Juliet: Here we are. Chapter seven. I was able to update quicker this time, thank goodness. Anyway insert disclaimers and enjoy. R&R.

Chapter Seven: Promotion

"Is that all you got!?"

Marena grinned,

"Not even close." She replied, but as she went to attack, she froze.

Hiyori, her opponent, was fully prepared to take advantage of Marena's sudden distraction, but she realized that something was actually wrong and stopped.

"What's the matter!? Why'd you stop?"

Marena looked up,

"Something very bad just happened… I have to get back to the Seireitei!" She rushed.

"Mashiro! Grab Marena-chan's bag!" Shinji called, jumping down from his high perch. "Are you okay?"

"Yes, I'm fine but my sister… She needs me. I can't explain it." Marena replied, taking her bag from the green haired girl. "Thank you Mashiro."

They all rushed outside, and once she left Hachi's barrier, Marena drew her sword and thrust it out into the air, turning it like a key.

"Kagayaku, Hitorisei*!" She commanded. Her sword shone brightly. "Open!"

The senkaimon slid open, allowing her to return. She turned back to her new friends.

"Can I… uh… would it be alright if I visited you again?" She asked.

"Well duh, dumbass! If we didn't kill you, even though you're a shinigami, then you're obviously welcome back!" Hiyori replied.

"We'll be waiting for you, Marena-chan." Shinji promised.

The brunette smiled and then ran into the senkaimon, the doors sliding shut behind her.

"Iduka-chan!"

Kira looked up and rushed to hug his eldest daughter,

"Marena-chan! Thank goodness you're alright!" He said, one less worry weighing on his shoulders. "Come on, Kit-chan is in Squad 4 with Zurui-kun."

"Is she alright!? What happened!?"

"Training exercise, an arrancar showed up."

"WHAT!?"

"She's fine, amazingly. No serious injuries, just some scrapes and bruises."

"Then why is she in Squad 4 still?"

"She hasn't woken up yet. From what I've heard from her teammates, she used a huge amount of energy trying to heal others and hold up some kind of shield."

"Shield? Like a Bakudo?"

"No, her shikai."

Despite her worry, Marena felt a rush of pride. Kitsune had achieved shikai in a few weeks, and that was an amazing feat. They reached the room and slid the door open.

Zurui, and a young man that Marena didn't recognize, sat in the room beside Kit's bedside.

The unknown man stood up and bowed.

"Kira-fukutaichou, Ichimaru-san." He greeted. "My name is Ajax Denacles*."

"Um… it's nice to meet you." Marena replied, bowing back.

"I was on Kit's team…er… Sorry… Kitsune-san's team during the training test. The only reason I'm alive today is because of her."

At that moment the door opened and two more people stepped in. The girl, who had been frantic, and Raiko stepped inside.

"She hasn't woken up yet? How weak." Raiko muttered.

Zurui, Marena, and Ajax all made a move but Kira got there first.

"Weak!? Who the hell do you think you are!? If not for the strength of my daughter, you would be dead!" the blonde spat, venomously.

"It was just a fluke. After all, she's descended from traitorous 80th Rukon scum. There's no way she's powerful enough to give me orders."

"You're forgetting that she is my daughter as well as Ichimaru Gin's." Kira growled.

"And you think you're strong enough to order me around? What are you from 20th Rukon?"

Kira stood tall and proud, looking down at Raiko in contempt,

"I am Kira Izuru, head of the Kira family. I am nobility and that makes all three of my children nobility as well. You say that Ichimaru Kitsune is beneath you but she is far more suited to call herself a shinigami than you could ever hope to be."

Raiko seemed shocked; that brat was nobility!?

The tension in the room thinned as Kit stirred. Her eyes slowly blinked open and she sat up slowly.

"Wha's goin' on?" She asked, her words slurring just a bit.

"Oh thank goodness you're awake!" Kira exclaimed, sitting beside her and hugging Kitsune.

"I'z gonna go fin' Unohana-taichou." Zurui announced. He stood up and left, glaring at Raiko when he passed by the boy.

"Nee-chan?" Kit asked, spotting Marena.

"I'm so glad. I was worried about you; I felt like you needed me… but then it went away and I knew you were okay."

"I know. I felt the same, a few days ago. But you were right. I was hurt but I healed up pretty quickly." Kitsune said, stretching.

"That's good." Marena said with a smile.

Kit felt sore and tense, and the movement of stretching was the first work out her tense muscles received in about a day or so.

"How was the Human World?" She asked Marena excitedly.

"I didn't really have a chance to look around much. But I brought back some snacks." Marena took the bag off her shoulders and set it on the bed. She opened it, revealing bags of chips, candy, and a couple packages of juice boxes.

Kit blinked in amazement and then smiled widely,

"That looks yummy!" She exclaimed.

"And very unhealthy." Kira added, shifting into 'mother hen' mode.

"Aw, come on Iduka-chan, can't I have a little bit?"

"Oh alright, but don't over do it."

"Hai~!"

