The Day Hell Froze Over

In case ya didn't know, I don't own Bleach. Damn.

Omaeda Marechiyo cringed as he stared at the scattered remnants of the pottery. He hadn't meant to knock it over, but his remarkable size rendered the task of slipping through a narrow passageway in Soul Society practically impossible. For a moment he could only stand frozen in dread--someone must have heard the crash and it was unlikely that he was quick enough to get away, especially if his captain happened to have heard it.

Oh damn...

HIS CAPTAIN! He knew better than anyone just how short the temper of 2nd Division and Correction Corps leader Soi Fong was, especially since that temper seemed to wear especially thin around him. If she found him here... Before he could even begin to pick up the pieces, he heard the pitter-patter of light footsteps coming in his direction from around the corner.

Oh, gods--please let it be anyone other than her...

The gods seemed to find his situation humorous, however, since none other than the petite Captain walked into view, but curiously enough she didn't notice Marechiyo. In fact, it didn't seem like she was paying attention to anything, and unless he was crazy it sounded as if she was humming to herself. The significance of this didn't register with the boorish Vice-Captain though; all that mattered was that he still had a chance to get away.

All right, now if I'm really quiet...

Unfortunately, he only managed a few steps in the direction of the railing when one of the larger pieces slipped out of his hand and fell to the ground with a crash that finally snapped Soi Fong out of her distracted state of mind. She turned around to see her Vice-Captain standing behind her, a guilty expression on his face mingled with a healthy dose of the fear of God.

"...Ohmaeda? What are you doing here?" Her question was asked in the farthest from her normally severe tone--in fact, she even sounded perfectly at ease for once, but to the giant it only seemed like a ploy to throw him into a false state of security. Without another word he fell prostrate on the wooden floor, bowing his head as low as it could possibly go.

"I'm very, very sorry Captain! I didn't mean to break it, and I know that this isn't the first time I've done it," (he shuddered as he remembered the last time he had so much as scraped one of the ornamental vases that populated Seireitei, resulting in a series of injuries and a long lecture about being more tactful from Soi Fong)"...but I beg you to be merciful! It's just that these halls make it difficult to see what's around them--"

"Oh, that's fine. Everyone makes mistakes."

For a moment, Marechiyo was certain he had heard wrong. Had someone imitated his Captain's voice in order to lull him into complacency? Finally daring to look up, he saw that not only was Soi Fong NOT getting ready to kill him, but she was actually picking up the ceramic shards and tossing them into a pocket of sorts she had made by holding up the end of her Captain's robe.

"C-Captain?" he chanced, fearfully wondering if reminding the femme fatale of his presence would revert her to her normal, irate self.

"Well? Here, pick these up with me." She didn't sound cold or demanding, it was almost as if she had made a request of him rather than an order. Without bothering to consider this, however, Ohmaeda hastily grabbed some more of the pieces and set them into Soi's robe. "There, I think that's all of them," Soi assessed as she carried the broken pottery over to a nearby wastebasket and threw the pieces in, tinkling against each other as they fell. "Oh, and Ohmaeda..." she began, turning to him. He recoiled, certain that the hammer was going to fall this time, but Soi Fong only patted him lightly on the arm. "Don't worry; if anyone asks then I'll take full responsibility. Just be more careful, all right?" Before he could say anything, Soi had turned around and walked off, but not before the brute caught-- of all things-- the hint of a distracted smile on her face.

...What...just happened here?

He knew he should have been grateful, but all the Vice-Captain could feel was completely and utterly bewildered. Captain Soi Fong, the infamous Ice Queen of Soul Society... smiling? Covering for HIS mistakes as opposed to chewing him out over them? He didn't have much opportunity to consider this, however, as he soon ran into (literally) a high-ranking member of the 3rd Division with stylishly cut blonde hair that concealed part of his face.

"...Vice-Captain Izuru?" Marechiyo asked after a moment, helping the disoriented Kira to his feet. It took him a moment to answer; running straight into the moving wall that was Marechiyo was no laughing matter after all.

"Oh, sorry, Ohmaeda," Kira managed with a slight bow. "...I guess I'm just a little distracted. I just saw the wierdest thing a minute ago, so..." he shrugged as the last bit of his discourse faded into a mutter.

