A/N: I was surprised by the number of people who asked for a sequel, I really was... I didn't really think Scientific Method was ever going to take off like it did- sort of. But I was in the mood for a sequel pretty much after I finished the first one. Which, found this out today, I actually wrote this first chapter ten days after Scientific Method was finished; I don't know why I'm surprised by that, but I am. Anyways, it definitely needed a good tune up and overhaul but I'm happy with the renewal of it. In all honesty, I'm just testing the waters with this first chapter, just to see how things go with it; if you like it or hate, just let me know. It literally picks up right where SM ended, so that might cause for some confusion.
"What do you mean by… an offspring of both Hollow and Shinigami?"
"I didn't think that was even possible."
He was expecting this kind of reaction... so it wasn't the least bit surprising to him, although the words seemed to be just a tiny bit amusing to the other two who were present. Still, the startled-slashed-surprised expressions that marked the cautious faces of the Captains was entertaining in some kind of sense; it gave him the opportunity to perform a quick study on each one. The black-haired female Captain, with the oddly placed braid in front, he had caught a brief glimpse of her once or twice; the other two, taller men seemed to fit the descriptions that Starrk had passed on, while the shorter male was one Harribel had remarked only once on. Their names escaped him for now... he had long stopped caring about them years ago.
Still, the onslaught of remarks that followed the long, winding pause did give one person here an awakening sense of observation and curiosity. The new voices gently startled the small girl in his arms and made the final push to break her out of the short-lived fit of sleep he had barely managed to achieve. The sudden pull from her nap didn't seem to sit too well at first as her squinted, green eyes passed on a look of questioning to him before she turned towards the source of the commotion. A small mess of pink strands fell into her face but failed to bother her much as that new sense of curiosity easily took over the moment she noticed the new faces that stood before them.
"She looks just like you." Unohana remarked as a light chuckle passed her quiet lips; the words were enough to garner the girl's attention as she looked into the Fourth Captain's direction first and seemed quickly amused by the hanging braid that made its way down the front of her uniform. "She's absolutely adorable as well."
With a low whistle passing through his lips, Shunsui moved to push his kasa-style headwear back and allow for it to dangle against his neck instead; one hand ran over his hair as the current situation seemed both fitting and out of place for them. "Well... I must admit, I was not expecting this." he chuckled briefly. "She does seem to… carry both aspects in her energy though, with what little of it can be read at this moment I suppose; I'm really quite surprised by this announcement… I'm not entirely sure what to say- which is a first for me."
So far so good with the reactions... he had predicted someone to break into a momentary fit at the sudden realization but everyone seemed to be holding themselves well together. For now at least. "To be quite honest, I'm slightly glad for that."
"Might I ask one question?" Ukitake started, finally pushing himself to break his own sense of silence; he waited till the Scientist gave a brief nod of acknowledgement before he continued. "Who or… rather where is her mother?"
He had told himself to expect that question and yet… he had failed to garner an answer for it. To be quite frank, he didn't really feel comfortable with the answer either… which also lead to his abrupt distaste in actually answering it. They had both been protective about their voluntary isolation from the others, more happy with keeping their 'relationship' under wraps with the exception of a few given instances. This kind of situation would be throwing the both of them out into the raw open though, breaking that invisible wall they had been strengthening over the years... But, he suppose he couldn't just let them off without an answer. Or even attempt a change in topic for that matter. "She's resting right now; she's recovering from a recent illness and is still regaining some of her strength back."
The answer, truth and all, seemed to send a brief stir across the small group.
"Will we be able to meet her?" Unohana questioned, her expression broken just ever so slightly by a look of concern.
That much... he didn't know. Shifting his arms slightly, he watched as the small girl in his hold turned to set her attention back on him, as though to question him what all the fuss was about. Fingers moved to lightly push aside some of her matching strands and tuck them carefully behind one ear. "... I haven't quite decided on that yet."
