Persimmon No More
Summary:The 3rd division gets a new taichou...and the taichou is a female. Just a glimpse of the first meeting of Kira Izuru and Kuroyuri Reina. Prequel of ALIVE. No pairing, Kira, my OC(s).
Disclaimer: I don't own BLEACH, Tite Kubo does. I only own my OCs.
Another stressful day of paperwork.
Honestly, Kira Izuru couldn't even remember the time when he had not been busy with paperwork. He couldn't remember when the last time he had a free, idle time to do nothing, but lounge lazily in his couch, thinking about ideas of haiku.
None, na-dah. Face it, Izuru, you don't have any more free time for your life now, that you are eternally bound to be both fukutaichou and taichou all-in-one, even after the Winter War is finally over. You are eternally bound to the damn paperwork for the rest of your life, man.
He almost snorted out loud hearing his own thought.
A year after the Winter War, the 3rd division had a new taichou. He was a scruffy, slightly goofy looking man with friendly and almost clumsy appearance, going with the name of Amagai Shusuke. In Kira's point of view, he was a quite good taichou; hardworking, morale-inspiring, diligent and strong in his own way…it was quite a shame when it was eventually revealed that he was the mastermind behind the bakkouto case.
And then he declared his revenge against Yamamoto-soutaichou. After he found out about the truth, he finally committed suicide.
What the hell was wrong with the 3rd division and its supposed taichous?
A jigokucho fluttered inside his cramped office—office that had become too vacant and silent it was almost unbearable for him—and landed on his window sill. He raised a finger so the insect could perch on it and he listened to its message.
His brows rose upward in sheer shock as he heard the message and replayed it over and over within his head.
Yamamoto-soutaichou wants my attendance at the taichou meeting hall? In what purpose?
Shrugging off his suddenly worried thought, Kira finished what was left from his daily paperwork and dumped the unfinished rest on his 3rd and 4th seat officers' document piles. If they complained about their additional tasks, they could rattle later; that was what he thought.
He set on a light shunpo towards the 1st division meeting hall. He kept wondering why the Soutaichou sought his presence alone. He didn't remember there was any schedule for meeting today. And he didn't sense any other reiatsu gathering at the place he now headed for—aside from the soutaichou, his fukutaichou, and another unfamiliar reiatsu.
Kira frowned. Whose reiatsu was that?
When he arrived, Sasakibe-fukutaichou greeted him formally and almost immediately ushered him into the old general's spacious office. After announcing the younger man's presence, the 1st division fukutaichou slipped away from the spot; leaving Kira alone to face the Soutaichou.
"Get in, Kira." Yamamoto's old, gruffly voice beckoned him to step inside the office. The lack of interior, aside from the wooden desk and single high-chair, within the open and spacious office of the 1st division taichou always made him feel small. The huge space intimidated him, just like the presence of the Soutaichou himself.
Kira stepped in and bowed deeply when he was in front of the soutaichou's desk, a bit far away. The old general grunted his acknowledge and Kira rose from his bow. He almost instantly noticed the figure standing beside Yamamoto.
The figure was of a woman, tall and slender, clad in general shihakusho uniform. However, her sash was red. She was a remarkably beautiful woman, with long, flowing raven hair which reached her waist—tied into a loose pony tail with red silk ribbon—and elegant aura emanating from her presence. Her beautiful face was seemingly set in serene, calm, and impassive poker face; though not by any mean cold and detached. She kept her sharp gaze on him, loosely scrutinizing him. Though her scrutiny wasn't as sharp as the stares he usually received, Kira couldn't help but slightly shudder by the intensity.
Just who is this woman? What is her connection with me after all that the Soutaichou feels compelled to call me?
Yamamoto's voice brought him back from his reverie. Kira looked at him, bowed slightly, and answered reservedly.
