One Month After Entrance Exam

The table was made of marble with silver inlaid in sigils and designs that were mysterious to all but the best experts of demonic arts. Yoruichi lay naked on the marble table. Lights from the sigils passed through her flesh to make patterns on her skin. One of her childhood friends, the current head of the Kido corps, stood over her. He hummed and moved, then hummed some more, then checked another part of her.

"Tessai!" she growled.

"Patience, this is something I have never seen before," his voice rumbled deeply.

Yoruichi looked at his eyes, but they were hidden behind the reflected light off of his glasses. It was always difficult to know what Tessai was thinking. "So there is something there?" she whispered, the chill of dread growing in her. It was the fifth time she had lain on that damned table. At least this time he had found something.

"Yes...something," he answered.

"That's helpful," was Yoruichi's sarcastic response. She bit her tongue on the most important question, which was whether Tessai could remove it.

Unexpectedly, Tessai's large finger prodded Yoruichi just above her navel and an electric shock went through her. Her back arched and she let out a horrifying scream of agony, as she felt all her bones break and her nerves burn. Tessai jerked away from the table, afraid that he had done something irreparable. He shouted her name, trying to get her to overcome the pain through/by his words alone, but the screams continued to be wrenched from her throat until she was hoarse and had slumped on the table, sweating and exhausted. Her eyes gazed, unseeing, out at the world and her breath came in short, hiccuping, gasps.

"Can you hear me?" Tessai asked, failing to keep his fear for her out of his tone. "Yoruichi, can you hear me?"

Tessai almost always used some honorific for her despite their friendship since childhood. It was his lack of formality brought the young woman back to her senses. Yoruichi was exhausted and afraid it would hurt if she moved again. "Y-yeah...just...need rest."

"I'm sorry, I thought I found the connection between you and him and tried to analyze it with my reiatsu, but there were defensive measures in it," Tessai explained in a hurry.

"Heh, so...he punished me for trying to get out of it...fucker," she said in a pained whisper.

"It's an automatic defense against tampering," Tessai said. "It is a unique curse that will take me time to find a way to destroy: Time you may not have if he ends up dying on a mission and takes you with him." The large man took off his large cloak and covered Yoruichi with it. He took her clothes and bundled them to make a pillow for her, which he gently placed under her head. "I will have food prepared. Rest now."

Yoruichi didn't say anything as Tessai left the room. Her mind was awhirl with plans on keeping Potter Harry safe until the curse could be removed.


Two weeks had passed before Yoruichi finally had enough strength to go back to the Academy. She was in her cat form, basking in the sun, on the whitewashed walls surrounding the building. Potter and the small clique he had formed were practicing their sword play. Yoruichi was cataloguing them with plans to open a dossier for each person in his group. The group was a strange mix of the dregs of the outer Rukongai and nobles of the Seireitei. Potter was the leader, obviously, either due to his strength or because he was the object of affection for the women.

She frowned at Shiba Kukaku. The girl (with that choppy black hair of hers and the insolent smile Yoruichi loved so much) was practically deferring to Potter on Kido questions. Kukaku, being confident and a Kido prodigy in her own right, should not have been getting into animated discussions with someone her inferior. Yoruichi observed their easy camaraderie and was annoyed.

She stood and stretched, letting out a low mewl as she worked the tension from her muscles. Kukaku looked at the wall and caught her eye. Yoruichi simply licked her paw, not giving Kukaku any indication of why she was there. From the corner of her eye Yoruichi saw Potter glance at them with a slight smile and then go back to being yelled at by Yukika, a minor noble, at his silly swordsmanship. Yoruichi was sure Potter had figured out that Kukaku and she knew each other before he had trapped her in the kido linking their lives together. It grated on her that if it were not for Kukaku's friendship, Potter would've simply killed her. As it were she couldn't even be anywhere else but there watching Potter to keep him safe, lest a training accident kill him and her along with him.

