Title:

Note: This is just a random story I created out of boredom but anyway, it does not entirely focused on Shuhei but on other Shinigami's thoughts as well. And when I said Shinigami, I'm referring to those who lived a century earlier prior to Shuhei becoming actual Shinigami…those who lived and served under the former captains of Gotei 13 who were turned into Vizards…you know what I mean.

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.

Hisagi Shuhei respected his captain so very much that his betrayal hurt him. Everyone knew it and sympathized with him because they knew how very loyal he was to Kaname Toussen…they knew that Toussen was the captain he respected the most.

But no one knew that back when he was a kid, there was still another captain whom he respected that one chance of meeting. Kensei Mugurama was the name if he recalled it right. From that one chance of meeting, he respected the man and looked up to him. Heck, what he did for Shuhei that time motivated him to get stronger and become a Shinigami one day. Besides, that's where he will end up to anyway because he's one of the few souls who was gifted with an innate power.

He had hoped to meet the silver-haired captain when he enters the place. But instead, he found no one with that name already. When he asked, mouths were immediately sealed. So from the time he entered the Academy until his current position as lieutenant of the 9th division, all he gathered was his name and of the former division he came from.

As a homage to him, he had carved the number 69 in his left cheek…a tribute to the man whom he had hoped to thank for what he did that day…

But there is something that he had been hearing about…a story whispered behind closed doors…they never mentioned any name to catch his attention but it was the way it was told that intrigued him…it was a story that would go back on one fateful night just after Shuhei promised himself to thank the man who saved him…the night after he was saved from a hollow…

Those who lived within the walls of Seiretei during that time knew and would talk about it in hush whispers as if afraid that anyone would hear about it especially if it would reach the captains' – those who lived a century ago – ears.

He would strain his ears to listen and was even surprised to find Nanao doing the same. It told the stories of eight traitors they say…four were captains…three were lieutenants and one was a kido master…whenever he chanced to hear the stories, he realized that some would speak with contempt and whenever they do, Nanao's face was filled with indignation…it was something Shuhei would never understand…as if she was affected by it…

He had already stopped asking about him for years now because it was futile. No one would talk about him or others. But one day while strolling around the barracks with Kira, Nanao and Ibu, they happen to hear a name mentioned from other Shinigami who were drinking behind closed doors again…

It was probably the first time that he heard the same story but with mentions of names now…oddly, they were talking about the story again on the eve of Winter War…

"Man, I've stayed in the 12th division long before the freak became the captain," one spoke slowly, softly. "Whenever I think about it, I miss our fukotaichou. Wonder where she is or if she really died that night…"

The lieutenants stopped and listened while exchanging glances. They were about to berate these people for drinking in the eve of the war…

"Everything was alright when Hiyori-fukotaichou was still here. Damn but I miss the brat. I've been living for more than a century already and still I miss her ways – the way she would kick anyone in the face especially Hirako-taichou – "

There was a loud hush. "Don't mention names. You know how Central 46 forbade the mention of the eight," one berated.

"What the hell do I care?" the man argued, obviously drunk. "Besides, Central 46 does not exist anymore because Aizen wiped them all before faking his own death."

"But you know, you're not the only one who misses the old days. All of us too," another voice interjected.

"He's right. Oh man, how I wish I could see the two again," one said in a wistful tone. "I was still an unseated Shinigami back then but our division had always loved watching Mashiro-fukotaichou annoying our captain."

The name sounded familiar in Shuhei's ears and so he strained to listen more.

"I enjoyed that girl's company and her antics. She's real funny…dark days would turn into sunny ones whenever she's around…especially when she annoys our captain. And Mugurama-fukotaichou is always annoyed with her."

This time, Shuhei stilled. They were talking about the traitors and he's one of them?

"I still remember that night when their reiatsu vanished and I could not believe it. I could not even swallow the news that they were real dead. Heck, Kensei taichou was real strong. And what puzzles me was the fact that everyone died except for the 5th seat and thus succeeding the title – only to betray us one hundred years later."

There was a look of surprise in his eyes when he realized they were referring to Kaname Toussen and he frowned. Which one was he among those four who were with Kensei? What happened that fateful night that the others refused to talk about it?

"It's real funny how Central 46 have trusted so much…wish those eight were alive," another voice said hoarsely.

"Kyorakou-taichou sure got a look-alike of his former lieutenant," one said offhandedly and Shuhei noticed how Nanao had frozen on her spot as color drained from her usually calm face.

"Don't make it sound so bad," another hushed. "Besides, it's only right that she succeeded Yadomarou-fukotaichou because Nanao-fukotaichou was the girl whom Yadomarou-fukotaichou read the book for."

There were murmurs while Nanao covered her mouth to prevent a gasp.

"Winter War is gonna be tomorrow. Wonder if we would all fight or we'd be left to defend Seiretei," one said then sighed. "But I'd hope to see them before I pass."

A thud and a groan followed.

"Idiot. As if a badass like you's gonna die."

