Dye it Black

Rukia was on Soukyoku hill, raised in the air by Aizen. A hole was in her chest, and she had virtually no reiatsu. Aizen's reiatsu had shocked her drained body, and she could not move.

He was reaching calmly for the black sphere floating out of her chest. The Hougyoku, he'd called it.

For Rukia to move was impossible.

Rukia moved, one hand reaching out and brushing the Hougyoku.

An explosion of blackness from the Hougyoku. Aizen and Rukia were both thrown by it.

Aizen landed lightly on his feet twenty feet away. Rukia landed with a thud next to the badly wounded Ichigo, one hand on his back, the other clutching the Hougyoku.

"Hey," Ichigo said.

One shunpo, and Aizen stood over them, a hint of irritation on his face, zanpakutou raised.

They were going to die.

Rukia had never been one to think of might-have-beens. Never one to rail against reality. She had always tried to accept it, no matter how harsh, and move forward.

Clutching the Hougyoku, she wished. Wished as she had never allowed herself to wish before.

#

#

Rukia pierced Ichigo's chest with her zanpakutou, right in the center of his chest. Her power surged down the blade into him, but instead of a torrential drain, she was able to cut it off when she'd given him only half of her powers, which ought to be enough. No one would find out what she'd done.

A high voice said, "How's that?"

"What?" said Rukia.

"No? This then."

The scene changed only slightly. Moved back a little in time.

Standing up from where she'd been thrown against the streetlight, Rukia did not see the loud, ridiculously powerful young human who looked so irritatingly like Kaien. Perhaps it was the tunnel vision of battle. Perhaps it was training. Perhaps it was simply her point of view.

Perhaps it was the back of the Hollow's head, directly in front of her, easy to see, ignoring her.

One shunpo, and she'd driven her zanpakutou through its head.

It wasn't until it was purifying, fading away, that she saw the orange-haired human body missing most of its chest.

Saw the orange-haired plus with a broken chain staring at her, staring at his hands, staring at the chain sticking out of his chest, staring at his body.

He swallowed once. "Now what?"

Voice rough, Rukia answered, "I send you to Soul Society."

"Fuck," said the boy. "Make sure my sisters are alright."

Blinking back tears, Rukia nodded and reversed Sode no Shirayuki, presenting the zanpakutou to his head.

Sensing her grief, the voice said, " :( Is that not enough?"

#

#

A burst of cherry blossoms forced Aizen back. Nii-sama stepped forward, and he could barely stand. Yet never in his fight with Ichigo had his reiatsu been so primal, so fierce, so murderous.

Nii-sama could barely stand, and he'd entered bankai. Even Aizen looked startled.

Nii-sama screamed. Dignified Nii-sama with an animal's yell of fury. His reiatsu rose higher than ever it had against Ichigo, and every blade of his bankai glowed as it descended on Aizen, Nii-sama spending his very life to fuel the attack.

Aizen appeared from the air itself and stabbed him through the chest.

As Nii-sama fell, his eyes met hers and held. They spoke of desperation.

When it had been Nii-sama's duty to see her executed, he'd pursued his duty. When that hadn't been his duty any longer, he'd died to defend her. She understood the first, but not the second.

Nii-sama's cheek hit the ground.

"Run," he mouthed, and stilled.

#

#

The voice said, "; ) Ah. He wants it too."

#

#

Clutching the Hougyoku, Rukia wished as she had never wished before, not even a moment ago. Blackness covered her.

#

#

She was in a forest at night, a familiar Hollow before her. The Hollow that had killed Kaien. But it wasn't facing Kaien. It was earlier in the night than that.

3rd Seat Miyako and several other shinigami were facing it.

Rukia sailed over the Hollow, swinging Sode no Shirayuki. "Some no Mai, Tsukishiro!"

A vast pillar of ice rose around the Hollow, freezing it through in an instant.

The voice said, "Is this better?"

Rukia said, "Are you offering to send me back in time?"

No response.

"If you can't, then tell me not of might-have-beens. I don't want to die in a peaceful fantasy. I want to live! I want to win!"

#

#

Rukia forced herself to turn over. Forced herself to present her chest to her enemy, to look him in the eyes as she died.

#

#

The scene changed. She was on Soukyoku hill, cowered before Aizen. Blackness swirled around her, and she stood. The Hougyoku rose from her hand and embedded itself in her chest. Her eyes were black. Aizen's zanpakutou struck her skin, and it may as well have been a willow switch for all the harm it did. Reiatsu roiled around her, and even the Captain Commander was forced to his knees.

The voice said, "How about this!? :) Superpower!"

"Are you stupid? I don't want to be God. I just want Aizen to be nothing and no one."

#

#

The tip of Aizen's sword penetrated Kuchiki Rukia's chest, right in the center.

The Hougyoku glimmered. Blackness swirled around Rukia. Power traveled down Aizen's blade. And down it. Down it. Down it. He tried to cut off the flow of power. Tried to draw back. Tried to let go of Kyouka Suigetsu, and that was impossible too.

Until Kyouka Suigetsu disappeared and Aizen was dressed in white. He hit the ground a powerless spirit, unable to move in the presence of such great reiatsu as the one before him had.

The young woman getting to her feet in the black garb of a shinigami, endowed with power beyond that of all but Genryusai himself, Sode no Shirayuki dangling from her waist, Hougyoku in hand.

Rukia would've thrown back her head and laughed long and hysterically before introducing herself as 'Kuchiki Rukia, Substitute Shinigami,' but she had better things to do.

