Foreword: Hello…yes. I know. I'm behind schedule. I'm WAY behind schedule, but that's okay. After all, you're here reading this chapter in the end….. XD I hope anyway.

Disclaimer: My warped and twisted sense of the mind, OCs, and conceived plot is all that I own here. Bleach and all its associated characters are property of Tite Kubo. For any that suggest otherwise…well they can rub themselves down with my snotty tissues for all I care.

The Cycle of Souls

In Defense

Her breathing was labored and her arms trembled from overexertion, but still she kept moving. Another downward stroke, the motion smooth and swift; her sides ached with the repetitive action. A step forward and another stroke; another step, another stroke; she continued past the exhaustion and pain. She didn't stop until a hand clapped down on her shoulder. "Hyoujin-san."

The shinai clattered to the floor as she nearly jumped out of her skin in fright. The old instructor blinked for a moment before giving a hardy chuckle at her expense. Clutching at her chest beneath the keikogi of her practice uniform, she heaved a deep breath before reaching up to remove the protective helmet. Snatching it off, she leveled a fierce glare at the old man.

He was somewhere between sixty and seventy years of age, and had short dark grey hair that grew straight out from his roots, dark brown eyes, worn tan skin, and a faint mustache that circled into a well groomed goatee. And it was to Fukami's ire that he immediately chuckled harder at the sight of her.

Her expression fell lax as she realized she must look a mess. She had once again forgotten to wrap the towel properly around her head and it had begun to slip allowing sweat soaked locks to flop across her eyes and cling to her still perspiring face. Becoming annoyed with the man's persistent laughter she cleared her throat loudly. To her disappointment, she went unheard. She was forced to attempt it a second time, when her instructor, Masaru-san quickly calmed himself as though it had never happened.

Clearing his own throat, he shoved his hands into his sleeves and spoke up, "As I was attempting to say, Hyoujin-san, you've practiced quite enough for today, all the other students have left for the day. In fact I dare say you've practiced even longer than my advanced students, but then again I've found you to be extraordinarily gifted for a beginner."

In response she only chewed her lip, looking away from his praise, before giving a quick bow in acknowledgement of it. She'd be lying if she said it hadn't come easy to her. The lessons had felt more like a refresher course. The only reason she practiced as hard as she did was to strengthen her body for the strain of the sword. Of course, she'd think to herself, it's not as if she'd ever be wielding a real blade any time soon.

"Well," her sensei interrupted her thoughts, "I'll leave you to change and get your things together." A short bow later and he was sliding the shoji doors shut.

With a sigh she made short work of removing the practice armor. Soon afterwards, she was rinsing the sweat and grime off her skin under the hot spray of a shower. She was thankful that Masaru-san's dojo had been built with a small showering room. She was even more thankful that no others were left to peek in on her.

She'd started the classes a few days ago and was quickly catching up to his regular students. As disturbed as she was by her phenomenal growth in the martial art, she was pleased with the way it relaxed her and took her mind from the odd recent occurrences. Wincing to herself, she quickly pushed the thoughts from her mind before they could surface. Obviously the shower gave her too much freedom to dwell, so she quickly got out, dried and dressed.

She called out to the old man in farewell as she slipped on her shoes, jogging quickly down the dojo's steps before turning onto the main street where she let out a deep sigh as she began to move at an unhurried pace towards her home.

Had she not been preoccupied in her thoughts of home she might have noticed the haze of silvery grey smoke drifting across her path. Instead she swatted distractedly at it when she'd accidentally inhaled it. She glared at the back of the young man leaning against a tree, dressed in white slacks and a black button down. Annoyed she quickened her pace, eager to be away from the air polluting young man, only to freeze at his voice.

"Fukami-chan…" he drawled, slowly turning to lean his head around the tree.

Looking back, her eyes grew wide at the sight of blonde hair. Blonde. Takeshi. She remembered him from the alley way.

He ignored the obvious fear in her gaze and walked to stand in front of her. With a smile he took the cigarette from his lips with one hand, while snatching her hand with the other. She flinched at first, but relaxed a bit as he only shook it. "Tanami Takeshi." He gave her a mischievous grin a moment later, and asked, "So, how's my favorite rib-cracking librarian doing?"

