A sickening crack followed by a blood curdling scream echoed out through the training grounds. Sobs followed close behind it.
“I know it was you, just admit to it.” Shiai growled to the blubbering girl on the ground.
“I didn’t do anything!” Suki screamed, “Why are you hurting me!?”
“Then who was it?” The pale girl snarled.
“I don’t know! Go ask Aiko!”
“I did. She said it was your idea. Now tell me why.” Shiai demanded.
Suki sobbed for a few moments, ignoring the question. Shiai, nearing the end of her ropes, sighed.
“Alright, we’ll play your game again. Give me your other arm.”
“No!” Suki cried.
“Then why? Tell me.”
“Shuuhei’s a great guy.” The dark haired girl began between sobs, “He’s amazing. And he ignored equally amazing women for your sickly, tomboy, ass. You could never satisfy him the way he deserves! He deserves better, Shiai! And you know it!”
“Maybe he does.” The red eyed girl began coldly, “But he chose me. And I’ll do my damnedest to make sure he’s happy, because that’s what he does for me.”
“You aren’t gonna get away with this.” Suki continued to sob, “You’ll face repercussions for what you’ve done to me!”
“Maybe so.” Shiai shrugged, “But maybe next time you’ll think twice about messing with me. You clearly didn’t get the message the first time around.”
“And daddy’s gonna save you this time?” She spat.
Shiai shrugged again, “I couldn’t care less if he does, that’s his business. What I care about is you stop making drama. I don’t care if you wanna hang out with Shuuhei, he’s allowed to have friends. Just know that he’s off the market and not interested in you. Stealing isn’t nice. And for the record, I’m taking you to the fourth squad barracks. No sense leaving you out here to suffer more than you already have.”
“Don’t touch me!” Suki screamed and started flailing around as best she could to keep Shiai away from her.
The pale girl sighed, “Hard way again it is. Hainawa.”
I sat on top of the 9th squad barracks, quietly strumming a melody on my guitar. I had gotten a lot better at it. Not quite enough to want to share my music with anyone, but enough so that I was confident enough to not hide away in the living world as I practice.
“Sweet dreams are made of these, who am I to disagree.” The soft sound of someone singing along with the melody came from behind me. I turned, embarrassed, to see who it was. I relaxed slightly as I saw the familiar red eyes and glowing, pale skin.
“Why’d you stop?” She asked as she walked up next to me.
“I’m not used to playing in front of people.” I admitted.
“Fair enough.” She shrugged, “May I sit?”
I nodded and motioned her next to me. She took it gracefully, pulling her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them.
“So,” She started awkwardly. I knew she wasn’t sure how to start or continue the conversation, and, being honest, neither did I. But I thought saying something might help.
“So, I saw Suki was in the recovery ward, along with Aiko. You tie up the loose ends you wanted to?” Well that was ridiculous, I thought. Of course she tied them up, why else would they be there.
“Yeah,” She admitted sheepishly, “I think I might have gone a little too far. I broke Suki’s arm, and Aiko, from what Unahana-taicho told me, has a lot of internal bleeding. I almost feel bad, like I shouldn’t have, but I honestly don’t regret it. Horrible as that is.”
“You’re just protecting your territory.” I offered.
She looked at me with serious eyes, “You don’t belong to me, Shuuhei. You’re allowed to go out, and have friends, and talk to people. I don’t want to make you feel like you can’t do that because of me, and I don’t want others to think you can’t because of me.”
I shrugged, “People’ll talk and spread rumors regardless of what we do, Red. The people who really know us will know the truth. Does that mean you’re not mad at me anymore?”
Smooth Shuuhei, real smooth.
She giggled slightly.
“I’m not mad anymore.” She said, her eyes alight and smile genuine. My heart soared hearing that. It had difficult to function knowing she wasn’t happy.
“I shouldn’t even have been before. And I’m sorry. Just,” She paused and shrugged, “Shit happens. It’s no excuse, but, I’m sorry.”
I shook my head, “You have no reason to be sorry, Shiai. I’m sorry I put you through that. I know you’ve been hurt before, and, I hurt you again.”
It was her turn to shake her head, “You didn’t hurt me, Shuuhei. You never could. It’s just, I’ve bottles things up since I was a kid. I had no clue how to let them out. And now it seems that it comes out when I don’t want it to, and it directs itself at you.”
“Maybe because you know I can take it?” I shrugged.
She shrugged too, “Can I tell you something really personal?”
The look in her eyes almost killed me. I had always seen a lot of emotion behind them, but never the vulnerability she showed me right then. She never looked like a scared little child in front of me before.
I nodded, not trusting my voice. It took everything in me not to toss my guitar to the side and pull her into a tight hug.
She hesitated for a moment and licked her lips before speaking, “When, I said I was hurt before. I wasn’t talking about a previous boyfriend. You’re actually my first.” She paused again and swallowed, “What I was talking about was, when I was about ten, or so. I-uh, I was walking home from school. This man, picked me up out of no where, brought me to this abandoned wear house, or something. And he, um, he.”
She stopped, her mouth twitching like she couldn’t find words that correctly described what had actually occurred. Her eyes, for the first time since I knew her, were glassy. She took a deep breath to try to steady herself before she continued.
“He hurt you.” I finished for her placing a hand on her shoulder. She just nodded, not wanting to look me in the eye.
“You don’t need to tell me anymore, Shi.” I told her, setting my guitar aside so I could pull her into a hug and stop the tears before they came, “You were trying and that’s what matters. You trust me enough to share those scars with me. It’s difficult, and if it hurts too much to remember then don’t. You’re here now, with me. We’ll make good memories that’ll eclipse the bad ones. You’re with me, and I love you. You don’t have to say anymore.”
She didn’t. She buried her face in my shoulder and held tightly onto me for a long time. It was only after about a minute or so did I realize my shoulder was wet, and she was crying.
She always had to be something else, something tough and capable. She never got the chance, or even the option, to be sweet and innocent. Something in my heart twanged at the thought, but it was soon replaced by burning rage at the thought of what some human did to her. I had the funniest of feelings she wasn’t going to say hurt, beat, or attacked me. But something far more heinous.
“You’re okay, Shiai.” I cooed and rubbed her head, “I have you. I won’t let anything happen to you.”