Back in Black
Lt. Commander Richie
Disclaimer: I do not own either Bleach or D Gray-man. Eyup.
A/N: I love this idea so much. Unfortunately it was born of writer's block. But still, it's a great idea in my opinion~ The adventures of Lenalee in Soul Society, should she be dead and in possession of a dual zanpakuto! Yeah!
Night 1: Death and the Butterfly
"Usually, with a single zanpakuto, when you're the one establishing the connection you must focus solely on the spirit. However, in this case you must divide your attention equally between both spirits. If your attention wavers, depending on the temperament of the spirits you may have difficulty establishing an open connection again." The breeze blew through the grass and made it ripple, loose wildflower petals and other small pieces of debris flitting about like birds in the otherwise still atmosphere. Her Captain had a very calming voice, deep and commanding as well as soft and understanding. Another gust of wind blew through the garden, and this time it was strong enough to pick up their hair and blow it around. Her pigtails lashed like whips in the air, twin black snakes snapping and curling with the gusts. His fluttered gently, blending with the clouds like a silent flag.
"I'm doing my best," she said, her voice calm and level as she sat straight-backed on a small rock. It rose above the grass like a throne, and she looked every inch the queen of all of her grassy green territory. Her long legs were folded tightly into the lotus position, the soles of her feet facing the sky with her knuckles resting upon them. On her feet was a pair of black metal shoes, hard and unforgiving despite the fact that they bent with her every flex. Another gust of wind blasted through the garden, and this time a small twig was swept up with the leaves and loose grass and smacked her right in the cheek. She cried out in shock and whipped a hand to her face, purple eyes flying open in surprise.
"Lenalee!" her Captain was on his feet in an instant, concern in his brown eyes. Lenalee fixed him with a disarming smile and wiped what little blood there was off onto her sleeve, settling back down into the lotus position despite the chopping wind.
"I'm alright, sir. A stick is the least of my problems." The warmth in her eyes was enough to make her Captain sit back down, folding his own legs into the lotus position and retrieving his zanpakuto from where it had fallen off of his lap. Once the blue and red sword lay across his lap once again the lesson began once more.
"The temperament of one's zanpakuto is no different than your own. If you're a laid-back and unconcerned person, your zanpakuto will be just as difficult to deal with. If you're brash and forward, your zanpakuto will be just as willing to fight as you are." The wind began to die down slowly, the temperature rising as the chill started to fade. "Like Captain Abarai and his zanpakuto," he added as an afterthought. Lenalee was completely quiet as her Captain spoke, not even so much as a twitch disturbing her careful breathing and serene expression. She was a picture of concentration and understanding, and as the wind stilled to nothing the entire world seemed to slow to a stop around her. Nothing moved except for the slowly-welling trickle of hot blood in the scratch on her face.
Thinking back, Juushiro Ukitake did not think he made a mistake promoting her to Vice-Captain. He had needed one for so long after Kaien died, and his division was nothing if not slightly unbalanced with two Third-Seats taking up the second position. When Lenalee- a prodigy in her own right after being inducted into the Academy already in possession of a dual zanpakuto –graduated from the Academy with marks that hadn't been seen for a hundred years, he immediately snatched her up for his own division and began training her. Then of course the Winter War got in the way, but she proved herself in combat defending Rukongai and the Seiretei along with the rest of the divisions.
Despite all this, however, there seemed to be a lingering apprehension that followed the girl everywhere she went. Much like Kaien before her, she had refused promotions until forcibly given them. She put the well-being and abilities of those around her before her own, citing only that she didn't want to be given any sort of preferential treatment because of her status as a dual-wielder. It was almost as though she thought the people around her were more deserving of higher positions, though after twenty years Captain Ukitake had learned that that was not, in fact the case. The beautiful young woman lived only for the people around her, and would do anything to see her family- the 13th Division, succeed in any way possible.
It was that kind of devotion that she had once let slip had killed her. She died, apparently, in the process of killing an enemy much stronger than herself in order to save her friends. By all means, souls were not supposed to remember their past lives. The diminutive-looking pigtailed Vice-Captain was as much of a warrior as anyone in the 11th Division, but at the same time she was a gentle and loving soul that would help anyone in need. The wind started up again in a sharp gust, and the Captain shielded his eyes from a hail of small pieces of dirt. A black cloud loomed on the horizon, and as he watched a bolt of lightning cracked across the sky so violently that it was like a war was taking place in the heavens.
"We ought to get back to the Division offices, Lenalee." She opened her eyes at that, blinking them widely as though she had just woken from a dream. Another crackle of lightning rent the sky asunder with white light, and the summer storm really began to blow against them. The temperature dropped as the wind blew harder, but it was still uncomfortably hot. This was, no doubt, a true summer lightning storm.
