Correction from Chapter One: Yasochika Iemura is 3rd seat, not 4th seat in the 4th division. I apology for the mix-up.
Chapter Two: Si puer cum puellula...(If a boy with a girl...)
"So, I trust that you'll be able to handle everything?" Hanatarou couldn't help but gulp at the intimidating smile that was practically staring him in the face. Unohana-taichou just had this way of scaring the crap out of you without even really trying, he decided, rather trying to make light of the situation and ultimately failing miserably. Isane-fukataichou stood behind her, not really paying any attention to the situation as she twirled a piece of silver lock around her finger. "Hanatarou-san?" Unohana questioned again, no irritation anywhere in her face, but the aura around her suddenly did take a turn south.
"Huh? Oh yes, I mean, of course Unohana-taichou!" he barely managed to cough out, "You can count on me." he laughed nervously as the woman simply nodded and then proceeded to brush past him. Today, there had been a call for an emergency meeting between the taichou(s) (1) and the fukataichou(s), and obviously he felt stupid for having held Unohana up. Couldn't he ever do anything right? Hanatarou sighed as he fell backwards into a wall, sighed, and slowly slid down it. He might have stayed there lost in thought if Yasochika hadn't come out from the door right beside him.
"Well, there's nothing more I can do for her...Yamada-san, are you on the next shift?" the blond-haired man asked, swiftly adjusting his glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose. Hana sighed again before answering, "Yes, and I'm supposed to be taking care of her until Unohana-taichou gets back. Unohana-taichou says she wants to do one more check-up just in case she missed something vital." Yasochika gave a grunt at this, tempted to say that his reports were always perfect but didn't want to risk it getting back to Unohana.
"Very well then, I'll be on my way..." he gave a slight bow and continued on down the hallway. Hanatarou got to his feet, and looked both ways down the hallway as if he were trying to cross to the other side of the road. There were a few 4th squad members milling about, rushing in and out of rooms. The other, calmer ones were simply gathering their belongings and planning to turn in for the night. How Hana wished he were one of them...after he'd gotten back from cleaning the sewers, he'd immediately been pulled to the side by Unohana-taichou and Isane-fukataichou and was told he had a new assignment. Unohana hadn't really explained a lot of the situation to him as she was in a hurry to get to that meeting, but apparently Hitsugaya-taichou and Hinamori-fukataichou had found a wounded shinigami somewhere in District 1. While she was unidentifiable at the moment, they had rightfully rushed her back here for treatment.
Hana grabbed the clipboard out of its cubby on the side of the wall and quickly skimmed over it. Oh, and apparently she was pregnant as well. Something in the pit of his stomach told him that his wasn't going to be a good evening.
Entering the room, he almost accidentally tripped over the door sill but managed to upright himself. He had to quit thinking and walking at the same time...it was bad for his health. Hana reminded himself that he would have to stay ever vigilant anyways around a patient like her. After all, he couldn't risk tripping over his own feet and landing on her. He could have caused further injury to her or the baby. Hana was turning blue in the face just thinking about all this...Unohana-taichou had seriously made the wrong decision here.
Swallowing, Hana tread softly over to the bed. There she was, asleep of course, with a rather emotionless look about her face. This was a good thing as it exhibited that she wasn't in any kind of pain. Still, he had to keep a good watch on her and the machines, he remarked mentally, heading over to the nearby desk and chair that had been placed in each room to better convenience the 4th squad. To the extreme left of this combo was a curtain put there for patient privacy, and then the bed itself. To the left of the bed lay another chair for visitors and a small but run-of-the-mill window to let the occasional bed-ridden patient the ability to see what the outside world looked like.
The situation was really no different from the others when you looked at it. He was no nurse, but a routine check-up wasn't out of the ordinary for a 4th squad member. Hana looked up and over to his left...still no movement. He found it a bit unnerving to be alone in a room with someone like her; someone he had no idea of at all. She was probably as tall as he was, maybe a bit on the shorter side but then again she was laying down. He might have risked looking at her report again if he hadn't been afraid of dropping the darn thing and making a ruckus. She had short, black hair just like he did, but with the inclusion of purple highlights. Her eyes were...nondescript. Not only to him apparently as the color hadn't been included in the report either. Who knew when it last was that she was awake? What if she woke up right now, his mind proposed. Would she panic and possibly lash out at him in her new surroundings? He really didn't want to think like that, and quickly tried to think of something to calm himself down.
