Into the Dark

"What an idiot," Kisuke squints through dust motes hanging in the air at Kaien grinning stupidly at a ladybird on a blade of grass.

Yoruichi rubs her fingertips on the sun warmed bricks of the wall they are sitting on. "He's in love," she says, somewhat dreamily. She realises her mistake immediately and pre-emptively levels a glare at the blond boy as he whips his head round with a delighted grin.

"Is he now?" He leans close enough that she can feel his breath flower against her cheek. She tilts her head a little. He leers at her, but doesn't move.

"Bastard," she spits, but she can feel a smile unfurling in her mouth. She springs off the wall and stalks away. He follows. He always follows.

(Kaien stays behind).

"What about you?" she slurs later, after two and a half bottles of her grandfather's stash of sake. He doesn't pretend not to understand.

"I'm waiting for someone," he says thoughtfully. He brings bottle to his lips, hand perfectly steady.

(bastard, she thinks, wiping her mouth.)

"Waiting?" she hears herself sneer, "You're worse than Kaien, rolling around in the grass and writing poetry. Waiting, Kisuke, will get you nowhere."


"No," she says, flicking her hair. "Women prefer aggressors."

"Really," he states. He reaches over and clasps her hands around the bottle. The brush of his palm burns its way up her arm and nestles, smouldering, inside her chest.

"Bastard," she says, and tries to sweep off. She can feel his hands hovering inches from her elbows as he follows, snickering.

At Kaien's wedding, she shoots him a look from behind a fan, lips quirking into a painted pout. "Are you still waiting?"

He grins his reckless grin at her and says "Yes." Ukitake is still speaking, so he has to lean in close and whisper in her ear, and apparently, down her neck. The stiffness of her garments doesn't allow her to shift backwards, and she is glad for her painted mask that covers the blush burning in her cheeks.

She turns her head regally back to the proceedings, which are nearly over. "I didn't know you had a thing for grandmothers, Kisuke, "she says spitefully, "Because that what she'll be if you wait for her."

He's still smiling. "She'll still be beautiful."

She snorts, and rises to her feet as gracefully as she can, hampered as she is by her ceremonial robes. She hears an unsuppressed snigger as she stumbles, and whips her head round and gives little Ise Nanao a glare that has her turning bright red and trying to blend into her Lieutenant's robes. There's a moment of guilt because really, the girl needs to laugh more and it's rare enough to see her without her nose in a book, but then she feels a tap on her head and there's Kisuke holding the fan she'd left on the ground and there's that rush of feeling and she needs to keep moving so she doesn't think.

(Kisuke gives the fan to Nanao as they walk by.)

She sees him less than she used to, these days, but enough for him to be grating along her nerves almost every second of the day, either with his presence or his lack of presence or something he has said or done or failed to say or do.

He looks tired these days, worn, and he no longer seems to view the world with the same childish glee he used to. He still manages the sweet/sour smile that she likes to think he saves especially for her when they run into each other outside Eighth Division. But then he only nods absentmindedly, looking at her.

"Waiting for someone?" she says archly, and then wants to kick herself.

He knows what she means. He drops his eyes, and the smile fades. He takes her hand she can feel her pulse beating in her wrist. He does something with his head that might be a nod and says, "You should wash your hands, there's mud under your fingernails."

Her face burns as she wrenches her hand out of his grasp. "Bastard," she says, but there's no fire behind it. She steps back into the coolness of the Eight Division entrance and then turns. His soft laughter follows her, but he leaves her be.

The night before he's banished to the human world she turns up at his Captain's quarters. He's sitting rather helplessly on the bed, looking at the boxes littering the floor. One finger is tapping his knee.

"What are you waiting for?" she asks. She wants to follow up with Me to clean up your mess? But she's realised the implications of the words she just said, and he's never needed her to clean up his messes for him, not really. He hasn't needed her ever. She grips the door frame, wanting to scratch down it, resisting.

There's still that smile, like he can't help himself no matter how bad things are. But he hasn't heard what she said, or noticed her momentary pause. "Hmm?"

