Hi everybody! It seems that these last few chapters have only been coming out every second week these days, eh? It's been quite hectic! Haha! But, holidays are coming up for me so I'll get a good break and hopefully write lots! I really, really wanna focus on getting published out there, properly. I want emichii to exist outside of , but it's not so easy… eh! But I wanna thank every one of ya, 'cause without all your support I would've given up long ago!! ^_^ so… here we go! The last chapter of Your Bandages! Enjoy! emichii
How am I supposed to know what to say to her?
How do I react to her when I see her once again?
Even after I've rejected her so brutally…
…what happens to us now?
Chapter Twelve: Goodbye, bandages
Hitsugaya stood there, at his spot, the one place he'd been trying to avoid the last time he'd come here. Because, here, on this road, near the railing, was where the memories of her had been most painful. And yet, no matter what had changed within him, no matter what was different, the sky out there, the colours, the brightness of it all… never changed.
And he stood there, and raised his face up to the sky, closed his eyes and let the morning chill sweep past his face. He lowered his head again and gazed down at the scenery below him, the houses that all looked so small from up here, each one so neatly lined up, even the busier sections of the streets usually full of people, seemed to hold nothing.
His icy cold blue-green eyes gazed the Karakura town from above and inside, that empty, aching spot in his chest seemed to cry out. He clenched one fist tightly and cringed as he held in the pain.
And so… just like this… I'm back again. But this time…
Things have changed. I know they have.
And his eyes seemed to break in their coldness for a moment.
He attempted a small smile out into the empty air in front of him. It was a pretty… indescribable feeling.
And he stood there, up here, just watching over the unknowing town. And the sky above was so pale, so clear blue- a grey colour settled over it. The sunlight just beginning to creep its way into daylight.
The sun never knew. The sky never knew. This nice, peaceful town just beginning to wake from its slumber would never know, and would never understand. His pain. His suffering. The pain and suffering of anyone out there who lived upon this world. And yet… it continued so faithfully to just rise. Everyday… it came again and again.
The sun. The sky.
Every day. A new day.
Hitsugaya sighed. The heaviness within him stirred and his heart ached. And he raised his eyes once again to the brightening morning sky.
And yes, he was back here. Yeah, he had come back to Karakura again, even though it so seemed like he'd recovered. 'cause he'd come back for what he'd left behind.
And he was full of regret and sadness for what he'd done before, but this time, he promised himself, it would be different.
She was up early.
Karin sat up in her bed, her hair a mess of tangles and her pyjamas crumpled as she looked out the window beside her bed. The colour outside of the growing morning came shining onto her bed, and she felt the warmth on her face. She yawned away tears of tiredness as she got out of bed.
She tried a smile. It felt a little weird on her face now, since she'd been so burdened with this sadness inside, but it was gonna be okay. Don't… ever let yourself forget that, Karin Kurosaki… she told herself.
There… must be more. It would always keep coming.
And just before she got dressed, she paused for a moment at her window, her brown eyes searching the sky. The days are gonna keep coming. The sun would keep rising everyday, as hard as it was to see it sometimes.
Hitsugaya felt his breath stop in his throat. He paused there, on the roof of the building that overlooked the park. He couldn't stop it. He could not stop the tenderness in his heart as he watched her, he couldn't stop the way his chest ached and hurt so much for her. For this young girl who'd taken his bruised and battered heart, and loved it all the same. For Karin Kurosaki.
His bandages… they…
Weren't needed… He was healing, wasn't he? For real, this time.
But if they were to be ripped off, then he must…
Karin ran across the green grass, focused on the soccer ball a few metres ahead of her. Her face was slightly flushed and her black hair flying in all directions. She clenched her hands into tight fists as she ran, hard.
She tried to keep other thoughts from flooding her mind, tried not to think of anything else but the chilly but beautiful morning and the soccer ball she so desperately needed to have. But…
She raced towards it, and her face was angry with a scowl as she flung all her might and energy into one kick, and she booted the ball far, far away.
But she couldn't go after it. Karin watched with frustration as she watched the ball fly away, landing so far from her reach. And she should run after it, like she'd normally do, but she couldn't.
Karin fell to the ground. She sat there, on the grass and berated herself. She covered her face with her hands and sighed before pulling her knees up to her chest, hugging her legs wearily resting her face against her knees.
It was so hard. She'd tried so hard not to think of him, not to remind her of him in any way at all.
Hitsugaya Toushirou… she closed her eyes and the image of him made her insides burn.
