This is a free-form, nearly stream of thought type of fiction that I don't usually go for. Little research, all in my head. Timelines and details are not (NOT) going to be canon. But this is my visceral response to Bleach 520.

I am a fan. I am not the owner. This is a loose take on my gut reactions to the latest update from the real writer of Bleach.

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Looking back on it, he should have known.

Little things should have added up, but hadn't. Kenpachi Zaraki stared in shock at the world around him. A world he had never seen. And the two sharing the world with him.

Damn it. How had it come to this? Oh yeah.

He'd lived ...

(Earlier that afternoon ...)

Kenpachi Zaraki stared at his healer as she calmly watched him. Her words had washed over him, but made little sense.

It didn't help that he'd only awoken from his coma just that morning.

Kenpachi bent his head to one side, ignoring the pain as he lifted one hand and dug into his ear with his pinky. "Try that again?"

Captain Unohana didn't sigh, or appear upset. She nodded slightly. "The Captain-Commander needs your strength. Your full strength. I am here to reunite you with your zanpakuto and ...to teach you to kill."

The large warrior shrugged, snarling as he bit back a groan of pain. "That damned Stern-Ritter killed me didn't he? Juhabach?"

"Nearly." The healer admitted, no expression on her face.

"So. Old man Yamamoto wants me to kill? Been there. Have the haori and the badge for it." Kenpachi frowned.

"Head-Captain Kyoraku."

The large man yawned, the laughed. He eyed the healer for a long moment, then frowned sharply. A sense of doom hung over the recovery room in the medical squad building. Pain. Suffering. Loss. It was almost tangible in the air. Kenpachi took in a deep breath, then nearly choked as several broken ribs protested the move. Sputtering, he coughed and winced, then eyed the woman watching him with such fucking calm. "You're not kidding, are you?"

"I don't have much of a sense of humor." She told him dryly.

Kenpachi frowned even sharper. "The old man is recovering?" Somehow he knew the answer before he asked, but couldn't keep the words from leaving his mouth.

"No."

"Shit. Fuck. Damn it all." The injured man cursed roundly, rolling his neck as he clenched his fists.

Showing the first signs of emotion, Captain Unohana blinked slowly, looking slightly surprised. "I didn't think you liked Head Captain Yamamoto."

"I didn't." Kenpachi growled. "Doesn't mean I wanted anyone to kill him."

The slight healer nodded, as if satisfied with that answer.

The large man threw back the covers, and groaned to see the number of bandages covering his large body. Deliberately he put his feet on the floor. He looked up and grimaced as he put out his hand on the bed. His zanpakuto lay beside him.

"Reunited sword. Check. Kill. Check. I'm on my way."

"While I admire your will power, Captain Zaraki." Retsu put one hand on his shoulder. "We have more to discuss."

Kenpachi jerked his shoulder away from her hand, or would have if she hadn't put some power in her hands. He couldn't move.

The warrior bared teeth.

The healer didn't even flinch.

"You have less than a week to learn bankai."

Kenpachi reared back slightly, staring at her. It wasn't well known, but ... "I don't have a bankai." He admitted reluctantly.

"Yes you do, you just haven't seen it yet." Retsu Unohana replied in her maddeningly placid manner.

The warrior shook his head. "Look. I don't even know the name of my own damned zanpakuto. It won't fucking answer me."

"Your sword has responded every time." Captain Unohana countered.

Kenpachi sneered.

"What is your first memory?"

The warrior stood, wavered slightly on his feet, then tried to push past the much shorter woman. He didn't make it.

What happened, he wasn't sure. But there had been a strike that didn't bruise, a push that didn't hurt, and then the world had spun and he was now back on the bed. Flat on his back.

"Don't try that again." She stared at him, her gaze boring into his own.

He swallowed any response he might have made to obey, forcing himself to snarl.

She wasn't cowed. Not even a little. "What is your first memory?"

"Yachiru." The name was ground out between clenched teeth. "A fight, lots of blood and dead. And a child, in pink, smiling. She wasn't afraid of me or my sword."

Captain Unohana nodded slowly. "She told me once you named her for someone you once admired. Who was that first Yachiru?"

Kenpachi slammed his fist down on the bed, trying to sit back up.

One palm on his chest added a force of pressure he'd not known existed. Spiritual pressure flared between them ...and his dimmed as she pushed his much larger form back down onto the bedsheets.

"You're stronger than you look." He frowned, looking at Captain Unohana as if for the first time.

"You have no idea." She replied, then bent to straighten a bandage on his left arm, her moves almost tender.

Kenpachi studied the healer for a long, silent moment. Smooth porcelain skin, dark hair that smelled slightly of honeyed jasmine, long braid that made her look fragile, and a slender body hidden beneath layers of cloth and robes. "You have something to say? Say it." The warrior sighed. "Get this over with."

