I don't own Bleach. Too bad, eh?

"Get her! She stole our food!" A young boy screamed, pointing down the street where the figure of a small blonde girl was running from them. He was apparently the leader of the small pack of kids who all yelled out and ran after her. She kept running but unfortunately they were smarter than it seemed and a few of them came rushing out from between a pair of houses to cut her off and send her turning to the left and rushing into the trees of the wood that surrounded this particular community. They were catching up to her and when she looked back to see how close they were she missed the wayward root that was sticking out of the ground, ready to catch her foot and send her flying forward. She dropped the fruit and vegetables that she'd taken and her jaw hit the ground hard causing her to wince and bite into her lip. With a groan she went to sit up only to have a fist meet her face and send her flying back into the ground. The small mob of children, all seven of them, were on her then. They kicked, bit, hit, anything they could do to beat her into a pulp and she screamed out, bringing her hands up to cover her head in an attempt to hide from the painful blows. They didn't have to do this to her, she'd only taken three apples and two potatoes from the food that they had, which was plenty enough to feed all of them and then some. Tears began to trail down her freckled face as the leader boy told his friends to back off for a moment as he went up to her and grasped her by the hair. He smirked down on her. "You shouldn't have done that. Now look, the apples are bruised because of your clumsiness. We'll have to beat that payment out of you too!" He lifted her small frame up by the hair, causing her to scream out and reach up to grasp at his hand, and brought his other hand out in a fist. She winced as that fist started to fly towards her face, ready to receive the pain only to hear the dull thud of the hit but no sharp stab.

Her left eye opened a bit and what she saw caused her eyes to open fully in surprise. Standing between her and her attacker was a boy. She couldn't make out his face as he was looking at the other boy but he was rather tall for someone his age. "Let her go." Was all he said and she let out a surprised cry as her hair was released and she fell to the ground to land on her butt painfully. As it turned out, her savior had his hand wrapped around the other boy's throat and she finally noticed this as he let out an annoyed sound and threw the boy onto the ground. "Get out of here." The boy nodded and he and his minions fled the area, leaving her and the other boy. He finally turned to look down on her and she stared up at him with wide eyes, a little trail of blood from her busted lip dribbling down her chin. Reaching out he took her face in his hand and his thumb came up to wipe the blood away with a disapproving look. "You look like shit."

888

The clouds lazily floated past and a breeze picked up, sending her hair and clothes flapping for a moment as she lay on the rooftop, arms crossed beneath her head and eyes watching the sky above. It was the first thing he'd ever said directly to her. She still remembered that tone in his voice, the elitist sort of attitude and the underlying amusement that rang through. "Hiyorin! You look sad!" Mashiro's voice broke her out of her reverie and Hiyori looked up to see the girl standing next to her, looking down on her with a concerned gaze. "What's the matter?"

"Nothing. I just want some time alone." The other girl seemed a little hurt by these words but nodded and smiled cheerfully as she always did and then turned to skip off down the roof and jumping over the edge with a little whistle. When she felt she was comfortably alone again Hiyori continued her gaze of the sky above, noting the gradually darker color of the clouds and the faintest rumble in the distance; a storm coming… just like that day.

888

The wind picked up and the leaves rustled around them as she continued to stare up at him. He wasn't what most people would consider a cute boy or even a handsome boy, and the look of total disdain on his face didn't help much either, but Hiyori found herself immediately appreciating the parts of him that were unique. His eyes spoke volumes, showing a hint of his slight pity for her and even more present a clear streak of anger at those children who had attacked her. She licked her lips, tasting the bitter copper of the blood as she asked him a singular question. "Why?"

He released her face, looking up and raising an eyebrow as he seemed to consider the answer to that question. "Eh… I don't like people who think they have authority over others. A rebel without a cause or whatever you want to call it, yep, that's me." He smiled ever so slightly; well… it was more of a smirk, as he gave a nod in approval of what he'd just said. Then he bent down and picked up two of the apples, taking a bite of one before turning away from her and waving over his head at her. She stood for a moment, caught in her surprise at his actions before blinking and running forward a few steps.

"You didn't tell me your name!" He stopped and slumped a little, as if her speaking had ruined some sort of mental image he'd had of how the moment should have went before turning to her with a scowl.

