A voice whispers, her heart. It hurts.
Out in the open, people pretend to not see that bottomless melancholy hiding behind the gorgeously electric eyes of the bubbliest, most beautiful woman there ever was. They pretend they don't see. They do.
In the dark, she licks that singular wound. That wound whose name she whispers in her dreams, in her nightmares, in her waking hours. That wound who'd broken her heart countless times, and yet, time and again, she finds herself loving it still. That wound that broke her heart again and again until it stayed open, bleeding, pumping blood for all to see, loving him, loving him, damning her. She licks and licks, and prays, but it wouldn't heal. It bleeds sad, lonely tears when no one's watching. She breathes, she longs, and she aches—for yesterdays, for love, for the boy and the man, for Gin. For Gin.
She eludes herself often, calling herself 'Ran' and pretending it's his voice. It feels real. She can almost feel the breeze of their Rukongai district in her skin, skating along smoothly as she ran after a laughing boy with playful eyes and a cheeky grin. It was easy then, wasn't it? Just two Rukongai brats wolfing on stolen food, never really thinking anything beyond having fun and having food. Innocent and carefree.
'Rangiku', he calls, older this time, exasperated, indulgent. There's that familiar skip in her chest, brimming with warmth, the feeling of home, strong, steady thuds of Gin, Gin, Gin. She pictures him in her mind: eyelids open as they usually are when it's just her with him, blue eyes so impossibly magnetic, so superbly mesmerizing. 'Rangiku'
She pretends it's his voice. She cries every time, she cries every night.
She drowns herself in alcohol, crowing and whining about stupid, mundane things. Painless things. It numbs her traitorous mind, numbs her damn feelings, it numbs everything. Until she's too far gone it's pathetic.
Yet still, his ghost never fails to visit her each agonizing night. He's loyal like that. Even in death. Damn him.
She used to wait for this, forever ago, a time when instead she longed for it. Not the ghost wearing his face and his heart, but the man bounded to duty, always present but never there enough. Back when he was still good, but then he'd always been good hasn't he? He's just fooled them all into thinking that he was not. Such a sly, manipulative bastard.
She used to wait for him, may it be light or dark, in the presence of spectators or otherwise, back when he still had the Third Division and his life, waiting for his arms that had so infrequently—but possessively nonetheless, when they do—held her. They were shameless when in these priceless moments; they felt not a bit of shame, why should they? He'd not been a jealous man; he knew what was his, and what was his, others dare not touch.
Their moments had been few and far in between, but she supposes that made it all the more special. Because when they do happen, times when he held her, times when he let her know and see and experience the depths of his affection, everything seemed to stop and focus on the bittersweet fairytale that was them.
It is still fresh in her mind, their memories, as fresh as though it was just yesterday.
She remembers the scent of his skin. Remembers it reminded her of blood and forests and ash and metal.
She remembers the warmth of his arms. Remembers how it could protect her from anything.
She remembers his face. Remembers she found him perfect in his imperfections, found him desirable in spite of the nasty scars on his pale white skin, found him so painfully, utterly handsome.
She remembers his eyes. She can never forget.
She can still hear the lilt of his voice. The way he's gentler with her. The way he's softer when he's with her. The way he's just simply Gin with her.
She remembers the taste of his lips. It tasted of safety and of sins, of love and of a hundred shades of gray. It tasted of hope.
She can still remember how right it felt as she lay trembling beneath him, embracing him as he took her. Can still hear his muffled grunts and groans and moans, so openly deep and wanton she came unbidden. Can still remember how they both felt so unbounded by any law as they bask in the afterglow of their lovemaking.
She can still feel the unwavering intensity in his eyes as it held hers in the dark, conveying something he was never able to tell, something she'd always longed to hear, longs still. Something they both showed, but never said.
She can still recall the kiss he laid on her forehead and how it made her think of the future.
She remembers his apology.
Gin, she thinks. There's a smile despite her tears. I forgive you. I love you.
Someday, in a world far better than this one, we'll meet again. And I will never let you go.