A/N: Ever had those times when you sit down to write something and you end up with something completely different than what you planned?

Yeah, that's what happened here. I sat down to write the sequel to Tomorrow, and ended up with a holy-extended-metaphor-Batman angst piece. This is still a sorta-companion piece to Tomorrow (hence the wee bits of ShunsuixNanao peeping through) – it will fall between that fic and its REAL sequel, as a filler, but reading the first one isn't necessary for this.

At this point I'm going to say MASSIVE SPOILER WARNING. Hippopotamus-elephant hybrid sized spoilers for the latest manga (364: Grinning Revengers). If you haven't read it yet, you probably don't want to read this.

Disclaimer: While I do own some bleach, I certainly don't own this Bleach.


Poetry


Thrust forward, slash left, step –

He enjoys the grace to be found in fighting. Many compare it to a dance, but he has always seen it more as poetry.

Parry, dodge, counter, counter –

The harsh clangs of steel and steel, the grunt on impact – A B A B C D, the rhyme scheme of death. His own battle, his stanza, is just one part of an epic written by countless poets.

Turn, swipe, pull back, lunge –

He focuses on the rhythm. Repeats Yama-jii's words in his head, so that he doesn't have to read the ones being written in blood and sweat and tears below him. Epics always seem to be tragedies, even the ones with happy endings. Pain and sorrow written in red ink on empty pages that could be filled with such happier things.

He does not care for tragedies and their words.

So he loses himself in the rhythm, the rhyme scheme, the clashing and the impacts and the banter with Stark. And repeats Yama-jii's words over and over and over again.

We must risk our lives to defeat them here.

Slash down, parry, step –

Do not let them pass even if your flesh is torn from your bones.

Strike, lock, push –

We must not let them step foot in Soul Society.

Shove, pause, repeat.

Nanao is in Soul Society. There are other things there too, but they seem inconsequential.

Nanao is in Soul Society.

So even though he hates this poem he's writing, he'll finish it. Because the alternative is unacceptable.

He focuses on the rhythm. Repeats Yama-jii's words –

Stark releases, and the rhythm changes. For one brief moment, he feels panic, but millennia of training and instinct smooth the transition. He calls Katen Kyokutsu, releases his shikai, attempts to regain the flow from earlier, but it proves difficult – it is faster, sporadic, free verse, with no rhyme scheme at all. Jyuushiro is there, reflecting Stark's own words back at him, giving him the time he needs to find his rhythm once more, to pick up his pen and continue writing.

The sky opens. The rhythm slows, cautious; this stanza is being pondered over, considered. A boy wonders at it, studies it with awe.

The boy picks up his pen, and puts a hole through Jyuushiro's chest.

The rhythm disappears. For one moment, there is absolute silence.

Then Shunsui hears the blood spatter against the boys face, and he screams inside, all intelligent speech abandoned because there are no words for this. When Jyuu's eyes meet his, wide with questions, there are no words with which he can form an answer, no words to write that stop Jyuushiro from slowly falling to the pages below.

The rhythm is gone. He can no longer distract himself from the blood that's dripping all over this poem of theirs. He wields his pen automatically now – guided by the empty silence of grief he does not know what he's writing and does not care.

With a tug of his index finger, Stark crosses out his words before they're even begun.

The world goes black – for a few precious moments all the words disappear, the red splots of ink mercifully fading away. His vision returns to grant him view of a spinning sky; he feels a second of confusion, unable to remember where he left off. Had he skipped a line?

He slams into the concrete, and he finds his place.

Ribs break, and he rereads the white hand plunging into the white back, painting everything red.

Blood drips, and he imagines the final stanza framed by broken glasses and a hairpin.

Vision blurs, and he sees Yama-jii's words once more.

Plant hands, push up -

We must risk our lives to defeat them here.

One foot under, breathe -

Do not let them pass even if your flesh is torn from your bones.

Other foot, straighten -

We must not let them step foot in Soul Society.

Nanao.

He finds his rhythm.

Jyuushiro.

He finds his words.

"Ban...kai."

He writes poetry.


A/N: I must say it's nice to finally get something down and finished based on the whole Captain Tuberculosis getting a hand through the chest, and Shunsui getting shot point blank – it was blocking my muse for everything else. If either of them dies I will probably cry. HOW COULD YOU TAKE AWAY THE SEXY? HOW!?