A/N: This is just a little filler before the big battle, in which I haven't gotten a clue to how I'm going to write it. It's all tumbling around inside my brain; I just need to pull it out and form coherent sentences. Anyway, this is my longest chapter to date, and I'm extremely proud of it! It basically wrote itself – I can't take credit for this. The muses were actually sober this time! I hope you all like it just as much, and leave a review if you like, even to tell me that Gin is just a little out of character. I wanted to see a softer side of Gin; don't ask me why, I was just in the mood. If you have any ideas about how the final battle should go, how I should pair off the characters then leave a review. All will be welcome! Enjoy the show!
P.S. I have a new story out. It's called "Soul Mates" and it is a Rangiku Matsumoto/Toshiro Hitsugaya fiction. Please check it out and let me know what you think! HOLLA!
DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN BLEACH. I JUST WATCH THE ANIME AND USE THE LIQUID TO CLEAN MY CLOTHES!
LEAVING LAS NOCHES
As Gin carried Rangiku to his quarters, he couldn't help but to noticed her features. She looked more tired than usual. She doesn't look like she's been sleeping well. I wonder how much at fault for that. Who am I kiddin'? I know I'm totally at fault for her not sleepin'. He entered h is room silently, and carefully laid his once best friend, former lover, and confidante on the bed. Gin stroked back her strawberry blonde hair, and slowly stroked a shaking finger down her porcelain cheek. "I promise ya Matsu, I will make sure you are not a part of this ugly war. I have protected ya someway, somehow. I wish I could tell ya I still love ya, but I know that's not somethin' you want to hear right now. Maybe one day, huh?" he whispered, as he slowly changed her clothing from that of a Shinigami to that of a resident of Hueco Mundo – as if she was a temporary member of the Espada. Not wanting Rangiku to catch him in the act of watching her sleep, Gin quickly finished his task of clothing her, and then left the room for his meeting with his captain.
Later that evening, Rangiku Matsumoto knew instinctively that she was not in the Tenth Division barracks inside of the Soul Society, as she slowly gained consciousness. She looked around the room, and all she saw were stark white painted walls. No mementos, no certificates, nothing to show that she was in her room or her captain's room. Then she looked down and notices that her clothes have been replaced. Instead of wearing the traditional black shihakshou, she is wearing a tight, white shihakshou, with pink trimming. If she wasn't so scared right now, she might have liked this outfit.
"Where am I? What is this place?" Rangiku asks aloud.
"You are in Las Noches, Ran."
Turning swiftly to her left, she finally set eyes upon the one person she never thought she would see again.
"G-g-in, is that you?" she asked hesitantly.
Walking over to her, Gin sits on the bed, and starts stroking her beautiful strawberry-blonde hair. "Of course it is Rangiku, and right now you are in my bedroom."
"Where are my clothes? I know I did not come here wearing this," Rangiku remarked, waving her hands sporadically in the air.
"Well, I thought a nice change of pace would be good for ya, Ran. I had this one specifically made to feature your assets because that black shihakshou just wasn't working for me," Gin replied as he gave her lithe figure a sexual appraisal. "It seems to have done the trick. Your breasts have never looked so inviting, and the way the outfit clings to every curve is just magical. I even added your favorite color, pink, to the ensemble. Don't ya like it?"
Not answering him and definitely not liking the way he was molesting her with his eyes, Rangiku scooted across the bed and moved as close to the wall as it allowed her, hugging her knees to her chest. She didn't realize that this gave Gin an even "up close and personal look" at her assets, but right now she just wanted to be as far away from him as possible.
"Why am I here?"
"I brought ya here to rescue you from the impending war, Ran. I didn't want ya ta get hurt."
"That's my duty as a Vice Captain of the Thirteen Court Guard Squads, Gin, or have you forgotten that tidbit of information," Rangiku scolded her once friend, lover, confidant. "If I get hurt or killed in battle, then it was for the sake of saving those in the Soul Society, no questions asked!"
"Would ya say the same things if ya knew you were fighting a useless war? If you knew that information was being kept from ya because those with higher power don't want ya to defect?"
"What are you talking about Gin? No one is keeping information from us. You, Aizen, and Tousen are the traitors, not us!"
"That's what da old man wants ya to believe Matsu."
"Don't call me that! You don't have the right to be so informal with me anymore Gin Ichimaru!"
"Oh, that's being a little harsh, don't ya think, Rangiku Matsumoto?"