"I got it!" The Vice-Captain was cheerful as she stood, long legs unfolding gracefully until she stood tall on her rock. It was only with the aid of the rock that she could look her Captain directly in the eyes, and it would have been funny if the two of them weren't about to get caught in a lightning storm out in the middle of a garden field in the far reaches of the 13th Division's grounds. Captain Ukitake carefully slid his zanpakuto into the himo of his uniform, the worn red grip of the sword as familiar to him as breathing.
"We'll have to run, I'm not feeling particularly up to shunpo tod-" a pair of thin arms encircled his waist, and all talk was cut off as the scenery suddenly blurred out of focus and a very strong sense of vertigo took over. At one point there was a twist, possibly upside-down, because all of a sudden the ground was blue and the sky was green, but this righted rather quickly and the ride was over. The arms let go, and Lenalee stepped back carefully. The large black boots that encircled her legs clicked on the tile deck of the training grounds, and she looked away bashfully. Ukitake blinked heavily several times, a hand going to his forehead as an overwhelming sense of nausea finally caught up with him and he stumbled slightly. Lenalee cried out in concern, starting forward to help her Captain despite having been the one that caused the distress.
"Are you alright, sir? I'm sorry I did that!" Captain Ukitake smiled, righting himself and placing one pale hand on his Vice-Captain's head right between her pigtails and the decorative golden ties she held them in. She looked ready to cry, and her height decreased by several inches as her boots curled in on themselves and became a pair of black shoes once again.
"It's alright. Just warn people before you take off with them and you should be just fine. It's nothing more than a little vertigo." A smile powered through her unshed tears, and she blinked them out of the way and shook her bangs from her face. "Now! If I guess right, I think I have a Captain's meeting tonight! That means we have to get the paperwork done!" Without a beat missed the white-haired Captain reached into one of his sleeves and pulled out a small chocolate rabbit wrapped in tinfoil with a large pink bow tied around its neck. Lenalee took it, amazed at the trick even after years of seeing it performed, not disappointed in the slightest that it was a little squishy.
"Can I do the requisition forms and keep going through the Academy graduate files?" The Vice-Captain asked, looking hopeful. Ukitake beamed, starting off for his office and beckoning her along.
"Of course you can! I'll have someone start some tea, and we ought to be done in time to take the long way around to get to the 1st Division!" His smile seemed nearly impossible to diffuse, yet it did when he realized that he was talking to empty air. Lenalee was already at the porch, pulling off her shoes in rapid succession before running up onto the wooden deck with the black shoes in her hands.
"It's alright, I've got the tea!" She yelled over her shoulder, her pigtails and the green scarf she kept tied around the top of her stiff white obi blowing out behind her as she ran. Ukitake started to say something, hand rising to stop her, but she was already through an open doorway and into the offices. Sometimes, he mused, she was simply too nice for her own good. There was not a single thing she wouldn't do just to be kind to someone. It was those qualities that made him think of her as a daughter, someone to be cherished and helped and supported, just as much as he thought of her as a subordinate. She was no doubt the best thing that had happened to the 13th Division in a very long time, and he was grateful that he had managed to snatch her up for his ranks before Shunsui or the Captain-General could recruit her for the 1st or 8th Divisions.
In the distance, lightning flashed. It took five seconds for the thunder to crack, as compared to the instantaneous sound that accompanied the lightning out in the garden. A Hell Butterfly flitted lazily from a Hydrangea towards a large decorative Buddleia bush, its conical stems of white flowers already encrusted with the black and red insects. Ukitake allowed a smile to creep across his features at the sight full of serenity as he passed it, taking the longer way through the gardens to get to the back covered porch connected to his office. The walk usually only took minutes, but the calm and beauty of the garden was enough to make the centuries-old Captain slow to a crawl of a pace. He could feel the creeping lethargy of the afternoon taking over him, easing him into a state of peace that he hadn't fully enjoyed in a very long time.
Then, of course, the sound of an explosion and a plume of smoke and fire rose from the 12th Division and utterly ruined the lethargy of the summer afternoon. Several alarms and an annoyingly repetitive klaxon jumped into their work with vigor, causing enough of a racket that the entire Buddleia bush was vacated of its insect inhabitants in an impressive display of black and red glittering wings. Unfortunately, an explosion in the 12th Division wasn't much of a surprise. Neither were the swiftly-approaching spiritual pressures from that same direction, familiar and powerful in their distinct tints of personality. The petals were stripped from a good portion of the surrounding flowers as someone in a Captain's haori shunpoed through the garden with little regard for their surroundings, followed by a crash as a Division wall was rudely blown apart by sheer strength. Captain Ukitake kept walking, however, deftly stepping out of the way as the chase resumed.
