A/n: Wow, I'm surprised that anyone's even reviewed the Kenpachi story, but they were still much loved! Reviews always make my heart soar! And to answer Sk8rnerdbleach, I plan to do a chapter for each captain, then two more to wrap up the two weeks, so about fourteen chapters! (eeps, I'm going to try my best on this!)
With that said, I realized I messed up the Soi Fong moment in chapter one. She was suppose be still upset with Yoruichi, so could everyone just do me a favor and ignore that please? It was a dumb mistake, I know.
Also, I realize this chapter's exponentially longer than the others, but that's what I plan to do from now on, since some of you guys have said that the chapters are too short.
So please enjoy and if it's not too much trouble review as well!
Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Tite Kubo.
Soi Fong's Hefty Thursday
In hindsight, Soi Fong supposed it was her own fault she ended up in this situation.
For regardless of how long she'd spent on the roof yesterday night willing for the sun to stay down, her day had arrived.
And that mission had just so happen to come for the Onmitsukidō this morning. She supposed…she had been desperate.
Soi Fong had naively thought that just because Yamamoto had stopped all in-coming missions for the Gotei 13, didn't mean that they couldn't have gone on missions from any of the other organizations they might've been affiliated with. (i.e. mainly her and pretty much only her).
Because for some obscure reason, Soi Fong had believed Yamamoto could be reasoned with.
"…And so because of the assassination of Nobu Taichi, wanted criminal and traitor of the illustrious Nobu Family needing top priority, I ask that I be excused from my bonding day and its various activities." Soi Fong finished in satisfaction as she passed the papers across the table to Yamamoto, who took them wordlessly.
Behind her, Omaeda fidgeted uncomfortably; not really sure what was going on and being forced to stand in what tiny space the gigantic oak table had not taken up.
There was a slight pause as Yamamoto read the scroll, before looking up slowly at Soi Fong, "Well, I must apologize, Soi Fong-taichou. I have no jurisdiction to stop the missions of the Onmitsukidō."
"Not at all, sir. I regret not being able to participate on my day," Soi Fong said with impressive calm as she felt herself slowly sneaking through the loophole.
"Hmm? Oh no, you're still doing that. I'm just sorry that you'll have to work while on your bonding day."
The loophole immediately tightened around her, trapping her and constricting all the air from her lungs.
"E-excuse me, sir?"
"Nobu Taichi," Yamamoto stated, holding up the picture of an overweight, greasy-looking man, "Wanted for stealing some money from the Nobu and then using it to buy his rank in a rival family. Was discovered almost immediately and only managed to escape to the Living Realm because of a few outside connections. As for overall competence, he has little to none. I would not even be surprised if he ended up killing himself on accident. You might as well enjoy your time in the Living Realm with your lieutenant while you look for him."
Soi Fong stared at the picture dumbly, at a loss for words.
Omaeda, on the other hand, was being very vocal about his opinion of a trip to the Living Realm.
"The Living Realm! The commoner with the red hair told me all about it, Taichou! They have packaged rice balls, tomato juice, things called "cake" and "caviar!"
The large man, suddenly indifferent about the cramp space, practically flew off the wall he'd been plastered against, almost ramming Soi Fong into the table, though she was in too much shock to really say anything.
"Well, it seems you're lieutenant doesn't mind the arrangement," Yamamoto said, watching Omaeda do little jigs around the room, before giving Soi Fong a sideways glance, "Are there still any problems, Soi Fong-taichou?"
"O-of course, sir! The idea of wasting our time like that during an assa—"
"Excellent! Your gigais are already waiting at the Senkaimon. Chôjirô Sasakibe will show you to them."
At the mention of his name, the white-haired man seemingly materialized out of nowhere, before doing a bow and heading towards the door, practically getting run over by Omaeda as he stampeded pass him.
Soi Fong remained limply in her seat in shock, her plan having fallen apart before her eyes. Woefully, she sent her Soutaichou one last desperate look.
The only reply she got was a warning marked with disturbingly sadistic glee.
"Any wasteful spending will be deducted from your salaries."
