((This is the sequel to Faux Smiles, which was going to be way too long if I kept it within one story. If things don't make sense now, they will in time. If you've been reading, you know how I am by now.))
Gentle beeping noises sounded every other moment, a rasping noise of oxygen being forced into still lungs. It was a dark, quiet room otherwise, and very peaceful altogether. The door slid open quietly, a soft sweeping noise as harsh fluorescent lights poured in the dimly-lit area and a new resident entered the room with clicking footsteps. They made their way somewhat noisily to the long table in the center, stopping abruptly at its edge.
"Hm...no changes in vitals." The man's voice murmured, as he reached down and pressed his fingers to the side of the test subject's neck, feeling a weak but apparent pulse beneath his fingertips and through the material of his immaculate gloves. His lord hadn't visited in an eternity, it seemed. She had most likely lost his interest, or maybe he had even forgotten about this relic. The scientist twitched his head gently to the left, soft pink-colored hair complying and moving out of his amber eyes. Szayel Aporro Grantz, Octava Espada was considering putting in a request to turn off her life support, so he could make use of this room once again with experiments that actually needed to be done. He toyed with the clipboard at the end of the bed, reading over it for the millionth time out of boredom.
"Full intebation. Semi-permanent coma." He murmured, reaching up and offhandedly brushing her hair out of her face and taking her by the chin, lifting her head up a bit and turning it left and right. She had lost the color to her face, gone nearly as pale as Ulquiorra from the ages she spent in this dim room. The wheezing noise still filling the room now and then was coming from the tube down the woman's throat, forcing air into her lungs. Needles pierced her veins, keeping her body fed and hydrated. Aizen's own illusory coma kept her under, and she remained a fixture of Las Noches, a relic of the past. A single chair sat against the wall on the far side of the room, well-worn through countless visits. The floor had scuff marks where someone had carelessly dragged the chair along the clean white floors, over to the woman's side.
"Hm...Ichimin Kumorigachi." Szayel repeated her name, letting her head go and making sure the breathing tube hadn't come out of place. She fell limp on the table again, dirty blond hair splayed out around her head like a halo. Szayel's cold fingers lay on her flesh, the thin white kosode only implemented at Gin Ichimaru's request. Aizen didn't care if she was exposed or not, and even his Espada could see quite plainly that Sosuke Aizen was losing interest in this woman as a person and now wished to keep her as a specimen in his 'collection' of interesting things, instead of dealing with her moods and fluctuating emotions. He never visited at all anymore.
One person kept on coming back, though. Once a day, every day.
"Hey, Szayel-chan! Looking as sexually ambiguous as always!" The cheery voice rang out behind him, and the scientist inwardly groaned. Outwardly, he sighed near inaudibly but didn't look back as footfalls traced towards his back. The tall figure loomed over him, casting a shadow over Ichimin's comatose face. The Octava didn't look back, only spoke while examining the clipboard again.
"Greetings, Ichimaru-san. Come for your daily visit, have you?" He queried without interest, hearing Gin chuckle over his shoulder. The ex-shinigami walked over to his chair, dragging it along the white floors with a horrific screeching noise that Gin seemed immune to. Szayel's eye twitched, but he did nothing more. Finally finished dragging the chair, Gin fell into it and began to watch Szayel mess with this and that on Ichimin, mainly her needles. Checking if they were in correct position, unblocked, all that. The fox-faced man was leaning his chin into his hand, smiling his eerie smile. As always.
"What do you do in here, Ichimaru-san? If it isn't a terrible chore to answer me, of course." The sarcasm in Szayel's voice could be heard, though it was his normal sort he used whenever he spoke to...well, anyone. Even Aizen got the tone, though he didn't seem to mind it as long as Szayel remained a scientist worth keeping around. Ichimaru just chuckled in a rather hollow manner, while remaining maddeningly silent for the longest time. Grantz didn't look too concerned with the silence. Eventually, though, he did speak.
"Well, li'l Szayel, I talk. Thassit."
What a disappointing answer. Though Szayel didn't really know what else he wanted to hear. Maybe something scandelous, to gain his interest for a moment. Ah well. Szayel tsked, very loudly, as he adjusted her needles.
