I do not own Bleach … :) and I do not earn any kind of money from this snippet.
This chapter has been Betaed by Szayel's Angel! Thank you very very very much!
And the new cover belongs to KureaRinyu37furansu
To break is all I know
Chapter 29: Kicked while you're down
"It's never too late…
To change yourself
It's not too late...
But I can't be someone else"
Yuzu scratched the back of her head with a spoon, staring at a peculiar stain. She still did not understand why her father felt the need to destroy his every single shirt; maybe to test her patience, though her disposition tended to shift every ten seconds these days.
"Oi Yuzu" screamed Karin as she threw her shoes in a corner "I brought the ingredients."
"I hope you did not forget about the-"
"-the soy sauce. No I did not. It was quite hard with you reminding me every ten seconds" then she opened her phone and touched the screen "And yes I had read the 3 identical messages saying "Do not forget the soy sauce!"
"I was just making sure you wouldn't forget" mumbled Yuzu reticently "like the last time I asked you"
The black haired twin shrugged and proceeded with emptying the bag. While Yuzu grabbed the soy sauce like her whole life was depending on that little bottle, Karin threw the paper bag in the garbage, hitting the target from the first shot. She smiled a little thinking weather she should continue playing soccer of shift to another sport, like basketball.
Her father had been complaining lately about her getting all bruised up after the soccer matches and something annoying about being more careful with her fragile, feminine figure. Not that she ever listened to what her father babbled. Still soccer gave a good excuse for possible injuries that appeared during her shun-po practice with Yoruichi. It was fairly easy to cover a bruise on a shoulder, or any other place for that matter, with the excuse I-bumped-in-a-guy-while-I-was-running-and-no-it-wa s-not-a-foul and adding the do-not-go-bankai-on-him.
Karin watched her twin cook something that smelled utterly delicious. Somewhere in her mind she was glad Yuzu seemed to have gotten over her depression, but another part of her thought she was faking it to some degree. After all Yuzu was a Kurosaki, and Kurosakis rarely showed their true nature. That didn't mean they were cold or two-faced, that was not the case, both she and Ichigo had plenty of reactions to what was happening, it was just that when it really mattered or when those reactions could hurt others they hid them deep under a thick layer of sarcasm and indifference. And judging the longing look in Yuzu's eyes, Karin deduced she was far from cured of Aizen's betrayal.
She released a deep sigh, realizing she was even more out of it than she thought.
'I'm really out of it if I cannot guess my sister's disposition' thought Karin darkly.
Yuzu hummed something slowly, placing the stew in big plates.
Even if she would have liked, Karin didn't really feel like telling her sister that Ichigo was not in the Human World and judging by how his reiatsu spiked in anger, he was sure not to come anytime soon.
"Something wrong, Karin?" asked Yuzu.
"Umm … no" answered Karin, watching the door.
A frown began to form on her face.
She released an annoyed sigh, not directed at Yuzu, but at the one approaching their house. Apparently the Ex-Captain of the 3-th Squad was not aware of Ichigo's whereabouts or he would have made a 180 degree turn and gone back to his White Soul Society. Or maybe he was, after all Shinigamis, especially captains –even demoted ones-, were supposed to be super skilled in reiatsu detection.
"Is he visiting me?" wondered Karin out loud.
Yuzu eyed Karin curiously, not aware of the presence of the captain, until he knocked at the door, equipped in a brand new gigai.
A bright smile appeared on Yuzu's lips.
"Finally! They arrived!" the interjection made Karin wary when she noticed her sister's misunderstanding. She thought Ichigo was the one outside asking for permission to come inside; how wrong she was.
Karin's worries became real when Yuzu opened the front door and the creepy smile of Ichimaru Gin greeted her in its entire splendor. The blondish twin took a step back and her first reaction was to close the door in his face and so she did, except that the Shinigami put a hand on it before it could hit the frame.
"You're being impolite li'le Kurosaki" said Ichimaru, his hand slipping unceremoniously down the door and onto the handle.
He stepped inside and Yuzu took a couple of steps backward, shaking with terror. Karin was quite indifferent to Gin's creepy attitude, after all it was not the first time she met him, but seeing her sister in such a state of shock made her blood boil with anger. How dare he come into their home and spoil their meal? That was the first thing which crossed Karin's mind.
