This is based on a bit of a realization I had. A lot of Shinigami are from noble houses. Minor nobles, mostly. But odds are, anyway, that the Visored have/had families. They had people who would miss them. What were they told? Do they know that their loved ones are part-Hollow? Was there reconciliation? This chapter is answering those questions.

Also, please tell me if I've written Rose OOC (Out Of Character.)


Rose sighs dramatically as he slides his office's door closed. His efforts to cheer up Izuru have gone... poorly. The kid's opened up a little bit, sure, but it's painfully obvious that he doesn't trust anyone, least of all himself. Any friendliness Kira's shown has only been that of a person getting more comfortable with a stranger.

Consequently, the Third Squad's captain deeply needs a drink. Preferably one with Kyouraku, who somehow knows all the best places to get good sake. And the best places to meet pretty women, not coincidentally. Rose tends to be a little more wary when his old friend takes him to a bar that features both attractions. He's not real keen on being called out to the Shin'o Academy in a century or so when some Rukongai kid's tried to train for his Shikai and found a Hollow waiting for him in his inner world, in the event that Hollowfication is as hereditary as regular spirit power tends to be.

Today isn't a day for drinks, though. Rose has personal business to take care of. Which is exactly why he's made sure to finish up all his work as quickly as possible. No way is he stressing over more paperwork than he has to. Speaking of which, it even took forms just to be allowed to leave Seireitei proper. Paranoid nobles.

The wavy-haired Visored stops briefly in his bedroom to change into a civilian kimono– well, a yukata, seeing as Rose has never been good at all the steps involved in properly putting on a fancy kimono. After a hundred years in the Living World, he's come to prefer elegant suits, but that's not the impression he wants to give to his family.

Yes, family. More accurately, his parents and older sister, as Rose's flight from Soul Society prevented the arranged marriage that had recently been set up for him from being made official. The blond's never been sure if he's thankful for that or not. Asakura Miho was a pretty girl, as he recalls, sweet and not particularly dull, but there was never a spark between them. Considering why the Visored had to leave, though... Rose still isn't sure.

Today he wants to show them that, barring the changes in abilities, their son and brother is still the same guy that he was a century ago. Hence the wisteria purple, flower-trimmed yukata, the same style he commonly wore back then. It's actually rather nice, if a touch long in the sleeves.

Rose strolls through the streets as he makes his way towards the Black Ridge Gate, not bothering to hurry. As long as he gets there and leaves before nightfall, the nobles can't legally get mad about a possibly-crazy former exile walking among their precious heirs. Within an hour– after a while Rose gets bored of walking through the boringly white streets and slides into flash-step– he reaches the gate and nods at the two Shinigami standing there to get the gatekeeper, Danzomaru, to lift it up. They jump to it, and the Third Division's captain supposes there are some perks to having such distinctive spirit power. Rose doesn't have to confirm for them his identity.

Calmly walking under the lifted gate with a quick thanks to Danzomaru, Rose continues on his way without incident.

It's a nice day today, sky pale blue and mottled with clouds, sending warm light dancing over trees at random intervals. The roads that thread their way through the Rukongai aren't paved, but they're fairly well-maintained, with only the occasional patch of pebbles and sand. Houses and shops border the main roads, with several trails leading off to the estates– compounds, really, but estate sounds so much less military– of various noble clans.

Overall, it creates the perfect atmosphere for Rose to not think about anything at all and try to forget the fact that he's going to go face his family. Or rather, forget the fact that he'll have to talk to people he hasn't seen in a century– literally. Beneath the deadpan, almost bored expression that the violet-eyed man almost always wears, a knot of nervousness and worry twists in Rose's heart. In his head, he knows he shouldn't feel that way, but his emotions haven't gotten the memo. How troublesome.