One shunpo took her to Inoue. Another took Inoue to Nii-sama.

"Heal him!" she shouted, and Inoue set to work, her Shun Shun Rikka covering Ichigo and Byakuya both.

Behind her, there was a short, sharp fight between Tousen and Gin that left the surprised Tousen in lack of a head, and Gin giggling maniacally as he held Aizen at sword point and took unholy glee in breaking his bones, held back from killing him only by the arrival of other Captains.

Rukia noticed only enough to see that Aizen was caught.

Her death grip on the glittering black Hougyoku did not ease until, at great length, Nii-sama took a breath.

#

#

Urahara Kisuke came. He called the Hougyoku 'Ho-chan,' and referred to his creation by the pronoun 'she.' Genryusai listened to him, fingers drumming on the arm of his chair.

The Hougyoku was a strange, chirpy, childlike thing. She had been remanded into the Captain-Commander's care, and Rukia didn't know what had been done with her. Nothing bad, from what Rukia could tell.

Aizen had been executed. Short and public. Soul Destruction. Rukia had watched. She'd felt relieved, and she'd gone home and vomited, then wandered the gardens, where Ichigo found her.

"Hey," he said. "How's your brother?"

"Walking again." They'd had a long conversation while he was bedridden, Rukia demanding answers to questions she'd only ever hinted at before. "He told me about your Hollow mask in the fight with him."

Ichigo raised an eyebrow.

"Don't worry. He's not spreading it around. But you should probably get that checked. Talk to Urahara."

"I have, since he's here. He says there are some people he'll introduce me to when I go back."

Rukia said, "The Captains will want to put a limiter on you, so your reiatsu doesn't cause problems in the human world."

"Yeah. We've been talking about that. Hat'n'Clogs has some more flexible ways than a power sealing tattoo you can only take off with a bureaucracy's express permission."

Rukia said, "Considering how much they owe you, I expect them to be reasonable."

Ichigo shrugged. "You're the big hero. I just helped."

Rukia said, "Ho-chan's the big hero."

Ichigo nearly smiled. "You shoulda seen Hat'n'Clogs with her. Acts like that little black ball is his daughter. Makes it seem a little different, him choosing to hide her in you."

It did.

She brushed away leaves from a stone bench within the garden and sat, patting the space next to her.

Taking the seat, Ichigo said, "What happens with you now?"

Rukia said, "Usually, with Substitute Shinigami, over time their power fades to the level they can naturally support. I'd thought it odd when we were in Karakura that you weren't losing power. Now we see why," she said, gesturing to Zangetsu, referring to his incredibly high natural level. "But that's with humans. No shinigami has ever transferred their powers into a fellow spirit before. It's not supposed to be possible. It wouldn't have been without Ho-chan. So there's not telling what will happen."

"Yeah, but what happens with you?"

Rukia bumped his shoulder. "I've requested Karakura Town as my beat, so you'll be seeing me plenty."

He really did smile. "Be sure not to lose to any weaklings this time."

She elbowed his side. "Low blow."

They descended into silence, watching the birds and bees pollinate the flowers. Ichigo's mood didn't seem far from hers. She wondered if he'd been at the execution too.

At length, Rukia said, "Did Urahara really cut your Soul Chain?"

He nodded.

"You know what that means."

"I know what it usually means, but my situation ain't exactly usual."

Rukia said, "If you ever feel like you don't belong there, you have a place here."

"I respect your brother, even if he is a prissy legalistic dolt, but I don't think he wants me in his house."

She elbowed him again, but not so hard. "You know what I mean. But actually, if you wanted to, you could use a guest bedroom here for at least two months, since that's how long I was at a guest bedroom in your house.

"You were in my closet."

"Shh. If Nii-sama asks, it was a guest bedroom."

"Guest bedroom," he agreed.

He moved a little closer. She rested her head on his shoulder. Leaves fell from trees above.

#

#

Rukia watched as Ichigo, Urahara, Yoruichi, Inoue, Sado and Ishida all left through the Spirit Gate.

She would be returning to Karakura Town herself shortly, to take up her beat, and to 'keep an eye on' Ichigo.

Peaceful days, she hoped, with no more to do than Konso Pluses, defeat weak Hollows, and hang out with Ichigo and the others.

Peaceful days that might not last.

If they could trust Gin (who was still in confinement, and reportedly had been in a magnificently wonderful mood since being told of Aizen's execution) there was an Arrancar army in Hueco Mundo, and several of the 'Espada' were at Captain level.

But for the moment, the villain had been defeated with no deaths on the good guys' side, she and Nii-sama were actually talking, she was free, she was powerful, and she had made a strange new friend. A friend who had been remanded into the Captains Commander's care but seemed uninconvenienced by that fact, and had grown attached to Rukia.

Rukia focused, and a small black ball appeared in her left hand.

Whatever happened, they would face it together.

:::

So, I actually just wanted to write ~2k words about Ichigo being Byakuya's Vice-Captain and was going to use him being Konsoed back in time to set it up, and then forget it without ever completing it. But this oneshot happened instead.

I could write about Baraggan leading the willing Espada and a shitload of Gillians and Adjuchas into war with Seireitei, or about the Quincy attack, but I think I won't bother.

I really like the idea of Urahara referring to the Hougyoku as 'Ho-chan' and acting like she's his daughter. That, uh, might be explored a lot further elsewhere.

Isn't that what you really want for the villains of real life? For them to be nothing and no one, their malevolence of no account?