He couldn't love her. He couldn't think of her in the same way she thought of him. And he'd gone through so much unspeakable pain, he couldn't handle any more or he'd break so much he'd never be put together again. So he had to bandage himself up, hold himself together, bandages that will never come off, even though they were choking him.
"So you can't love me, Karin… You shouldn't have fallen in love… with someone like me."
And his parting words, she could still remember how clear and strong they had been. But she couldn't pinpoint what the emotion that had been in his eyes was.
So she scolded herself and was frustrated at her weakness, her stupidity. She had to… get over him! She had to pick herself up again… become Karin Kurosaki again- the one that just didn't care- that never cared.
He's gone now. He's gone back to the Soul Society, where he's meant to be. I guess he must have 'recovered'. And even though she hurt inside and she couldn't stop the stupid longing, she already knew. He's not coming back.
She prepared herself to get on her feet again. She lifted her head and looked up.
He's not coming back.
And he stood there, in his gigai, dishevelled white hair ruffling in the breeze and his cold blue-green eyes looking directly at her.
The pain was unbearable. It was tearing him apart. It took all he had not to visibly grit his teeth and clench his fists and scowl furiously in holding it in. But how can it be… that while it hurt so much, it felt so much better to be here in front of her than away from her?
She felt like someone had just punched her in the stomach. And the feeling curled and moved inside, she almost wanted to throw up, it hurt that much. But she couldn't stop the relief she felt that he was actually here. Right there… standing in front of her.
Her eyes were wide and surprised as she stared at him. She froze, unable to speak or move.
He knew why. He remembered the way she had cried in her sleep. Hitsugaya stared at her somewhat forlornly. What could he say to her now, what could he possibly do, how could he possibly fix everything? He'd been so unbelievably harsh when he'd unleashed all his hurt on her, he never meant for it to happen, he didn't intend to break down like that and yell at her so furiously.
"…Karin," he attempted, his voice soft and unsure.
She grunted in annoyance, finally pulling her gaze away from him. And she seemed immature and stubborn in the way she couldn't bear to look at him, but he caught the true pain in her eyes.
Then, she realized with shock, what if- what if it was all an illusion? What if, when she looked back, Hitsugaya would vanish once again, in front of her eyes? And he'd be gone once more. She clenched her fists because she found it so hard to look at him, but was so scared that he would leave.
Karin got up to her feet and glanced at him for only a brief second, before returning her gaze to the side. Her hands wavered uncertainly at her sides before they found a spot in her pockets.
She blinked, wide-eyed and looked at him. He didn't look away but looked at her, though his icy eyes seemed distant for a moment.
"I'm sorry, Karin," he said. "I said… so many horrible things to you. And I was so angry and furious that you'd like someone like me… I'm sorry."
She opened her mouth as to say something but realized she didn't have anything to say.
"…but it's true that I was angry. And it's true all the things I said- everything that happened and all the crap I've been through. But I realize now that those were the very things holding me back. I was never gonna get better if I continued to blame her and if I never let go of the bitterness inside." He frowned and focused on the grass beneath his feet. "But it's actually a good thing that I let go of all that, even though it must have hurt you in the process, because it's all… healed me."
And he looked up now and met her gaze.
And he smiled.
"All because of you." And the light and the affection in his eyes was no longer hidden. "I came back… 'cause I realized I'd forgotten something. And I… I'm actually so thankful to you, Karin!" His voice cracked a little as his feelings began to come out.
"…I really think I'm better now. I think… I'm gong to keep getting better. I think I'm healing, I'm recovering. And you were the one who helped me recover. Because while I was here in Karakura, soaking in my misery, you always seemed to be here, smiling like you didn't know all the troubles of the world… and even though I wasn't always willing to tell you what I'd been through, you were always willing to listen. …and even though… somehow you came to fall for someone as messed up as me… I don't regret that I was able to spend time here with you."
"I…" he paused, now stumped as to what he could say next. He bit his lip and tried to look at her honestly. "I guess… that's what I came back to say… sorry for everything I put you through, but also… thankyou for being here."
Isn't there anything else you can say? He thought to himself. Isn't there anything else on your heart that is bothering you that you have to tell her? And how are you going to say it? How will you… tell her? That you love her.
Karin's eyes were still wide. And the beating of her heart was still heavy and pained with unrequited love, but it didn't matter so much anymore. Her face warmed up and she smiled. "…it's okay, Toushirou!"