Rose doesn't feel the need to hurry much as he passes through the first two districts of the North Rukongai. Alright, so maybe he's dragging his feet a little, despite knowing full well that it's right for him to tell his own family that he's alive, and good for his reputation at that. Being all nice and friendly with people, not just Shinigami, is a fairly reliable indicator that there aren't any hard feelings for the execution incident. Okay, maybe there are, but mostly the Third Squad's captain understands the logic behind trying to take out potentially unstable and certainly dangerous beings. Mostly.

Eventually, though, his feet carry him to the gate of the Otoribashi clan grounds. It isn't a very large estate, as such things go, but it's certainly enough space for the six families who belong to the main house to live in, as well as the four families that make up the Ishibashi branch house. That was how it was when Rose was around, anyway, but there are probably a few more minor nobles running around and a couple resting in the earth.

He almost hesitates. Funny, really. The wavy-haired Visored is the leader of a military division, and he's faced off with skyscraper-sized monsters and a piece of scum who nonetheless commanded godlike power and a brilliant mind. Hell, Rose takes on a psychotically powerful beast in his head with depressing regularity. But talking to people who are related to him? For a moment that seems beyond his power.

In the end, Rose doesn't get any choice in the matter. After only a few minutes of standing in front of the gate, half-heartedly debating whether or not to go in, he's confronted with a girl charging towards him, shouting excitedly. The Third Division's captain would swear later that she was faster than some of his Shinigami.

The girl bursts through the ornately carved gate with a huge smile on her face, dark ash blonde hair starting to come out of its fancy styling.

"Rose! Y-you're back!" She throws her arms around his neck– the blond notes with surprise that she's no longer refusing to wear geta to make herself taller.

"Woggle?" He manages, caught off guard– is she wearing perfume? No way should his tomboy sister be wearing perfume! But that's temporarily forgotten as Rose realizes that she's crying.

"Th-they told u-us you were dead." Rin sobs, rather less coherently even than that. "Th-the Shinigami who came out said a H-Hollow attacked you and-and your friends and they told us you were dead and you a-aren't." She looks up at him, eyes puffy and glistening with tears, reigning herself in visibly. "I was going to become a Shinigami 'cause of you. I wanted to go and grab a sword and kill every Hollow in Hueco Mundo. They talked me out of it, obviously– I couldn't have even passed the entrance exam, I bet."

Rose extricates himself from her carefully, not just because Rin's a surprisingly fierce hugger, but also because being that close to her makes the ever-present, but usually much fainter, hunger for souls get much stronger. One of the several downsides to being Visored. The wavy-haired man composes himself again, smoothing down his robes and pushing a lock of hair away from his face, where it had fallen.

"Why, my dear sister, I'm happy that you worried, but really, you shouldn't have. I'm quite alive and as excellent as ever." Rose says with a lazy smile. "And while I'm happy to see you, there is an art to returning home triumphantly and it involves seeing the entire family, not just one's older sister."

Rin rolls her eyes and smiles shakily. putting her hands on her hips. "I'm only three years older than you. Don't make me out to be an old maid! Our parents are going to make me clan heir, you know."

He rolls his eyes back. "No, I didn't know, which is exactly why I want to see our parents and catch up. Honestly, sister dearest, you've become the dumb blonde in my absence."

Rin scowls at him, apparently still rough in personality, if not in appearance, though her headdress is falling apart. "Have not." She turns on her heel. "C'mon, apparently-not-dead-idiot. I was talking with some of our proper lady cousins up on the second tier of the main hall before I spotted a familiar mop of hair and went out to check. I'd best get back to them if I want to maintain the proper heiress look." Without waiting for him to follow, his sister pushes back through the gate and begins a remarkably fast power walk down the path that leaves Rose wondering why no one ever taught him that when he was supposed to be the heir.

They do eventually catch up with the mystified ladies in question, who are positively shocked to see Rose accompanying Rin. The smaller one of the two, who displays slightly crooked teeth when her mouth drops open, starts to stammer somewhat incoherently.

"Rojuro? Otoribashi Rojuro? Wait– you–" She starts to turn pink, frowning in confusion.

