Twenty More Questions? Part 1
Author looks around wearily before plopping chapter down and backing away slowly. "I'm just gonna leave this here..."
"How about we go and have a snack? It'll also give us some time to chat." Rangiku remarked. Toshiro stared at her for a moment before looking away, a small frown on his face. He looked around at all the shinigami out and about. Some faces he remembered maybe seeing briefly before in the world where he was a captain, others were new.
'Maybe there was an increase of souls going to the Academy at some point.' Toshiro pondered. Of course he hadn't known every face in the Gotei Thirteen when he was a captain, but it felt like there were more shinigami here for some reason.
"Ah, here we are!" Rangiku exclaimed, pulling Toshiro out of his musings. He looked up at the building they had stopped in front of. It looked to be a small teahouse maybe? Toshiro jolted back to the present as Rangiku led him into the building. Three ladies bowed and welcomed them once the door was shut again.
'It's really quite. Basically silent.' Toshiro noted, looking around. There were a few customers at one of tables, a group of shinigami. Toshiro blinked as Rangiku started walking, pulling him along, the shinigami now out of sight. They entered a private dining room and Rangiku let go of his hand. The lady who had escorted them bowed to them and closed the door.
"Toshiro? Toshiro. Toshiro~" Rangiku called, waving her hand in front of his face. Two turquoise eyes blinked and looked up at her, and then around the room.
'What-What happened? It was like I was here, but not here...' Toshiro pondered, a hand moving to his forehead, slightly covering one eye.
"Sorry, I'm just-I feel kind of tired I suppose..." he told her before slowly taking a seat on one of the pillows at the table. Rangiku stared at her son for a moment before sitting down across from him.
"I suppose it's only natural that you're a bit tired. You did catch hypothermia last night after all. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea on your father's part to take you out like this today. He should have sent a butterfly to tell me and kept you bundled up in bed." Rangiku stated, her voice growing fainter as she continued talking. There was a silence between the two again.
"Toshiro?" she inquired, fidgeting with her hands under the table.
"Yes?" he replied, looking up at her face. Rangiku gave a sigh before straightening her back and hardening her resolve.
"I have some questions for you that I would like you to answer honestly." she said. Toshiro felt his adams apple bob before narrowing his eyes at her.
"That's not fair." he told her. Rangiku blinked in surprise.
"I said that just you asking questions is unfair. I have questions that I want answered too." Toshiro's cheeks puffed out slightly, a pouting look making it's way to his face. Rangiku let out a hum, contemplating her son as she stared at him.
"How about we play twenty questions?" Toshiro offered after a moment of consideration. Rangiku raised an eyebrow as she took off her hanten and set it next to her.
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"Well," Toshiro began, rubbing at the back of his neck and looking away from Rangiku, "He and I played it two nights ago. You get to ask me ten questions, and I get to ask you ten in return."
"He? Who did you play it with?" Rangiku asked, head cocked to the side slightly.
"You know...him." Toshiro said, hands clasped together in his lap as he looked down at them. They sat in silence for a minute before Toshiro finally said, "Ichimaru."
"I suppose that would be fine." Rangiku said hesitantly. Someone knocked on the door and it slid open, revealing a young woman who walked into the room and set some tea on the table before exiting. Rangiku reached forward and poured herself a cup of the steaming tea. She glanced at the second glass that was set on the table and let out a sigh, her eyes closing briefly before opening them and looking at her son who was staring at her.
"Would you like some tea, Toshiro?" she asked sullenly.
"Yes please." he replied, scooching slightly closer to the table. Rangiku then proceeded to pour her son tea before gently placing it in front of him.
"Now be careful, the tea is quite hot." she warned, setting the teapot down on the table.
"I know, I'm not stupid." Toshiro rolled his eyes and took the cup into his hands, blowing on it to cool it down a little. Rangiku gave him a disapproving look.
"You do know that rolling your eyes at someone is disrespectful, correct?" she asked, blowing on her own tea just as the boy was about to take a sip of his own before he froze. He lowered the cup slightly before apologizing.