Drawing...it was quiet and simple. Hana reached for a pen across the desk but ended up sending the cup toppling to the floor with a loud clatter. "Aah!" he involuntarily yelped, then clapped a hand over his mouth. He turned slowly to see if this had caused any movement...it hadn't. "Shh!" he ordered rather harshly to the pens in a childish ways as if falling had been their fault entirely. Cleaning up his mess and replacing the pens, Hana headed over to the chair beside the bed. If he was lucky, this would be were he was sleeping tonight. If Unohana came back tonight, then that would mean he'd have to walk home in the dark...not something he found to be a fun thought. Yawning, he covered his mouth lightly, then drew his legs up to his chest. It was a good advantage to being on the short side...he could curl up almost anywhere and sleep. Laying his head on his knees, Hanatarou figured he'd just doze off for the moment.
A few minutes passed by, and up sat the figure in the bed. She sat up, rather looking like some kind of puppet on a string, being pulled into an upright position. Her arms hung loosely by her sides, and her head hung slightly backwards. Her closed eyes slowly opened to reveal blood red pupils, and their first target appeared to be the little boy asleep in the chair beside her.
Suddenly, Hana opened his eyes, blinking with sleep as he tried to fight to stay awake. That is, of course, until his eyes met the blood red pupils staring down at him, and quickly started up but fumbled his escape and ended up falling into a cowardly mess on the floor; the chair he had been seated in now sat on top of him in the manner of a cherry on top of ice cream. Regaining his senses, Hana jumped back up, fell back on his butt, and tried to scoot away from the girl. "I-I-I'm so s-s-s-sorry! P-P-Please don't kill me! I'm just passing by! Honestly, I-I-I-I wasn't going to disturb you or-or-or anything like that! I promise not to tell anyone! Honest!" Hana finally found the strength and slight courage to open his eyes once more to see if his pleas had taken effect. Looking at the bed, Hana found the girl back in very much the same position, still sleeping peacefully as she had been.
Hana gulped. He needed a long shower and a good night's sleep. Please kami-sama let him be imagining things...Hana threw a hand over his face in disbelief, slumped over onto his side, and fell asleep without another word.
Hanatarou found himself awakening to the rays of the sun warm on his face. Of course, he was still on the floor, but found it odd that no one else had come in to wake him up. "Oh, what time is it?" he groaned, rolling on the floor a little before climbing to his feet and getting a better view of the clock.
"It's nice to see you're finally awake."
"Aaah!" he jumped at the sound of the voice, slamming into the wall that was directly behind him and succeeded in knocking a picture down from its perch and directly onto his head. "Ugh!" he grunted, temporarily stunned.
"Oh no, I'm really sorry! I didn't mean to frighten you!"
Hana jerked awake again, once more back to his senses at the sound of the mysterious voice. Where the heck was it coming from? "Are you alright now?" asked the voice again, "I would love to come and check on you, only I'm kind of stuck to these machines." Wait, did she say machines? Hana opened his eyes and shook his head, then turned his attention to the patient bed where the girl should have still been sleeping . "That's it," she seemed to guide him, "Like I said, I'm really sorry about that." she smiled sweetly.
"Oh, that's alright..." he said, a bit stunned but albeit for a now different reason. She was beautiful when she smiled, and her eyes...they were bright purple. Hana tried to recall if he'd ever seen eyes of that pigment. "Uh, I'm Hanatarou Yamada, uh, leader of the 14th Advanced Relief Team, 7th seat of Squad 4." What the heck was all that? Was he trying to impress her or something? Technically it was his title, but he didn't need to be over-loading the patient with useless information like that.
She giggled, then spoke, "That's quite an impressive title. You must be quite the busy bee."
"Eh..." he shrugged, not really in a position to disagree with her. Whenever someone found themselves in a job they didn't want to do, they normally just pushed it off on him. After awhile, they even quit using the excuse that Unohana was the one who'd told them to come and inform Hana of his new job. Hana would just grit his teeth and bear it though. The more he did, the more he was sure to get noticed, right? Oh, who was he kidding? He'd never make it to 6th seat at this rate! "So, uh...wow, where do I start?" he laughed a little.
"Well, you can ask my name." she offered sweetly.
"Oh, that's an easy one! Your name is..." darn, he was drawing a blank. Of course he didn't know her name! She'd only just woken up.
"My name is Hotaru. And you are? Well, I mean I know you're name, but what are doing sleeping in here?" Well, that question felt like a stab. It made him sound like a total creep.
"Oh, so does that mean you don't remember what happened?" Don't worry, I promise I'm going somewhere with this line of questioning his eyes tried to tell her. All he got was a shrug in response, so he started again, "Well, what I mean to say is...well, yesterday you were brought here. Oh, uh, 'here', is the 4th division barracks in the hospital wings. Hitsugaya-taichou, oh, he's the taichou of the 10th division. He's pretty easy to remember...he's kinda short with white hair. Oh yeah, he found you yesterday all beat up and brought you back here. And you've been asleep ever since. But I guess now you're awake so...did any of that make sense? I mean, ring a bell?"