"Hiya kitty," a voice said next to her and scooped her up. Yoruichi's eyes widened and she let out a hiss of surprise. It was the redhead that followed Potter around and was the acknowledged lieutenant of the group, although Yoruichi had noticed Kukaku's attempts to unseat her. How the Hell did she sneak up on me?

"You have such a beautiful coat, it's so sleek," Rangiku said. Yoruichi almost immediately became insensate at the girl's ministrations on her back. Somehow the little girl knew exactly where to scratch behind her ears and around her neck. Yoruichi was very particular on who could touch her in that form but there was some magic in the girl's hands that she couldn't say no to.

"You're getting better at handling cats," Potter called up to where Rangiku was perched on the wall with the cat in her lap.

"Of course," the girl responded happily. "I'm a half cat, in a way."

Potter snorted. "Well, let me know when you sprout a tail so I can use it like a leash for you."

"Oooh," Rangiku moaned low in her throat. "I didn't know you had a catgirl fetish."

A little shock ran through Yoruichi at that statement. Don't tell me that's why the bastard spared me! Wait...does he know I'm a woman?

Potter let out a suffering sigh and went back to practice. Yoruichi decided it was just a coincidence but was disturbed about the idea of becoming a sex slave enough to get out of Rangiku's grasp. She ran off, hoping for the time being Potter would be safe. She had other plans to set in motion.


"Tessai, I want you to request Potter Harry to be transferred to your division." Yoruichi demanded after slipping into the secret headquarters of the Kido Corps Captain quarters. Tessai jumped a little. The scroll he had laid out in front of him had a long streak of ink on it caused from her sudden appearance.

Tessai made a rumbling sound that Yoruichi took to mean he was agreeing. "Good," she said, "then put him at a safe desk job copying old kido formulae. What are you doing that yourself, anyway? You're a captain now, Tessai! Start acting like it otherwise people will walk all over you." She crossed her arms to glare at the large man.

Tessai rumbled again and actually spoke, "I was working on something new."

"Ah," Yoruichi said and quieted feeling a little awkward. "Sorry."

Tessai simply rolled the ruined scroll and picked another empty one sitting on his vast desk. "Don't you want him under you?"

Recalling Rangiku's comment about Potter's fetish, Yoruichi blushed. "I will put in a request but I'm not Commander in Chief of the Secret Corps or the Second Division yet."

"You're worried your request will not have the same weight as mine," Tessai concluded. "You are the Princess of the Shihoin clan and heir apparent of the clan, the Secret Corps, and the Second Division. Your word has three times the weight mine does."

Yoruichi flipped and landed on one of the stone shelves holding strange devices. She pulled up a knee to rest her chin on and her other leg dangled. Tessai looked up from his scroll in consternation at her new place. Yoruichi noticed him looking at the conical device next to her in worry. "I won't break it," she snapped. Tessai didn't look away so she obliged with a scowl and scooted further down the shelf. "Why do you work in this dingy little place anyway?"

The room they were in had the look and feel of a cellar. It was long and narrow, made of cold stone. All furniture, shelving, was of gray stone. Low powered lamps mimicked moonlight and were installed near the ceiling. Yoruichi shuddered from the cold and envied Tessai his heavy robes. She was wearing her light Secret Corps uniform that left her arms and back completely bare.

"I work here because this is the only place I can get away from others. The stone create an inert environment for my experiments. The outside of the walls are covered in seals to swallow any explosions I might cause. And to this day I don't know how you sneak in here when there is only one door that I lock whenever I'm working," Tessai said at length.

"Wow, I really pissed you off, sorry about disturbing you," Yoruichi said, knowing when Tessai talked that much he was either very excited or very upset. She dropped from her seat up in the stone shelves and walked to the door.

"You haven't answered my question, why do you want me to request him when you can do so yourself and are guaranteed to get him?"

