Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.
AN: AU to episodes 116 and up. Happy Birthday, my dear Yumichika! Del, you're going to hate this...if you want to read a happy Yumichika story for his birthday, wait a few days before you read this one.
Drink this blood and
This love, is breaking
The one last bond
It wasn't odd to see an eleventh division member covered in blood casually strolling down the street. They were known for their fighting and violence, so it wasn't really a big deal if somebody's arm was almost severed or the occasional accidental death was contracted.
There was something strange in the fact that it was Yumichika splattered with blood, none of it his own, smiling beautifully as if nothing had happened. His zanpakuto was settled neatly against his hip, Houzukimaru clutched in his left hand, and what was left of Ikkaku clenched in his right.
No one really knew what to say.
The three shinigami trailing behind him looked very worn and very grim. Hitsugaya was pissed at the fact he'd lost a shinigami under his watch. Renji had his eyes closed, unable to even look at Yumichika. Matsumoto couldn't bring her eyes up from the ground.
Yumichika wouldn't say a word to them. He just kept smiling pleasantly with his knuckles whitening even further as his grip on the sword tightened.
None of them could say anything. What could they say?
He was the one who dragged Ikkaku's body through the streets of Karakura and then on to the Seireitei and to the eleventh division. He ignored any offers of help if he even heard them at all.
He was the one who watched Ikkaku die at the hands of Edorad Leones.
He hadn't been allowed to help. He'd known that and he stood back, watching each blow Ikkaku took.
In his heart he knew Ikkaku wouldn't walk away from this the moment he felt the shocking reiatsu of Houzukimaru shudder into existence. There was too large a gap in power between the shinigami and arrancar. As each blow landed, Yumichika fought the urge to sprint forward and come to blows with the enemy. Ikkaku's pure look of ecstasy had been the only thing keeping his feet on the ground.
It was Kenpachi who managed to pry Ikkaku out of Yumichika's grip. He'd muttered Yumichika's name, getting his attention long enough to force him to let go. He then sent the fifth seat to inactive duty until he could think of anything better to do with him.
It was strange, but Yumichika never stopped smiling.
Ikkaku would have been so proud of him.
To die fighting was an honor. Yumichika knew that. He would always remember that look of happiness on Ikkaku's face.
The constant smiling was starting to get to him.
It wasn't just the fact that Yumichika was smiling, but the fact that is was so perfect and carefree that had Renji nervous.
He felt completely at fault. He had been the first to reach Ikkaku and Yumichika after the battle. He should have comforted Yumichika more when he'd started crying, but he'd just been too shocked to move. One of his best friends was killed, turning the war into something that seemed so much more realistic.
Renji took a final swig of his sake and set the cup down.
Since Yumichika had been considered unfit for duty according to Zaraki Renji had seen him less and less. He couldn't remember the last time the two of them had even spoken...probably not since the incident. It was disheartening to see the eleventh division so torn apart. Even at their worst they had always been strong. He just couldn't understand how they could be torn apart so easily.
"It's not fair," Renji murmured, rubbing his forehead.
"What's not fair?" The soft, lifting tone of Yumichika's voice had Renji's head jerking up in surprise.
"Where'd you come from?" Renji asked stupidly. He hadn't heard a knock or anything.
"I let myself in," Yumichika's smile softened as he sat down next to Renji. "I hope that's okay."
"Its fine," Renji nodded and gestured to his bottle of sake. "Did you want a drink?'
"No, thank you."
"Okay," Renji sat quietly, unsure of what to do about the silence that was emitting from Yumichika. It seemed like the only thing that was coming from the pretty man. The redhead blinked at looked up.
"What is it?" Yumichika questioned, looking curiously at Renji.
"Oi, Yumichika," Renji swallowed the aftertaste of sake in his mouth. "Why are you hiding your spiritual pressure?"
"Oh, that?" The confusion left his face. "I didn't want anyone to know I was here. It'd ruin everything if someone walked in and found me with your body."
"Body?" Renji laughed awkwardly. "What are you getting at? You act like I'm going to die or something."
"You are," Yumichika answered, brushing a strand of hair away from his face with an ever-present smile. "I'm here to kill you."
"What?" Renji jumped to his feet, instinctively reaching for his zanpakuto. It was already in Yumichika's hand.
"There's no reason to be scared," Yumichika gave him a disbelieving look and lifted the sword. "You'll be with Ikkaku."
"Stop fooling around," Renji rasped, grabbing the smaller man's wrist. "You're going straight back your division, okay?"
"You'll be with Ikkaku," Yumichika repeated. "Don't worry though; we'll all be together soon. Ikkaku, you, me, Shuuhei, Captain, Yachiru...all of us."
"You've got to stop acting so crazy," Renji blinked, why was he starting to feel dizzy all of a sudden? He took a half step back. "It's not like you...to..."
"What's the matter, Renji?" Concern flashed through dark eyes. "You're spiritual pressure seems to be getting weaker. Nothing's wrong is it?"
