Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach.

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Acts of Comfort

If he was brutally honest with himself, Kenpachi knew he admired Yoruichi Shihouin. A grudging respect, but respect nonetheless. She was a strong and capable fighter, quick-minded with a good sense of humor, and there was no forgetting the "Goddess of Flash" which practically flashed in neon lights on her forehead whenever she challenged someone to a game of Chase the Devil.

Yes. Kenpachi admired Yoruichi. Except for one thing.

Like the cat that was her animal form, she faded in and out of people's lives, independent and solitary. A life that suited her, perhaps, but a life that wounded those who cared for her.

Particularly one Soi Fong, Captain of Second Company.

Yoruichi had left the Soul Society—again—and Soi Fong had vanished. Not even her Assistant Captain knew where she was. Not something that would have held Kenpachi's interest, but Yachiru had made some comment about how sad "Shortie" seemed to be, and how Kenny should probably try and cheer her up.

And that was that.

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Kenpachi found her in a clearing, surrounded by cherry trees. She sat quietly on the grass, her knees pulled up to her chest and her forehead resting on her knees as cherry blossoms drifted in the air around her.

Dammit. He bared his teeth in frustration. The shrimp just looked so damn miserable.

He slipped quietly to her side and sat beside her; Soi Fong lifted her head but didn't speak to him, and Kenpachi saw that her eyes were unusually bright.

Dammit.

He wasn't good at talking. Words didn't fit him. He liked fighting, blood, hacking things to bits. He was good at cutting, not speaking.

So when the thought came to him—the way to comfort Soi Fong in the only way he knew—he cleared his throat and rested his hand on the hilt of his Zanpakutou.

"Wanna fight?"

It was all he could think of, and Soi Fong dipped her head in the smallest of nods before rising. She had to tilt her head back to look up at Kenpachi, but there was no fear in her; only weariness.

In silent agreement they walked to opposite sides of the clearing; for a moment they looked at each other.

Soi Fong's eyes shifted slightly; Kenpachi tensed. She charged him.

He had only time to think damn, but she was fast before he ducked out of the way; she turned with him, and their Zanpakutous collided with a loud metallic clang that rang loudly in the quiet. Soi Fong was the first to leap away, and Kenpachi brought his Zanpakutou down, aiming for the vulnerable curve of her throat. She jerked away to avoid the death blow, but a small cut opened on her skin, and blood dripped out of the wound.

A scowl darkened her features, and Kenpachi smirked. "If you're gonna fight me," he said, "be serious about it." He raced at her again; her eyes widened a heartbeat before she whipped her Zanpakutou around to block his, and he drove her back as she dug her feet in, trying to find leverage.

"You're holdin' back." He could feel it, the way her spirit energy cracked and fizzled against her tight rein of control. "What are ya afraid of? Death?"

A growl escaped Soi Fong and she pushed him off, going in low and fast; he jumped back, but her blade still slashed his leg. He leaped easily onto the branch of a tree, studying her for a moment. She glared up at him, her body quivering.

In that moment, Kenpachi understood.

"She hurt you real bad, didn't she?" His voice was soft as it drifted down to her, but Soi Fong froze, her eyes widening. "Did a real number on you, huh? Hurts like hell, I'm sure."

He leaped down from the branch, landing on the grass with a soft thud, and immediately blocked her attack as she ran at him; but her eyes met his as their Zanpakutous locked, and he saw the uncertainty.

"Fighting's a good way of letting go," he breathed. "Cutting your enemy is like sharing the pain you feel. When they bleed because of you, it's like they're bleeding with you." He smirked. "Now cut me, Soi."

Her eyes widened; her hands tightened around the hilt of her Zanpakutou. "Kenpachi," she choked out.

"Cut me," he repeated. "The way I know you want to cut her, even though you never will. Make me bleed, the way you want her to bleed, even though you love her to much to hurt her. Let go."

Kenpachi wasn't good with words, but he figured what he just said had meant something.

He lifted his Zanpakutou away and bore down on her; Soi Fong's eyes narrowed and she turned, so his blade pierced only her Captain's jacket, and brought her blade slashing up.

Blood streamed from the thin cut down his chest; Kenpachi smirked, hefting his Zanpakutou. Soi Fong nodded briefly.

Again, they leaped at each other.

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All hell broke loose when Kenpachi stormed into the General Relief Station, roaring for a room for the Second Company Captain. Soi Fong lay in his arms, bleeding from multiple wounds and unconscious. Many noted that Kenpachi was bleeding as well, though he didn't seem to care or notice.

Unohana wasted no time, whisking Soi Fong into one of the empty rooms and beginning to heal her; Kenpachi sat on a chair and stared at the unconscious woman's face as though it would be enough to wake her. He waited for some sign, anything, to tell him she was going to be okay.

Whispers drifted through the hallway as Soul Reapers crowed the doorway, trying to make sense of what had just happened and what it meant.

Complete and total silence reigned as Soi Fong moaned softly and opened her eyes, wincing. Grunting a little, she tilted her head slightly to gaze at Kenpachi.

"Next time…" She closed her eyes. "… I'll be faster."

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He came back as the sun set, bathing the sky in sharp reds and oranges; his footsteps were muffled as he walked down the hall, but when he reached her room she still sensed him anyway, turning away from the window to look at him. "Hey."

"Hey."

Kenpachi walked to the side of the bed; Soi Fong sat up a little straighter against her pillow. "How are your wounds?"

"Better. Still a little sore. I'll be ready to fight again by tomorrow."

The one eye she could see gleamed, but Kenpachi was willing to give her a chance to think about it; it wouldn't do either of them any good if Unohana got on them for fighting when their wounds had barely closed. "If you wanna wait a little longer…"

"Tomorrow," Soi Fong repeated firmly, her eyes staying locked on his.

A small smirk curved his lips. "At the clearing again?"

"Yes."

He'd given her a chance, but the message was clear. He nodded briefly before turning away, heading for the door; it was almost past visiting hours, and if Unohana saw him he'd get in trouble. "See ya then."

Soi Fong watched him disappear around the corner, listened to his footsteps until they faded away into silence. She sighed and leaned back against her pillow, closing her eyes.

"Yeah," she murmured. "See you then."

The End

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Crack pairing much? Heh... I don't know what inspired this...

Read and review, please!