to die a little

"There's always a piece of the mask left," one of the white-robed men says to her as she lies dreaming. "We can't choose what it will be. But nobody can take away everything at all. What sort of person would be left?"

When she came crawling to Aizen-taichou's throne, Momo wanted nothing more than to be with him and serve him; no matter what it cost, no matter what it demanded of her, no matter what it required of others.

The tall strangers in white mocked her. Only one of them, the one with the dark tragedy eyes and the bone helmet, seemed to understand, and even he looked down on her as a worthless thing.

She didn't care.

Aizen-taichou took her hands in his and said that he was proud of her, and that all it would require would be that she die a little.

She rises from her table in the laboratory and walks across to look at her reflection in one of the dark computer screens, white robe trailing behind her on the floor. Then she puts her hands to her face and takes it away and looks to see what is left.

She spilled words out eagerly, telling him everything that she knew about Seireitai, about the Captains and their plans and organisation and passwords, everything that could be useful.

He smiled at her, delightfully, warmly, gently, and coaxed more from her. Thoughts. Feelings. Dreams. The pet name she had called Shirou-chan.

He gave her tea while she talked. He made it himself. With his own hands.

And then for a while he left her in darkness.

Her sleep is full of burning plum trees that scream in silence.

He never hurt her. He never let anyone else touch her. He was always there. He gave her clothing. He washed her when she bathed. He fed her from his own dish.

There were parts that she didn't remember. He said they weren't important.

She didn't even think in names any longer.

Bone is beautiful; bone is white, bone is pure, bone is the root and the foundation of the body, bone is sharp, bone is strong, bone is sand-smoothed to fineness, bone is hunger. When she is all bone then she will be everything that he wants, and since all she wants is what he wants, then she wants to be bone. She hungers for it.

Eventually he asked her not to speak again.

So she didn't.

He would know if there was anything important that she should say.

He will be a just and righteous God, and she will be his sword and shield and defender and avenger. He has told her all these things and she knows that they are true.

One night, the dark-eyed one said to her, "True devotion is in the soul and true strength comes from that alone. You are a perfect being. Serve him well."

She did not answer him because she had not been ordered to do so, but that in itself seemed to satisfy him.

The hunger in her sings like falling petals. It soothes her to sleep. She dreams of being perfect for him, for him, for him.

She was so hungry.

There is only one food that will satisfy her.

She slept at the foot of his bed.

There is only one answer that she can hear.

She knelt beside his throne.

There is only one way that she can be perfect for him.

The bone came through at night, when she was watching his sleeping body; it crawled over her face and clothed her hands in claws and shaped her body into perfection. She did not make a sound, because she had not been given permission to speak; she did not move, because there was nowhere that she wanted to be. The movement was all inside her body, and the hunger ate her up at last until there was nothing left except its rioting flames.

He did not wake.

She takes off the mask of her face and there is nothing left any more. She must fill herself up with the only thing that she desires, the only thing that she knows, the only thing that is left to her.

She was weeping for joy as her claws sliced into his throat, bone moving through flesh like a benediction.

At last, at last I am what he wants me to be.