Seireitei was relatively calm. As calm as it could get in the middle of a decades-long war, that is.
Zanpakuto clinked at the hips of every shinigami within Soul Society, as they followed their patrol routes and did their duties without (much) complaint. There was a tension in the air near tangible; there nearly always was, reveries restricted to times of peace fondly remembered and oft missed. There had been casualties, and there had been tragedies of all sorts in those fifty years since Aizen had declared war on them. The wear and tear was visible on the faces of many shinigami, though there were a few that hid it so well that you would've even know by just looking at them.
Within the Seireitei, business as usual went on within the Gotei Thirteen. And in one particular office, a Captain was currently enjoying tea in silence. A rag was on hand as he balanced between scribbling down mission reports in elegant cursive, occasionally taking a sip from the glass of steaming amber-colored tea and setting it down again to partake of a piece of candy to suck on. Very calm, very peaceful.
A knocking on the door broke the calmness, and Captain Jyuushiro Ukitake glanced up at the door with a small amount of surprise. He didn't get personal visitors often anymore; most of the time, Sentaro and Kiyone intercepted anyone aside from Captain and Lieutenant ranks and delivered their news or paperwork to him themselves. Honestly, Ukitake found it just a bit annoying that they were treating him like a fragile old man; sure, his illness had worsened over the years, but he was far from helpless. The Captain's coat was still on his shoulders, and it most likely would remain there until they pulled it off of his motionless body. And technically, they probably wouldn't even bother taking his since it would be soiled in his blood anyway.
"Come in." He called, setting his pen down quietly and watching the door as it opened. He saw who it was and smiled, watching them step inside the doorway and show him a stack of papers with a slightly apologetic smile. "Well, how you dodged my overenthusiastic third seats, I'll never know." He waved them forward, towards him. "Come inside, before they catch up with you and shoo you away from the frail old man."
She complied, closing the door quietly and stepping forward to the desk before bowing respectfully. There was silence from the woman, long blondish hair hanging as a veil between them in her bow. Ukitake smiled still, sighing beneath his breath. "And let me see these papers you've got for me. Sometimes, I think they do it just to keep me from tracking down Captain Hitsugaya and giving him what candy I don't eat. He must have gotten tired of it and had them start giving me more work." He chuckled, as she straightened up and showed him amusement flickering in her dull green eyes. Holding out the papers to the Captain, she brushed her hair behind her ear lazily and merely shrugged a bit, as if she were agreeing that it may be what actually happened. The Captain read over the files, finding them to be run-of-the-mill forms that he must have signed a million times, and after noticing that his visitor was just standing there uncomfortably, he glanced up and gestured to the bowl beside him.
"Well, while I'm doing this, why don't you have some candy? There's tea too, if you're a bit parched from the trip. I know Sixth is quite a ways from Thirteenth."
In response, Ukitake got a surprised glance and then a slow nod from his visitor, who poured herself a cup of tea and sat down in a chair she was waved to. And Ukitake noted that his visitor looked rather healthy for what she'd recovered from, as she stared blankly out a window with the rim of the glass at her lip.
Ichimin Kumorigachi was silent as she sipped her tea, staring out the window just as quietly. She sipped at her tea and then glanced down into the glass, before looking up at Ukitake and then pointing at the cup questioningly. Ukitake just chuckled. "It's a very nice blend, yes? Captain Unohana lent me the recipe. If you'd like it..." He trailed off, watching as Ichimin smiled warmly and nodded her head. It was almost odd to have a one-way conversation, near eerie, but Ukitake was unbothered. No one could really put the blame on Ichimin for not answering anyway; more or less, not being able to.
It had taken a long time for Ichimin to advance beyond a veritable coma, to regain the ability to move of her own accord and string together coherent thought again. Unohana had cited it to be a total mental breakdown, and nobody had said anything different except in hushed tones about the traitor's whore coming back crawling on her belly, and those venomous whispers hadn't faded and most likely never would. She had developed some quirks (the nicest way of saying it) ever since coming back to Seireitei, as a result of what she had told them that had happened with her while in Aizen's care. But the one that hindered her the most was one that she wasn't able to overcome. Ukitake got her attention again with a wave of his hand, and she set down her glass and took the finished paperwork under her arm with a sympathetic smile, mouthing a 'thank you' to him. She couldn't actually tell him her thanks, could only mouth the words and give him a smile that showed it was genuine. She was completely mute. Unohana cited major psychological trauma as the likely culprit, and could give absolutely no possible quick cure. There wasn't really anything anyone could do, since it was all psychological and the only thing possible was therapy, and nobody was willing to give the effort, nor did they have the time.