Yoruichi sighed. There was no point in holding these secrets from Tessai. "I'm sure I won't be the only one requesting him, Tessai." She thought of the lieutenant of the 8th Division sniffing around Potter. "I want to increase my chances of him being put in a division where I can control what happens to him." She turned around to look him in the eye, for once his glasses weren't hiding his steady gaze. "You will keep him safe for me, you're my childhood friend."

Tessai bowed shortly. "You've always honored me when you don't need to."

"And you're always more polite than you need to be." Yoruichi said with a smirk. "I swear I need to get you laid one of these days."

Tessai's cheeks turned red in embarrassment. "A princess should not be talking like that."

Yoruichi waved and left through the door. She had one other stop.


The 4th Division headquarters were probably as chaotic as the 11th Division. The comparison made some sense as the former was tasked with treating injuries and the latter specialised in causing injuries. As usual the wards had shinigami bustling to and fro. Yoruichi frowned at the lack of security for the injured, however.

Even walking openly down their healing wards no one had stopped her to ask what she was doing there. She was obviously not one of the healers, dressed as she was and lacking healer gear. The 4th Divisions security relied on three things: its location being in the heart of Seireitei; the Patrol Squad that Yoruichi commanded charged with Seireitei's internal security; and, last, but most importantly, the towering reputation of 4th Division's Captain. That said, the 4th Division was a collection of the meekest Shinigami to be found. Their weakness practically made Yoruichi's skin crawl. She would be terrified if she had to lie injured in their wards. It wasn't as if a single one of them would last long enough for reinforcements to arrive in case of an attack.

"Ara, Yoruichi-hime," a gentle voice broke her out of her uncharitable thoughts. The captain of the 4th Division had appeared out of one of the wards into the main hallway Yoruichi had been walking down. Unohana Retsu was a beautiful woman and had more grace in the gesture of one hand inviting Yoruichi to walk with her than Yoruichi had managed in an entire childhood of deportment training. Yoruichi could only manage grace in the midst of battle, something which her elders both lauded and despaired.

"Captain Unohana," Yoruichi gave a respectful bow as she stepped in line with the senior most captain of the Gotei 13 under the Captain Commander. She again wondered what was it that made Unohana so formidable. She hadn't been allowed to look at the file that the Secret Corps had on her. It was classified until the day she took her place as Captain of the Second Division or Commander in Chief of the Secret Corps. "I came for some advice. It's a small matter."

"Oh? Why don't we take some tea in one of the courtyards. The flowers are truly breathtaking this time of the year," Unohana said and without being told her attendant rushed ahead to prepare.

Yoruichi had never had the chance to spend much time with the older woman. Walking shoulder to shoulder with her she realized there was something indefinable about the gentle woman that commanded respect and wariness. It wasn't as if Yoruichi could sense the others reiatsu to judge her strength. It was some other instinct that told her she was in the presence of a monster.

The courtyard had several benches set under the shade of trees. Flower bushes created a heady perfume. Off in the distance was a garden where convalescent shinigami were relaxing. Captain Unohana's attendant handed them both tea cups as they chose a bench to sit on. He then stepped away to give them privacy. For a few long moments they simply sat and enjoyed the tea.

"So what brings you to the fourth division. I hope you're feeling well?" Unohana began.

Yoruichi dipped her head. "Yes, thank you, I don't need medical treatment. It's a more personal question. You see, I'm in line to take over the captainship of the second division and the commander position of the Secret Corps has always been hereditary."

"Yes, you will soon have an immense responsibility." Unohana smiled. "But you're no stranger to that being the princess of your clan and already heading the Patrol squad. I'm curious why you haven't taken up a position within the Second Division as well?"

Yoruichi wanted to smile at the perfect opening Unohana provided but displayed only a nervous face. "My uncle wanted me to take on my roles one by one so I could pay attention to my responsibilities without becoming overwhelmed."

Unohana laughed with a fine hand hiding her lips. "I think your uncle might be underestimating you."

