There you go, folks, the last chapter of Re-education. Enjoy.
I don't own Bleach.
The air was cool, but the rays of the sun left gentle caresses on your cheeks, creating the illusion you're swimming in a sea of light. Maple leaves of all colors danced in the wind, turning the scenery in a patchwork of red, yellow, brown and green.
To say that the announcement on the board of the academy that put the 'Re-education' courses to an end was met with enthusiasm was an understatement. There were cheers everywhere, screams, laughter and yells. The 11th division threw a party, with lots and lots of sake and fighting. Men's fun, they called it. Yamamoto sou-taicho almost threw a tap dance. Even Kira seemed relieved. Most divisions joined them, although Hisagi fukutaicho and Isane fukutaicho's disappearance from the festive did not go unnoticed.
But duty is duty and in the afternoon, Yamamoto sou-taicho called them to a meeting to discuss the results of the survey conducted during the summer. Hisagi and Isane were late, though nobody said a word about the disheveled hair, or the weird looks, or the bite marks with the size of poker chips on their necks.
They saw everything when Soi Fong taicho and Mayuri taicho arrived together, Mayuri with a dazed look on his face, and Soi dressed in a short skirted outfit under her captain's haori. Of course, nobody could know that earlier that day, when Mayuri had been showing her a documentary on sex (read: an adult movie), she had wrapped her arms around him and whispered hoarsely in his ear: "I want to try something like that…"
Needless to say he didn't need to be told twice.
One week later, things were taking their usual rhythm. Paperwork had to be done, errands were ran, people flirted with each other and sometimes locked themselves into rooms. Friday night was quickly becoming a favorite in the 8th division, and Nanao had used the opportunity to ask Nemu, who was off for her patrolling duty in the Living world with Ukitake taicho to get her some things.
The picture on the wall of her office was becoming quite proverbial, attracting more shinigami who looked at it and helped her with the paperwork, while they were at it. While Nanao was stacking the forms in a corner and gave it the 100,345th look she gave it that day, the small 3rd seat who was currently helping her let out a yelp of surprise. The door of the office was blocked by something that appeared to be a bear, made out of lilies, roses, violets and all sorts of flowers.
Nanao was wondering whether to yell or to use kido when the thing made its way into the office and turned out to be nobody but her own taicho, grinning widely while a patch of dandelions stuck out from under his hat. To her surprised gaze, he answered with a wider grin (if that was even possible), and wished her happy birthday.
She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose, smacked him with her fan and then kissed him….before reminding him her birthday was in the spring. The 3rd seat excused herself and took the forms away, preparing herself for an afternoon of forging her fukutaicho's signature practice.
Kira took a week off to spend it at his family's sanatorium with Hinamori. Rangiku saw him off with a big fruits basket for Hinamori and Hitsugaya's best wishes for a quick recovery. Nobody knew how long it would take, but they all hoped that she wouldn't try anything so reckless as to "throw herself in front of some assassins", as they delicately put it in front of Yamamoto sou-taicho.
Rangiku asked Toushiro to help her achieve bankai. He agreed, on the condition that she doesn't try to change divisions like Hinamori did. One day, after practice, they took a walk around the forests around Rukongai in the hopes of finding a suitable clearing for their training sessions, and stumbled upon a small valley with very little trees in it. Even though autumn was advancing, the grass there was still luscious green and soft, and the air was still filled with the scent of summer, of love, or happiness. It looked like it had come out of a painting.
In one corner, looking completely out of place, as if the artist's brush had slipped him, was an old shack, abandoned and covered in weeds and ivy. It looked almost wild, with its creaky walls and humid ceiling, but as soon as they saw it, they knew it would be perfect.
Rangiku ran forward to check it out, while Toushiro shrugged off his upper shikahusho and haori, allowing the warm sun to tickle his skin. He watched as his lieutenant laughed, skipped around the house like a child playing with his Cristmas present, sometimes bending forward to pick up daisies to make them in a chain. He watched her, with her crown on flowers and hair made out of sun and thought he never felt happier.
Then she turned around and flashed a bright smile at him, waving him to come and join her, and he immediately felt the tension and worry from the past weeks evaporate from his body as he ran towards her, careful not to wall into some ditch. No bankai practice was done that day, but it didn't go to the waste.
"It's a disaster." Renji sighed as he told his friends at the 11th about his latest predicament. "I mean…I liked Rukia…but this girl is totally different. I never felt anything like this before. I mean…she's not bad but…I never thought I'd be hot for that type."
"Oi, Renji, what do ya mean?" Ikkaku asked with the exasperated sigh of a man after a long night. He cast his eyes around the yard where the latest fighting and drinking session of the 11th was being held. A tall, ebony haired woman was helping Yachiru beat the shit out of the troops, and from time to time gave him dirty looks over her shoulder. He sighed again and picked up his sword. "Tell ya what, man, you go find that girl of yours and get her to go on a date with ya, and then talk about disasters."
"Don't give me 'buts', you crybaby. You may be under Byakuya-hime's command now, but you're still one of us! Pull yourself together and go for that girl!"
"But she likes girls! I just told you that!" Renji yelled
"So what? She'll stop liking them!"
"Jeez, Renji…" Yumichika sighed "You can make the cowardly lion look like Zaraki taicho."
"But how can we hook up? I have to grow breasts!"