"I would like you to meet Kuroyuri Reina. She is formerly member of Onmitsukidou under Shihouin Yoruichi's command prior to a hundred years before now. Because of some… circumstances…" the old general paused for a moment before continued, "…she has been away from Soul Society for quite some time. But she's back in service and filling in every requirement needed for becoming a division commander, so I promote her to be your direct superior counted from today. She will become the 3rd division taichou from now on."
All Kira could do was gawking.
After the brief meeting, Kira accompanied his new taichou back to the 3rd division compound. He walked stiffly beside her, while the woman sauntered nonchalantly, her steps solid and certain; yet, in the same time, they were still toneless and elegant.
He glanced at her from the corner of his eyes every now and then, taking in her regal nature.
Upon peering from near distance, Kira could see that her eyes were pure crimson in color, like shimmering red rubies. Her raven hair was like flowing silk, sleek and soft. Her skin was flawlessly porcelain-like, pale crème in color. Her nose was small and slender. She had high cheekbones, thin lips, and proud chin. With long, elegant eyelashes and perfectly arced eyebrows, she was a goddess.
Kira wondered how a woman with such beauty could be one of fierce Onmitsukidou members. Imagining her doing a stealthy assassination was somehow beyond his mind.
They kept silent while walked back towards the 3rd compound. Kuroyuri didn't do much but tonelessly padded beside him—her taichou haori folded and tucked neatly between her armpits. Kira wondered why she didn't wear it in the first place.
A tilt of her head was enough for him to know that she was listening.
"Why don't you don the haori, Kuroyuri-taichou?" he asked tentatively.
The woman smiled faintly and shook her head. "No need to do it hurriedly. I don't yet make the announcement to the division members after all." Her voice was maturely feminine and deep for a woman. Kira found himself enthralled by the silkiness and velvety quality of her voice.
"Is it plausible enough? Fukutaichou-san?"
Kira nodded, still enticed. It was plausible enough.
"The name's Kira Izuru, Kuroyuri-taichou."
The woman smiled lightly. "I've heard…Can I call you Izuru instead? I dislike formality."
Kira stiffened. Both of his former taichous were also fond of calling him by his given name…
"…Su—sure." Kira cursed his sudden nervousness. It made him fidgety. If Kuroyuri-taichou noticed his fidgeting, she surely didn't show it.
He felt rather than saw her firm gaze on the side of his face. Kira tried not to show his queasy, though.
"…Thank you. You can call me Reina-taichou, Reina-san, or only Taichou as well."
Kira opened his mouth to protest but a slight flare of reiatsu which prickled his body silenced him almost immediately. He could only nod.
They reached the division training ground. Almost all the members of the division had been outside and doing some training. Since Kira wasn't a kind of fukutaichou who could easily socialize and induce some morale within his ranks, they didn't give him much glance when he and Kuroyuri approached. Though, some of them did greet him formally; every pair of eyes went wide as they laid sight upon the beautiful and slender form behind Kira. Some of bolder males within the ranks even whistled in lecherous manner. Kira glared at them.
"All of you! Do behave, she's—"
His shouts were cut short by a firm hand clasping his shoulder. Kira glanced over at Kuroyuri, who kept her face impassive and shook her head slowly.
"Everyone." Her voice when greeted the division members was firm and sounding authoritative enough to make some of the boldest men fell silent. There were still whistling and clucking here and there, though.
Kira frowned at them, somehow feeling dejected when some of his own subordinates ignored his pointed look and kept leering shamelessly at the female taichou. The female members however looked at Kuroyuri with dubious look; even though several of them gave her an awed and appreciative look.
"The name is Kuroyuri Reina. I do realize all of you don't hear about it yet, but counted from today, I will be your new taichou." She told them, somehow formally yet regally. Kira didn't utter any word, only observing the others' reaction.
The division members were silent for some moment—before all hell broke loose.
"A female? Our new taichou is a female?"
"I don't know her! I've never seen her before! How could she—?"
"Just what kind of disaster will she bring to our already broken division—?"
"Kira-fukutaichou! What kind of joke is this?"
