Hmm, I dislike short chapters.
Disclaimer: Still don't own Bleach.
There was a distinct feeling of movement around her, Yoruichi decided. Through her closed eyelids she could see shadows and shapes moving around, but the woman didn't feel the need to awaken just yet. Maybe if she stayed really still no one could tell she was awake...
"Ho ho ho! I know you're up, Yoruichi-san."
...then again, Urahara was always a bastard. The growl Yoruichi made as she finally opened her eyes was an indicator of her feelings and the shop owner hid behind his ever-present paper fan.
"You were never a morning person," Urahara laughed. Yoruichi could tell she was laying in her partner's dinky little shop. Tessai was shifting through a small medical kit off to the side, but he managed to turn and give her a small smile.
The dark-skinned woman returned it as best she could in her prone condition. It had to have been the former Kido Corps leader who had done the healing kido. "I really dinged-up my gigai, huh?" Yoruichi laughed. The action caused her to wince, though, so she soon lost her humor.
Urahara frowned and put away his little fan. There was a real spark of concern in his eyes as he leaned over the woman and checked the status of her fake body. His eyes lingered on a few parts that couldn't be concealed by the thick layer of bandages, though, and Yoruichi felt the need to belt him around a bit. The man must have noticed the annoyance coming from his friend as he looked up at her with one of his lopsided smirks.
"Completely trashed!" he proclaimed, ignoring her ill-humor. "These things aren't easy to make, you know. You never should have fought in it!" Even though it was a combat body, there was only so much it could take before breaking down. Not only that, it was more like a human body than anything Soul Society could make. If Yoruichi actually died in it...well, best not to think about that.
Yoruichi nodded as much she could without making the muscles in her neck too angry. "I feel like one big bruise!" she pouted. The woman only pouted more when Urahara patted her on the head like a child. "Kisuke, how did I get here? I don't remember much of anything," she asked. Anything to get the man to stop picking on her.
The shop owner's countenance became a bit more somber at the question. "Tessai-san found you laying in the street outside the shop last night. We brought you in and fixed you up as best we could. You were pretty dead for awhile there with that stab wound in your side." It was almost a whisper, but Yoruichi could still hear the man when he said, "I wish I could have helped you."
"Idiot. If you would have been there all hell would have broken loose," Yoruichi huffed. Suddenly, though, a light smile washed over her face. "Soifon would have kicked your ass even more than mine, I think. She was so pissed!" The woman hoped her former vice captain was doing alright. Aizen wasn't trustworthy at all, but it would be very difficult for him to kill a captain or try and turn them into a hollow. Without Urahara around to take the fall, people would start to take a very close look at him.
Urahara blinked under his sandal hat. "Soifon? That little girl who followed you around like a little puppy did this to you?" The former captain had thought his partner had ran into several other captains to get this kind of injury.
"Yep! She did it all by herself," Yoruichi boasted. She ran a finger over the extra padding on her side and felt the layers there. The wound definitely would have killed her, she decided. "She was promoted to my old spot. Her bankai is just frighting, you know. A lot like yours; not good for anything but mindless slaughter."
"Benihime has some competition!" Urahara laughed. In reality, though, he was unnerved by the assessment. His zanpakuto was absolutely sadistic and bloodthirsty; another one out there with the same mindset was down-right disturbing.
Yoruichi noticed the change and lightly punched the man in the leg. "Don't worry about it, she's my problem. Just don't let her know you're around and we're fine. All those documents were destroyed when she blew up the Second Division headquarters." With that, Yoruichi leaned up slightly so she could give the scruffy man a kiss before setting back down on her futon. It was really good to be back home. "Thanks for worrying about me, though." Yoruichi mumbled as she dozed back off.
Her companion, though, was incredulous. "She...blew it up?" he parroted, exchanging a disbelieving look with Tessai. Yet another frightening woman had been born into Soul Society...
Chapter Six: Let Me Bear My Sin
She awoke with a start. A shiver, a glancing inkling, traced its way down her spine, shattering her rest. Somewhere, somehow, something bad had happened. Something she would not have wanted.
'Ridiculous,' Soifon thought to herself. The slight captain was resting in the Fourth Division headquarters and, until her bad premonition, had been resting peacefully. Not that the girl actually believed in superpositions like being able to tell when one was being talked about, but she put her guard up anyway. Nothing would harm her in here.
Idly, the young captain wondered how she had arrived in her current location. Soifon certainly didn't remember walking here and judging from the light flickering in through a half-closed window it was morning already. So, obviously, she had been here for a good bit of time. That means someone had found her right after her fight with...
"Yoruichi." The name left a sour taste in Soifon's mouth and she clenched her bed's linens so hard she could hear her fingers crack. Yoruichi should have been dead, would have been dead, if not for some pathetic glimmer of Soifon's old self. Like a creature laying in wait to snap the bait from a trap, it had snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Fitting, in a way. It certainly topped the betrayal of anything else in her life. Really, the only person left to betray Soifon was herself.