This time Yoruichi smiled. "And that's why I came to you. I would like to shadow you for a while. I want to learn from you how you run your division since you are the most experienced captain." She took a breath and tried to look somewhat vulnerable by dropping her shoulders, lowering her eyes. "I want to show my uncle I'm serious about taking over the reins from him by stepping out of his shadow."

Unohana's laughter filled the courtyard again. This time it was louder and she didn't cover it with her hand. Her blue eyes suddenly pierced Yoruichi's ambers, and the latter felt like a noose had tightened around her throat. "Yoruichi-chan," Unohana said in a soft amused tone, "If you pull that little schoolgirl act in front of my men and women they will adopt you for life. I'm afraid I will have to force you to become my lieutenant then."

Yoruichi knew she well and truly stepped into it. She laughed nervously as to buy herself time and get over being embarrassed for being called 'Yorucihi-chan.'

Unohana leaned forward and patted Yoruichi on the leg. "Acting adorable and vulnerable would net you many followers in my division and most others, but I know the Shihoin clan doesn't work that way. The Secret Corps would not respect you the way they do if you weren't a confident and strong leader."

Yoruichi bowed at the waist. She didn't know what else to do. Her uncle had given her many warnings about underestimating Unohana Retsu and the fool that she was had gone and done exactly that. "Forgive me, Captain Unohana, I'm not used to asking people stronger than me for things. Usually I can just order and…" she trailed off. What the fuck is coming out of my mouth? I'm screwing this up even more.

A warm hand grasped her wrist and pulled her back on the bench. Unohana had another teacup ready that she pressed into Yoruichi's hands. "Well, then, this proves to me more that you need my help than your act. I will give you a hint, Yorui-chan, you can always be straightforward with me. With others it's a different matter."

"Thank you," Yoruichi said with a wince, she wasn't ever going to live down being called that cutesy name, but she'd have to bear it as it was her punishment. She had bungled the whole conversation and wasn't even at the point of the real reason she was there.

"How is your healing kido?" Unohana asked.

"I know basic field medicine."

Unohana hummed in a wondering tone. "Well, you want to shadow me to learn how to be a captain and deal with others of your rank or higher, so your medical kido is not too important, but I still want you to learn more than field medicine."

Yoruichi accepted immediately even though she had no interest in medical kido. "There are specialists in my division who can train me, I wouldn't put that burden on you."

The older woman smiled at her. "Good, for the next three months, you will assist me in my duties every morning till lunch. Then you're free to attend to your official responsibilities."

"That's wonderful," Yoruichi said relieved that Unohana hadn't taken offense at her attempt to trick her but also annoyed that she was stuck for three whole months. She'd planned on several off and on meetings to give truth to the lie she was spinning. The whole ploy, which she hadn't gotten to, was costing her far more than she wanted.

She stood suddenly, figuring that time was best as any to bring up her real reason for seeing her. "Thank you for your time, Captain Unohana. I'm sorry but I need to leave now. I need to head to the Academy to put in a request for Potter Harry's placement in my division."

A look passed in Unohana's eyes that Yoruichi couldn't decipher but for her sake hoped meant 'interest.' "Is that so? That's the boy who walked the bridge of regret?"

"Yes," Yoruichi said with a smile. "I think he will be a great addition to my division. I mean since you didn't show an interest in recruiting him when I asked on examination day-"

"Ah, I've changed my mind since then." Unohana smiled. "But don't let me stop you. The Fourth Division will also place a request. Then it will be up to Potter-san to decide where he wants to go."

Yoruichi could not keep the grin off her face. That was why she went to Unohana. That is what she had wanted all along, to push Unohana into recruiting the boy. 'The little bastard can be stuck safe and sound in the healing division and I won't have to worry about him dying out there in some Hollow attack.'

