Konnichiwa, Minna-san! I'm baaack!

Miss me? XP

(Okay, new readers, this is the second volume of my storyline. If you want to read the story previous to this one, then just go up to my account and click on the other story - 'The Philosopher's Stone')

I hope you enjoy!

-o-O-o-

The Entity Below

All is a riddle, and the key to a riddle...

...is another riddle.

-Higurashi Miyuki

-o-O-o-

After Kurosaki was made to an official substitute shinigami and left with his group over a few months ago, things here in Seireitei were slowly starting to get itself back to normal again. However, losing three captains through betrayal as well as having the highest body of Soul Society murdered were quite grave issues to clear up.

Flamel has been training Natsume in fighting and alchemy, which I found very practical. I myself was useless in combat - teaching me how to use alchemy would just take too much time. Aizen had the Hyougoku, and he planned to create a Philosopher's Catalyst with it - that was the basic of what I knew. Though no matter what he would be planning, the whole Seireitei will do everything in their power to stand up against Aizen and stop him. I planned to be able to assist in battle, so I was more or less forcing Natsume to train. The broadcasted information was that the Hyougoku sucks the energy out of the spirit shell, effectively killing the victim. With enough energy it transmutes the reiryoku to a compact form of a stone. It would only be the reiryoku of Philosopher's Stones which could result to a Philosopher's Catalyst.

As soon as Toushirou found out those unnecessay details he never leaves me out of his sight. There were times where I wasn't only ripping my hair out, I had began to effectively scalp myself. Well, I never actually got that far, but it won't be long now.

The only time when I got peace from him is when I go to the bathroom for crying out loud!

I peeked through the door of my room into the office to see Toushirou sitting on his desk, doing paperwork. A small smirk appeared on my lips as I silently closed the small slit and tip-toed over to my window. I carefully opened it, and swung my knee on the ledge as my gloved hands gripped the rims.

''And where do you think you're going, Miyuki?''

My head jerked up as I heard that voice and I gulped. Slowly, I turned my head around to look over my shoulder at the scene behind me. The door was wide open, with Toushirou leaning on the door frame with crossed arms as he looked at me with half-lidded eyes which communicated superiority.

See what I mean?

''...Fresh air?'' I asked, a nervous and awkward smile plastered on my face. Toushirou furrowed his eyebrows, now communicating annoyance. ''Oi! You've been keeping me locked up in this place for ages! I know that I'm not big on l out-door life, but this is a tad too much as well!'' My arms were waving about, putting an emphasis on what I was saying as I walked over to him.

I looked up at him. Yes, he has definitely grown this past month...a lot...I would say that he had gotten up to a 4' 7''...or 4' 8''? Enough for me to actually have to tilt my head up to look at him, and I knew that he was incredibly smug about it.

Toushirou didn't say anything and just frowned when he looked at my narrowed eyes. Soon he gave a sigh before walking out of the door. ''Come on. We'll go out for a walk together then.''

I blinked, surprised by his proposal. But soon a scoff escaped my lips and I caughed up to him. My eyes followed his arm as he opened the office door which lead down the hall. I arched him a brow before smirking cheekily. ''Why so nice?''

He gave me a harmless glare. ''Aren't I always nice?'' I opened my mouth to answer, but closed it right after, deciding not to say anything before looking ahead down the hallway. His eye twitched, noticing my obvious and over-reacted 'hesitation.

''OI!''

I chuckled, and much to my joy, I saw a pink taint in his cheeks.

It was now the end of Autumn.

Life in Soul Society was having a peaceful period again. Just like the time before Rukia's execution. Before the ryoka intrusion. Before Aizen's betrayal.

But it was only a matter of time before that peace ended. It would always end.

However, the saying, 'Nothing is forever'...

I side-glanced at Toushirou, who was looking ahead as we walked down the hall side by side.

...I don't believe in that.

Bonds are forever.

So, as long as Toushirou was by my side...

I slowly reached out to hold his one arm with both of mine, hugging it loosely. Toushirou twitched at my sudden action, but soon relaxed under my touch.