"Shinji Hirako. Not that you need to know. You have a really horrible voice for a girl, you know, and no idea how to leave things as they are! It would have been a better memory if I'd just walked away as the mysterious guy! Now you're going to get all attached and start looking for me all the time! Tch… how annoying!" He frowned and reached up to take an angry bite of his apple, bringing the same hand up to scratch his forehead between his eyes with his thumb. Hiyori's brow furrowed in confusion and she went about gathering what was left of her food before running up to stand before him and giving a small bow.

"I'm Hiyori Sarugaki. Thank you for your help." Shinji spat out the half chewed apple that was in his mouth and gave her a black look of irritation before reaching out with his hand, the same one he'd been using all this time, and hit her square on the top of the head. She winced and stared at him questioningly and he rolled his eyes, bending down to look her level in the eye.

"What did you have to go and tell me that for? Now I'm stuck with you!" She frowned, totally baffled by his logic. Most people considered something like an introduction to be normal. Apparently Shinji felt that introductions meant that you knew a person and therefore held a minor responsibility for them. The rumbling sound of the clouds overhead caused them both to look up, eyes widening a little as water droplets began to fall slowly. Just sprinkles but the deepness of the cloud's coloring showed more to come and Hiyori immediately sprang into action, taking Shinji's hand and turning to run deeper into the forest. "Wha…wait a moment, where are we going!" He yelled at her as she drug him through the trees before stopping at what appeared to be a small bunch of shrubs and shoving him through a tiny, almost visible but not quite to the casual onlooker, opening at the bottom. He winced as he was pushed through the space and slid inside to hit a wall and sit up only to hit his head on the low ceiling with a groan. She followed him just as the clouds split open and began to pour loudly. She sat up, hugging her knees to her chest as there wasn't much room in the small space and took up a potato, taking a bite of it as she watched the rain fall.

Shinji looked around to see that they were within a small room of sorts, if it could really be called that. It was four walls and a ceiling that seemed to be made entirely of patches of aluminum and plastic sheets; probably old pieces of buildings from the neighboring town. It was only about four feet by four feet and around three feet high. She fit in it perfectly, of course. He scowled at her. "Do you actually live here?" She looked at him and spoke around her food, not caring how rude it was.

"Yeah, what's it to you? You're dry aren't you?" He looked at her as if she'd lost her mind and then leaned down to place his head on his hand.

"Whatever."

888

"Don't we just look depressing!" She opened her eyes to look up and see him standing there, looking down on her with an eyebrow raised in question and a frown on his face. To anyone else he would look annoyed, possibly sick even, but Hiyori saw the concern laced within the amusement that streaked across his gaze as he stared at her. She smirked and shrugged, ready to come back with some sort of retort when the thundering of the sky overhead shook the building slightly and the rain began to fall. "Shit!" Shinji cried out as he looked up at the clouds with a dirty look before bending down and scooping Hiyori up, draping her over his shoulder and running to the end of the building. He jumped off the rooftop to land before the entrance to their hideout only to find the door closed and locked. He beat a fist against it and growled out in annoyance. Sneaky bastards were scheming against them! Their comrades did this often, all of them knowing that Shinji and Hiyori had a history that ran deeper than any of the rest of them and frequently hinted at their spending more time together among other things he'd rather not think about.

"Stupid Baldy! Let me down!" Hiyori kicked and he rolled his eyes before unceremoniously dropping her to the ground. She fell on her backside and let out a pained cry before reaching over to rub her rear and glaring up at him. "Jerk! You didn't have to drop me!" He just looked at her with a bored expression before both of them were reminded once again of their predicament as the rain began to thicken. With a sigh he reached out to hold a hand for her and she took it with a scowl. He lifted her up effortlessly and then led her over to a neighboring building with wider eaves than their building had. They leaned against the building with a sigh just as the rain began to really pour and then she noticed she was still holding his hand. Her eyes widened and she pulled her hand away with a scowl but he didn't release her, still leaning there casually with his eyes closed and a small smirk on his face. "Shinji! Let go!"