"Talk? About what? She's a breathing corpse. Completely catatonic, totally unresponsive. What could you possibly talk about for any length of time? I know you spend at least an hour, sometimes two to three, in here." His light voice nearly held a tone of accusation in it, though for what crime was and remained unknown. Ichimaru just laughed, and it was positively chilling.
"I talk about old times. When we first met, how great the warm sun feels on a person's skin, how so many women would've been so damn envious of her for being Aizen's favorite for a little bit, how great the war's been, shinigami casualties, all sorts of stuff." Gin explained, sounding just a bit more cruel than normal in his amusement. Szayel glanced back over his shoulder, a single amber eye framed by bone glasses examining the ex-shinigami.
"And why do you talk to her? She can't hear you but on the most basic level. The soundwaves bounce off her eardrum, but her conscious brain makes no recognition of the words or what they mean." The scientist lectured, noting that Ichimaru wasn't dampened in the slightest. The traitor shinigami shifted in his seat, leaning back in it as if it were Aizen's throne itself. "Well, Szayel-chan, that's only on the most basic level. Her conscious brain can't hear it, but what if her subconscious does?"
Szayel only stared on a moment, raising a pink, well-manicured eyebrow at him. Gin sighed between his teeth.
"Awright, I heard tha' dreams come from the subconscious. From somewhere, don't matter where. But if that's true, an' my words are reachin' her subconscious, then she might just dream about what I'm tellin' her."
Szayel sighed, finishing playing with her tubes and turning on his heel, heading to the door. "Do what you want, Ichimaru-san. Just don't kill her, or it falls on my head. Somehow." He had a bit of acidity in that last word, heading out the door and closing it behind him with a loud crash. Gin watched him go, childishly waving goodbye before the scientific hollow left and Gin settled back in his chair, looking at Ichimin.
"Things've been good, since you been gone. Aizen's got his kingdom full 'a slaves that think they're worth something, the war is going great for our side, and you lie here like a doll. Things're great." He toyed with her hair, still smiling malevolently. "Aizen's had some wild nights with Menoly and Loly, from the sound of it. They want him bad, want to be his girls. If only they knew what it was like, huh? But then again, you can't say anything to halt them. Even if you were awake, they wouldn't hear a word of it. Just how the world goes, huh?"
He continued to mess with her hair, pushing it out of her face near gently.
"Everyone's got a good life 'cept you. Wonder how that happens, huh? Don't remember you ever doing anything warranting a years-long coma. Then again, you did fall for Aizen, so you did technically warrant it. Poor dame, didn't know, didja? Lamb to the slaughter." Gin continued on, speaking a one-way dialogue with a comatose woman living off a noisy respirator. Gin looked almost introspective for a moment, as if he were thinking hard.
"Pretty sad ending for a pretty sad girl. I never liked sad endings."
Gin was quiet a moment longer, losing his smile for a moment. He stared at the blank wall for a few seconds, thinking things over.
"Guess tragedies don't have anything but sad endings, do they?"
He spoke quietly, remaining almost human for a moment. Then, a malicious grin cracked upon his face again and Gin Ichimaru looked like a devil all over again.
"Ah well. Somebody has to have a sad ending for someone else to have a happy one, eh? You just rolled the dice wrong, I guess. Don't matter; Aizen is happy and you're in his collection, so nobody else can have ya. Yer his till you die. And I don't think ya gonna die to soon, seeing as you're like this. I could, I could pull this cord with my foot, kill you, save you right here and now, but I ain't gonna. You look so serene on that nice table, and I don't wanna get poor Szayel-chan in trouble, do I? Then he'd get a sad ending, and we don't want another one of them."
He stood up from his seat, neglecting to move it back again. Someone else would do it, they always did. Gin sauntered towards the door, whistling a merry tune.
"Life's a joke, Ichimin. Ya laugh at it, or ya just cry."
He stepped out and the door shut behind him, leaving Ichimin alone and abandoned in the harsh fluorescent lights of the intebation room.