"Not...really. But I see no reason to doubt you, Yamada-san."
"Uh, is there anything that you can remember? Anything that happened to you before you got attacked like where you came from and stuff? Well, I mean obviously, it must be here because you have shinigami robes. on" he added, heading over to the desk to pick up the discarded clipboard from under the desk's chair. If there was something she remembered then he'd better write it down for Unohana to read. He still had no idea of how the meeting went or really what it was even about, but maybe this information would be relevant.
"Shinigami robes? I'm afraid I don't know what you mean. This is just my kimono." she explained, trying to adjust herself in sitting up, laying a hand on her tiny stomach as she did so. Hana couldn't help but wonder if she knew, after all, she supposedly couldn't remember anything. "Well, if you're not a shinigami like me, then why are you dressed like that? Only shinigami may dress in black robes...(2)" Hana said this more to himself than her. After all, would she really know?
"Let me see, I remember...sand. A lot of sand. And it was hot."
"I don't think there's a place anywhere like that in Seireitei...just lots of buildings and walls. Anything else? Maybe some people?"
"I'm sorry. That part is still a little fuzzy."
"Okay, that's fine. I guess I'll just wait until Unohana-taichou gets back. She'll know what to do next." he assured her as if she were scared. "Until then, I can get you something to eat or drink...and open the window for you to get some air." Laying the clipboard back down as he had gotten nowhere with it, he headed over to the window and unhinged the latch when he got there. As soon as he did so, a lone black butterfly found its way inside.
"Oh, it's very pretty." Hotaru remarked quietly, while Hana simply gulped. He wasn't used to getting Hell Butterflies, especially not so early in the day. This really couldn't be good. Hana shakily held out his index finger and allowed the Butterfly to perch there, giving it the perfect opportunity to relay its message. "A-Alright..." he stuttered lamely when done, and the Hell Butterfly simply took its leave in the same manner it had arrived.
"Is something the matter, Yamada-san?"
"Well, Unohana-taichou just sent me a message. I need to head over to her straight away to update her on the situation, especially now that you're awake. She said that she had to stay overnight in one of the 1st Division's rooms because the meeting had to be postponed so they could finish up today. Uh, but don't worry! I promise not to leave you hanging! I'll be sure to find someone to look after you, and when I'm done I promise to come right back!" he promised adamantly, now feeling a renewed sense of wanting to protect this girl. "The best thing for you to do right now Hotaru-san is to get some sleep. Just be sure to tell whoever replaces me whatever you want." Hana concluded in a hurried manner and made a mad rush for the door. He tripped over the door sill this time, but hurriedly pulled himself up with a blush. Well, at least she hadn't laughed at him.
"Please be careful Yamada-san!" she called out after him.
"I'm very sorry Unohana-taichou for my lateness! I just had a few loose ends to tie up." Hana emphasized this all with a bow at the waist.
"That's quite alright Yamada-san, please, come in and have a seat." Unohana offered politely and softly, very much as she always did when she spoke. Hana took the seat across from her which was nothing but a cushion on the floor (3), and quietly waited for Unohana to start again. "You're probably wondering why I've summoned you so early in the morning. Well, like I said, the taichou meeting from yesterday has been postponed until later today." she paused here to put on a slightly bigger smile, "I bet you're also wondering what the meeting was about." Before he could stop himself, Hana started shaking his head in the affirmative.
"I'll tell you, but only because this concerns you as well. It concerns the girl, but that should have been obvious." Hanatarou felt his cheeks reddening just a bit, "Yamamoto-soutaichou called an emergency meeting last night to discuss the specifics of where she was found and what exactly it was that had had happened to her. Of course, you know, he had good reason to do so what with the recent betrayal of Aizen-taichou and the others. Anyways, last night, before I left, I decided to take a quick look at Yasochika-san's reports and saw that some of the blood found on her body was not hers, but someone else's. Not of course to say, that she doesn't have injuries of her own, I simply found it intriguing. Someone of her stature shouldn't be able to cause a lot of damage. The point being is that whoever attacked her also ended up losing a lot of blood in the process as well." Unohana took another pause, this time for a long breath and made a motion for Hanatarou to make some tea. As he began to prepare it, she began once again, "However, there's also the matter that, since she is a shinigami and she was attacked...just who was it? No other bodies have turned up lately and neither have any missing people reports. And it just gets stranger from there..."
"How so?" Hana interrupted without realizing, doing his best to not break another one of the 1st division's teacups like he'd done in the past. No one was ever fond of him when he did that, he'd come to learn.