"You are supposed to greet your brother's friends, isn't that right?" he said, his voice sounding like the hissing of a snake.
"Ichigo is not at home" snapped Karin, putting her body in between the two figures "And from what I can remember our brother hates your guts; and for good reasons"
For some reason the presence of the ex-captain raised in her feelings of annoyance she did not know existed. It was almost like a second Aizen, minus the two-faced property and alluring personality, but a second Aizen nonetheless. Maybe that was one of the reasons why she absolutely and indubitably had hated the man from the first second she laid eyes on him. Whether he shared her feelings, she did not know and, truth to be told, did not care.
Yet his lips' curl seemed to lose their edge, as his stare – Karin didn't know if he was actually looking at her judging his eyes were permanently closed – focused solely on her. Maybe he hated her just as much she hated him. It was normal they had both been fucked by Aizen, one literally the other metaphorically.
"Your attitude is rather harsh, don't you think li'le Kurosaki?" mumbled Gin grudgingly as his face twitched in what one might call an annoyed frown.
"No" replied Karin calmly.
Gin's smile didn't return. Instead of it, a serious expression appeared. Neither of the girls knew how to react to the sudden change in tonus.
"Luckily for me, I have no business with Kurosaki-kun today"
Yuzu peaked from behind Karin, curious to see what that strange man actually wanted from them. It was the first time she saw him, but Karin definitely knew him very well or she wouldn't have known who he was searching for.
"And father had left for a couple of hours" continued Yuzu, still hidden behind her sister.
"Nor with Kurosaki Senior. Actually I came to speak with you two"
Karin's frown deepened, while Yuzu seemed to be in a high state of confusion. Her sister could not judge her. Though she looked relatively calm on the outsider, her insides were making some kind of exotic dance. It didn't take a genius to realize that whatever Gin wanted from them it was related to Aizen and anything related to her ex-lover left Karin with a sour taste in her mouth.
"Then what's your business with us, Shinigami?" asked Karin coldly.
"You've been summoned in Soul Society" stated Gin plainly, his eyes opening for a second to peer at the black haired twin.
She could not deduce what his look meant, mainly because all her concentration had been poured into trying not to dash away. Running away right there and leaving Yuzu with that creep was definitely not an option. So she sucked all her fears inside and put a brave look on.
"If this gets us in trouble with Ichi-nii I will personally emasculate you."
"Is this some kind of a JOKE!" screamed Ichigo at the attendance "Because it's damn far form funny."
The Captains didn't react in anyway. Whether they knew he would react like that or found his behavior normal for what he had just found out, it didn't matter. What really mattered, from their point of view, was to clear up this misunderstanding.
Almost all of them, except Mayuri and Unohana, found this situation rather ridiculous and out of a poorly written story. After all why would a villain as smart as Aizen go for someone as useless as the Kurosaki twins? Just to annoy the older sibling. Even if the villain had some tendency towards revenge, why go for the most obvious persons and the ones Ichigo interacted with on a daily basis? And if he did that, why continue with it?
For all they knew Aizen had probably planted the evidence there to get Ichigo's panties into a bunch. That was the reason why they were all so relaxed.
"Neither one of my sisters would do something so stupid and then shush it up" stated Ichigo calmly after thinking things through.
"I agree" said Toshiro "He probably had an obsession over one of then and planted the evidence Captain Kurotsuchi found, only to get us alarmed. We are kind of wasting out time on useless meetings instead of discussing the real issues of Soul Society."
"And what are the real issues Captain Hitsugaya" thundered Yamamoto's voice. Everybody froze up, no pun intended.
Toshiro gulped and then slowly, patiently began to speak again, this time his tone softer.
"What I meant Captain Commander is that we should find a way to defeat Aizen instead of chasing around something that's probably his half baked lie."
The man seemed to calm down hearing the answer. "I see. Well I do not want to have loose ends. If this is a lie we will find out soon enough. If it is true … we will see to it."
Ichigo raised an eyebrow. The nerves he had previously displayed had been replaced by an unnatural calmness.
"As Toshiro said. I think this is a waste of precious time"
"That is impossible." Mayuri concurred "It's very hard to replicate a DNA. Even if one can make a human body, a gigai for example, it's pretty often that the DNA is not a perfect match for the user. True it is pretty close, or the artificial body would not look like the user, but still to actually recreate a DNA especially from that part of the body is …"
Unohana, who had been quiet all this time, felt that a correction was in need.
