Chapter 15: One Too Many
"Isn't this nice, Kyoko?"
Kyoko blinked, coming back from the oblivion she'd been in. She realized that she had been staring into space and ignoring Rangiku. Hastily, she nodded. "Yeah. It's nice," she said quietly.
Rangiku looked over at Kyoko. She'd finally talked Unohana into letting Kyoko out of her room to get some sunlight. In her condition, there was no way Kyoko would get far if she tried to escape. Now, all Kyoko could do was stare into space. Rangiku sighed as Kyoko started doing it again. She leaned forward and snapped in Kyoko's face. Sharp blue eyes darted back to her.
"What the hell was that for?" Kyoko asked angrily.
Rangiku stuck her nose in the air and relaxed against the tree they sat under. "You've been staring into space like you're searching for the meaning to life or something. No matter how hard you stare at the sky, it isn't going to open up and swallow you whole."
Kyoko rolled her eyes. "Real nice analogy there, Rangiku. Why'd you bring me out here anyway? Then you made me sit under this tree knowing full well that it'll be hell getting back up. THEN, you don't even bring any..." She was hushed as Rangiku stuffed an onigiri in her mouth.
"You were saying?" Rangiku asked. Kyoko just took a bite of the onigiri and looked away from Rangiku. "I figured you were tired of eating hospital food, so I brought you some treats. Plus, Gin should be coming with..."
"I come." Gin stepped around the tree. "I come bearin' gifts," he said as he held up three bento boxes wrapped in furoshiki cloths. He saw that Kyoko had obviously not heard him. She was devouring the onigiri given to her as if she'd never tasted one before.
Rangiku also noticed Kyoko's preoccupation with the onigiri. She began laughing at her friend. Kyoko looked up from eating and saw Rangiku laughing at her. Then she noticed Gin holding bento boxes. She reached up for one, pulling it out of his hands.
"All ya had ta do is ask. I would've given it to ya," Gin said as he sat down. He handed Rangiku her own. Kyoko had already opened hers and was staring at the food with lustful eyes. "Geez, Oko-chan. Ya act like ya've never had bento before."
Kyoko looked up, her eyes narrowed. "If my memory serves, I haven't had bento since I 'died.' I'm going to sit and cherish this one. Besides, once I have this kid, I'll probably never eat another one of these in my life," she said through a mouth full of food.
Rangiku laughed and began eating her own. Then, as usual, she and Gin began fighting over the sake. They both did not notice Kyoko's sudden pause. When Rangiku finally nabbed the jug away from Gin, she glanced over at Kyoko. Kyoko was still holding a piece of sushi up to her lips and staring straight ahead.
"Fine. Ya can have the sake. I just won't share mah persim..." Gin stopped as Rangiku turned his head to look at Kyoko. "Oko-chan, wha's wrong?" he asked.
The sushi finally fell from Kyoko's shaking hand. She dropped the chopsticks and leaned forward. Then she tried to stand, knocking over her box. "Hurts..." she whispered.
"What hurts? Kyoko, wait!" Rangiku reached for Kyoko's arm to steady her. She turned towards Gin. "Go get Unohana!" she yelled at him. Gin was gone before she finished the sentence. "Kyoko, sit back..."
Kyoko shook her head fervently. "Don't want to. It hurts far too much. Even breathing hurts," she said with a strained expression. She tried to work her way shakily to her feet. "Help me get insi..." She passed out just as Gin returned with Unohana.
Rangiku held Kyoko up. "Goodness, she's heavy. Gin, help!" she yelled. Gin seemed a little stunned, even having his eyes open. Rangiku rolled her eyes and jabbed Gin with one of her hands. "Gin!"
Gin snapped out of it and hauled Kyoko into his arms. "She IS heavy. This kid weighs that much?" he said. Rangiku smacked him in the back of his head.
Unohana stepped forward and took Kyoko's vitals. She nodded at Gin and Rangiku. "She's fine. She's just gone into labor. Follow me, Ichimaru-taicho," Unohana said calmly.
Gin appeared confused. "Well, she can't have the baby if she's unconscious, can she?" he asked.
"Ichimaru-taicho, there's ways around that. Besides," Unohana looked down at Kyoko's pained face, "I doubt she'd want to be up and aware of the pain."
Kyoko opened her eyes. She was laying on a slab of rock. She shivered as she sat up. The mist around her was suffocating. It was like it was humid and cold at the same time. It was an odd feeling around her. Through the mist, she could see different mountain peaks. The sky was invisible through the mist as well.
