I do not own Bleach or its characters. Otherwise that friggin' 'Bound' arc would be SOOO GONE!

The captain of the Second Division leaned against the thick trunk of the sakura tree, sliding down until she was sitting comfortably on the cool grass. The wind rustled through the leaves, scattering the spent petals on the ground like confetti. It was a rather peaceful sight, but Soi Fong's thoughts were wandering to more turbulent happenings. Part of her still couldn't believe that three of her fellow captains had been working all this time to subvert Soul Society, and moreover had joined forces with the Shinigami's oldest foes.

"I knew I'd find you here." Soi Fong was rudely shaken out of her reverie by a voice she knew all too well. Nonetheless, she jumped and turned around to find a tall, dark-skinned woman with a sinister-looking smirk and piercing golden eyes walking lazily towards her. "...Hello, Little Bee."

134 years ago, Soi Fong would have turned furiously red upon hearing Yoruichi call her by her nickname, but the matured and far more stoic Chinese woman only gave her former leader a disdainful glare before turning her gaze back to the forest of cherry blossoms. Yoruichi walked until she was standing beside the girl, but did nothing to force her to look in her direction. She smiled out at the trees speckled with pink before speaking again.

"Well...this certainly brings back memories, doesn't it?"
In spite of herself, Soi Fong's cheeks turned a light shade of pink, matching the color the blossoms had been on that night so long ago, when she'd laid here with Yoruichi and promised to stay beside her forever... She shook her head in an effort to stem the warm nostalgia flooding her mind, then finally decided to speak up.

"...What are you doing here?" Yoruichi made an odd little clicking noise as she shook her head, that insufferable grin refusing to fade even the slightest.

"Aww... Is there something bothering you, Little Bee?" the Shihouin woman said sweetly, inadvertently making Soi Fong angrier.

I can't believe her...she's acting like the fight never happened! After we nearly killed each other-- How the hell can she act so casual about it?

She was starting to wonder why she had ever cared about--much less idolized--this woman. It seemed appropriate that she could change into a cat; Yoruichi seemed to have little to no concern for the feelings of others, coming and going when it was convenient for her.

"...If you've come to bother me, Yoruichi..." she said with a vicious emphasis on the other woman's name, "...then go the hell away. I don't owe you anything, much less my respect." At this Yoruichi's catlike grin seemed to falter just slightly. Soi Fong blinked, uncertain if she had imagined it, but when her former master spoke she sounded the same as before.

"Now, that's no way to behave, Little Bee...after all, I came here to speak to you." At that, Soi Fong snorted in disbelief, the closest she ever came to a laugh.

"There's nothing that you and I have to talk about. I don't know why you even bothered to come here. Now unless you're looking for a rematch, I'm leaving."

"...Do you hate me, Soi Fong?" The Chinese woman froze in mid-stride at the carefree tone in Yoruichi's voice. She felt her hand clench into a fist as silent footsteps slowly approached her from behind. Her anger was threatening to boil over but she struggled to keep it under control. The only time in her life she could remember really letting her emotions show was back when Yoruichi had been her whole world, and all that happened was that she had been betrayed, tossed aside like an old toy. It was bad enough that she had wept like a child after their battle--she would not grant Yoruichi the same satisfaction again. But then she felt a hand on her shoulder, strong and gentle at the same time. Soi Fong knew her anger was wavering as she sensed the other woman's presence, much closer than a few minutes ago. Almost within arm's reach... She didn't trust herself to speak, but her mouth began working regardless.

"...How dare you ask me that. just leave--no warning at all-- and you ask me if I hate you?"

"I left because I had to. I made a promise to him, and I couldn't just break it without a reason," Yoruichi said calmly, as if no further explanation was necessary. Soi Fong tried to tell herself to stop talking, to just let the whole matter drop and be forgotten, but to her chagrin her body continued to ignore her brain's growing protestations.

"...We made a promise, too--did you care about breaking that?" She was glad that she was at least facing away from Yoruichi, as her eyes were starting to itch and her vision was blurring. She knew she was being irrational, but she couldn't help saying what had been on her mind for all this time. Yoruichi said nothing for a moment, as if trying to look for the right words to say.

"...Little Bee--" Yoruichi's voice stopped as Soi Fong simultaneously brushed her hand off and spun around, aiming a fist at the Shihouin's face. It was only thanks to her lightning speed that Yoruichi managed to catch the desperate physical attack from her former pupil, grabbing the fist with her palm as Soi Fong pushed harder against her. The younger girl's normally cold eyes were burning with unbridled fury, much like they had been during their battle a few days prior. Soi Fong had abandoned all pretences at maintaining her composure, and her voice came out loud and near hysterical.

