Characters: Lisa, Nanao
: She leaves as though nothing has changed.
: None
: Spoilers for Deicide arc; T for mature themes
: post-Deicide arc
: I don't own Bleach.

Lisa never thought she would be back here again. Out of all the wild, desperate flights of fancy she indulged in when locked in the deepest sloughs of despair, this wasn't a possibility she ever even toyed with, let alone seriously contemplated. Lisa is a pragmatist, not a dreamer; when she is presented with cold, hard facts and truths, she prefers to accept them, rather than set them aside in favor of foolish, fleeting hopes.

The truth of the matter is, Lisa was sure that if she ever came back to Soul Society again, it would be as a prisoner awaiting execution.

Now, she's back, but she's not a condemned prisoner; she's, she's… The government levels of Seireitei aren't sure what to call the Vizard. They're not at all sure of how to classify them. After Aizen's involvement in their transformations was brought to light, naturally Central Forty-Six felt that they couldn't be labeled as criminals anymore; that would have been stupid, and they did not want to meet the fates of the last Central Forty-Six to cross a Shinigami. The Vizard, Lisa included, are free to migrate through Seireitei as they please; due to their Hollow sides, they will not be reinstated as Shinigami in order to protect the safety of Soul Society.

That's perfectly alright with the Vizard. They didn't want to be Shinigami of the Gotei Thirteen again, anyway. After a century of exile, they can never be true Shinigami again. And why would they ever want to re-enter an organization that tried to have them all exterminated like cockroaches, quietly as through they were some sort of secret, vile shame?

Now, Lisa stands in the Eighth Division grounds, and, to the eye, outwardly, anyway, it looks like almost nothing at all has changed. The huge, sprawling hydrangea bushes are still there, the winter having stripped them of their leaves and their showy flowers. If Lisa squints, she can spot out other flowering bushes that are dormant and shivering like her (she wishes she had a thicker coat), waiting for spring and the warm spring sun. The buildings all look the same. The barracks for the non-officer Shinigami still seems to have a leaky roof; she would have thought Shunsui would have bothered to get that fixed by now, or that Nanao would have at least forced him to do something.

Lisa winces when she thinks of Nanao.

The few Shinigami present on the grounds seem to look straight through her. Lisa doesn't really care (she doesn't want to say hello to anyone), but she does try to tell herself why, searching all the while to differentiate between the Shinigami who would remember who she was as a Shinigami and those whose faces she doesn't know.

For the latter, they don't see her as a Shinigami. They see her as a Vizard, half-Shinigami and half-Hollow, something to be feared. Respected as a fighter, someone who aided and assisted the Shinigami against Aizen Sousuke, but still not to be approached. Ah well; Lisa didn't really want to talk to them, either.

With the former, it's a bit complicated. They stare straight through Lisa as though she's made of smoke, for one of any reasons. They won't speak to her, out of fear, out of shame, or simply out of awkwardness. It may be that, to them, the only solution to this painfully uncomfortable quandary is to ignore her, and thus deny the problem's existence. Sound reasoning, she supposes.

Lisa just prays she won't run into Shunsui out here. He won't ignore her, and that's the problem.

Shaking off the uncertainty and all the ghosts that make her pause, Lisa draws in a deep breath, tells her heart to start beating again and moves on. There are more places she wants to see—she's not even entirely sure why—and she's eager to get in out of the cold.

Lisa's not sure what draws her to her old office. Nanao's office now, Lisa tells herself, wincing slightly again at the name and at the thin silver plaque on the door reading, quite clearly, 'Ise Nanao'.

'Ise Nanao'.

Not 'Yadomaru Lisa'.

It's not her office, and really, since it's not Lisa's office anymore, she shouldn't be going inside. To venture inside of Nanao's office (not Lisa's anymore) would be an invasion of privacy, and, under normal circumstances, Lisa knows how to respect the privacy of others, having a healthy respect for her own.

But today, curiosity conquers all. Today, Lisa throws caution to the wind and gently presses open the door, wondering, almost fearing what she'll find inside. Afraid of how different the room will be, afraid of how everything will be alien to her sight, just more proof to Lisa that everything has changed.

And she's amazed, dumbfounded, to find the office she used to call hers nearly entirely the same as she left it.

Of course, some things are different. Lisa's incense diffusers are gone (though the smell they produced somehow manages to linger on a century later; maybe it's clinging to the curtains), and the office is far cleaner than it was when Lisa was in charge (Less coated in dust; it seems Nanao is a little better about the dusting than Lisa ever was). Still, it looks disturbingly similar, to the point where Lisa almost expects to see a shadow of herself sitting in the chair, feet propped up on the desk as she does the paperwork.

She doesn't, and Lisa's glad.

As she's running her hands across the surface of the mahogany desk, suddenly being overcome by an uncharacteristic bout of wistfulness, someone else steps into the office. Lisa jumps, turns on her heels, and is greeted by the sight of Nanao standing near the doorway uncertainly, holding a stack of books in her arms.

Lisa flinches, the color draining from her face, and averts her gaze so that she's staring down at the tightly-woven carpeting instead of Nanao's face—a near-perfect mirror image of her own.

In reality, the only thing Lisa can say has changed about the Eighth Division since Lisa left it is Nanao herself. A pale, unsmiling, grave, somber woman, instead of the shy, earnest girl she used to be. No, wait. She's still shy, and she's still earnest. That much Lisa has seen from the limited interactions she's had with Nanao. But it's in a different way.

Nanao, simply, while outgrowing the past has lived on in it. She's both past and present for Lisa, and that's just one of the myriad reasons speaking to her is so difficult, so painful. Seeing abandonment hidden, just barely, in those wide eyes makes it even worse.

What am I supposed to say to her?

Nanao files the books while Lisa is staring down at the carpet.

Then, she leaves the office, quickly.

Like it's still Lisa's office, and she shouldn't be in there.

As though nothing as changed.