"Nothing," she says, a little breathlessly, before clearing her throat. She wants to ask him so many questions, she wants to hit him until he explains why, she wants to press against him until her smell is imprinted on him forever, but there's no time. That was one thing she thought they'd always have.

"I don't – want – any of this," he gestures at his belongings, voice breaking a little. He looks very young again, but all the joy has been sucked out of him, just when she needs him to grin his careless grin and tell her what an adventure they're about to have.

And she knows that his entire life has been turned inside out, that he needs her support, not her interrogation but she needs to know. She's sick of being almost sure, sick of that tiny scrap of doubt that hurts far more than it should.

"Are you still waiting?" she blurts, louder than she meant to.

He looks at her, but doesn't say anything. She knows he heard that time.

"You should probably give up," she continues, because even when she's throwing herself at a man (a man she thinks she was born loving), she's still irrevocably herself. "You're a mess. Any self-respecting woman would walk away from you without a second thought."

(self-respect? she thinks to herself hysterically)

She looks at him and she's almost crying and he looks back and she knows he understands.

"Good," he says softly, but very clearly. He turns away.

She stares at his back and thinks; I would have gone with you. Just one word and I would have followed you anywhere.

(it's a good thing really, because one of them has to be sensible but she never thought it would be him)

So she doesn't say anything, just walks away silently. He lets her go.

When he opens the door of what she can honestly only describe as his hut, she marches straight in without giving him a chance to speak.

"Were you going to wait until I was really an old granny?" she prods him in the chest, "I should probably make you wait until then, just because you deserve it you stupid bastard –"

She glares up into his face and stops talking abruptly as she notices his expression for the first time.

There's no smile for her, just confusion and horror warring over his face. Finally, he lets out a breath and looks at her, almost coldly.

"You shouldn't be here," he says.

"Am I too late?" she says, hating how small her voice has become.

"No," he says quickly. He makes an aborted attempt to touch her face but then takes her hand, "You'll never be too late." His smile is creeping back into the corners of his eyes, "You just have very bad timing." He presses a kiss to her hand.

She looks into his eyes and almost cries with relief. She hates the way he makes her feel.

"Bastard," she says, threading her fingers through his hair.

His forehead is against her as he pulls her into him. "I just got exiled," he breathes against her lips.

"And you live in a hut," she says, moulding herself to him.

He doesn't laugh, just presses his lips to hers like he's trying to imprint her on his soul.

She's almost shaking as she drags herself away from him and says, "Bedroom?"

He just gives her a very male look and a smug smile.

She growls and hurls herself away from him down the hallway, searching for the bedroom. She's come to a decision – she can't let the fact that he is the most infuriating man in the universe get in the way anymore, or she really would be a granny before anything happened.

His hands settle on her hips like they belong there and guide her to a door on her left. The door swings open to an untidy room, and she squints at what look like sweet dispensers littering the floor. She rolls her eyes and asks herself what exactly she'd been expecting from a hut and turns to say as much to Kisuke and then he's kissing her, slow and deep and burning and nowhere's ever felt more like home.

Later, she curls into his body and traces his smile with her fingers.

(there's a light in his eyes that has almost nothing to do with her being there and almost everything to do with the fact that he's away from oppression and expectation of Seireitei and she has a fleeting thought that she's almost glad that he's been banished)

"I can't stay here all the time," she says. Something in his eyes flickers.

"I know," he says.

She slides forwards and rubs her nose against his, then kisses him. She can taste the question on his lips and he can read the answer in her eyes, but neither of them will say it out loud, because he can't stop playing games, not even for her, without losing something that is fundamentally him, and she because she is nothing if not stubborn.

But they know and they've known forever and that's all that matters.

"Will you wait for me?" she says against his lips. She can feel them quirk up as he says:


Another hard drive discovery from months ago. It's been so long since I last read Bleach I honestly don't know how much of this is accurately timelined, but if it is all wrong I hope it doesn't detract from the story itself. Thanks for reading, all comments are welcome!