So, I'm definitely not caught up with Bleach, and this piece reflects that, having been started all of three-plus months ago. That said, Aizen needs to die as soon as possible, which is right now.

However, that's not what we're here for. Instead, have some Gin/Rangiku character study with an ending that I'm pretty sure will not be canon. You know you want some.

Review and enjoy.


cycles


i.

They keep trying to get it right.

(They keep breaking over and over again.)

ii.

He finds her first.

She is little and fragile and breaking on the ground at his feet. Even so, all he can do for a while is stop and look, really look, because she is just so small and its like she might fall apart if he touches her. After a time, he crouches down next to her, waiting, watching her chest rise and fall.

When she wakes up, it's with a moan, her eyes slit. Silently, he hands her his last hunk of bread, ignoring the feeling of his stomach cramping.

"Eat this."

iii.

In the twilight, she likes to sit on the back porch and swing her legs, the too-big sandals slipping off her feet while she waits. If she sits just so, ear cocked and chin tilted towards the sky, she can hear crickets.

She always gets a terribly lonely feeling in the pit of her stomach when he goes away. During the day, she can wait, drawing in the dust with her finger or cleaning the small room they live in until all the grime is gone. By the time she finishes, it is always late evening, when the stars begin to come out in the overwhelming dark.

Then, and only then, does she let herself think about where Gin is while she waits for him

(there have been nights when he comes home and she thinks that it's blood covering him and he doesn't tell her anything but lets her try to wash it out)

while the sky turns black.

iv.

When he is young (but not that young, for even prodigies have their limits), he enters the Academy, and by his second month as a soul reaper, he is in a division.

The men stare at him, because he is small and pale, with his thin sword and the expression on his face that nobody ever seems to read, and they are afraid. The fear nearly chokes him one mission, shoving itself down his throat and making him turn around to look at a large man who shakes in terror, and he doesn't know why.

Then he looks down at his hands, and he sees blood that stains and stains, turning the creases in his palms that dark, dark red. His face is splattered, he realizes, the liquid running down his cheeks, and the man calls him "monster" and runs.

That night, he goes home very carefully, trying not to wake up Rangiku, but it doesn't work, and she worries and fusses over him like always, trying to rub something's life out of his skin. He lays awake on his futon after she finally falls asleep, his sword next to his side, and knows that he never wants her to look at her hands and see red in the creases.

The next day, he smiles as widely as he can when he reports in for duty.

v.

Time passes. Rangiku becomes a soul reaper; Gin becomes a seated officer. People praise him for his skill at completing missions, which is the polite way to say he's a good murderer (he can kill and kill and that's what's important). Others think that she's a complete slacker, but her heart's in the right place (she doesn't like killing and she doesn't try to be good at it).

At night, they sit on the porch and stare at the sky, wondering out loud if they'll ever sleep long enough for the images printed on their eyelids to disappear.

vi.

"Do you want some sake?"

He grimaces, the easy smile sliding off his face for a moment before he puts it back in place. She wonders who else here can see that, can catch the moments where the mask slips and his mouth tightens.

"You know I don't like alcohol."

She sighs into her cup. Only the way his mouth presses together shows that he noticed.

vii.

There are things that she can't touch, places that she can't go. She knows this.

Sometimes, the darkness is too dark, dark like ink, and the scars feel alien against her callused fingertips. In the night, she can feel him shaking against her back, every image of death and blood pressing into his consciousness. It hurts him, she knows, and it hurts her too, because they are still young and yet he looks so old and weary, like time has given him but a short while to live and he can see the numbers ticking.

But when she tries to heal the wounds, make the hurt go away, he grabs her wrist and pulls her into his (bloody raw thin pale) chest and whispers in her ear until she can't remember what she was going to do.

There is duplicity, she thinks, and then there is Gin, and she honestly doesn't know which is worse.

viii.

Then he disappears.

"Wish you could've captured me a little longer", he says. Like that can fix it. As if that can stitch up the gash that she feels in her chest, because it hurts.

It was the strangest feeling, the sudden loss of contact, standing on the edge, and only grasping at air. Seconds later, she was still staring at the space he had been, confused and disoriented and hurting. When taichou says something, it vaguely floats into her ear before she starts, turning and stumbling over the emptiness he'd left behind him.

He was always able to do that, take parts of her and leave her wanting, and she'd never known what to do about it. Now, though, she just feels the little ache in her chest and winces before steeling up so she can return to reality, to Soul Society, to not-Gin.

ix.

Hueco Mundo is dark and desolate, lacking of colors and brightness. In fact, its so deeply boring that he has to amuse himself by observing, moving corridors and aggravating whoever he can to keep his mind off things.