"The one and only. Pleased to make your acquaintance, ladies." The blond mentally crosses his fingers that she isn't part of the social circle that seems to be throwing a fit over his nature. Not really a great way to reintroduce yourself to your family if she blurts it out. Rose gives them a flamboyant bow, making a point to look her dead in the eye as he straightens again.

Something resembling mortal terror and embarrassment crosses her face, carefully covered with makeup. "Well, it's nice to see you back, Rojuro-san. Aiko-nee and I'll leave you to your business. We'll talk some other time, alright, Rin-chan?" The girl and her companion smile, the former more nervously than the latter, and bow slightly to Rin, then both make their escape with the haste of someone who has to be busy to avoid making a fool out of themselves.

Rin blinks, then starts to smile slyly. "Why– Oh, right." She glances at her younger brother with mischief written all over her face. "You don't remember Aiko and Chinatsu, then? Chinatsu had quite the crush on you, she told me so after you vanished. Guess that hasn't faded much with time, huh?"

Now it's Rose's turn to turn pink. "Ah– no, I don't remember either one." Thank God that's all it was. Sometimes he swears that if one more person freaks out and starts calling him a monster– it's an annoyingly common occurrence– he'll finally live up to it and snap their neck. The blond pinches the back of his hand to remind himself that no, that's not how he should be thinking.

"I swear, you don't even deserve to have pretty women interested in you if all you do is forget them." Rin scoffs. "C'mon. Now that those two have suddenly decided they needed to be somewhere else, I don't have to come up with some grand reason for deserting the conversation and we can have a nice family reunion." She grabs him by the sleeve and drags him down the corridor, with Rose protesting all the while that his yukata cost money and that all she had to do was let him follow.

As the two walk, the wavy-haired Visored makes a point of asking how things are around the Otoribashi estate. Seems that Rin's been trained since a few months after his flight from Soul Society to be the clan heir, though it only became official a couple years later after the bickering between families settled down and the elders agreed that, female or not, Rose's older sister was the most competent and therefore the best candidate. Rin tells him that she isn't sure if she likes being the heiress-to-be, since it means a lot of politics and economics to learn, but she does enjoy the respect and privileges it affords her.

"Now I get why you never seemed to have any time back then." Rin says, dark eyes wistful. "Between Academy work, then Shinigami stuff, and learning all this stuff and going on omiai for that arranged marriage, it's a wonder you had time to sleep. What're you doing now, brother-mine? You graduated the Academy, so you couldn't have gone back to that, and since I'm the heiress-to-be now, you wouldn't be doing that either and that marriage was dropped a while ago. Shinigami work again?"

Rose chuckles. "As a matter of fact, yes. After Ichimaru died, Soul Society started looking into the suspiciously convenient events that led to his promotion to Captain. Someone had the bright idea to make absolutely sure that his 'dead' former captain was actually dead, which, of course, I wasn't. Then they put me back in place as the Third Division's Captain." All true, but something in Rose makes him leave out the not-so-minor details of why he had to leave in the first place, where he was all these years, and why he didn't try to contact anyone. He tells himself that it'll be easier to break the news when all his immediate family members are in the same room.

"Really? Congratulations, Rose." Then she stops, turning to him as they come to the end of a courtyard, having left the main hall. "And speaking of 'dead', got any good reason for reappearing after an entire century with zero explanation for not telling us you were alright earlier?" Suddenly Rin's expression looks a little hurt and certainly frustrated. "You could've at least told Captain Kyouraku; he came around a couple times after you took off. We didn't even know where you were! They–" She pauses, collecting herself. "They never brought back a body. Or anything resembling a body. We all thought you'd been devoured by a Hollow. You know there's no peace in that."

