Summary: Even the most experienced Shinigami need some time off.
Note: Characters belong to Kubo Tite, creator of Bleach
God and Goddess
"Eeh? Tencho, something wrong?"
Urahara Kisuke glanced over at the small girl who had spoken, surveying her black pigtails and long bangs with kind gray eyes. Something had been nagging at him for the past morning. Or rather, the sense of someone nearby had been nagging at him for the past morning. The little one must have noticed his distracted nature at breakfast. He had been picking at his food as opposed to actually eating it, his eyes unfocused and distant.
Kisuke gave her a big smile and flapped his paper fan slowly in front of his face.
"It's nothing, Ururu," the store owner and ex-shinigami captain replied jovially.
"Just what you kids these days call 'spacing out.'" Jinta raised an eyebrow.
"Aah, Tessai-san, I forgot!" the owner exclaimed lightly before anyone could reply. "Cancel any appointments today for me and take care of the shop. I'll be out for a little bit taking care of some business."
"Yes, Tencho," the tanned man nodded, pushing his glasses farther up on the bridge of his nose, saying nothing more. With a snap of a fan and a swift motion of green, flapping fabric, the owner stood up and exited the sunny room of the store.
"What's up with the owner?" Jinta asked offhandedly, flopping onto his back and twirling a rogue strand of crimson hair. "Bah! He never tells us where he's going."
"I-I'm sure Tencho has his reasons," Ururu remarked quietly from behind her bangs.
"Well said," Tessai agreed. "Anyways, you will forget about it soon because…" he held up a wooden broomstick and Jinta groaned loudly from the floor. "It's cleaning time, Jinta-dono!"
"Alright, alright, I'm coming." The boy sat up, grabbing Ururu on his way out.
"Alright, pigtails. Let's settle who cleans the garage with some Janken."
"But you always cheat, Jinta-kun."
Tessai listened to their daily quarrelling from outside and sighed. It had been a while since he had seen that look on the Tencho's face. The glazed eyes, the distracted attitude. The owner only looked that way around one person, Tessai thought with a smile. He had a fair idea of where the Tencho would be today.
"You could have come in, you know," he said to the figure laying on the rock. She was sitting in a cross-legged position and munching on an apple, her dark hair falling down her back in a high ponytail. They were away from the busy streets of Karakura Town amidst the thick trees that were by the river.
"Kisuke," she regarded him. "I have no reason to be here, so I didn't want to disturb anyone in case you were fighting hollows or doing something important." The blonde man gave her a silent but quizzical look.
"They closed the Senkai gate," Shihouin Yoruichi explained irritably, taking a large bite out of her apple. "Apparently the Bureau of Technological Development is working on a particularly precarious project and temporarily can't allow any transport in or out of Soul Society."
Kisuke nodded. As former head of the Bureau he knew all too well what their little experiments could be like.
"No matter how much you repress it, I can always sense your reiatsu," the owner said with a smirk. "You should know that by now."
Yoruichi smiled. "Ah," she agreed. "As I can yours." She looked up at him, her golden eyes piercing.
"Shouldn't you be attending your shop, Kisuke?" his old friend inquired.
Urahara gave a laugh. "That would defeat the purpose of my cute store-assistants," he replied.
"As lazy as ever, I see," said Yoruichi with her eyebrows raised. "And there hasn't been any hollow activity?"
"So eager to be rid of me." Kisuke brushed a strand of light hair away from his face flippantly. "Sorry to disappoint you but there is nothing going on today. Can't you sense it, Yoruichi-san?"
The shinigami's shoulders slumped in defeat. "I suppose," she admitted. "Since there are no hollows around, I don't know what to do until the gate is reopened.
"But," she continued, "It is kind of nice to get away from a certain second-division captain for a while."
Kisuke chuckled quietly at that. "You should be lucky that you have a fan," he jested. The store owner pushed the brim of his emerald-striped hat up so that his eyes were no longer cast in shadow.
"Come to think of it…you aren't too familiar with Karakura Town, are you, Yoruichi-san?"
The woman frowned, yellow eyes narrowing. "What's your point, Kisuke?"
"Allow me to show you one of the real-world's true pleasures."
"It's just like…" she breathed.