"Are you done yet?" Soi Fong asked impatiently, her arms folded as she glared at the door in front of her.
When no reply came, she sent the door a swift kick, hard enough to rattle the hinges and elicit a high-pitched shriek from within.
"Ahhh! Don't come in, Taichou! My shirt isn't on yet!"
"Who wants to go in?" she snapped, after a moment of processing that highly unwanted information, "And why are you just putting on your shirt? You've been in there for almost twenty minutes!"
"I can't help it, ma'am! The commoners made these buttons too small!"
"What? That's why you've been…I swear, Omaeda, if he starts to move I am leaving without you."
There was an incredulous 'Ehhh?' from behind the door, followed by the sound of ruffling cloth and yelps of pain as his large frame accidentally rammed into the wall a few times in his rush.
With a small inaudible sigh, Soi Fong leaned against the door, pulling uncomfortably at the too long sleeves of the black hoodie she was wearing and ignoring the nervous looks she was getting from the clerk.
She knew that they weren't use to human clothes and everything, but geez. Exactly how long did it take to change into a simple shirt and pants?
"I don't care if it's something commoners wear, Omaeda. Just put it on."
"Uh…that's not it, ma'am. It's…it's a little…tight."
"What do you mean they're tight? That's the second largest size that's here!"
"Only a little and I don't know! I…I kind of have to suck in my stomach to…I'm not fat. I'm not fat, okay Taichou, I'm not! That's what you're thinking right now isn't it? I am not fat; I am plump!"
Soi Fong sighed in frustration, turning to make sure the target was still there, before pushing herself off the wall.
"Fine, throw them over. I'll go get you a larger size."
As soon as the words landed, Soi Fong saw a pair of pants the size of a body bag flying over the top of the door.
"How could these possibly be too tight?" she muttered to herself as she caught it before walking towards the bargain bin, the legs still dragging on the floor no matter how she folded it.
Dumping them back inside the bin, she rummaged listlessly through piles of jeans, scowling at some of the prices.
"Two thousand yen for ripped up pants? How is that even a bargain?"
Soi Fong was determined to spend as little money as possible while on this little "trip" in the Living Realm. It was quite a feat, seeing as she had an assistant that knew nothing buthow to spend money.
Still, she was getting really annoyed by all the glares she'd been receiving from some of the other captains. According to Yamamoto, she was being accused of the "decimation of the Gotei balance sheet," or some other such nonsense.
Frankly, she failed to see any of it as her fault when Omaeda was the one with the skull thicker than lead that kept breaking the vases she threw at him. Not that she really expected any of the idiots she called her colleagues to understand that. It was so immature that they'd glare at her for something as stupid as furniture. Who cared if their divisions were missing a few vases anyway? She certainly didn't. That's what they got for glaring at her in the first place, so nya!
"Taichou, could you please hurry?" a voice cried from behind the door, snapping her out of her angry thoughts, "It's really cold in here!"
Soi Fong blinked and glanced down at her hands, before immediately releasing a pair of jeans she had accidentally torn apart in her rage.
Looking around to make sure no one had been watching, she hurriedly buried the shredded pants at the very bottom of the bin. Tossing around a few more seconds, she finally managed to find the size she wanted.
Seizing them, she practically had to drag them behind her as she made her way back to the changing room.
"If these don't fit you either I swear I'm just going to leave you here," she said bluntly, tossing the mammoth sized pants over, "It's ridiculous how long we've spent getting your clothes."
"Whaaat?" Omaeda whined, making Soi Fong's eye twitch, "It's not my fault those Research Institute bastards didn't give us the right clothes."
Behind her stoic mask, Soi Fong shuddered at the memory.
"Just hurry up."
There was a lot of grunting heard inside, followed by cloth ruffling, a zipper, then an inhale and exhale of air.
Soi Fong's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates.
"What are you—"
"Yes! It fits, Taichou, it fits!" Omaeda interrupted triumphantly from inside, as Soi Fong heard the door's lock unlatching.