"This is crazy—"
Kira seethed, though he didn't show it openly. He glowered at his subordinates and eventually shouted.
"Be quiet! All of you! Yamamoto-soutaichou is the one who promotes Kuroyuri-taichou! How come you doubt his assessment?"
They were silent, bowing their head. But still, murmurs and grudging whispers could be heard lingering amongst the ranks.
Kira glared at them. No one dared to meet his infuriated eyes.
Kira and the others snapped their heads sharply to look at Kuroyuri, who had perched on the rooftop nearby. They were blatantly astonished. Since when did the woman move there? They sure as hell didn't see her moving at all!
"Just like I've expected from Ichimaru's vassals…" she muttered somehow coldly. "The bastard has dulled your mind through his mockery and tricky lies you can't even decipher the right meanings from the wrong ones. He spread fear, uncertainty, and doubts amongst you they weaken your resolve and willpower. And here I am, thinking that at least, after Shusuke's leadership—despite his divergence—I will find more …fine fellows to command. How disappointing…"
Her words were harsh, cold, and merciless Kira couldn't help but shudder.
The others gaped after hearing her words, but soon they snapped out of it and began to yell at her.
"How dare you?"
"You don't know us and our misery under that traitor Ichimaru's regime! How could you say that?"
"You don't even know Amagai Shusuke and Ichimaru Gin!"
Kuroyuri watched in mild interest as they shouted at her. She knew it was a wrong step to do, but, honestly, she couldn't help it. The mental scar both Ichimaru and Amagai left behind stuck within each of their mindset. The doubt, the fear of being betrayed, the uncertainty… those negative feelings radiated from the shinigami of the 3rd division they made her sick. She detested those feelings; she wanted to get rid of them from her subordinates' mindset and pathway.
"…For your information, I knew both Ichimaru and Amagai personally." She told them after the commotion eventually faded—Kira's sharp reprimand silenced them somehow. They fell silent once more, shocked by her words; Kira was no exception.
"Amagai was once my colleague in Onmitsukidou—we were in different corps, though. As for Ichimaru…" she trailed off. They suddenly felt a prickling sensation on their skin as Kuroyuri's reiatsu spiked a bit.
"…Can you easily forget the man who stabbed you right in the chest? I sure as hell can't."
The silence stretched awkwardly. Kuroyuri fixed her crimson eyes on them, calm and resolute. Kira stared at her in sheer shock as well as the other members.
Kuroyuri scoffed. "He… tried to kill me on Aizen's order. Don't ask me the reason. I still don't know myself…
When Soutaichou-dono offered me this position, I almost refused. Thinking that I will command the division where my supposedly killer previously led, I felt some kind of repulsion." She explained detachedly. "But as a shinigami, duty comes first. The leader spot is vacant for too long and Izuru here"—she gestured at Kira, which bowed his head in slight uneasiness—"was kind of troubled for doing both fukutaichou and taichou's responsibility. Not to mention, the division members are hard to handle and unwilling to cooperate… you don't regard Izuru much as your superior officer after all. That is inappropriate to do."
Her eyes narrowed as she firmly gazed at them. Neither talked nor even let out a single sound. At least they had decency to bow in embarrassment.
"…So, despite my old grudge towards one Ichimaru Gin, I accepted the offering. It would be unfair for Izuru, all of you, and the division itself if I rejected the position just because I have sentiment towards the ex-taichou…while I have all potential required to be a taichou. It would also be unhealthy for me, to keep the hatred within my heart for so long…" Kuroyuri trailed off. "…He's dead already anyway…"
Nobody talked as the silence ensued.
"…I will begin with being honest to you." Kuroyuri's eyes looked solemn. "I won't lie to you, or keep some secret from you, aside from my personal life—like my love life, my sex life, etc. Oh no, they are off limit, you know." She gave them a lopsided smile, indicating that she was joking. A few snickers could be heard from the ranks. Kira couldn't help but raise a brow at her; feeling slightly miffed.