"Captain Kurotsuchi" she suddenly interjected "Didn't you say Aizen's gigai presented his original perfectly matched DNA? How did he do a gigai with his DNA if he could NOT replicate another's perfectly?"
Silence enveloped the room and, as it often happened, The Captain of the 12-th squad was put in a corner by his archrival in science.
Some lieutenants giggled, but a soft glare from Yamamoto silenced them.
Without notice, Ichimaru Gin opened the large doors and stepped in, under the curious gaze of all the Captains and appointed lieutenants.
"Captain Commander" he saluted the intended with his usual curved smile "Captains" he saluted the others, a mockery hidden behind his tone; few noticed it though "I have brought the ones you've asked for" this time there was no mockery or amusement in his voice; actually it was deadly serious "I have brought with me from the human world the precious Kurosaki twins"
Every head in the room turned around and fixed their attention on him and the two shadows spreading on either side of him. Most of them were just curious to meet their hero's siblings and, probably, judge whether they had the potential their brother had exhibited. But others didn't have so pure intentions.
The ones who had met them already were eager to meet them again; and quite excited to see their reactions. Renji and Rukia glanced at each other, amused by the whole thing and possibly wondering how Karin will react when she hears about the Aizen and Ichigo related DNA business. Rukia released a soft chuckle, while her childhood buddy smirked.
As expected by the knowing ones, Karin was the first to step into the room. She was the one who saw them on a daily basis and felt their energy, so it was normal for her to "feel at home" among them. Apart from looking bored out of her mind nothing struck as strange. Maybe her clothes could be frowned upon. She looked kinda frail with a simple tee-shirt three times her size and a pair of baggy pants that made her look rectangular.
Though her appearance was quite disturbing, Toshiro and Renji were used to her simple, unfeminine way of dressing.
Still no Shinigami was the fashion type, except Matsumoto, even if some of them looked at Karin like she was some nameless homeless girl. Then Yuzu, who had been hidden behind Karin the whole time, stepped around her sister and stared at them.
Renji looked around him and knew in an instant that half of the male counterpart has just experienced love at first sight. It was pretty hard not to, since Yuzu has been snatched by Gin while wearing her fancy Berry-lover apron and men sure loved the maid outfit more than the tomboy appearance. He had to confess, the blond twin had quite an alluring figure.
Apparently he was not the only one studying Yuzu from head to foot. His captain, Kuchiki Byakuya, who had never seen Yuzu, just her twin, was quite … he would have said smitten with her, but decided to say shocked. He probably had expected Yuzu to be a brute like the Kurosakis he had met till then, not a soft, shy polite girl, who seemed to be timid around such a large crowd.
"Why did you bring my sisters here?" exclaimed Ichigo, literally puffing smoke and fire.
He was stuck somewhere between anger and fury, his previous calmness gone in a second.
"I thought my reasons were pretty obvious Kurosaki Ichigo" stated Yamamoto coolly.
"No they were not" his voice cracking at the end "I told you I don't want to have my sister mixed into this and still you, old man, did not listen! Had your old age begun to affect your hear…"
"That is enough Kurosaki Ichigo" Unohana's voice stopped his sentence, though everyone knew the conclusion "We need to confirm our suspicions and don't forget your sisters had been mixed in this the moment Aizen laid eyes on them. And neither you nor anyone else" she eyed Gin grudgingly "realized that in time to save them. So calm yourself and listen to what The Commander has to say."
Begrudgingly Ichigo darted his stare down to the floor. Mainly because he did not want to get on the 4th Squad Captain's side or because deep inside he was just as curious as all of them, Ichigo backed down and let the Captain Commander speak.
"We have discovered some traces regarding Aizen's stay in Karakura and some of them links him to your" Karin gulped on silent mode, while Yuzu looked just about to loose consciousness, but they both managed to stay straight as the old man continued to talk "Therefore I wish to know if one of you had a sexual relationship with Aizen Sosuke."
Karin thought she would faint the moment the old man asked the question. Luckily she was able to stay on two and not lose her composure. As long as she kept the poker-face on and controlled her erratic heart and uneven breathing she would be fine, she concluded. After the initial shock had passed, she peered at the Shinigamis gathered in the room, checking their faces. Oddly enough neither of them seemed to pay attention to her -almost like she wasn't there- their stares being focused on her beautiful sister.