Omaeda bounded out fully changed, looking like he'd just accomplished something a lot more than simply getting his pants on.
"It better have fit," she said recovering quickly, completely unimpressed, "You're lucky the target remained here for all the time it took for you to change."
The imbecile did not even have the decency to look embarrassed.
"Heh, oh yeah, where is that sorry bastard?"
Soi Fong jerked a thumb stiffly over her shoulder.
"He's lazing around on that couch over there with his lackeys."
Omaeda squinted in that direction for a moment, before paling slightly.
"If it's something about the pants Omaeda, you don't even want to start."
"Um, no, that's not it."
"…The couch…it's, uh…it's empty."
A beat. Then…
"WHAT?" Soi Fong exploded, causing both Omaeda and the clerk to shriek in terror, the latter actually jumping back a whole feet.
Whirling around, Soi Fong saw that the couch was indeed vacant now and swore, before turning to glare death at Omaeda.
"This is all your fault! If you had just put on your freakin' pants I never would've lost sight of him!" she screeched, too angry to realize the implications behind her words.
"M-Me? H-how is this my fault?" Omaeda sputtered nervously, "What does my putting on pants have to do with you watching him?"
"Ahhh! I'm sorry!" Omaeda squeaked in fright, "It won't happen again, ma'am!"
"Like that's easy to believe, you worthless fool!" Soi Fong snarled.
Turning, she stomped towards the door, flinging a random amount of money at the petrified clerk on her way out.
"I'm coming back for the change," she still managed to growl darkly, before slamming the door.
Omaeda waited a whole minute, before hesitantly following suit, still managing to pause at the threshold to give the clerk a warning look.
"She's serious, you know."
Soi Fong stalked angrily down the street, her fists balled and her eyes narrowed. Behind her, Omaeda followed nervously with his arms held up in front, like he was expecting her to suddenly attack him any second now.
His worries were superfluous.
Soi Fong couldn't even speak to him at the moment, let alone attack him.
Never had she lost a target so easily before.
They usually had to fight tooth and nail to get away, and even then, it sometimes wasn't enough.
To think she had let him slip away solely because she had been too busy finding Omaeda larger sized pants… And he hadn't even known he was being tailed!
At this rate she could forget about finding Yoruichi for a couple hundred…
"Holy crap! Taichou, I see him!"
Soi Fong immediately spun around, her thoughts flying straight out of her head. She looked up urgently at Omaeda, who had a hand shadowing his eyes from the sun as he squinted at something in the distance.
"Are you sure? Can you see clearly? Where is he? Which way is he going?" she shot the questions at him in rapid-fire and turned back around before Omaeda could answer any of them.
Standing on her tip-toes, Soi Fong also tried to look, but was unable to see above the heads of all the people surrounding them.
"Yeah, it's him!" Omaeda confirmed, nodding continuously, causing multiples of people to give him strange looks, "He's the one in the peasant's outfit!"
"How in the world does that help?" Soi Fong asked, shooting her assistant with a side glare, "You think everyone here is wearing a peasant's outfit!"
A few people sent Omaeda offended looks.
"He's moving further away, ma'am!" Omaeda squealed, squinting harder, "I think he's gonna turn that corner!"
"Well don't just stand here, you idiot!" Soi Fong barked, turning to kick him in the shin, before taking off, "We can't loose sight of him!"
Omaeda yelped slightly from the hit to his shin, before following, or at least trying to. It was hard to keep up with his captain even in gigais, as her petite body darted nimbly around gaggles of people.
As Soi Fong ran, she began to see the black oily head of Nobu Taichi amongst the hordes, safely surrounded by a group of men. Clenching her teeth, she had just enough time to catch a smug smirk on his face, before he waddled into a store.
She dove in as well.
"Ah! Taichou, wait for me!" Omaeda cried as he saw his captain's increase in speed, hurrying frantically along as she disappeared inside a store.
People scrambled desperately out of the way as Omaeda stampeded down the street. By the time he had finally burst in himself, he was huffing and puffing.
Soi Fong had stopped as soon as she had crossed the threshold. Omaeda skidded clumsily to avoid crashing into her.