I must be in my inner world. But why has it changed so much? It's never this misty, she thought.
"You are in a great amount of pain, Kyoko-sama," the voice of her zanpakuto said, echoing around her.
"Shinkyō?" Kyoko pushed herself to her feet, aches and pains all over her body. "Where are you? I can't see you in here."
"I am everywhere, but I am nowhere as well."
Kyoko deadpanned. "Huh? Don't speak in riddles Shinkyō."
"I still cannot materialize for you. The mist is as close as I can come. Your despair and weakness still weighs heavy. However, that is about to change," Shinkyō said.
"What? What do you mean by that?"
"Does your body not feel different? Does it not appear different?"
Kyoko looked down at her body. She was her normal size again. Touching her abdomen, she continued to gape at her regained shape. She glanced back up and around her. "What's going on? What's happening?"
"Tsk tsk. So full of questions, you are. What do you think is happening? Remember anything before you came here?"
Rangiku and Gin sat outside the room where several 4th Division personnel were working with Unohana. Rangiku was twiddling her fingers together. Gin was staring off into space, his smile lacking its usual mischievousness. Rangiku finally sat back against the bench she was sitting on and let out a long sigh.
Gin looked down at her. "Somethin' wrong, Ran-chan?"
"Seems like this is taking too long, you know? Shouldn't we have heard something by now? I mean, it's been..."
"Ya worry too much, Ran-chan," Gin said as he sat down beside her. "Unohana-taicho is the best. She won't let anything happen ta Oko-chan or... Hiya, Ise-san."
Nanao was indeed approaching them. As far as anyone knew, Nanao had not been to visit Kyoko since her return to Soul Society. Rangiku chalked it up to Nanao not being quite as forgiving as she herself was.
"Nanao. This is a surprise. I thought you were still mad at Kyoko," Rangiku said.
Nanao cleared her throat and shook her head. "I am not mad at her, Rangiku. At least, I'm not mad anymore. I was just... hesitant to come. Unohana-taicho summoned me and taicho would not stand for 'disobedience.' He's definitely one to talk," Nanao said.
Rangiku giggled a bit. "He definitely is. But, he might just be helping you in disguise."
"Maybe." Nanao looked towards the door. "Have you heard anything?"
"No. It's been deathly quiet." She shook her head. "I'm beginning to get worried. There hasn't been any noise."
"The walls are soundproof, Rangiku. I though you knew that," Nanao said. Rangiku and Gin shook their heads. Nanao sighed and went to sit beside Rangiku. "You two are pathetic."
Just as Nanao sat, Isane flew out the door. She was looking around frantically. When she faced the other three, she smiled. "Everything's fine," Isane said. She noticed that the three were paying more attention to what she was covered in. "Oh! This is nothing. I was just holding the baby. Unohana-taicho said you all can come in now."
Unohana was beginning to clean up when she noticed Kyoko's eyes fluttering open. The girl blinked a few times. Then she began to look around with a frightened look on her face. Unohana went over to her.
"Unohana-san, what's going on? Why can't I feel..."
"Shhh, Kyoko-san. You've become a mother now," Unohana said, smiling down at her.
Kyoko's eyes narrowed. Then she heard the squall of a baby across the room. She tried to turn her head, but something made her pause. "Unohana-san, I think something's wrong," she said.
Unohana appeared perplexed until one of her subordinates called for her.
"Unohana-taicho, I don't think we're finished yet," she said.
Unohana walked over to the girl. "Well, it appears that we aren't." She noticed Isane returning with Nanao, Rangiku, and Gin in tow. "Isane, I need you here for a moment," she said. Isane nodded and went to her taicho's side.
"Heh. I wonder what's goin' on," Gin asked. He looked to his right and saw that Rangiku and Nanao were already fawning over the baby. He smiled before looking back towards Unohana, Isane, and Kyoko. He noticed Kyoko was awake. "Oko..." He paused when Unohana lifted up a baby. "Twins?"
Rangiku heard Gin's whisper. She glanced over Unohana, who was handing a baby to Isane. "Well, that's certainly a surprise," she whispered.
"What is?" Nanao watched as Isane was cleaning a second baby. "Oh my word," she mumbled.
Unohana walked back over to Kyoko's head. The girl was looking up at her with a rather stoic expression. "You're now the mother of fraternal twins," she said kindly.