Rose stops in his tracks, making a snap decision as he sees their family's house behind her, set in the middle of a small pond. He's not going to tell them today. He's not. There's no peace in his story, no peace in knowing his full nature. Their father is a former Shinigami who rose to the level of third seat in the Eighth Division before retiring to head the Otoribashi clan fifteen years before Rin's birth, while their mother was an unseated officer in the Fourth for forty-five years before marrying. It's easier, so much easier, to tell them something else, instead of risking them doing what so many Shinigami have done already to the Visored captains. Namely, rejecting him. He'd like to believe they wouldn't, that they'd be fine with it like so many characters in the manga he reads are fine with their series' protagonists being changed into something other. But really, it's safer not to. Real life isn't like those stories.

That's the way the Visored have operated, after all. It was their only rule: Do whatever you have to in order to keep the group safe. The past and present haven't taught them differently. Even when the eight stood against Aizen at the false Karakura Town, the vote was only 5-3 in favor of helping the Shinigami, and that was decided after five hours of arguing and an hour of beating the shit out of each other, mainly on Hiyori and Kensei's part.

Rose'll give them time to readjust to his presence. Maybe he'll tell them then, and do it gently, when they've come to know for sure that Rose is still Rose.

"Urahara's the only person Aizen ever considered an equal. He... had a plan to take that scumbag down. To do that, he needed people of captain- or lieutenant-class strength. Captains and lieutenants are always in the spotlight– some of us are born for it, of course." The blond winks at his sister, who grumbles beneath her breath about drama queen Shinigami. "But Aizen's the only person who could ever hide his real plans perfectly with illusions, so lying low for a century after we were conveniently thought to be dead was the only option." More technical truths. The Visored didn't take a full century to gain control over their other sides. They could've gone charging into Soul Society and told Yamamoto everything they knew, executioners be damned, but they didn't, because Urahara had a plan. A twisted, sometimes cruel plan, but it worked in the end.

The Third Squad's captain looks his sister in the eye, lazy smile barely wavering, and lets another piece of truth, this one not carefully phrased to be misleading at all, fall from his lips.

"It killed me not to be able to tell you, Rin-nee-san, but everyone had to think we were dead. Aizen could've made you think you were talking to our parents when you were really talking to him and telling him everything you knew about our plan. He could've arranged for your death easily, and no one would've ever known."

She crosses her arms, glancing away as she processes this. "I- Fine. I guess you had your reasons, but that doesn't make it hurt less. Let's keep walking." The Otoribashi clan heiress turns again and continues down the stairs at the end of the courtyard in a huff.

Rose might enjoy manga and anime– any good story, really– but he still hates lying. It's always been that way. The blond's preference, when it comes to misleading others, is always for half-truths and omissions. Smoke and mirrors, obscuring and hiding the inconvenient bits but ultimately unable to show falsehoods. Hence the bit of guilt in his heart that he quiets by telling it he'll tell them the full truth soon enough.

As Rose follows his older sister down the steps, he smiles slightly to see his childhood home. A covered walkway surrounds the place, a one-story house composed of interconnected rooms, lacking the doors that had become ubiquitous in the Living World. Windows are plentiful and made the structure seem less squat and more simplistic. Trees are planted through much of the land directly around it, shadowing koi ponds and a Zen garden in the center, by a training yard. A small shrine is set apart from it all.

It's a very calm place, one brightened by the people who live there. Rose knows he would've been bored stiff as a child if that hadn't been the case.

The two continue down, crossing under the walkway and going to one of the smaller rooms on the right.

"... isn't an art, Kasumi. I refuse to accept that calligraphy is an art." A familiar, masculine voice is saying as the two slide open the door. Their entrance goes unnoticed.

"It is too, Seizo. You're just saying that because you aren't any good at it." Rose's mother replies, patient but exasperated. Then she glances up, and goes a few shades paler. In an incredulous voice, she says, "Rose?"

Immediately, her husband looks up and does a double take. The two stand quickly from where they're seated on cushions, drinking tea that Rose doesn't need his heightened senses to identify as jasmine, and cross the room quickly.