The bitter girl turned on her side to face away from the nearest window. She wanted to go back to sleep and blot out whatever else was going to come. Yoruichi had been right; there would be severe punishment for all the things she had done last night. It would have been so much better if whoever had saved her had just not bothered.
"Now that's not true."
Soifon cursed her condition. Could she not even tell when she was saying things aloud? With a little effort, she rolled over and finally took notice of Aizen sitting in a chair some distance off. From the bags under his eyes, the man had actually stayed awake through the night.
"Dying for no reason is worse than anything, Captain Soifon," Aizen elaborated with a soft smile. "Captain Unohana had to work on you for most of the night. One of your arms and a few of your ribs were broken and your hip was fractured. Probably when you crashed through the wall."
Soifon blinked and rolled her left shoulder. She could still feel some of the weariness in the joint, but Unohana would have healed it up. Soifon hadn't even felt it break in the heat of battle.
"Where is Yoruichi?" the small girl asked. Had some other captain gotten to her? Had she escaped?
Aizen shook his head. "No one knows. When I found you Yoruichi had already ran off. There was blood all over the house and several dead hell butterflies," the man explained. "The official explanation is that Yoruichi was so wounded that she had to retreat due to the search going on around her position."
"Back to where? Hueco Mundo?" Soifon questioned.
She had been so close, so very close, that now Soifon could imagine how hurt her old master must have been. If only she had managed to stay conscious or simply let Suzumebatchi's poison work. Somewhere, buried under all the hurt and self-loathing, there was the notion that Yoruichi's death should be more glorious than a simple poisoning and lucky shot...but Soifon wasn't listening to that part of her soul at the moment.
The emotions swirling around in the young woman were clear as glass to Aizen. He could see the hate, the seeds of real deep hatred planted. Now, they were just small sprouts. Enough to get worked up over, but not enough to serve as a support. No...but they would grow into something more. Something larger and more sinister with time. Maybe the girl would prove to be more useful than he had imagined?
Regardless of his musings, Aizen nodded in response to Soifon's inquiry. "Yes. The Twelfth Division has concluded that Yoruichi used her hell butterfly to return to Hueco Mundo. Of course, anyone below a captain's level can not be permitted to travel there so the search was called off."
Soifon was instantly rising from her bed. "We have to give chase! We have to find her!" She was already slipping on her
"You won't be doing anything, Captain Shaolin."
The young woman's eyes darted to the familiar voice. There, standing in the doorway with several other guards behind him, was Soifon's own third-squad captain. The young man's eyes were cocky and instantly Soifon was ill at ease. "What is this?" she demanded. She looked towards Aizen and found the man frowning slightly as well.
The head of Maggot's Nest cleared his throat and produced a scroll. It was an official scroll used by the Central 46 Chambers. Soifon knew what the orders were before she even read the first words.
"So," Soifon looked up at her subordinate with a sneer, "you are the counsel's lapdog now? When is this tribunal to be held?"
"In two days, Captain Shaolin."
Soifon roughly dismissed the group with the wave of her hand. They listened, if only for a bit longer.
The room was quiet with only the labored breathing of Soifon filling the air. Aizen studied the girl; the contours of her face, the scowl she was wearing, the barely-suppressed rage welling up inside of her...yes, she was a prime candidate. It was settled.
"Captain Soifon, what did the letter say?" Aizen asked. He, of course, knew full well what the matter was about and what consequences were actually facing the girl. Making her confide him him, though, was crucial to his plans.
With a grimace Soifon let the scroll fall from her fingers. She was honestly disgusted with its content. "How dare they summon me to counsel for punishment and remove me from tracking down that criminal," the young woman spat. "Are we simply to allow Yoruichi to walk around freely now?!"
Aizen listened with interest as the other captain began railing against the central leadership. Soifon was going on and on about the incompetent leadership, heedless of whoever might be listening in. Seeing the normally reserved captain so flustered was a rare sight indeed. It was all the more telling that the girl could, and would, be easily positioned.
"Captain," Aizen cut Soifon off in her ramblings; he had no more time for them, "Perhaps it is best I not mention it but...no, I shouldn't." Of course this was a very loaded statement and any sane person would obviously be able to tell...
...thus, Soifon eagerly took the bait. "What? Just say it!"
All too easy, really. Aizen had to try and not smirk as that would surly give away the game. He made a show of looking around and leaned in close. "I lied earlier. I was there before Yoruichi left." Aizen let that sink in a bit before he continued. "She asked me to make certain you were safe. Please, don't do anything that would upset her. She still considers you her subordinate, after all."
It was in that moment that the last threads of control Soifon had over her actions snapped. The girl sat on the bed staring blankly out into space.
Aizen waved his hand in front of her eyes a few times and, upon getting no reaction, chuckled. A few inquiries and a half-lie had broken the poor girl's sanity; what had Yamamoto been thinking when he promoted her? "Only one last thing to do...there." Aizen placed a small wooden cage on the table beside Soifon's bed and stood to leave. As he left, the man looked back at the broken captain one last time and sighed at how easy it was to manipulate the girl. Sad, really.
