Work of Fan Fiction, based on characters lovingly created by the great and talented Tite Kubo.

The shapely white clouds above, the warm sun, kissing his light skin, the Atmosphere itself was mocking him. He stared at the clouds bitterly. No, he wasn't bitter, he was empty. He tilted his head, his long blonde hair cascading down his back, and he closed his eyes tightly. In an instant, she was gone, forever.

7 days later

He was late. The idiot was actually late to his own Promotion Ceremony. Shinji Hirako shook his head, unimpressed. What sort of lowlife was the new head of the Twelfth Division? Shinji looked around at the other Captain's impatiently, Kenpachi wasn't there, per usual. No loss there, he thought to himself, flicking his thumb over his nose. Kyoraku-taicho and Ukitake-taicho made idle chatter with Aikawa-taicho and Mugurama-taicho in an attempt to ignore the aura of irritation emanating from Yamamoto-Soutaicho. Shinji hummed under his breath lightly, a little tune that was very popular in the World of the Living, trying his best to ignore his Lieutenant's disapproving glances. That guy was a real prick.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I'm late!" Kisuke Urahara sighed, taking a deep and sudden bow. He stared in frustration at his feet, cursing his tardiness; he wiped uncomfortably at the sweat on his brow and sighed before righting himself. He straightened his Haori and flashed a bright smile at his new colleagues. "Excuse me!"

He shuffled into his spot and gave a small, nervous glance towards Yoruichi Shihoin, his former Captain and lover. The smile fell from his face as she snarled irritably. "Act like the Captain you are, Kisuke!"

"Hai!" Kisuke barked obediently in response.

"It could have gone way worse!" Otoribashi-taicho whispered into Kisuke's ear, brandishing his arm like a weapon. Mugurama-taicho nearly toppled the thin man over as he pushed past, in a hurry to return to his division. Otoribashi squeezed the bridge of his nose tensely before straightening up and turning back to Kisuke with a friendly smile. "Most of us Captains are new. It'll feel like home soon enough."

"Hai!" Kisuke responded immediately, a wide grin spreading across his face. It was a warm smile, a welcoming smile, where even the corners of his eyes turned up in a friendly, approachable way. Kisuke Urahara had mastered the art of false smiles. His gray eyes flicked quickly to the corner of the room where Yoruichi Shihoin had been moments before. She was gone. He turned back to Otoribashi-taicho and smiled again. "I sure hope so, Otoribashi-taicho."

"Oh, please, Kisuke-san, call me Rose!" Otoribashi-taicho replied, patting Kisuke on the shoulder lightly.

"Of course, Rose-san!" Kisuke answered back, giving a small bow. "Take care!"

Kisuke's feet carried him of their own accord and he soon arrived outside of the Twelfth Division Barracks without even meaning to go there. He sighed and rubbed his hands together vigorously. It'll feel like home soon enough. Home. Kisuke leaned against the stone entryway and shook his head, a small laugh escaping his lips. I had a home, he thought to himself. I had everything I wanted. He scratched his forehead absently, an approaching presence tickling his senses. He collected his thoughts and pushed through the gate of the Twelfth, a foolish smile plastered heavily onto his face.

Kisuke Urahara was lost in the crowd of well-wishers and congratulators as his squad members swarmed him, hungrily, each member wanting to meet him, to see him up close. He smiled warmly and took each extended hand, giving a hearty and enthusiastic shake. He smiled down at his new Lieutenant, a blonde wisp of a thing, who had already shown her adamant disapproval of his appointment. He chuckled to himself, remembering her kicking him in the crotch half an hour prior. If she was going to wrack him, her spiritual pressure was in serious need of improvement to inflict any real damage. Kisuke smiled at Hiyori Sarugaki, his insides recoiling slightly. He had inherited not only a Division but also an angry, yapping Chihuahua. I was happy as a third seat, he thought gloomily.

Kisuke sat alone, his feet dangling lazily off the porch. He fingered the stem of a Higanbana plant and inhaled a shaky breath. He pluck a flower from the higanbana plant, or Red Spider Lily, and twisted it roughly between his thumb and forefingers. His fingers were smeared with the red juices of the plant and for a moment he was captivated by the substance, it was too thin to be blood, and the taste was bitter and light.

"Do you know anything 'bout Hanakotoba?"

Kisuke bolted upright in feint surprise. He had known, of course, that the Fifth Division's Captain had entered the barracks. "Oh, hello there, Hirako-taicho! What can I do for you?"