Kit and Marena giggled and opened a bag of chips.

"Here Iduka-chan, you'll like these. They're potato chips." Marena said, offering one to Kira. He took the snack cautiously, but found that he did indeed like them.

Kit's snacking was interrupted by Ajax and the girl. Both of them got down on their knees, bowing respectfully.

"Thank you for saving my life, Kitsune-san." Ajax said.

"And mine as well. Please forgive me; I wrongly judged you before and my rudeness was unacceptable." The girl added.

"It's fine, really, you're forgiven… and you don't have to bow." Kit replied. They both sat up.

"I know who you are, Ajax-san but I'm afraid I never learned your name." Kit's gaze was on the girl.

"My name is Aoihime Chiisai, from 3rd Rukon. If not for you actions and kindness, I would no longer be here. I can't thank you enough."

"How about we start over? The greatest payment you can give me is to be my friend." Kit offered. Chiisai smiled,

"I would be honored, Ichimaru-san."

"Kitsune's fine." Kit corrected. "If I can call you by your first name as well?"

"Yes, of course."

When Unohana arrived Kitsune hurriedly tried to stand, but the captain would not hear of it.

"You are to rest for another day, Kit-chan. You used too much energy and came very close to dying." Unohana scolded. "Therefore: bed rest, until your strength returns."

"Hai, Unohana-sama." Kit submitted, with a pout.

"Don't look like that." Kira scolded. "We only want what's best for you, dear."

"I know…. But it's so boring here."

"Ya've been awake fo' an hour! How's ya know I's borin'?" Zurui chuckled.

"Well you guys have to go home eventually. What will I do then?"

"Sleep." Everyone replied, unanimously.

Marena fell back onto her futon. After 3 days on a couch it felt weird to sleep on a bed again. She sighed softly, she missed the Vizards already, but she was happy to be home and she was even happier that Kitsune was okay.

~I'll have to vist them again soon…~ She thought.

"There's no way I could harm such a cute girl."

Marena blushed as she thought of Shinji. That jerk, how dare he flirt with her so much!?

"Touchy. You've got spunk. I like it."

She covered her face with a pillow, groaning in irritation. That stupid blonde…

~Still… he was a taichou. They all were, or at least fukutaichous…~ she thought. ~It's no surprise they hate the Seireitei so much…~

Sighing again, Marena pulled the blanket over her, replaced the pillow and went to sleep.

"Ichimaru Kitsune?"

The girl looked up,

"Yes?"

"Yamamoto-Soutaichou wishes to see you."

Kitsune nodded; she grabbed a robe and wrapped it around herself. She stood up and followed the messenger out of Squad 4.

The trip to the first Squad seemed to last forever.

~Why does Soutaichou wish to speak with me?~ She wondered, her palms sweating. ~Have I done something wrong?~

They arrived, at last, and Kit was taken inside. As the doors opened anxiety began to run through Kit's body like adrenaline.

Before her were the taichous and fukutaichous of the Gotei 13… what was left of them anyway. Yamamoto stood at the head of the room and Kitsune bowed low,

"Please forgive my attire, Soutaichou-sama." She asked.

"It's fine." Yamamoto replied. "Please step forward, Ichimaru-san."

Kit did as told, stepping closer to the ancient man. She passed Kira, who stood alone in Squad 3's place.

"Roughly two days ago, you and your classmates, embarked on a training exercise. During this exercise the students were attacked by an arrancar." Yamamoto kept his eyes on Kitsune. "I have spoken to everyone involved in the incident and all of them have said the same thing. That you are the reason… that there were no casualties, despite the severity of the attack. You singlehandedly held the arrancar at bay while healing all injured. You even saved the life of someone who would have surely died if anyone besides Unohana-taichou or Kotetsu-fukutaichou had been around. So, for your bravery in battle and you life-saving actions, it was decided to place you immediately in the Gotei 13. Also, in observation of your healing capabilities, you are promoted to 3rd Seat of Squad 4. Your taichou has your shihakusho."

Kit was frozen in awe, she couldn't process all of this. It clicked, suddenly, and she bowed, hastily.

"Thank you, Yamamoto-Soutaichou, it's a great honor."

"An honor you have earned." Yamamoto assured. "3rd Seat Ichimaru Kitsune."

She smiled, still in shock.

"That is all for today. You are all dismissed."

The taichous and fukutaichous moved to leave; but Unohana approached Kit, Isane close behind.

"Here is your shihakusho, Kit-chan. Welcome to Squad 4."

"Thank you, Unohana-taichou."

Kit took the shihakusho and held it to her chest.

"I can't believe I was made a shinigami… and 3rd seat at that!" She shook her head, making her short, silver hair dance. "I really don't deserve it."

"Nonsense. Not many would have been able to do what you did. It was agreed upon by almost every taichou and fukutaichou here that you deserve every bit of the status Yamamoto-taichou presented to you." Unohana smiled, kindly, but Kit knew to drop it. There was no arguing with Unohana.

"Come on, let's go alert the Squad of the new arrival."