How You And I Came To Be
Chapter 24: Before Fate Arrived
"Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism; the way you play is free will." -Jawaharlal Nehru
As I stared at the door of the meeting room more and more made sense to me. Of course it'd be him; he had all the qualifications. Was I disappointed? No. If anything I was happy. At least I could rely on him to get his job done. Trust was something crucial in this line of business without it the entire squad system would fall apart.
"Well, if it isn't Renji Abarai." I grinned at the red hair Shinigami who returned my grin with one of his own.
"Who else could it be carrot top?" Renji said cockily as he strode into the room.
"I don't know maybe someone less idiotic." I laughed watching metaphorical steam rise out of Renji's head.
"Why you-" It looked like Renji was going to pounce. I held myself in a defense position until I heard a loud cough behind me. The sound belonged to Yamamoto…not looking pleased.
"Did you forget where you are?" Byakuya said in a bitter tone and closed eyes.
"Sorry captain." Renji's mood took a 360 with a low bow. He stood up straight and joined the group of captains by my side.
"Renji Abarai will be the new Lieutenant of this squad seeing as he meets all the requirements and seems fit for the job. Renji… Ichigo. Please come here." The commander motioned to come in front of him. Both of us stood side by side waiting for him to continue talking. "Renji, do you accept the responsibility of becoming Lieutenant of Squad 14?"
"I do." Renji said without a second of hesitation.
"And Ichigo… do you accept Renji as a trustworthy Lieutenant of squad 14?" I felt like if I said 'I do' I would be married to Renji, so I opted for another choice of words.
"Yeah." I said nonchalantly.
"It is now official. Now, moving onto the next order of business." He turned towards Soi Fong in a serious manner. "What is the status report on squad 12's rehabilitation?"
"Well, you see sir… it's a very…difficult task you assigned me. I know it's not an excuse, but I'm trying to get all the people needed to restore the squad which is proving to be extremely hard." She said slightly embarrassed with a blush lining her cheeks.
"It's…understandable." He replied in an exasperated tone. Now, THAT was something new for him. "Just keep working on it. Eventually he'll give in."
"Yes sir." She concluded with a slight bow of respect.
When does one 'bow'? Because I can't figure out the right timing
We don't bow. They should be bowing to us!An echo of evil laughter bounced off all sides of my head.
"Hey quit it!" I yelled into the air, accidentally, banging the side of my head trying to shake out the laughing. This earned me a round of stares. "….I was…uh….sorry. Continue." I shut up bowing really low.
Hey! I think I got this bowing thing down!
"Those things are such a pain in the ass. If I have to sit through one more of those this week I'll go insane!" I sighed reaching my hands up high in the air stretching my back.
"Yeah, well ya better get used to it because ever since you broke into Soul Society, what was it four years ago? They have been having meetings tri weekly." Renji laughed at my misfortune while sinking his step with mine.
"Dug my own grave, huh?" Yet again I let out a deep sigh.
I led Renji to the squad fourteen barracks, which I was shown only yesterday. It had been under construction for a while apparently and finally when they were able to induce the cloaking device it was available for use. Today wasn't my first time coming here, but it was my first time leading a training exercise.
Unfortunately, I had asked Urahara for advice. The way I contacted him was actually pretty cool. I guess he had invented at some point in time a cell phone that could be used between all three worlds: Soul society, the Real world, and Hueco Mundo. It differed from the regular contact devices because this one was 100% portable and ran off your Reiatsu.
Anyways, it was unfortunate because his suggestion at the time was a great idea. It scared me to think I agreed on something like this with him. I shuttered.
I glanced around at the seemingly empty dead end street in the northern section of the Seireitei. There was a large abandoned building with bordered up windows, cracked paneling, and crumbling roof. It looked like a death trap. Renji, never seeing this place before stared confused at me being able to tell that he was questioning my sanity.
"Where…are we?" Renji walked forward kicking the side of the building where it immediately crumbled into many pebble size pieces.
"Squad 14 barracks." I went to the decrepit looking door and took out a card, one that resembled a credit card. Of course, people had to be funny and put a strawberry on it. "Here." Renji caught the card I flung at him with ease. He flipped the card several times before saying anything.
"Why is their a monkey shaking its ass at me?" He questioned, then furthered to question, "And what's it for?"
"That would be your passkey to the barracks. Each member is supposed to have one. Yamamoto had given it up on the way out and told me to pass it off to you." Before he could start inquiring more about the card I took my own and slid it in a small hardly noticeable slot below the doorknob. A small beep of recognition sounded before the door jolted to life, swinging open; seemingly to invite us in.
We both journeyed inside cautiously even though we knew how safe this place really was. Instead of mimicking the outside appearance, the doorway welcomed us into a nicely furnished front room. The walls were painted a maroon while the floor was stained wood the color of coffee. You know, the coffee after you add five packages of cream. The room was outfitted with several black leather couches, end chairs, and coffee tables. To the right laid a white clothed buffet table with grapes, apples, breads, coffee, tea, and even fresh cooked rice.
"Ichigo…" Renji clung to my arm practically drooling. "I'm not dreaming right?" Before I had a chance to answer he ran towards the food table eyeing all the treats in front of him. "I can have this right?" He pointed to the rice maker filled with rice at the end of the table.
"Of course." I motioned for Renji to follow me to a door located next to the table. He was reluctant to follow. "Wanna see something even better?"