She couldn't help it. At his question, she turned on the ball of her foot and began to run. Only to be snatched back as she realized horrifyingly that he'd never let go of her hand.

"That's not polite, Fukami-chan." He called as he slowly pulled her closer.

She felt the beginnings of desperation creeping into her bones as she struggled to pull away. Panic had settled into the pit of her stomach and had clawed it's way into her throat. Tears came to her eyes as she began to hyperventilate. "Fukami-chan, be nice." He chastised at her back.

Her lungs burned and her vision swam as she looked around in the fading light only to be disappointed; they were alone on the street. Another tug and she cried out, desperate for one last attempt to save herself, "Let go…Let go of me!"

And to the surprise of both of them, he did.

There was silence as she hunched over the concrete, tears streaming down her face. Her only warning came in the form of the glowing end of a cigarette dropping in front of her. She'd barely had time to take a breath, let alone scream when an arm wrapped itself around her torso and shoved her back against the street's only tree. She stared unblinkingly into hard brown eyes, the mischief she'd seen in them before long gone.

"What a pretty voice you have Fukami-chan." His lips smiled at her not unkindly, though his eyes regained none of their previous charm.

If she weren't so terrified, she might have snorted. They both knew her voice was anything but, pretty; it was rough and hoarse from her silence.

His gaze trailed over her face and she pressed herself as far back as the bark would allow her. She flinched, when his hand lifted to brush a stray lock of hair from her face. He caressed the bit of hair almost lovingly as he leaned in, his voice whispering softly, "I'd like it if you could speak for me again, Fukami-chan." She was stiff as a board as his head moved to rest next to her own, "If you don't know what to say…you could always just tell me what happened to Kitaro-kun." His words had gained a razor's edge.

She barely managed to croak her hesitant response, "I…I…he"

He moved back slightly, as if to hear her better.

She struck then.

Takeshi reeled back in pain and surprise from the unsuspected onslaught as she'd rammed her head into his face. He'd barely regained his balance when he saw her sprinting form turn the street corner. Blinking after her, he let loose a slow groan as he reached up to his face where a warm river of blood was trailing from his nose. With a sigh, he reflected that he had done well to wear a black shirt, but his relief was short lived as his sigh turned lamenting when he realized that his white slacks had not been spared.



"Kamakiri Yotsuyou?" She pondered the name slowly; there was something familiar about it. A moment later her eyes flashed in recognition. "Ah! Kamakiri-san! You're the new student, right?"

His expression portrayed bewilderment, "You know of me Inoue-sensei?"

"Mmm!" Her posture shifted into one of almost childish positivity as she shrugged her shoulders forward with a smile. "Kaya-chan." Shee began, but hurriedly corrected herself with sheepish grin, "Shinome-sensei spoke of you."

Immediately, his surprise shifted to that of embarrassment, "Did she?" His eyes cast downward in modesty, "Nothing bad I hope?"

"Oh, no!" Orihime cried shaking her head violently in protest.

The boy stared at her for a moment, before laughing at her actions. She flushed in response.

Recovering quickly, he looked her over with a considering thought, "It's awfully late to be walking alone, isn't it, Inoue-sensei?"

She merely smiled in return, "Maybe, but I'm used to it."

Frowning, he stepped closer, "Still…would you mind if I walked you home?"

She stared in response, but soon a grin plastered itself on her face, "Sure!"

And so she turned and headed home, in the company of a student who was no doubt filling the occasional silence with thoughts of her gruesome demise. The walk home wasn't long, it never had been, but it felt wretchedly short now that she had company. Still, she gave a polite wave and a smile to the student as she moved to shut the door behind herself.

The student had been sure to see her in, return her wave and even grin in reply…but the moment she'd turned from the door, his eyes rolled in disgust and he pivoted on the ball of his feet as his flash of teeth warped into a painful bearing of blunted fangs. Stupid whore. The corners of his mouth had curved to impossible heights. He knew where she lived now. Sure, he could've just followed her, but it made it all the sweeter knowing that she had willingly led him straight to it. Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he shuffled home.