"Whatever, Gin," Matsumoto stated angrily, hopping off his bed afraid that if she stayed on it any longer, it would affect whatever brain cells she had left.
Continuing with her tirade, Rangiku turned to face her former lover. "Besides, Gin, the Soul Society saved us from the Rukongai. We were lost, starving children, and they gave us a home. They gave us something to believe in; something to fight for, and you…YOU JUST THREW IT ALL AWAY! YOU THREW ME AWAY LIKE YESTERDAY'S TRASH! I want to go home! I don't want to stay here with you. I don't belong here."
Rising off the bed swiftly, Gin pushed Matsumoto into the nearest wall. She had forgotten how fast he was, especially if he was angry. By the look of his red eyes peering down at her – she pissed him off royally.
"Shut Up Rangiku! Ya don't know what the hell you are talking about!" Pressing closer to her still, she could feel his hot breath lingering above her smooth, cool skin. Gin placed his forehead onto her right shoulder for a minute, trying to regain his composure. Only Rangiku Matsumoto can press him into being so angry and showing that pathetic emotion in public. Damn her!
Resisting his urges for far too long, Gin grabbed Rangiku's chin harshly and firmly planted his lips upon hers. Oh, how he has missed her soft, pouty lips! Noticing her hesitation at kissing him back, Gin tighten his arms around her, securing her against the wall, until she finally succumbed to what they have both been needing – each other. The kiss seemed to go on forever, before a need of oxygen separated the pair. Taking deep gulps of air, Gin laid his forehead back onto Rangiku's shoulders.
Talking softly, Gin replied to her comments, "Ran, yes, Soul Society saved us from a life of desolation, but at the same time, Captain Aizen saved me from being deceived by those very same people. He showed me that Captain Yamamoto and Central 46 had corrupted all that was good in the Soul Society. That's why he demolished Central 46 before coming to Hueco Mundo. Captain Yamamoto needs to step down – he's too fucking senile to comprehend anything other than destroying lives in which he doesn't understand. Why do you think he exiled Urahara Kisuke, the Vizards, and tried to destroy all the Bounts and the Quincy?"
Moving away from her, giving himself a little space, "Rangiku, I brought ya here because I didn't want to see you fight. I hated seeing you follow that midget genius of a captain around like a puppy dog! I did not throw ya away like yesterday's trash; I….I LOVED YOU! I knew you wouldn't come with me if I asked ya to, and I left you with your friends, knowing that you would be safe. As this war comes to us quickly, I don't want to see you die. It would be too much for me, and I rescued you from that torment of witnessing my destruction of your friends."
Rangiku stood there looking at Gin with a shocked expression. She raised fingers to her lips, not believing that he just kissed her, and that she responded. He kissed her as if they were still sitting under the Cherry Blossom trees by the river in the Sixty-eighth district, which was their favorite spot. That was the place where Gin first made love to her, and told her he loved her. Shakily running a hand through her hair, Rangiku couldn't form a complete sentence even if it was handed to her on paper. Her nerves are shot to hell right now, and there isn't a greater feeling than being told that you are still loved and that that person protected you - even if they traded their souls to the devil to do it. What's a girl to do now? Oh, how she wished she was back at the Tenth Division, drinking sake and aggravating her captain.
Gin stood silently leaning against the wall as he watched Matsumoto process all the information he had just given her. Most of all he watched her process the kiss that they just shared. He knew she still loved him, and he her, but if he had to manipulate those feelings to keep her safe in Hueco Mundo, then that's a choice he gladly takes on. It's not a tactic he would like to use, but Captain Aizen did tell him that unless he wanted to see her die, then use all means necessary to obtain her loyalty. He should admit that his former friends and colleagues were correct in calling him a "sly, old fox"; one needed to be crafty to save his or her own soul, as well as the soul of the one they love, as he loved Rangiku Matsumoto. As he watched his former lover, Gin kept repeating the same mantra in his head, "This is for her safety". As long as he believed that, then everything he does, using any means necessary, is for the greater good. He wished that he could just strip her down to her glorified nakedness, and pay homage to those luscious curves that make up the woman sitting before him.
Gin was suddenly broken out of his reverie by Rangiku's laughter. He tilted his head puzzlingly, as she wrapped her arms around her waist, letting out a gut-busting laugh.
"What's so funny, Rangiku?
"… This is Gin," Rangiku giggled some more. Gathering her composure, she turned to face her once friend, sadly becoming foe. "You really expect me to believe all that 'righteous' crap you just preached? You sound more and more like Souske Aizen every day, and that's scary within itself."