"Do you always make the decisions then?" Hitsugaya asked; stepping in on the conversation now as the topic began to shift just ever so slightly. He moved his arms to cross over his chest and set those near piercing, endless eyes onto his own.
This would be the second 'of course' moment for the day, or rather for the hour for that matter.
He should have predicted that someone would take his words and construed them in some sense. Then again, he supposed he left himself open for that one... from their given point of view, it more than likely did sound a bit controlling in a sense. There was still a left over sense of hesitation in splitting their carefully tended world to outsiders; they had grown so accustomed to just the two of them and the few survivors here... any more would add a sense of threat to this petri-grown serenity. If it had been under any other circumstances, he would have no intentions of letting them see her but… at this point, the decision no longer felt as though it was in his power to do. Starrk and Harribel offered no given words on the situation but he had already drawn his own conclusion as to why these Captains were here.
They wanted to make a peace for once. Both worlds were still suffering from repercussions of the war, they were both still recovering but mildly happy with what they had achieved up to this point. This kind of marketed peace would allow for them to avoid most outbreaks in the distant future, providing a moderately safe environment for those involved.
He supposed he just didn't want to be the reason for it's beginning success and then it's crashing failure.
Not to mention, he had already confirmed the mother was a Shinigami... so, given the odds, there was a good chance someone standing right here in front of him would know her. Now just to guess which one… no, now was really not the time for games.
"That was really not the theme I was going for." he started, passing off a moderately disinterested look towards the shorter Captain; he swore he almost hurt his neck having to look down that far just to see the man. "But if that's how you interpreted it, I suppose I can't do much about it."
His answer seemed, by default, good enough for both sides then.
That seemed to be the cue for the cracked Primera to step in on the talk. "Picking up from where we left off before, is this enough to seal your Society's approval? Is this enough to create something for us to work with now?"
"With what? Oh, yes, the plan, of course." Shunsui nodded, fingers briefly bracing themselves against the empty space between his eyes as he recalled the sole reason they were standing here in the first place. "Yes I do believe we have some strong evidence to back up our proposal now and with that, we could efficiently work out the details. And as much fun as we're having here, I suppose we should get back to working on our treaty so we can get this done and sealed as soon as possible."
"I agree." Harribel spoke, giving a following nod as fingertips moved to brush aside the loose blonde strands that toppled across her line of vision. "After all, the sooner it gets done, the sooner we can rest peacefully at night."
The Thirteenth Captain gave a seemingly playful sigh of defeat as the prospect of returning to work was not the least bit entertaining. But the amount of peace that would result from this discussion would solidify that the end justified the means. "... Do you think we could come back and see her when we're through with these talks? I don't believe we ever caught what her name was? Your daughter, that is."
The returning back part was what he hesitated with but, in the end, there didn't appear to be any harm in it.
"Her name's Akira." Szayel replied. "As for coming back to see her… I suppose it wouldn't hurt-"
"We were actually hoping you wouldn't mind joining in on this discussion." Harribel interrupted lightly. "After all… it wouldn't hurt to have your insight on it; Starrk and I only know so much and even then, it might be a bit too much in one perception, if I might say."
The Tercera's odd words seemed to call for a brief look of questioning from those around him, or at least from those who found the remark confusing. He would've passed off the first portion as being somewhat reasonable... but now he knew that she was just making a case.
"And that might mean…?" Ukitake started to question.
Starrk gave a brief shake of his head as though to toss the matter aside and brought his arms up to cross over the crackling, black mess of his chest. "It's a long, uneasy story... but short portions given, there are a few progress moments I wish I could erase from my memory."
Only the hatted Captain seemed to have caught on to the words and offered a slightly masked and muffled chuckle in response.
"Well now, you're the ones who should've knocked in the first place. I warned you." he retorted shortly enough, watching as the two heartless beings looked away for the given moment. "Don't you have a task to be taking on right now anyways?"
"That all depends on what your answer will be." Harribel replied.