Dinner was no longer a quiet shuffle of chopsticks and ceramic plates, but a noisy clatter of dishware, utensils, and Tsume's insistent ranting.

"And the fucking bastard just sits there and grins! With that…that….arghh!" He practically snarled between shoveled bites of rice and fish before slamming his bowl down on the table.

Meanwhile mother and son just stared at him like a wounded animal; debating on putting it down or risking injury and approaching it….well…his mother was…Tomoe was all for putting the beast down right then and there.

"So."Aleasha began, "I take it you don't like the kid that much, ne?"

Tomoe only groaned inwardly and reached for his food as Tsume turned an incredulous stare on her and proceeded to tell her that no, he didn't, followed by all the reasons why he was a 'shit-eating bastard'…as if he hadn't just spent the last hour doing just so. He rolled his eyes and began the process of tuning out the fool and his mother's hesitant responses.

Mentally however, he could only sigh. He may not share a class with the new student, but there was something about him that didn't sit right with him…namely the roof incident. He knew something. That piece of…that insect knew something that he didn't. And it was not something he could overlook nor would he allow himself to.

Resolve firmly in place, he quickly if not neatly finished his meal and stood from the table. "I'm turning in for the night. There's a test tomorrow, so I'll have to get up early if I want to have time to study, as the two of you…" he turned a poisonous glance towards his mother and their home's newest addition, "will undoubtedly make me late."

His intent stated, he climbed the stairs and did just that, leaving the two alone in the living room.

Silence reigned for but a moment as Aleasha quickly stood, leaving their conversation and her empty dishes behind. With a yawning stretch she turned and headed for her own room, "Yea well, good night."

Tsume frowned, slowly, as if something were beginning to dawn on him. His anger gradually calmed, then shifted gears as it found a new target. A twitch formed in his face as he realized the situation was oddly familiar to breakfast a few days ago. "Hey!"

Unbothered by his outburst, she turned towards him at her doorway, "Yea? What is it?"

Bothered by her nonchalance, he gave her a stare of disbelief, "Are you fucking kidding me?"

She frowned then, narrowing her eyes at his language.

"Are you really expecting me to do the dishes again? I bet your lazy ass hasn't even done the dishes from this morning and here you go again, leaving them to me!" He jumped to his feet, prepared to defend his evening's freedom.

He wasn't however expecting her to round on him with so vicious a reaction. "Excuse me?" She snarled at him. "The least you could fucking do is the dishes! You are not my child and you damned sure aren't fucking me. You're a tenant at best; a tenant who doesn't even pay rent!"

He hesitated to respond at first, she'd surprised him, but he managed one nonetheless. "Oh yeah? What the hell kinda tenant sleeps on the living room floor? I don't even have my own room!"

He was suddenly forced to retreat as she quickly stepped into in his space, eyes narrowed in a harsh stare. "You want a room? You can fucking build one. Until then, if sleeping in the living room makes you so unhappy, you're welcome to the yard." She whirled away just as quick and stormed to her room where she snapped open the door. "And Tsume?" She called to him.

Tsume was however, still staring at where she had been, embarrassment steadily creeping over him, "…Yea?" He winced inwardly as his voice cracked.

"Make sure you dry them before you put them up." And with that she shut the door behind her firmly.

He was silent for a few moments as his growing embarrassment quickly warped to anger. That fucking bitch!


"Is this really necessary?"

"What kind of question is that? Of course it's necessary." Alain was leaning in her doorframe arms crossed giving her a droll stare. "You're a child. And children go to school. And here in Japan they were uniforms. So yes, it's quite necessary."

She shot him a dirty look over her shoulder, but sighed nonetheless as she turned to stare once again at her reflection. She looked positively…girly. Sure, it wasn't her first time wearing a skirt-she was quite used to wearing a dress-, but there was something about the blue pleated skirt, knee high socks, brown loafers, and beige sweater vest that made her feel different. Her hair wasn't helping either. It was long and loosely curled as always tossed back in a rushed pony tail. Again she scowled at her image.

