Title: Don't Think I'll Forgive You Just 'Cuz You're Me!
Rating: PG for very mild language
Summary: Following Starrk's death, Lilynette reminisces about things that have passed.
Author's Note: Admittedly, I was veeeery liberal with my interpretation of the contest's "breaking up and making up" theme. I can argue that this fits the theme, but I understand if one would want a story that more strictly adhered to it. If you feel that this story fails to follow the guidelines, please let me know, and I'll withdraw this one and submit a more proper one. The scene in the story changes from present to flashback, with italics text used to signify flashbacks. Other than that, just my usual notes. Sorry I'm not so great with prose. Most of my writing is done in the form of outlines and storyboards for graphic novels. That's all from me! Enjoy!
This was a dark place, and the sand carried on the wind made anything Lilynette did painful. Still, she was entirely too pissed off to give up, and continuing to blink even as the sand stung her eyes gave her the perfect excuse to shed tears. Now that she was back in Las Noches, now that she was alone again, things had returned to the way they had been for centuries before. There was no emotion in this realization as it passed through her mind. There was merely a simple resignation that brought a moment's melancholy frown to her lips, before it gave way to gritted teeth and an agitated groan as she kicked the ground beneath her furiously.
"You lazy, lying, unreliable bastard! What was with all the nice words back then? You promised we'd stay together forever..." She continued to stomp away at the ground until she kicked up a dust cloud so large that even rage couldn't ignore it, and she collapsed into a coughing heap to the ground. The echoes of her shouting faded into silence... there was no reply. There would never again be a response to her tirades. The cold reminder of this fact finally sliced away her facade of bravery, and she let the sobs escape from her in fitful bursts. "...Starrk..."
"Hey, let's stop for a break here." Starrk's dispassionate voice interrupted the silence. Lillynette turned to look at her traveling companion, a mixture of annoyance and surprise in the frown she shot at him.
"What the hell? We haven't even been walking for a whole day, yet!" She stalked over to him, but he pretended to pay her no mind.
"Yeah, about that," Starrk laid himself out on the desert sand in spite of her protests. "It occurs to me that we don't have a destination. Isn't it silly to waste effort walking nowhere?"
"Don't you even think of sleeping!" Lilynette roared, leaping as mighitly as she could into the air, and landing with her feet firmly wrenched into his gut. Starrk's eyes widened, a deep and pained scream escaping his lips. "If we don't keep moving, we'll never find anybody who can-"
She stopped her speech. Starrk stopped his melodramatic bleeting. Their attention was pulled to a nearby sand dune, which had begun to softly shift. A few seconds passed, and a tiny lizard emerged, scampering toward the awe struck duo. It hadn't made it more than a foot closer to them before it began to curl up in pain and break apart, as if it had been burned to death by an invisible fire. Starrk and Lilynette shared a dark expression, a mutual despair filling them as the last particles of the lizard's body evaporated into the air.
"...Even if we find someone, won't they just die like everything else? Knowing that, do you really want to keep moving forward like this?" Starrk inquired in a soft voice, finally breaking the tense silence between them. Lilynette couldn't offer a reply, slumping down dismally after watching still another living thing die because of her. Starrk's eyes softened a bit, and he brought a hand to the top of her head gently. "...Let's just take it slow. We have all the time in the world." It wasn't much, but it was still a reassuring thought.
Now she was on her back, staring up at the eternally-crescent moon of Hueco Mundo, feeling an intense mixture of sorrow and loneliness. This feeling was the same one she remembered from the past, wasn't it? So then, why did it hurt so much more now? She asked this of herself, but even a naive soul like hers already knew the answer. It hurt now because she knew what she was missing. For all those centuries as a hollow, she had been plagued by loneliness without knowing how warm companionship was. Now that she had felt friendship, and lost it, the loneliness that was left behind felt all the more cold and dark.
"That was an amusing first impression you left on Barragan. He doesn't simply dislike you, he's actively plotting your death." Sosuke Aizen chuckled softly as he lead Starrk and Lilynette down a shadowy corridor of Las Noches, Tousen beside him.
"He can have the title if he wants it," Starrk replied distantly. "Being ranked number one sounds troublesome." Truthfully, Starrk was the slightest bit sad to hear Aizen's words. He liked Barragan.
"Nonsense," Aizen responded, "A lesson in humility will do him some good. This will be your palace." The party had been slowly approaching a massive pair of double doors. Upon seeing their approach, the two arrancars standing guard at the gate pushed it open.