"Oh, what took you so long?" Soi Fong asked dully, turning when she heard Omaeda flailing around behind her, "I thought you might've gotten lost."
"It's…It's because you were going too fast ma'am!" Omaeda panted, hands on his knees, "I…I couldn't keep up."
Soi Fong scowled slightly at Omaeda's smoker wheezing.
"You need to train more. How could you possibly be that tired from such a short run?"
"EH? How is running down a mile long street in gigai a "short run?"
"It was only thirty or so feet," Soi Fong corrected, crossing her arms, "Now stand up and shut up. The target is over there."
At that, Omaeda lifted his head confusedly to look at the area Soi Fong was staring at.
Nobu Taichi was again seated on a couch, while the semi-circle of men surrounded him. A poor employee was trying to convince him to get off.
"P-Please sir," the woman looked exasperated, "You can't sit on that. It's only for display."
"Silence, human woman! Do you know who I am?"
"A very confused and portly gentleman?"
"What? No! I am Nobu Taichi, the great escapist from Soul Society! …And for your information, I am plump not fat! "
Soi Fong gave Omaeda a deadpan look. Omaeda scratched his head in embarrassment.
"Sir, I don't care if you just escaped from Pluto! You can't sit on the displays!"
Nobu Taichi opened his mouth to retort, but stopped when he saw the woman was at her wit's end.
"Fine!" he said, getting up rather petulantly and snapping his fingers at the men, "We're leaving! This place is commoner infested anyway!"
Soi Fong gave Omaeda another look.
"It's like we've found your long-lost twin."
"T-taichou, please don't say that."
"Shut up, they're moving."
Soi Fong and Omaeda darted around the room of furniture like ninjas, well more like Soi Fong per se "darted" Omaeda was just galloping along behind her. That slightly irked her; he was seriously cramping her style.
"He's going up those moving stairs," Soi Fong whispered, as they dove behind a couch, scaring the wits out of the shoppers who'd been looking at it, "Keep him in your sights, Omaeda."
"Not again!" a voice screamed sharply, startling both of them, turning they saw the woman employee from before stomping over, "PLEASE KEEP OFF THE DISPLAYS!"
"Is this guy for real?" Omaeda muttered, staring incredulously, "Is he just trying to find a couch to sit on or something?"
The man was currently lounging in a rather lavish manner on a couch used for trying on shoes, the group of men once again forming a semi-circle around him. A line of woman stood in front of them, looking pissed beyond hell, clutching shoes in their hands.
"At this rate, we won't even have to kill this guy."
"Stop staring at them, you fool," Soi Fong said offhandedly as she observed several of the shoes on the rack in front of her, "You're being too obvious."
Omaeda turned to stare at her.
She ignored him, curiously lifting up three pairs of shoes that looked remarkably similar to the ones she had with her shinigami uniform.
"I like these," she said after a moment, "I want them."
"What?" Omaeda asked, before having to scramble after her as she suddenly veered towards the counter.
"Taichou, what are you doing?" Omaeda asked again, confused as she paid the clerk, "I thought you were trying to save money."
"I am," Soi Fong replied, taking the bag before suddenly gushing, "But did you see these you fool? They were irresistible! I was almost being beckoned!"
Omaeda took a step back uneasily.
"Whatever you say, ma'am."
"They're moving," Soi Fong said, her voice suddenly serious again as her eyes narrowed at something behind him, "Let's go."
Omaeda was then met with a face full of shopping bag as Soi Fong walked briskly away.
They tailed him to a place called 'Genma's Gaming Paradise' next. Crashes and noise that sounded like laser beams could be heard from the inside.
A bead of sweat rolled down Omaeda's temple.
"Move it, Omaeda."
It was unexpectedly dark. Dark and loud.
As soon as Soi Fong walked in she was hit by a myriad of violent sounds, ten times louder than when she was outside. The only light source were strange glowing purple…squiggles running vertically across the ceiling.