"Well, if I have to lose him to someone, I would rather it be you," Yoruichi said and bowed, making Unohana laugh again. Yoruichi quickly said her farewells and exited the 4th Division feeling drained. As things stood she figured she had three chances out of four to get Potter where she wanted. Her division, Tessai's division, Unohana's division, were all places he could be put in a position away from remained to be seen what the 8th Division did.

Satisfied with her work, she returned to the Academy to check on Potter before heading home.


Three Months After Entrance Exam

There was dirt in my mouth again, wet from my saliva and blood from my split lips. It tastes disgusting but oh so very familiar. As does the elbow pressing between my shoulder blades.

"This is it, this is where I slit your throat!" Mao's angry voice rages in my ear. "How many times have we done this? Why can't you get it right?"

She was right, of course, it was probably the third week she had ended a spar with the exact same move. After two months of secret training I should've been a lot better. But I wasn't. I was never physically gifted. Death had changed that to a degree. Knowing how to use reiatsu to strengthen my body, hoho to move fast, and Annette's gift of physical power were all there. But Melissa Mao had two out of the three of those and a talent for hand-to-hand combat that I simply didn't have.

You are only limited by your own mind, my sweet flower, came Izanami's whisper in my soul. What is your body but another weapon of the Master of Death? What is Hakuda but a weapon of death?

"You have five seconds before I break your arm. You need a harder reminder of what failure will cost you," Mao growled and wrenched at my arm that she had in a lock.

I grunted in pain and tried to channel what Izanami had been telling me. You are the master of your body, Hakuda is one of many weapons waiting to be freed. You are the master, act like it!

I roared and pressed on the earth with my free hand raising myself and Mao off the ground. I twisted so that my other arm broke and took away Mao's leverage on me. She rolled off of me and was on her feet in a heartbeat. The pain in my arm registered like a hot alarm. "The pain is of a broken weapon, it's unworthy," I gasped and took heart in Izanami's pleased hum in my soul. I blurred to her in a blink of an eye, my speed gave me flight and I hit her with a double kick to her chest. The shock on her face was delicious as she flew into a tree and cracked it.

I didn't stop, just as she had taught me. My punch from the good arm caught her in her stomach. It was like hitting ironwood. Melissa's smile in answer to my punch was fierce and proud. She spun around the fist buried in her torso and somehow wrapped my head in one leg. Before I knew it I was being slammed to the earth with the kick. My breath left me in an explosion of spittle and blood.

She gave me no mercy and came down on me as relentless as the rain in the night sky. It was Saturday night, our supposed date night. Her foot stomped on my ribs and they cracked. "The-pain," I gasped, "is unworthy," I coughed and sprang up, closely avoiding an axe kick. The words, Izanami's mantra that I was repeating out loud, made me feel invincible. The pain angered me for existing, my breaking body responded with a strength I couldn't understand.

Mao's arms snaked past my good arm, delivering punishing knife strikes, her hands as tough as talons grabbed my flesh and pulled so hard I thought she was going to shred muscle from bone. I balanced forward, bringing my lead foot up and putting all my strength behind the kick to her knee. It was like hitting unbending steel. She raised the same leg and with a crescent kick cracked my jaw.

I screamed in agony. Broken ribs, broken arm, broken jaw. You are not listening, o' Master of Death. When you hit her, hit with the authority of your mantle!

Through tears of pain that were mixing with the warm rain, I saw her hurtle toward me in that favorite scissor kick tackle of hers. Something finally unbound itself inside me. Despite the pain I crouched and sprang under her in a smooth eel-like motion. My good arm grasped her throat mid flight and I jumped in the air to force us both to spin. Then as she had slammed me to the ground with her leg wrapped around my head, I did it to her with my hand wrapped around her neck.

She impacted the earth and it cracked like glass. Mud formed by the rain soon crawled into the cracks but Mao laid there, breathing heavily, her face transported in pride. If she hadn't broken my jaw I would've kissed her.