Kyoko stared up at the woman for a moment. "Tell me you're joking," she said. Unohana shook her head. Kyoko looked away. "Fuck," she whispered.
Understanding that Kyoko would need a moment to let it all sink in, Unohana headed to where Rangiku and Nanao were each holding a child. The babies had stopped crying and were now making gurgling noises.
Rangiku looked past Unohana and at Kyoko. She could see Kyoko's blank look, but she could also see that her bottom lip was trembling. She looked at Unohana. Unohana nodded. Rangiku glanced at Nanao and motioned towards Kyoko. Nanao began to walk towards Kyoko, baby in hand. Rangiku silently followed.
Kyoko turned her head as her friends appeared before her. They each carried one of her children. She had the urge to look away, but instead her eyes were trained on the two. Rangiku was first to kneel down towards her. Nanao followed and Kyoko looked at the babies.
"Fraternal, eh? They look the same to me," she said shortly.
Rangiku blinked at Kyoko's sharp tone. "Well, they may look alike now. But there are some differences between the two already." She held up the child she carried. "For instance, this one has blue eyes."
"Yes. This one has hazel eyes. It also looks like this one will have black hair, too." Nanao looked at Rangiku and smiled. "It appears that this one is a boy. That's a pretty big difference."
"Yep. And this one is a girl. I'd put my money on her hair being brown. They do have similar faces, though."
Kyoko nodded and looked away again. The inverse of us. What a coincidence, yet it seems strangely appropriate, she thought. She closed her eyes and inhaled. I can't feel their reiatsu. That's odd.
"Are you going to name them?" Nanao asked. When she received no answer, not even an annoyed glance, she looked at Rangiku.
Rangiku sighed. "Well, they're your babies. You can name them on your own time. Just don't wait too long." She nudged Nanao so they could leave.
Unohana stood before Yamamoto. She took a deep breath. "The... Utsuri babies have been born. There were no complications. Both are healthy as can be and with their mother," she said.
Yamamoto opened an eye to look at Unohana. "Babies? There is more than one?" he asked.
"Yes, soutaicho," Unohana said with a nod. "Fraternal twins; a boy and a girl. I found no abnormalities except that they appear to have no reiatsu. They have reiryoku, else they wouldn't be alive. But the pressure of such cannot be felt. No matter how minuscule, one should always feel the reiatsu of another."
"Yes, that's true. What of the Utsuri girl?"
"She is healthy and it appears that she is regaining her strength little by little. I do fear for her mental state, though." Unohana glanced away from Yamamoto. "She might be sinking into a depression."
Yamamoto nodded. "She will have ample time to adjust before she is put on trial."
"Regardless of her state, she is still a traitor. She cannot be exempt from the law, Unohana-taicho."
Kyoko lay on her back. She was back in her room. Her babies were rather quiet, but she could hear their breathing. Squeezing her eyes shut, she tried to imagine that she could not hear them.
Maybe I can will them into nonexistence, she thought. Then she shook her head. That's a horrible thing to think. They're just babies. They haven't done anything wrong. Kyoko turned her head and looked at them. She slowly sat up and swung her legs over the bed. Pushing herself to her feet, she wobbled a bit before trudging slowly to the cradles.
When she got there, she peered into the cradles. The babies were facing one another. It was as if they were talking to each other by the noises they made. Kyoko stared down at them with a frightened expression.
"I... I... I don't know how to be a mother," she whispered.
"You can start by naming them," a rather cold voice said from the door. Kyoko turned her head quickly to see Kuchiki Byakuya standing there. As if reading what her next question would be, he cleared his throat. "Yamamoto-soutaicho has asked each taicho to guard your room in shifts. Now that they've been born, their... safety is of the highest priority."
More like you're waiting to see if Sosuke comes for a visit, Kyoko thought, eyeing Byakuya suspiciously.
"Is that so?" Kyoko looked away from him. "How'd you know I was up?"
"You exerted a fair amount of reiatsu simply trying to walk." Byakuya again read her next question. "It also says 'Baby Girl' and 'Baby Boy' under your name on the door. One can only assume that they haven't been named."
Kyoko nodded and continued to stare at the babies. For the first time, they both looked at her. Kyoko gasped and stepped back, only to step back into Byakuya. She turned and looked at him. He slightly urged her forward. Relaxing somewhat, Kyoko looked back down at the babies, who were now reaching up for her.