He released her, not bothering to let his expression change or comment, just let go and let his hand hang there loosely. That didn't last long however as the last thing either wanted began to build up and with a roar and a sharp crack lightning struck nearby sending the girl into a fit of instant hysterics. Hiyori was afraid of lightning. She had been since Shinji had known her. According to what she told him she'd been living in a tree when she was much younger, on the outskirts of the little settlement she loosely called home, when a storm came while she was sleeping. She'd woken drenched only to hear the thunder before the lightning struck the very tree she was in, knocking her to the ground hard and breaking her left leg. It was then that she'd learned of her immense spiritual energy because she was trapped and alone in the middle of the wood without much food. By the time she'd managed to drag herself into town she was near dead from the feeling of starvation. After that moment Hiyori was horribly afraid of lightning. To her it was a bad omen, a sign of changes in her life and she didn't like change.

Shinji sighed and reached over to the now trembling girl and wrapped his hand around her opposite shoulder, pulling her in towards him. She shook and buried her head in his neck, clinging to his shirt with both hands tightly. "Make it stop, damn it Shinji!" He rolled his eyes and simply tightened his hold on her shoulder. She knew he couldn't stop the weather, what was he a magician? "When we get back in there I'm kicking all their asses." He nodded, not saying anything still. What was there to say? He totally agreed. Whenever they finally got back inside all their lovely team-mates were going to get a nice workout. They were probably all in there, clueless to what was happening outside and snickering at their ingenious plan to set their friends up. He didn't get why they insisted on doing things like this really. He and Hiyori were … well … just he and Hiyori. Nothing was going to change just because they had a few moments alone. They'd been alone tons of times. The lightning struck and she let out a yelp, pulling him closer and wincing tight. She didn't cry though. In the entire time he'd known her he'd only seen her cry once.

888

"Get up, Sarugaki! Weak little bitch!" The man yelled as he jumped forward with his zanpakuto and thrust down at her. She was kneeled before him, clutching her now bleeding shoulder and quickly brought her blade up horizontally to meet his. Her fellow team-mates were all lined up behind her, Shinji among them, watching the sparring match between their squad leader and the youngest recruit to the division. She was pushing back as hard as she could but his weight against her damaged shoulder and unprepared stance was enough to throw her off and his sword sliced into her, cutting along her torso. She hissed and gave a cry of pain before falling forward and the squad leader pushed her out of the ring to fall the twelve inches from the ring floor to the ground below before turning with a cocky grin. "Who's next?"

The sound of a blade clicking out of its sheath and then slowly sliding out could be heard and Hiyori groaned, wondering if she was going to just be left there to bleed. She forced herself to sit up as the sound of two swords clashing came from behind her and she scowled as the cheers of the other recruits resounded. Apparently whoever it was happened to be very good. She turned with a bored look only to see their squad leader crumble to his knees as his zanpakuto whirled to the side and landed in the dirt some seven feet behind him. Shinji stood there with his own sword held to the man's neck and leaned in with a smirk. "That wasn't very nice." He then pulled away, leaving a small cut along the once clean flesh to weep open and bleed as he sheathed his sword and went over to stand before her, grasping her by the collar and hefting her over his shoulder, taking her directly to the infirmary.

She'd been easily patched up by a young fourth division Shinigami and they were left for her to "recuperate" as ordered by the captain of the division for all patients. They were stuck in the room for twenty minutes, apparently. Hiyori was seated on a small examination table that tried to pass for a bed and Shinji was leaning against the window frame of the only window in the room, looking out with a bored expression. He soon turned to her, though, when the sound of sniffling could be heard coming from her direction. There she sat, looking at him as tears began to trail down her face and her lip twitched a little as she tried to fight it. It was too late. She broke down and started all out crying. Real crying, sob like a little baby crocodile tears! He couldn't believe it at first but then went over to stand before her and scowl. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

"I hate Shinigami." His eyes widened and he reached out to grasp her head, bringing it closer to him so he could stare her in the eyes.

"This was your idea! You said "Shinji, let's become Shinigami! It's cheap and easy! We can do it and then have comfortable lives with beds and food and never worry for anything!" are you telling me you changed your mind!" She kept crying and he groaned before rolling his eyes. "Well we can't stay here then!" He released her, pushing her head a little just to show his annoyance with her, and went back to the window, crossing his arms as he looked out at the landscape below. "Give me some time to think about this and see what I can come up with." She nodded and sure enough he spent more and more time doing research and asking questions before eventually he found in an unmarked file the secrets that would become their future existence. From the very beginning Shinji had never let her down and for weeks they studied the old spells and techniques until they were certain that they knew what they were doing.

