Characters: Rukia, Momo; with unrequited IchiRuki and Aizen/Momo, and rather depressing HitsuHina.
Rating: PG-13, to be safe.
Warnings: Character death
Summary: After the war ends, Rukia and Momo find that they have lost more than those they loved.
Disclaimer: I still don't own anything.
A/N: I wrote this fairly quickly, and apologize for any mistakes.
You can still see her sometimes, a symbol that the past is not forgotten yet. She could
have been a fukutaichou, maybe even a taichou; after the war had ended there had been enough open positions, after all.... She chose neither of these things. Oh, she has a position, some official bureaucratic post that involves only light paper-signing at worst. In truth, it is simply a sinecure, but perhaps that is the best thing for her. Her brother, Kuchiki-taichou, got her the position after she was realeased from Fourth’s care with a warning that under no circumstances should she be put under any more stress than she already has.
Stress... there had definitely been stress. Kuchiki Rukia was cool, collected, but she had been screaming aloud in incomprehension when Byakuya had come and picked her up bodily, carrying her away from the still form of Kurosaki Ichigo. She was weak with shock, and had always had short nails, but nevertheless she had left angry red scratch marks across her brother’s marble white arms. She had struggled and screamed and fought, going so far as to kick and bite, but it had all been for nothing.
After that, she had spent weeks in Fourth. True, she was hardly the only one. There was
Ayasegawa; even after the bandages came off he had a long diagonal scar across his face that stubbornly refused to be soothed. Hinamori was still there, of course; Abarai managed to pull through amazingly well; Kotetsu Isane died after two days despite her taichou’s best efforts. The ryoka girl Inoue had been in the same ward as Rukia, separated by a screen; she had been dragged away sobbing too. She had worn a white dress ( and for some reason, Rukia would remember this detail for years to come ), and had come away with it marred with a few ruby red drops of the Kurosaki boy’s blood. One of them had ended up centered directly over her heart....
The two girls did not talk while they were in Fourth, however. There was nothing to connect them anymore; each gossamer thread of friendship had been severed with a sudden
brutality. Rukia had spent those days– those soft, pale green days– counting the stars outside her window, watching the moon sicken and die. Each star was small, flat, as empty as a grain of Hueco Mundo sand, and she felt herself empty and become one of them. Even red stars weren’t really red though, and that was fortunate; her stomach still clenched at the memory of his blood soaking into that sand, how he had been lying too close to Aizen, and soon she had not been able to tell their blood apart any more. That was when she had started to scream.
Unohana-taichou had come to talk to her occasionally, wading and wavering through the syrupy days; Byakuya-nii-sama had come too, but he only sat and kept watch, never speaking, as if his mouth had been sewn shut like that of a doll. Gradually, texture had returned; morning noon and night separated, and Unohana’s delicate, gentle questions started to gain significance. One day, Byakuya-nii-sama had come in carrying a pair of sandals; by this time, she was normal enough to realize that what he meant was, It’s time to go.
She had been worried at first at the thought of taking a regular job; no one wanted to be
the one shunned and pitied by all those around her. As it turned out, however, there was no shaking of heads nor whispering behind hands. Perhaps everyone else in the office thought that the injuries she had been hospitalized for were physical; perhaps they were only impressed that she did not let her scars show.
She had worried about being thought crazy, but as it turned out, she was so very much more sane then some. A few months after Rukia started her job, Hitsugaya Toushirou and
Hinamori Momo wed. There was something of a scandal about it at the time, but there was
nothing to be done; they were both technically of age, after all. The remnants of the Gotei Thirteen had gathered for their wedding and pretended to be happy for them, and the whole affair could have been believable were it not for the glazed expression on the pretty young bride’s face.
Their marriage was exactly what everybody had suspected behind their pasted-on smiles:
Hitsugaya began to stay at work later and later each night, throwing himself into the endless paperwork and bureaucracy with all of his strength; these days, he barely comes home at all. As for Momo... she visits the memorial at the edge of the Seireitei more and more frequently. Of course, there are no real graves for the three traitors, but there are markers, small and black against the horizon.
Momo no longer wears the shinigami shihakushou; she resigned from the Gotei Thirteen after the war. The kimono she wears are beautiful, and the fabric whispers around her legs as she stands in front of the monument. By now, all of Soul Society has seen her; Hitsugaya has long since given up on trying to keep her from view. She will stand with her arms outstretched, leaning backward onto her heels, staring into the sky as if looking for some hidden secret contained therein. But Aizen was right about one thing, at any rate: heaven is empty, always empty for her.
Sometimes, Momo and Rukia just sit and talk. Neither is sure why, save that they’re as
intertwined now with each other as the blood of the two dead men that has now sunk into the sand and become lost forever. To be honest, Rukia does not really like Momo. How could she? But there’s no use in arguing or trying to change anything; rejecting a girl who is now so obviously far gone won’t– can’t– bring Ichigo back.
On some days, Rukia gives up on her charade of sanity and stands with the other girl, head tipped almost painfully back, looking up into the sky. Rukia wonders what Momo sees up there; surely something draws her eyes and her mind heavenward like that; yet she also knows that whatever it is, it certainly isn’t heavenly. Maybe she sees the stars, Rukia thinks, the Hueco-Mundo-grain-of-sand stars that can steal away all rational thought.
As she watches the other girl crane her head and arch her back, leaning ever skyward, Rukia wonders if maybe she can’t see them too. But these days, whenever she looks at the stars, she cannot help but shudder and wonder if someday she won’t look up to see that they have all turned blood red.