a downward spiral

Tousen doesn't like to think about it, but things seem more and more hollow every day. (Hollow. Now there's a joke. The sort of thing that Ichimaru would smile at.)

Earlier it had all made so much sense, and it had all been consistent, understandable, possible. It hadn't hurt (and how odd that it should hurt now, that it should feel so baseless and unsupportable) to say that he believed in a path of least blood, to honestly tell Komamura and Hisagi-kun that he looked for a way to peace and justice, with minimum bloodshed, only the absolutely necessary, only when there was no other choice –

It had been a necessary sacrifice when those commoners died a hundred years ago for Aizen-sama's vision. Regrettable but necessary. And the other shinigami. And even the captains and vice-captains – well, they would have passed on anyhow, and lived again as humans, and nothing ever really dies, and they were shinigami, and it had been shinigami who took her away from him even before she died, and in any case Aizen-sama shared his views and wouldn't have had anyone killed unless it was necessary.

Besides, if Yamamoto-soutaichou hadn't gone and sent all the other captains to investigate, it wouldn't have been so . . . extreme. Everyone owned a share of blame. Not just him.

He had done his duty as a shinigami, however much he loathed the organisation, however much he had to restrain his temper and control his angers and his fears. There had been the odd worthy individual. Komamura. Hisagi. Others. People who were trying to work towards the light, however imperfect their understanding was, however much they failed to see that the system couldn't be changed from inside. He had held to a path of righteousness and waited for Aizen-sama's word, waited for the day when everything would change and when he could honestly tell the people who he had come to view as friends, look, this is how it should be, and isn't it better this way? Isn't it fairer? Isn't it more just? See, it was all worthwhile, it was . . .

First he had believed in her, and then he had believed in justice for what had been done to her, and then he had believed in Aizen-sama, and it had gone on until what he believed in had bled out of him like blood through an open wound, until belief was all that there was left.

How dare they pity him?

He runs Hisagi through and kicks him away, and he strikes at Komamura to kill, and as he fights he tells them what he believes in -

- what he has always believed in, what he surely must always have believed in, and that must have been the reason for everything he has done, because otherwise he is rotten at the core and deluded and a fool who has shed blood for nothing, for worse than nothing -

- and he looks inside himself and can find nothing but hate, and so he spits that hate at them and hopes that it will burn them as much as it burns his own heart, for there is nothing else left. All his hope now is built on a dream of revenge, and all his faith is in Aizen-sama, and all his charity has been thrown away (and wasted, the last shred of her whispers), and now this must be his justification and must always have been his justification.

Didn't you know I always hated you? Didn't you know that it was only for revenge? Can't you see that is all there was and all there ever will be? he asks, as calm and cold as cracking ice . . .

. . . and he will not see the pity in their eyes.