"I'm sorry. It's just that you've said it so many times by now that-" suddenly cutting himself off. "Heh... Sorry, I keep forgetting that you aren't really her and she isn't really you."
"What do you mean, sweetie?" Rangiku asked, concern laced in her voice as she set her cup down on the table. Toshiro fidgeted with his cup for a couple of minutes before letting out a heavy sigh and setting it back on the table.
"If you want me to answer, that will be your first question." Toshiro warned. Rangiku opened her mouth to tell him, but the door opened and the young woman came in again, this time depositing two menus on their table before leaving. Rangiku let out a sigh and massaged her temple.
'I wonder what she's so stressed about?' Toshiro grabbed one of the menus and opened it up on the table. He once again took hold of his tea and took a sip as he looked over the menu.
"Only order a snack, okay? We still want to be hungry at the dinner tonight." Rangiku remarked while opening up her own menu. Toshiro gave her a silent nod. That sat in silence for a few minutes, both of them looking through their respective menus. Rangiku closed her menu and set it aside, deciding to observe her son.
'He seems so happy when I let him make his own decisions. We really have been coddling him too much. He isn't equivalently five anymore. He needs to start making his own decisions. It is so hard to let him though.' Rangiku thought. Toshiro continued to stare at the menu, seemingly looking for something.
'It's not as if he has ever made bad decisions in the past.' Haineko remarked lazily. Rangiku placed an elbow atop the table, leaning her head into her hand.
'I know, but he is our only child. Our little miracle.' Rangiku remarked. Toshiro took another sip of his tea before looking up at her, almost as if he could sense her staring at him. His big teal eyes blinked at her expectantly as he sat his tea back on the table.
"Are you ready to order?" came a voice from the doorway, causing both occupants in the room to startle.
"Oh! Yes, I believe we are. I would like one of your oshiruko*." Rangiku handed her menu to the woman before turning her attention back to her son. "Do you know what you want, Toshiro?"
Toshiro looked back down at the open menu in front of him, his brow furrowed and his mouth in a slight scowl. "Do you have any amanatto**?" he asked quietly after a few moments of silence, refusing to look up at either of the women in the room.
"Um, I do not know. I will check and let you know." the young woman said. She then closed Toshiro's menu and took it with her as she left.
"When did you start liking amanatto?" Rangiku questioned, leaning forward on the table with both elbows.
"Granny made them all the time when I was younger." Toshiro took another sip of tea. "That was your first question, by the way."
"The game hasn't started yet though." Rangiku pouted. Toshiro only shrugged and took another sip of tea.
"Do you want me to answer your earlier question?"
"No. How about you ask a question now." Rangiku suggested, giving the boy a sly smile. Toshiro's eyebrows scrunched together slightly and he set his tea down again.
'Why is she looking at me like that? Does she have some kind of plan or something? She tends to make sneaky plans when she does. What do you think, Hyorinmaru?' Toshiro thought to himself. His face faltered after a moment when he remembered that he wouldn't get a response. He looked down at his lap, hands fisting his outfit.
'If I remember correctly, when I first arrived here and I was panicking because Hyorinmaru's physical form wasn't in the office, Isshin-san taicho said something about me remembering something. Something to do with Hyorinmaru. She also said something about me remembering my zanpakto when we met Ichimaru that first day. The me of this world had Hyorinmaru at some point, but something happened and he shouldn't remember him.' Toshiro mulled over in his brain.
"I know that I have a zanpakto here and for someone reason I am not supposed to remember him. Could you tell me why I am not supposed to remember him?" Toshiro asked tentatively. He looked up when for a good solid minute he received no reply. Rangiku was staring at him, eyes wide and mouth slightly parted, a hand loosely gripping her cup atop the table.
"Will you tell me? Or will you refuse to tell me too, just like Ichimaru?" he inquired, spitting out the last few words. Rangiku shut her eyes and shook her head side to side, releasing her cup.
'Why is he so angry at his father? He wasn't like this until near the end of lunch.' Rangiku wondered in disbelief.
"Toshiro-" she began, voice sounding a bit strained to the boy.
"So you won't tell me either." Toshiro said, anger starting to seep into his voice. Rangiku opened her eyes and stared straight into his.