"You broke your own arm to get out of my hold." She stood up and shook her hair. "You're one slow fuck. It took you three weeks to figure out I was pushing you to break past your pain." She gave me one of those deadly serious looks. "To be trained in the Fong way you need to be suicidal in your resolve to learn."

I flicked her off with my good hand and collapsed to the ground. She picked me up bridal style to carry me back to the Academy. In the trees surrounding us I saw a pair of amber eyes staring at us. The cat had been a constant shadow for the last few months. Through my half open eyes I saw Melissa nod to the cat. Well, wasn't that interesting. So Melissa Mao had been aware of the cat. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised. The cat and Mao were both linked to the Fong somehow.


Four Months After Entrance Exam

The Kuchiki libraries were vast and spread over different buildings in their personal estate and the 6th Division compound. The library I was in was supposed to be where the Kuchiki kept various writings of philosophers, folklore, and some history. It was a library for outsiders. After exhausting the Academy library which seemed to have no history before the current Captain Commander's tenure I had begged Ginrei-sama for access to his archives.

The library took up the second floor of the administrative building of the 6th Division. The floors and walls were made of polished wood panels. Two windows at far ends of the room let in natural light, but even during the day lamps were needed to beat back the shadows cast by the tall shelves. I had outstayed my welcome by returning to the library day in and day out. But unless they threw me out I wasn't going to stop.

I sat at one of the tables. Its surface shone which made me wonder if anyone but me ever used the library. I had two notebooks open, one tracking specifically what I found related to my research. The other was to catalogue anything else of interest that came up.

Someone walked into the library. I didn't raise my head from an early philosopher's treatise. At times there were hints in the writing of ancient periods. It was probably a 6th Division shinigami checking to see if I was still there. In a minute however the presence hadn't left the library, infact I sensed it close to me. I had been too engrossed in the book.

Trying to be natural and not startled I raised my head and moved in the chair so I could stand quickly. My eyes met the smiling visage of Aizen Souske. The pretty boy had a bad tendency to simply 'pop up' around me since our first meeting in the calligraphy club. Well I had been waiting for an opportunity like the one he'd given me. "Aizen-san, I'm surprise to see you in the 6th Division."

"Ah, Potter-san, I had some paperwork to deliver downstairs. I was surprised to hear a cadet in the 6th Division so I came to see who it was." He shifted a folder in his hands to indicate the paperwork. "Well, isn't this a pleasant coincidence. My day has been boring. Maybe you can entertain me for a bit." The words were said in a genial tone but having seen how easily he flipped on the effusively polite persona around girls I was on guard.

"Sure, but I don't know what an Academy cadet can do to entertain a seated officer like yourself," I said, and reached for one of my notebooks that was in his line of sight. He reached for it at the same time. I had seen his obvious interest in it by how his eyes kept going to it.

"Oh, what's this? Your writing has improved immensely, Potter-san," he said, picking up my notebook before I could. "I'm glad my calligraphy lessons are helping you."

"Yes, thank you, now please give that back," I stood and stumbled deliberately toward him. He grabbed me by the shoulder to steady me but I kept falling forward until I managed to hit him in the side awkwardly. The movement hid the invisible form of Izanami taking a quick taste of Aizen's blood.

"Careful, Potter-san." He suddenly pulled his hand back, frowning at a thin cut below his wrist. "How?" he said looking at the cut.

"Must be a paper cut from the documents in your hand. Sorry for jostling you, it must have happened then," I said.

He gave me a quick once over, looked back at the cut. "Yes, it's too thin to be anything else. Now what are you trying to hide in the notebook?" he smirked and danced away when I made to grab for it. "Myths about the origin of the world? Really?" he laughed. "Why are you wasting your time with these?"

I sighed and sat back, acting as put out as I could. "I'm just curious about where we come from. Haven't you wondered why we are here? Who set all this up? Shinigami going to earth, managing souls, this constant cycle of rebirth. What does it all mean?"

