Nobody Does it Better

Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach, its characters, or Ian Fleming's James Bond in either book or film incarnations, with scenarios and characters included.


He wrapped the coat tighter around himself as he stepped out of the airport, but it did little to detract from the biting chill in the wind. Russian winters weren't meant for the faint of heart, after all, and he'd known that from three years' worth of visits. Though he was in the clear he nonetheless cast a hesitant glance over his shoulder at the blank horizon, beyond which he imagined he could just catch the speck that was the furthest point of Japan. But it was just paranoia, and he was wasting valuable time, so he resumed walking while the dreadlocks at the back of his head bounced around just slightly.

A slow cab ride got him to a decent enough point; a street completely indistinct from a hundred nearby, the same factory-dotted geography with smokestacks serving as the parapets for a ruined kingdom of sorts. Waiting until the hired car drove off into the distance, he quickly set off down the sidewalk, grateful that there were enough people in town with the sense to stay off the streets today. Enough people that there'd be even less chance of a leak. After last time, things had become even more complicated.

The door of the pre-selected location creaked with agonizing labor as he slipped inside, but otherwise there was nothing out of the ordinary. Unmanned conveyor belts wove an odd maze about the floor, while empty boxes were stacked from only a few feet high to ceiling-scraping scale. The only thing bothering him, frankly, was that the contact wasn't here. He glanced over at the loading dock marked with red graffiti, but there didn't even seem to be a sign that he'd gotten here first and left.

He checked his watch irritably. There was no way he'd missed the drop time...

"Sankhalin's a long way from home, Tousen," a cold feminine voice rang suddenly throughout the deserted warehouse. "...But I suppose travel expenses aren't a problem when you're feeding the enemies of the Japanese government."

Tousen felt his veins suddenly run thick with icewater, the primal fear of being discovered that had been with him on his first drop now returning with full force. Turning on his heel he found a woman standing a few meters away, part of her form concealed by a large tower of boxes. It took him half a second to recognize her and even less for his fear to leave him. She looked exactly the same as he'd last seen her-- complexion as dark as his but with longer, silken hair, a slender build, and eyes the color of molten gold, though her usual smirk was gone in favor of a bleakly stoic face.

"...I wasn't aware that we were sending out office drones to intimidate targets. If you think that's supposed to frighten me, Shihouin... I have to say I'm disappointed."

The Shihouin woman said nothing, her expression still a stony, neutral mask. Still talking, Tousen shifted his weight to the side, the better to conceal the hand sliding into his jacket pocket for the small pistol concealed there.

"Besides... if B really DID want me dead he would've sent a Captain... and we both know you're not a killer."

The color must have drained from his face completely as his questing hand found no firearm in his pocket, because suddenly Shihouin smiled at him; and though her features were concealed partly by the collar of her wool peacoat, its sadistic effect wasn't lessened.

"You should keep a better eye on your belongings when riding in taxis, Kaname. Things have an odd habit of disappearing."

In spite of his fear the slightest chuckle escaped his lips. Of course. Branch 13 might have been slow to act, but when they did they were very good at covering their tracks. He'd learned that from years of being this high up in the administration, and now he supposed that his silent successor must have picked up on that fact as well. But the game wasn't over yet; Shihouin acted confident now but he knew her-- uncertain, methodical and intelligent. It was her uncertainty that he had to exploit if he stood a chance of escape.

"The contact..."

"Yammi?" She answered immediately, those yellow orbs never breaking contact.

"...How much time did it take you?"

"Enough." She said it with finality, her voice monotone and unflinching, but Tousen caught the flicker in those eyes-- a half-second of regret mingled with revulsion, the look of one who's killed with their own hands for the first time and would give anything to reverse it. That was all he needed, just to prod that dread he knew had to be in her of repeating the act again.

"You hated it, didn't you? Just knowing you had his blood on your hands, and that nothing you do can erase it. Well, killing me won't--"

It was only in his last moments that he finally met the real Shihouin-- there was no hesitation as she drew a pistol from inside her own coat, the last sound he heard being the shot through his own heart, quieted by a silencer; he of course never heard the second shot placed squarely between his eyes.

"...No... it won't," she muttered vaguely. Shihouin slipped the weapon back into her coat, then left without looking back.

She was a few miles away when her cellular phone went off, an oddly cheerful sound in the bleak doldrums of an industrial hellhole. Shihouin didn't stop as she took it out, just kept walking as if it was the most routine of calls. And in a way, it was.

"It's been taken care of," she said before the familiar voice at the other end could make itself heard. "And the data's been secured, but I don't know how much more Tousen's 'friends' had before this."

"It's to be expected," the calm voice of a man in his twenties responded. For a moment Shihouin's lips curled upward at the thought of her boss, probably irritated at missing the chance to berate another agent just to check up on her. "...I suppose we should have had you do this a long time ago, but frankly he only had bits and pieces. Besides, I think we both know the other reason for that, Yoruichi."

"Regardless of the situation, I've fulfilled my duties to the letter," Yoruichi responded with just a hint of irritation in her tone. "...I know it's asking a bit, but some recognition from you wouldn't hurt, B." She heard a sigh, and despite herself another smile crossed dark lips. B's frustration never failed to amuse her, and thus she rarely ceased to provoke it.

"Very well. Two kills registered under your file now... and..." after a silence, during which Yoruichi imagined she could hear the clicking of a keyboard, B's voice came back.

"...Captain status has been officially granted. Welcome to the business end of Branch 13, Agent Zero-Two. And don't make me regret it."

"Wouldn't dream of it," Yoruichi responded as she clicked the phone shut, and wondered how quickly she could get a flight back into Japan and out of the damn cold.