"Who was the first Yachiru? The one you admired? And why admire this person?"

Kenpachi rolled his eyes, then took another deep breath, regretting it as his ribs protested yet again. Grimacing through the pain, he held in the coughing as best he could, then with watering eyes he looked back up at the healer. "I don't know." He said the words as if each one was a curse word of the worst sort.

"Were you never curious why you were sent out on missions every time certain battles were discussed? Such as Kyoraku's battle with Coyote Starrk."

Kenpachi stilled. He'd not noticed. "Why?" He asked suspiciously.

Captain Unohana looked away from him, the first sign of nerves. Finally she looked back into his eyes. "The Espada known as Coyote Starrk didn't put any power into a sword, but into another part of himself. A separate part. Dividing his power and himself into two persons. He and Lilynette."

The warrior closed his eyes. "Does this have a point?"

"Yes." The healer spoke almost gently. "You are Kenpachi, not just in your name but in your title. But you weren't the first Kenpachi of the Gotei 13."

"So?"

Her words were nearly a whisper. "The name of the first kenpachi? Was Yachiru."

Dark eyes popped open and the large man sat up suddenly, making his head swim.

Captain Unohana waited for his eyes to focus more fully on her, then nodded slowly. "Yes. I knew. No, I didn't tell you."

Kenpachi stared at her in wonder. No, they weren't exactly friends, but he'd not thought they were enemies. "Why not?" His voice sounded gruff.

"Orders."

Kenpachi spat on the floor, drawing a sharp frown from the fastidious healer.

"There was a report. Once. A while ago. From the roughest district, number eighty to be exact. Zaraki."

The large man held his breath, subconsciously knowing this was important. And dangerous. And ...

"Of a man. A wild, undisciplined man. A young, young man. Unreasonable. A fighter. A killer. Someone who didn't care."

"Someone without a name." Kenpachi felt the impact of her words right down to the marrow of his bones. He couldn't look away from her right now even if the world fell to pieces around him.

Captain Unohana nodded slowly. "As you say. Yachiru, the first Kenpachi, was ordered to kill that man."

The large male held onto her every word like a lifeline.

"But that first Kenpachi felt there was something there. Something worth preserving. A strength that could grow, if allowed."

Captain Zaraki nodded slowly, feeling shaky and suddenly nauseous.

"Yachiru was allowed to ...blunt that man. To separate him from his memories, and the largest part of his power. To stop him, and also to give him a chance to live and grow."

A ringing in his ears made Kenpachi suck in his breath. As if from far away he heard voices. A conversation.

"Are you sure Yachiru?"

"Indeed. This is on me. But I have a feeling that this youngster will grow into a better person. A man who fights, and is strong, but not a destructive force without thought."

"Yachiru. Kenpachi. Are you absolutely sure?"

"This Yachiru, this other Kenpachi? He's the one who bested me? Beat me?" The large male sounded unsure.

Captain Unohana raised one eyebrow, then gave a half smile. "Of a sort. But Yachiru was the one who changed your life."

Kenpachi nodded slowly. "That's why I have no memories before that? And ...Starrk. Yachiru separated me into two? No, there's not two of me. I'd know. Wouldn't I?"

The healer looked sad for a moment. "Not separating you into two. Separating you from your zanpakuto, which is essentially a part of you."

"So I have to find it?" Kenpachi looked lost. "Is that why my sword won't speak to me?"

"Partially. But not all." Captain Unohana sighed. "And your sword does speak with you. Daily. But it is now essential that you recover your use of your zanpakuto."

Kenpachi eyed the healer warily.

"The upcoming battle is for the very survival of the shinigami, the Soul Society, and the entire Gotei 13." Captain Unohana's dark-gray eyes were supremely serious. "I have little time to teach you bankai. And how to kill as you should."

But the large warrior was still trying to absorb it all. "My sword does NOT talk to me. At all. I don't ..."

"Call to your zanpakuto." Came the impatient response.

Kenpachi eyed the healer a moment, then snarled. "It never answers."

"Call."

The large male sighed and turned to stare at his recalcitrant zanpakuto. "Look. My sword is in a state of perpetual shikai, or so the old Head Captain assured me. But he never answers when I call."

"I know. Call your sword." It was a calm voice, but clearly a command.

"Fuck you."

"No. Now call your sword." She put power into her words and Kenpachi had to grit his teeth not to comply.

"What do you have to lose?" Captain Unohana goaded him.

Captain Zaraki took another deep breath, coughed and forced the pain down and away from him as he eyed his rather ragged looking blade. He stared at it and called for all he was worth.

One second. Nothing. Two seconds. Nothing. Three ...

The door to the room burst open and a flying pink tornado flew into the room and at the bed.

"Kenny! Kenny, Kenny! You're awake!" Little Yachiru, his lieutenant and constant companion fairly danced around his bed in bursts of joy, beaming with happiness.