The rest of the walk to the back porch was quiet and serene, despite the blaring klaxons and intermittent smaller explosions that filtered in from the 12th. The smell of burning building materials was thankfully blown away from the 13th by the wind, but Juushiro couldn't help but pity the 10th and 11th divisions. As he sat and untied his sandals he thought he could hear the sounds of a fight breaking out, but after a moment it faded away and he thought nothing more of it. With a few quick motions he tied the ties of his sandals together and hung them over one of the rafters of the covered porch, waiting for the rain to come and clean them of the day's accumulated dirt and grime. His sock-clad feet making no noise on the wooden porch, the Captain slid open the shoji doors to his office as wide as they would go to expose it to the sunny courtyard garden. Lenalee already sat at her own desk, a steaming cup of tea next to her inkwell. The teapot and his own cup sat next to a stack of forms and his own inkwell on his desk.
"I made Ginseng, sir. I also went and got a personal requisition form because we're out of everything else, so if you want to fill it out it's on the top of the pile." Ukitake nodded, sinking down onto the cushion behind his deck and reaching for a brush. The contentment of a summer day filled the office as the two shinigami worked.
A stick of dango hanging from her mouth from a vendor that both she and her Captain visited every time they had to go to the 1st Division, Lenalee made her way into the conference area where the Vice-Captains' meeting was being held. She struggled with tying her badge onto her arm with only one hand, the other hand holding another two sticks of dango and her shoes in an awkward grip. Her socks were stuffed into her shoes and her hair was bundled into a messy wet bun between her gold pigtail ties, vaguely damp footprints marring the hardwood floor behind her all the way to the front entrance. Unfortunately, as both Captain and Vice-Captain had found out, a parasol only does so much to fend off the onslaught of a monsoon-like downpour. The ruined parasol was abandoned somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd Divisions, tossed haphazardly as the slushy hail had started rather unexpectedly. That calmed down by the time the two officers got to the 1st Division gates, but the rain was still falling so heavily that small rivers were forming in the streets.
Lenalee opened the door to the conference area and a towel was immediately shoved at her by someone, and she fumbled with it and the other things she held as she gave up on tying her badge to her arm. It turned out to be Vice-Captain Matsumoto, who promptly robbed her of a stick of dango and went to go lounge across three chairs that had been no doubt occupied before she had evicted the people in them. Lenalee sat her shoes by the door and stood, the fluffy white towel draped around her neck and the remaining extra stick of dango clutched in a death grip with her badge. In one large chomp she removed the rest of the dango from the stick in her mouth, and then held the other one between her teeth as she used both hands to awkwardly tie her badge onto her upper arm. With that done she pulled the gold hair ties from her hair and began toweling the long black locks down as vigorously as she could.
"If we could have order, we will begin." Matsumoto sat up as Vice-Captain Sasakibe began speaking, freeing the two seats she had monopolized for her impromptu chaise lounge. Vice-Captains Kira and Kuchiki grabbed them as quickly as they could without looking like they were desperate, and Lenalee took a seat towards the end of the long table as she wrapped her long hair up in her towel. When all of the Vice-Captains sans Kusajishi were seated the 1st Division Vice-Captain cleared his throat and began addressing the assembled officers. "At the moment, the Captains are discussing a rise in the sightings of Arrancars in populated areas of the Living Realm. However, this is not our concern," Vice-Captain Sasakibe paused, watching as the pink-haired terror from the 11th Division slowly but surely crept up behind Vice-Captain Kurotsuchi. When it seemed as though nothing particularly interesting was going to happen, however, he continued. "There have been reports coming from the higher-numbered districts of Rukongai of a white creature destroying Hollows. Reportedly, it takes the shape of a large white humanoid lion. Usually reports such as this are written off, however given the sheer number of people that have sighted the creature and the relative consistency of the reports we're inclined to believe that it is in fact true."
Silence reigned in the conference area, broken only by the steady static background noise of the torrential downpour outside. Lightning flashed outside the window and was accompanied instantaneously by thunder, and the electric lighting flickered slightly overhead. Lenalee and Vice-Captain Matsumoto both chewed silently on dango, digesting the outlandish-sounding words much like the rest of the room's inhabitants.
"What are we looking at, in terms of power?" The stretch of silence was broken by Vice-Captain Kuchiki, her voice level but inquisitive. The question was a valid one, and murmurs of assent rippled around the table as several Vice-Captains leaned forward in interest.
"Reports are still being substantiated; however, it is believed that the creature has killed around thirty Hollows in the past two months. The Onmitsukido team in charge of tracking the creature has had no luck in discovering its den, and though it has yet to do so we do not want to wait until it has attacked something or someone that isn't a Hollow before we act." Vice-Captain Sasakibe paused at the very interested looks boring into him, and the 11th's Vice-Captain took that chance to lunge forward and use Nemu Kurotsuchi's braid as a swing. The young woman didn't flinch or even so much as sway as the young pink-haired girl swung back and forth cheering like she was having the time of her life. Vice-Captain Oomaeda pulled out a bag of chips at that point, and several arguments started up. The meeting quickly dissolved into chaos, leaving Vice-Captain Sasakibe to try and pull it back together. In the back of the room, Lenalee tried desperately to run her fingers through her long hair to get some of the knots from towel-drying it out.