In the doorway, her father figure rolled his eyes, "Rochelle, just hurry up. If you don't leave soon you'll be late." With that he rolled away from the door and disappeared down the hall.

She spared only a glance at his departure before studying herself again. However, a new gleam entered her eyes this time and she moved to cross her room.


Alain had just settled into his chair with the paper, debating on taking a mid-morning nap, when she flew out the door with a hurried, "See ya!"

He blinked in surprise at her rush, but merely shrugged it off as her not wanting to be late on her first day. He'd think differently later on when he entered the bathroom.


She was on time with no problems…well…there was that one fucktard who didn't get out of her way, but she shrugged the thought off, he learned not to stand in her way. She asked the man she assumed to be the Gym teacher where to find the office. He gave her an odd stare before giving her directions.

She paid little attention to the muted hallways and focused only on getting to the office. It didn't take her long to find it, the coach's directions had been fairly direct and upon arriving at the door, she shoved it open with a harsh snap. "Yo!" She entered the room to the bewilderment of her future senseis. "Rochelle Rolfe. Today's my first day."

Later on she'd realize just what kind of impression she made, but for now she didn't think anything of her appearance and instead stood at the head of the classroom, arms crossed and a look of distaste easily read on her face. The look only deepened as she listened to the teacher mangle her name into a more easier to understand version, "Roshieru Rorufu" She didn't even bother to look back as her new sensei wrote the new version of her name on the board in katakana. Instead she took the gesture as a signal to move and quickly found a seat…in a row that was oddly surrounded by boys. Later on she'd realize why that was.

"Ah," the teacher began, "that seat…" she cut herself off as she met the bland stare of Rochelle. A tense moment passed before the teacher seemed to accept her choice of seat and continued on with her introduction. "Rorufu-san is from Germany. I hope you all make her feel welcome."

Rochelle had for the most part tuned the dialogue out and was instead currently focused on the stray lock of blonde hair that had once again fallen into her face. She'd been having problems with it ever since she left the house. Inwardly she sighed, she'd have to even it out later.

Yes, Rochelle had indeed cut her hair. Well…hacked is more like it. She'd walked right over to her arts and crafts supplies, snatched up her scissors and sliced off her pony tail in the bathroom mirror. The result had been a botched and fiercely uneven cut with the strands in the front far longer than those in the back, but Rochelle hadn't noticed. She'd been too pleased with the outcome to care. She no longer looked so girly. Now people would take her seriously. No one would take her seriously with such a girly and weak appearance, not like her ridiculous waste of a father,wearing his hair in long brunette waves…such a bum.

Her internal dialogue was cut short however, as the whispers met her ears.

-"That's a girl?"

"More like a boy in a skirt." The laughter was quick to follow.

She fiercely scowled down at her desk. Bastards. Who were they to insult her?

"Did you see the way she walked?" More laughter.

Her ears burned with the warmth of embarrassment. She didn't look that bad, did she?

Her wondering didn't last long as more jokes were passed around the laughter only increasing until the teacher was forced to silence them. Did they think she couldn't understand them? She clenched her jaw and dug her nails into the sides of the desk. She hadn't even been here an hour and already she hated school.


He'd made sure to arrive early. Early enough that Shinome Kaya, the early bird, had just passed him and was the first to enter the office. She'd missed him, tucked around the corner as he was. To any on-lookers he was just lounging around the hallway. His lanky form slouched against the wall, hands tucked away in his pockets while he stared unseeingly into space. And for the most part that was true, but it wasn't his purpose. He was waiting. And his waiting paid off when he heard the girlish voice of Orihime Inoue call out her morning greeting to a student.

A smile had curled his lips slightly as his continued to stare forward, his mind focused on the woman growing closer to his position. The shuffling of her indoor slippers; closer she came. The smile dropped suddenly as he lifted himself from the wall and turned the corner just as one orange haired sensei was reaching the wall's end. They came together with harsh impact and the woman was sent to the ground with unforgiving force as the breath was knocked from her lungs.