Five months after Hiyori cried and declared her absolute hatred for Shinigami they returned to the little forest where they had first met with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Shinji lit a match and then put fire to the file and as he released the final corner into the air, watching it burst to pieces and fall to the ground in ash they nodded and Hiyori opened the gate to let them through to the land of humans. When they entered the other side Shinji quickly caught the hell moth that had guided them to Karakura Town and crushed it. That was that. They never looked back.

They'd hid out in a small utility inlet beneath an overpass for a while, keeping a low profile and their spiritual energy to a minimum so that eventually the Soul Society would grow tired of looking for them and assume they were dead or too insignificant to bother finding. Then they moved into their current home, an abandoned warehouse, and started their training. Shinji achieved it first… he was always a better student and more patient than Hiyori, and it was difficult for her to fight against him during the transformation process but she made it and in the end it was her turn. Eventually they had begun to meet other Shinigami who had been sent on patrol, Love had even been sent to find them in particular soon after their numbers had increased slightly and the Soul Society became interested in them again. Luckily he brought his friend Lisa and she also had an acquaintance, Hachigen. He was skilled in barriers and from that point on they lived rather peacefully together, waiting patiently for the day when their skills would be needed.

888

Lack of oxygen drew Shinji out of his trip down memory lane as Hiyori had wound her arms around him and was squeezing him so hard his back felt it might break. "Hi… h… iyori! Let. Go!" He reached down to pry her arms from around him, bringing them up to hold her hands against his chest and rubbing soothing circles with his thumbs into her palms. She shivered, head down, and then let out another squeak as a rather nasty lightning bolt struck nearby. He frowned and looked down the street one way and then the next. The whole place was flooded nearly. Rain was falling in sheets so hard that he could barely see beyond the edge of the rooftop, not even to the next building over. They were standing in about two inches of water and he sighed, reaching out and lifting her up into his arms. She curled into him, feet dripping wet and he just stared out at the rain wondering when it would stop. It seemed the thunder was dying down, at least, and Hiyori was beginning to calm.

Minutes passed with the two of them like this, he leaned against the building and holding her like a small child or – dare he think it – a bride. The rain continued to pour and he let out a sigh. It was cold out here. "Shinji…" He turned to look at her with a curious expression and she stared at him with a serious gaze. "If you tell the others about this I'll kill you." He rolled his eyes and nodded before looking out at the rain again. Like he said… no matter what they did… nothing ever changed between them.

888

"Do you think someone should go out there and apologize so they can come in? You know how Hiyori gets when there's a thunderstorm." Lisa said, lying on the ground with a naughty manga before her. The lightning struck again and they all heard Hiyori's frightened squeak, wincing at how that probably earned them all a more severe beating from the girl. She even admitted it was silly but everyone knew there was nothing she could do about it. Her subconscious was terrified of the electric bolts and regardless of how hard she tried or what she did she couldn't overcome it. Usually whenever there was a storm one could find Hiyori curled up in a dark corner of the building, hands over her head and trembling. When she was like that they all knew better than to try to bother her… the only one she'd allow nearby was Shinji. He tried to avoid her when she was like that, typically. She'd grab him and pull him down and he'd end up in that stupid dark corner she'd chosen, her sitting there in his lap holding onto him tightly and he just doing nothing. To him it was a waste of time. He could be doing something useful, like watching porn or scouting for recruits… hell, doing the laundry would be better than having to console Hiyori in his mind. Everyone knew why, though. It wasn't that he was totally heartless he just didn't like the fact that there wasn't anything he could do. A scared Hiyori made for a helpless feeling Shinji.

It was Love who spoke up, shaking his head and holding his hands out. "Are you kidding? Whoever goes out there will die! If Hiyori doesn't rip them apart Shinji will! Just let them stay out there for a while. That way at least when the storm lets up we can make a break for it and try to escape!" He gestured with a thumb towards the door, motioning out in a sign to represent what he was saying. The others all nodded, one by one, in silence. It sounded like a good plan. They would all run for the hills the moment the door was opened. Not that it would save them, but it would give them a chance.

