disclaimer: disclaimed.
dedication: merry christmas, elle. :)
notes: project e!, over at AAG. we're all fantastic people.
notes2: hetalia fandom = UNSPEAKABLE HORRORS.

title: the ultimate fling
summary: Rangiku and a fifth of Gin, sitting in a bar.






The clink of ice against glass was lost in the dull roar of the bar.

It was all neon lights and dim smoke, the shining glasstop marred with fingerprints. The floor was sticky with dried booze, and smelled vaguely like day-old vomit.

Dark blue eyes scanned across the expanse of the dim room.

Rangiku was not amused.

She brought the glass in her hand to her lips. The amber liquid inside it sloshed enticingly. She tipped her head back and down a mouthful. It burned all the way down, and Rangiku was tempted to sigh in content.

Good old Jack.

"What're ya drinking?" said a voice to her right. It was slick and smooth, oiled, a voice Rangiku thought she should have known.

"Nothing you're buying," she replied, voice dry, face turned away. A swish of strawberry-blonde hair obscured her vision of his face, and Rangiku didn't bother to brush it away. She heard him laugh—he thought she was joking, probably.

They all thought that.

But she wasn't.

Rangiku didn't look over her shoulder, and called "Hey, barkeep, another?"

Shunsui's answering chuckle and the splash of whiskey against glass had Rangiku smiling.

She took the whiskey, and glanced down at her reflection.


Rangiku snorted, and shot it back.

Flawless. What was flawless?

She could feel eyes on her bare shoulders. She didn't look at her companion. "Why are you still sitting next to me?"

She felt him shrug. "Because."

"Huh," she said. A strange little smile played across her lips, haunted and melancholy in the cast of the neon light from the fluorescent signs hung just above the barkeep's (Shunshi—was it wrong that Rangiku was here enough to know the man's name?) head.

Rangiku looked around the bar.

System failure for the masses.

She shook her head, slowly, and sipped the whiskey.

It burned like a sword in the side, like a white-hot-poker against flesh, like falling backwards into ice-water, like running away with the wrong person.

Rangiku snorted, and looked at the man sitting next to her for the first time.

(What was the wrong person, anyway?)

"There'ya are, Ran-chan."

That voice.

The memories came rushing back, and Rangiku was ten, crying into his chest, shaking, feeling dirty, so dirty. The memories came rushing back, and Rangiku was fourteen, hiding a bleeding boy in her bedroom while snow fell outside the window. The memories came rushing back, and Rangiku was seventeen, sitting in an empty room with her head down as a plane took off somewhere else.

"Hello, Gin."

He looked at her, cat's grin fixed in place. "How've ya been?"

She almost didn't want to answer. She was drunk. She tipped her face to the side, and avoided his slit-eyed smile. She didn't want this—didn't want him, not anymore.

She'd grown up, even if only a little.

(Or not.)

"I've been… okay," she said.

"Of course ya have."

She hated the inflection in his voice. Like she couldn't take care of herself, or something—but then, Gin hadn't been the same in so long. And hatred—hatred was strings of ice-cold feeling, like anger only frozen solid. Rangiku didn't like it.

Rangiku had never really hated someone before, but she hated Gin.

"I have been," she said.

"Sure, sure," he replied.

The neon glare glinted off Gin's hair. The silver strands looked like liquid in the light. Rangiku gripped the glass so tight her knuckles were white. Everything dimmed down.

The bar roared an irritating buzz in Rangiku's head.

They sat there, together, for a moment.

Rangiku drew a breath of smoky air into her lungs. It tasted like bad decisions and tomorrow morning's regret, the flavour rolling along her tongue like mist. She savoured it for a minute.

It was familiar, in a way.

It was so, so familiar, it almost made Rangiku's lips pull up in a smile. "Hey, Gin," she said.

"Yes, Ran-chan?"

She'd always hated that nickname. "How's Aizen?"

He smiled in a way that made her shiver. "Oh, Ran-chan," and it was almost like he was singing. "Do you think I'd really tell you? My boss—" and the word was enunciated with something akin to smugness "—would be most… displeased if he found out that I'd told you, of all people, where he was."

"I didn't ask where he was."

"I know, dearest."

"He's Yakuza," Rangiku said, a little bit drunk.

Like that explained it all.

And it did, in some twisted, this-doesn't-make-sense sort of way.

Gin just smiled, mysterious in the shadows of the bar's neon light. "Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I killed him."

Rangiku threw her head back and laughed, voice a harsh bark, strawberry-blonde hair cascading down her back in a flourish of waves. She was drunk and he was an ass. "And maybe I'm not a cop, Gin."

"Maybe," he said. It was almost playful.

Rangiku almost wanted to hurt him.

But then she thought of Gin and fresh-baked cookies and elementary school, and being protected in all the wrong ways. She thought of sunlight through mist, like gold clouds on the horizon. She thought of holding hands in private, pinkies linked in public. She thought of childhood.

She dropped her head down to the bar, on top of crossed arms, and closed her eyes.

"What happened, huh? To us, I mean." Rangiku whispered.

She could feel her eyelashes pressing against her cheekbones.

Gin was quiet. Rangiku listened to him knock his glass against the wooden bar-top. Clink, clink, clink. The dull roar of the bar buzzed in her ears. She shot the rest of the whiskey back.

"I dunno."

Rangiku laughed, and it was soft and sad and sweet, and not like before. "Maybe I loved you."

"Maybe you do."



She didn't say anything. She just opened her eyes, and looked at him. She was almost pouting. Gin looked impassive. He'd always had that about him—that untouchable aloofness that he carried like a security blanket, that mask of detached smiling salesman. Even when they were children, Rangiku thought. Nothing had ever fazed him.

"Past," she repeated, suddenly tired. "It was a long time ago."

She was drunk and he was an ass and this wasn't going to work. Rangiku tapped the table twice, and she watched Shunsui almost shake his head, only to think better. The slosh of pouring alcohol didn't even last long enough to distract her from Gin's eyes boring into her head.

"It was," he said.

The scrap of his chair against the ground had gooseflesh rising on her arms.

"Ran-chan," he half-sang. His mouth was right at her ear, hand on her thigh. When did he get so close?

She couldn't stop shivering.

Rangiku pulled away a fraction of an inch. She felt the hiss of air between Gin's teeth. The whiskey sat in front of her, dark and beautifully golden.

Good old Jack.

Rangiku reached out towards the glass. Closed her fingers around it—it was cold to the touch. She picked it up. Looked at it, for a minute.

She shot it back.

Rangiku could taste Gin smiling as she kissed him, later. He tasted like bad decisions and tomorrow morning's regret.

She kissed him some more, anyway.






notes3: the title is in reference to alcoholism in general.
notes4: please review! :)