Renji seemed to lose all control of his body as a tendril of spiritual pressure managed to wrap around his arm and drain his energy. Shaking, he looked down. Somehow Yumichika had managed to release his zanpakuto without him noticing. The floor lay covered in glowing green vines that were snaking up his legs and a few were beginning to latch on to the arm that was holding Yumichika back.
It only took his a few seconds to realize that they were weakening him.
"Are...are you..." Renji had to pause to draw in a breath. The lack of spiritual pressure make it more difficult to function. "You're going to kill everyone?"
"Not everyone," Yumichika tutted, closing his eyes. "Just the ones who will make the world perfect again."
"Killing us won't make the world perfect," Renji's eyes flickered to his sword. Why wasn't Zabimaru responding to him at all?
"Living won't make it perfect either," Yumichika chirped, looking even happier than before. Renji sank to his knees. Yumichika's eyes softened and the smile left his face for a fleeting moment. "I promise that you won't be lonely."
Those were the last words Renji heard.
Across the Seireitei, Hisagi woke with a start. That spiritual pressure...he'd felt it before.
"Yumichika?" Shuuhei stumbled out onto the balcony and stared off into the distance. Something faded and in the back of his mind Hisagi had the dark feeling that it was something irreplaceable...and so very familiar.
There was a shudder in the air and Yumichika appeared on the porch next to him. There was a spot of blood darkening his wrist, but no sign of a wound on him. Hisagi threw a furtive look back in the direction Yumichika had just come from, but the few last traces of power had already disappeared.
"Yumichika, what do you want?" Hisagi had always felt a bit of resentment towards the fifth seat, but usually tried to be fairly neutral to him. Something was nagging in the back of his mind, telling him to stay clear of Yumichika.
"I was just coming for a visit," Yumichika looked insulted. "No need to be so rude."
"What were you doing?" Hisagi's eyes fell back to the blood on his wrist. He could see now that there was a little more darkening the side of his hakama and a splash across one of his sandals. "What happened?"
"So many questions!" Yumichika's eyes widened. "If you really must know, Renji went to see Ikkaku."
"'Went to see Ikkaku'?" Hisagi muttered in confusion before his eyes widened and he threw himself against the railing, staring in the direction of the sixth division. The direction Yumichika had just come from. The fading reiatsu earlier...Hisagi jerked his head back. "You didn't!"
"It's not that big of a deal," Yumichika replied nonchalantly and Hisagi could feel the spiritual pressure in the air begin to rise. A shudder ran up his back at the familiarity.
"Don't," Hisagi managed to back away from Yumichika and back into his quarters. Yumichika followed, squinting as his eyes adjusting to the darkness. Hisagi took his chance and managed to get a grip on his zanpakuto.
Yumichika flashed behind him and slit his throat just as Hisagi was turning to strike. Hisagi staggered and Yumichika smiled. Blood pooled around their feet.
"What an unbeautiful ending," Yumichika sniffed, looking down at the mess. He hadn't expected such a silly reaction from Shuuhei...
He would have thought that he of all people would understand...
Yumichika sat quietly on the edge of the bed, staring down at the sleeping form of Yachiru. She hadn't so much as moved in her sleep, curled up in an old kimono and a puddle of blankets. For some reason, Yumichika couldn't smile.
He stood carefully and walked out of the room. This was one he couldn't do yet.
Pausing, he felt the unfaltering reiatsu of his captain from down the hall and immediately changed course. He stopped outside the door to listen for a second before he slipped inside, feet making next to no sound as he padded across the floor and made his way to the futon.
"What're you doing?"
Yumichika would have been a fool to think Zaraki would sleep soundly. He'd probably woken to his footsteps in the hall or at least when he slid open the door. Kenpachi pushed himself up into a sitting position to get a better look at the fifth seat in the darkness.
The distressed look on his face made Kenpachi's scowl soften.
"Hey, you okay?"
"Captain," Yumichika knelt down next to the larger man and wrapped his arms around him. Kenpachi started to push him off, but stopped as he noticed something.
"Why are you all covered in blood?"
"Captain," Yumichika buried his face in the larger man's shoulder. "I'm so sorry."
"You're not hurt, are you?" Kenpachi could almost taste the blood in the air. It was still wet and all over the younger man.
"I am unharmed," Yumichika informed him quietly, pulling his face away. His eyes narrowed slightly, as if concentrating on something. "I just got into a bit of a mess."
"A bit?" Kenpachi bared his teeth into an amused smile. "Whoever those poor bastards were, you must've taken care of them pretty good."
"Are you proud of me?" Yumichika pulled his lips up into a slight smile. "That's good."
"Don't be getting a big head or anything," Kenpachi warned, looking as stern as he could. "Now, why are you in here?"
"I've come to a realization," Yumichika swallowed, looking past the captain and focusing his gaze on the wall behind him. "I can't live without Ikkaku. It's not the same without him."
"Bull," Kenpachi narrowed his eyes. He couldn't believe he was hearing this. "No member of my squad is allowed to be such a wimp. Just because someone died doesn't mean you should, too."
"I'm just...I'm just so lonely," Yumichika's dark violet eyes flickered to his captain, taking in the shinigami's stunned expression. "I don't want to be alone."