Seeing Gin about to speak, she raised her hand up to stop him. "Let me finish, Gin. I don't know what that traitorous bastard told you or what you choose to believe, but I will never give up my loyalty of the Soul Society to you and your cronies. Even if Captain Yamamoto is senile and old, and needs to be replaced, he is my commanding officer and I put my trust and faith in him to lead us to a peaceful life. Even if I had my doubts, I am loyal to the Tenth Division and Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya, whom I know would never lead me astray. So, save your words Gin because I am through listening to you. I am through waiting on you to do the right things, like give yourself up and suffer the consequences of your actions. I am through with waiting on you to realize that the love and loyalty you sought was actually standing before your eyes – in me and in Kira. I am through with loving you. I am through with you. Now, since I am formally a captive in this miserable place, I demand you treat me as one. I don't want to stay in your room any longer. I want to be treated as a prisoner of war; that way, the next time you and I meet on the battlefield, I will not hesitate to kill you."
"Rangiku, why won't you listen to reason?" Gin sighs. "I don't want to treat you like a prisoner of war. I want to protect you. I want to love you. I want us to have a future together."
"A future, Gin? We can't have a future in this depressing place where there's no sun, and only sand and dead trees. No, there is no future for us. You chose Aizen, and abandoned me and Kira. I demand that you treat me as a captive. I want nothing less," Rangiku scathingly replied, crossing her arms over her chest.
"If that's ya decision, then I won't argue with you again. GUARDS!"
"Yes, Gin-sama," two Arrancar guards appeared at the entrance of Gin's bedroom.
"Please escort this prisoner of war to the prison cells where our other guests are residing. I'm sure she will enjoy the reunion. "
"As you wish, Gin-sama," the guards replied, acknowledging his orders.
"Wait, what are you doing? Let me go! LET ME GO! GIN! GIN!"
"This is what you wanted Rangiku, then this how you will be treated from now on. Take her away!" Gin replied solemnly.
"I HATE YOU! DO YOU HEAR ME? I HATE YOU!" Rangiku screamed as she was dragged down the hallway.
"Ah, but the feelings are not mutual, Rangiku Matsumoto. I love you dearly, but I will remain loyal to Captain Aizen," Gin whispered to the empty room before closing the door, and heading towards the meeting hall. He was late for an Espada meeting.
Reaching the prison cells, the Arrancar guards opened one door, and threw Rangiku in. She stumbled, but maintains her balance. She whirled around to run back out, but they closed the door in her face.
"Well, it looks like we have company," a voice called out deep in the corners of the cell.
"Who's there?" Rangiku called out.
As the figures moved out of the shadows, Rangiku's eyes widened significantly as she saw who her cell mates were.
"I-Ichigo and R-Rukia? How?" she stammered, clearly in shock to see her friends.
"Hey, Rangiku, nice outfit; did Gin specifically tailored it for you?" Ichigo remarked.
"Shut up! What are you doing here? You kidnapped me and brought me to this miserable place!"
"That's not possible Lieutenant Matsumoto," Rukia finally replied. "Ichigo and I have been here all along."
"That's not possible; I know who I saw and who knocked me unconscious back at the Tenth Division!" Rangiku announced.
"Well, it seems you were correct, honey, in your assumptions that Aizen made clones of us," Ichigo replied, looking at Rukia.
"It appears so, but I wonder what he did with them?" she asked, scratching her finger underneath her chin.
"Wait a minute! Do you mean to tell me that Aizen made clones of you, and it was those clones that broke into the Seireitei, kidnapped me, and tried to kidnap Momo?" Rangiku asked incredulously.
"That is our assumptions because Aizen came to us and said that we were going to stay here as his guests indefinitely, and that everyone will hate us when this invasion was over. It looks like he succeeded in part of his plans," Rukia responded.
"We have to get back to the Soul Society. I don't like what's going on here, and I have a sneaky suspicion that it is going to get worse," Rangiku replied.
"How are we going to get out with our zanpakuto, Rangiku?" Ichigo asked. He could feel Shadow's unpleasantness inside of his head, but has kept it a secret. Neither he nor Shadow is complete without Zangetsu.
"That's a good question, Ichigo. We will just have to figure something out…" Rangiku stated, reaching behind her back. "Oh, that stupid, stupid fool!" She announced.
"What is it Lieutenant Matsumoto?" Rukia asked.
