goat_dono: (YUKI'S CAIRN)
[personal profile] goat_dono
Title: Hachiyagaki
Author: [personal profile] goat_dono
Rating: K+ (canon character death, angst)
Word count: 630
Summary: Some people want to forget, others choose not to remember.

Disclaimer: Bleach is the property of Tite Kubo. I do not use its characters, settings and/or events for any profitable purpose.

~xXx~


After a prolonged and exhaustive search, the Onmitsukidō reported that no trace of Ichimaru Gin's body had been found. Despite the lack of physical evidence, the Central 46 concluded that the traitor was deceased. The chipped section of his shattered Zanpakutō had been taken as evidence in the convoluted case against Aizen, and later destroyed.

Shortly after the final declaration, Matsumoto received a discrete communication from Urahara Kisuke indicating that her instructions had been followed and the requested items recovered, and she could stop by the Shōten at her leisure.

She waited until November to return to the Human World, a chill morning with frost decorating the fragile outlines of fallen leaves. In a dark corner of his storeroom, Urahara cleared away the clutter to reveal an unobtrusive wooden crate, about a half-meter square. He carefully wrapped it in furoshiki and placed it in Matsumoto's arms without a word.

She went straight to the station and caught the next train for Kyōto, arriving in the Southwest District late in the afternoon. Nestled on a wooded hillside near the Katsura River was a Rinzai temple, which dated from the Kamakura period. On the bank of the temple garden pond stood an enormous Hachiya persimmon tree, heavily loaded with bright, ripe fruit. She smiled at the sight of it, remembering Gin's excitement upon finding such a perfect specimen, the long afternoons he spent sprawled lazily in its shade, Kira's dismayed discovery of its progeny growing all over the Third Division grounds.

She plunked the crate down, much to the consternation of several feasting crows who cawed and squabbled at the invisible disturbance. Inside, a dense packing of straw cushioned a plain white urn and a bulky, paper-wrapped package. She opened the urn and stirred the grainy contents with her fingers; she studied a dull, pitted fragment of skull before crushing it in her palm and scattering it like sand on the mossy ground.

It seemed long ago that she had sworn never to shed another tear for her oldest friend, and her resolve held firm. She simply circled the tree, and littered the roots and the fallen leaves with his ashes, and tried not to think.

At the very bottom of the urn her fingers snagged on something. It was the serpentine tsuba of Shinsō, grey with bone dust. Gently, she pressed the cold iron to her lips before laying it under the tree, and looked up at the bright sky through the gnarled black branches.

You were always disappearing on me. Now that I want you to go, you won't leave.

Fingering the chain around her neck, she considered removing it and leaving it there as well, but she couldn't, in the end. She would miss it too much.

She returned to Soul Society that night, and went looking for Kira. She found him in the Third Division headquarters, working late and all alone as he was wont to do these days, and reverently placed the paper package upon his desk.

He stared at it, a choking sensation rising in his throat, and lifted his stricken eyes to Matsumoto's, but she said nothing, her face expressionless. Instead, she turned briskly about and vanished.

Kira sat for some time willing himself to be calm, but still his hands trembled as he carried the unopened package to the hearth and dropped it on the fire. He watched the heavy kimono paper blacken and disintegrate, and the rising flames briefly, almost mockingly, revealed the embroidered hishini mittsu on the back of the once coveted, azure-lined haori. He went back to his desk, trailed by the acrid stench of burning silk, and yanked open the drawer where he kept the sake flask. Behind him, the last remnants of Ichimaru Gin's existence disappeared into memory.

~xXx~


A/N:
hachiyagaki - Diospyros kaki 'Hachiya,' a popular variety of astringent persimmon. The ripe fruit is harvested and dried to make hoshigaki, dried persimmon
furoshiki - traditional Japanese package-wrapping cloth
Rinzai - a school of Zen Buddhism which emphasizes kenshō ("seeing one's true nature") as a gateway to Enlightenment
hishini mittsu - the number three inside a diamond, symbol of the Third Division

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February 2012

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