"Hmm," the massive Marechiyo grunted, "That's funny--I just saw something that was odd, too."

"Is that so? Well, I bet that it wasn't as crazy as this," Kira said with a slight chuckle.

"Really? Try me," the 2nd Division's Vice-Captain smirked. There was no way that anything the blonde shrimp beside him could say that would blow his mind as much as seeing Soi Fong do anything other than scowl.

"Well, okay," Kira assented, then launched straight into his brief anecdote. "...So I'm just sitting outside, doing some paperwork, right? Well, of all people, Captain Soi Fong comes by and asks how everyone's doing! And to top it all off, she's smiling! I mean, HER SMILING! I know it sounds completely--"

"...Are you sure?" Kira stopped talking to look up at Marechiyo, who was wearing a look of disbelief all over his broad face. "I...I saw her do it too!"

"You're kidding! For a while, I thought that I was just seeing things! I wonder what's going on with her?" Before Marechiyo could say another word, the voice of the object of their bewilderment rang throughout Seireitei, apparently making use of the same kidoh Kotetsu Isane had employed to inform Soul Society of Aizen's betrayal. This time, however, the message conveyed on the amplified voice of its user was far less serious.

"ATTENTION--BY ORDER OF SECOND DIVISION CAPTAIN SOI FONG, ALL MEMBERS OF THE CORRECTION CORPS AND THE SECOND DIVISION ARE OFFICIALLY FREE OF DUTIES FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE DAY. THAT IS ALL." A stunned silence greeted this sudden announcement, followed by cheering that carried all throughout the stronghold of Soul Society. Meanwhile the two Vice-Captains blinked at each other, just as stunned but not necessarily jubilant.

...The day off? Just the idea got Marechiyo thinking, a pastime he was not particularly inclined towards, which only made him more agitated.

It was practically unheard of for any Captain to do such a thing, especially considering that they were at war and the enemy could strike at any moment. It was well within the bounds of their given power as leaders of the Gotei 13, yet only a handful had used it, the few being current Fourth Division Captain Unohana and even once under former Captain Aizen Sosuke when he was still playing everyone for fools.

"What the...?" was all that default-Third Division Captain Izuru could get out, as his mouth had long since hit the floor. "Since when has she been so careless? I swear, I've gotten so used to being paranoid about those damn ninjas that I think I can hear them when I go to the bathroom." He didn't even know Soi Fong that well but her reputation as a strict and stoic commander had earned her the fear and/or respect of just about everyone in Soul Society. There was something very strange about all this, but what it was Kira wasn't sure.

"Hey, Ohmaeda--are you sure you've never seen her do anything like this before?" The other Vice-Captain only gave an annoyed, if-she-had-then-I-wouldn't-be-worried-about-it-right-now glare. Kira was about to ask about whether or not she was sick when the dark incandescence of a Death Butterfly fluttered around a nearby corner and came to a stop on Kira's outstretched palm.

This looks like it's from the higher-ups... He lifted the ephemeral messenger to his ear, so that he could hear its missive better.

"Well? What is it?" Marechiyo asked when the Death Butterfly had dissolved into tiny specks of light.

"Uh...It's from Supreme Commander Yamamoto," the blonde said with a puzzled look. "He wants all Captains and Vice-Captains for an emergency meeting."


The meeting hall was packed and full of unintelligible chattering when Captain Yamamoto arrived, his body more than capable of running but simply opting to go at a steady pace. Captain Kuchiki was the first to stand at attention (he had been silent since arriving, though his boisterous Vice-Captain was another matter), and then all the other top members of the Gotei 13 followed suit once they noted their Commander's presence. Once he had reached the far end of the vestibule, Yamamoto took a deep breath before speaking.

"...I have called you all here to address an issue that is of great concern. Specifically, it regards one among our ranks, who some of you may have noticed has not been called here." At this a few of those present turned their heads slightly from side to side, all of whom found that Soi Fong was curiously absent.

"Commander," Captain Ukitake said in a clear voice, breaking the silence of the audience, "...Are you implying that the Second Division Captain may have been compromised in some way?" Yamamoto did not answer, but looked toward a man with a bizarrely painted black-and-white face.