Shinji Hirako eyed Kisuke Urahara quietly for a moment before sitting down next to him in a single, fluid motion. "Hanakotoba, know of it, Kisuke-san?"

"The language of flowers…" Kisuke began unsurely.

"Yeah, the lang-u-age of fl-ow-ers!" Shinji enunciated slowly before a wide grin overtook his face. "Do you know that the Spider Lily means? Or are you just sitting there stupidly?"

"Oh, well, Hirako-taicho, I am afraid I am not fluent, no."

"The Spider Lily means never to meet again or a lost memory, or even abandonment." Shinji explained quickly, his long, thin fingers lifting a bizarrely thin petal. "If you think about it, only a real asshole would plant such a thing."

"You're lazy." Shinji said absently as he continued to stroke the plant in interest.

"I, well…" Kisuke stammered, suddenly embarrassed. He arched a blonde brow in surprise before smirking.

"Shut up and listen." Shinji interrupted. "You're lazy, you're indecisive, you're tardiness is aggravating. You're secretive and too clever for your own good. I think you'll make a great Captain, Kisuke-san. But ya gotta stop shuffling your feet. Your Lieutenant, she doesn't like you and she probably never will. She loved Kirio… Hikifune-taicho as a Mother and as a mentor. Ya can't compete with that. But ya can earn her respect. "

"Oh?" Kisuke responded slowly, unsure of the man before him. No one could read him like that. No one except Yoruichi. This guy's good, Kisuke thought with a smile.

"It's your Division. You're the Captain." Shinji continued after a long pause. His brown eyes focused on Kisuke sharply before suddenly darting up to the starry night sky. "You have to do what's best for you. Ya can't worry about stepping on your subordinates toes. Don't limit yourself to their level."

"Hai…" Kisuke replied quietly, a bit more forlorn then before. This conversation suddenly felt very familiar. How many times had he heard Yoruichi say the exact same things? How many fights before she finally forced him into a promotion that he had so wholeheartedly resisted?

"I don't envy ya, Kisuke-san." Shinji said with a sudden smirk, plucking a flower off and twirling it between his fingers. "Shihoin-san was my first love, I can sympathize with you on having to get over her."

"Oh-ho?" Kisuke replied, his voice rumbling low in his chest like a growl. "Who says I am the one who needs to get over her ?"

"Don't bother, your body language says it all." Shinji said as he plucked the needle thin petals off and tossed them into a haphazard pile. "Your arms are crossed, that's an unconscious barrier. Your eyes are downcast which means…"

Kisuke looked up to find Shinji's intense brown stare, studying his every move. Shinji clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth before smiling. "Which means, you…are…bored."

Kisuke's gray eyes widened, ever so slightly in shock, before a matching smile tugged at his lips. "I had one Mother, I don't need another, Hirako-san."

"She raise ya to be a complete idiot?" Shinji advanced suddenly, running his rough thumb over Kisuke's bottom lip. Shinji's thumb pushed inside his warm, wet mouth coarsely and then quickly withdrew. It left a salty aftertaste and Kisuke's blonde lashes fluttered in silent shock, his tongue unconsciously tracing his own lips. "That plant is poisonous. Do ya just go around putting all sorts of things in that mouth of yours?"

Kisuke shook his head nonsensically before leaning forward and spitting into the grass. He wiped his mouth on his forearm, turning around to see what Shinji found so funny. Shinji rapped his knuckles on the top of Kisuke's head lightly, chuckling softly in his throat. "You're still a kid. A little stupid, a little spoiled, a little lazy."

"So you keep telling me, Hirako-san." Kisuke said feeling more foolish by the minute. This was not normal, he wasn't supposed to feel this way, not ever. No one could get the best of him. His mind raced a million thoughts per minute before he looked back up at Shinji and every thought absconded him.

Shinji sat quietly, his eyes closed as if in sleep, his hands left abandoned in his lap, his head resting against the porch's thick, wooden pillar. His long blonde hair paled and his snowy skin glowed in the moonlight's kiss. Kisuke swallowed a heavy lump in his throat and scratched his nose deep in thought. A strange heat began to grow in his lower stomach and he looked away from Shinji's face in embarrassment, jumping slightly as Shinji spoke. "Shut your mouth, Kisuke-san. Ya look simple minded when ya leave your mouth open."