"Err, yeah, thanks." Starked said, bowing awkwardly before stepping into the room. Aizen bid his farewell and started to walk off. Lilynette found herself watching him leave, her brow furrowed in distaste.
"I don't think I like that Aizen guy very much..." She said, following Starrk into the palace. She saw him near the bedding area, curiously poking the mattresses and nodding approvingly at their softness.
"Don't be ungrateful, Lilynette. You saw the other espada, right? They don't die, no matter how long we stay with them."
"Well yeah, but," She trailed off for a moment. It truly was the happiest she'd ever ever been when the time came for her to meet the espada. She got the impression that they despised one another, as hollows are prone to do, but they could live with her, and congregate together. The virtue of that fact alone made them the closest thing to a family she had ever known. "...but being here means you'll have to fight shinigami. Do you really think you'll want to kill them?"
"Nah, I guess not. Maybe Aizen-sama's plan will never get off the ground, though? Or maybe if I show them that I'm the number one espada they'll back off?" He scratched his head wearily, his eyes focused on the fresh "1" tattooed on his hand. Finally, he shrugged to himself and laid down.
"Stark," she began, but was surpriesed to find that she wasn't all that worried about it, either. For the moment, they were no longer alone. For an instant she felt warm and content, so why worry when she could finally feel at peace? Shecurled up next to Starrk on the mattress, closing her eyes. "...We're not alone..."
Lilynette leaned up and brushed the tear from her eye. A lizard had popped up near where she was laying. She watched it scamper about aimlessly for a while, willing it away from her and frowning as it drew closer. Her gaze fell on it with such fascination that several minutes passed before she realized that it wasn't dying even as it came within inches of her. Her eyes widened in surprise, and she shakily brought her hand down to the animal's path. It came up to her fearlessly, inspecting her extended fingers for just a moment before climbing onto her hand. She raised it to her eye-level curiously. Half of her soul was dead now... was that the reason this little animal could touch her? As happy as she was to see it happen, it was far from a comforting thought.
"I hate our ressurecion." Lilynette whined. She and Starrk were standing under the dome of Las Noches, enjoying and being confused by the sunlight it produced. Starrk coughed at the sudden exclamation, giving her a curious look.
"What's this, all of a sudden?" he asked, "Releasing is a pain in the ass, sure, but why bring it up now?" Lilynette met his gaze for a moment, but then cut her eyes away, a pouty expression on her face.
"When we release, we merge together again. I don't like..." She slumped down as she spoke, sitting on the sand and hugging her knees, "I don't like being reminded that we're one person." A light blush colored her cheek as she finished venting. Starrk looked at her piteously for a moment before closing his eyes in frustration.
"What am I thinking right now?" He asked her.
"Huh?" She retorted dimly, his question catching her off guard.
"Do you know what I'm thinking right this moment? Do you know how I feel when we're together? Do you even know how I feel when you insist on waking me up?" There was a moment's silence between them before Lilynette finally responded, looking up at him thoughtfully. Starrk wasn't usually this talkative.
"You're me, and I'm you, but we're ourselves, too. Everything we see effects us differently, and we're free to walk any path we choose. I live every day as Coyote Starrk, and you do it as Lilynette Gingerback." He gave her a gentle thump on the forehead with a finger. "The fact that I'm you means that I'll be real for as long as you are. Even if I die, even if my thoughts and experiences end forever, I'll live on with you, because you're me. When you think about it that way, it's kind of comforting, don't you think?"
"Starrk... Thank you..." Lilynette felt her voice catching in her throat, an intense happiness lifting her heart in her chest. For the first time in her life she felt truly independent from Starrk, but she had also never felt closer to him. Starrk merely sighed, shrugging his shoulders in an exaggerated gesture.
"What the hell is so bad about being me, anyway?" He retorted, his voice indignant. Lilynette wasn't sure anything in the world could have killed the mood more quickly. Agitated, she recoiled from him, kicking his leg fiercely.
"That wasn't the point at all, you idiot!"
Lilynette returned her hand to the ground, freeing the lizard to jump back onto the sand and burrow out of sight. She watched it go, and then cast her eyes upward.
"Starrk, I would never forgive you if you left me alone... even if you were me. But you're still here, so I guess I'll let it slide..." She was crying again, but smiling despite her sorrow. The espada were gone. Her family was gone, but she wasn't worried. She could rebuild her faimly, given time, and the loneliness wasn't real. Starrk would remain with her forever.
Yawning comically, Lilynette stretched her arms and collapsed backwards onto the sand. She had a lot of traveling to do, but she could take it slow. She had all the time in the world.