"Well, let's review the situation shall we?" Unohana's face grew stern as the water began to rise to a boil, "A young, pregnant woman was found in District 1 of Rukongai, bloody and beaten into a comatose state. There are no witnesses as to how exactly she ended up this way. While the majority of the blood around and on her belonged to her, a certain portion of it did not thanks to the blood tests Yasochika-san performed last night. This meaning, that if she had been in some sort of struggle, her opponent also sustained sufficient injury. However, there were no blood trails leading away from the supposed crime scene and no clues. It was almost as if she had been dumped their in the middle of the day. But that would be impossible. District 1 is one of our busiest, if not the busiest, places. Also, no missing reports have been filed lately and no one seems to recognize her by face. We are currently looking into records but with little hope. Then, we must also look at the possibility that-" Hanatarou shakily set her tea cup in front of her and she smiled warmly to show her appreciation. However, Unohana was on a roll here and couldn't stop lest she lose her train of thought. "...that she might be a regular soul. If that is true, then how did she come to possess those shinigami robes? We know for a fact that no shinigami in his right mind would attack a harmless soul like that, so the only other option is that a Hollow must have gotten a hold of her. But that also would be impossible as a Hollow would not stop at just one person, and it most definitely would not have left her in one piece."
Hanatarou gulped, a rush of blue coming up to his face. He drained the tea from his cup and piped up, "Um, Unohana-taichou, if I may say something?"
"You may..." she nodded, picking up her own tea.
"Actually...uh, she woke up this morning." Hana cringed, waiting for his taichou to unleash her wrath upon him. He really had meant to tell her sooner but interrupting her wasn't a very smart idea.
"Go on..." Unohana replied darkly.
"Huh? Oh right. Well, she woke up this morning, before I did, and I made sure to ask her all of the necessary questions. She said that all she can remember before ending up comatose like that was...sand. I don't understand what that means taichou. Also, she said that she wasn't a shinigami and that she was just wearing a black kimono."
Unohana slitted her eyes, "A black kimono, you say? Now where in Seireitei would she get something like that without being a shinigami?" It was good that they were both thinking along the same lines, Hana remarked as Unohana put her hand to her chin in though. "I would really love to go and speak with her now..." she quickly stole a glance at the clock, "...but I'm afraid the meeting is supposed to resume very soon. Hmm, Yamada-san?"
"Uh, yes ma'am?"
"Would you be willing to tell Yamamoto-soutaichou everything you just told me? For clarity purposes of course. Is there anything else you happened to talk about?" He thought for a moment and then shook his head, "Um, she did say that she remembered one more thing before she blacked out. It was, that wherever she was, there was sand...and it was really hot. I don't know if the taichou(s) will be able to make any sense out of that though, Unohana-taichou."
"We'll just have to see. Who is watching over her now?"
"Oh, I managed to find Iemura-san and asked him to watch over her again, although I don't know if he'll listen to me." Hana tried to laugh it off, but failed.
"Yamada-san...let it be known, that even though you are ranked at the 7th seat, you're proving your worth beyond a doubt."
Isane Kotetsu scowled. Why was it that she had to be the one to head over to 12th division to look through some old records? Some one in a lower seat should have been here...not her! It would be a hell of a lot easier if they'd just known the girl's name. Nope, instead, they were going to have to spend hours looking through reports that had been cataloged who knows how long ago by the Kurotsuchi father and daughter team.
"Isane-fukataichou, we've been expecting you..." Nemu Kurotsuchi greeted her once she had entered the barracks with a respectful bow at the waist. The girl was straight-laced and -faced as always.
"Yeah, same here. Let's just get this over with."
Next time: the conclusion of the captain's meeting and we all discover who exactly Hotaru is. Aizen may also have a few things of his own to say next time...A note to anyone who thought the chapter was boring: You should know my writing by now...we have to get over the boring stuff before we can get to the fun stuff. Agreed?
(1): Since the Japanese language differs from our own, they don't an add an 's' to make their words plural. Mostly, I've noticed, that somewhere words can just stand alone like shinigami, and mean single and more than one at the same time. The way some of the sentences were worded, it sounded like Hana meant one taichou or one fukataichou instead of all of them.
(2): When Hanatarou and Unohana remark that only shinigami may wear black robes, I have no idea if that's really a rule so don't call me on that. If not, then it's merely here for the purpose of the story. I honestly couldn't remember seeing anyone else in Seireitei wearing a black robe/kimono so I think the rule is fine.
(3): For the life of me, I could not recall just what those cushions are called. It's probably something insanely easy to remember, but I'm just too lazy to go and look them up. However, anyone who's ever watched an anime should know what they look like.