The smile on her face, the forgiveness in her voice… made his heart in his chest take flight.
No. That's not all I came here to say!
He watched with desperate eyes as Karin kind of began to head off, probably to retrieve her soccer ball and leave.
"Karin!" He cried out.
She stood there and looked at him, a questioning look in her brown eyes.
His voice was serious and he forced himself to look straight into her eyes, her icy blue-green eyes intense and honest. "If…"
"If I gave you my heart, would you always look after it?"
She was surprised. He was serious.
"Even though I know I've been through a lot, I don't want to dwell on them anymore. I want to leave them behind. But even though I'm so messed up and my heart is so ripped up and bruised, will you… take care of it? If I… when I return to Soul Society, where I belong… when I go back and try to be myself again… will you still… love me? When I go back, 'recovered', and try to take on my responsibilities again and be the best captain I can be and should be, will you still think of me? Even though I won't always be here, will you promise… to take care of my heart?"
Karin stared at him. Her face grew flushed and she bit her lip with frustration as she felt her eyes grow teary.
Hitsugaya's voice was still serious and honest, but his cheeks were faintly going red as he struggled to spit out the words he so needed to say.
"If I told you that I loved you… what would you do?" And his voice became desperate and slightly torn on the last syllable.
"…I…" Her head was messed up and delusional. Everything was stunning her, like the sun above was so bright and beautiful that she couldn't handle it. How did she know she wasn't just dreaming? How could she know if she was just imagining this all?
She lowered her head and didn't look at him. "I… don't know," she muttered.
Hitsugaya watched her critically. His voice dropped, "I… I thought that maybe if you liked Jun, then everything that happened before wouldn't have happened. But you… you fell for me, and I… I was shocked." A frown appeared on his face. "And I was angry and being selfish because I was drowning in my misery so much I didn't even wanna think that things could get better. And I was scared- I didn't want to try to love again, not after all the pain of loving Hinamori. And I didn't think I could ever put my heart back together, I didn't believe that I could be healed and I didn't think that the bandages would ever come off. So I got angry. I got really… furious when you told me you liked me."
He stepped closer to her and noticed the way her brown eyes were shining and the tears in them brimming. Her mouth was pulled downwards and she was biting her lip to hold in the tears she disliked.
He clenched his hands into fists and told her honestly. "I got angry because I didn't want to let myself have another chance! I didn't want to try again; I didn't want to love again! I didn't believe I could be okay again! But… I got angry… because inside… I'd already fallen in love with you."
Hitsugaya felt his face burn as he struggled not to look away from her. He focused his cold blue-green eyes on her. "…I love you, Karin."
She wouldn't look at him. She was now staring at the ground, her eyes wide as the tears began dripping down her cheeks and onto the grass. She desperately began wiping at her eyes with her hands but the tears continued to fall.
He was devastated and his heart fell. I've… hurt her too much. It's too late…
He felt unsure as he reached out a hand towards her and then found he couldn't let himself even touch her. His fingers lingered close to her arm and then he pulled his hand back. "I… I'm sorry… you… you're crying, Karin."
She sniffled and raised her head.
He stared at her worriedly.
She stuck out her tongue at him, her face still blushing and wet with tears. He was surprised and blinked at her for a moment, his cold eyes wide.
She grinned at him as hard as she could, the tears still in her eyes. And her bright smile made his insides melt and his heart rise up. He stared at her with the overwhelming feeling in his heart.
She kept trying to swipe the tears away somewhat unsuccessfully because they kept coming, but she smiled as hard as she could. "Heh," she laughed. "…I'm okay, Toushirou!"
He stared at her, stunned for a moment more.
"I… I dunno… I just… can't stop crying!" she muttered and smiled as she swiped at her tears. She looked up at him and beamed. "I just… can't stop crying 'cause I… really, really love you, Toushirou!!"
Embarrassment won over her and she scowled in annoyance as she stared down at her feet, flushing bright red. Her voice was awkward and shy, but honest.
"Even though… it really hurt before, with you trying so hard to put me together with Jun… and you getting so angry… just 'cause I liked you. And it was so hard because as much as it hurt me inside, I realized just how much more you'd gone through, and spent so much energy and time trying to put yourself back together and the only method you found for yourself was holding it in and hiding behind these… 'bandages'. And yeah… even though you won't always be here, even though I thought you had left, you came back. And even though I know you're not like me- you're a shinigami… a soul reaper captain with such a heap of responsibility to his name… I… I still love you, Toushirou…!"
