
"I never said Ichigo was dead."
"But you said he doesn't exist -"
"That he is. He's not dead. Instead, he lives inside these walls, and... Do you hear that music?"
Rukia tried to keep up with the conversation - and indeed, she did. The beautiful melody of a piano. It was strangely unsettling for her state of mind, even though the melody was in a happy tune.
"I'm sure you're not deaf. It's Ichigo. He's playing right now - and it sounds happy, doesn't it?"
Rukia's blood turned ice cold.
"That's not Ichigo. Ichigo doesn't play any instruments -"
"He never did, after his mother died. He tells me a lot about himself, do you know that?" Aizen interrupted mildly, and Rukia choked. "And unlike you, he knows how to ask nicely. He specifically requested for a piano because it reminded him of his mother. He loves his mother. She's the only person he remembers - other than me."
And the arrogance and the pride that came with that sentence chilled her to the bone - but even before she registered what it meant. Then her eyes widened.
"No. He'll never forget. He wouldn't - he couldn't -"
"Oh, but he did. He forgot about his two sisters. He forgot about his father. He forgot all about Orihime - and all his friends in Karakura Town - his life as a Shinigami... And especially everyone in Soul Society. Including you."
"He won't - you lie. You're a filthy, lying bastard," Rukia babbled, shutting it out from her thoughts.
She knew they weren't true.
What if -
No, no, no.
"He's unable to piece his memories together. But... Do you want to know something?" Aizen crouched down, whispering the words. "He remembered in one point in time, there was one point in time that he hated all the Arrancars."
"He still does -"
"He doesn't anymore, because he doesn't remember why." Aizen smiled, tilting his head. "He doesn't remember the war or the cause all of you are fighting for."
"But he knows about the war now... Because I told him about what's happening, and - he doesn't care about the thousands of souls about to perish as I ascend to the throne at the top of the world. He lost his ability to judge what is right - and what is wrong - a long, long time ago."
She tried to scramble away, but all the fight was beaten out of her almost effortlessly by a man with his words.
"He likes all my Arrancars. He talks with two of my Espada and they confide everything in him - he matters that much to them and they matter that much to him."
What did you do to Ichigo, you sick, sick bastard -
The irrational fear that gripped her was stifling. She'll never forget how fucking terrifying the silver-haired two-faced man was.
"Oh, they have talks late into the night. And the best part is - he doesn't hate me, oh no - not at all."
Aizen leaned in closer near her ear.
"He loves me."
And he sounded so damn smug - so damn sure of himself that Rukia - she couldn't -
She just couldn't doubt those words.
"You know it's true."
"He told me specifically to not let him remember about everything before he was brought in here. He begged me - made me promise - even earlier - not to let him remember who you are.
"It was so endearing, did you know that?"
Rukia's eyes snapped open and she clawed at Aizen's face. Before she could reach it, Aizen already blocked it with a well placed hand, and grabbed it tightly. She gasped at the pain, but she refused to scream.
"You're a monster - telling me all these lies!"
Aizen looked at her carefully. Then something clicked.
"You love him, don't you?" he asked emotionlessly, and Rukia shrunk to herself. Then he grabbed a fistful of hair, pulling it backwards. "Don't you?"
"Yes - I do - and I'll never believe all those lies."
"He loves me unconditionally, for who I am, with all my faults - he's mine. And you're absolutely powerless to do anything about it, because I'm never letting him go, do you understand, girl? Choose what you want to believe - but it's useless."
"You don't - love him. You're - not - capable. And he - doesn't - love you -"
Aizen broke her arm, and she screamed.
Aizen let go of her hair, distaste showing at the filth that probably covered his hands by now - and looked up, before smiling.
"Ah, you're just in time to join the fun."
"You sick bastard - get away from her!"
"Rukia - Rukia!"
"Indeed I will."
Rukia was now staring blankly into space, mumbling things under her breath, and her comrades rushed towards her. Aizen waited.
"What the hell did you do to her!"
"Just telling the truth," he replied lightly, then smiled as the melodies of the piano stopped.
Just in time.
Las Noches immediately fell silent. The Shinigami looked up and around at the sudden lack of music, and stared warily at Aizen, who merely smiled that insufferable smile. "Oh, don't worry. You have a guest, that's all."
Then a secret door to the side opened.
The orange hair on the man's head scattered everybody's thoughts. He fluidly made his way up to Aizen, clothed in clothes of white and sleek, abstract lines - the figure that they knew the boy had a long time ago now thin, and sinewy. He smiled carelessly at Aizen - and looked at them.
"Ichigo - Ichigo!" Rukia screamed, getting up from her place and clutching at her broken arm. The others followed suit, rushing towards him from the other side of the room.
"Ichigo - what -"
What made them stop dead in their tracks was the lack of recognition in his eyes. He stared with confusion at them.
Rukia's mind went on overdrive.