"Captain Kurotsuchi, I believe this would be an appropriate time to present your findings." Mayuri bowed to the Supreme Commander, then cast a cold leer at his 'daughter,' urging her to follow him to the front with the wide array of equipment in her slender arms.

"Thank you, Commander Yamamoto," the scientist said in his trademark hiss as Nemu proceeded to set up what looked like a projector and a plain white screen. "I've been asked to analyse the recent...disturbing...behavior of our fellow Captain, based on what I've been relayed by the Commander."

"Umm...What do you mean by 'disturbing?'" Vice-Captain Isane asked demurely as she raised her hand.

"You mean you haven't seen it!" Kira managed in a clearly rattled voice.

"She's acting...well, civil!" the tattooed Renji answered, looking every bit as agitated as Kira. "And I think someone said they actually saw her smile!" This got quite a rise out of the people assembled, as they almost immediately broke out into gasps of shock and disbelief, punctuated by cries of "it'sthe apocalypse!" from the tiny Hinamori who was eventually calmed by Captain Unohana, assuring her that no such thing was happening.

"SILENCE!" Yamamoto bellowed in his commanding voice, and within seconds every last person had complied.

"Now then..." Mayuri continued once he was certain that he had regained the attention of his peers, "...A dramatic, sudden change in behavior, uncharacteristic emotional responses-- these things are all the result of something undoubtedly suspicious. After much consideration..." he turned to Nemu and was about to instinctively deride her for being slow but saw that she had already finished preparing the projector, so he simply turned the device on, shining light onto the canvas tacked up on the wall and displaying a crude diagram of the former Captain of the Fifth Division. "...After much consideration, I have determined that the changes evident in the Second Division Captain are none other than the work of Aizen Sousuke." To his satisfaction, a stunned hush met his words, followed by much quieter exchange of dialogue among the Captains and their subordinates. "We don't yet know how deeply this runs. She may be under some sort of kidoh that we can't identify yet, or she may simply be a traitor--"

"Captain Kurotsuchi," the fox-headed Komakura growled out, his voice gruff and skeptical, "...I find it hard to believe that the Second Division Captain could be a traitor. Her loyalty to the Gotei 13 is beyond question."

"Yes, but you also believed that about Captain Tousen, did you not?" Mayuri retorted darkly. Komakura growled under his breath but said nothing more. "The only other possibility is that this 'uncharacteristic' Soi Fong is not the true Soi Fong, but rather some type of imitation created to infiltrate our ranks. The only problem is that whoever made her wasn't familiar enough with Captain Fong's behavior to make an accurate copy."

"Hmph. I don't think a guy like Aizen would make such a stupid mistake, especially since he's been around us for as long as he has." Mayuri glared at Kyoraku, who'd made the quip from behind the brim of his sunhat.

"Well, then, does anyone else have any suggestions on what this anomaly is?" the Captain of the Scientific Division asked the whole of the group with a leer.

"...It could be some kind of long distance illusion--maybe Kokuya Suigetsu's bankai?" Vice-Captain Shuuhei offered with a thoughtful look on his face.

"No, this could involve some kind of drug or other," Thirteenth Division Third Seat Kotsubaki said with a hand on his chin.

"Oh, you know, I felt kinda funny when I had a drink of water this morning--maybe it's being put in the water supply!" the second occupier of Third Seat, Kotetsu Kiyone, chimed in, not catching the "yeah, that's 'cause you're a bitch" that was muttered by Kotsubaki.

"Feh," Kenpachi spat as his hand twitched over his nameless Zanpaku-to. "I say we just grab her and beat it out of her." Of everyone present he cared the least whether the assumed impostor was a real threat or not, he was just elated at the opportunity to do some fighting.

"Wait, wait! Don't you guys think that maybe...just maybe...we're overreacting just a bit?" The group turned in surprise at the sudden interjection of Vice-Captain Matsumoto, her hands held up in the signal of cease-fire. "Maybe we're thinking about this the wrong way. I mean, has anyone seriously stopped to consider that Captain Soi Fong's behavior might not be a bad thing? I mean, she IS entitled to the same feelings as any of us--"

"Quiet, Matsumoto," Hitsugaya muttered as he yanked on the sleeve of her robe. She blinked at her Captain's dismissal of her opinion and scowled at him.

