Hey everyone! I haven't been posting stories for a while because I've been suffering an intense case of writers block, until yesterday when I struck inspiration after reading "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce. Anyways, I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. The song-verse at the beginning of the story is from "Roulette" by System of a Down. Story is based off of "An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge."
I have a problem that I cannot explain,
I have no reason why it should have been so plain,
Have no questions but I sure have excuse,
I lack the reason why I should be so confused,
I know, how I feel when I'm around you,
I, don't know, how I feel when I'm around you,
Ichimaru Gin sat in his cell in the Maggot's Nest feeling restless.
He had been there for the better part of three months just sitting, sleeping, and eating. While normally Gin wouldn't mind such isolation, he found that with each passing day he got more and more anxious about what he knew was going to come. Gin had only felt anxious a handful of times in his life, and every other time before, he would have not shown it on the outside, rather he would just smile and keep his eyes closed like normal.
But this time…
Gin supposed he knew the end was inevitable. They entered Fake Karakura Town feeling strong. Flanked by the three strongest Espada and their Fraccion, Gin was confident they would do some serious damage. Even when his arrancars fell one after the other, Aizen would remain calm and say the same thing over and over.
"No great loss…"
Right after Tosen's death, however, he knew it was over. The only option would be to either retreat, or die. It turned out to be the latter for Aizen, not because he wasn't more powerful, but because of that Ryoka Boy—what was his name? Gin would be damned if he could remember—and his ability to avoid Aizen's hypnotic powers; in the end, after fighting with the captains took its toll, that Ryoka Boy came in and finished Aizen off once and for all, ending the Winter War in the blink of an eye.
("No great loss…")
Gin, however, found himself in a slightly more unlucky position. He was captured, and immediately thrown in the most secluded part of The Maggot's Nest and constantly guarded. Here he had been for the last three months, rotting away on the inside as he knew what was going to become of him. Yamamoto said they'd think it over, but Gin was no fool. He would be executed for the highest form of treason.
Yet the knowledge of his impeding doom is not what was causing him to get more anxious. Whenever he was getting nervous, only one thought popped into his mind.
He tried his best to let go and sever their bonds, but in the end, Gin knew he couldn't. He found it hard to throw away their years of friendship, and nothing Aizen could do would make him forget about her. All Gin longed for now, was a chance to see the one he hurt the most one last time.
The heavy door creaked open and revealed Jushiro Ukitake and Shunsui Kyoraku. They stared grim-faced at the shinigami-traitor. Several seconds reigned until Ukitake finally spoke.
Gin knew what they meant as he simply nodded and stood up. He slowly walked out and after having his ankles bound together and his hands tied behind his back, he walked out of The Maggot's Nest into the blinding daylight.
Gin never realized how beautiful the outside world could be. Perhaps it had just been the fact that he had been blinded by Aizen, but he had never taken the time to appreciate everything around him. The shimmering of the sun, the sounds of the birds, the soft breeze, the lush woodlands; all of these things seemed alien to Gin and it was as if he was noticing them for the first time.
While walking, Gin realized it wasn't just nature that he seemed to miss out on; it was the people around him as well. He either ignored them, tormented them, or just plain didn't talk to them. Then, a strange thought crept into Gin's head.
Maybe he had been wrong.
Up until this point in his life, Gin had never regretted anything he had done before, but this regret was enough to make him sick to his stomach. The people
he manipulated while with Aizen, he never thought of their feelings before, and that made him regret everything he had done up until this point.
Gin was so unnerved by his own thoughts that his legs buckled under him and he fell to his knees. Ukitake and Kyoraku were immediately at his side.
"You okay?" asked the 8th Division Captain.
Gin only nodded, but the visible sweat on his face told a different story.
"It's only a little bit longer now," Ukitake stated. "We're almost there."
"And where is there?"
Both Ukitake and Kyoraku looked at each other for a moment, before both replying with, "Sokyoku Hill."
Gin wished he could say he was surprised by this, but he wasn't. He simply nodded and got back to his feet, and their long trek continued. He then pondered his own existence and if he really made a difference. Sure he had started a war, but in the end, the Gotei 13 had
(no great loss)
almost no casualties or damage. Not to mention the fact that Gin was easily replaceable and would be forgotten in a few years time. In the end, all of what Gin did was for nothing, but he couldn't feel any worse than he already had.
Finally, they reached their destination, at the top of Sokyoku Hill. Gin was not surprised to see almost every captain there, save for a few; Byakuya and Kenpachi immediately come to mind.
A visible frown was seen on Gin's face when he saw that Matsumoto was nowhere to be seen among the crowd of people.
What Gin saw set up at the end though, was somewhat strange. Right at the very tip of the hill, two large beams stood up, and a third beam rested on top of both of them, creating a rectangular-like apparatus. From there, he could see two shinigami hastily throwing a rope over it with a noose at the end.
Gin was escorted to the end of the hill where Captain-Commander Yamamoto was standing. Before Gin knew it, the two shinigami setting up the rope set out a wooden plank, half on the hill, and half extending over it. Yamamoto stepped on the end connected to the earth, while Gin was escorted to the end extending over the hill. Due to Yamamoto's weight, Gin was able to stand there without falling over the hill. There, the shinigami put the noose around Gin's neck and tightened it.
"Ichimaru Gin," Yamamoto said, rapping his cane on the board, "you have been tried for treason and found guilty. While normally, we would use the Sogyoku on you, it was destroyed and we will have to use a more common means to execute you. The rope around your neck has been tampered with to absorb all of your reiatsu; right now, you're as common as a Rukongai Citizen. Therefore, you have been sentenced to be hanged by the neck until pronounced dead…"
Yamamoto continued speaking, but Gin wasn't even paying attention. He just kept staring at the spot he thought Matsumoto would be in, and before he knew it, he couldn't do anything but think about her.