Children, mostly adolescent boys, were crowded around large machines, laughing and screaming every time one of them emitted a violent sound. Suspicious fog like substance was drifting all over the area, motley as flashes of color hit it.
Soi Fong stared for a moment, before stepping forward with slight hesitation
"Omaeda!" she screamed, barely above the noise, "Do you see them?"
Omaeda stuck a finger in his ear and looked confused, "WHAT?"
"DO YOU SEE NOBU?"
"I SAID DO YOU SEE NOBU!"
"TAICHOU, I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
"I CAN'T HEAR YOU!"
"YOU SEE NOBU?"
With a frustrated sigh, Soi Fong gave up. Her black eyes narrowing slightly, she scanned the sundry display of obnoxiousness in front of her, before finally landing on the man.
"I found him!" Soi Fong exclaimed, "He's over there!"
Omaeda let out a surprised sound as Soi Fong suddenly walked away at a swift pace, before scrambling after her.
Soi Fong ignored him, eyes trained coldly on the target as she darted behind the closest machine to them. Nobu Taichi was currently lounging in a corner with a few other men, one lone lamp hanging from the ceiling. They were all piled on giant purple couches, with Nobu taking one whole couch to himself, as he munched on a chicken leg.
Now close, the noises of the machines and children dimmed to the point where she could make out what they were saying.
"Nobu-sama, do you really think we should be here?" one of the men was saying nervously, "They must be looking for you all over Seireitei."
"That's why we're in the Living Realm, you fool," Nobu said, arrogance dripping from his words, "They haven't even noticed my clever escape yet."
"But sir," the man wrung his hands, "What if they decide to notify the Onmitsukidō?"
There was a slight flurry of worry amongst the other men at the mention of the name.
"Ha! Like I'm afraid of the Onmitsukidō!" Nobu declared carelessly, brandishing the chicken leg like a sword, "Besides, I've seen pictures of their lieutenant. He's nothing but a fat, bumbling idiot. Nothing I can't easily outsmart."
"What?" Omaeda whispered incredulously, having made his way behind her, his voice quivering with rage, "Why that fatass bastard! I'll kill him!"
Calmly, Soi Fong reached out to snatch the giant man's sleeve as he started charging by her. Then with ease that seemed almost unfitting for her petite form, yanked Omaeda back to her side.
"Shut up, imbecile," Soi Fong whispered harshly, "There are too many people around right now."
"Ugh, then what are we going to do, taichou?"
Soi Fong looked around for a moment before turning to inspect the machine they were hiding behind. It was slightly larger than the other ones with two big black speakers at the bottom. A platform with colorful arrows was connected to its base. Beneath the blank screen, there was a silver coin slot.
Soi Fong stared thoughtfully at it for a moment, before reaching into her pocket.
"Taichou?" Omaeda questioned as his captain took out a silver coin, "What are you doing?"
"The point is not to lose sight of him," Soi Fong muttered back, "This way we can still hear what he's saying without looking suspicious."
Before Omaeda could even process that, she had already inserted the coin into the slot.
Immediately, the machine sprang to life. Soi Fong jumped back slightly, startled, as Omaeda and Nobu Taichi both simultaneously let out high-pitched screams, the latter actually falling off the couch.
"UH-OH, LOOKS LIKE SOMEBODY'S GOT DANCE FEVER!" a man's voice boomed from the speakers, "JUST HOP ON TO THOSE PLATFORMS AND LET'S GET THIS STARTED!"
The screen flashed brightly with colors, before a menu appeared. Soi Fong gave it a highly distrusting look, but stepped on slowly when she saw Nobu's men staring at her expectantly.
And with a particularly withering glare, Omaeda scampered on as well.
The screen had a variety of pictures on it, including one with a butterfly that looked faintly familiar to Suzumebachi's design. Slightly unsure, Soi Fong reached out to touch it lightly with her finger.
"ALRIGHT!" the voice boomed again, almost making Soi Fong lash out instinctively and Omaeda running off again, "IT'S BOOGIE TIME!"