"They apparently recognize their mother," Byakuya said, moving from around Kyoko.
Kyoko gave each a finger. They both took to grabbing hold of her. "What should I name you two?" She looked at the boy. "Should I be so bold as to name you after your parents? Rangiku'd never forgive me," she whispered. Then she smirked a bit. "The look on Nanao's face would be priceless, though."
"They are your children. Name them as you see fit," Byakuya said.
She nodded, still looking at the boy. "Kyosuke." She looked at the girl. "And Soko."
Byakuya could on blink at the... creative names that Kyoko had given her children. "Soko and Kyosuke it is. Ichimaru will be here shortly to take my place," he said as he moved towards the door.
"Thanks!" Kyoko said a little louder than she intended. Byakuya turned and looked at her. "Sorry for yelling. Just... thanks for helping me do this," she said. Byakuya grunted something and left the room.
Kyoko continued to look down at the gurgling babies. They appeared to be falling asleep now. She sighed leaned over them as they drifted off. For the first time, she really took in their features.
"They look so much like the both of us. Especially Kyosuke. Give him brown hair and an arrogant aura and he'd be Sosuke easily," she mumbled. She moved to pick up the baby when a flash of light behind her scared her. She scooped Kyosuke up in her arms and cradled him as the baby began to whimper.
Gin was walking up towards the 4th Division's hospital. He gazed up to where he knew Kyoko's room would be. It was impossible to miss; it was the only one barred up. Smirking, he started to lower his head when he saw a flash of light. It was almost so fast that he thought he imagined it. Then the same flash happened inside of Kyoko's room. That set him into motion.
Unohana blinked awake, getting ready to go check on Kyoko's babies. She wondered idly if the younger shinigami had gotten around to naming her children. I've never seen someone look so forlorn at having brought life into the world, she thought as she left her office. She saw the back of Gin's robes as he practically flew up the stairs, almost knocking Byakuya down.
"Odd. Kuchiki-san, do you know what the problem is?" Unohana asked a confused Byakuya.
"I do not, Unohana-taicho. He said nothing. Perhaps something to do with Utsuri-san," Byakuya said.
Unohana stared up the stairs. She could feel Gin heading towards Kyoko's somewhat raised reiatsu. The babies were still unable to be sensed. Then she felt that Grimmjow had also began to stir.
"Kuchiki-san, I will handle this. Send for the soutaicho."
Grimmjow knocked into Gin as he came around the corner. "I guess you felt that, too?"
"Naw. I saw," Gin said, removing Shinsō from its confines. "Get the babies and Oko-chan. I'll deal with the intruder," he said.
Grimmjow frowned but nodded in agreement.
Kyoko had gone still as her visitor approached her from behind. The pressure bearing down on her was unbearable. Curiously, her babies seemed to be immune to it. Kyoko finally managed to turn to face her intruder.
"What the hell are you doing here?" she hissed at Aizen. Then she looked him over. "Still wearing that get-up, eh? Come on. At least add a pair of wings."
Aizen simply smirked at her and began to approach her. He noticed Kyoko tighten her hold on the baby. "I don't need your flattery, Kyoko. To answer your question, I came to see my offspring. Why else would I be here?" he asked, still approaching her.
"Offspring? Don't refer to them as if they're science projects, Sosuke. Leave. I don't want you anywhere near them."
"Them?" Aizen looked genuinely surprised. He stopped approaching Kyoko and stared at her in shock for a moment.
Kyoko blinked. Gin is coming. So is Grimmjow. This could get ugly, she thought. She used Aizen's moment of hesitation to her advantage and turned back around. She put Kyosuke down and turned back to face Aizen. I'm sure he knows too, but I can at least stall him from whatever he intends to do.
"Yes. There are two of them. You didn't think I was that big for no reason, did you?" she said, straightening her yukata on her. "I want you to leave. Now." She inhaled and leaned back against the cradles when Aizen was suddenly in her face. He placed a finger under her chin and lifted it up.
"I'm not leaving until I get what I want," he said.
Kyoko swallowed. "What is it you want? We all know that what Sosuke wants Sosuke usually gets," she said sarcastically.
"I've already told you." Aizen yanked Kyoko to the side, removing her from shielding the cradles. "I want to see my offspring." He stepped forward, still holding on to Kyoko's arm.