"Ah!" His eyes widened in surprise. "Inoue-sensei!" He hurriedly crouched to her defense, inspecting her closely for any injuries. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! I should've looked were I was going." His frantic words were only made worse as his eyes narrowed in worry. "Are you okay?"

Rubbing the back of her head, Orihime could only blink in confused surprise…and well…pain. She'd smacked her head on the floor pretty good, not anything life threatening, but it still throbbed. "Mmm." She nodded with a wince.

"Here." He began picking up her things that had scattered from her bag across the floor when she fell. He'd hesitated as his hand closed over her phone, his mind dwelling on the possibilities, but eventually he perished the thought as it required more planning than he was willing to do and dropped it along with her other items in her purse. He'd just been reaching out a hand to help her up when a voice called out to her.


He looked up as Inoue looked back and the two of them stared in mild surprise at the form of Kanzenkiba Tomoe. Ulquiorra. He stomped down the urge to grin. This was too perfect. He could use this. It was obvious that the once Cuatro Espada had some sort of connection with the woman. In death he was her jailer and now in this sickening façade of life, her student. Combined with the unreadable stare he was giving the two of them and the rumors around the school, he was willing to bet his life that his buttons would be all too easy to find and push.

She gave a start at seeing him, but recovered quickly, "Kanzenkiba-kun?" She flushed as she thought of her predicament. She was much too clumsy. Quickly, she took the offered hand of Kamakiri-san and heaved herself from the cold tile floor. Blush fading but still present she straightened her clothes and addressed her student in a more proper fashion, "Did you need something, Kanzenkiba-kun?"

He was silent for a long moment, his eyes shifting from her to Kamakiri, the floor and back to her. "No. It's nothing." He gave a slight shake of his head and resumed what she could only assume his normal posture; a calm composed stride, his hands ever so causally placed in his pocket; a walk that she found frighteningly familiar.


She was startled from her thoughts, by the apologetic stare of Kamakiri as he held out her purse with a sheepish smile. "I'm really sorry."

She smiled back, as was her usual response. "No, it's okay. It was an accident. Thank you." She took her purse from him and waved goodbye, hurrying to the staff office. Never seeing the sheepish look vanish and the gentle stare turn predatory.


She wasn't even sure what was said or who said it. One moment she was standing there feeling stupid in gym shorts and a t-shirt, the next she was beating the snot out of some boy who'd chosen that moment to insult her. They'd traded insults for a bit after he'd gotten over the shock of her speaking fluid Japanese. In fact, he got over it real quick when she not only insulted him, but his whole family.

She wasn't quite sure who threw the first punch, but from where she sat-straddled over his torso- she didn't really think it mattered. She growled low in her throat, when he yanked at her front locks and she punched him hard in the nose. It was of course only natural that she bite him in return. That was how the gym teacher found them.

It didn't come to the surprise of anyone when she was given the larger punishment of a week of suspension. Of the two, she was the only one without a scratch, her hair was the only thing seemingly affected-fluffed and tangled here and there; in comparison to the boy who was not only shorter than her, but nursing a blackened eye, a bleeding nose, and brandishing a very noticeable bite mark on his forearm.


Alain sighed as he entered the office. He hadn't really thought much of his daughter's rash and rather ridiculous decision to chop off her hair, but then the phone call came. The phone call that resulted in him sitting next to his sulking brat of a child across from a very displeased principal and-his eyes darted to the left- what appeared to be a gym teacher, one who kept giving Rochelle odd looks of appraisal.


He returned his stare to the principal again. "Forgive my inattentiveness, Sataru-san. What were you saying?" He ignored his daughter's rude snort at his words.

Sataru Sho, only hummed at the man's apology, obviously comparing father and daughter, before beginning again. "As I was saying, it's only your daughter's first day and while I understand the fight was started over her appearance, which by the way," he interjected, "should be properly seen to, this type of behavior will not be tolerated again and should another outbreak of misconduct occur I will be forced to take harsher actions."

