Artistic Licence

(a mini omake about Rose, Kira and their meeting)

Disclaimer: I should be writing Sukuse, but after the recent manga I needed to get this out of my system. This seemed a more positive outlet than ranting at unsuspecting reviewers (gives them cookies) and people on forums! Whilst the futures/fates of Kira and Rose are both currently uncertain, I wanted to drabble the 'how they met' scenario. Basically because I was waiting for Kubo to do it, and he hasn't, and probably won't, so I will. And then I'll go back to Sukuse. Promise.

Disclaimer 2:
Any references to Rose's 'past' or 'Academy' or any of those things are my own invention, not canon. There's nothing in canon to say when he was at the Academy or what division(s) he recruited to. He might've been in Third all along – who knows?
Am leaving this story open ended in case I have more rant-outletting to do in the not-so-distant future.

Disclaimer 3: Despite the huge plethora of shounen-ai conversations I've had with friends about Rose and Kira following Rose's manga speech, this story isn't actively going there. Though there may be...well...subtle nudges...for those who want to see them. And for those who don't, there won't. Fair enough? :)

Disclaimer 4: These are really scenes rather than continuous flow...rather like Meifu's Prequel and Mirror Flower Water Moon. If you haven't read those...Please do =D There are cookies in it for you!

The Night Before

"You're really going to go, aren't you?"

The girl sank down against the wall with a sigh, twisting her fingers absently around the braid of dark hair that fell over her left shoulder. "You've made up your mind already - you're going to go with Shinji and Kensei, aren't you?"

"Lisa?" The fair-haired, slender young man glanced up from where he had been silently fingering chords on a worn but well-loved looking guitar, casting her a look of surprise. "Where did you come from? I had thought you were with Hiyori, and..."

"You aren't answering," Lisa swiped her hand swiftly across the top of his head, causing him to yelp and glare at her in indignation.

"What was that for? I only made a comment! You almost hit the guitar, and if you knocked a hole in it, the tuning would go all out again! Bad enough I had to restring the whole thing when we got back, but now..."

"So shut up whining about that thing an' tell me what I wanna know," Lisa was unsympathetic. "Look me in the eye, Ootoribashi, an' tell me you're goin' to Seireitei or you're not. Words of one syllable, if y'like - but I want to hear it from you."

"Oh. That?" Rose's brows twitched together faintly in consternation, then he sighed, reaching his left hand up to rub his temples pensively. "Yes, if that's what you've heard already. I'm going to go back there. Why? I didn't think it was such a strange idea. Shinji and Kensei made up their minds days ago and you haven't said a word about them."

"They're not you - you're not them," Lisa said abruptly. "We all know that Seireitei ain't got the best of memories for any of us, but them two, they'll be fine. They'll tough it out, stomp all over it an' the shinigami too, I imagine. You're different...and besides, Love an' I ain't gonna be there to keep an eye on you when you daydream off into some harmonious wonderland and start writing chords instead of remembering to eat or sleep."

"I'm not a child, you know!" Rose's frown deepened, and he shook his head. "If you'd forgotten, I've been a Captain before. I've done it, and..."

"An' look how that worked out for you," Lisa said bluntly. "Look, I'm not judging your abilities. Kinshara's a kickass bitch of a sword and I know why the Gotei want you back. I just...dunno whether it's a good idea for you to go, s'all. We went through holy shit the last time, an' it took you longer'n most of us to get the demon in check. You fought it...struggled with it - you remember? In different ways to the rest of us. An' it was a bad time. Besides, Aizen was a friend o' yours in school, too, an' I know it hit you badly, when the whole thing sunk in. Now you want to go back to that place - have you forgotten how often you came to hide out at Eighth or Seventh when your VC was shrieking for you at the top of her decibel range? You said at least once a week that she'd drive you to quit or drown yourself, whichever proved to have the least paperwork - and yet now you want to go back?"

"That was then," Rose's expression became pensive. "I have had assurance from Genryuusai-sama that the current Vice Captain of Third is a well-mannered, intelligent young man who works hard and has a good track record of absolute loyalty where his superiors are concerned. I wouldn't go back, if I thought I was going to be deafened at all times of the day and night, but this Kira Izuru sounds harmless enough. Besides, I want to go back."

"Why?" Lisa looked flawed, and Rose arched an eyebrow.

"You don't?" he asked archly. "You confronted your old Captain, renewed your acquaintance and yet you don't want to go back?"

"No place for me, now. We both moved on," Lisa said dismissively, though her cheeks reddened slightly at her friend's innuendo. "I'm fond of him, don't get me wrong - but we're not like we were before. We've seen, done, been too much else outside of the Gotei now. Even if Nanao-chan wasn't in my old slot, I dunno if I'd go back. To be honest, I didn't expect you too, either. You always seem so much more relaxed here than you ever did there."

"Possibly," Rose admitted, "but the past is the past and I want to bring it to closure. I was born in Seireitei, Lisa. I come from there. I left because I had to, and I didn't have a choice to go back till now. True, I didn't think I ever would...but it's different, now. Hiyori's life is thanks to them, and I know that Genryuusai-sama didn't agree with our sentence of execution, even though he hadn't any way of fighting against Central 46, then. Us, Urahara, everything could've been tracked down and destroyed a long time before if Genryuusai-sama really wanted it. Instead he's taken the chance to offer us peace and repatriation, because now he can do it. I respect him for wanting to breach the gap - and for making the first move to do it. Ichigo's existence means the Gotei have accepted Vaizards. Our death order is I'll go back."