...everything was going to be alright.

We stopped at the open balcony of the tenth division, staring out at the view.

Over this month, these weeks, Toushirou and I have grown closer. More affectionate. Not that I was even close to admitting my feelings to him...but still...

I smiled as I hugged his arm a little tighter.

...I was happy.

''M-Miyuki...?'' I closed my eyes when I heard Toushirou's stunned voice.

''Urusai na. I'm in a strange mood. Leave me be.''

He scoffed. ''It's my arm which you're restricting blood circulation. One would think that I'm entitled to not leave you be.''

''I'm not holding on that tight. Though I know that would like me to so that you could feel my breasts, I don't think that you're quite ready for that yet.'' I only grinned when I could practically feel the heat radiating from his face.

''Wh--I nev--...WHAT DO YOU MEAN WITH I'M NOT READY YET?!''

I gave a sigh with fake weariness. ''You get embarrassed too easily.'' It really took all my will power not to start burst out laughing in his face.

''I do not get embarrassed! Not one bit!'' I blinked after I snapped my eyes open. Soon I looked up at him, mildly surprised as I stared at his blushing perplexion. Slowly, a devilish smirk crossed my lips, my cat eyes half-lidded.

''Oh...?'' Slowly, I pulled the prodigy's arm closer, right into my cleavage. His arm twitched, his face twisted as it added a few more shades of red. Sweat was building on his forehead; it wasn't at all hard for me to know that he must have been thanking some unknown entity that he was wearing baggy hakamas.

''Wh--you--I--Th--...Buh?!''

Ah, I do believe that his brain was frying there.

''Yes, Toushirou?'' I pushed my assets closer to his arm, inwardly laughing when I saw his hand and fingers twitching. His whole body visibly tensed up, his eyes were wide, and I was enjoying my maniplulation on him as always. ''See what I mean with 'too embarrassed'?''

He tried to glare at me, albeit unsucessfully. His face was too knedded, brows too frowned, eyes to vague, and face far too flustered. ''Y-y-you're too shameless...''

''You mean 'sexy'?''

Another shade of red before he looked away from me. I raised my eyebrows. ''Oh~? No denials? So you agree, ne?''

I heard an audible grunt as the vein on his head throbbed when he glared with a twitching eye and brow. ''Why you...'' I gave him a faked innocent look as well as the cutest, yet most seductive pout I cold muster, despite my urge to laugh out loud was growing by the minute.

''Nani yo?'' I asked, tilting my head to one side; I was loving how inexperienced Toushirou was with these things. I knew from the first day I met him he was a virgin - it could be labled in bold writing on his forehead and it wouldn't make a difference. ''You could always just push me away if you don't like it...''

He muttered something inaudible under his breath before looking away again, but he didn't move anything else. I smirked, that dropped the moment he replied to my tease.

''Don't you think I already know that, bakayorou?! What do you hold me for; retarded?!''

My eyes flew wide open at his words. That...wasn't the answer I was expecting...

A small scoff escaped my mouth before I smiled slightly at him.

...This guy never ceases to amaze me.

''Hitsugaya-taichou-sama! Higurashi-dono!''

Toushirou and I blinked at each other before turning to one side, seeing a messenger on one knee a few meters from us. I promtly released the prodigy's arm and we both turned around to face the open view. Even I was blushing at this - God knows how Toushirou was reacting. The captain crossed his arms, and trying to regain his composure.

''What is it?'' he asked.

''It is a message from Yamamoto-soutaichou, sir. The Soutaichou is requesting for a taichou meeting, and asks for you to bring Higurashi Miyuki-dono.''

My eyes widened.

Why bring me?

''Is that so...'' Toushirou said, a thoughtful tone lacing his voice. ''I see. We'll be right there.''

--

All the captains were lined up in to rows facing each other with the commander captain at the end. Though it was now three captains short.

''I see that everyone has answered the summon properly...'' Yamamoto said as he scanned through the room.