"Captain, this is a perfectly legitimate argument! Besides, I know for a fact that there's--"

"Matsumoto," the child prodigy said in a dangerous whisper, "...That may be a POSSIBILITY at best. Besides, the woman hasn't so much as smirked in the last 100 years-- to suddenly act all happy like she has been isn't a normal thing." Rangiku opened her mouth to argue, but after seeing the glare in her Captain's eye she thought better of it and sighed. Fortunately, the buxom blonde's call for sanity seemed to have earned her a supporter, as the previously silent Captain Unohana spoke up.

"I agree with the Tenth Division Vice-Captain--It would be irresponsible of us to make any rash decisions until we've made a proper assessment of Soi Fong's behavior. The situation as we can view it now seems uncertain at best." Everyone seemed inclined to comply with her, as she was really the most even-headed of those present.

"Well said, Captain Unohana," Yamamoto said with a slight nod. "Unless there are any objections, then I propose that a small contingent of Shinigami are appointed to observe the Second Captain and determine the root of her behavior." When no one rejected the Commander's plan, the twin double doors were thrown open and the Captains were allowed to leave, pondering amongst themselves who would be best suited for such work.


"...Ridiculous."

That was all Hitsugaya could think to mutter as he glanced over the people who'd been appointed to the observation group; it was nearly as random as the band of Shinigami who'd been assigned to Komakura Town following the arrival of the first Arrancar.

"Hey, don't look at me! I've got better things to do than peep on some crazy bitch!" Renji growled, wondering how this sort of thing always seemed to happen to him.

"I mean, I can understand you and Matsumoto," he indicated his Vice-Captain, playing absentmindedly with a few strands of curly blonde hair, "...But why these three?" He gestured over to the others, which consisted of the diminuitive Hanatarou, the oafish Marechiyo, and the stoic Nemu.

"Well," Rangiku said after a moment, "...Hana-chan's here from Fourth in case there's some sort of poison involved, Ohmaeda's her Vice-Captain (ill-suited to this sort of thing though he may be), and Nemu-chan was requested to report anything remotely out of the ordinary by Captain Kurotsuchi."

"WAIT! DON'T FORGET BALDY-CHAN AND ME!"

"I told you, I'm NOT 'Baldy-chan!' Is my name THAT hard to remember, Vice-Captain?" The six turned in the direction the two voices had come from to see Eleventh Division Vice-Captain Yachiru riding happily on a much-grumpier-than-normal Madarame Ikkaku.

"You're late!" Hitsugaya scowled at the bald ruffian.

"Well, sorry-- we had some bad directions." He made a subtle nod in the direction of his commanding officer to indicate where the 'bad directions' had come from.

"Hey, remember what Ken-chan said," Yachiru said with that disturbingly elated look on her face, "If you complain then Ken-chan gets to play with you..." The threat was more than enough to reduce the boisterous Third Seat into complacency, and the Tenth Captain let out a sigh.

"...All right...Now if we're going to conduct this...investigation...then I think we'll need to at least lower the outer wall--keep anything from getting in or out."

"Already taken care of, Captain," Matsumoto said with a grin. "I sent the message about five minutes ago-- it should be coming down pretty soon." Sure enough, out in the distance, the inpenetrable wall that separated Seireitei from the rest of Soul Society soon descended to the ground, sending up a massive cloud of dust which each section that fell into place. This inhibiting cloud also managed to provide cover for a single black cat that crawled through just before the wall crushed it underneath its weight.


"HI, SOI-CHAN!" Soi Fong turned at the sound of her (kind-of) name to see Yachiru and Hanatarou sitting on a bench together, a steaming kettle placed between the two.

"Hello, Vice-Captain!" Soi answered with a smile and an almost freakishly girlish wave, which made the Fourth Division Shinigami nearly spit up the tea he was drinking. "My, you're looking cute today!"

"Okay...so remind me again what we're doing here?" Renji whispered the the rest of the 'observation squad,' watching the whole occurence from behind the safety of a nearby wall. To the surprise of the six present, Nemu spoke up.