888

"We'll be outcasts, you know. Criminals, even."

"I know."

"You're sure you want to do this?"

"Yes! Stop asking me that!"

"I just want to be certain this time. No more teary-eyed weeping is going to save you from this. Once we do it… it's done."

"Shinji, I know; why are you grilling me!"

"Just making sure you know what you're getting into."

"Whatever."

888

Hiyori sneezed and Shinji frowned, looking down on her. She looked horrible. Her coloring was very uneven and she seemed drained, eyes only part open and just lying there in his arms like some weak and washed up little scrap. He leaned forward, placing his forehead against hers and she momentarily jerked back, giving him a dirty look but stopping when she noted the bit of concern in his gaze as he leaned in again. Sure enough, she had a fever. "Great, pipsqueak, just great… what am I going to do with you now?" He looked around, noting that the rain wasn't stopping anytime soon and with a sigh walked over to the front entrance of the building they were standing next to. Nobody was around, it was the weekend and most of the idiot humans in the area didn't come out here unless they had work to do. So he decided that it was probably safe enough to shove his foot into the door, shoving against the metal harshly and forcing it open. He stepped inside, raising an eyebrow and waiting to see if there was an alarm or anything but after a few moments of silence he shrugged and kicked the door closed…well, as closed as it could be now that it was nearly bent in completely, and he proceeded to go over to a musty couch that was within the small office they found themselves in. He laid her there before going over to a rather filthy desk, sneering at the disgusting habits of humans as he opened a drawer to find a pile of candy. Shoving that aside he soon found something of actual value, a small can of condensed soup. Perfect. He then went about searching for something and finding it beneath a couple binders and hidden behind a box which he carelessly tossed to the floor. Ah. There it was - the coffee pot. Something that all humans inevitably had at all places they might need to be aware. He took the carafe and looked around, noticing a rather ugly sink and went over to rinse out the pot, pouring fresh water into it.

Hiyori curled in on herself, feeling warm and uncomfortable as Shinji prepared the soup. "They're all going to die. I'm going to kill them all… slowly and painfully!" She cried out as he came over with what appeared to be a tarp, rolling his eyes as he placed it over her. "Don't give me that look! You know you want to kick their asses, too!" He nodded. True, he was upset with them but that was no reason to kill them. Of course, now that she was sick he was probably going to maim them a little but that was beside the point. They still wouldn't die. The scent of warm chicken noodle soup filled the musty area as soon as the boiling water hit the mixture within the carafe and Shinji went to clean up two of the mugs to an at least passable cleanliness so that he could pour them both some of the soup. He returned a short time later and held out the mug for her, waiting for her to sit up and take it before sitting next to her on the couch with his own. They ate relatively silently, her occasional sneezing and the pounding of the rain on the rooftop overhead the only music to their meal.

888

"Damn it, get off me!" Hiyori screamed out, pushing against the form over her with all her might. She wasn't doing very well and the very intoxicated man's practically dead weight was causing her wrists to buckle as she tried her best to shove him off. He'd been advancing on her from the start, since she'd been put into the squad and since he was the leader he seemed to feel it was his right to do whatever he pleased with the "cute little girl" that had been placed as his subordinate. Currently her mind was running a hundred miles a minute, trying to figure out a way out of this situation but slowly, moment by moment… inch by inch… a hazy darkness began to creep over her sub-consciousness. Her hair was loose beneath her, the thick blonde strands framing her tear streaked face as she lay there prone beneath the man who was now running his hands over her thighs slowly with a nasty grin on his face. She didn't know what to do. She'd been fighting him for nearly thirty minutes now and he'd already begun to break her, sending her mind into self-preservation mode and locking her personality down in the depths of her soul. A gasp came from her as he reached up under her shirt to run a hand over her bare breast and she turned away, closing her eyes with a wince. Nobody cared. He would rape her… have his way with her… and she would be left there to clean herself up and expected back to work the next morning.