Beside Soifon, a hell's butterfly fluttered in captivity. Its wings beat with a soft glow, a testament to its uniqueness. Aizen had modified the creature a great deal, though one wouldn't be able to tell from the outside. As it shimmered, Soifon's eyes focused once again.
Like a doll the captain's head dipped and swayed. Enraptured by the light, Soifon's dark eyes followed the insect as it fluttered around its cage. She was gone, that much was obvious from her vacant expression. Her mind had retreated and all that was left were subconscious desires.
And, at the moment, Soifon only wanted one thing...
This butterfly...it could do it. It could get Soifon to the thing she desired most.
Flee, run with it! Her instinct was telling the girl that this was her chance! So many desires were swirling around her head like a maelstrom. It was a fire deep in her soul that drove the girl to do what she did next.
Lust. It drove Soifon to grab the cage and leap from her bed. Her summons forgotten on the floor, the spry captain leapt out of the window of her room. She wanted Yoruichi in every way possible. To kill, to hate, to hold; that is what drove Soifon to run.
Gluttony. Yoruichi was something Soifon could never get enough of. Whether it was fighting with the woman or hating her, the emotions that the former captain lit in Soifon's soul reminded the girl she was still alive. Such a feeling wasn't common in the land of the dead. Even when Soifon had walked among the living it was rare for her to feel such emotion. Such a thing is to be hoarded, to never be released.
It was Gluttony that pushed Soifon into pushing past the Fourth Division nurse that tried to stop her in the courtyard.
Greed. Was it wrong to want those feelings? They were hers and hers alone, no one else could have them. If it was Yoruichi who made Soifon feel alive then no one could have her as well. How dare those people in the Central 46 Chambers remove her from tracking down Yoruichi? They were just like Urahara, they wanted to take Yoruichi. These people, these pieces of trash standing before her, they were just like the counsel and Urahara.
It was greed that drove Soifon to speed towards her former headquarters to find her old uniform.
Pride. So, these shinigami thought they would deny her? Soifon laughed at them, not even hearing what they were saying. She was nearing her own headquarters now and it seemed the Twelfth Division had been stationed to ransack her home. They dared to stand before Soifon, a captain?
It was that pride that allowed Soifon to cut through them like stalks of grass.
Sloth. Now, before her, was the captain of the Twelfth Division. He was saying something as well. To Soifon, though, his words were nothing but something to be tuned out. She raised her zanpakuto and rushed towards him as well. Their blades hit as Mayuri defended himself. No...this was wrong...something deep within Soifon was telling her this was wrong. Her grip slackened and she was pushed back.
It was seemingly sloth that was allowing the last vestiges of sanity to leak back into the girl's mind.
Envy. Mayuri...he was when everything had started, Soifon remembered. It had all started when Urahara had brought him back from Maggot's Nest. Mayuri and Hiyori both. That was when Yoruichi had started spending more time with...him. Yoruichi had been stolen right from under Soifon's nose by those two and allowed her attention to be spent elsewhere.
It was envy that made Shaolin grip her sword tighter and regain lost ground.
Wrath. It was all of their doing, they had conspired it! Mayuri, Yoruichi, Hiyori, Urahara...they had all done it just to hurt her, to drive her towards this! Soifon's rage erupted and Mayuri fell with the girl's blade. He should have never made captain! Not after what he did to her!
It was wrath that Soifon dyed herself in as she drove her zanpakuto through the prone man's skull. She grinned sadistically as he turned into a form of jelly. The worm, how dare he think he would escape. One day he would not be so lucky.
The wreckage of the Second Division was all around her. Soifon distantly looked at it and scoffed. She had never wanted to be captain, never wanted to be shackled down to this place. This...festering corpse. The pathetic weaklings of the Twelfth Division had scattered at the defeat of their captain but they would soon be back, and in greater numbers. No matter, though. Soifon had quickly found her former outfit, the one she had worn while under Yoruichi and kept in her room.
The black cloth felt good under her fingers. It was like an old friend, really. The flimsy gown she had been put into was discarded and the dark mantle replaced. There, that was better. Even a mask to complete it.
Now, hell butterfly in-hand, Shaolin was ready. She held out Suzumebachi and turned it like a key. The power of the butterfly flowed through the sword and forced and opening to appear amongst the rubble. This portal seemed stronger, more chaotic. In fact, Shaolin couldn't remember anyone going to Hueco Mundo before by this method. Nonetheless, here the portal was.
"Are you certain you wish to do this?"
The voice came from the lips of Kuchiki Byakuya. He, with his division flanking him, was standing at the edge of the ruined headquarters. His face was one of cold indifference and his gaze was firmly on the young woman before him.
"If you do this, you will be hunted down and killed."
Obsession. Shaolin's own sin, the sin that had festered and taken over her soul. Nothing, no one, would ever stop her. Not Soul Society, not Hueco Mundo, not Kuchiki Byakuya, not even Yoruichi herself. There was nothing in the girl anymore but her sins.
"You shall come after her, Byakuya."
It was obsession, that accursed obsession, that drove Shaolin to boldly step through the doorway and into purgatory. Into the jaws of death itself.