"...The Fourth Division representative and the Eleventh Vice-Captain are serving as decoys for two purposes: To confirm the odd behavior of the Second Captain, and to determine whether or not she's an impostor."

"Huh? How the hell are they gonna do that?" Ikkaku growled from his uncomfortable position, unable to see what was going on. Nemu held up a small square that looked oddly like a sugar cube.

"These cubes contain a substance that can reveal the true state of something if ingested. After taking their own tea, they were asked to put the cubes inside the kettle and urge the Captain to share some. If she isn't the true Soi Fong, then her real form or identity will be revealed."

"Wait...You mean that Captain Kurotsuchi invented sugar cubes that can tell you if you're drinking coffee with a spy or something?" Hitsugaya asked with a cocked eyebrow.

"...The Captain does have quite a bit of spare time on his hands," Nemu admitted casually. The white-haired Captain only gave an admissive sigh before turning his attention back to their target.

"U-Um, C-C-Captain..." Hanatarou stuttered nervously, trying to keep his hands steady.

"Hey, are you all right?" Soi asked him with sudden concern in her voice, placing a hand on the sweating boy's forehead. "Hmm...Maybe you should go to Fourth Division--I can escort you if you need me to..."

"Uh, n-no, I'm fine..." the diminuitive Shinigami answered, uncertain if he should be more worried about staying in character or the empathetic Soi Fong standing a few feet away. "L-listen, Captain, uh...W-we were wondering i-i-if..."

"WANT SOME?" Yachiru belted out suddenly, holding out a steaming mug of the dark liquid. "IT'S YUMMY!" Soi and Hanatarou blinked at the sudden outburst of the bubblegum-haired Vice-Captain, but Soi took the cup with a smile.

"You know, I am feeling a bit thirsty...Thanks, Yachiru-chan."

YACHIRU-CHAN? The sextet of hidden Shinigami thought in surprised unison.

"Okay, that clinches it," Marechiyo said with a subdued grumble, "There's no way in HELL that's the Captain." The rest sushed him as Soi put the narrow cup to her lips and took a drink. For a moment they just sat there with bated breath, waiting for some kind of reaction.

"...How do we know if it's working?" Hitsugaya asked in a whisper.

"If she's a fake, then she'll have a very painful reversion to her true form," Nemu responded.

"And what if that's really her?"

"Then she'll only have a few painful spasms before the effect wears off." Renji rolled his eyes at Nemu's answer. One thing was certain about Captain Kurotsuchi--he certainly liked inflicting pain on his subjects.

"Mmm...That's very good!" Soi Fong said after a few seconds, no visible signs that anything was happening to her. "What kind is it?" It took the stunned Hanatarou a moment to answer. Why wasn't the drug affecting her?

"Umm...It's a special Green Tea blend--from Fourth Division," he finally said truthfully. She handed the tea back to Yachiru, then made little bow.

"Well, thank you very much, but I'm in a bit of a hurry--I hope we can continue this later," and with that the Second Captain dashed off down the balcony and out of sight.

"What the hell happened!" Ikkaku said as soon as the others got out of their hiding place. "I thought you guys were supposed to put the cubes in the tea!"

"I-I did!" Hanatarou said with fear in his eyes, not wanting to deal with a much-more violent member of the Eleventh Division. "I could have sworn I put the right amount in..." With that, he added some of the drug-laced tea to his cup, then took a sip. "Hmm...Nothing! I guess that I didn--" Before Hanatarou could finish, he made a gagging noise and collapsed to the ground, twitching like mad.

"Huh?" Matsumoto exclaimed with confusion. "But if it's affecting Hana-chan, then why didn't it do anything to Soi Fong?"

"Oh, that's right!" Yachiru chimed in with a silly grin on her face. "I gave her MY tea by mistake! Silly me!" The group "oh"ed in comprehension before turning to the twitching form of Hanatarou sprawled on the floor.

"Uh...How long's he gonna be like that?" Renji asked with a raised eyebrow, tentatively poking the boy with his foot.

"Do not be concerned," Nemu said dismissively, "...the effects should wear off in about ten minutes or so."

"Well, I think we can effectively rule out 'impostor' as a possibility," Hitsugaya admitted with an annoyed look.

"But that still doesn't explain why she's acting so wierd," Marechiyo said as he scratched his head.