"You requested for my presence, it would be terribly rude of me to turn it down- especially given the delicate situation we've all been thrown into. After all, what you said is true and my insight would be far more helpful on the matter than your... loosely based ones will. Just try to remember not to count on it to solve everything." Szayel started, catching the way a few of the Captains gave a short nod to acknowledge the statement. His sense of reluctancy had been worn down enough to where it no longer seemed to matter; its treads had lost grip a long time before. "I'll have to drop Akira back off with her mother seeing as I doubt she'll be able to sit still through this meeting of ours." Here it comes, the largest obstacle for him for now. "... And I suppose it wouldn't hurt if I allowed just one of you to go back and meet her… I really don't like the idea of it but the chances of you meeting with her sometime soon is outside of my range of power."
It was the black-haired female Captain who seemed to pick up on the hesitation in his tone and gave a short smile in return. "I thank you for the offer, my Lieutenant, Isane, will gladly accompany you."
The offer appeared to come much to the dismay of her Lieutenant.
"Captain Unohana, I-"
"This meeting at hand deserves all of our attention as Captains but you are free to learn more about this woman, which is just as important to our cause. Can I trust that you'll handle this situation efficiently and with an open mind?" Unohana asked, lightly interrupting the silver-haired woman's objections.
A light and easy sigh of forfeit escaped the taller woman as she nodded carefully. "I… of course, Captain Unohana." Isane answered.
As much as the thought of it caused her some sense of alarm, she felt she was just as curious as the others to know who this woman was. As hard as she tried to think on it though, not a single name came to mind... All the Shinigamis that were present here years before were killed the day they entered this dimension… so did others come after them? Or did one of them just get lucky? Maybe it was best if she didn't think about it right now.
"Excellent, I knew I could count of you." Unohana smiled.
And just like that, he watched as Starrk ushered for the small group to follow him back to wherever it was that they came from; leaving him with this woman who was apparently some kind of Lieutenant. She was a bit of an odd one though... she matched his height perfectly and yet acted as though he was the taller one in this case. Her silver-locks have been chopped short to create an almost uneven style while a few short braids dangled down the sides of her neck; a pair of vibrant red earrings almost seemed out of place and too bold for a woman like her... then again he supposed he was just being too quick to judge.
"Just follow me back and try to stay close." he advised as he turned to go back down the same corridor he had left moments ago.
If he had known that this entire mess was going to happen the moment he rolled out of bed, he probably would've stayed in longer or best yet, never stepped out of his labs in the first place. Perhaps this was the best way to take on the situation though... out here in the open where certain secrets would be spilled while others could easily be kept out of view.
The corridor seemed to warp itself into twice the distance it was before as a multitude of scenarios raced through his mind.
How exactly was he supposed to explain this to her? How could he put 'A bunch of Shinigami Captains showed up and asked about you' into a more suitable message? Or even the fact that one of them wanted to meet her? He toyed with whether or not he wanted to ask the Lieutenant behind him if she knew anything about her… but he wasn't entirely sure if he wanted to give it all away at this point.
It sounded too dangerous.
Hell this whole situation wasn't sitting too well with him but it was out of his power right now and the only other option was to go along with it. As displeasing as it was, he figured he should go ahead and make the most of it, even with the few choices that were available.
"I… I don't think I got your name earlier." the woman spoke as she followed a small distance behind him, heeding carefully to his previous remark.
He glanced back at her for a moment and noticed that she seemed more interested in the scenery around them before he turned back to the path in front of them. "I didn't properly introduce myself earlier- I suppose that was a bit of rudeness on my part, not that I had been expecting a crowd to turn out today. But it's Szayel."
The name didn't sound familiar to her, but then again she didn't know many of their names from the start, so she supposed she wasn't missing out on much. "Kotetsu."
Did that name sound familiar to him? Had she mentioned it before? No… no it didn't seem like a name she would say but something about it still sounded familiar. Perhaps she had made a notion of it before while he wasn't paying much attention to what she was saying.
