I do not own Bleach or its kick-ass characters. A tragedy, I know.
The heiress to the Shihouin clan leaned against the wall of the small hospital room, her arms crossed as she forced her eyes to gaze out the window.
"...Should you not be resting?" Yoruichi whipped her head in the voice's direction, making her hair sway wildly as it moved. The captain of Squad Four walked through the threshold, giving the leader of the Correction Corps one of her signature warm smiles. Yoruichi smiled back and nodded respectfully, but Unohana could tell that her reaction was somehow forced. She opted not to say anything regarding that, however.
"...Oh, I'm fine," Yoruichi said with a smirk as she shifted her weight on the wall, only to feel a stabbing pain in her side. She succeeded in not making a verbal protestation to the still-healing injury, yet Unohana had endured these false displays of bravado long enough in her time as a healer that she only gave a motherly sigh.
"Shihouin-sama, I insist that you return to your own room. It would not do well to have an avoidable death in this place, much less your own." The cocoa-skinned woman only chuckled in response. Unohana decided to drop the issue as she reached the bed upon which Soi Fong's unconscious body lay. There were a few IV's sticking out of her left arm and hanging on a portable rack near the bedside along with an oxygen mask tied around the Chinese girl's jaw. Yoruichi tried to keep her gaze on the cloudless blue sky, knowing that it was unwise to interrupt Unohana in the middle of her handiwork, but her eyes occasionally flitted over to where her subordinate slept quietly.
"...How is she?"
Unohana turned to the Correction Corps leader, who had presented the question in a convincing attempt at her normal devil-may-care tone of voice.
"Don't worry," the Fourth Squad captain said with a smile as she put the tools she'd used to examine the inert girl back into her long white robe. "...The poison's flushing out fine, and her wounds are healing nicely. She'll probably be ready to leave in another week or so." The sober look on Yoruichi's face softened slightly, but then reverted to normal in the blink of an eye. She nodded to show that she understood, but said nothing. The room was quiet for a moment before Unohana spoke again. "If I may be blunt, Shihouin-sama, you were fortunate that she was there when she was." Yoruichi blinked, then turned her face in the window's direction.
"There are others I must attend to," the gentle Captain said with a bow, which Yoruichi returned by lowering her head slightly. Before exiting completely, Unohana turned to Yoruichi at the threshold. "Oh, and I would avoid going LOOKING for Hollows in the future," she said with a knowing smile. The violet-haired woman opened her mouth to retort, but Unohana had already walked out of sight. Yoruichi sighed as her eyes turned from the doorway and slowly drifted, slowly, to Soi Fong. She stared at her sleeping bodyguard for about a minute before she realized that she WAS staring, though her mind was far away from the here and now.
If she hadn't been there...
Yoruichi remembered vividly how three nights ago, in a fit of insomnia and boredom, she had left her home in the dead of night hoping to find a Hollow or two to cleanse. It was so easy to avoid attracting her guard's attention that she had wondered if they were really necessary at all. After an hour's wandering in the woods beyond Soul Society she'd found one, but had fallen into the trap of thinking that its relatively small size would make it a minimal threat at best.
It was a rare mistake for the seasoned warrior and it may have been her last had her devoted subordinate not become aware of her master's absence. The Hollow taunted Yoruichi as she lay on the ground, struggling to get back up as blood flowed from a wound at her side. It growled viciously as its poisonous teeth spread apart, in an effort to swallow the wounded Shinigami whole. Instead its mouth collided with another body, a young girl who jammed her short Zanpaku-to into the roof of its mouth as the Hollow bit down on her shoulder. The unclean spirit howled in pain as the blade's owner collapsed to the ground. It only took Yoruichi a moment to realize that it was Soi Fong. Without a word, the golden-eyed woman glared at the Hollow before smashing her fist into the monster's mask, splitting it in half and reducing the Hollow to dust.
Yoruichi only spared a moment to catch her breath before hurrying over to her younger friend, lifting her head out of the growing pool of dark blood. Feeling a comforting presence beside her, Soi Fong slowly opened her eyes to see her beloved princess kneeling over her and failed to suppress a smile.
"...Y-Yoruichi-sama? You're all right..." The taller Shinigami positioned her arm to help Soi Fong to her feet. She was about to tell her not to talk when the Chinese girl, in a lapse of delirium set on by the poison coarsing through her bloodstream and the pain of the injury, lifted her hand and gently carressed the side of Yoruichi's face. In spite of the situation, the older woman jumped slightly at the unprovoked display of affection from her subordinate. "I'm...I'm glad..." she whispered before coughing up a spray of blood and drifting into unconsciousness.
Fearing the worst, Yoruichi had carried Soi Fong's body nearly a mile before she reached Squad Four, finally collapsing from her own forgotten-about injury once she reached their doorstep. The next thing she knew she had woken up in a hospital bed, bandages around her stomach where the Hollow had injured her. And so now here she stood, for the last two days, watching over the bedridden girl protectively. Yet the only thing Yoruichi could feel right now towards her was not gratitude or pity, but rather anger.
...If she hadn't been there...then she wouldn't be lying here right now. She'd still be safe and I'd be dead.
