Soi Fong knew him by sight, one of the four who had fought their way in through Hikonyuutou's gate under the leadership of a man that called himself Kenpachi of the Zaraki district. A man with a bloody cotton robe and a pink-haired infant dangling from his shoulders, he had demanded an audience with the leaders of the Soul Society and wasn't afraid to challenge and defeat the eleventh division captain. The two at his side had done little, but she remembered the bald one and this one with his slender face. This one that had a grin so much like her former mistress'.

Kenpachi's demands were simple, that he and his companions would be given fair chance to join the ranks of the shining white court. Although he was too old for the academy, provisions were made on his defeat of the former captain. His companions would be entered into the academy on a probationary basis.

She hadn't meant to take him up on his challenge. The Chuou-46 was meeting in three weeks to discuss her ascension to the rank of captain of the second division. Sparring with some long-haired pretty boy from Rukongai wasn't on the list.

Or it hadn't been until he caught the edge of her sleeve on the way out of the general meeting and challenged her to spar. A grave insult. Did he realize who he was challenging? Then again, did he care?

But when Suzumebachi struck cold metal, sending a rush of sparks into the air, she knew why. The grin that traced his lips when their swords met in a shower of sparks. She knew that altogether too well.

And when they slumped, breath heavy, chests rising and falling from the effort of the fight, she had to admit, he wasn't half bad.

She reached out, flicking a few free strands of hair from his face.

"Soi Fong," she grinned, a genuine smile that hadn't seen daylight since the dawn Yoruichi left with that damned Urahara at her side.

He flicked back a long mass of hair and matched it with one of his own, a little dirt spattered no matter how much he had tried to avoid it during their spar.

"Ayasegawa Yumichika."

She didn't know really what struck her. But, she reached out and swiped the dirt from his cheek and had to admit, he wasn't bad... for a guy.