Behind him, the violet-eyed Visored doesn't need to see Rin to know that she's smiling.

Kasumi repeats his name again. "Rose? You're really–" She holds off on further talking to hug him tightly. Rose is completely unable to hold in his gasp of pain at the sharp pang of hunger that stabs through his stomach– or it feels as if it does, at least– when she maintains the embrace for more than a second.

"Mother– please– not feeling well–" He chokes out, outright wriggling out of her grasp. When the blond is released by a very confused former healer, he's a few shades paler himself, clammy, and panting slightly. Hollow hunger is something like starving, but it's also like being dehydrated, sick, exhausted, and slowly suffocated at the same time. Rose might not be a Hollow, but the nasty part of having one in your head, particularly when it has something like a symbiotic relationship with you and usually has a foothold in your mind to take over, is that you have to feel a bit of what it feels as well. While that means a better sense of Hollow energy, greatly increased reiatsu, Hollow powers, and the ability to sense Garganta about to open, it also means hunger for souls, vulnerability to anti-Hollow technology, the constant threat of being taken over, and being sensed by Hollow-detecting techniques. As the Third Division's captain well knows, that presents problems when leading patrols.

"I'm really happy to see you both, but I think I need some fresh air." Rose gasps, turning without prelude and leaving the room. He ends up sitting on a small bench about five or so meters away from the place, a small, man-made waterfall burbling into the koi pond in front of him.

When the blond can breath properly again, and his heartbeat has settled down again, he stares at the water for a few minutes. If he can't handle being touched by his own family members, there's a low chance that anything resembling normal family life is in the near future. Terrific. And when he explains to Rin and their parents his condition, he'll have to explain that yes, he does possess a cripplingly strong desire to eat their souls.

The rustle of cloth alerts him to the presence of another person, and when Rose looks up, he finds Rin sitting down besides him.

Rose winces. "End of the bench, please? The radiance of a beautiful maiden such as yourself, sister of mine or no, is such that I cannot bear your proximity." He jokes.

"Ha." His sister grumbles, but she scoots over anyway. "Rose, you aren't really sick, are you?" Rin asks after a couple seconds staring at the red-mottled koi in the pond.

He looks at her in shock. "Whatever might make you think that, sister-mine? I'm wounded that you think I'm playing sick, especially to get out of being around my own family."

"Are you, Rose?" Rin demands. "I've known you since you were a cheeky little baby, and I know that you blink twice every time you lie. You told me that you'd been teaching yourself to do that when you were a teenager so someone'd comment on it and you could tell them that it was a dead giveaway like all great heroes, honest to the end, had. Your words, not mine. And I know I'm not anywhere close to as powerful as you are, but I have a teeny bit of spirit-sensitivity. I can tell that there's something up with you, just not what."

The blond hesitates a few seconds too long, and his sister presses him further.

"Rose... It isn't like you to not want to tell a grand story. And you didn't tell me anything about Urahara's plan, or what happened so everyone thought you were dead, or about defeating Aizen or whatever the plan culminated in. You weren't blinking a lot, so I know you weren't lying, but I'm not stupid. You aren't telling me a lot." She reaches over and squeezes his shoulder. "Please. Just tell me what happened to make me lose my little brother for so long."

Most of Rose's resolve to keep his nature from her crumbles right there, and he looks away from her, staring fixedly at the pond. "A couple captains and lieutenants got sent out on a mission to investigate disappearances in the Rukongai a century ago. Aikawa Love, Hirako Shinji, Hachigen Ushoda, Sarugaki Hiyori, and Yadomaru Lisa. And me too. They wanted stronger people out there because a captain and lieutenant– Muguruma Kensei and Kuna Mashiro– had already disappeared. Not just disappeared. We thought they were dead, because their reiatsu was gone too." He makes a point of naming names, of trying to subtly remind Rin that people were hurt, not monsters. Reminding her that it was personal. "It was really serious."

