lacewood: (Default)
Pei Yi ([personal profile] lacewood) wrote in [community profile] toxicskyremix2004-05-16 05:20 pm
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bleach - where it ends

For [ profile] rukia

She keeps her head down as she climbs, so that all she sees are the stairs, step after step after step of smooth, chalk-white stone, her bare feet pale against them.

She cannot remember how long she has been climbing - it could be forever, or no time at all. But she is used to the feeling. All her days now hang in this void, each of them just another step towards the inevitable, the inexorable.

Fourteen days.

And then it ends.

The end has been three months in the making - as it draws near, she thinks it would almost be a relief. A day, a week, a month - what difference do they make when they all lead to the executioner? She knows this, has known it for months now, ever since she gave a fire-haired boy a choice between death by her sword or death by Hollow.

She made her choice. Now, she pays her price. There are no regrets.

Her foot stops, mid-step.

... a shinigami with orange hair and a sword the height of a man...

When she spun around, stunned, he had turned on his heel, stalking past the guards so that they had to scramble to catch up, their moment of perfect grace lost. She would have smiled if she could.

You could always trust Renji to ruin the script.

Now, she draws a long, shuddering breath, plants her foot firmly on the next step, and climbs on.

A shinigami with orange hair and a sword the height of a man. She'd been here for more than forty years now, how many shinigami fit that description here in Soul Society? None.

He was supposed to be out of this. It was over for him. He could go back to a normal life and forget Kuchiki Rukia ever existed. It was OVER, he wasn't supposed to be here.

Her lips press together in a thin line. Oh, but she should have known better. She knew that he would live, was not that easy to kill; she should have known - did know - that he wouldn't let it drop, let her leave like that. Over his dead body - which was exactly what he was going to get coming here, him and his friends, but he - they'd come anyway, god, Urahara (who else could it be?) the bastard, what was he thinking?

It was over. She would die and the Soul Society would forget she ever existed, just one more name in their libraries and records. Honoured Brother Byakuya could save himself the trouble of ignoring her, and Ichigo would go back to being an ordinary boy, and that would be the end of it.

Was supposed to be the end of it, except that if Ichigo was here, had come to stop this, then...

It was over anyway. He would die, him and his friends, and the execution would proceed, and then it would be over, and...

Her fingers curl into loose fists.

The idiot.

The rumour was unconfirmed, Renji said. Then why tell her at all?

Oh, the idiot.

Her feet grow heavier with every step, but she climbs on. Easier to watch the steps pass under her, than to wonder when they will end, where they will end.

The rumour was unconfirmed. Renji shouldn't have told her - shouldn't even know. Vice captains have reputations to think of, duties to see to. Her brother would not have approved. But he'd visited her in prison anyway, brought food trays, news, yelled at her - grimly holding her back from... letting go. From dying, never mind that she is dead already.

And now he gives her this.

Fear. Despair. Hope.

And hope is a bitterness, burning the back of her throat, a hand clenched around her heart, weighing her down.

It's too late for her to tell him, don't do anything stupid. Renji always did care too much. She should have said something, she thinks now. Thank you, sorry, leave it. Let it go, it's over.

She never meant to drag anyone else into this.

Past the last step, and she stands before the window. The sunlight spilling through the slit in the wall is warm against her skin. Through it, she sees a sliver of sky, blue and cloudless.

Stretching into a world without end.


December 2003