"That so called genius of man forgot that he gave me back Haineko!" Rangiku replied, unsheathing her zanpakuto.
"Well, all right! Chalk one up for the good guys!" Ichigo announced, punching his fist into the air. "Now we have to find Sode no Shirayuki and Zangetsu, plus figure a way out of this dismal place!"
"I cwan help you out, Itsygo!"
The three Shinigami turned around quickly to see a petite Arrancar dressed in green standing at the cell door.
"Nel is that you?" Ichigo asked incredulously.
"Yes, Itsygo, it's me, Nel. I hawve been lookin' all over for you! I hwave missed you Itsygo!"
"I've missed you too, Nel," Ichigo replied.
"Who are you?" Rangiku questioned, pointing her blade towards the Arrancar child.
"I told you, my nwame is Nel!" she screamed in fear.
"Hold on, Rangiku, Nel is safe. She helped me the first time we came to Hueco Mundo to save Orihime. She wanted to go back home with me, but I wasn't allowed to take her."
"Itysgo, the bad men are weaving the palwace. I cwan help you get out, too," Nel announced, still holding onto Ichigo's leg.
"How are you going to help us get out of Hueco Mundo, Nel?" Rukia asked, squatting down to the little girl's level.
"Are you Itysgo's wife?"
"Yes, I am little one. My name is Rukia Kurosaki," Rukia replied, holding her hand out to shake the Nel's hand. Instead, Nel released Ichigo's leg and ran to hug Rukia around the neck.
"Rwukia is a pwetty nwame. I'm Nel."
Rukia smiled at the little girl's enthusiasm. It made her want to get back to Soul Society in the utmost hurry so she can hug and kiss her own children. Feeling the same way, Ichigo turned his chocolate brown eyes towards his wife, and gave her one of his genuine smiles. Those smiles he keep in reserve for special moments like this.
"Okay, now that introductions are over, can we please get out of here?" Rangiku interrupted, with a smile plastered on her face.
The group managed to leave the prison area with a minimal of trouble, not too surprising since Souske Aizen has gathered most of his best warriors, and is now headed for the Soul Society. On the way, Nel scouted out the throne room, where she suspected Zangetsu and Sode no Shirayuki were being held. They silently went in, and retrieved their zanpakuto, but not before turning on the monitors, and noticing that Aizen placed what looked like surveillance cameras throughout strategic places within the Seireitei.
"I can't believe we've been under surveillance this whole entire time. That murderous fiend manipulated the Seireitei like Pinocchio on a string!" Rangiku announced, shivering with hate-filled anger. "If Gin was standing in front of me, I swear I'd give him a good taste of Haineko."
"Well, you still may have your wish Rangiku," Ichigo answered. "We have a war to stop, and I suspect that Gin wants to die by no other hand, but yours."
"Yeah, stupid bastard; he better hope that Captain Hitsugaya doesn't reach him first. I won't protect him as I did the first time they fought one another."
The group continued their trek until they reached far outside of Las Noches' barrier. Nel reached up into the sky, and created a gargantuan gate for her friends to escape through.
"Nel, thank you for everything – for helping us escape. I want you to go find your friends and go into hiding. I don't want anyone to know that it was you who opened the gate for us."
"Okay, Itsygo. Nel will go find Pesche and Dondochakka, and we can go pway in the sand," Nel acknowledged.
"Here, little one, I want you to take this. It is a reiatsu sealer. It will hide you for six hours. That should give you enough time to find your friends and escape from Las Noches," Rangiku said, giving the little girl a bracelet. Once she put it on Nel, it immediately began to glow an eerie blue color, which signified the sealing of her reiatsu.
Ichigo leaned down to hug Nel once more, feeling that he really should not leave this little girl in this desolate place, but also knowing that the Soul Society would not hesitate to kill her if she stepped foot into the human realm.
"Will I see you agwain, Itsygo?" Nel asked as tears and snot running down her face.
"I don't think so, Nel, but I will not forget you," Ichigo replied, trying to keep the tears from appearing. Rangiku and Rukia decided to just let the tears flow. They both understood the feelings that Ichigo felt for this little girl. Neither one of them wanted to see him hurt more than he already has.
"I wunderstand, Itsygo," Nel replied softly.
Rukia and Rangiku both gave the girl one last hug, and then the group waved to her as they walked through the gargantuan gate. Ichigo refused to make Nel promises that he wasn't too sure he could keep, but he hoped one day they could see each other again, and maybe she could meet his children.