I swung the door open to reveal my new office. "And this is where I will be spending a whole lot of time." Unlike the room next door this one was painted in a deep orange with Japanese characters scrolled across the walls. The walls were inscribed with the symbols: Trustworthy, strong, fast, and reckless.
The room itself had a dojo feel to it. There wasn't a desk besides a low table that you needed to sit on the floor to use. That of course was piled a foot high with loads of paperwork. There were hitting posts, wooden swords, and a large floor mat in the 'strong' corner. In another part, the 'fast' wall, there was a large bookcase filled with Manga. Of course a few educational books slipped their way in. There was also a shelf dedicated to Anime and other movies.
"Ready to see the best part?" He nodded in a slow manner. I loved showing off this room.
We walked over to the 'reckless' wall which was completely blank and barren. Slowly, I slide my hand alongside the wall until part of it dropped in. The paneling started to shift. It grew shrank, turned, and flipped until it showed what it hid under its external surface. A large flat screen TV sat in the middle of the wall while below it a large cabinet emerged. I reached down in the cabinet to reveal chips, cookies, soda, then all the way to the right a massive amount of alcohol. You name it, it was there. Soul Society was definitely NOT stingy when it came to their alcohol consumption.
"This…place…is…amazing." He fell back onto the mat behind him with a shocked expression.
"Yeah. Apparently, being a captain has a lot of perks." I sat on the floor across from Renji who was still admiring the room.
"I've been meaning to ask you Renji. How's you and Tatsuki?" I tried to be as nonchalant as possible, like this was an average conversation with no underlining purpose. The real reason I wanted to know was because Tatsuki was my friend, not only that, but I grew up with her. To me, she was an extremely irreplaceable friend and damn right I was going to make sure she was taken care of!
Renji was quiet for a few seconds, gathering his thoughts, I assumed, until he spoke. "I guess we are alright. I mean," he shifted uncomfortably on the mat before leaning back against the wall staring up at the ceiling, "I would love for us to be better, but she's not dead and I'm not alive. We can't always be with each other. Sure it was fine while I was stationed in town, but now? When I've been pulled back here for extended periods of time?" He sighed pulling his head from the wall to down between his knees.
"What are you trying to say?" I stood up feeling the anger starting to bubble up inside of me, "She's not good enough to wait for? Didn't you say you loved her? Were you lying?" I yelled trying to keep my fury locked inside.
His head jerked up fast, "Of course not! I love Tatsuki! I really do… but Ichigo… I don't want to ruin her life." I settled back down on the ground understanding where the conversation was leading. "She shouldn't have to wait for someone like me! She's missing out on her life for a Shinigami… a god of death. I want her to be happy. I'm just starting to question whether or not she can be happy with me."
"That's bullshit and you know it. You can tell how happy she is every time you two are together." I looked at him with all seriousness.
"But how long can that last! How long will she be able to take living half a life? A life where half of yourself is always gone." Just by how his words came out I knew he was in pain. He truly loved Tatsuki with all his heart.
"Maybe you should just trust in her? And maybe yourself while your at it. If you want her to be happy, make her happy. Don't just say you will. Make it happen. If distance is a problem, then solve that problem." I got up again then offered my hand out to Renji, "Above all else, don't fuck up." I finished giving him a grin as I pulled him up from his sitting position.
"Said like a true captain." He laughed for a moment before returning to a state of seriousness, "I'm going to try my best though. If all else fails I'll just blame you for your shitty advice." He teased half heartedly.
"You'll always have that." I responded back leading the way out of the room. "Well, it's time to begin this training exercise."
"What're we doing anyways?" He questioned following behind me.
I smiled looking back at him, "Oh, you will see." Okay, maybe it was more of an evil grin then a smile.
"So, today will be our very first training exercise." I welcomed the very small group of people who appeared before me. There was Renji, Ikkaku, that peacock guy…what's his name Yumichika?, and huh… 3 people I have never seen before. "Hey, who are you three?" I pointed at the three "unknowns" "we are all in training for squad 14 sir. We do not as of yet have our Bankai, but we were best in our class at the academy. The higher ups thought you would be able to mold us into-" After that I just stopped paying attention I didn't want to hear anymore, I was that bored.
"Okay, so there's six of us. This is what's going to happen. See this," I pulled out a small stuffed animal rabbit the size of an average book. "this is our objective. I have hidden three of these through out the Soul Society and one in the human world. You are to recover them in a specific order. I have made instructions to follow." I threw Renji a rolled up piece of paper. "Each has a tracking device in it that can be found using this." Yet another thing was thrown towards Renji.
"Ichigo…" Ikkaku spoke eyeing the rabbit. "Why the Rabbit?"
"It was the only thing I could find in mass quantities." I sighed. "Rukia has them lining our house."
A conversation starting to form below me. "Anyways!" I cleared my throat getting their attention, "you have a time limit. 4 hours is the maximum. I'll meet you back here then. So, ready… set…"
"Wait…Aren't you coming?" Renji asked while tucking away all the mission accessories.
"Unfortunately, no…" I could feel the energy being sucked out of me by my thoughts.
"And why not?" Yumichika chimed in.
"Rukia and I are going out to eat for lunch." I cringed.
"What's so bad about that?" Renji along with the miscellaneous three shinigami laughed.
"We are eating at Byakuya's."
A/N: So, there ya have it because you all reviewed so massively well and i'm proud of you! But! Same deal this time too! I better get reviewsss! Because I get a lott of story alerts unaccompanied =O! And to HollowZangetsu who yelled at me everytime i slacked off on my writing...even slightly... to do something necessary like pee.