A/N: Okiedokie, people! This is a new story that I've recently come up with just for the heck of it. If you like it, well great! Just keep in mind that it's a side story to work on when I'm having writer's block on my main story. Hope ya like it though!

Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach, but I do own Kandace Akari =)

W-H-I-T-E-F-I-R-E

Difficult

"Is that singing, coming from in there?" I asked the seireitei prison guard incredulously, arching one eyebrow in a rare show of surprise. Surely I must have been mistaken. The guard looked as if he were struggling to find the right words.

"We have a particularly . . . difficult prisoner at the moment, Captain Kuchiki," he explained with difficulty, glancing back at the prison door behind his station. "Rather rebellious by nature."

"Hmph," was all I offered in response. This particular month, it was once again my job to reinforce the seireitei prison's capability to handle it's convicts, as well as to ensure that none of them were causing the watchmen any trouble. Obviously, this person was attempting to get away with both and, as much as I despised yearly prison duty, it was my job to put this person in their place once and for all.

I nodded curtly at the guard, who stepped aside immediately, pulling the heavy, steel door open. Unwillingly, I stepped through into the dark, musty jail hall, barred cells lining either side of the center walkway. I glanced down distastefully as several prisoners attempted to reach out and grab my robe, begging to be set free. I simply ignored them to the best of my ability, following the sound of the now-humming shinigami.

At last, I reached the cell that I had been searching for. Nobody came up from this one to plead for their freedom. From behind the bars, the uncharacteristically lighthearted melody sounded, stronger than before. I peered inside, for some strange reason wanting to see this so-called 'difficult' prisoner for myself.

She sat at the back of the uncomfortably small space, tapping her foot as if she were on some street corner rather than locked up in a prison cell. One look at the girl was all that I needed to determine that she was little more than garbage. Her midnight-black hair was a rat's nest at best, with random curls sticking out at haphazardly all over the place. She was unflatteringly clothed in what resembled cut up washrags that had been unskillfully sewn together. She was filthy from head to toe, with scratch marks on her palms and ankles and a scar that went down her left cheek. The only asset about her that wasn't appalling was her dark blue eyes; clever but they held a mysterious light to them.

She gazed up at me with an amused undertone, but continued to hum as if I wasn't there. I waited silently for her to stop, wanting to find out how far her patience extended. I didn't have to wait long for that, however.

"Hey," she called out, addressing me with rude informality,"You look pretty damn important to be hanging around a prison cell, you know."

I met her gaze coldly, expecting the girl to shrink back, the way that I was used to most people reacting to me. She did not. Her eyes held hints of defiance, as if I were somehow trespassing by standing in front of her prison cell.

"And your point is?" I said coolly, raising an eyebrow in contest. My words, however, only seemed to entertain her even more.

"Well," the girl suggested, smirking indignantly,"Maybe you should get on with your very important and powerful life instead of standing around here, staring at me." She was openly grinning now, but her eyes were careful. I glared down at her, sitting easily enough at the back of her cell. It had definitely been a long time since I had met someone with enough nerve to mock me the way that she had. Obviously, she hadn't the slightest idea who I was.

"Tch. Don't flatter yourself, girl," I said evenly, refusing to be put off by such an inconsequential street child,"I'm not here for you." The girl's eyebrows went up and she smirked, somehow looking shocked and amused all at once. Her mouth was open slightly as she stared at me, looking close to laughter.

"Well, you're a bit uptight aren't you?" She inquired insolently, sitting forward as if interested for the first time.

"I fail to see why it matters," I said, struggling to keep my vacant expression indifferent. There was definitely something wrong with this girl. I briefly wondered if she was mentally unstable or if she merely chose to act that way to annoy others. She threw her head back, laughing, her deep blue eyes sparkling with amusement.

"What?" I demanded sharply, letting a bit of my irritation seep through my normally perfectly composed facade. The prison gaurd had failed to mention that she was outright maddening to even be around.

"You're ridiculous, you are," She managed to get out in between fits of laughter. I said nothing, fully intent on uncovering some way of getting out of prison duty. At least until this senselessly irrational brat was gone. Renji was quite enough; I would no doubt go insane if I was forced to spend any amount of time with her for an entire month. There had to be some way to get out of it . . . She shook her head at me in disbelief, still grinning. "Didn't even deny it . . ." She muttered, sounding thoroughly entertained. I glared at the wretch.

"Do you know who you are speaking to, girl?" I demanded, though I was already well aware of the answer. Her eyes sparkled with mischief, something that caused me to become even more wary of what her response would be. I wasn't sure I wanted to know at all.

"I," she stood up and started walking toward the front of the cell casually,"am speaking with the man with the giant stick up his ass, of course." She took ahold of the bars with both hands, leaning her weight up against them in an easygoing gesture,"and enough with the 'girl' already. My name is Kandace Akari." She smiled expectantly, as if I wasn't with in hitting distance of her now.

"I don't care what your name is," I spat, beyond annoyed with the little brat by that point, deciding that I needed to leave before she tempted me to do something that would no doubt tarnish my reputation for being composed."I simply came to inform you that you are to cease causing disturbances with the guards at once."

The girl, Akari, pouted with mock sadness.

"Well, that's no way to talk to a lady," she complained, Her lower lip was sticking out but her eyes still had that humorous glow to them. Hardly a lady, I thought with acidity. She looked like an abandoned puppy wearing that expression. A mutt, no doubt."How 'bout a please?" she crooned, batting her eyelashes and laying it on thick. She muffled a snicker.

I could see, now, what the guard had meant by this Akari girl being 'difficult,' yet why they had not separated her from the other prisoners. She followed the general rules and did not try to escape, but she was proud and defiant enough to cause frequent disturbances. I would simply have to break her of that, then.

"It seems that I will have to drive the concept of 'respect' into your thick head over these next few weeks," I decided out loud, bluntly stating my intentions. Not that it mattered whether I told her what I planned to do or not. There was nothing she could do about it regardless. She smiled easily, untroubled by my obvious and barely concealed threats to make her life a living hell.

"Oh, you can try, 'your highness,'" she said doubtfully, turning to walk back to the far side of the cell,"but I'm warning you, I only give respect to those who earn it from me." She narrowed her eyes, revealing the fire that was barely concealed behind them.

"And I don't break easy."

Her spiritual pressure surged, as if to prove that very point. I turned, indifferently, to leave but glanced back at her briefly, her back pressed up against the wall in an innocent enough position. The corners of her mouth twitched ever so slightly.

"We'll see about that, Kandace Akari."

W-H-I-T-E-F-I-R-E

Annnddddd, that's a wrap. Read&Review people!

Oh, and Kandace Akari means bright, white fire. So now you all understand the title! 8)