"Ya know," Shinji whispered as he leaned in closely, his breath fanning across Kisuke's face. "They say when a man is attracted to ya, his lips part when he sees you."

Kisuke cursed his fair complexion as a deep blush spread across his cheeks, he forced a wide grin and flicked the tip of Shinji's nose lightly. "Oh-ho? Is that what they say, Hirako-san? Are you well versed in male companionship?"

It was Shinji's turn to blush, crimson staining his cheeks from ear to ear. He smiled widely, running a finger softly down Kisuke's cheek. It was soft and warm and Shinji suppressed a shudder. He pulled back and with a grin presented an eyelash to Kisuke. "It's custom in the World of the Living to make a wish and blow…"

Kisuke clicked his tongue thoughtfully before leaning forward and lightly blowing the blonde lash up into the air and out of sight. "What now, Hirako-san?"

"Like this plant here suggests, it's never to be seen again." Shinji replied tossing his hair back and out of his face. "And I suppose that loss earns you the right to a wish."

"You're a scary guy." Kisuke murmured under his breath, his gray eyes wide with wonder.

"Nah, I'm mostly harmless…" Shinji answered back, his hand trailing in the air absently. "Do you like music, Kisuke-san? Modern music?"

"Music?" Kisuke repeated slowly.

"Music!" Shinji's voice boomed, his fingers snapping agitatedly. " Ya know, like King Oliver or the Rhythm Kings?"

"I'm afraid I don't know-"

"You don't know?" Shinji gasped loudly, his face lighting up in ecstasy at the mere thought of his gramophone record collection waiting for him at his barracks. "You must come to my division and have a listen! Jelly Roll Morton will save your soul!"

"You don't say?" Kisuke said with a soft laugh. "Isn't that a shinigami's job?"

Shinji only laughed in reply, pulling his legs into Indian style and rubbing his palms over his knees. "You're not so bad, Kisuke. You have potential."

"For great things, huh, Hirako-san?" Kisuke replied dryly, running his hand through his shaggy blonde hair.

"No, forget the job for a minute, idiot." Shinji groaned in annoyance. "I mean you have potential for me." Shinji's eyes widened in surprise at the implications of what he had just said.

Kisuke eyed him suspiciously a moment before they both erupted into hearty laughter. "Do you know how you sound, Hirako-san?" Kisuke said with a laugh, fluttering his eyelashes playfully.

"Yeah, I do…" Shinji exhaled heavily. He rocked forward on his hands, slowly leaning in towards Kisuke. Kisuke's eyes fluttered closed and he inhaled sharply, waiting expectantly for Shinji's lips to make sweet contact. The warmth from Shinji's body disappeared suddenly and Kisuke's eyes shot open. "How do you think I sounded, Aizen?"

Kisuke straightened himself hurriedly, a sheepish smile crossing his face. He gave a small wave to Aizen as he stepped out from his hiding place among the bushes. Sosuke Aizen did not return the smile or gesture, but merely stared intently at his Captain, a curious expression twisting his face. "How long have you known I was there, Captain?"

"Since you were in ya Mamma's womb…" Shinji growled, an ungenuine smile marring his handsome features. "Is there something you needed, Aizen-fukutaicho?"

"Nothing, Captain. I simply wondered where you had wandered off to." Aizen responded, flashing Kisuke a knowing smile that made his skin crawl. "I see you are congratulating the third seat on his promotion."

"Oh-ho! Good evening, Aizen-san!" Kisuke said with a wave as he climbed to his feet. "I have found your Captain for you! Do try not to lose him again!"

A few minutes later and Kisuke Urahara was inside his office, softly tapping his desk. The room was empty and cold. He rubbed his hands together and blew into them. There was a loud rasp on his shoji door and he turned in his chair, calling out loudly, "Come in, come in."

"You called for me?" Sarugaki-fukutaicho grumbled unhappily.

"Yes, I have a favor to ask…" Kisuke began slowly. "I need to know which shinigami in our division is currently stationed in the World of the Living."

"Keiko Yanamoto and Ryuk Kuromaru." Sarugaki-fukutaicho answered dryly.

"Get in touch with them immediately," Kisuke said, suppressing a smile. "I need them to tell me who Jelly Roll Morton is."

"Who?" Sarugaki nearly yelled. "What sorta business is this, ya freak?"

"Jelly Roll Morton." Kisuke repeated nonplussed. "And do it now, Hiyori-san."