She stood there, scowling with irritation at her sentiment and scuffing the toe of her shoes in the dirt. He watched her for only one more second before his heart won out and he had to reach out and hug her. And he realized everything that had once seemed wrong to him, the emptiness inside felt better now. And inside, the pain that never seemed to go away seemed so far away now.
Hitsugaya closed his eyes and tightened his arms around Karin, resting his chin over her shoulder. She peeked over from at the sky from behind his shoulder and let her last tears fall as she hugged him tightly.
And he smiled because he felt the invisible bandages loosen from around him.
Hitsugaya Toushirou didn't seem quite so broken anymore. He'd really been through a lot, but the dark eye circles were long gone, his icy-cold eyes didn't look so distant anymore. And he stood there, in his shihakusho, standing at the gate to Soul Society.
I'm better. I'm really… and truly… better.
And I know I've put the people who worried about me through a lot of things. Every one of them, Matsumoto, the others, even Yamamoto! And Karin…
Hitsugaya smiled to himself in memory as he watched the gates appear.
"…so… will you look after my heart… until I come back again?"
"…Yep, I promise, Toushirou!"
And already inside his chest he felt the slight panging that told him it would hurt being away from her, but he knew it'd be okay. This time… he'd be okay.
He'd be back soon, he promised. And he looked up to see the large gates slowly sliding themselves open in front of him. He saw the whiteness behind the doors stretching out into nothingness.
He'd be back.
Hitsugaya began the walk towards the gate.
Sometimes… to heal you have to rip off the bandaids, even though it hurts. Sometimes, you've got to expose your wounds, your cuts and bruises for them to get better.
'cause your bandages have got to come off someday. Or else your pain will never heal.
He knew now. He couldn't just hide it. And even though he suffered and was broken apart, the bandages he'd wrapped around him didn't bring him the relief he'd wanted. Why'd he ever say he wasn't going to be healed, why did he ever say he could never be put together? Why did he try to hide it all and keep it wrapped up? He'd tried to cover it up and hold himself together so much that the bandages would've eventually choked him.
I'm better. I promise.
Momo… I… I'm over you. But I realize I can't just blame everything on you, because that won't help at all. I… I've gotten better without you. I've found someone who loves me the way I love her. I've… found someone who will always look back at me when I look at her.
And as he took the first step into the open doors, he felt his heart pulsate faster with the anticipation of what was to come.
I'm coming back. This time… I'm back for good.
And I know there will be someone here, in Karakura… waiting for me to visit. And I know she'll always be here… and she won't let go of what I've left her. Because she is precious to me, simply 'cause she is Karin.
Hitsugaya stepped inside, focusing straight ahead, his cold blue-green eyes determined. I… I'll do my best. I'm Captain Hitsugaya, captain of Tenth Division, Soul Society.
And he saw the mist of the Soul Society rise up beside him and he could hear the doors of the gate begin to close. He didn't look back as the view of Karakura began to be hidden.
He'd be back.
And as the doors of Soul Society closed around him, the bandages that he'd once clung to so desperately, the ones that he'd used as a wall between him and the others who cared for him, the bandages that were meant to hold him together but ended up choking him… The bandages fell off, unravelling into nothingness, never to be seen again.
He almost felt a little exposed, he knew his weakness, scars and bruises were still there, uncovered for the world to see. But it would be okay. He was healing.
Soul Society stretched out in his view, the very white buildings almost stunning him.
And inside, he felt so light. His heavy heart once burdened by unmentionable troubles and pains, weighed down more so and trapped from his own bandages, seemed so light now it could fly. And the Captain of Tenth Division adjusted his haori and looked ahead towards his home.
And Hitsugaya Toushirou smiled.
Sometimes… to heal you have to rip off the bandaids, even though it hurts. Sometimes, you've got to expose your wounds, your cuts and bruises for them to get better.
'cause your bandages have got to come off someday...
And Hitsugaya's bandages were gone behind that door, never to return again.
There you go!! *BIG SIGH!! Man, that was tiring! I dunno… that last section… wasn't so sure how to pull that off, but I hope you all understood what I was trying to show. As for the hitsukarin- their conversation was hard to pull off too. And I write so many of those confession scenes in all my fanfic, they seem to get harder and harder 'cause every time, I get tougher on myself in what I want. Still… I really, really hope you all liked it! ^_^ Anyway, Your Bandages is now over!! Thanks so much everybody for reading it all the way through!! You all rock! ^_^ emichii