"Hey, look at this!" Matsumoto called from a few feet away, holding up a small folded note in brown paper. "I think she dropped it when she ran off." Hitsugaya took the note and looked at the front. Sure enough, it was adressed to Soi Fong in small, cramped writing on the front. He opened it up to see only one thing written inside.

9:00 PM

This was followed by what looked like a cat's paw stamped in ink.

"Well, this can only mean one thing," Hitsugaya said gravely as he folded up the note and placed it in his robe. "...She's working for a hostile group outside Soul Society and they're meeting tonight to give her instructions." All the people present outside of Matsumoto, Yachiru and a still epileptic Hanatarou gasped in shock at this revelation, but the young Captain quickly silenced them with a wave of his hand. "All right, here's what we're going to do: Vice-Captain Kurotsuchi, can you look for any organizations that use a cat's paw as an insignia?" The woman nodded, then dashed off in a different direction. "All right, then...Madarame and Vice-Captain Abarai need to interrogate anyone in Second Division you can find. There's a slight chance that this precipitates further down than just Soi Fong--"

"Uh, Captain," Rangiku interrupted, "Actually, I don't think this is anything dangerous..."

"Matsumoto, the circumstances practically speak for themselves!" Hitsugaya shot back with fire in his cold eyes. "If you're going to say there's nothing suspicious about how she's acting--"

"But Captain, I'm telling you that I--"

"Enough!" Toshiro's icy finality silenced Matsumoto, though she had a rather annoyed look on her face as the scrawny Captain turned away. "...As for the rest of us, we'll be keeping watch on the major points of Seireitei, and keep each other informed of Soi Fong's movements."

"W-wait a minute, Captain," Marechiyo blurted out, "How are four of us going to keep track of her like that! This place is too big for even a small army to cover, much less one by one!"

"No, there'll be FIVE of us," Hitsugaya corrected him. "...But first we need to wake up Hanatarou-kun."


Maybe this wasn't such a good idea, the white-haired Captain thought to himself as he stared down at the open courtyard from his perch on a high building. He'd been sitting here for the last three hours, during which his brain gradually became numb to everything except how much his butt was hurting from sitting on concrete all this time. Not that he'd ever complain, of course--complaints were for the weak, and he was certainly NOT weak. The others were probably as bored as he was, and knowing Matsumoto she'd probably wandered off to enjoy herself somewhere far away from her current job. He was proven wrong, however, when a Death Butterfly suddenly appeared before him, sent from none other than his Vice-Captain. After listening to the message, Hitsugaya blinked in surprise, then tried to look at the messenger to repeat the discourse, but it had already disappeared. Wasting no time, he ran over to Rangiku's location some few miles away.

"Oh, Captain, you're just in time!"

"...Was that message some kind of joke?" Toshiro asked at once, disbelief still dictating his reception of her missive.

"See for yourself," the blonde said with a grin, as though she found the whole thing amusing. Hitsugaya leaned over the edge of the tower they were sitting on and would have gasped if he wasn't proud enough to show fear. There was Captain Soi Fong, walking along a fairly deserted alleyway, but...she actually looked, well, like a girl! She was still in her Captain's robes, but it seemed that she had done her hair (the normally ragged cut to her dark locks had been evened up and shampooed), and unless his eyes were decieving him she was wearing make-up! Before he could speak, Marechiyo and Hanatarou (unfortunately assigned by Yachiru to bear her on his small shoulders) arrived.

"We got your message, what did you--Oh gods, who the hell is that?" Marechiyo blurted out once he saw the woman walking down the alley. "She stole the Captain's uniform!"

"Actually..." Hanatarou managed once Yachiru had grown tired of pulling on his hair, "...I think that IS your Captain."

"I-i-i-it can't be!" the brute said once he had regained control over his limited mental faculties.

"What? I think it's kind of a nice change of pace." Rangiku said happily, still lazily watching Soi go down the street and finally turn a corner.

"Come on, there's no time to lose," Hitsugaya said with a furrowed brow as he followed in the Second Captain's direction, trailed closely by the others. "Obviously, whoever she's meeting with is the leader of this organization, and happens to be a lover of sorts. That would explain why she would betray us to this man. Although Vice-Captain Kurotsuchi never came back with information on what kind of organization it was, and Madarame reported that Second Division didn't know anything about it..."