"Go ahead and cry… nobody will hear you. They're all down having chow." He said with a smirk as he pulled her shirt up, bringing his mouth down onto the very same breast he'd been fondling not moments earlier. Her hands came up to grasp his head, nails digging into his scalp as she bit down on her lip and tried to pry him off of her but she stilled when his hand began to wander down, trailing past her waist to pull roughly against her pants, they released easily and for a moment her mind screamed at her for wearing the workout gear instead of the usual outfit all Shinigami wore, which would have been more difficult to release, if by a little. Her mind suddenly halted and she stilled as a sharp sensation occurred to her when his hand brushed over her sex. A split second later her eyes widened and she was kicking against him with renewed vigor. He stopped that quickly by biting down on her nipple, sending a shock through her and she shuddered before letting out a broken whimper and closing her eyes again to try and ignore what he was doing to her body. His fingers were rubbing up and down but hadn't pushed into her yet, he figured he had time to enjoy her apparently.

How wrong he was.

"Eh… pipsqueak, do you happen to know what they mean by this …" Shinji stood in the doorway with a small stack of papers in one hand, the other pointing at whatever question he'd been ready to ask her opinion on. He simply stood there for about three seconds, staring at the scene before him before her eyes opened at the sound of his voice. Her pained cry, almost pleading for his help, was all it took and his body immediately went into action, ripping the man off of her and throwing him head first into a wall. His face went dark as he stood there, towering over her but not looking at her… he was too focused on the man who was now stumbling up. The squad leader turned and noticed who it was, giving a small laugh and leaning back a little.

The man gave a dismissive hand gesture as he spoke. "She wanted it man… she said it was a fantasy of hers. No reason to get jealous just because she won't give you any." Shinji stalked over to him, his face falling into a smirk as he reached out and placed his hand on the man's forehead.

"Allow me to show you just how far my jealousy can run." The man fell to the ground, unconscious and Shinji blinked a bit in surprise, bringing his hand before him to stare down on it before looking at the squad leader and smirking rather proudly at his accomplishment. "Well damn. I didn't expect to get it right on the first try." A sniffle came from behind him, alerting him to Hiyori again who was now trying to pull her clothes as tightly around herself as she possibly could. He sighed and went over to kneel next to her, putting a hand on her head and brushing aside her hair so he could see her face. "You shouldn't have let him do that, Hiyori. You're stronger than that."

She looked up at him with a frown and her brow furrowed in confusion before she spat out the next words venomously. "I am not! What do you know, anyway!" He nodded in understanding, patting her on the head a little before leaning down so that his nose was practically touching hers – that smirk of accomplishment still on his face.

"Yes you are."

He stood and went to gather his paperwork before leaving the room. By the time he had returned with their captain and a 4th division healer for her she'd made up her mind. If Shinji thought she was strong… she would be strong; body, mind, and soul.

888

She'd fallen asleep by the time Shinji finished his soup and he rolled his eyes before taking the cup from her hands and going to set them both on the desk. He went back over to her, noting the uncomfortable position she'd managed to leave herself in and he smirked before leaning back against the couch and reaching out to grasp her wrist. He pulled her to him then, resting her against his chest in what seemed to be a much more comfortable place and then drew the tarp over them both, letting his head fall back to look out the window to the falling rain. He'd never admit it to anyone, especially not her, but he liked holding her. She was small and fit right up against him perfectly. As if she was made just for him, as sentimental as that sounded, not that he thought much of keeping her to himself but just that he was rather possessive. Hiyori had needed him from the start and he rather enjoyed being needed so desperately. Eventually, despite her annoying sneezing and coughing, he too fell asleep. Purely out of boredom, mind you, not out of the fact that he was comfortable.

888

"God damn it get the hell out of my way!" She yelled at the crowd of – mostly male – Shinigami. It had been eight weeks since the squad leader had tried to rape her. Eight weeks since Shinji had performed some sort of spell on the man which caused him to enter into a coma. A whole two months since she'd determined to make herself be as strong as she could be, just to show them all that Shinji Hirako's faith in her was not misplaced. She'd begun a steady workout regimen, watched her diet to help increase her muscular strength, and had taken up two forms of martial arts. Currently she was on her way to one of those lessons, with the thirteenth division vice-captain who'd cheerily offered her assistance in learning self-defense. For some reason there was a huge crowd of people standing around gawking, though, and she rolled her eyes as she shoved some of them out of the way before pushing her way into the dojo and starting her workout.