The blond girl had her hands gathered in fists and held such a scared expression on her face that everybody began to suspect her the moment they took notice of her behavior.
"Yuzu?" asked Ichigo with wide eyes "did you …" he left his question unfinished.
Although he had asked, it was pretty obvious he did not want to know the answer. It scared him to the core to even think Aizen had tainted his innocent little sister with his fitly hands, but thinking about it made him realize Yuzu had always been the easier choice for bad boys. The only luck was that Karin had been around to chase them away the moment they made the wrong move. But Aizen was too much to handle for someone as weak as Karin, so maybe this time she could not protect Yuzu the way she always did.
With eyes that begged for an answer Ichigo looked at Yuzu "Please Yuzu. Please tell me the truth. I won't be mad I promise, but I still need to know the truth in order to protect you."
She opened her mouth to say something and managed to grumble out a half repressed "I did no such thing."
"She's obviously lying!" snapped Soi Fon "She was the one drooling over him and he probably took advantage of her naivety!"
"I AM not that naïve!" screamed Yuzu back.
From here a big fight emerged. The noise filled the room as the Shinigamis split in two teams: the one defending Yuzu and the one attacking her. It was all a chaos with no beginning and no end, just like a trial: the prosecutors throwing unjust accusations, the defending attorneys finding lame excuses for their client and the judge, aka Yamamoto, being the impartial part in all of it.
While everyone was busy contradicting with each other, Karin didn't move from the spot. She didn't come to her sister's rescue in any way. Any kind of action was doomed to fail and if she opened her mouth, it was no doubt she would have said something that might have shocked the whole room. And under usual circumstances she would have damned it all to hell and thrown herself in the battle like a mindless beast.
But those times were over. Her recklessness had margins and she was no fool to show them the truth. The truth she didn't want uncovered. The truth she swore to protect with all her might. All that she needed to do was to keep quiet. Let them fight until they deemed it was just about enough and then act like nothing had happened. The best way to lie was to not tell the truth, in conclusion not say anything at all.
The only sign betraying her inner conflict was her lips pressed firmly in a straight line.
Gin watched her with the corner of his eye. Karin could feel it on her neck and onto her face and it itched her continuously, because she instinctively knew Ichimaru Gin was aware of her secret. A secret she had begged God to keep away from her family. Something nobody should have known. Yes somehow Gin was aware of it, or he wouldn't have eyed her like a criminal. Not that he wasn't a shabby individual, but his judgment was certainly better than all of The Soul Society gathered in one mind.
She didn't dare move, albeit it gave her quite an irritating feeling of helplessness. All she could do was wait for the inevitable to happen and pray to the sky above for her intuition regarding Gin to be, indeed, wrong.
"With all due respect don't you think you're forgetting about the other twin?" suddenly said Gin, when a short moment of silence emerged.
'Karin! Do not panic!' she commended internally 'Act natural; don't let them suspect a thing'
The order sounded so dry in her ears; just like Ichigo's, so called, heavenly intervention.
"Hm? Nah Karin is not the type to do something like that" he stated calmly.
'Don't say that Ichigo …!'
"Are you absolutely sure Kurosaki Ichigo? Are you one hundred percent sure Aizen wouldn't have preferred the thrill of actually trying, than an easy prey" his eyes darted in Karin's direction "One can prefer the hunt rather than … the taste. And we all know my ex-Captain was not the type to take the easier path."
Those words made Karin cringe in disgust and realization hit like a boomerang.
She remembered him so clearly. His big hands, always too big for her petite body, but he never complained about it. His lips always being so hungry for her.
From what she had heard, relationships were all passionate and touchy the first two weeks then, as time passed, the partners would just get into a pattern which, in time, could either became platonic or simply end. Yet she and Aizen never experienced something like that. It was quite the opposite. With every week spend together he would get even more possessive, he would love her more viciously and his passion would burn her out.
Was that why she had fallen for him in such a short time? Because he was the only one not like others? Because he had been the one to take notice of her, other than a tomboy or a soccer Captain, other then a bully or a protective sister? Or maybe all of the above …
She never found it strange to have him looming over her, watching down with the eyes of a predator. The hunt, the prey, the chase, the catching, the violation … and the submission. She had gone trough all of those phases without even noticing.