Thoroughly bored with the conversation, as he knew well were it was going from the beginning, Alain fought hard against the need to yawn and only nodded in response, before tacking on an, "I understand," as an afterthought.

Once outside and putting distance between himself and the school, he risked a glance at Rochelle. She was sulking glaring down at the ground, her messy and uneven locks fanning about her head in a tangled nest. He thought about it for a minute and without hesitation, he palmed the back of her head with a heavy smack.

"Ow!" She glared up at him, "You bastard!" She kicked him in shin with more force than any twelve year old girl should have a right to. "What was that for?" She cried to him, indignant.

Biting back a grunt of pain, he eyed her with disdain before letting out a long and exaggerated sigh or as Rochelle preferred, his old man sigh. He stopped then, about a block away from the school, surrounded by the stone walls of the suburban streets. He turned and looked down at her, "Why did you cut it?"

She glared up at him, "It's my hair! I can cut it if I want to!"

He sighed again, "No one said you couldn't. I just wanted to know why you did it."

She continued to glare before looking away with a slight pout, "Because…"

"Because what?" Mentally rolling his eyes at her behavior.

She sighed harshly, "Because!" She looked at him with an equally harsh stare, "No one would take me serious otherwise."

He blinked, "What? That's ridiculous. Rochelle, my hair isn't short and people take me seriously."

A twitch formed above his eye as she gave him an incredulous stare. Little brat. "Just because you don't take me seriously, doesn't mean the rest of the world doesn't."

"Can't imagine why…" He heard her mutter; another twitch formed.

"Besides, people would've taken you seriously just fine with your normal hair." He continued on despite her insult.

"But then I look too girly." She complained crossing her arms and toeing the ground with her loafers.

He stared at her. Did she really not know how she looked? Sure, she was female alright, but the child had a skinny stick frame, walked like a man, talked like a boy, and could curse like a sailor at the drop of a hat…and then she had to go and chop off the only thing that truly affirmed her female identity in the eyes of society. So he couldn't help saying, "As to what? Looking like a boy wearing his sister's clothes?"

"Oi!" She cried, attacking him again.

Inwardly, he admitted he may have deserved that second kick to the shin, but outwardly he only scowled and continued on. "You really should have come to me before you decided to chop it all off. You look ridiculous."

"Hey! There are plenty of girls with short hair! There was a bunch in my class." Her eyes narrowed as stared at him with eyes that dared him to argue against her.

Palming his face, Alain sighed as he allowed his body to drop into a crouch at her level. "Rochelle…" he began, placing a hand on her thin shoulder; a hand that she gave an offended stare, "…that's only for cute girls."

Silence. It was a rather nice response. Of course, he knew her all too well to think it would end there. Ah…there it is, he thought to himself, watching the strain of muscles in her face as her eye twitched up, her jaw clenching as she grinded her teeth, and finally the clenching of her small but forceful hands. "You asshole!" She punched him in the solar plexus and he was forced to wheeze under the unexpected blow, "How dare you not think your own child is cute!"

He was, however, prepared for the blows that followed and merely parried what he could and ignored what he couldn't. Inwardly, he wondered why he had even tried to talk to her about it. She was an impulsive child who wouldn't learn just because he said anything. Who was he to be upset that she'd have to learn everything the hard way; he was just the brat's legal guardian. Outwardly his body gave a shrug and they continued home; the neighborhood giving them strange looks as the small girl continued to pummel against his much larger frame.


Kamakiri Yotsuyou, the insect. The mere thought of him gave him a sense of unease. He didn't like it. He didn't trust the fool as far as he could throw him-martial art not counted- and he wasn't fool enough to do so regardless, but there was just something about him that screamed at his senses to pay attention. It had him on guard, ready, paranoid. He winced at the latter. It was like a mockery were being made of him, one that he couldn't identify, because he couldn't even see the joke itself.

He knew it when he saw it; he was being toyed with and it frustrated him to no end. His conversation with Inoue hadn't truly ended and despite the strange way it had been cut off he was still determined to finish it. He wanted, no he needed answers, but the insect. He glared at the paved road beneath his feet. Every time he'd found time to speak to the woman outside of class, there he was…chatting with her, asking her for help, making her laugh. His glare intensified.