"I knew you'd like it," Kisuke said, nodding. It was a place not known to many of the inhabitants of the town, as it was too far into the woods, deep, where one could easily get lost. Fortunately the owner had been here many times and knew the path well.
If the water had been warm Yoruichi would have had the decency to call it an onsen, but since the water was cold, she settled for a pond. However, the pond almost fully resembled the hot spring that she had often bathed in when training in one of Kisuke's underground rooms that he had built. The shape was eerily similar, yet instead of steamy water a cool glaze covered the pond. It looked incredibly clean and pure, surrounded by dark stone on one side and trees on another. She had trouble believing that a place as serene as this existed in the real-world, which was always so noisy and dirty. In addition, she was here with her childhood friend, the man who was the closest person to her in all her life. She sighed. This place felt magical.
Her eyes suddenly brightened and Yoruichi gave a devilish grin. "Kisuke…are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
He glanced at her from under the brim of his hat with an equally mischievous expression.
"Sure, why not?" he shrugged with a grin. "I guess it can't be helped."
With that said he slid out of his wooden sandals, carefully placing them on a rock so they would avoid getting wet. Kisuke shrugged off his dark green cloak as well as the olive-colored one he wore underneath. He let them fall to the earth in a soft whisper of fabric.
Yoruichi glanced over, exasperatedly attempting to remove her leggings with their many clips and buckles. This is why clothes are so troublesome, she thought. You have to spend ages getting them on and off. At times the shinigami actually preferred the luxury of her feline form. She raised her slanted eyes for a brief second. What she saw caused her to momentarily stop fussing with the leggings and stare.
It had been a while since the Goddess of Flash had seen the store owner and childhood friend in anything other than the evergreen attire he always donned. With the garments cast aside in a billowy pile next to him, Urahara Kisuke looked like a different man.
He was thinner than his bulky clothing suggested, and paler than the moon. The contours of his chest and were perfectly sculpted and smooth, his strong jawbone prominent against the silkiness of his skin. With the sunlight and water creating flickering patterns on his bare chest, he seemed incredibly beautiful yet gentle at the same time. At a first glance, no one would suspect that this man with hair of pastel and skin of cream was once a captain of heaven, trained in battle to kill with a single movement.
Yoruichi quickly looked away, glad that her skin was tan enough to conceal any form of blush that could potentially creep into her cheeks. She quickly (and if a little hastily) removed her leggings, pants, orange sweater, and black under-sweater, throwing them carelessly atop a large rock. She was left in a dark gray undershirt and underwear.
"Huaaah, Yoruichi-san, that took too long," Kisuke sighed with his pale arms crossed.
"Well excuse me for being a girl," she quickly replied. Yoruichi looked up and let a giggle escape her lips as she stared at the other shinigami.
"Hmm? What is it?" Kisuke looked puzzled, staring at her with wide gray eyes. He was still wearing his hat as well as his jade cotton pants.
"Off," Yoruichi snorted. She strode over to him and lifted the green-and-white-striped hat from his head. He attempted to retrieve it from her arms, but she had always been faster than him, even when they were children.
"I'm afraid I can't allow you to see my hair in such a condition."
"Oh, I wouldn't worry about that," Yoruichi said slyly, ruffling his blonde waves.
She placed a warm hand that was deceptively gentle on his chest and gave him a hard push. Unfortunately for Kisuke, he happened to be standing adjacent to the water's edge. With a small cry and a very big splash, the shinigami toppled into the pond. He resurfaced after a moment, coughing and wiping drizzles of water out of his face.
"That was quite mean, Yoruichi-san," he said half whiningly when he could regain his breath. "Brrr. Now my pants are soaked." He rubbed his arms gracefully in an attempt to rid his skin of gooseflesh.
"You should have removed them in the first place," she said haughtily. He stood up and proceeded to peel off the light green bottoms, rolling them into a ball and tossing them to join his wooden sandals. After a moment he became aware of a peculiar sound. It wasn't peculiar in the noise itself, but in the context. It was a sound that Urahara was familiar with, but had not heard for many, many years. It was the sound of Shihouin Yoruichi's laughter.
Kisuke smiled lightly. It made him happy, to hear her laugh. So many things had happened in the last century that he had not had the opportunity to hear it often. He cocked his head politely, wondering what could have produced such merry gales of laughter from his old friend.