"I will be honest to you and won't lie to you… at least not if it concerns our mutual belief and loyalty towards the Gotei," She stood from her seated position on the rooftop. "I… won't betray you, I make my vow. If I ever break it, I will be sure as hell to take my own life with this… just like Shusuke did…"
She then presented her zanpakuto in front of her chest in horizontal manner. The spectators subconsciously held their breath as she slowly fingered the tsuba as if she wanted to confirm her vow.
Flabbergasted, Kira didn't yet observe the blade, but he guessed it was a tachi or nodachi, considering its curvy and broad form. The zanpakuto was also slightly longer than usual katana. The scabbard, the handle, the tsuba… they were all black in color, with streaks of blood-red on the handle. The tsuba was rectangular in form, with eight hollows resembling teardrop surrounding the hilt.
Kuroyuri unsheathed her zanpakuto and they could see that the blade was deep crimson in color. The dull edge's lining was almost black, while the sharp edge's was bordering on crimson-silver.
She swiveled the zanpakuto, pointing it downward before muttered its release command.
The dark-red reiatsu burst violently from Kuroyuri and her zanpakuto, startling Kira and the others. The blade changed form into one of a nagamaki—long handled nodachi—with the same styled tsuba and additional ornate red tassel on the pommel. The blade retained its blood-red color, though.
"This is the shikai of my zanpakuto, Kurogane. He is elemental-type of zanpakuto; the element is darkness. The shikai form is a nagamaki, as you see it. Though, somehow the weight and form trouble me for using it in a long time." She paused. "As for my bankai, well… I won't show it to you here, of all places. I promise I will show you later. It's so much… devastating—in a lack of term—the form itself and its effect to my body."
She planted the nagamaki firmly on the rooftop and stood still.
"Everyone…anyone… if there any of you disagree with my appointment, then I ask you to spar me or fill in complaint to the Soutaichou himself. Either way will do; I don't really mind—though I prefer sparring. That way I can gauge your skill…" she trailed off and fixated her crimson eyes at her subordinates. "…And you can see mine. Then you can appreciate and deem whether I'm worthy or not to be your taichou. Is this agreeable?"
Murmurs and whispers of agreement spread around the ranks; though there were some of them who still let out jarring voices. Kuroyuri deliberately ignored the offending sounds and stood still, with Kurogane in her hand, shikai form. Kira looked back and forth at his new taichou and his subordinates, somehow worried. But when he took a look once again at Kuroyuri, he was calmed by the woman's warm smile. Her smile was somehow contagious. Kira smiled back, reassured.
"Come on. Aren't there any of you who want to volunteer in sparring with me?" she asked lightly. Murmurs continued; but then after a moment, a man with tall, bulky appearance and short, cropped hairdo stepped forward. His zanpakuto was slipped in his sash, big and broad for a katana—accommodating his stature, it seemed. He then set his serious eyes on the female taichou and stated loudly.
"I will spar you. I represent some people here, who feel objection towards your recent appointment. We barely know you. We…can't help but not to trust you." He paused for a moment before grinned cheekily.
"But we want you to know that we appreciate your straightforwardness. Ichimaru Gin…never did that. He always put on his eerie grin and wandered somewhere we didn't know. He…gave us the creeps.
As for Amagai-san… it's such a shame that he did what he has done. He had made a decent taichou here, at least better than Ichimaru."
Kuroyuri stared at the young man, her gaze unreadable.
"…I agree. Amagai Shusuke was a fine man, despite his diverted way."
The bulky man gave her a lopsided smirk. "The name is Fujieda Takeshi, by the way. I'm 3rd seat officer."
He then glanced at Kira. "Sorry, Fukutaichou. I know you will disapprove of this, but the lady herself suggested the spar. Please bear with it."
Kuroyuri glanced at Kira and gave him a small smile. "Sorry, Izuru."