The blond rubs the edge of the bench seat, hesitating again. This time Rin understands that he's thinking, so she lets him be. "Hollows attacked, like Soul Society told you. We were losing badly." He rubs the back of his head, where a jagged scar still lurks beneath his wavy mane. "Then Aizen, Ichimaru, and Tosen showed up." The violet-eyed Visored draws a deep, shaky breath. "They took down the Hollows... and then shit happened. Really bad shit. That's all I'm comfortable telling you for now, okay, sister dearest?"

Rin sucks in a breath, letting silence hang in the air for a second. Out of the corner of his eye, Rose sees her hands clench into fists, wrinkling her grass-green kimono. "Flower Boy"– she invokes a nickname they haven't used since they were little children "–if they did to you what I think they did... I'm going to kill Aizen. I'm going to pull his scrotum over his head and systematically dismember him until he's just a bloody torso and he can barely kiss your feet for what he did. That freak should've never been allowed near Academy students." Her voice is tight and terrifyingly fierce, and the Visored can believe in that instance that she really would do that.

Watching the koi's scales glint in the afternoon light, he comes to a sudden realization and busts out laughing almost hysterically. "I-I know I shou-shouldn't be laughing, sister-mine, if we're thinking the s-same thing," the blond gasps, "but A-Aizen didn't violate me that way." He sobers up suddenly. "It's not a laughing matter, or a light one, but what he did, it was worse. So much worse."

Rin stares at him, mouth open. "I utterly fail to see what could've been worse, seeing as you're alive." She says frigidly. "You've got no idea how many women, even noble ones, worry about that kind of stuff every day. You're Shinigami, so most of the women there can defend themselves soundly if that happens, but that's not how it is for most people."

A strange, sudden, and impulsive fury overtakes Rose, and he rounds on her. "You want to know what's worse?" He snarls. "What's worse is being attacked by two insane and crushingly powerful beasts only to realize that not only can you not win, those beasts are your friends. The Hollows that attacked weren't just small fry, they were Kensei and Mashiro, and if you'd seen the horrors their bodies were turned into, you'd vomit. What's worse is getting cut down by someone you thought was a friend, or at least a loyal friend of a friend, and getting sick as hell before passing out and waking up with a Hollow mask grafted to your skin. Then you find out that you've been exiled from Soul Society– only wait, it's not exile, it's running for your life because all the people you thought were your friends will kill you as a monster on sight, if they don't drag you back to be publicly humiliated and executed by the Sogyoku."

"And why'd they do that? Because you actually do have a monster in your head, and you're going to be in danger of losing your mind and control of your body to it for the rest of your life and getting locked up in your own soul forever while everyone around you is massacred. So now you get to fight to the death for control of your soul every so often, and if you win you get to live with a psychotic Hollow in your head and use its powers, and if you lose it's a fate worse than death. The only other people who know what really happened to you are the people who'd be executed for the exact same crime of existing and the people who were framed for doing this to you, while the sick freaks who really did it get fuckin' promoted and practically worshiped. But hey, it's got to get better– at least you might be able to go back eventually and get justice." He takes another deep, shuddering breath.

"Only no, you don't get that either. You'll never be allowed back in, because no one's going to believe a monster over a nice guy with an alibi. No, you're stuck in the human world in power-suppressing gigais so no one hunts you down to kill like you like an animal, and you get the pleasure of one set of instincts telling you that you're dying, that you're suffocating and starving and thirsty and sick, and the insects around you can help it, all you have to do is rip their bodies to shreds and eat their souls. The other set knows it's supposed to kill what it's become but it can't, because all that'll do is weaken them and unleash an abomination that can level a city at its weakest. Just walking down the street feels like you've got the flu."