"Taichou?" Omaeda asked in a whine, "What are we—"
He was immediately cut off, when strange music began blaring from the speakers. The screen split into two and the background turned pink. A bunch of flashing arrows began flooding the screen towards the top, where four stationary arrows were.
Omaeda stared in bewilderment as Soi Fong quirked an eyebrow at them.
They were all pointing in different directions as they rose speedily pass the screen, with a red "Miss" appearing each time one of them passed the top four arrows. They seemed to be going by some pattern and the images were remarkably similar to the ones on the platform…
Soi Fong blinked; a theory forming in her head, just as another herd of arrows came on screen.
Immediately, she tested it out.
Omaeda watched dumbly as his captain did a few quick steps on the platform, a concentrated look on her face, before her screen repeatedly flashed with a big green "Marvelous."
"Whoa, Taichou! How are you doing that?" Omaeda exclaimed in confusion, scratching his head.
Soi Fong's eyes widened as she turned and saw Omaeda's screen.
"Start moving you fool!" Soi Fong barked at him, "Step on the arrows when they overlap the imprints at the top!"
Omaeda turned in confusion to stare at the screen and then at the platform, before it seemed click. With a panicked yelp, he immediately started moving, albeit with extreme inelegance.
Still, he managed to hit pretty much all the arrows, only missing a few, while Soi Fong didn't miss any.
"Hah! This isn't so hard!" Omaeda scoffed, though he didn't dare take his eyes off the screen.
Soi Fong didn't reply. She was actually beginning to get into the rhythm of the song, and the feeling as she moved to the beat was kind of exhilarating.
By the time the game ended, Soi Fong had already slipped another coin in without even being fully aware of it.
The machine came to life once more, spouting some random nonsense before automatically going to the arrow screen.
"ALRIGHT! IT'S BOOGIE TIME!"
The music that came out was suddenly much more upbeat and the arrows went infinitely faster. Omaeda found himself struggling within seconds, cringing everytime he missed one.
Soi Fong on the other hand, didn't miss a single one as her lithe body twirled on the stage with graceful ease. Slowly, her mind melded with the music and her limbs started to move of their own accord. She didn't even notice when Omaeda stepped off.
By the time the song had finished, a small crowd had gathered around her, which quickly exploded into applause.
Soi Fong started for a moment at the sound before turning and seeing the amazed faces of the gaggles of people surrounding her. Many of them had admiring looks on, while a few of the boys were even whooping. Soi Fong, unsure of what to do, gave them a small nod and an awkward wave.
"Whoohoo! Go, Taichou!" a familiar voice hooted, before she saw Omaeda running towards her, making the crowd quickly disperse in fear of getting trampled.
"You did it, ma'am!" Omaeda exclaimed enthusiastically once he'd reached her, his hands cradling a tray of…something.
"Imbecile," she said, hopping off the platform and walking up to him, "It was only a game."
"Heh heh, of course."
Soi Fong eyed him a moment, before peering at the tray in his hands.
"What is that?"
"Oh, these? They're…actually I'm not really sure, but they're hella good. The guy that gave 'em to me said they were called "nachos."
Soi Fong stared at him.
Omaeda shrugged in reply, and bent down slightly to offer the tray, "Want some, Taichou?"
Soi Fong opened her mouth to refuse, before she remembered she hadn't eaten anything since morning.
"Do I have to pay for these?" she questioned, slightly paranoid, as she grabbed a chip from the tray.
"Nope," Omaeda looked pleased with himself, "The guy said they were on the house for anyone that got pass the "Maniac" level of DDR or some other crap like that. I dunno, I wasn't really listening."
"Of course you weren't," Soi Fong said with a sigh. Oh well, as long as it was free.
And after a few seconds of chewing, she had to admit—"nachos" were pretty damn good.
"See, Taichou?" Omaeda said, grinning, "I told you they were good."
"Hm." Soi Fong replied noncommittally. Reaching out, she picked up another chip, making sure to get as much cheese as she could on it.
"Oh, by the way Taichou, where's the target? I saw one of his little servants walking out the door and he's not on the couch anymore, so I figured you'd know. I'm gonna kill that fatass right now, while everyone's distracted."