Kira sighed heavily. "It's not that I can protest now, can I? Just…be safe."
Both combatants-to-be smirked.
"For starter, I will dissolve my shikai. It's not that I take easy on you. It's just that I want to start slowly, okay?" Kuroyuri suggested.
"Fine with me, ma'am."
Kuroyuri smiled at him, making the young man blush. And then she dissolved her shikai back into the usual tachi/nodachi.
A petite, light-brown haired female brushed her way forward from the crowd and eventually stood beside Kira, who gave her an incredulous stare. The girl grinned sheepishly at her fukutaichou before turned towards Fujieda and waved cheerily at him.
"Who is she?" Kuroyuri queried, amused.
Fujieda chuckled. "19th seat, Koneko Ayame. She barely joined for a year; right as Amagai-san and Kibune were appointed in our division."
"Kibune? Kibune Makoto?"
Fujieda nodded. "Yes. He became 3rd seat until I succeeded him. Kira-fukutaichou killed him when Kibune raised his zanpakuto at and endangered some of us. At that time Kibune followed Amagai-san's vengeful path."
Kuroyuri glanced at Kira and gave him a knowing look. The blonde, however, didn't even bat his eyelashes.
"I heard about him." Kuroyuri muttered. "He was arrogant and somewhat proud of himself. He believed that his skills were superior even to a taichou."
Fujieda nodded and grimaced. Some of the ranks let out insult towards the dead man, though Kira immediately silenced them with his frown.
"Shall we begin, ma'am?"
"At your service, Fujieda."
Fujieda then looked at Koneko and waved. "On your mark, Aya!"
Koneko chirped, "Okaaay, Takeshi!"
Kuroyuri stifled her laughter. "First name basis, hmm?"
"Ehh, she's my childhood friend from Rukongai."
At Fujieda's apparent blush, she couldn't hold her laughter any longer. The others also guffawed and bayed at them. Both Fujieda and Koneko blushed deeply.
Kira eventually noted, at one point, the initial tension had disappeared. The ranks had relaxed and seemingly appreciated their new taichou. It relieved him… somehow.
"O—okay, then, Takeshi, Lady-taichou! HAJIME!"
At her shrill command, both Kuroyuri and Fujieda dashed forward, zanpakuto in hand. Fujieda launched his attack first, raising his zanpakuto above his head and swinging it downward at Kuroyuri—who glided before him. The woman, however, effortlessly sidestepped, avoiding the blow; and brought Kurogane to slash at his side.
Startled, Fujieda was a notch late to recover from the momentum of his initial assault. As he brought his zanpakuto to hold the slash, Kurogane had reached the side of his midsection. The blade would graze his body, if not for Kuroyuri, who abruptly changed her movement and shunpoed behind the unsuspecting man.
She thrust at his back, using the pommel of her zanpakuto instead of the blade. Fujieda wasn't fast enough to avoid the blow. The bulky man winced as Kurogane's pommel dug hard into his shoulder blade.
Kuroyuri smirked. "One hit for me. Two if I let the first one in."
Growling, Fujieda spun around to slash at her, but he only found empty spot as Kuroyuri shunpoed away. She reappeared behind Fujieda and swiftly kicked the side of his gut.
"Ughh…" He doubled over for a while before glared at Kuroyuri. "Hey, that's a kick!"
"Who says it's a punch?"
"Taichou, you didn't say about the kick." Fujieda whined, somehow surprising the others as he deliberately called Kuroyuri with her title. Kira only smirked.
Kuroyuri laughed. "Yes, I didn't. But I didn't either say that it will be only zanpakuto fight. Free style, you know? Not to mention, I am formerly Onmitsukidou member. Hand-to-hand combat and flash step are my specialization."
Fujieda grimaced, though he smirked giddily later. "No shit."
"Uh huh. That's what you say."
They started again as the others cheered for them.
Kuroyuri won—as predicted.