Ikkaku slapped his forehead and went to help Rei kick ass. Yumichika sighed again and rubbed his perfectly shaped eyebrow, before saying:
"Look, Renji, it all comes down to the right words. You must be persuasive. You must talk to her. Dating a girl like Chizuru-san has many advantages, if you look at it from another angle."
"Well, your wildest fantasies will come true, whatever they are. Surely, with a man like you Chizuru-san can get her dreams come true as well. Using you as bait to get a third party…"
"Oi, I ain't no bait!" Renji exclaimed
"I was speaking figuratively." Yumichika brushed off the comment as if it was some annoying fly. "Don't act so chaste to me, Renji, I can't count the times you said you wanted to see what a three…."
"I was drunk! Besides, I've already tried to forget her. Women are…boring. Other women that is."
"I suppose it's not the right time to ask if men are…."
"Damn it, are you going to help me or not?!"
"Like I said, a relationship with a girl like Chizuru-san has many advantages, if you can convince her to accept you. Perhaps, with Kurosaki-kun and Rukia-chan together now, you can draw Orihime-san to your bond and…"
"Damn it! She's in love with the Quincy!" Renji exclaimed
"Did she say so?"
"Isn't it obvious? And besides, if I make a move on her, Ishida'll make a pin cushion out of my ass."
"Well, it doesn't hurt to try and get Chizuru chan. After Rukia chose Ichigo, all you've been doing is mop around. Don't interrupt me!" he cut him off before he could open his mouth "You've been moping around and it's understandable. She was too dense to see how you felt for her, but you're going over your limits. People are getting some pretty strange ideas, and maybe your tastes are leaning…towards people with different preferences. So what? Do you have to kill yourself with loneliness? If you have to, grow breasts!"
Renji stared dumbly at Yumichika. Little did the 5th seat know that's how started the longest and most tiresome courtship in history.
"Here!" Zaraki thrust another bouquet in Unohana's arms, ignoring the looks and muffled chuckles coming from the patients. Well, it was his fault for bursting in the middle of a check up. Thank goodness she decided to give the old lady a sponge bath later in the afternoon. She picked up the flowers and smiled, appreciating.
"Very good, Zaraki-taicho, thank you. No poison ivy today, I see."
"Yeah well…" he looked at her mouth and frowned "What's that?"
"What? That? Yachiru-chan treated me a candy drop." She blinked.
"She did?" that was weird. Yachiru didn't share sweets. Then…"What flavor?"
"Hmm?" Unohana sucked on the treat pensively "Cherry, I think."
She blinked, finding her lips pressed to something hard and warm at the same time. It took her another second to realize that it was Zaraki's mouth. He pulled away after a minute or two, looking slightly embarrassed.
"I like cherry." He mumbled. Unohana stared for a second, then smiled.
"So do I." she nodded.
"Why don't those two just get a room and leave us alone to sleep?" one of her patients asked the old lady with the sponge bath. She looked at the two taichos briefly, before sighing:
"Ah, les jeunes."In the living world, a petite raven-haired shinigami paid a orange-head teen a surprise visit by jumping through the window. Nobody knows what happened next, but it's pretty certain that the teen didn't notice his dad scream "Good luck on your date, Karin-chan." So loudly that even the neighbors heard. The older Kurosaki twin just yelled at him to be quiet and pulled Sado Yasudora away from the clinic.
In the kitchen, a petite, blond haired girl was cooking a miso soup with a happy hum on her lips. A letter with Osaka's postal code was carefully tucked in the folds of her apron so that she could pull it out and re-read it over and over again. Yours most sincerely….maybe it was too much to hope for, but Yuzu loved the way it sounded.
In the middle of Karakura park, two figures moved in the patchwork of shadows and moonlight. The wild bushes around the lake made the moonbeams in the water look less blinding, but the couple had eyes only for each other. Nemu's hair was let loose after the latest fight and Jushiro was stroking it leisurely with his fingers. Gently, they stopped by a small bench, under which some wild flowers still grew. He bent down, picked up a late daisy and tucked it behind her ear. Nemu smiled sweetly and leaned onto his hand. He bent down to kiss her and they stayed like that, parts in this game of light and darkness, leaning onto each other, a picture of trust, happiness and love.
Over their heads, a crippled moon continued its way through the velvety skies, a little sad, a little envious, but gently stealing some moments from the day for them.
After all, you couldn't know what idea Matsumoto would come up with when the sun shone so brightly time got too tired to move.
And how would they deal with it.
The end? Not quite.
A/N-And now for the credits. Big thanks to Kohru, Benehime, darkangel1910 and Crazy laughter for their constant reviews and good ideas. Thanks to "Pride and prejudice", "Midnight secretary" and the Bleach manga, which I watch and read, I got over my numerous author's blocks. Of course, most of the credit for this story must go to TheArchon, my beta, whose support and help were indispensable. Play yourselves "Europa" by Globus for me and read Bleach II Arrancar.
The Byakuya/Yuzu sequel will come out...eventually. I'll inform the ones interested through PM, don't add me to your author's alert list. If I may say so, this fic has been one of my best and I hope my sense of humor isn't as amputated as it usually is. I liked writing it a lot, and so I hope you liked reading it as much. So there we are for now, we can take a breath. Thank you, God bless and good night!