"It's fine that way, isn't it?"

The room's final occupant shoved his thick hands into the pocket of his tracksuit trousers, entering the conversation for the first time as he glanced between his two friends huddled down by the far window. "It's as Rose said, Lisa. It's up to him. He's fine, now. And the Gotei need to see the Vaizard as we are. Damn strong and able to hold our own. Aizen's plot proves shit happens, and it happens with speed. There'll be more to come, that's for sure. We've all been shinigami long enough to know battles are never over, only postponed. They need our kind of strength, and the old guy's stepped up and said so. Might go myself, you know, had Seventh been open again - but as it is, Shinji, Kensei and Rose seem the right vanguard to send. Shinji's smart, Kensei's tough, and this one," he jerked a foot in Rose's direction, "is so mellow and strung up on the music score that they'll not know what hit them when he releases. Couldn't be a better array of our skills."

"Yes, but Love..." Lisa broke off, and Rose let out a heavy sigh.

"I want to go home," he admitted. "I know you don't understand why, and maybe I don't, either. It's not as though I have family to call on, nor many good memories of there. The people I care about most are here, or dead and gone before me. I was betrayed there, more than once, and hurt many times. We all were. We were sent to hell and back, and forced to face our most base instincts in a vulnerable, public arena, losing every shred of ourselves and our sanity...I know. But...maybe that's why I need to go. In this world, we're in limbo. We don't belong here. The gigai are a lie. We can live, but we don't belong. And...maybe it's foolish, but...there are things about being part of life I miss."

He strummed his fingers casually across the strings of the guitar, then,

"Inspiration comes from life, and seeing and feeling the things around you, not being afraid of them and hiding away," he added. "I'm not an exile any more. I'm a shinigami, and I'm a Vaizard. And I'll be a Gotei Vaizard, too, in a few days. I'll miss the people staying here - especially you two - but Kensei and Shinji will be there and besides..."

He pursed his lips together, then offered a pained smile.

"I can survive on my own, if I need to," he murmured. "I don't like to fight, or to kill, or to get involved in all of those messy, barbaric squalls if I can avoid it...they're aesthetically soul destroying and the clashing tones make my head ache. But I can do it, and will, if and when it's needed. My music has more reason to be there than here, right now. Soul Society is in tatters after the last battle and it's the best time to go in. I know what I'm doing, Lisa-chan. I'm grateful for your concern, but's absolutely fine."

"Then I guess there's nothing left but t'help you pack," Lisa sighed, but nodded her head as though beaten. "Just don't come cryin' back here, if you find this..what did you call him? Kira? guy is a pain."

"A hundred years have passed since I last wore the haori, Lisa-chan," Rose said comfortably. "He might find that I'm the pain, not the other way around."

"He's bound to find that," Love said gruffly, and there was a glitter of amusement behind the other's dark glasses. "It comes from knowing you...and living with your artistic mood swings. There's a reason folk started calling you the Vaizard of the Opera, y'know...and I'm sure even the most reasonable of adjutants will still object if you start singing arpeggios before the dawn chorus has a chance to get warmed up."

"I won't dignify that with an answer," Rose got gracefully to his feet, sliding the guitar strap over his shoulder and gripping the neck firmly between his thin, elegant fingers. "And I can pack by myself, Lisa-chan. I don't have much to take with me. Hardly anything at all, in fact."

"When do you leave?" Lisa asked softly, and Rose frowned.

"Tomorrow night, the Gate is going to be opened. That's what Urahara-san said," he replied slowly. "He said it will open at his place, to make it less noticeable, and everything will happen from there. Genryuusai-sama's confirmed the arrangements, so all that we have to do is turn up there, around midnight. You don't need to be there, though...I mean..."

"We'll come," Love said gruffly, reaching across to clap his more delicately built friend on the shoulder and almost sending him and the guitar sprawling. "If just t'see you in Shinigami threads again - we'll be there, won't we, Lisa?"

"If you smash my guitar, you won't be in any state to do anything, Aikawa Love!" Rose glowered at him, genuine indignation glittering in his normally dreamy gaze, and Love laughed.

"If it's so easy to break, you should train it better. Toughen it up, else it won't last two seconds back in Seireitei." he said, unconcerned, and Rose snorted, sending him a long-suffering glance.

"You never have understood the finer points of my art, have you?" he asked defeatedly, and Love shrugged his shoulders.

"Not really into the frills and fancies, if you catch my drift, so I'll leave it with you," he said easily. "But we will see you off, guitar and all. Shinji and Kensei, too. We'll all go. Jus' to remind you three that you're Vaizard, not shinigami, and that's where your loyalties are first and foremost."

"My loyalties are as they've always been," Rose regathered his composure, offering his friend a faint smile. "With the people who've kept faith with me through thick and through thin. I don't hold grudges against Seireitei, and I will go back with an open mind, because I don't want to cause confrontation. However, I know who my friends have always been, and they're right here. I won't forget - I'm not so fickle as that."