Aizen's brow arched and he closed the notebook before handing it to me. "I wonder a great many things." He sat down. "Surely you know that the Spirit King set up the order of the mortal world and the afterlife."

"Yes," I bristled, "but who is he? Why did he make things the way they are?"

Aizen's smile grew until it resembled something close to his real smile. This wasn't the self-effacing smile he used to draw the crowd in. This was predatory, triumphant even. "I knew there was something about you that was interesting. I wonder the same things. Why the hunger? Why the poverty? Do you know when we meet loose souls in the living world we tell them that we are sending them on to a better place?" He leaned forward, intensely interested in my answer.

"Yes, I've read the standard spiel we are supposed to give," I said. I left out what I actually thought of the words.

"Strange isn't it, Potter-san, that we lie to them. We, who are agents of the Spirit King, taught to lie to souls we supposedly manage." Aizen said, there was a fervour in his words that resonated within me. I couldn't decide if I liked Aizen when he dropped his mask or when he kept it on. Both faces made you want to trust him.

" why do you think the afterlife is like how it is?" I asked. "Why is the world like this?"

Aizen leaned back and considered me for a long moment. "Have you thought of which division you would like to join after graduation?"

I frowned. "Why are you changing the subject?"

"Answer the question," he said.

The desire to be stubborn reared its head. How dare he order me around? "I have not decided."

"You will consider the fifth? I'm sure you will enjoy working with me and our captain, I will put in a good word for you." He stood up and walked to the shelves as if he knew exactly where he was going. "If you read the folktales and old myths, they talk about the soul king finding an existence ripping itself to shreds under the weight of all the souls contained within. He brought harmony to the souls, creating a cycle of balance, and so created life and death. Two forms of existence, as similar as mirror images, as distant as your own reflection." He slipped out a book from the shelves and brought it over to me. "The shinigami he made to cultivate the harmony," he said with an edge of sarcasm.

"You don't sound like you believe it," I said. "You don't see harmony in...our existence?"

Aizen smiled that attractive self deprecating smile. "I don't think you see the harmony in our world," he said.

He was right, of course. If Rukongai was Heaven then I'd be damned, but it was curious how he led me around but never admitted to thinking the same as me. I looked at the title of the book and my heart almost clenched in shock. There were two words on the cover: Izanagi, Izanami. "What's this?" I asked.

"One myth of our origins from the living world. I thought it interesting when I found it during one of my postings. It's a story of a husband and wife, a god and goddess, who created the cycle of life and death out of a marital fight." Aizen laughed, it sounded bitter and amused. "Some people look at our world and find so little sense in it that only the vengeance of a spurned woman and the pride of a foolish man can explain it."

"It sounds childish," I said lightly, belying the turmoil I felt inside.

"Looking for answers in these tomes will only result in such things. I would suggest you stop wondering why the world is how it is and wonder how it could be better than what it is." Aizen picked up his folder and walked away with a parting nod.

I sat there wondering if I should open the book. Wondering why I had never pressed Izanami to explain what being the goddess of death meant as far as her role in setting up Soul Society. Why did I never ask her why I was pulled out of my afterlife into Rukongai?

I shut my eyes and called to her. "Did you get Aizen's blood?"

"Of course, my flower. The man is an illusionist, he deals in lies and feigns. He is dangerous," she said.

"Izanami, do you know why I'm here? Did you bring me here?" I asked, opening myself to sense her emotions.

She was angry and offended. "You think I would bring you here to trap myself within you? To reawaken into slavery?" I stayed silent and she finally relented, "I do not know how you came here, it was not my doing. I had been asleep for eons before I woke up in your soul."

"Thank you for answering my question." I could find no lie within her emotions.

"Foolish child," she cursed.

When I left the library I took the book Aizen had found. No matter what Izanami had said, I was curious about her myth in the living world. I remembered her saying something about a husband the first time I had met her face to face.