Waiting on a Dream
You'll never catch us
So just let me be
Said, I'll be fine
The days roll by.
He's done trying to chart them, trying to work out how long he has been here. Nights fade to days fade to nights again; but at times it's as if the sky never changes. Some days go quicker than others, some drag on as if eternity is imprisoned in the skyline, not letting the sun set on the horizon so the night can arrive, to pass, and let the next day come. He has to wait, wait in what feels like an endless prison even though this is the most freedom he has ever known.
He has done many things with his life, but this is perhaps the strangest.
Not because he is alone- he is used to loneliness, after all. But he is alone now, and that is a change, and it did take him a while to get used to it again. When Lilynette was destroyed in battle the part of her that was him reverted back to his body, and it was strange to feel whole again, even a little unpleasant. Learning to wake up without her jumping on him was hard, at first, like losing an alarm clock whose tones you have become used to over the years. But he still hears her voice in his mind some days, so he knows she is not entirely gone.
He is not scared of being by himself again; he is waiting for someone, after all.
The days roll by; he still waits.
He watches the sun fall and rise again in a world that is so quiet he thinks he could hear his own heart beat, if he had one.
There is a room, in an abandoned building a long way away from anywhere, where he rests and waits. It took him weeks to learn to walk again; his body had been shattered by the power of the last man that he fought, and it took him a long time to rebuild everything that he had lost. He had spent nights with clenched teeth as muscle rebuilt itself, days of agony as his shattered bones re-knit the breaks. The pain had felt as endless as time itself, and he had wondered, at times, if it would have just been better to die.
He is glad now that he did not, but he knew that he would never forget those days in which he could only see the blackness of death.
He remembers being stared at though, thoughtfully, from just before, by a man trying to make a decision.
The stars shine down at him from a black sky. He is too far away from any other person for there to be any light to ruin the night view, and so he lies on dew-damp grass, in cold so sharp it would make him shiver, if only he could feel it, and he watches them, wondering how many years it has taken each star to send its light down to earth. There were no stars in Hueco Mundo. There had been no light to guide the way but the soft and unearthly glow of the shard of moonlight, reflecting off improbably white sand.
He thinks he prefers this world, to that. The sun rises here. It makes him feel more alive.
He still doesn't understand why the Captain saved his life. He still cannot come up with a reason why the man swooped down from the skies, cradled his bleeding body against his chest and moved with impossible speed. He remembers staring up from the rubble, the blood warm against his face, the sky torn apart by flying splinters of rietsu. Then the darkness. Then the pain. The pain was much worse than the blackness- at least when he was faced with only that he didn't have to deal with the painful idea of living again. There were voices sometimes, from far away, a deep male voice saying something that he just couldn't understand.
A woman's voice, too. And another man, he thought, who sounded vaguely familiar.
Then he woke, and though the light nearly blinded him and he was awake only a few seconds it was enough. He had known, then, that he was not going to die.
He remembers nothing much about the few days that followed his waking, just a blur of cool hands and a woman's kind face and a sweep of flower printed fabric. Someone must have healed him, done the things that he could not have done left alone, like rewoven the parts of his punctured lungs and destroyed heart. They had left his body then to heal itself as it could, once the vital damage had been repaired. He had managed: nothing hurt any more, except for the vague ache that he sometimes felt deep down in his chest.
He can feel the scar tissue, in his chest, right now; it was fixed by a hand much more skilled than his own.
When the blood passes through his body sometimes he tries to pretend that it is a heartbeat, but knows it is a lie.
Life is a mess of confused memories, he thinks. He remembers falling, and a soft hand.
And then there was the night air again; the tumultuous air of shunpo, where you move through rain clouds with speed enough to shatter them. He had been on someone's back, and was not strong enough to raise his head to see who was holding him. He simply stared at the moon in the sky, and wondered why he was still here.
Then he had woken again, properly this time, in this room. And though it was weeks ago now, he waits and recovers his strength, because he knows that he was not saved for a poor reason, and that his savoir will come back.
He waits. He has had an endless length of time to practice, and knows that this will be nothing in comparison.
Besides, he feels like what he is waiting for will be worth it.
Across the borders of the worlds, another man stands at his window and watches the clouds roll by, wondering whether or not it was time yet. Could this be the right moment? It was hard to tell. He had been waiting for the heat to cool down, waiting for when people would begin to come to terms with what had happened, but wounds in the mind take a lot longer to heal than wounds in the body, and injuries to the heart go even deeper. That was what this war was to the Gotei; a sudden blow to the heart, a blow of betrayal like a stab in the back, and they still hadn't recovered.
One day, he thought, he might not be harshly punished for what he did.
One day, he might even be accepted for it.
But that day was not today, and he guessed that he would have to wait a while still before he could face the man that he had saved from the final, collapsing blow of battle, longer still before the man would stop having to hide.
It had been a risk, and he didn't know if it would pay off, but he was still glad that he had taken it.
Even now, he still woke in the night with those eyes haunting him.
Strong, across the battlefield. Confused, as he woke in a strange place. Helpless, as Unohana ran her skilled hands across his ruined chest. Resigned, as he stared up at his killer from the debris of a ruined town, knowing that he was going to die.
Those grey, grey eyes, like the ash of a broken world.
He closed his eyes, and smiled to himself, and lifting his cup of sake to his mouth he sent a silent toast out across worlds, to that man's continued health.
He knows that one day someone will find out, and when they do, he will be held responsible for his actions. Regardless of how he may be punished for what he did, he knows nothing will be as bad as the guilt that he would have felt leaving such a man to bleed to death on a battlefield to which he held no alliance. This war was no more his than it was the innocents of Karakura: in those brief moments within the Espada's mind, he had understood that he was not here for any allegiance to Aizen's cause, not drawing his sword out of hatred or rage but simply out of loneliness.
When he realised that, he could not deliver the final blow.
He may have destroyed his world, but he didn't care. If he had, it was a destruction of his own making. Maybe he was getting too old, maybe that was why this apathy for rules was sinking in, why disillusion was suddenly haunting his decisions to kill. Life, he had come to understand, was too precious a thing not to protect. Life in any of it's many forms.
Especially a life so close to him, a life, he thought, that might stand side by side with his.
A soul that might, just, match his own.
One day, he thought, when the time was right, he wouldn't care anymore about this place and these rules, and he would leave.
He would go to that old, abandoned building miles from anyone or anywhere, and he would look into those grey eyes again, and explain why he did it.
He hoped those eyes would smile back at him.
They say the captain goes down with the ship
So, when the world ends will God go down with it?
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