Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach or Soi Fong in this chapter. I do own the idea as well as the words written within this chapter though. See below the story for my Author's Note as well as a preview/notice of the next chapter.

Laying Judgment

In which her love

She's just little, meek Soi Fong. Tiny, sweet Soi Fong. Her father's pride and her mother's little darling. She grows up as the years pass by, blissfully unaware of the world outside the comfort of her home. Bloodshed seems so much like a faraway dream, just as how the thought of killing anything seems horrific and unsuited to her reality. She doesn't pause to think of the possibility that maybe she is the one who doesn't fit into reality. She can't. She's too young to know such things, to hold such a hefty apple in the palm of her hand.

But hold the apple, she does. Perhaps Newton's gravity is what set it off; maybe it is a strange working of Fate that has bound her to serve for an eternity. For the apple has fallen from the atmosphere into her child-like hands and the burden has settled into the crevices of her heart. The sun is setting, she thinks, as she tilts her head to gaze at the beautiful magenta colors in the sky.

"Quick, bow Soi Fong!" Her father's strong hand settles itself roughly on her shoulder and she falls to a kneeling position, luminescent eyes still absorbing the colors and shapes of the fading clouds. She's not quite sure why she's on the floor, but her father is muttering fervent words of admiration and she tries to imitate him as best as she can. But she is young and not quite ready to dedicate herself so selflessly to anything. The words are clumsy as they fall from her lips and sincerity is fleeting. "See that person in there?" Her father asks, gesturing at a purple-haired lady sitting delicately within her gilded cage. "She is Shihoin-sama and one day, you will grow up to serve her as I serve her now. You must protect her."

The lady is beautiful, she thinks. And when the noble smiles at her loyal followers, Soi Fong can't help but smile back, her face splitting into a wide beam. Everything about the strange woman is kind, from her gentle aura to her warm skin tones and laughter. It is the first time that the Little Bee tastes admiration and the knowledge of what it means to be outclassed. When she goes back home that night with words of praise for the Shihoin heiress on her tongue, her mother gives a wistful smile and pats her on the head. "You'll be so strong one day, Soi." She doesn't bother to wonder why the words sound so sad and forced, mind too preoccupied with images of amber eyes and violet tresses.

This is how she grows up, naïve and sweet.

Turns to

It's a lot harder in training school than her father said. She gets teased a lot for being a female, but she shrugs it off like water. Her hands are no longer soft and smooth with the touch of innocence, but marred by sword calluses and hardened with labor. When she moves, it is no longer with the same childish bounce to her steps, but swift and silent like an assassin—like a killer. But she hasn't yet tasted of murder and so the smile stays on her face with every passing day. She doesn't remember the Shihoin heiress too well anymore, memories fading into the background of her daily rituals. Her motives have changed now and the force driving every punch, every kick, and every snarl is her honor and pride. She doesn't remember vowing to protect anyone.

But everything changes when the heiress visits one day.

They are all lined up in a row, every person the top of their respective classes. She's the only female and next to her, a guy jabs her sharply in the ribs. She retaliates by grinding the heel of her foot into his shin and relishes the sharp squeak of pain that the move initiates from her annoyer. The smile of success is quickly wiped off her face as she comes face-to-face with the idol of her youth. She sputters frantically for words, bowing awkwardly and turning red with embarrassment. She can hear the guy besides her snickering with amusement and fights down the inner rush of shame. "G-gomen nasai!" She bites out lamely and watches as a pair of golden eyes regard her with something like kindness and friendliness at the same time.

"S'alright. What's your name?" Soi Fong chokes in surprise, looking around to see if there is someone of particular importance behind her waiting to answer the question. But there's only her and devilish amusement is sneaking its way onto the noble's face. She points at herself in astonishment and flinches as Shihoin-sama's hand reaches over to ruffle her hair affectionately. "C'mon. You can talk to me. I swear I don't bite."

"S-S-Soi Fong, Shihoin-sama," she stutters out and looks down at her feet. She doesn't think she can meet anyone's eyes right now. Her father will be so ashamed of her, she thinks forlornly.

"Soi Fong. I like that. Call me Yoruichi."

"W-what?" She exclaims and gapes in wide-mouthed shock. "I-I couldn't p-p-possibly…Shihoin-sama!"

The older lady beams and winks, one golden eye closing briefly. "Why, what is this? Bzzt…Bzzt. I hear a strange sound. And it seems to be coming from…" Yoruichi leaps forward in a sudden cat-like pounce, movements graceful and lithe. "Here! Why, I think I've found my Little Bee!"

Soi Fong isn't sure what to make of this experience, but the memory of it warms her deep inside and she vows to never forget what she's here for. She's here to protect Yoruichi-sama, to guard the princess with her life. It isn't so much of a duty as it is an honor to be appointed the purple-haired woman's personal guard. That night, before she goes to bed, there is a new and strange buzzing sound in her ears.