The chip never made it to her mouth.
"How could we have lost him again?" Soi Fong ranted, violently stabbing her spoon into her fruit cup, "This is the second time he escaped us!"
Omaeda picked his nose lazily as he watched her seethe.
"Taichou?" Omaeda said after a moment, "Could you not talk so loudly? People are staring at us."
"I'LL TALK AS LOUD AS I WANT, YOU OAF!" Soi Fong screeched in rage, practically blowing him away as she pointed accusingly at him from across the table, "THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT ANYWAY! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU ACTUALLY SAW HIM LEAVING AND JUST STOOD THERE IDIOTICALLY WASTING TIME EATING NACHOS!"
There was a snort heard from one of the other tables and Omaeda sunk slightly in his seat.
"W-well when you say it like that," his eyes flitted around the table, inwardly debating for a moment whether he should even say it out loud, "W-weren't you also wasting time by playing that game?"
He immediately regretted his words when he saw the spoon alarmingly going through the fruit cup.
"I mean you're right, Taichou! You're right!" Omaeda said quickly, "It was my fault! It was my fault!"
Omaeda practically prostrated himself on the table, almost doing a face-plant into his steak.
"You make me sick," Soi Fong muttered, calming, partly because Omaeda was embarrassing her and partly because on the inside she knew that he was right.
"We need to find him. Hurry up and eat."
"And sit up, you fool, you're embarrassing us."
The next few minutes passed by in silence as Omaeda scarfed down his steak and Soi Fong pushed around the mushy fruits in her now broken cup, every now and then sending her assistant a disgusted look.
"Are you sure you saw him go this way?" Soi Fong asked skeptically, gazing at all the strange things hanging in the windows of shops.
"Yes, Taichou. I'm positive," Omaeda said walking beside her, wincing slightly whenever he took a step.
After eating, Omaeda had once again caught sight of Nobu's greasy black head and Soi Fong had once again kicked him in the shin before taking off. Naturally, they lost sight of him once again as well and were now left wandering aimlessly in the direction that Omaeda saw him going in.
"Well then, let's hurry," Soi Fong said, looking up towards the sky, "It's almost time to go back."
"What? I barely got to buy anything!"
"Are you kidding?" Soi Fong gave her assistant an incredulous look, "Soutaichou's already mad at you for tampering with the balance sheet and now you want to spend more money?"
"Mad at me? How is it my fault that you keep throwing those vases at me?" Omaeda asked incredulously, before lifting the bag he was still holding, "And didn't you already buy something?"
Soi Fong turned away from him, not intending to dignify such an idiotic question with an answer.
It was then, as she returned her gaze to the windows, that something caught her eye, hanging there as if it had been waiting for her. Soi Fong stopped in her tracks.
It was a scroll painting of a black cat—one that looked eerily familiar.
"Taichou?" Omaeda said, walking back when he realized she was no longer next to him, "What is it, ma'am?"
Soi Fong didn't answer, continuing to stare at the painting.
Omaeda peered curiously into the window as well, before understanding dawned on his face.
"Why don't you buy it, Taichou?" he encouraged, his voice serious for once, "As a souvenir or something."
"Imbecile, who would buy a painting as a souvenir?" Soi Fong replied after a moment, "Besides, it costs way too much."
Omaeda looked surprised, before he squinted at the price tag. The numbers made him visibly cringe.
"Why would I want that anyway?" Soi Fong said again, though she almost sounded confused herself, "It's useless."
Omaeda stared at her as she walked away from the window, before turning back to the painting, a contemplative look on his face.
Soi Fong walked with her eyes straight ahead, refusing to look back at that window for even a second. She didn't need that painting. It would serve as nothing but a bitter reminder of a time that would never come back. Really, it'd bring her nothing but pain.
She had almost fully convinced herself of that by the time she'd walked to the very end of the street, when she heard a familiar voice.
"Nobu-sama, I don't think we should come here alone. I kept getting that weird feeling that someone was following us the entire day."