"You said before she was recovering from a minor illness…"
"Yes but there's not a lot to worry for, her immune system is one of a kind." he started. "It was weakened slightly during her pregnancy, but I think she's finally regaining it back to full health."
"Weakened?" Isane repeated, as though to make sure she had heard the word correctly.
He gave a brief nod, not bothering to care whether or not she could see it. "I believe it was in part to the fact that the child was a mixed hollow, so the difference in energy and the such may have disrupted her body's immune system. It may have been due to the fact that her body wasn't quite sure how to register the embryo seeing it was both part of her and not. We haven't quite figured out the small details in it, but… she is recovering from the aftermath, so everything should be back to normal soon enough."
She was going to admit it was a bit hard to follow what the man was saying but she understood enough of it to cease her concerns. There seemed to be more science behind it rather than medicine, which put her on the handicap side of this conversation. "I guess it would be a downplay if I said all of that sounded interesting. I suppose you were just as surprised by it…"
"Yes, something like that." he spoke, offering a light chuckle before he looked up as the massive interior doors that lead into his lab came into sight. They had sustained minimum damage from the past war and were still in fully-functioning order, which was good seeing as they provided the physical aspect of the barrier to their world. A small keypad not to far from the doors lit up at their approaching figures and he moved to press his hand against the stark white screen; waiting for the scan to complete its run before a small green light flickered on for a few brief seconds. He pushed forward and watched as the doors slid easily aside to allow passage, which enabled him to continue down the next corridor that followed. "We've done the most that we can to try and figure out the biology of it and we're certain we almost have all of it figured out, with the exception of the minor details. There doesn't seem to be any lasting effects on either mother or child, so we can safely assume that as of now, with the time that has passed, there's a minimum chance of something else occurring anytime soon."
"How old is she?" Isane questioned; watching as the small girl seemed intent on staring at her while she was partly hidden by the man's shoulder. Only a pair of green eyes stared back at her and for just a small moment, she almost thought they looked familiar.
"She's three, which is a bit young to make an assumption as such but if there were any problems that would occur in the future, there would've been some mild evidence of them. It's still a working task but so far, we're certain we've cleared most of it."
"That's a good thing I suppose."
"For now it is." Szayel nodded as this corridor now came to closing end at another set of doors. He carefully pushed them aside with one hand and walked into the wide open area that expanded around them. The entrance room wasn't much to look at with its bare walls of white and just a small strip of black that ran through the middle of it. Upon reconstructing it, there had to be some rearranging and modifications to the room, this… this seemed a bit more appropriate for entertaining company, not that he really even did so. Carefully setting down Akira, he brushed aside her messy bangs before he turned back to the woman. "If you'll excuse me for a moment, I'll go see how she's doing. If she's up to meeting you, then you're welcomed to stay and converse with her."
"Thank you." Isane replied.
"I shouldn't be gone long, so I hope you don't mind if I leave Akira with you for a moment. If she says or asks anything inappropriate, feel free to ignore her." he advised before he carefully walked off to one of the doors along the far end of the room and disappeared inside.
A long, quiet sigh left her lips at the absence of the man. The room was somewhat bare with just a few furniture piece and yet it still gave her a bit of a chill. An odd sense of vulnerability washed over her and she couldn't shake the feeling for the life of her. So this was it then? This was where the moment of truth would be the breaking champagne glass for all of them. Part of her was almost too hesitant to know who this woman would be... but part of her needed to know for the sake of keeping her from going insane from the questioning.
She did find it a bit odd for a strange man like him to leave his daughter open in her care... not that she would dare even think to harm the child, but she was still a stranger nonetheless. Then again, she supposed this was his playing field and they were all just invited guests to it; she remembered those trapping hallways from years before that served as a death trap to those unfortunate enough to fail escaping them in time. They didn't have any other choice but to play by the rules and he knew that; that was probably why he didn't fear leaving the young girl alone for a few brief seconds.
