This is some inner monologue for Yoruichi and how she felt when she saw Soi Fon again. A whole bunch of angst is in here. Spoilers for Yoruichi, Urahara, and Vizard backstory, Soul Society arc, and Turn Back the Pendulum arc.
Bleach isn't mine.
Soi Fon is standing there with tears in her eyes asking why, and Yoruichi doesn't have a clue what to do or say. She doesn't even know how they got into this mess, or how it all went so very wrong. Worse yet, she can't figure out how to make it right again.
She wants to make it right though, and she's willing try. She has to. It's the right decision. The right thing to do.
But it's more than just that. She doesn't want to belittle everything Soi Fon is to her with 'the right choice'. She wants Soi Fon to understand why she left. So she can understand that Yoruichi isn't the traitor she was branded as all those long years ago.
Traitor. It's just another name, Yoruichi thinks. One more veil to hide who she really is from the rest of the world. Everyone in Seireitei has given Yoruichi a formal name at one point or another. It's enough to make her wonder who she is at times. They call her Taichou of Squad two. Commander of the Punnishment force. Head of the Shihouin clan. Even Soi Fon's beloved name of Lady Yoruichi. Yeah, it has her name in it, but it's still not her, not completely. And the people who call her these things, they bow at her feet and don't look in her eyes. They see the titles, not the woman behind them.
It hurts a little that so few people see Yoruichi for who she is. She wants Soi Fon to look past all that. No names. No ranks. No position.
But it's hard to see past it all with the history they have. Soi Fon has always seen her as something untouchable and far away, has even been brought up to think that. She can tell when she ruffles Soi Fon's hair and her earnest, sweet face turns up to her, surprised and shocked that Yoruichi would rest a hand on her. Then she became untouchable in a physical sense when she ran from Seireitei over a century ago with Urahara Kisuke.
It's not that she chose Kisuke over Soi Fon, although she's not foolish enough to know what it looks like from the other side, and she wants Soi Fon to know that too – most of all, in fact. There simply wasn't time to choose both. In one night, four Gotei 13 Captains, four vice captains, and the Instructor of Hadou spells, a man Yoruichi looks up to, has been a student of since a child, are all turned into monsters overnight, and Kisuke gets tacked with the offence.
The whole thing stinks of falsity. It's enough to make her blood boil. There's no way Yoruichi would offer a Captaincy to a man she doesn't trust or believe in. Yes, the man is intelligent. Frighteningly so. But this just isn't Urahara's style. She knows someone else is behind it all. The stench of it turns her stomach and makes bile rise to the back of her mouth. What is wrong with you? she wants to ask. There's someone out there who's causing this, and all you're doing is putting a good man to death.
She knows Central 46, however. She's worked with them long enough to know how they think. They need someone to blame, and the evidence piled up against him is enough to force their hand. Once a decision has been made there's no changing their minds, either. The frustration of it is so overpowering and Yoruichi feels helpless.
She hates feeling helpless and powerless, unable to do a single thing to change the outcome.
But she tries, anyhow.
It's a public slap in the face to the authority of Seireitei when she takes them all. One of the great Noble houses has not only disagreed with Central 46, but has blatantly taken away its ability to perform justice. It's thrilling and it's scary and it's the one time she doesn't listen to the centuries of training under her belt. She feels like she's finally back in control and that makes the smile on her face come alive again.
It's also too fast to send a message through to Soi Fon. Her perfect, sweet little bee. She feels torn. She doesn't want her to think Yoruichi has abandoned her, or chosen an outlaws life over the one she has. But she also doesn't want to send that fateful message. If Yoruichi does, there's a possibility it might get Soi Fon involved just as deeply as she already is. She doesn't want that. Soi Fon's too good to be caught up in this mess. It's not that she thinks Soi Fon can't handle herself, that's not it at all. She's just too honest and good to be deemed as a traitor. She's too sweet to be thrown into this mess. And maybe Yoruichi feels a little bit of guilt that she doesn't, but the overwhelming guilt she would feel if she were to bring her down with this sinking ship stays her hand.
Yoruichi sees so much good in her it hurts her heart sometimes. She's strong and noble and smart and beautiful beyond words. She wants Soi Fon to have something Yoruichi never had: the chance for people to see her for who she really is, not what her title says.
If Yoruichi had asked her to leave, she knows Soi Fon would have come with her without a second thought, and the life she would lead would be a lonely one, fraught with danger and violence and fear. Their lives would be dogged with the fear that every moment could be their last. Shying from places normal people could go, living with the possibility that around every corner Seireitei's spies may be hiding in order to finish up the job. Yoruichi can change form, but Soi Fon can't. And if they're caught, Soi Fon would lose what respect she had gained from her peers and elders. Looked down upon like some kind of miscreant and punished accordingly.
She can't have that. For people to see Soi Fon as the outcast Yoruichi is.
And maybe that's where things started to go wrong. Where Yoruichi is tipped just enough to be off balance and her world starts to fall apart.
When the dust is finally cleared, the Vizard safe and alive and Kisuke hidden away, the victory is hollow. It tastes like ashes on her tongue, thick and bitter. Because the one bright point in her universe, the person that kept her going, her strong right hand, is left in a place Yoruichi can't get back to.
She realizes that her heart is locked away in a girl that's left all alone, and there's nothing Yoruichi can do. She isn't even able to tell Soi Fon she's sorry, because one false move could mean her death. Not only for her, but for Soi Fon, Kisuke and the rest.
And that's a scary thought. More than she expects it to be. Yoruichi's been brought up with the knowledge that life is fleeting at best. Not everyone gets the chance to live, and she feels blessed that she's been able to achieve so much with the time she's been given. But dying like this? With the truth covered up with a nice little blanket and her stamped with the lies? It makes her feel angry and vulnerable and exposed and… and helpless.
