So there were all these things Rangiku hated about Gin, and all these things she liked about him.

And one thing that she would never find out about him. Ichimaru Gin, a prodigy so scary that if he so chose he could've ruled the Gotei 13 with that creepy smile alone spent his entire adult life avenging a slight to her honor that Aizen Sousuke had all but forgotten and Matsumoto Rangiku couldn't remember receiving. She'd certainly never asked Gin to fight for her, but what else did he have to fight for?

What else did he have to die for?

Hitsugaya Toshiro lived for Hinamori Momo, but his lieutenant formed a large, incorrigible, irreplaceable part of his life. He just didn't worry about Rangiku like he worried about Momo because he trusted her to bounce back from tragedy.

He didn't trust her to bounce back from the end of the world. The scream that had ripped from his throat when he thought he'd killed Momo still hurt his throat sometimes, and he knew what Rangiku was feeling. Down to the last ounce of regret and sadness, he knew and marveled that she wasn't crumbling into pieces right where she stood.

She stood and marveled that same exact thing, and then felt bad for not moving roughly past it like Toshiro had. Some people never feel like they're doing enough. She was exceeding all expectations by simply continuing to breathe evenly. See how Momo reacted when her captain 'died', and see how Rangiku carries grief. That's poise, that's grace.

That's the useless feeling burning deep in the pit of her stomach. Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm, it was said. And Rangiku was depressed beyond the ability to speak because Gin was gone (dead! Call a spade a spade) and he'd never even told her why he'd left in the first place. He had thought a memento would root her to his grave (not a captain's, proud and honorable, but a traitor's—a name on a list in the office of Sasakibe Chojiro, lieutenant of Division One) but he'd vastly underestimated the tug of another boy genius in Rangiku's life.

Toshiro would've tug, tug, tugged her past the disaster.

If only Gin had thought to tell her that his entire campaign was for her sake, Rangiku would've laughed in his face and bade him to call it off. What was there to nurse a grudge against? As a child she'd been caught by Urahara Kisuke and something funny had been embedded in her. As an older child she'd been caught by Aizen Sousuke and been robbed of the embedded thing—and something else? Rangiku remembered her first time with a man; she hadn't bled so maybe it wasn't actually her first time—well, what child in Rukongai's higher-numbered districts escaped trauma?

If Gin wanted so badly to redeem her, he should've gone after Kisuke's neck. There was no guarantee that he'd have had an easier time (oh, who're we kidding? Kisuke defeated Sousuke, not Ichigo, and Kisuke would've beat Gin to within an inch of his life) but at least when you're beaten to within an inch of your life you're still alive. That was the whole point of fighting. To win and live to fucking enjoy it! What was the use—

Stupid dead loser.

Poor dead loser.

Poor Rangiku, living on and on. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is not bliss. Being kept in the dark about Gin's thoughts had never been a big deal to her until now, when he was no longer around to keep her in the dark about anything but also not available to shed light.

Who allowed him to do such a thing? What right did he have to go ahead and throw himself into a storm of danger and not even ask if she wanted what he was trying to give her? If Rangiku had the choice, she would choose Gin. Over revenge, she would choose Gin. She would say, 'why are men such fools' but they're not. He is. So instead she thinks 'why was he such an idiot' and loathes with every fiber of her being the use of the past tense.

How dare he relegate himself to the past tense, to non-existence, to the level of scum that abandons a friend half-way through life? Who let him wear the pants in their relationship?

His life was not his alone.

She was part of it.

Hell, she was it.

Rangiku trusted Gin in much the same way Toshiro trusted her to keep himself safe. For both their sakes. A long time ago when Momo turned her blade on Toshiro, Rangiku turned her blade on Gin. And he fell back. In order to not hurt Rangiku? Absolutely not; he had a dozen ways of incapacitating her without inflicting pain. He did it so that she wouldn't hurt him because Rangiku would've. Then they would've both been sorry. Who needed that sort of grief?

Who expected this sort of betrayal?

She'd felt bad when he declared himself part of Aizen Sousuke's gang, but that wasn't really a betrayal of her, personally. Gin had turned his back on Seireitei, not her. Hadn't he said before he left, It would've been nice if my capture had lasted a little longer? Hadn't he dropped most of his grin in favor of a sad smile? Gin had still been on her side, and so she had coped.

Now he was all over the place. Rangiku didn't believe that anything of a person's personality could survive death, but these days the air she breathed seemed sweeter (Gin, sweet? More like poison made from rose petals and dew drops and darkest nightmares) as if his atoms were laced through it. It was all very romantic, but it wasn't helping her at all.

Could anything help her at all? Seriously? Seriously?

Did she stand a fighting chance?

Have I mentioned something about Toshiro tugging her past the disaster?

Well. That's still the plan.