A slight tug on her uniform pants snapped her out of her uncomfortable set of thoughts and shifted her attention to the smaller girl in front of her.
"Why do you wear black?" Akira questioned lightly enough; her eyes seemingly intrigued by the dark material that flowed to the ground below. Small hands kept a tiny portion of the fabric in her hold as she tried to figure out its purpose.
"I… that's just what our society wears." Isane answered, not entirely sure how to answer the girl's remark. She didn't realize just how awkward she felt around small children, especially at her height, they appeared so much smaller underneath her. It did give her a chance to get a good look of the girl though; light-pink strands were pulled back into a short, almost non-existant braid that barely touched the back of her neck. She was dressed in a small, white outfit that looked to mimic the one her 'father' wore with a few altercations here or there. "Like how everyone here wears white. I guess you could say we're like opposites."
"My momma wears black, does she come from your society?"
"I guess so."
"But she wears white too sometimes." the girl added as she narrowed her eyes slightly at the thought as though she had just confused herself with the remark. It only lasted a few seconds before she seemingly shrugged it aside for another matter. "You're really tall."
"Ah well yes…" she chuckled lightly, moving one hand to brush uncomfortably through her silver locks. "I get that a lot." she listened as the girl seemed to giggle at the following comment before she tugged at her pant's leg once more as though to usher her to follow her. She gave in and allowed for the child to lead her across the room to one of the larger couches that seemed to be awkwardly placed, like whoever had moved it there really had no purpose for it to begin with. Taking the seat the girl offered her, she did have to remark that the furniture piece was a lot more comfortable than it seemed from a distance. "So can you tell me more about your mother? What does she look like?"
"She has black hair." Akira started as she pulled herself up onto the couch and settled into the far corner portion of it. "And it's pulled back into a braid like mine, only longer. Dad says I have her eyes too, but I look more like him instead."
"Well, from what I've seen, you do look a lot like him." Isane smiled.
"I wish I had darker hair like hers though."
"You just can't pull it off as well as I do."
Isane glanced up at the remark and watched as the scientist slowly made his way back across the room towards the two of them.
"No, pink's just stupid." Akira replied as she blew her tongue at him.
"Like I haven't heard that one before." Szayel remarked; watching as it only caused for his daughter to make a different face this time. A light chuckle escaped him for a moment before he caught himself and shifted his attention back to the seated Shinigami woman; she seemed to be in a greater sense of ease this time... if only for the moment though. "She'll be out in a few minutes to meet with you. Now then, if you'll excuse me again, I suppose I should go join with the others in this 'discussion' of theirs."
She nodded and watched as he turned to leave once more. Well… this sounded like it was going to be it, she was finally going to meet whoever this woman was… which slightly frightened her a bit. Did she really want to meet her? She didn't mean to think of it in an offensive way, after all her child was adorable and the father seemed… interesting but… who was she? What kind of Shinigami would settle with a Hollow? Part of her questioned if it seemed like a willing arrangement, but she tried to talk herself out of that option. It was rude to think about and she needed to keep an open mind about it, just like Captain Unohana had advised.
Still, the overall situation gave her another cold chill to deal with.
"Why do you want to meet my mom?"
The question caught her off-guard slightly and she snapped her attention back to the young girl. "I… I guess I just think I might know her from somewhere." she answered choppily. "She's a Shinigami like I am, so we might've crossed paths somewhere in the past."
The girl narrowed her eyes once more in thought before she bypassed whatever she had been thinking of. "Mom never really mentioned anyone she used to know…."
"I… well maybe she did before you were born?"
"Like how dad doesn't talk about Uncle Nnoitra a lot? He says he's an idiot but I think he's funny."
She chuckled once more at the child, at least trying to figure out where she got her light sense of humor from. "Maybe like that… hopefully not though. Well now, some of us use to act like idiots but-"
The sound of her name from someone else seemed to echo emptily in her ears and run cold through her veins all of a sudden.
Something about that voice…