After the spar, Fujieda had his bruises (one on his shoulder blade, one on his gut, and another on his right arm) nursed. Koneko aided him. The other members of the division scattered around the training ground, but they were now in a happy and cheery mood. Some brought bottles of sake and cups; and then they spread out the mats to sit on the ground and have a drinking party. They had mutually appreciated and accepted Kuroyuri as their new taichou.
As a regard, the woman freed them from today's paperwork, much to their happiness. When Kira and several seated officers raised a protest, Kuroyuri only waved their raves with nonchalant demeanor. She said she would conduct a plausible reason to present to the senile general—as she dubbed the Soutaichou, much to both their amazement and horror—for their paperwork tardiness. Most of the ranks practically bowed to her out of awe and admiration.
Kira leaned against the barrack's wall, content with a cup of sake in his hand. Beside him, Kuroyuri—who had donned her haori for some time after her victory over Fujieda—propped her chin against her folded arms, with said arms propped on her folded knees. She practically curled against the wall. She didn't drink, though. Kuroyuri disliked sake.
Kira glanced at his taichou and found that she had a faraway look in her eyes.
"Taichou…" Kira tentatively asked. "Is it something wrong?"
Kuroyuri raised her head and looked at him; her eyes a bit drowsy.
"You know," she started. "I hate persimmon."
"It's round, reddish-orange, tangy, and sweet-bitter. The flesh is mushy and the juice is thick. I hate the dried persimmon even more." She mumbled incessantly.
Kira blinked. He was truly sure that his taichou didn't drink even a cup of sake…
"…I hate the fruit not because of my hatred towards Ichimaru." She finished, fixing her crimson eyes solidly at Kira. "…You do either, don't you?"
"I heard from someone that you also hate persimmon. Like me."
Kira stiffened. "Who told you that, Taichou?"
Kuroyuri sniffed. "Someone."
"…Yes. I mean, no—yes, I hate persimmon, but no, I don't hate it because of Ichimaru Gin, that's…ehh…" Kira blushed when his words came out jumbled.
"Izuru, you're cute when you're blushing."
Kira blushed even deeper. "Taichou, I don't know what to say…"
"I had brother once…" She droned as she propped her head again at her arms and knees. Her eyes had taken that faraway look once more.
Kira now turned to look at her fully. He noticed the forlorn and sad look in her eyes.
"My brother was so much alike with you. He was shy, sometimes fidgety and clumsy; but he was also a kind and brave soul; a wonderful boy, indeed."
"…'Was', Taichou? He…your brother…"
Kuroyuri looked at him wistfully. "He died when he was five. I was eleven back then."
Kira bowed his head, saddened. "I—I'm sorry, Taichou. I don't know."
"Don't be sorry, Izuru. It's fine. It has been past a hundred years anyway." She closed her eyes in reminiscence. "…He died when he climbed the persimmon tree in our yard and fell headfirst. Since then, I hate everything about persimmon, as a child, because either the tree or fruit—everything—reminds me of my little brother. Now, I simply hate the fruit because of the taste and texture."
Kira was silent as she trailed off.
"What about you, Izuru? Why do you hate persimmon?"
Kira fidgeted to find the answer. "Well…I think the reason is same like yours, Taichou. I hate the tanginess of the fruit as well as the sweet-bitter taste. And, again, same like you, I hate dried persimmon even more. I hate it with passion."
"Not because of Gin?"
Kira slowly shook his head. "…No. Though, he fueled my hatred towards the thing further. He…kind of forced me to eat dried persimmon every time he had a chance."
Kuroyuri snorted. "Bastard…"
They were silent for some moment before Kuroyuri once more spoke—in a playful tone.
"I promise you, Izuru. I won't make any dried persimmon from those fruits. Ever." She paused before added. "I won't uproot the trees, though. They're perfect to green the division's yards anyway."
Kira chuckled. "Glad to hear it."
A/N: Please R&R. Thank you for reading. I hope I don't make Kira far too OOC for h is own good...