At first, it hadn't bothered him much. He just felt a bit of worry for his innocent teacher, letting such scum hang around her, but then as the day grew longer, he grew more agitated. He was always there. It was as if every time he spotted her alone and free of distraction, the bug would crawl out of the woodwork and into his way. It was almost as if he were intending on getting in his way.

And that was when he realized as he'd been forced to leave the school that afternoon, still having not spoken to her after Kamakiri had yet again stolen her attention-and he would not be found waiting around for her attention- that that was exactly what he was doing. The piece of viral trash was purposely standing in his way, but why?

Next to him, Tsume stared at his…friend oddly. The last time he'd witnessed him stare so intently it was right before he called him trash and shoved him down the stairs. An incident that Tsume had never forgotten nor forgiven, in fact he was merely waiting for a chance at vengeance-though it might never come as Tomoe never allowed himself to be caught off-guard near stairs. Either way, the dead stare bothered him and he was about to speak on it when his phone vibrated; he always turned it back on immediately after leaving class, just in case the gym called.


"Oi! Woman!" He burst into the house not having even bothered removing his shoes at the entry way-a fact that Tomoe acknowledged with a deadly glared, but didn't comment on as he made his way up the stairs.

The aforementioned woman, the head of the Kanzenkiba household gave him an agitated look as she took in his form, her stare lingering on his still covered feet for but a moment, before returning to his face. "What?"

He stilled as he met her gaze and forced himself to calm down. "Ummm…So you know I box, right?"

Her stare relaxed and turned to slight confusion as she reached for a potato chip. "Yea…what of it?"

"Uh…well I just got off the phone with them."

She said nothing as she shoveled the chip past her lips with a loud crunch, only continuing to stare at him.

He tried not to fidget. "And well, since Chisaki kicked me out and took me off the register…and seeing as I'm not 18"-

She cut him off, with a hand held in the air. "Wait a minute. Are you asking me to adopt you? Because, that's just NOT happening."

"What?" He shot her a look, "No! Of course not! That would just be stupid! Why the hell would I want you as my parent? You're"- He silenced himself at the murderous glare she was currently giving him.

Clearing his throat, he tried again, "No. What I'm saying is, without a legal guardian I need an adult to take responsibility for me."

She stared for a moment longer, before letting out a quiet sigh. "Can't your coach do that?"

"Well yea, theoretically…" She arched a brow and he continued. "But Himaru's known me for a while and he's…uh…not really sure"-

"You mean he knows what a hotheaded dumbass you are?"

He glared at her and decided not to point out the fact that she was in turn a hotheaded bitch. He did after all need her to sign the papers-plus he wanted to be fully intact for his next match. So, he gritted his teeth and agreed, "Yes."

"Hmmm…." She sighed, falling back onto a pillow she'd brought into the living room, purely for the purpose of catching her head and dragged the chip bag over to her reach. He stared at her waiting for a response. And she did make him wait. Bitch. She was halfway done with the bag before she spoke again.


He took his eyes from her greedy hands still fishing around for a chip and met her stare. "You screw up and you'll regret it."

He scoffed at her words, but continued to stare at her questioningly.

Rolling her eyes, she acquiesced his look with an actual answer. "Yes. Yes I will take responsibility for the stupid shit you do."

He tried, but failed not to glare at her.

"So," she sat up, absently brushing crumbs from her shirt. "What do I have to do?"

Blinking, he was surprised at her willingness. "Well, there's some papers you have to sign."

"Great!" Her tone dripping with sarcasm, "Where are they?"


"Where are the papers, Tsume?" She gave him the usual 'stupid fool' glare that he was sure she'd learned from her son.

"…at the gym."


Afterword: …Yup. I screwed up. I'm sorry. I got caught up by papers and then I got caught up with financial issues that eventually led to anxiety that led to me being unable to write. And even though I'm still suffering these issues, I have pulled myself out of my rut enough to be able to try and get myself together again. So I hope you all can forgive my absents and continue to read…and possibly review. XD