A hairbrush was thrust under her nose by someone, and the Vice-Captain looked up to see Vice-Captain Ise holding it out to her. She smiled gratefully around the stick of uneaten dango in her mouth and took the brush, quickly and carefully eliminating the knots she couldn't otherwise get rid of. After a moment she began to struggle, the ends of the hair behind her proving difficult to reach without causing more tangles ad snarls.
"I've got it." Nanao gently took the brush and began pulling the knots out, quickly finishing and then pulling all of the younger Vice-Captain's hair back into two tails at the base of her skull. "Pass me your hair ties, please." Lenalee handed her one and she went to work pulling one long pigtail up to where she usually kept them, securing it with a click before accepting the second one and repeating the process. Around them the Vice-Captain's meeting increasingly deteriorated into chaos, Rangiku having pulled out the sake from somewhere on her person and started passing it around. She and Vice-Captains Kira, Tetsuzaemon and Kotsubaki were engaging in a drinking contest that apparently involved stripping in Izuru's case. Nanao ran the brush through Lenalee's pigtails one more time before stowing it away, then adjusted her glasses and patted the younger girl on the head.
"Thank you," Lenalee smiled, draping her damp white towel around her neck and taking a large bite of the dango she had left. She didn't usually eat the confections in such large quantities, but her Captain had gotten a fair amount and handed her some then never really took them back. They were good, though, and the rickety little stand you could buy them at really hid the fact that it produced probably the best dango in the entire Seiretei.
Outside, the rain began to fall in even heavier torrents. The wind blew the droplets against the windows in sheets, and you could hear it whistle through the rafters of the covered porches outside if you listened hard enough. The windows rattled with such ferocity that the assembled officers grew quiet, and a flash of lightning accompanied by an immediate crash of thunder was apparent in that instant. What was also apparent were the lights going out with a pop and a flicker, and one of the windows shattering as a stick the size of a small branch smashed into it. With that, Vice-Captain Sasakibe gave up on attempting to regain control of the meeting and simply began ushering people out the door. Lenalee grabbed her shoes on the way out into the dark hall, finding herself immediately sandwiched between a half-undressed Izuru and a rather inebriated Rangiku. Nemu was physically picking people up and moving them out of the way of herself and Vice-Captain Kusajishi, who occupied the space on her shoulders and was pulling on her braid like reins. Small scuffles and some yelping were heard in the darkness, and someone managed to squish Vice-Captain Kuchiki into the wall opposite the door before she punched them particularly hard and then started reciting the incantation for Bakudo #8. There was a bright flash of red and several people fell over incapacitated, allowing more room for the confused shinigami to vacate the hallway.
"I'm going to go wait for my Captain outside their conference hall, Nanao. Are you coming with me?" Nanao nodded an affirmative at the younger Vice-Captain, placing a hand on her head like everyone seemed to like to do.
"Lead the way, Lenalee." She said, and the two of them trudged off into the darkness of the 1st Division's headquarters in search of their Captains.
So like, OMG, I should totally be working on The Loveless right now but I just seem to have lost inspiration for it. I'll have it back eventually, I swear, but at the moment I just can't seem to write anything for it. I love this idea though, and I wanna roll with it so bad because I can't help but love it. I've got the first eleven chapters done, so you guys can expect Monday updates once a week until at least the first week of September.
So. Some background on this. If you really can't tell, it's kind of a "What If" story. What if Lenalee died in the battle with the Level 3 she fought on the way to Edo? What if she ended up in Rukongai as a soul with a high amount of reiryoku? What if her Dark Boots were her zanpakuto, and each one functioned as a separate entity to effectively make her a dual-wielding shinigami? What if she was Vice-Captain of the 13th Division because I love writing about Captain Ukitake like nobody's business?
So yeah. Lenalee as a shinigami. I love this idea and have all sorts of stuff planned for it, so don't knock it until you've tried it.
It kinda seems that way even to me while writing it, but I swear on my handmade wooden Sogyo no Kotowari that this will not be Juushiro/Lenalee. No. Absolutely not. Will not happen whatsoever, I do not intend to write it, but Lenalee loves everyone and it can certainly seem like it might go that way at times but I swear it won't happen or I will stop writing this because it really does make absolutely no sense.
LCR, writing Bleach for the first time kinda, signing out until the next update. Review or I will hunt you down and Sogyo no Kotowari you.