Aizen can tell he's bored, of course – Aizen is one of the few people who truly know him, though not the one who knows him best. Aizen can see his cheerful manipulations, and occasionally sends him out into the human world, or gives him tasks of nominal importance, because he needs to keep his best lieutenant in check. They may not always have the best of relationships, but Aizen at least recognizes that Gin could be dangerous, under the right circumstances, and that's better than being merely a body to do the fighting.

Sometimes, he stands outside and looks up at the crescent moon, fighting back the numbness that threatens to engulf him, and wonders if she's out on their porch, staring at the sky. Then, he shakes his head. It's no good to think of things he can't have.

x.

"Do you ever think about him?"

Kira has gone past happily buzzed, she observes as she swirls her cup of sake, and has long since reached the land of mind-numbingly sloshed to become a melancholy, drowning-your-sorrows sort of drunk.

She kind of hates it when he gets like this, which should be enough reason to not ever go out with him again, except for the fact that he looks so sad when he comes over that she agrees to help him forget. Sucker, taunts her mind, and she supposes its true, because she can never say no, not without feeling guilt and suddenly gaining a reason to stop by at the third division late in the night.

Every once in a while, when the moon rises and she hears crickets, she welcomes the haze that the alcohol promises.

"Well, do you?"

"…Sometimes."

(It keeps the memories down.)

xi.

Soon, they will attack Karakura Town. He doesn't really feel much about it, as he's gone into some sort of numbness a long time ago, but it registers, at least. Aizen tells him what his duties are, and he nods, and smiles the huge fake smile, and walks out the door.

He's halfway to his quarters when it hits him. Everyone will be at Karakura Town, defending the residents, trying to keep them (Aizen) from stealing souls – and everyone means her.

Before he realizes, his fist has struck the wall, making an indent and cracking the white plaster, though he checks himself before going all the way through. A passing minion scampers off, frightened by his sudden frown, and he can feel his fist clenching around his sword hilt with white knuckles.

He hadn't expected this, this feeling of fear and expectation and want, coiling at the pit of his stomach. Perhaps he was lonelier than he thought. Perhaps he just needs to leave, go to the human world, kill a soul reaper grunt or a weakling hollow before he comes back.

Perhaps, states his conscious, which looks a lot like a younger him in the back of his thoughts, you miss her.

He shakes his head. He doesn't miss her. He doesn't.

Even if he does, though, he'll numb up once more. He's done it before. He can do it again.

xii.

She is dying, she thinks.

It's an odd feeling. After all, she was young when she passed on, she didn't really understand anything. But now that she's older, she can feel it, all the blood slipping out as if it's running through her fingers.

A second passes, her breath becoming more and more shallow. Each time the air blows through her lips, she feels her lungs shudder. Momo is crying, she thinks, and Kira keeps trying kido over and over again even though it won't work, and taichou is going to kill her because she hasn't done her paperwork (as usual) and he'll have to do it (again).

She's going to miss him the most, though, and she knows it. Despite all the things he's done, all those times that she wasn't able to get the blood out of his clothes and his hair and his soul,

(this is just a delirious dream, because she sees him in front of her, as if he's there while her last breath rattles in her chest)

she's going to miss Gin.

xiii.

He watches her die, and something shatters deep in the last remnants of a soul.

For a few moments, shocked out of his apathy, he doesn't quite believe it. No, he thinks, Rangiku isn't supposed to die. Rangiku is supposed to grow old, is supposed to live a good life and drink too much sake and smile like she used to. She isn't supposed to end.

His younger self looks up at him, and shouts at him, says things like you were supposed to protect and you were supposed to take care of and what the hell are you doing, you monster? And it hurts, this reminder, it hurts him because he was supposed to do these things for her, wasn't he, that's what he meant to do all this time. It was all for her, all so that they could live, really live—except she's going to die dying dead.

Aizen says something about "such a waste", and before he knows what he's doing, he whispers quietly to his blade. When Aizen turns and inquires as to what he said, Shinsou stabs forward.

"I've always wondered what death would be like."

xiv.

Asahina Setsuko may not be a good student, but she is a good person. After all, even though she doesn't like to study or do paperwork, she is kind and encouraging (and smoking hot, according to the male population at the university) to her fellow (under-paid and over-worked) man. Today is just one of her off days—because there is a huge term paper due tomorrow and she is on sentence number three, which she thinks is a good reason to be a little grumpy.

She sits in the tiny little coffee shop that stays open until four in the morning, wishing she had thought a little more about both her paper and her quickly dwindling supply of cash. In a fit of pique, she slams her head on the table, muttering something under her breath about never leaving things to the last minute ever again.

A figure slides into the chair across from hers, and when the duration of their presence reaches the point that it would be rude not to acknowledge them, she looks up.

A boy slides into the chair across, his smile achingly familiar, and waves a little. "Hello."

For a second, she doesn't know what's going on – who? what? – but a little part of her, down deep, goes Oh.

She smiles back. "Hello."


Fin


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