Introduction and Disclaimer

"Quincy no hokori ni kakete..."

This is probably the only Bleach fanfic I'll ever write, but I had to write it anyhow. ;) It sort of came about because I had a major writer's block in one of my other fics and needed an outlet, so it'll be interesting to see where it ends up :P

This is set at the end of the Soul Society Arc, after the band have saved Rukia and returned to the real world. It's after the start of the autumn term at Ichigo's school, but before the appearance of the Vaizard and probably could/should replace the Bount Arc from the anime, though not necessarily. (Time gets a bit hazy at this point. Gomen.) Also in the manga I don't think Ichigo tells Ishida he knows about the missing powers. I'm not sure what I'm doing with this yet. But meh. It's fanfic. :)

The story is called Rain Dragon because that's the meaning of Ishida's given name, Uryuu. The inspiration for this story came partly from that, partly from Ichigo's misreading of Uryuu's name as Ametatsu in the anime when reading the class listings (Ametatsu is an alternative reading for the same kanji, 雨竜), and partly from my general love of Ishida as a character.

There will probably (er, definitely) be some Rukia/Renji and Ishida/Orihime hints in this. (And maybe on occasion more than hints, though nothing x-rated :)). (No offence to IchiRuki shippers, I like that pairing too, though probably not as much as the two mentioned)

This story is also fairly Quincy orientated, and I've done a lot of invention on the part of the Quincy who existed at the time of the massacre. I've tried to keep in with known facts as much as possible, but if my timing is out, meh, gomen :S It's a lot of data to take in at once.

Oh yeah. I watch/read Bleach in Japanese. I've tried to be as coherent as possible. But I'm of the school of thought which includes the terms "Shinigami", "Reiatsu" and so on. I'm sorry. Soul Reapers and Spiritual Pressure sounds screwed up :S

Bleach is copyright to Kubo Tite and so are all characters referenced from the original manga that appear in this story. I don't own Bleach and this is just a (very) random fan musing ;)

Rain Dragon
A fanfiction by VraieEsprit

Prologue: Rainbow's End

The sun was setting on the horizon.

With a heavy sigh, the young man leant back on his elbows, casting a sidelong glance at the slim figure that sat alongside him. She was half-silhouetted by the spreading twilight, yet even so he could see every outline and feature on her face, and despite himself he smiled.

No matter what the time of day, she was always beautiful.

"What's wrong?"

At his glance, his companion stirred, sending him a quizzical look. "You seem overly pensive - is something the matter?"

"Why would it be?" The young man shook his head. "I'm here with you, and we're alone, for once. The world is peaceful. The sky is clear. Why would I be troubled? This is just the way I'd like things to always be."

"Then why the heavy sigh?" The girl demanded. "I know you by now...that's the sign you're keeping something from me. What is it, Ametatsu-san? You can tell me, surely? Or does it it about...Soul Society?"

"Soul Society." Ametatsu grimaced, shaking his head. "You wouldn't believe how little I want to go back there. Seireitei is full of people hell-bent on nothing more than military precision and following order and rank. This place is a whole different environment. And you're here. If I could, Niji, I'd stay here forever. But as it is..."

"I thought so." Niji rearranged her heavy skirts absently, biting her lip. "You're being recalled, aren't you?"

"Not yet." Ametatsu shook his head. "But it will come. I suppose I worry what I'll do...when it does."

"Will it be soon, do you think?" Niji asked hesitantly. Ametatsu shrugged his shoulders.

"I hope not." He owned. "Not just for you and I, Niji, but for the sake of these negotiations. If we're recalled, it means that the Central 46 have decided not to continue discussions and have come to some kind of formal decision one way or another. If I am recalled, I will have to go. But I'm hoping it isn't going to get to that point. After all, these last few months we've definitely found common ground. There is hope - I really believe that. That there can be a compromise between Quincy and Shinigami - I'm staking everything I have on that hope."

"And that's your official position, or your heart's?" Niji asked lightly. Ametatsu looked rueful.

"Both." He replied, fingering the edge of the white haori as he did so. "This signifies that I'm sworn to do whatever's best to protect Soul Society and more, this world from harm. That's what I swore to do when I became a captain, and what I mean to do. To me, that means protecting the Quincy as much as it does protecting the ordinary people that swarm these streets without even seeing us pass them by. That's why I want to continue the talks. Admittedly, not all of the clans are as receptive to the idea as your father and your uncle, but even so..."