Captain Zaraki gave his lieutenant a weak smile and shook his head. "At least someone is happy I'm alive." He remarked dryly.

If he expected the healer to say anything, he was doomed to disappointment. But she did look just the smallest bit ...smug? He frowned.

"Kenny, you scared me!" Yachiru chirped and came to stand at his bedside, giving him a careful look as she examined his bandages.

"It was a close one." Kenpachi looked down at the small female shinigami and couldn't help wondering about who he'd named her for. The first Kenpachi? Damn.

Captain Unohana reached out and placed one delicate hand deliberately on Yachiru's shoulder. "Asked. Answered."

Kenpachi looked confused for a moment, then shock set in. His eyes widened almost comically.

The healer smiled almost sadly. "Not he. She. And she has always been with you ever since that day."

"NO!" Kenpachi roared in denial, but it was too late.

Pink energy rose from his lieutenant. Wave after wave as the power grew, and kept growing. And his Yachiru, his only true friend, disappeared before his eyes.

The world spun crazily, his stomach churned and when he came back to himself, he was emptying his stomach. Which had already been empty to begin with. Pain. Disorientation. Confusion. Loss and grief.

Kenpachi sat up. And stared.

Two women stared back at him.

One looked like Retsu Unohana, except ... she was bloodied. Her long hair was braided in back. And she looked tougher, harder.

The other female was a tiger. How he knew the gender, he'd never know. The pink color might be a clue though. She was huge. Her paws were as large as his head, and the claws looked needle sharp.

And she was glaring at him.

"Yachiru?"

The tiger growled, showing impressive teeth.

Captain Unohana put her hand on the manifestation of his zanpakuto, and the tiger settled down.

Kenpachi could only stare in stunned wonder.

"Yachiru is not her name. Now. Make your acquaintance. Learn her name. Everyone is depending on us."

His dark eyes left the glowing form of his zanpakuto and he looked at Retsu Unohana. The woman was simply gorgeous. How had he never noticed before? But not only that ...she was ...strong. Very strong. How had he never noticed that before either?

"How do you know all this? How can you be in my mind?" His voice cracked uncharacteristically at the onrushing emotions. "Will my Yachiru ...?"

The healer shrugged. "That will be up to your zanpakuto. The thinking part of her was manifested into the child you knew. The main portion of her strength, her viciousness, her power ...that was locked away."

The tiger growled again, looking clearly impatient.

"This is not your lieutenant. This is her in her real form. And her power is yours, if you learn to communicate." The healer continued.

Kenpachi shook his head, trying to clear his mind. He stared at the magnificent beast who was glaring back at him. He grinned, showing teeth. The large tiger did the same.

"Yachiru."

The tiger object, roaring disapproval, and swiping at the warrior with one large paw.

Kenpachi felt the fresh blood drip down his chest and laughed in spite of the sharp pain.

"I told you, her name is not Yachiru." Captain Unohana clucked her tongue in disapproval.

"How are you here?" Kenpachi wondered aloud, his eyes never leaving the dangerous form of his zanpakuto.

The healer nodded. "I am here, because I am the one who sealed you two away from each other."

The warrior's eyes flew to meet hers, his mouth gaped open as he watched the healer draw her own blade. "I am Yachiru Unohana, Retsu is the name I took when I swore to heal."

Kenpachi stared. Yachiru ...Unohana? This gorgeous, evil, manipulative, bitch was ... "The first Kenpachi."

Captain Unohana turned her sword so that it caught the light. "Now. Fight your zanpakuto. Learn her name, or die trying. Prove me right, that you were worth saving."

Kenpachi's mind raced. He was injured badly, only just out of a coma. In shock basically. And facing a gigantic, pissed off tiger with immense power. Without a sword.

He bared his teeth. "No problem."

Captain Unohana nodded and started to step back. Suddenly Kenpachi was in her face. He smiled darkly into her startled expression. "For good luck."

As he stole a quick kiss, he winked at her and for the first time in many years a certain healer looked shocked.

Kenpachi faced the huge tiger with a feral grin of his own. "Oh, and first Kenpachi? If I win this, learn bankai, and save the whole freaking world we live in? You are so sleeping with me."

Captain Unohana, the former first Kenpachi, and the original Yachiru. Blinked. Well now.

That was unexpected.

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Alright already. Little research, almost no editing. Just a basic idea that would not leave me alone after reading the newest manga chapter. It's late and I have to work early in the morning.

As for my Ken/Uno fic that I'm still working on (Rumors Abound) ... this will NOT be how that one goes (which is why it has it's own little story). Though I will use her past a bit, as I'd already started down that pathway before this latest canon chapter. It fits in so well, that I can't not use it after all. But not all of it. We'll see.

Hope you enjoyed!