"Captain--" his Vice-Captain began but without fail Hitsugaya cut her off.

"Not NOW, Matsumoto! There could be millions of lives on the line if we don't stop this thing while we have the chance!"

Fine, I can't say I didn't try, Rangiku thought to herself wryly as they dashed over the rooftops.


Soi glanced around the forest of sakura trees, none of which happened to be in bloom at this point of the year. She had glanced back and forth to be sure she wasn't followed, but the lingering suspicion remained in her mind nonetheless.

Come on, she shook herself mentally, It's nothing to get worked up over. She knew that she should have been as inconspicuous as possible, especially regarding her behavior of the day which she knew was well outside her normal demeanor. However, the moment she'd gotten that note, she knew exactly who it was from, and in spite of herself a small bubble of childlike anticipation had welled up inside her. But then, she always seemed to get that way when it came to HER anyway. As she walked along contemplating all this, a pair of dark arms grabbed her around the waist from behind one of the trees and pulled her backwards. She would have called out had that soft, sultry voice not spoken first.

"...Did you have any trouble figuring out where I would be?" Soi's head turned as much as was allowed to just catch the face of Shihouin Yoruichi smiling affectionately at her, the lack of clothing relaying that she'd been in her cat form until just recently.

"N-no, Yoruichi-sama. I...I had an idea that it would be here."

"But wait..." the former Second Captain said with a look of playful surprise, "...You're not my little Soi now, are you?"

"...Huh?"

"It's all this junk on your face..." Yoruichi muttered as she turned Soi around and began to wipe the thick make-up off with her forearm, in some cases smudging it slightly instead of making it better. "...Ahh! There she is!" the older woman finished with a smile once she had returned Soi to her original cleanliness, yet her face was now as red as if she had been caked in rouge.

"I...I apologize, Yoruichi-sama...I...I just thought that I would...um..."

"Hey..." Yoruichi silenced her with one of her smoldering gazes as she lifted her lover's face up so that they were eye-to-eye, "...You don't need any of that to get my attention. I'm here right now, aren't I?" Soi quietly nodded in the affirmative before Yoruichi leaned forward slightly and kissed her. It didn't take long for the surprise to wear off of the Captain, as she quickly began returning the older woman's affections with equal passion, small moans escaping her lips as Yoruichi's assuring caress pushed her senses over the edge. "Oh, by the way..." the vagabond said with a teasing smile as she suddenly broke the kiss, leaving Soi with her eyes shut and mouth slightly open in a state of complete bliss, "...sorry I wasn't as discreet as usual. I couldn't get a message to you any other way at the time."

"...It's...it's no...problem..." Soi managed in between hurried breathing as she tried to slow her pounding heart, then ultimately surrendered and began to passionately attack the skin of Yoruichi's neck and right shoulder, which earned her a surprised but satisfied yelp from the coffee-toned beauty.

"Mmm..." Yoruichi moaned slightly with a peaceful smile on her face and a glazed look in her eye as she guided the younger girl's innocent lips to the sensitive spot on her collarbone, "...You're being awfully agressive today. 'Been looking--ooh...oh, that's good...been looking forward to this?"

"Yes...Oh gods, yes," Soi half-whispered as she began to lavish her beloved's throat with adoration, resulting in Yoruichi's body involuntarily arching towards her. "...I haven't thought about anything else all day..."

"Well," Yoruichi said with a grin, "I hope you didn't act suspicious or anything like that..." Soi didn't answer her; she was too focused on the Goddess allowing her a few moments of dominance before she took her rightful position and reduced the proud Captain to little more than a babbling lovestruck idiot whose only coherent words consisted of Yoruichi's name and various pleas for more. Sure enough, the Shihouin soon began the task of disrobing her lover bit by bit, replacing the cloth with experienced lips that instantly sent Soi reeling.

"...Yoruichi-sama..." she half-moaned, half-whispered into Yoruichi's ear, urging her onward with a hungry twinkle in her golden eyes. Before she could even remove the top of the black Correction Corps uniform from Soi's shoulder, she heard the snapping of a twig in the distance and paused. After a while she smiled, then whispered to Soi as gently as she could.