"K…Ki…Kisuke," Yoruichi gasped, semi-doubled over. "Calicos?"
His brow furrowed, trying to make sense of her words…and he stopped cold, turning redder than his bloodmist shield. Hoping that he would be mistaken, but knowing that it was a futile hope, he glanced down. Sure enough, the store owner was wearing his calico boxers, which were white and had little imprints of calico cats on them. The design was quite cute, actually, but man-boxers were not meant to be cute. Kisuke had not given it a second thought this morning when he had dressed, much to his embarrassment now.
However, he was not a genius and former Head of the Bureau of Technological Development in Soul Society for nothing. His quick thinking and actions on impulse had been what had gotten him into the captain's rank in the first place. So, to cover up his humiliation Urahara relied on his sharp mind and sense of humor to save him.
"Hey, Yoruichi-san," he called. Still stifling her giggles behind a brown hand, she said, "Yes, Calico-san?"
"Come here for a moment," the owner said seriously. "I need to show you something."
Perhaps his false somberness was a little too genuine, for Yoruichi slinked over to where he was standing curiously (and she was the least-gullible person on the planet, in Kisuke's opinion).
"What is it?"
Kisuke snickered, and before Yoruichi could flash-step away he had promptly doused her with a good wave of pond-water, using a touch of his reiatsu to make the wave bigger.
"Now Yoruichi-san is as wet as me!" He cackled, swimming out into the center of the pond as she dove in after him.
"You'll pay for that," she hissed, though she was secretly pleased. The cool water felt wonderful against her skin and helped quell the blush that refused to ebb from her face. The delightful ambience and beauty of the pond was making them act like children, she thought, not entirely displeased. With all of the chaos that had gone on lately, the assaults on Soul Society, hiding for 100 years…it felt good to relax, if only for a moment.
So she dunked her friend's blonde head under the water and splashed him until he begged for mercy. Panting, Kisuke wiped the pondwater out of his eyes, which were sparkling like gems of pure diamond, or sapphire.
"I thought kittens were afraid of the water," he remarked teasingly. She rolled her honey-colored eyes and felt something brush against her arm. Yoruichi glanced down and realized that her long hair had come free of its high ponytail and drifted in the water around her.
"Aah," she groaned, looking back to the rock on which her clothes and spare hair-ties lay.
"Don't leave yet," Kisuke said softly, drifting through the water towards her, now free from the danger of being sprayed. His body made sinuous trails in the dark water, lazy ripples that distorted the reflection of the two.
"It actually looks better down," he remarked, a white hand breaking the water's surface to touch a thick dark lock.
"Like I'm taking hair style advice from you," she said ever so sardonically.
Kisuke smiled benignly. It was a different smile, unlike the usual impish grin that played across his lips when he spoke.
"You should," he added softly, "You really would be a Goddess then, to live up to your nickname."
If I were a Goddess, you would be my God.
Yoruichi dismissed this thought as it ran through her head. She was at a loss for words, a rare moment for her nature. In response she playfully ran her forearm through the water, drenching the other shinigami and causing him to fall back into the water. When he surfaced they were both snickering, slightly flushed.
Time passed quickly, the two of them occasionally swimming, occasionally talking, occasionally splashing each other.
Kisuke realized that with Yoruichi he could transiently forget his problems, both his real-world and soul-world ones. With her he could abandon his guilt for creating the Orb of Distortion, his guilt of putting Kuchiki Rukia in danger, his guilt for many other things. Yoruichi, to him, was not only his closest friend, but was like a body for a soul…or a zanpakuto to a shinigami.
"Is this what Tencho-san mean when he said he was 'taking care of business?'" Ururu whispered to a sniggering Jinta. The red-headed boy peered with conniving glance through the bushes, once again raising the camera to snap another shot.
"I can't believe the owner hasn't found us yet," he whispered. "They must really be having fun for them not to detect our reiatsu."
Ururu glanced at the messy pile at Jinta's feet of developed photos. They included calico-cat boxers and a lot of splashing.
"J-Jinta-kun," the timid girl began. "What are we going to do with these again?"
The boy chuckled darkly. "I already told you, Ururu," he whispered. "Bribery."
He raised the camera once more.