Not that it mattered all too much, as Ichimin got by just fine with facial expressions and hand gestures, and occasionally writing things down for people. Her phobia of the color white was controllable, though she was obviously very uncomfortable around a lot of it. Ukitake may have been the exception, since she had found the man to be very agreeable and a good friend. She waved in goodbye to him after accepting more candy than she would be able to eat, leaving Ukitake's office just to meet Sentaro and Kiyone. The two of them seemed incensed that she had snuck around them, instead of going through them to talk with Ukitake like she knew they wanted. But then one began to bicker with the other, and Ichimin took the time to slip away and head out of Thirteenth as quickly as she could. Though as she left the building and faced where she would be returning to, Ichimin sighed despondently and closed her eyes a moment. That was what she hated about them reinstating her as a shinigami; they had her under constant surveillance, they relocated her to another Division under a Captain that she hadn't proved friendly with and wouldn't be able to coerce or recieve lenience from.
Unfortunately enough, that Captain proved to be one that she really, really, really didn't like. Hate was too strong a word, but it was close. And she missed Eighth, and Nanao, and even Kyoraku's odd drunk grabby happy moods. No, she got the one Captain that she had once had as her (mental) nemesis.
Her trip to Sixth Company was long. And it was arduous. And it was unhappy.
Her arrival was much the same, though much more so.
Quickly did Ichimin head up to the Captain's office, knocking on the door and waiting a moment. After a beckoning, she stepped inside and bowed to the man at the desk, ignoring her quietly. He waved her over after a moment, keeping his eyes on the paper under his pen. He then tapped his finger on the desk, and Ichimin complied with laying the papers down on the desk and bowing again near robotically, before turning for the door.
"Kumorigachi." Byakuya Kuchiki called her back, and she turned again to face him, silent as always. He raised his eyes only briefly to see that she was paying attention, before returning to the paper on his desk and continuing to write. "Captain Unohana wished to know of any new developments in your condition." His voice was a flat monotone, uncaring and seemingly unfeeling. Ichimin's eyes were the same as she shook her head, in a 'no' motion. Byakuya's eyes flickered up to see the motion, before he began to ignore her again. "Very well. Dismissed." With the short dismissal Ichimin turned on her heel and walked out stiffly, passing Renji on the way. She gave him a small smile and a nod, but nothing more was exchanged between them as Renji went on his way and Ichimin went on hers. It was late, getting there anyway. The sun was already going down. As a precaution for keeping Ichimin (still under heavy surveillance and heavy suspicion of possibly still working for and allying herself with Aizen in secret) from possibly seducing anyone in her own Division for ill reasons, she lived within a shared room in another Company.
Unfortunately enough, if she worked under a Captain she disliked very much, she roomed in a Division she would really rather have not had to stay in.
It was a long trek from the Sixth Company to the Twelfth.
The Twelfth Division wasn't so bad, if you got a good room.
Too bad Ichimin didn't get a good room.
She slipped into the Division when it had long become dark out, walking through the Division building quietly. She passed a few people staying up late again; mainly people staying up late working, but more than a few of them looked like they wished they could be in bed at that moment. Ichimin passed Akon as well; she nodded respectfully to him as he passed with a glass of steamy liquid that appeared to be coffee, and he gave her a nod of acknowledgement and not much else. He passed her on the way to what Ichimin guessed was the Living World surveillance room, and she headed straight to the barracks. Her own room happened to be a storage room that had been altered very nicely for her; a futon and a table, along with a desk and a couch. Most would have seen the furnishings as spartan; Ichimin compared them to Las Noches' "guest" rooms and found that she was thankful that this dusty old storage room wasn't blank white.
Ichimin sighed, one of the few sounds she could make anymore, before getting ready to sleep. Twelfth Company (the entire Division, which seemed incredulous to Ichimin until she remembered who the Captain was) woke up at seven in the morning, beginning to work then. Anybody that didn't get up was subject to Kurotsuchi's wrath, and nobody wanted that, least of all Ichimin. She was usually up at five, so she could leave early and avoid meeting Mayuri himself. Kurotsuchi apparently didn't need a whole lot of sleep, because he could be seen at odd hours in the division building, on the rare occasion he left his lab at such hours. Still, it had only taken one meeting with Kurotsuchi in the early hours of the morning to terrify Ichimin into never being up at five again, since he seemed to wake up then when he actually slept at night.
Through the open window on the side of her room, Ichimin heard a party going on in Eleventh and smiled just a bit. They sounded like they were having a blast. She continued getting out of her shihakusho until she was in her sleeping clothes; a thin white kosode eerily similar to the one she wore on her execution day, the one she ostensibly should've died in. And she kept Kyokkou within arm's reach at night, just in case. Consider it paranoia, or possibly fear. Whatever it was, it fueled Ichimin's nightmares and she hated it. Silently she laid down for bed, closing her eyes and wishing for sleep.
Not even the eerie metallic noises from far off, nor the unearthly moans and occasional screams from Kurotsuchi's labs could disturb her beyond the norm as Ichimin slept in preparation for the new day.