"The Ishida clan are pragmatists as well as top-notch fighters." Niji smiled. "We know that there's no sense in taking on an army of Shinigami when the only thing we'll be doing is causing loss of life in one quarter or another. We're trained to kill Hollows, but Shinigami aren't Hollows. And true, I believe that we came into existence because Shinigami failed to keep the Hollow quantities under adequate control and too many people lost their lives. But I also see it from their perspective, too. That this world needs to keep some kind of balance - and we're an obstacle to that balance. I think that, all in all, both sides have been able to put their points clearly. And maybe, in time, the other Quincy clans will come around to the same way of thinking as the Ishida family."

"And perhaps more Shinigami will think my way, instead of simply seeing the Quincy as something in their way." Ametatsu drummed his fingers absently on the ground. "It's a hope I'm holding onto, anyway. It's not easy, coming here with established, high-born entities such as Kuchiki-taichou and Shihouin-taichou, with their elaborate bloodlines and their aristocratic pride burnt into their every act. They have the same exhalted view of their position as some of your Quincy clans have of theirs. And unless one side bends...we could be here for some time."

"That's all right." Niji spread her hands. "We Quincy don't live as long as you Shinigami. We are, after all, human beneath the white uniform. But if it's this lifetime, or the next generation's, it's fine. The conflict has been going on for far too long, anyway. That we're now holding negotiations of any kind is testament to the intentions of Soul Society to end this impasse in a peaceful way. And I support that. I don't like bloodshed. And I don't want to kill Shinigami."

She slipped her hand across to brush his.

"That wasn't what I was trained to do, after all." She murmured. "My arrows are meant to destroy Hollows. Not pure souls."

"Pure souls, huh." Ametatsu snorted. "If only that were true."

He got to his feet, stretching his arms over his head.

"I need to get back to base." He added. "They'll wonder where I am, and I've already had Kuchiki-taichou warn me about getting to personally involved in human matters. How we're supposed to do anything else and properly judge this situation is beyond me, but there's very little opportunity to argue with members of that particular noble house, so I might as well not waste my breath and just keep as punctual as I can. I do have lesser officers to set an example to, after all."

He held out his hand, pulling Niji to her feet.

"Your father will also wonder." He added. "Whether or not I've sullied your honour by keeping you out here so late without a chaperone."

"I'm not afraid of you." Niji's eyes lit up with laughter. "And I know Father holds out a lot of hope in you too, Ametatsu-san. If anyone is here to hear our side of things, it's you. I believe that. We all do. So don't worry. Our faith in you won't waver. I know you have our best interests at heart. That's why I love you, after all. Even if it's only temporary - even if it's only until you're recalled to Seireitei - I intend on holding on to that as much as I do the fact I believe you'll bring peace between our peoples."

"No pressure, then." Ametatsu said wryly. He met her gaze for a moment, then, gently, he kissed her on the cheek.

"I'll see you tomorrow, no doubt." He murmured. "Tell your father that I'll do my best not to let him down."

"I will." Niji nodded her head. "Goodnight, Ametatsu-san. Keep safe."

With that she loosed her fingers from his hand, slipping across the grass and into the darkening forestland beyond.

For a moment, Ametatsu watched her go. Then he sighed, raising his gaze to the sky which had almost entirely become obscured by the heavy shades of dusk.

"How much longer do we have to do this, Niji?" He whispered. "For the Quincy and the Shinigami - I'll do the job I was put here to do. But for your sake, and your sake alone, I want to stay here. And I want to make things better...I want to live up to that faith you have in me. For there to be peace between our peoples...once and for all."

Author's Note
I don't know whether the Shihouin clan are as tied up with 2-Bantai as they are with the special ops, but it seems possible/probable because of Yoruichi's position there. So for simplicity's sake, I kept it that way.

Kuchiki Ginrei is Byakuya's Grandad. I have a Jigoku-chou fluttering round my head telling me that in the Pendulum chapter either Kyouraku or Ukitake mentioned him as one of the Captains who'd been in post for the past hundred years, along with Unohana. Either way, he's there now.

No idea who was Captain of 10-Bantai. Artistic licence here has now made it this guy, because it's for certain it wasn't Hitsugaya.

Niji means rainbow. It seemed appropriate considering the Bleach rain theme and the story.