It's there when she wakes up, there when she trains in the woods, there when she returns to her lonely bed. It follows her incessantly, drilling a hole in her head and thrumming deep in her veins. The sound wraps itself around her mind like an endless chant and it isn't until an entire month passes that she realizes where it's coming from. It's unheard of for a Special Corps member to possess a shikai, much less know the name of their zanpakuto. She trembles as she holds up her faithful blade, fingers running over the edge in anxiety and nervousness. There should be a cut on her skin from that contact, but there isn't. And it is in that one instant that she realizes just exactly what is happening to her. She drops the sword as if the touch scalds her and backpedals away, pupils dilating in fear. She doesn't want to leave Yoruichi for the thirteen divisions. She doesn't want to become a shinigami and serve a new person. She doesn't want the power that her sword is offering her.

All she wants is a home. A home where she can live only to serve Yoruichi-sama.

But the world doesn't listen to her and when her eyes open again, she finds herself in a flowered field. The sky is a palate of magenta and crimson red hues that paints the sky the same colors as her first encounter with the Shihoin heiress. The strange buzzing sound increases in her ears tenfold and it isn't until she steps back to look at the whole picture that she sees hundreds of honeybees busy at work cultivating the flowers. It's an amazing sight to see and she marvels at the serenity within her inner world—her soul.

"You've finally answered my call."

She turns, her eyes alit with expectation. She has never seen a sword's spirit before. She wonders if hers will be strong, kind, beautiful, or shy just like her. She wonders if a human's face will greet her wandering eyes or if something more will grace her vision. When the truth finally makes itself known, she realizes that it is nothing she could've ever imagined. The disembodied voice is formed by the rapid vibrations of every single bee's wings. She can see it so clearly now, awed by the flitting figures of yellow and black that zigzag carelessly from flower to flower. "Who…who are you?"

"Suzumebachi. You've been ready to hear my name for a long time. I'm glad you've finally decided to listen."

"I was scared," she admits quietly, ashamed at her weakness. "I didn't want to leave Yoruichi-sama. I'm sorry, Suzumebachi." She scuffs her shoes against the soft ground, smiling hesitantly as a honeybee flies away from the formation to rest on her head.

"She means a lot to you, doesn't she? Use that respect and admiration to protect her and everything you hold dear. I am sure that together, we will be more than capable of accomplishing that."

"How?" She asks, taking a step forward in her need to hear more. "How can I keep Yoruichi-sama safe? Please, tell me." She tries to ignore the way her voice raises to a tone used only for pleading. But the promise of having enough power to keep Yoruich-sama safe—regardless of the cost, spurs her to cast aside her honor and her pride.

"Think, Soi Fong. What are bees willing to do to protect their comrades and their home?"

Her brow furrows in thought, arms folding as she searches for the elusive answer. "They are willing to die for their home and comrades. A honeybee stings once before dying." She murmurs at long last, eyes widening in comprehension as the voice hums in approval. There is a faint tingling sensation in her right hand, her sword hand, and it swiftly spreads to half the length of her arm. She glances quickly downwards and marvels at the black and yellow structure she finds firmly intertwined with her right hand. "This…this is?" She asks, awed by the easy way she can manipulate the blade to her whim.

"This is my gift to you and the first of many steps we will take together. Sting, Soi Fong. Sting those that would dare to threaten the safety of Yoruichi-sama or yourself. Strike them twice in the same spot and they will perish of poison in mere seconds. When you have grown strong enough, you will learn to keep your curse on their skin for eternity and thus mark them for your own kill."

This is how she learns to dedicate her life and her sword to one person, her heart soaring from beneath its confines in her tiny chest.

Complete and total, disgusting hatred

She wakes up to find her mentor, her friend, her sister, her idol gone.

There is nothing left to remind her of those precious days spent training with Yoruichi-sama, nothing left to keep her loyalties still tied to those devilish golden eyes. She swallows around the lump in her throat and wipes away the tears that fall from her face. She has to move on, she knows. She has to move beyond the shadows of everything that used to, and could've, been. But her world is falling apart at the seams and all her pain forges into anger stronger than the deadliest of poisons. Her days pass without a peace of mind and Suzumebachi is quiet as she curses the Shihoin heiress a thousand ways to Hell.

What use is there in having the power to protect, if there is no one left in your heart to protect?

"This hate will kill you."

She turns away with disdain from the stormy sky and the blistering cold winds as they whip her hair about her. She knows inside that Suzumebachi is right, that her zanpakuto will always be right in the end. But she doesn't care if her hatred will kill her so long as it drags Yoruichi down with her. "Then let it," she screams, words shrill and angry over the lightening cracking her sky apart.

"I will follow you."

Her silver eyes narrow in jaded satisfaction at those words and before she leaves, the meadow bursts into a thousand flames, turning everything to ashes. "We'll be together," she promises. "We'll be together right until the end."

"Yes, we will."

By nighttime, her butterflies linger forever on each target—a sign meant for one person, and one person only.

And this is how her three hundred years pass, alone and bitter.


Author's Note: I don't feel as if I have done justice to Soi Fong and Suzumebachi. I have a really strong urge to go back and rewrite this entire one-shot. Please keep in mind (before you say that Soi Fong was OOC here) that she really was meek and mild before Yoruichi deserted her. She had the same determination as she shows now, but she's almost much more bitter and angry. At any rate, I hope you enjoyed this first chapter of Laying Judgment. If you have the time, I'd really appreciate a comment or two.

Up Next: Gin's always wanted to have someone just as twisted as him by his side. He gets what he wishes for when Shinso cruelly invades his mind on a dark and stormy night.