"I want to talk to you about this. You've been bringing it up so much lately, that- I want to talk about it, but not right now. I would like to discuss this with you while your father is present and when we are in a more private setting." Rangiku stated firmly. Toshiro crossed his arms over his chest and looked away from her.
"Toshiro, I promise that we will talk about this together as a family either tonight or tomorrow, you have my word." Rangiku said soothingly, reaching across the table to place her hand on her son's arm. Toshiro shrugged her off of him though, continuing to look away.
'Why do they all refuse to talk about what happened with Hyorinmaru here? Some kind of incident happened with the Toshiro of here and his Hyorinmaru. That's why Hyorinmaru's physical form is locked away here. The question is what happened though?' Toshiro thought to himself.
"Could you remind me why you dislike your father so much?" she asked the boy. Toshiro's head snapped forward, and he glared intently at the woman in front of him.
"He is not my father! There is no way he could be! I died on a plain of ice in the world of the living, unloved and unwanted. My parents probably left me there to die because of how much of a freak I look like." Toshiro remarked. Rangiku took deep calming breathes before looking at her son again.
'Where are these thoughts coming from? Does he feel as if we don't love him? That we just took him in or something? No, no, no. That's not it. Toshiro believes that he has lived a completely different life at this point. Right now, it doesn't really have anything to do with our actual lives, it's his memories and thoughts.' Rangiku told herself.
"Okay. Why do you hate him so much though?" she asked, fighting back tears.
"I told you already and you didn't believe me, nobody did." Toshiro told her.
"I-I seem to have forgotten. Please remind me why you do not like... Ichimaru." Rangiku repeated, making sure not to use the word father to refer to the man. Toshiro paused for a moment.
'This is just making me angry and her upset. We shouldn't be doing this. I don't want to direct my anger at her as she doesn't deserve it. I don't want to make her cry and feel bad either. I'm just ruining her day.' he thought, head hanging dejectedly.
'Speak...' he heard rumble through his head.
'You want me to speak with her, Hyorinmaru? I'm just going to make things worse.'
'All...-d, not-...' Toshiro's brow scrunched in frustration at hearing Hyorinmaru try to communicate with him.
'I don't know what you're trying to say. I guess I'll talk with her a little more, but if she starts crying I'm done.' Toshiro told the dragon. He looked back up at Rangiku briefly before looking back down to his lap.
"I hate that man because he tried to kill Hinamori and he broke your heart. He became a traitor to Soul Society and left with two other captains. I know what it's like to loose a friend, well at least that's what I assumed you two were. I went into a depression when I lost my friend, and you went into one after he left. Yours was different though. Well, you drank excessively of course, but that's not what I mean. The aura you gave off felt different than just a losing a friend kid of depression.
"You toughened up at some point though. After he died in the war right in front of you though... You became even more depressed. I didn't quite understand it until I overheard you talking to Ise fuku-taicho one day. It turned out you had been in love with him and he betrayed your love, thus breaking your heart. Well, that's what I could make of it anyway. In short, I hate him because he broke your heart..." Toshiro said, words coming out before he could process them. The two fell into a silence, Toshiro refusing to look at her still.
'That's-that's why he doesn't like his father?' Rangiku asked herself, not quite sure what to think of what her son had just told her.
'I don't know where all of those words came from. I didn't think and then speak like I often do. Those words didn't come from my brain.' A thought occurred to Toshiro while he was thinking.
"I know that that doesn't really apply here because that never happened in this place, but I can't help but feel the same emotions. They are technically the same people. Aizen doesn't exist here though. None of that happened because Aizen doesn't exist here, meaning he was the cause for basically everything. I have a question for you though. I asked you it earlier today and I never got an answer. What would you do if he broke your heart here?" he asked her, finally looking up to speak to her face to face. Rangiku lowered her head slightly and brought a hand up to lightly touch her head, resting her upper weight on her the arm propping her head up on the table.
"I-I'm sorry I- I don't know what to say right now. That was a lot to take in at once." She closed her eyes.