Ichimaru's words had switched in her something she did not know existed.
Nausea and pain invaded her body. Not only had her view of the relationship had been twisted a second time, but the new change was even worse than the previous. Had she really been just an excitement? The excitement of having the one you cannot have in your bed.
Ichigo was about to snap at the man, when his eyes made contact with Karin's horrified eyes.
"Kar-r-in?" the stutter made Karin flinch back "Why are you …" he did not finish the question because every pair of eyes in the room had switched from Yuzu to Karin.
What those dark blue eyes reflected could not be expressed into words. It was painful to watch the perfect mask of indifference that a child had worked so much to build crumble, piece by piece, under the piercing gazes of the elite of Soul Society. And those eyes, those powerful eyes Gin had admired a couple of times, were trembling with fear. Shame, the shame of knowing her lie was out and she could not do anything to stop it from spreading.
Gin look at her in pity. Nobody else knew how messed up that girl was; only he did and had just helped them kick her while she was down. And he knew they will kick her until she won't be able to move, until her last piece will scatter into the wind. How unlucky can a poor kid get? he wondered curiously.
With her last drop of strength Karin tried to make a dash out of the room, but the legs didn't get her too far as Ichigo grabbed his sister's shoulders and shook her "Karin say something!" his panicked voice was something the girl didn't want to hear.
'Lie to them Karin. You can lie to them! They will never know' whispered a voice from inside 'Lying is better for all of them. Lying is the only option for you, because otherwise you'll see the dark side of your friends; you will see them looking down on you and judging you for falling in love' the voice got even stronger 'Lie!'
"No! You did not! You're not the type to do such things. DAMN IT KARIN! Say something for Christ's sake! Say you did not … do that …"
She had always been a bad liar, but there under the judging gazes of so many people her façade shattered slowly, but surely. Weather she lied or not it did not matter. She could see it in Ichigo's eyes. She could see it in everyone's orbs. They already knew the truth. She could say anything … from that point on all her options had been rejected.
"I … am sorry Ichigo"
He let her go, slowly stepping back. Silence buzzed in his ears as he stared down at the black bundle of hair. His precious sister, the one he had trusted to have a head on her shoulders had gone and did … that behind his back. He felt betrayed. If it had been Yuzu instead he might have been furious and angry, but not disappointed.
"Since when" he inquired dryly.
"Ichigo …" she pleaded.
"Since when?" his voice suddenly filled with newly found fury "Since when had you been fucking him Karin?! Since when have you been saying you'll sleep at a friend's house when you were actually being his fucking who …"
Karin's eyes snapped open "Be careful what you say Ichigo, because you cannot take it back once the words leave your mouth." her voice deadly calm, mask back in place.
If before she had been scared, now a peace had enveloped her and a coldness he was not accustomed with.
"Answer the fucking question" braked Ichigo.
"I will not" Karin answered coldly.
Toshiro was in shock, watching as his friend overcame with ease the temperament of the hero of Soul Society. He did not believe her capable of all the things Ichigo had accused her of, albeit she had indirectly admitted doing them. Even as the once sarcastic tomboy masked her emotions into a cold, indifferent woman, he simply could not believe it.
"This is a development I did not expect" said Unohana calmly.
The Captain Commander coughed in his hand, all the attention going back on him.
"So … after all Captain Kurotsuchi had been right" he mumbled more for himself, then he looked at Karin with interest "I know Aizen can be very manipulative once he gets his mind to it, so I will not judge or punish you in any way for falling into his trap. That would be rather hypocritical. He had been able to fool all of us" he gestured at the Captains "with his smooth attitude. However" his voice dropped "I cannot forgive this secrecy. You should have told us right away. As a Kurosaki and a person with a decent amount of reiatsu, you should have known how important information is in a Society as large as ours."
"I am neither part of your society, nor inclined to share information with you" the cold voice echoed in the room arising animosity in the present crowd.
"How long have you been in touch with Aizen Sosuke?" asked Yamamoto, dismissing her previous denial.
He saw her as a stupid child who had gone trough enough for a lifetime, so he decided to give her the benefit of the doubt, seeing that his subalterns were not inclined to.