"Even when you force yourself to work past that, so you can get a job and pretend to be human until Urahara can enact a plan that might work and might get you killed, it hurts just to hold a conversation. You'd get locked up as crazy if you tried to tell anyone who you really were and what you'd been through, so you don't do that either. With all your friends gone and every part of your life in another world, maybe you can just try to start a new life here. That'll never work out, either, because even with a gigai that's supposed to age like a human and a willingness to keep a shit-ton of secrets, there's no way you can fall in love with a human safely. If you love them, the hunger gets so much worse because the Hollow side wants to kill them and bury its heart, your heart. Even if that wasn't the case, you could never start a family, because it'd be like a slow death to be around the kids, even if Hollowfication turned out not to work like normal spirit power and they didn't turn out like you and end up committing Soul Suicide because their Hollow side tried to eat their human side."

Rose's own fists are clenched tightly as he continues, years of things he's never gotten to say pouring out at once.

"So all you've got is ten other exiles, and seven of those are in the exact same situation as you are. Then a miracle happens and you get to face off and take sweet revenge on the fucker who did all this to you, but all that happens is you getting cut down again and having to be saved by Shinigami, like it wasn't bad enough they had to see you tapping into the powers of a monster. Like it wasn't bad enough that a bunch of them were the same people who stood by and agreed when the order came to execute their own friends. So eventually things get cleared up, and this Central 46 is sane enough to let you back in and reinstate you as a captain if you fill out a stack of forms every time you leave your division and have a pure Shinigami with you because you aren't trusted to give an alibi if something goes wrong. Enough of the nobles get pissy and paranoid enough to get their kids transferring divisions and infecting as many people as they can with their bigotry. Some of 'em call you a Hollow to your face, others are polite enough to do it behind your back, one even tries to kill you."

The wavy-haired Visored scowls deeply at the pond, inadvertently sending a spike of raw spirit power at it in his anger and making the water spray up. "Then they start to calm down and figure out that there's no sense in wasting a perfectly good job, so you're safe there, but you're never really going to be safe, 'cause there'll always be the danger that someone gets past your defense and nearly kills you so you can't fight anymore and lose control, or, even better, just get emotional enough and lose it on your own. Did I mention you can't ever go back to being a normal Shinigami and there's a good chance your kids are going turn out the same way? Who knows, if your luck keeps up, you'll have a Hollow in your skull even when you eventually die and get reincarnated."

He laughs bitterly. "Yeah, I'd say that's worse. That's why I took off, why I didn't tell you where I was or what had happened, why I didn't want to give you details. I couldn't. Not sure I wanted to. There's no art to losing your mind." The violet-eyed hybrid sniffs in mock-haughtiness. "Maybe I'll be the first one to write a book about it, huh?" The light, casual tone in his voice is obvious to anyone as false.

Rose glances at his sister, who's staring at him with a mixture of shock, horror, sympathy, and worry. She squares her jaw after a few minutes, though, and says carefully, "Th-that's what really happened?"

"Wish I could say I was lying, but you know I have a thing about honesty." He replies.

"I'll still kill Aizen." Rin growls. "I'll rip that bastard to shreds for fucking with my little brother's life like that. No one gets to do that to you. No one."

"What's done is done." Rose says quietly, standing. "As long as I've got the power to protect the fair maidens and the budding heroes of the world, that's all that matters. Duty before self, despair before bloodlust, peace before war. Third Division motto and all that. Less depressingly said... 'While I embrace them, I cannot protect them, but while I hold the blade, I cannot embrace them.'" He turns back to where their parents wait, puzzlement detectable from their reiatsu signatures, then adds, almost as an afterthought, "Do you mind not telling them what I told you yet, Rin-nee? I'd like to break it to them gently, after they've gotten used to having their son back."

"I don't agree with it, but yeah, sure." Rin says from the bench. "You can unmask yourself, so to speak, when you want to. I won't do it before then."

"Thanks. It wouldn't do to have spoilers, after all."


I in no way mean to denigrate rape victims or lessen the severity of its nature. Rose was simply startled by where Rin's mind went, and I think you'd be very, very bitter if what happened to him happened to you. I ask that you review.