When he met her for the first time, he didn't know what he was thinking. It was not uncommon to find someone dying in the streets of Rukongai, yet something about her seemed different. She was not dying of any superficial wounds, she looked as if she was dying of hunger.
Perplexed, a young Ichimaru Gin walked over to a young Rangiku Matsumoto and offered her some of the dried persimmons he was carrying. She gratefully ate them, and the rest is history.
Although they didn't see each other often once they both entered the Shinigami Academy—the fact of Gin being touted as a genius and being put in accelerated classes made sure of that—Gin couldn't stop thinking about her. She was the first person he could really call his friend, and that is not something that goes away easily; he never even thought about her when he sided with Aizen. He didn't know what he was thinking, but he didn't care about Matsumoto's feelings at that point.
That, was Ichimaru Gin's biggest regret.
Yamamoto rapped his cane again, bringing Gin back from his own thoughts.
"Do you have any last words?" asked the aged shinigami.
Gin thought for a second, before replying. "I guess…I'm sorry…"
Yamamoto nodded, and with what seemed like forever, he stepped off of his side of the board.
With no other weight to counterbalance him, Gin's weight took over as the board dropped from under him and he began to freefall down the side of the mountain. Luck appeared to be with the former Captain, however, as right before the rope reached its maximum length, it snapped, saving Gin from the hanging, but still sending him free-falling.
Gin thought it didn't matter, after all, what's the difference between hanging and falling to your death? Then he noticed something different. His reiatsu began to flood back into his body again. Gin guessed that if a part of the rope severed, the flow was disrupted, and thus rendering the reiatsu-sucking aspect of the rope null and void.
Thinking fast, Gin pointed his bound hands to the ground coming up below him and said, "Bakudo 37: Tsuriboshi!"
A star-shaped net of energy suddenly appeared below him, and it was able to catch Gin, breaking his fall completely. Knowing he had to move quickly, Gin moved his hands bound behind his back away from him and pointed his index finger towards his wrists, saying, "Hado 4: Byakuria!"
The white beam shot through the bonds and although it hit Gin's wrist, he ignored the pain for now, thinking it to be
(no great loss)
Working fast, Gin moved his now freed hands and was able to quickly undo his ankle bonds. Now completely free, Gin jumped off of the kido net and began to sprint towards the middle of Seireitei. Resolve set in his mind, Gin knew what he had to do.
He had to see Matsumoto one last time.
Gin knew the Captains would be looking for him, so he had to move quickly to elude capture. He sprinted down the small streets in Seireitei carefully navigating his way by taking the back roads and avoiding detection from patrolling shinigami.
While running, Gin felt more in tune with everything around him. He could hear every sound, see every leaf on a massive tree, and feel the stone with every step he took. Before Gin knew it, he had grown a strong will to live, and this will is what got him to appreciate everything he didn't pay attention to before.
Gin took a sharp turn to the right and nearly tripped over his own feet. Sweat had matted down his hair, his breathing became erratic, but through all of this, he felt insanely happy. Happy to be alive, happy to finally go see the one he's cared for most all of his life.
Finally, he saw it.
The 10th Division sign stood high on the massive building on the outskirts of Seireitei. Gin cautiously looked around, making sure no one was there. Surprisingly (mostly to Gin himself) there was not a 10th Division member to be seen. Normally some were training on the grounds, or just walking around patrolling, but it was completely deserted.
Despite this, Gin still walked slowly so as not to draw attention to himself. Slowly, he crept inside the 10th Division Barracks and checked around, not a soul was around. Normally Gin would find this suspicious, but on this day, he didn't question it (or simply didn't care), and proceeded down the halls.
Near the end of the hall, he came to his destination. The door he was standing in front of had a sign on it saying, "10th Division Lieutenant: Rangiku Matsumoto". Gin stood there for a second, mentally preparing himself for what was about to come. Taking a deep breath, he put his (bloody) hand on the doorknob and turned it.
In there, Matsumoto was sitting on her bed with a bottle of sake (looking unopened) in her hand; she had a look of sadness on her face as she stared out the window.
"Rangiku…" Gin said, getting her attention.
"Gin? What are you doing here? I thought you were going to be executed," she said, trying to hide her extreme shock.
"I was, but I escaped…to see you," he said, walking closer to her.
No longer attempting to hide the tears flowing down her face, Matsumoto gave in and ran towards the man, throwing her arms around his neck and bringing him into her embrace. She buried her face into his shoulder as the sounds of her sobs could be heard.
Gin stroked her hair lightly as he tried to console her, saying, "I truly am sorry Rangiku. I never meant to hurt you."
"I know," she said through her sobs, lifting her head up.
They stared at each other's eyes for a long time before Matsumoto finally said, "It won't ever be right again, will it?"
Gin shook his head.
The tears stopped as they continued to stare at each other. Then, as if being pulled in by some force between them, their faces slowly got closer together, so close, in fact, that their lips were only about a centimeter apart.
Gin's fantasy of his escape came to an abrupt end as soon as Yamamoto stepped off the board and sent him free falling into the air. It only took about three seconds before the rope reached its length and pulled Gin up with a bone-jarring snap.
His neck broken, the life fleeing out of him, Gin surprisingly smiled as he thought, "In the end, I'm no great loss…"
Thus, ending two scenarios at Sokyoku Hill, one as it was imagined, and one how it was lived and died.
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Anyway, see you next story!