Title: Certain Parallelisms
Warnings: Spoilers for Fake Karakura Arc
Disclaimer: Don't own squat on this or any future chapters!
The Espada turned out to be a woman- a woman with smooth, dark skin and blonde hair gathered into a simple braid. A thick collar covered most of her face, making it difficult to see her face or her expression, but that did not matter because two beautiful green eyes more than made up for it. She stared calmly at him, Hitsugaya noted, no panic, no arrogance, no aggression, simply a placid look.
Too many times, he faced rude, contemptuous opponents, who make cheeky remarks about his age and height. Many questioning his captaincy, but this Espada does nothing of the kind. She motionlessly sizes her opponent, making no remarks, before pulling out her zanpakuto in one swift stroke. A complex set of motions soon followed until finally she swung her sword and yielded the hilt tightly, ready to fight.
Suddenly the serene look in those green eyes vanish, replaced instead by hard, threatening eyes.
For some reason his heart beats rapidly in his chest, not from fear or anticipation but something else. He does not know why, but his heart thumps loudly, like a dull hammer beating over and over again. Still, Hitsugaya does not show this apprehension- he has already become an expert in hiding his emotions and doubts behind a mask of indifference. He unsheathed Hyourinamru, charging into battle.
It'd be best to observe her fighting style, he thinks- forcing himself to get into his usual strategic mode.
But his heart beats loudly in his chest.
And he realized something, in all honestly, he does not want to see her fighting style. No, there's something more behind his actions. He's being greedy and selfish right now, possibly risking the fate of Soul Society. But there's just something about her- something about those green eyes that captivates him, that bewitches him and makes him want to extend this battle for as long as possible.
Hitsugaya soon noted that the Espada is intelligent, calculating too. She does not unleash her true potential but she doesn't toy with him, she simply observes him, silently picking up on a pattern, silently measuring the swing of his sword, silently taking in his behavior. He does likewise, and for a moment, the world disappears behind them. All he can do now is focus on her sword and those green eyes.
Suddenly something unexpected happens.
"Just now there was a disturbance in your rietsu," she speaks, her voice fluid, reminding him of a stream of water.
"What are you talking about?" he harshly retorts, foolishly trying to hide the panic and fear, but she sees through that clever mask of his. "What happened?"
"Hell if I know."
Of course he knows what's going on, and the idea frightens him.
For weeks, Hinamori was under a heavy coma with little chance of waking up. Although a part of him felt guilty for letting this happen, Hitsugaya had come to accept the inevitable fate. But one day, just as he was being debriefed about the King's Realm, the commander-general gave him an unlikely surprise. Hinamori appeared on the screen, fully awake from her coma.
He hoped for a happy reunion when she awoke, where he would tease and laugh with his childhood friend, instead Hinamori was stuck on that bastard. 'Please save him,' she whispered her face pale, sporting ugly, black circles under her eyes. Hitsugaya could only stare in shock until finally he realized something. Aizen had brainwashed her so intensely, warped her mind so wickedly that she was blind to the world around her. That man would forever be in her mind, body, and soul.
He swings Hyorinmaru sending a blast of icy waves. 'What's going on?
He felt Hinamori's presence, so that meant she was entering battle. But why? She would only get in the way, and above all her loyalties couldn't be trusted, and he feared- honestly feared- that Hinamori would foolishly go running to Aizen.
The Espada easily stopped his sword, her green eyes peering through the clumsy lie. She mentioned nothing and again they return to their fight.
Their swords repeatedly clash, both caught into a stalemate as neither reveals their full potential. The fight continues to drag longer and longer, the world some far away figure, until another disturbance occurs. This time she is the one acting strange. Hitsugaya doesn't know what triggered this unusual behavior but he can't attack her as she stares off into space, softly reciting each of her Fraccion's names and congratulating them on their performance. She seemed so sad then, so sad and lonely that for a moment Hitsugaya can't help but feel empathy and sympathy towards her.
She turned towards him then and yanked the zipper of her jacket- the jacket flapping in the wind. The harsh number 3 tattooed on her left breast reminds him that she is the enemy that he cannot offer her any mercy.
Her eyes meet him, and they are not sad anymore. They have become hard and vengeful as she discovers a new reason for fighting.
"I have yet to show what I can really do."
Her declaration drives him into a mild state of panic, and he clumsily unleashes his bankai, easily getting shoved into a building by a relatively simple attack. "This is a captain's strength?" she ponders in that cool voice of hers. "Apache and the others lost to this?" He says nothing, silent derailing himself for loosing his cool. Her green eyes continue to watch him, cold and distant- a complete different person then moments before- and then she grips her sword, dripping it from the sky. "Attack Tiburon."
Water gushes from almost nowhere- a giant tsunami has appeared over the little town- wrapping and enveloping her into a small cocoon, closing tighter and tighter like a sea clam. The smell of salt and sea fills his senses as the endless water continues to pour onto her. Time slows, and all he could hear was the pounding of his heart and the torrents of water, slowly transforming the Espada.
Finally after an eternity, she cuts through the shell, a complete different being.
'I can't underestimate her,' he thinks, taking precautions against this unleashed form. It proves useful as he learns that her speed has more than doubled in this new stage.
She is a formidable opponent, Hitsugaya also learns. Almost ironically she can control the ice that he controls so well, and he can control the torrents of water she controls so well. They think so similarly- every attacked, every defense, every strategy- is so similar to one another that after a moment, Hitsugaya could almost laugh at the exact plan they came up with.
"You're waiting for the same thing, aren't you?"
She does not reply but he can read her mind. She wants to create a sea like he wants to create an avalanche. Both of them use water, though in different stages, as their prized weapons, and both of them will use water to kill the other one off. Neither of them will underestimate the other because they both know just how much power the other holds.
"What is your name Espada?" he asks. The battle is about to end shortly and it didn't last as long as he would have hoped. He hadn't been able to examine her as long as he had wanted- he hadn't been able to stare at those green eyes long enough. But he guesses that's okay. He has come to respect and admire her in their short time period.
"Tres Espada, Tia Harribel," she answers, cool and unafraid despite the darkening skies. She can read his mind as easily as he can read hers, and a part of her must know that this might be her end. A part of her can sense that she would not be able to avenge her loud, obnoxious Fraccion but she thinks maybe they will forgive her.
"I am Captain of the Tenth Division, Hitsugaya Toshiro."
It's alright to die this way, she thinks, with the name of her opponent fresh in mind, not because she holds a dying grudge but because she has come to respect him. Though he is young, she knows he is more than a worthy, strong opponent.
The heavens darken and a hole rips through the sky, emitting pretty white snowflakes that bloom into flowers. They fall silently, blooming into a wild garden as it makes contact with her skin, until she cannot move- she has become entrapped in the ice.
Harribel looks at him her face a mixture of... resignation? Though the white hollow mask has been removed he still cannot read her face instead he has to look at her green eyes to see... wait, it was acceptance and sadness.
"I'm sorry you won't be able to avenge your subordinates." He apologizes, sincerely apologizes.
When the last petal falls she will die, Hitsugaya thinks. This beautiful woman frozen in an obelisk of ice will die gradually, just as these flowers wilt and die. In the end she will become nothing but bits of ice that will be blown into the wind, her remains scattered. He doesn't understand why it brings him sadness as he stares at her lifeless face through the clear ice. He doesn't understand why something unsettling is curling in his stomach.
Hitsugaya stares at her green eyes, reading her final emotions as though reading a book. A beam of light bounces off the smooth ice surface, causing him to catch a glimpse of his reflection.
He finally notices. They both have the same green eyes.