"Hey, Soi..."

"...D...Don't stop...please..." Soi begged with dreamy eyes that screamed for Yoruichi and only Yoruichi to satisfy her.

"Yeah, about that," the God of Flash said loudly enough to be heard by the whole forest, "...It looks like you and I have some visitors." At that, Soi Fong's eyes went as wide as saucers and she slowly looked in the direction her lover was indicating, where the top of a very familiar, large head was poking out from behind some foliage. "All right, I know you're there," Yoruichi said with a slightly amused smile, though it didn't translate into her serious voice. Finally Hitsugaya, Matsumoto, Marechiyo and the rest of the 'observation squad' popped out from behind the bush, trying their best to look nonchalant but instead exuding a slight air of awkwardness. No one said anything (Soi was too embarrassed to speak) until the ever-tactless Yachiru broke the silence.

"Hey! What's that lady doing to Soi-cha--" at once, every available hand reached out to cover her mouth, but the damage was done. Yoruichi sighed, then bent down and quickly got dressed.

"Well, sorry Soi," the ex-Shinigami breathed with a shrug and a slight disappointed smile, "...But I don't feel like doing anything when I have an audience around."

"B-But..." the Captain stuttered, disbelieving at how quickly Yoruichi was leaving considering how long it had been since the last time they were together.

"Don't worry," Yoruichi smiled and winked, "I'll visit you the next time things are a little more...private. How about next week sometime?" Before Soi could protest, Yoruichi planted a parting kiss on her lips before Flash Stepping away in the blink of an eye.

"...Well," Hitsugaya said matter-of-factly, turning away from the location of the occurence and the speechless Captain standing there in a daze, "...False alarm, I guess. Although I can't say that I expected that..."

"I was TRYING to tell you, Captain," Rangiku said in annoyance, "...I saw her sneak off like that once a few weeks ago, and it had something to do with a cat too!"

"Well, why didn't you just say so?" Ikkaku grumbled, pulling a stunned Renji and nosebleeding Hanatarou along with him. "Woulda saved everyone a bunch of trouble..."

"Well, I WANTED to! I just couldn't get a word in edgewi--"

"OHMAEDA!" The quintet froze and turned around slowly to see Soi Fong standing where she had been for the last few minutes, but now her dark eyes were burning with unspeakable fury. Her giant of a Vice-Captain, who had wisely begun tiptoeing away as soon as their presence had been revealed, stopped at the sound of his name with a face that looked like it was suspended in a state of perpetual fear.

"C-Captain...?"

"DON'T YOU 'CAPTAIN' ME! I CAN DEAL WITH YOU BEING AN OAF AND A GLUTTON, BUT YOU DO THIS SORT OF THING AND THAT JUST PUSHES MY LAST BUTTON! AND DON'T EVEN BOTHER SAYING THAT THIS ISN'T YOUR FAULT!" The Shinigami present moved as far out of the Second Vice-Captain's way, the better to avoid being caught in the crossfire.

"C-Captain, wait! I really didn't--"

"THAT'S IT! YOU'VE PISSED ME OFF FOR THE LAST TIME!" The diminuitive Soi howled as she tore off the sleeves of her uniform and narrowed her eyes. "SHUNKOU!" With that, the Captain's upper body was enveloped in swirling energy that reduced the top of her robes to shreds, leaving only her comparatively skimpy Correction Corps uniform below. Marechiyo shrieked in fear as he set off at a desperate run, knowing all the same that it would only delay his eventual suffering by Soi Fong's hand. "DON'T THINK THAT YOU'RE MAKING THINGS BETTER FOR YOURSELF, OHMAEDA!"

The five Shinigami, however, only let out a relieved sigh as they turned away from the flashes of kidoh accompanied by yelling and screaming.

"Well, there's the Soi Fong we all know," Hitsugaya said with a wry smile.

"...You think that we should help him?" Hanatarou asked quietly, looking over his shoulder at the brute desperately trying to evade the misplaced wrath of his Captain.

"...Nah, he'll be fine," Renji said after a moment as they continued to walk away. All of them were grateful that everything was back to normal, and that none of them were in Ohmaeda's shoes.