It grates on Yoruichi. She's been powerful all her life. She's been able to sway the decisions of political and military tables alike with a single word since she was a child. The one time she really needs that back is the one time it's just out of her reach. Just like her home. Just like Soi Fon.
All she wanted was to make the right decisions, to keep the innocent safe and bring the bad guys to justice. Now the world feels like it's upside down. She's the traitor and Aizen and Central 46 are the saviors. Her friends are now her enemies and the bad guys are actually the victims of this whole mess. Maybe she's caught in Shinji's bankai and he simply hasn't told her yet. The thought makes her laugh, but it's far more bitter than she'd like to admit.
And now she's here again since history likes to repeat itself, it seems. The foolish tend to do that a lot. Where's the justice in having a girl die for something so simple as Rukia giving her powers to a human boy so he can save his family? It's too much for Yoruichi to stomach.
She's ready for the orders of her immediate death-on-site by Central 46, because that's what's expected. She can deal with the sadness in Ukitake's eyes, because she knows he doesn't understand. She's even ready for the cold hatred radiating off Byakuya, although it cuts her deeply to see the man in front of her changed so much from the child she once knew.
But she isn't prepared for Soi Fon. Nothing could have prepared her for that. And it all fully falls to pieces when she sees her sweet, beautiful, strong little bee now changed into someone with rage so strong it leaks out through her reaitsu, and betrayal so evident in her eyes it's like a stab in Yoruichi's chest. So far from the bright, kind person she remembers.
The girl she once knew is gone, replaced by a woman she barely knows. And the final nail in the coffin is that Soi Fon barely recognizes her at all, either.
The regret and the what if's and the if only's pile up until Yoruichi feels like she's drowning in them. She realizes how long one hundred years really is, because she feels lifetimes away from where they're supposed to be.
They were supposed to be together always. Until forever and then some. It was whispered in little promises they made in quiet bedrooms and pinky swears they kept in secret places. But a gulf so wide she can't reach the other side is between them now, and it feels like it's all because of her.
Yoruichi doesn't know how to fix this. It feels too big and too powerful for her hands to take on. She doesn't know how to make all the wrongs right again. Or how she can get to where they used to be, with Yoruichi's head cradled in Soi Fon's lap and the heavy, comfortable weight of the world on her shoulders again. Where they're laughing and smiling, and Soi Fon's hand lingers just a moment longer than necessary on hers.
Yoruichi wants to fall to her knees, apologize to her, gather Soi Fon in her arms and tell her everything will be ok. Tell her that it wasn't Yoruichi's fault she had to leave, that it wasn't her choice to go… but that would be a lie, wouldn't it? It was Yoruichi's choice. It was her decision. She can't apologize for that. No matter how much it would soothe the ache inside both of them, because she believes in the decision she made.
That just cinches it up tight, doesn't it? So tight Yoruichi can't breathe and can't think and can't do anything but wonder how the heck it all got so messed up. How one seemingly small thing could have Soi Fon turn on her and the world she once knew now lying in shambles at her feet.
So she doesn't say she's sorry. It would be an insult to them both if she did. It feels like some blanket statement that's too simplistic for all the choices and feelings it would cover. Instead, she lets her little bee strike her as much as she needs. And Yoruichi feels like she deserves it just as much as Soi Fon needs to give it for leaving, for not saying goodbye, and for not being able to apologize.
When she's bleeding, Soi Fon's crying, both of them are panting and the battleground they met on is nothing more than rubble under their feet, Yoruichi's legs finally give out. It's like all the pain and all the helplessness and all the long years of being away hit her again and it's enough to make hot tears sting her eyes. She sees what her absence has done – a curse, and not the blessing she had thought it would have been - and that hurts her more than anything else has or ever could.
And she has no idea what to say. She has no idea what to do. But she knows what's right, even if the whole world seems like it has forgotten.
So she talks to her. With her eyes downcast and her hair hiding her face so Soi Fon doesn't see the tears that sometimes escape her tight control. She tells her everything. Not only about what really happened, although that's definitely first on the list, but she talks about all the things she never could talk about before. Like the fear in her heart and the weight on her shoulders and about all the other things that fray at the tight threads of her heart.
Soi Fon finally stops crying and looks at her. Simply looks. Simply sees Yoruichi for who she is. Beyond the names and the titles and the woman she thought she knew.
And then she smiles. It's different from any other Yoruichi's seen on her face before. It's older, and bitter and tired, but there's still a trace of that young girl hiding in the corners of it, and maybe even a little understanding too, and it makes Yoruichi feel something she hasn't felt in years.
It feels a lot like hope.
It's for the future, for the now, and for what they might be able to find in each other again. She knows there's no way to get back to where they used to be. No one can turn back the hands of time. Not even Kisuke is that smart. But it's a new start, and the feeling fills Yoruichi up until she's worried the emotions will burst through her chest.
When Yoruichi gets up, she offers out her hand. Soi Fon looks at it thoughtfully, as if it's a piece of art that needs careful contemplation.
"I'm not going to follow you this time." Soi Fon says softly.
It's enough to make Yoruichi's brows shoot up in surprise, and then drop in confusion. Before she can ask what she means, Soi Fon speaks again.
"This time, we're going together. Side by side."
When Soi Fon finally takes her hand, their palms don't touch, only pinky to pinky, clasped tight. A promise.
"Side by side." Yoruichi confirms.
The world is still upside down, and Yoruichi still feels like things aren't right, and there's still so much to do before she has to leave again. Battles to be fought. Bad guys to catch. Girls to save and demons to destroy. But this is something, and it's a victory she savors.
When she leaves with Soi Fon from their battle ground it's side by side, pinkies still clasped and Yoruichi's smile is as bright as the sun.