I was standing between Toushirou and Ukitake. Looking to the other side I could see that Flamel was standing next to Yamamoto, who had Kurotsuchi on his other side. The alchemist's eyes were closed and her arms were crossed. The two of us seemed really out of place because of our attires. All the captains were dressed in black shihakusho and white haori... I felt really, really out of place. But because Flamel probably had the highest rank in this room, she needn't feel anything but contempt.

Too bad that I don't have that kind of authority.

Toushirou seemed to notice my uneasiness, and he turned to face me. I could see the corner of his lips curling upwards slightly, giving me a small smile as an assurance. I nodded, smiling softly in gratitude.

''I shall commence this meeting with the fact that we now know, from the intelligence networks of both the Seireitei and Court of Pure Souls, what Aizen's intentions are,'' the elder said with his old, yet strong voice. This caught the interest of the captains quickly. ''As you all know, Aizen has escaped with the Hyougoku and plans to use it for the creation of the Philosopher's Catalyst, so that he can reach a vast amount power.'' His head tilted up slightly. ''The ability of being able to steal reiryoku from a spirit shell will take a long time to activate, most likely serveral months. However!'' His voice grew stern. ''According to Kurotsuchi-taichou's report, there is also another power which the Hyougoku has - It enables the user to melt a menos' soul with a human's.''

My eyes widened when I heard that. The image of a black-haired man and woman crossing my mind almost instantly. Maybe, mother and father were...?!

Toushirou had turned around and looked at me in the eye before slowly shaking his head; it wouldn't be wise for me to say anything. After a moment, I nodded and he looked ahead again, no one noticing our exchange.

Kurotsuchi took over the lead of conversation after Yamamoto's gesture, his white hands holding some documents. ''It seems as though only emotionally weakened souls can be involved in such a transformation. They are then, after this process, called a 'Humunculus'. We have reports from various countries that grief-filled souls have suddenly disappeared after a signal of massive energy. All discriptions were identicle. A total of 20 recorded cases, how much in a complete scale is unknown. There's a rough estimate of perhaps over 40,'' the 12th division captain said, and I raised my eyebrows as Kyouraku tilted his straw-hat up.

''And why are we so sure that this has something to do with Aizen?'' he asked in a carefree, friendly manner. Yamomoto nodded, having acknowledged his student's question as he spoke to answer this time.

''Because a few hours ago, the Bureau of Technological Development discovered a reiatsu spike in Karakura - the exact pattern of those which were released when the souls disappeared. With closer inspection it was revealed that it was the reiatsu of the Humunculi fighting against the ryoka. They mentioned being under the orders of Aizen and...'' He opened his eyes. ''They effortlessly bested the ryoka-group, including Kurosaki Ichigo, the shinigami daikou (substitute).''

Whispers and murmers where heard throughout the hall, and I gulped. Kurosaki, the one who beat Kuchiki Byakuya and Zaraki Kenpachi was effortlessly bested? Just what kind of insanely strong monsters have resulted from Aizen's experiments?

''Sousuke's planning to invade the English branch and suck the souls out of us Philosopher's Stones. Most likely he's getting an army to prepare to fight off resistance as well as weaken our defences and lessen our resorces in the mean time,'' Flamel said as she crossed her arms.

Kurotsuchi stepped out, looking at the soul reaper. ''Aizen Sousuke is your son, is he not? That you're so cooperative is awfully suspicious,'' he said. Flamel narrowed her eyes at him.

''My responsibility towards a legitamate traitor is nothing compared to my responsibilities as a Soul Reaper,'' she said simply, her glare intensifying. Kurotsuchi shivered slightly before nodding and stepping back to his place. Flamel continued, ignoring his mutters and murmurs.

''It's safe to assume that the decisive battle will take place in the English branch during summer - considering that the first thing Sousuke will do is come to our branch after the Hyougoku activates. It will be only the us combinding our strength with yours. The other branches will be left out of this matter; as the Emperor has ordered,'' she said. A few whispers were heard again and I furrowed my brows in confusion. Emperor?

''He's the ruler of all nations of Soul Society. No one's influence can over-ride his,'' Toushirou said in a hush whisper as he leaned into me. ''He rarely ever makes himself noted by others, much less give an order.'' I nodded in comprehension after he finished his explanation.