It took her a moment to answer, but with a sigh she answered reticently.
"Since the beginning of October"
"I see. And how did the two of you meet."
"He had been placed in the school's soccer team as goalkeeper and I am the team's captain, so …"
"Why did you keep it a secret from your family?" continued to inquire Yamamoto.
"Various reasons" she answered ambiguously.
"That's not an answer"
"It is in my book" counterattacked Karin begrudgingly.
The inquiry took half an hour and Karin answered curtly to the questions she had deemed worth answering. Trough the whole ordeal she tried to dismiss the voices and whispers she heard from the lieutenants, but nothing could prepare her for Renji's opened fury, Rukia's disappointment and Toshiro's sadness.
Why was he sad? He was just as at fault as Ichigo and the incompetents from Soul Society. Yet they all dared to look down on her in that second, like she was some filthy whore who spread her legs for every dick she saw in sight. It was not her fault the only man ever interested in her was a homicidal maniac. It was not her fault that maniac was damn good looking, and very good in bed.
When Yamamoto was about to ask his last question somebody interrupted him, somebody unexpected.
"Did it feel good?" screamed Yuzu, her eyes staring upon Karin with disgust.
Karin avoided her angry gaze, pained by her sister's behavior but not ready to give her a piece of her mind.
"Answer me!? Did it feel good to screw around with the one I was interested in?" Yuzu's voice thundered again "YOU had told me he was dangerous. YOU had been the one to advise me against dating him! YOU had been the one right all along! Then why didn't you follow YOUR own advices! Are you so much of a HYPOCRITE KARIN?!"
Karin didn't move. She was not inclined to show any sign to her sister.
In that moment she was a rock. Ichigo, albeit silent, was not in a good mood. Actually the fact that he didn't scream or express him mind meant one thing: he was as upset as one could get.
"Let's go home." he mumbled.
Yuzu nodded, while Karin kept her eyes up. She was trying not to cry. She was above crying in front of them; she was better than that.
Aizen was staring at some plans when a short pain crossed his back. He peered down at the rock embedded into his chest. The soft blue light became more intense and he was attacked by a pure feeling of nothingness.
"She's sad" he said, closing the hand around the Hogyoku "and she's lonely" his voice cracked at the end.
Of course the first two weeks were a nightmare. Actually feeling the despair Karin was feeling all the pain was excruciating, but what he felt from her now was different. Loneliness was something he was accustomed to feel, from himself, but not from her. She had always been the sun in his life, radiating with a soft, warm energy; sometimes becoming a volcano and splashing with lava, but never as cold as ice. Now the light was gone. At first a ray, then two and in the end all had been plunged into darkness.
He rose up from the chair and looked onto the dessert then up at the artificial sun he had created. Artificial or not, that sun had been a source of comfort.
"I wonder if it's my sun's time to set."
His heart could not shoo away the thought that he had been at fault for whatever Karin was experiencing, but he pleased himself with the excuse of being the evil guy in the story, therefore Karin shouldn't have hoped so much from him.
Yet how he missed her; her voice, her fingers playing on his skin like they belonged there, her mouth twitching in that dazzling smirk or her tongue as she licked her lips sensually, calling him to take her.
And her heavenly eyes, the eyes of a Kurosaki, but more so the eyes of a powerful woman. In his many years he had never met someone able to look at him and stir such deep reactions. And he was one of the oldest Shinigami. Why would fate hate him as much as to make the only good woman for him his enemy's sister; life was one big cliché it would seem.
In the end, he could conclude, he missed every part of her. Then why was his lover feeling lonely?
Do you have any idea why Aizen can feel what Karin's feeling?
I hope this chapter had been good enough. Of course I ain't pleased with it. :) Unfortunately my lack of a vocabulary stopped me from expressing Karin's emotions properly, but I hope I managed to make it as decent as possible.
My favorite is the title, "kicked while you're down" don't know if it's good enough but as I was writing Gin thinking of Karin's situation I realized she was really being kicked while still in a deep depression.
I did not detail the part where the Captains are fighting because I thought it was unnecessary for the story to have a couple of dialogues where over 20 people are fighting.
Hope the next update will come soon. Next chapter we see the reactions different people have at the news (Isshin, Yoruichi and Toshiro) and Karin's further break down.