'So he hates his father because he thinks that Gin broke my heart. But he also said that that doesn't apply here. Is there another reason he is upset with Gin? There has to be more to this.' Rangiku raised her head to look directly at her son.
"Honey, your father has never broken my heart." Rangiku began.
"Here he hasn't." Toshiro corrected her.
"Yes, he hasn't broken my heart here. So you have no reason to be angry with him." she said, playing along. Toshiro looked down to his lap again.
'I can't tell her that I now hate him because I think he's hurting Hyorinmaru. She doesn't want to discuss Hyorinmaru without Gin here.' Toshiro lifted his head to gaze at the tea in front of him.
"I know, but I also said that I can't help but feel the same way about him. I am almost one-hundred percent sure that they are pretty much the same person, but they aren't." he told her, eyes slightly narrowed. Rangiku bit at her lower lip.
"Toshiro, if Gin never broke my heart when he left, would you still hate him as much as you do now?" she asked softly. Toshiro blinked at the question. Would he hate Gin as much if he hadn't broken Rangiku's heart? The man hadn't necessarily done anything wrong to him. Well, there was the one time Gin had tried to kill him, but other than that he had never done anything considered mean to him. He had no real reason to hate the man besides trying to kill Hinamori, disregarding everything a shinigami stood for and abandoning Rangiku. Even then, most of the blame about Hinamori falls to Aizen. Toshiro bit the inside of one of his cheeks while he thought.
"Yes." Toshiro eventually forced out, not sounding very sure himself but trying to convince Rangiku otherwise. Rangiku gave him one of her stares that he knew so well. She didn't believe him but wouldn't say it out loud. Toshiro looked away from her towards the door. As soon as his eyes landed on the door, the girl who had taken their orders opened said door and walked in with said orders.
"You're in luck," she started, "We still had some left over from before the snow." She carefully knelt next to the table and set the orders down. She said a quick "Enjoy" before leaving and shutting the door behind her. The two sat in silence as Rangiku stared at her son and he stared at his amnatto. Toshiro began to much on his amnatto, seemingly refusing to look at her. Rangiku let out a small sigh, deciding to let her son stew in his thoughts while she tries to make sense of the past half hour or so.
* Oshiruko- Basically a sweet red bean soup with mochi (rice cake). It is a Japanese comfort food, which is particularly popular in winter.
** Amanatto- A Japanese sweet made of beans covered in sugar and syrup. If you didn't know, this is also one of Toshiro's favorite foods.
A/N: Yes, Toshiro's lost friend is indeed Sojiro Kusaka from the Diamond Dust Rebellion movie. Don't ask me why I decided to throw that in there, to be honest I don't either. It's just kind of where my mind took me.
Important A/N: Anyway, this would have been out months sooner, but the chapter wouldn't flow like I wanted it to. Came back to it earlier this week, went over my other scrapped version and decided that this looked okay. Best I was probably going to get it. If anything seems forced, please tell me. I am one of those people that strive to make sure everything is on point. On a different note, how the heck does this story have 731 reviews?! Chapter 62 only had a little over 600! Mmm, then again, that was posted a little over two years ago... Anyway, thinking this story might wrap up this year if I stick to a writing schedule. I love and appreciate each and everyone one of you who has either reviewed, favorited, followed, or have just hung around. See y'all soon!
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Me: Psst… Hey, you! Yes, you! Come over here! *beckons you behind a random wall and looks around to make sure no one else is there.*
Me: I've got a little somethin' for ya if you're interested. It's a scene from my scrapped version of this chapter. It's just a short little scene branched off from the majority of this story. It is not... *looks around* spoilery at all, but I don't really want to post it. So, you interested?
Me: Cool. Okay, so, if you want this little extra scene just either say you want it in your review or pm me. If you're a guest... *shoulders drop and sigh* I guess maybe I'll eventually post it? I don't know. I don't like leaving out the guests. I would reply to your reviews on here, guests, but I just feel like it might take up too much space. I mean, I could start doing that-okay now I'm off in a tangent. You know how to contact me. *scopes out the area again*
Me: See ya later! *two finger salute and dashes off into a room behind a random door*