Yoruichi was not a woman who sought her own demise or who lived recklessly, but she did not fear it as others did. If she was to die, then she didn't want others to go with her to meet that fate. That was for her and her alone to deal with.
If I had been just a second slower, she could have...
She knew that Soi Fong was out of harm's way now, but even so she couldn't bring herself to finish that sentence. It didn't make any sense that the idea of her subordinate dying could make such a frank woman so fearful of a fact she was more than familiar with. It wasn't an uncommon story for people to be killed by Hollows-- she'd lost countless friends and companions to the mask-wearing demons enough that her sadness had gradually been numbed into a dull sting by time and frequency. There was no way she should be this concerned about Soi Fong, but she simply couldn't bring herself to leave the girl's side.
Why am I so worried about her? This is her job-- she knew what it involved when she accepted it.
But even as she thought that, Yoruichi knew she didn't believe her own words for even a minute. After all, this was the sort of thing that she had wanted to prevent when she had taken Soi Fong under her wing all those years ago. She couldn't explain why, but from the moment she had laid eyes on the young Chinese girl she had promised herself that she would protect her however she could. Soi Fong had vowed that she would be willing to die for her sake without hesitation, and Yoruichi had only smiled, accepting her words but feeling confident that her friend would never need to fulfill them. Now not only had she been proven wrong, but her closest companion had made a close brush with death in the process. It was beyond unacceptable.
I should be keeping her safe. Not the other way around. This is not how it should be. Damn her.
Yet her anger dissipated as she focused her gaze on the girl's face, somehow feeling calmer as she stared at Soi Fong's soft features. She couldn't hate Soi Fong for being the way she was. After all, she would do the same for her without a moment's hesitation...
Wait...why am I thinking that?
Yoruichi shook her head in an effort to rid herself of the thoughts running through her brain, but she knew deep down that it was true. Without her realizing it, Soi Fong had become such a big part of her life that she felt like...like... She wanted to say 'family,' but that somehow didn't seem like the right term for what she felt for her companion. One thing did seem right for embodying her emotions for Soi Fong, but the woman turned an uncharacteristic shade of red, simultaneously wondering where the thought hand come from and why she couldn't get it out of her head.
No...that can't be it... I...I can't feel that way about her, she's my...she's my...
She tried to think 'subordinate,' but her train of thought was derailed by the sound of bedsheets stirring a few feet away. She glanced up to see the object of her musings push herself up in the bed, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes as she mumbled incoherently. Yoruichi suddenly realized she was staring at her friend transfixed again, pulling herself together just as the girl in question turned turned drowsy eyes in her direction. Soi Fong blinked, then her eyes shot open and her face turned red upon seeing who was standing over her bed.
"Y-Y-Yoruichi-sama! Wh-wh-what are you doing here?"
At first the Shinigami could not speak, she was simply grateful that Soi Fong was back to normal and had to fight down the urge to hug her and scold her for being so reckless and tell her that she meant more to her than anyone else and that she didn't know what she would have done if she'd lost her. She pushed all these thoughts away when she realized that Soi Fong was staring at her intently, as if waiting for an answer.
"...Well, good to see that you're back!" Yoruichi said while grinning, switching back into her typical easygoing demeanor before Soi Fong could even register it. The Chinese girl put a hand to her bandaged shoulder, wincing as she rubbed the tender area.
"...I'm fine," Soi Fong said, instantly forgetting about her injury upon seeing her lady's smile. "...But what about you? You weren't hurt, right?"
"Thanks to you, Little Bee, I didn't get a scratch," Yoruichi lied calmly and was rewarded with a grateful sigh from the girl. The Shihouin, for all her strength in battle and her cunning that had gotten her out of countless scrapes and problems, could only stand paralyzed as Soi Fong raised her eyes to her master and smiled with unbridled joy.
"...I'm glad, Yoruichi-sama."
For a moment, all of Yoruichi's resolve threatened to disappear into thin air. She could only stare into the other girl's warm, dark eyes, transfixed against her will as though she'd been bound by Demon magic. She once again felt the urge to hold her in her arms, to forget about all the barriers and obstacles between them and simply surrender to the girl who'd charmed her without either of them realizing it. She wanted to say that she didn't want her to be a guard anymore, because she wanted her to be safe and happy and to be loved by her and only her...
The older woman blinked out of her reverie at the concerned tone in Soi Fong's voice, then quickly recovered her catlike grin and demeanor.
"...Well, hurry up and get better, Soi Fong," Yoruichi said as she headed out the door. "...I'll be expecting you back for work, remember." Sensing that the conversation had turned to business, Soi Fong dropped her childlike disposition for her formal, no-nonsense additude.
"I will, Captain!" she said seriously as Yoruichi nodded and headed toward her room, turning only to take a last satisfied glance at Soi Fong. She didn't see the quizzical look on the girl's face, who was uncertain if she had imagined the gentle, almost affectionate glint in her princesses' golden eyes.
A/N: Well, this is my first Bleach fanfic--I hope I haven't strayed too far from the characters. And yes, I am a die-hard Yoruichi/Soi Fong fan. Two badass characters-- seems right to me.