"DON'T YOU DARE CALL ME THAT! WHAT DO YOU CARE IF I HATE YOU OR NOT? YOU KNEW HOW MUCH THAT PROMISE MEANT AND YOU JUST ABANDONED ME! I WOULD HAVE UNDERSTOOD IF YOU HAD TO LEAVE, BUT YOU DIDN'T EVEN TRUST ME ENOUGH TO TELL ME THE TRUTH! WELL, IF MY FEELINGS ARE SO INSIGNIFICANT COMPARED TO THAT BASTARD'S, THEN WHY DON'T YOU STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM ME AND GO BE WITH HIM!" Yoruichi only stood there, not moving or showing any emotion as Soi Fong abruptly poured her heart out, her head now turned helplessly to the ground as she struggled now to stop her tears from falling. "Just...just leave me be..." she whispered weakly as she turned her head up to Yoruichi. But when her eyes met the older woman's she nearly gasped in surprise. Yoruichi was staring at her, the piercing gaze of her yellow orbs somehow softer, almost gentle as she continued to hold Soi's fist in mid-swing. She looked almost...sad... an expression the Captain had never seen on the princesses' face. She had no time to gasp, or even to react, as Yoruichi suddenly pulled her into a strong hug.

"Y-Yoruichi?" She uttered her name without thinking about it, bewildered by the sudden kindness being bestowed upon her.

No...No, I won't let you trick me again...I promised myself I'd never let you fool me...Not after everything you've done...

Soi Fong tried to push away from the taller woman, using her hands as leverage, but Yoruichi only pulled her closer, squeezing her so tightly that the petite girl couldn't move her arms.

"...Do you really think...that I wanted to do that to you?" Yoruichi said quietly but the girl in her arms listened, the soft and gentle voice still maintaining the same power over her that it had over a century ago. "The last thing...I ever wanted to do was hurt you. I didn't want to go, but...he needed me. I couldn't just turn my back on him. Can't...can't you understand that...?" The sorrowful lilt of Yoruichi's voice melted Soi Fong's anger in an instant, and before she knew it she was returning the embrace, arms encircling her former master's waist as she cried helplessly.

"...Y-you didn' didn't even say goodbye... I...thought t-that you h-hated me..." She continued to weep bitterly into Yourichi's shoulder while the violet-haired woman buried her face affectionately into Soi Fong's short hair, quietly inhaling a scent she'd forgotten about long ago.

"Shh..." she whispered sweetly, feeling herself get lost in the delayed joy of being reunited with someone she cared so deeply for. This was what she had wanted it to be, not a battle where she had to fight the first person who had ever made her feel wanted. "...Don't say that. I could never...EVER...hate you. I...I missed you, Soi Fong. If you still hate me...then I won't blame you if you want me to leave..."

"No." Soi Fong managed, once again unable to stop the tears from falling from her eyes. "Please...don't go...Don't leave me alone again..." Yoruichi said nothing, she only planted a light kiss on the top of Soi Fong's head as the girl sobbed her eyes out. All was silent for a moment, the only sounds being Soi Fong's occasional gasps and the leaves moving in the wind.

"Soi Fong..." Yoruichi said reluctantly, "...You know that I'll have to go back soon...right?" It took the other woman a moment to speak.

"...Yes..." she responded, failing to hide her unhappiness. Yoruichi lifted her chin up with her thumb and forefinger, coaxing Soi Fong to meet her eyes.

"But this time...I promise I'll come back for you." The Chinese girl's eyes widened, unsure if she was willing to believe it.

"...Really?" Yoruichi nodded slightly while using her thumb to gently wipe the wet streaks from Soi Fong's face.

"So... don't cry anymore. You know I hate seeing you like this," she added with a smile. Soi Fong could only return her head to its place on Yoruichi's shoulder, breathing a long-suppressed sigh of utter contentment. Yoruichi's eyes slid shut as she surrendered the warmth surrounding her, to the only real peace she'd ever known in her long life. She didn't realize she'd what she'd said, in a husky whisper, until it had passed her lips.

"...I love you, Soi Fong." The petite girl's eyes shot open, almost certain she'd heard Yoruichi say something.

"...What?..." Suddenly she felt her arms give way as air replaced the warm body she'd embraced, then twisted her head in time to see a black cat dash off into the trees. For a moment she felt the annoyance of her beloved princess running off on her again, but, unable to stay angry at Yoruichi, a wide smile spread on her face.

Oh well. I waited for this long...what's another few weeks?

She spent the rest of the evening staring at the sakura petals, her mind on the new promise they had made, and that she knew wouldn't be broken.