''Souka.''

''I don't know why he made this decision; most likely it's because of the hollow population growing in various countries. But it doesn't matter. This will be a very tough battle, which is why...'' Flamel turned to face Yamamoto. ''...I am making this suggestion; find suitable replacements to fill the places of the three taichou, Shigekuni.''

The old man's eyes flickered with surprise, but it disappeared as soon as it came. The captains also blinked at this; though, it did make sense to me. Ranks must be filled in order for the society to run properly. ''...We should discuss this under four eyes, Flamel-sama,'' Yamamoto said before looking over at Ukitake.

''I will require to send a team to Karakura to assist the shinigami daikou. Kuchiki Rukia shall be included, noting their relationship.'' He then glanced at Kuchiki. ''Is that approvable, Kuchiki-taichou?''

The black-haired captain nodded, composed as ever. He looked up at Yamamoto. ''I also recommend my Fukutaichou, Abarai Renji, to join.''

The old man nodded. ''Very well. They may select officers as they see fit. It is a mission to both gather information and suppress enemy uprises. As Kurotsuchi-taichou said, there have been many reports of souls disappearing in such manners all over the world - Japan is one of the countries which haven't experienced such incidences yet. And considering their assult on the shinigami daikou, Karakura seems to be their next target. The length of time thus may range.'' My eyes widened in shock when he turned to face me. ''With you being a Philosopher's Stone, I want you to accompany Kuchiku Rukia and Abarai-fukutaichou, Higurashi Miyuki-san.'' I opened my mouth to speak, but Toushirou took a step forward, standing in front of me.

''Yamamoto-soutaichou, if that is your order, then I also ask permission to be a part of this team, acting as it's leader,'' Toushirou said. I wasn't able to see Yamamoto's face, since my view was blocked by Toushirou's back. I could feel my face going warm.

''State your reason.'' I gulped at Yamamoto's demand, but Toushirou was unfazed; at least, from what I could see. Though his firm voice told me that he had that solid, hard expression on his face.

''I'm normally involved with missions concerning the real world; I think these experiences will be more than enough to keep order within the group. And because my division isn't a part of the repairing or investigating departments, it's safe to leave it on it's own for some time.'' After the next words left his mouth, I could hear something shatter inside me.

''Higurashi Miyuki is also under my care; this is my responsibility to her. As you ordered, Yamamoto-soutaichou.''

My blush instantly faded.

My eyes were wide.

''I'll protect you no matter what.''

''I need you...why is it that you can't see that?!''

''Then I'll carry you, and walk for the both of us.''

All those words...were they all stemmed from this order from Yamamoto? Was that the reason?

If it weren't for that order from the soutaichou to take care of me...would Toushirou treat me like he did...?

'Don't be stupid, Miyuki!' Though Natsume didn't materialize in her transparent form, I knew that it was her speaking.

''I accept. Ukitake-taichou will prepare the senkai gate for you.'' Yamamoto's words jerked me back to reality, and I saw Toushirou looking at me over his shoulder with a small smirk, as a sign of victory. Though I was hesitent, I flashed him a small smile. I didn't see his skeptical, frown-creased eyebrows as I avoided his eyes when he stepped back.

''I'll also take my leave to sort things out in England, just like all countries are doing...'' Flamel said calmly and I blinked in surprise. I felt somewhat disappointed, having grown to like the alchemist. Though I could tell that Natsume was quite upset when she heard it as well, not that she'd ever admit it.

''That is all. This meeting is dismissed.''

Ah, yes...Peace has now officially ended.

-Owari-

Trial period is over! Now all I can do is sit and wait for my result...

That means IMMA BACK!

Sorry it took so long! And sorry if I made you worry to think that I'm dead! XP

Now, here we begin with the 2nd Arc of The Philosopher storyline, The Philosopher's Soul! I hope you will all enjoy this piece more than the former one!

Hate it? Love it? Something in between? Can't decide?
Review, review, REVIEW!!!

.Jibun no Omoi
One's Memories.