Kyoko tried to shake him off, but he held tight. She looked at him as he examined the twins. Then she glanced down at her arm. Aizen grip was tight and it was starting feel like he was burning her. Putting more effort into it, she shrugged him off and looked at her arm. A good deal of skin was missing. Aizen was also looking at her.
"Odd. Since you've had the children it would appear that their abilities have also left you. You can no longer stand my touch." He glanced away from her and back at the babies. "The girl's resemblance to you is uncanny. Even the same narrow stare."
"I don't need commentary on my own kids. I know exactly what they look like. Pity the boy looks like you," Kyoko scoffed, holding her bleeding left arm.
"I rather think he's a good-looking child."
"Pfft! You would." Kyoko noticed him reaching to touch the children. "Don't touch them!" she said, reaching forward and grabbing Aizen's arm. His finger had already met Soko's hand. She was pulling on it and smiling.
"Well, she seems to like me; a far contrast from her mother. She also seems to be able to handle my touch." He reached over to Kyosuke. The baby seemed to glare maliciously at him as Aizen touched his cheek, if that was possible for a baby. He tried to shy away. "He seems to have your attitude towards me."
"Smart kid." Then it dawned on Kyoko what Aizen had just done. "Did you know they would be resistant to you?" she asked.
"Of course not. If they couldn't handle my touch then it would've been a fail..."
Kyoko reacted before her mind caught up with the action. She tried to slap Aizen with her left hand only to have him stop her hand. She winced and wiggled as he held tight. The pain in her hand was starting to become unbearable. She pulled back away from. Aizen moved his arm ever-so-slightly against her pull. Kyoko's widened as her arm snapped off like a twig breaking. She was finally free and stumbled back all the way to the wall across the room, staring in horror where her arm used to be.
Aizen threw her arm across the room and watched her glare after it. She appeared to be trying to say something. Then she glared maliciously at him. Aizen then disappeared from her sight for a moment before suddenly being in front of her again.
Kyoko blinked a few times. She stared up at him through her long bangs. She inhaled deeply and then coughed, blood coming up. Aizen did not flinch as a few drops got on his face. He removed his zanpakuto from Kyoko's chest. She coughed again and fell to her knees.
"Why?" she whispered, staring at the floor.
"Because, Hina," Aizen stared down at her, "you've served your purpose. I have no other use for you."
Kyoko looked at the blood soaking her white yukata from seemingly everywhere. She looked at her remaining hand as it was covered in the blood coming from her chest.
"You still call me by that name. You're so evil. Is this how you treat all the mothers of your children?" she whispered with a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "Don't you even want to know their names?"
Aizen blinked. He had not thought of that. "What are they?"
"So... ko." Kyoko coughed up blood, leaning forward on her hand. "Ky... o... suke." Her arm gave way and she fell flat on her stomach at Aizen's feet.
The door opened right then. Grimmjow took one look at Kyoko and then looked at Aizen. He started for the man. "You..." He was stopped by Gin grabbing onto him.
Gin walked forward, calm over his features. He was never one for emotional displays. The only thing that betrayed him at the moment was his eyes. He was glaring at Aizen with narrowed, icy blue eyes. That was the extent of his concern with the current situation.
"It's nice to see you, Gin," Aizen said.
Gin stared at the man for a moment. Then he smiled, eyes still open. "Likewise, Aizen-taicho. Grimm-kun, could you tend to Kyoko?" he said.
Grimmjow looked between his two former commanders and then looked down at Kyoko. He moved towards her and kneeled down to her. Kyoko's mouth was slightly open with blood dripping from her lips. Her eyes were cloudy and blank from their usual coldness. He shook her to see if she was still alive. "Talk to me, woman!"
Kyoko could hear Grimmjow. He sounded so far away. Her eyes had since clouded over, so she could not see anything clearly. She could vaguely hear Gin and Aizen talking.
Now would be a nice time to die. Sosuke seems to think I've outlived my usefulness, she thought. Grimmjow was still shaking her. She gave an inward sigh. Jaegerjaquez would never forgive me if I died by the likes of Sosuke. I wish he would stop yelling. Kyoko forced herself to slowly blink, giving a sign of life.
There was a loud noise that she could clearly hear. Then she felt something shielding her.
Gin-kun fights for you, Kyoko-sama.
Kyoko mentally acquiesced with her zanpakuto. Let us hope he does better than us, she thought. I wish that slap would've connected, though. That would've been...
She closed her eyes and sighed.