"Che, whatever. You aren't alone," Kenpachi gave a firm nod. "Quit actin' like the world's ending, Ayasegawa. You've got plenty of time left. Don't dwell on the past or something like that. You're supposed to stay focused on the future."
"Thank you, Captain," Yumichika stood, and placed his hand on the hilt of his sword. "Even with what you've said, my mind is set. I am determined to shed your blood, my captain."
"Interesting side to you out tonight," Kenpachi chuckled, drawing his ever present zanpakuto to his side. "I kind of like it."
"I assure you, you won't," Yumichika drew his own zanpakuto, hand trembling slightly. He didn't know if it was from fear or anticipation, but he wasn't really feeling either.
"You ready, Ayasegawa?" Kenpachi's feral grin was beginning to appear.
"Of course, Captain," Yumichika lifted his eyes to Kenpachi's face. "Are you going to allow me first strike?"
"I haven't let you do that in a long time," Kenpachi chuckled.
"For old times' sake?" Yumichika's pretty smile formed pleasantly.
"Whatever," Kenpachi smirked, moving his sword arm away from his body. "Come at me."
"Yes, Sir," Yumichika's sword dropped to the ground
Kenpachi felt a pang of helplessness as Yumichika's sword hit the floor with a dull clank. It was obvious Yumichika was distressed, but he was never any good with dumb situations like this. He knew that Ikkaku had practically been Yumichika's world, but he'd had no idea that he was all Yumichika lived for.
Kenpachi felt the hands against his chest and let the smaller man's thin hips jut against his own. When did Yumichika get so skinny? Kenpachi's eyes narrowed at the tremble in the younger man's hands. With a bit of resignation, Kenpachi let his sword drop to the ground and half-heartedly returned the eager caresses. He would give in to the younger man's whims just for tonight.
Yumichika pulled his haori back over his shoulder. It hadn't taken long for his captain to fall into a state of perfect ease. It was times like that when his guard was at its lowest. It was only a matter of timing before Yumichika managed to destroy his soul chain with one well-placed thrust of his zanpakuto and then calling it into immediate release to siphon any remaining spirit energy. Yumichika watched with narrowed eyes until his captain stopped struggling.
He only wished it could be this easy with Yachiru Yumichika thought as he gripped the hilt of his zanpakuto and pulled it out of the man's chest.
The trip back to Yachiru's bedroom was short and Yumichika was only slightly surprised to see her sitting up rigidly in her bed, staring in the direction of her surrogate father's room. Her face was pale in the moonlight and Yumichika quietly stepped inside her room and immediately wrapped his arms around the trembling girl.
"Why are you crying, Feathers?" Yachiru whispered, clutching his shihakusho in her small hands, eyes widening dramatically like a frightened animal. "Where's Ken-chan?"
"He's dead," Yumichika said gently, pulling the little girl closer to him. "I killed him so he could be with Ikkaku. Don't be sad though, he's also with Renji and Hisagi. You like them, don't you?"
Yachiru pulled in a deep breath, trying not to choke on the bile rising in her throat. It didn't help. She coughed, half-choking, half-gasping into his haori, her face pressed tightly against his shoulder, despite the sticky-dry blood and grime that coated it. Yumichika didn't say a word. He continued to hold her close, determined not to let her go. Part of him was glad she didn't try to run to the captain, it made it easier on him. However, there was no doubt in her eyes when she looked at him. She had known immediately what he was going to do and he was sad that she wasn't going to do anything about it.
"Yes, Yachiru," he murmured an answer to his silent question, dropping his forehead against her hair and twisting his fingers into her clothes. "We'll see them soon."
He dropped a hand to his side and drew his zanpakuto. The blade was practically screaming at him because the blood from three killings was still sticking to the silver surface. His eyesight was blurry and his hand shook as he tried to hold the sword still in front of himself and Yachiru.
His entire body was shaking uncontrollably, ready to end this.
"Ikkaku will be glad to see you, Yachiru. He loves you," he mumbled, gasping as the sword slid forward; smoothly cutting through muscle and bone like it was nothing and pierced through his own chest. He closed his eyes as Yachiru cried out in pain, starting to panic as death slowly became a reality. She had never truly been hurt in battle. They had always been there to protect her from that kind of pain.
Yumichika gently pulled the sword toward him, grunting as the burning pull of muscles ripping finally ended and the zanpakuto was to its hilt in Yachiru's back. Her hands loosened and she collapsed against his chest.
Fear gripped his heart as she gave up and her breathing slowed. The rush of tears was hot on his face, but he didn't seem to notice. He gently removed the sword and cradled her in his arms until the rise and fall of her chest stopped all together. Then, with a slight smile he laid down, Yachiru sprawled across him as if sleeping and closed his eyes, prepared to settle down for his final rest.
The blood from his friends stuck to his body and a final sense of completion and happiness settled over him. He'd finally done something he could be proud of for a few seconds before falling into final darkness.
Grabbing Ruri-iro Kujaku once more, the blade found its final mark and for once silence haunted his lips.