The Vizard turned away from them and at Aizen, smile still in place. Rukia's grin froze on her face as Ichigo said something inaudible to Aizen.
What is he -
Aizen smiled indulgently. "Say hello to our guests, Ichigo."
Ichigo's cruelly innocent eyes swerved to look at the Shinigami lined up in front of them, and he waved, smiling.
"Hello. My name's Ichigo."
The three simple words cut through them more than any blade would - and it tore Rukia apart.
"Who are you?"
He's lying. He's lying.
He's the master of illusions -
This must be a trick.
Oh, she wanted to believe that so badly - but her other comrades have already seen the horrifying truth.
"These are your old comrades, Ichigo."
Then he smiled happily, filled to the brim with joy as he stared at them. Rukia's eyes widened as well, hope swelling up in her chest.
He remembers! He really does!
"Ichigo! Run - come on! Ichi -"
"You're right, Aizen - I don't remember them at all."
It was spoken so... Casually, and so errantly that Rukia actually gasped out loud at the pain in her chest. The others around her grasped her shoulders, willing her not to go. It was madness by this point.
"Rukia - we have to leave. Ichigo's not..."
"This is an illusion! An illusion! I refuse to believe that he's this way!" She turned to Aizen, blinded by her own grief. "Where are you hiding him!?"
The world fell still as Ichigo walked up to her, expression unreadable. The others tried to guard the girl but they were effortlessly pushed to the side by Aizen's reiatsu.
"You will not touch him," he said, and Ichigo smiled at him thankfully before kneeling down to grasp Rukia's head in his hands.
She heaved, tears close to pouring.
"Get away - you're - not - Ichigo..."
"Why did you come to save me, after one year... Two years - how many years has it been?" He spoke it without malice - instead, he looked at her with slight curiosity. It was whispered, so the others didn't know what he was saying. Rukia held in a breath, stuttering her next words because she tried not to cry - and Ichigo was just so gentle.
If this is an illusion, it is an evil close to all levels of hell.
"Wasn't - authorized - or strong enough."
"I don't remember you at all. I lost all my memories when I was trapped in this too silent - too white room. Nobody came in or out... Before Aizen opened the door after one year or so."
"Don't - say - that. Oh, god, no..." She closed her eyes and let two tear tracks run down her cheeks. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry... Just please come back..."
"But I don't remember you... And I don't want to remember everything again to hate Aizen. I love him."
"How - can you -"
"Because." He smiled gently, "I do. That's all to it. And I'm happy here."
"My name is Rukia. Rukia Kuchiki - please, say - you remember that."
There was a moment's silence before Ichigo spoke.
He let go of her face, and wiped her tears away.
"And I never want to."
He stood up and walked back to Aizen.
"I'm throwing all of them in the prison cells, Ichigo."
"I don't care about them, Aizen. I'll see you later, okay?" Ichigo hugged the man tightly, leaning up for a kiss - then stalking outside. Aizen smiled at the rest of the horrified group.
I don't care about them
I don't care
"Believe what you want - but that was the Ichigo you were trying to save - and the Ichigo you had lost. Now; you will be punished for breaching into my palace."
A laugh tore through the air - and it was from Rukia, who placed her hands over her ears, unable to hear anything anymore.
"This is so sick and wrong," Rukia mumbled to herself, as she did every other time. "So sick and so wrong, sick, wrong. He wouldn't forget, he wouldn't -" Then she broke it off, laughing very high-pitched. "He won't! He won't! He - won't."
The chains around her ankles still hurt. They chafed against her skin painfully.
She sobbed painfully, clutching at her chest.
"He did, he did, he did."
Byakuya gathered his broken sister in his arms and his hatred-filled gaze made Aizen regard the Captain for a while.
"Aizen," Byakuya spoke up, face emotionless. "I will kill you for this."
The man smiled.
"She's still a child, unable to accept the fact that Ichigo is no longer with her. Avenging for her lost mind is a noble cause, but futile - be grateful I decided to return her at all."
"It's not because of Ichigo, it's because of you. You made her lose her mind," he said calmly - and Aizen smiled, turning to leave, ripping up a dimensional tear.
"This is not the time nor the place, Kuchiki. See you in the battlefield - I made a promise to an orange-haired boy that I'll bring him out for a walk."
Then he disappeared, smiling at the angel who came to greet him on the other side with melodies from his grand piano - and a loving smile meant only for him.
"That was fast." He tilted his head in silent inquiry. "Can we have that walk now?"
Everything will be fine.
And Ichigo finished playing the last few notes, before getting up and happily grasping Aizen's hand as he filled his promise, all the demons in his mind settled, all the doubts and worries gone from his head.
Tomorrow will be the day when Aizen will sit on the top of the world -
And Ichigo will be there with him.
A/N: And there's the end of it! Thank you for sticking with this story if you have for a long, long time. (Well. A month or so, but still. XD)
Yay, I completed something! -momentous achievement 2 da max-
Have a nice day everyone! :D