"Ha! Don't flatter yourself, you fool. I would've noticed long before if that had been the case."
With wide eyes, Soi Fong watched as Nobu Taichi and the same nervous-looking man waltzed right out from behind the corner.
Acting quickly, she did a sweep with her eyes of the area around them. They were at the end of the sidewalk, near a trash alley, with no one likely to come by and see.
Silently, she reached into her pocket, just as Nobu Taichi and his servant realized she was there.
"Move aside, woman!" Nobu barked, waving his arm around at her in what he thought was a threatening manner.
His servant stared at her for a moment before suddenly paling with recognition, "N-Nobu-sama! Isn't that—"
The man didn't have time to finish, before Soi Fong had popped the green soul into her mouth.
The arrogant look on Nobu's face was wiped off instantly when he saw her white haori and he started sweating like a pig.
Soi Fong calmly reached for the hilt of her sword. Nobu let out a high-pitched scream and bolted like a headless chicken in the other direction, abandoning his servant.
"Why do they always run?" she murmured to herself, before shoving the servant aside and flying after him.
They ran for all of ten feet, before the corpulent man went tearing into the middle of the road in his panic. Soi Fong skidded to a halt at the edge of the sidewalk and watched in almost detached shock as a large truck quickly ended it.
Sheathing her sword slowly, Soi Fong gave the scene another incredulous look, still trying to digest the fact that a truck had done in seconds what she'd spent the whole day trying to do, before turning, just in time to see Omaeda flailing down the street.
"T…Taichou!" he wheezed, running up to her, "T…There you are!"
"Where were you?" Soi Fong asked, her eyebrow quirked. She hadn't even noticed that he hadn't been behind her.
"Oh, just...here and there," Omaeda replied lamely, before noticing her shinigami uniform, and his eyes lit up hopefully, "Did you find that fatass?"
Soi Fong nodded and Omaeda rolled up his sleeves with a smirk.
"Heh good. I can't wait to get even with that bastard. I—"
"You're a little late for that," Soi Fong deadpanned, crossing her arms.
"WHAT?" Omaeda screeched, his eyes bulging, "Taichou, don't tell me you already—"
"It was a truck," Soi Fong cut him off, jerking her thumb at the street, where a crowd was gathering like flies to honey.
If possible, Omaeda's eyes bulged further. "EH?"
Soi Fong shrugged carelessly, and started to walk away "We're leaving."
"Ah, wait, Taichou!" Omaeda said, also turning as she walked pass him, "Don't you want this?"
Soi Fong gave him a confused sideways glance.
"Well, I thought you'd want this," Omaeda said hesitantly, before bringing his hand, (which she just realized he'd been holding behind his back) up front. Soi Fong's eyes widened.
It was the painting.
Without really thinking, Soi Fong walked back to him and took it from his hand. Gently, she unfurled it to reveal the picture of the black cat. Soi Fong stared up at her assistant.
"How did you pay for this?"
Omaeda looked slightly uncomfortable at the words.
"Uh…well…" he started awkwardly, a big hand reaching up to scratch his head, "I kinda… brought some of the money my old man gave me with us."
Omaeda's poor, abused shin was then kicked for the third time that day.
"You idiot! Why didn't you tell me that in the first place? We could've gone back without using any of the Gotei 13's money at all!"
"OW! Aw, you're awful, Taichou! And after I just used it to buy you that painting!"
"Hm. Shut up, you fool." Soi Fong said, turning around again, "Hurry up and open a portal."
"Yes, ma'am." Omaeda mumbled, giving up and running in front of her.
As Soi Fong waited, she couldn't help but let a small smile escape her as she held the painting close to her chest. So…even someone like Omaeda could be generous too.
That certainly was new.
"What the? What is this stuff in my ha…"
"Oh, hey, Taichou. Ya know, those nachos were good, but I'd still say rice crackers can kick their ass anyday."
"Omaeda, what have I told you about standing behind me when you're eating?"
"…you told me something about it?"
"Ahhh! Wait, Taichou, what about the balance sheet? Wait, wait, NO—"