"Who can tell really? But I've heard rumors – we'll keep this to ourselves okay? I've heard rumors that Urahara-taichou is in the living world for a very long time."

The name mentioned surprised the four lieutenants especially the three men – especially Renji. He always knew Urahara is different but to actually learn that he was once a captain baffled him.

"You remember a hundred years ago, don't you? Eight names were forbidden to be spoken around as if the mention of it would bring a curse – but I still remember them even after a long time – Aikawa Love, Otoribashi Roujurou, Hachigen, Sarukagi Hiyori, Yadomarou Lisa, Mashiro Kuna, Mugurama Kensei and Hirako Shinji – oh, I remember these names very well – those who bore these names vanished at the same time as if they never existed."

"It was the same time Urahara-taichou and Tessai also disappeared along with Yoruichi-taichou, neh?" one asked for confirmation as if age had failed him.

"Do you think they really died?" one asked again.

"Who knows…but there's something I believe…they were not traitors…" one said with conviction.

"If they were alive, I'd like to see them kick some ass," another said as he gulped. "It would be interesting to see a match between a former captain to his former subordinate…Hirako Shinji versus Sousuke Aizen, Mugurama Kensei versus Kaname Toussen."

Shuhei, Renji and Kira all jolted at the piece of information while Nanao had already recovered and listened only with a blank look. For her, she knew those people because she was already reading books with Yadomarou-fukotaichou when they were still in the service…

Slowly, she walked away knowing she can't bear to hear any of it…the story is still vague…she had always wanted to ask her captain what happened to Lisa but she could not…she even doubted if he would tell her…it was as if there was a silent agreement among those who knew the eight to keep it to themselves…

That fateful night when she went to actually read a book with her, Kyorakou-taichou had said Lisa went away for a very important mission and he guaranteed that she will be back by dawn. She believed it with all her heart despite the worry she saw lurking in his eyes as he talked about it…

But dawn came and she never came back…she, along with seven others, were suddenly gone missing…three of Mugurama's subordinates were confirmed dead…

But the eight…they were suddenly gone…

And no one knew where they were and what happened to them…everyone speculated that they died…Central 46 had forbidden their names ever to be pronounced again…and they were branded as traitors for reason only Central 46 knew…

"Nanao-chan, did you know any of the names mentioned?" Kira asked as they now walked away except for Shuhei who stood for a moment to piece everything together…he was even beginning to think that it's also possible that they were betrayed…

She slowly nodded her head. "Ah."

Renji glanced at Shuhei to find him already following suit while listening to them. "Her name was Lisa Yadomarou. She was one of those who vanished that night…" her voice trailed off. She looked up and was surprised to realize the moon was the same shape that same night when Kyorakou-taichou informed her that she went away for a mission…a mission that sealed her fate…

"What do you think really happened? The story is real intriguing especially with the way they tell it," Renji said. "How do you think did they become traitors?"

Nanao stopped and glared at him. She still believed within her heart that she did not betray Soul Society…that they did not betray it…

"They were not traitors," she snapped at the redhead who gaped at her for the sudden outburst. After all, she never let emotion take over her. He raised his hand to acknowledge his mistake.

"Sorry."

"They were victims that night…even before Mugurama-fukotaichou went to investigate Rukongai, there were already casualties outside…about souls just vanishing into thin air…" she said. She had been asking secretly about it actually. That's why she knew…

"I only hope she's alive and well," she murmured and walked away. "And if she does, I would like to see her…"

Kira turned to his comrade and saw the number in his left cheek. Oh yeah, once he asked him about it. Shuhei's answer was simple. To pay tribute to a man who saved me once…

"We prepare for battle tomorrow then," Kira said and sighed. "If all comes to worse…what would you wish for?" he suddenly asked Shuhei while Nanao walked away.

He shrugged. "I still have not said thanks to that man."

"That man?"

"He's one of the eight mentioned earlier. Mugurama Kensei…I still owe him something," he said and turned to the left. "That's what I would wish for. To thank him first."

*********0

And so when all hope seemed to have been lost by the appearance of Wonderweiss, Kira and the other conscious Shinigami could do nothing but to actually wait now…especially when Aizen and the two other traitors were released from the fire prison…

Then suddenly…everyone was surprised by the voice that spoke…and everyone looked up to find eight people standing and watching over them…Kira remembered the story he heard last night…were they the eight?

He looked up with eyes wide open…he counted eight…three females…five males…the same number described in the story…and he saw one woman…looking at the Shinigami…particularly at someone…and when he followed her gaze…she was looking at the fallen Kyorakou Shunsui…

What struck him is the resemblance with Nanao. Indeed what the man said last night was true…a look-alike…

He turned to his comrade when he felt him stir. He watched how his eyes widened and he looked up as well to see a silver-haired man looking down at them…particularly on Shuhei before he turned his attention back to his comrades…

These were the eight people who were declared as traitors one century ago?

"Well…guess you could thank him later…" he said to Shuhei who only winced in pain.

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