"Hey, hey; what are you all doing here wasting time! This is not a zoo, go back to your assigned spots dumb-asses!" She heard Kaien call out and smirked as she continued her warm-up. Kaien Shiba was an interesting man. She'd only been training with him for a few weeks now and already she liked him. He was kind but determined, spontaneous but logical, and he had a passionate air about him that drew Hiyori to him. To her, he was almost like a brother. Sort of like Shinji was, but not quite the same. She didn't much care for his wife, Miyako, as she tended to come and interrupt their practice time frequently but it wasn't like she was jealous or anything. Just annoyed greatly; pretty women tended to be that way it seemed. Eventually he came into the room, starting his own warm-ups and giving her a smile. "How have you been, Sarugaki?" She nodded to him and gave a cheap attempt at a smile. He raised an eyebrow and then he was throwing a blow to her face, she ducked with a smirk and he grinned as they began to fight. "You should learn to smile, Sarugaki. Cute girls should always smile!" She didn't answer him, focusing on the sparring session between them. He would be the only person who'd ever called her cute and actually meant it without having lewd intentions.

Weeks later… he was dead. Those damn bitches, it was entirely their fault. Miyako had been stupid and weak enough to let herself get killed and then Rukia Kuchiki had been selfish enough to stab him in order to save herself the grief of watching him try to overcome the hollow that'd taken over. Hiyori had always been under the impression that Kaien had been strong enough to take that damn hollow, just distracted by those women. From then on she'd written off anything remotely feminine, much to Shinji's dismay, and never looked back. The world, according to Hiyori, was a fucked up place that couldn't accept a girl who was… a girl. She had to be strong and able to stand on her own two feet or be trampled, dragging all the men in her life down with her. Well… couldn't have that, could she?

888

Hiyori woke with a start, looking up to notice that she was… for some unexplainable reason… lying on Shinji's chest. He had his arms wrapped around her rather tightly and was sleeping quietly. She raised an eyebrow at that but just shrugged and looked around. The wind had blown the door open and the rain was now falling in a diagonal pattern. It seemed that the storm was worse. Great. That meant they were stuck in here until who knows when. She tried to pull away but that just caused Shinji's grip on her to tighten more and she let out an annoyed sound, trying to bring her arms up so she could smack him in the face. Damn it, she was stuck. She considered using her head but she already felt sick as it was so she gave up for now, resting her forehead on his right shoulder and letting out a sigh of irritation.

888

Shinji sat before them with a smirk on his face and lazily leaned against the back of his chair, clicking his teeth together out of absolute boredom. "Shinji Hirako, you understand that what you did to your squad leader is an extreme offense, correct?" He didn't bother to look up at the stodgy old fart, bringing his left hand up to wave in a conciliatory gesture. "We understand that you claim to have just been angry and threw him against the wall where he hit his head and fell unconscious?" Once again the blond boy wove his hand out in agreement, it almost looked like he was waving, and then he brought the hand over to scratch at his face with a yawn. "What we would like to know is how the man went into a coma from this."

The boy's smirk widened into a perfectly evil looking grin and he sat forward then, leaning his arms against his legs as he looked to the man across the room from him and his associates who were all seated at the long table. "I'm stronger than I look." A hush fell over the room before a woman to the left of the interrogator spoke up.

"That may be but we'd still like to confirm just how you did this. Even with immense strength you wouldn't send a man into a coma just for throwing him against a wall. Our top healers have all said that there is very minimal damage to the man's head which shows that you had to have some other means to injure him." He turned to look her in the eye, giving a lazy smile at her stern face. Her yellow eyes contrasted greatly with her dark toned skin and that helped to show her curiosity that was darting about her outer calm appearance.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I was only protecting a childhood friend, nothing more." The adults in the room went about talking amongst themselves before the woman stood and stared down on him.

"Shinji Hirako, you are hereby punished to one month of solitary confinement within the Shrine of Penitence. We have chosen this place to give you a glimpse of the possibility of what looms over you for your crimes should you continue to injure other individuals. Since the man did not die you are not to be executed but we strongly urge you to reconsider your actions the next time there is a complication. Be grateful that you were not sentenced by the Central 46."

He looked to her with a bored expression. "Will I be allowed reading material from the library to continue my studies during this time? I wouldn't want to fall behind." The violet haired woman turned to look at the old man next to her and he nodded lightly. Shinji sat back and shrugged. "Then that is fine."