Yo! Another story, this time about Urahara and Yoruichi. I think I'm totally off the mark with Yoruichi-san, but I kind of like the idea of her having at least one weak moment in her life. And what better moment than the time she abandoned her life to save Urahara?

Reviews are candy, but only drop one if you feel compelled to. Flames, criticisms, and grammar-checks (if you can find them, these are important to me, and I'll edit them ASAP) are all welcome, plus, if I gather enough flames, I can build a bonfire!

I do not own Bleach or the characters; those belong to the wonderful (though he tortures us with these weeks of no chapters) Kubo-san. However, the story does belong to me, so don't steal it! Enjoy!


Fleeting

They ran as kids.

They ran as teens.

They ran as adults.

And then they fled, together, the place that scorned him and called him names.

"Sadistic, cruel."

"Cool, calculating scientist with no regard for the lives of his friends."

"Murderer."

"Insane and evil."

She tried to make him laugh that night. The night they ran away. They had run all their lives, but for what? To be better. Now he ran for the lives of his friends, and she ran for him.

Who knew she had cared for him all that time? Who knew there was more than a friendship that she harbored in the shadowed depths of her heart?

They leaned against a tree in a nameless area of Japan. It was an empty park with a circle of grass ringed with trees that disappeared off one side into a forest. The tree was gnarled. She leaned against one side; he leaned at angles to her, facing into the grass. Their shoulders touched. The warmth of her skin pushed against the coarse fabric of his shihakusho. His captain's haori lay, discarded, off to the side.

"You know, you are kinda sadistic, but you only try to be cruel to me. Cool? These people must have never even met you!" He snorted at her comments, but it was halfhearted.

They had nowhere to go. They had come to the world of the living without any plan except escape. Her desperate act had saved him, but where were they now. It was dark, and shadows accentuated the tiredness in his face.

They had taken a map from some train station. It told them where they were, but it didn't tell them where to go. That was the main problem.

Karakura Town. It sounded fine to her. Cities had never really been her thing. Purple hair shifted slightly as a breeze flowed over their shoulders like water. Her hands were still shaking. She would never let him see them shake, but it had cost her to run. She reckoned that he felt guilty enough though, without her extra burden.

She clenched her jaw and the hand he couldn't see. She was being such a child. He looked up at her, and she turned her head to meet his gaze, quickly looking down.

He reached out and squeezed her hand. He could read her like a book.

"I'm sorry, Yoruichi."

"I know, Kisuke. It wasn't really your fault..." she trailed off, trying to think of whose fault it had been. Her eyes snapped open and hardened to steel. Aizen.

There, that was better. It helped to have a target to solidify her anger on. Helped her feel less silly. Anger was good for stopping the shaking in her hands. But still, they shook. She tried to convince herself it wasn't such a big change. When that failed, she tried to convince herself she only felt this way because of how big the change was.

She felt sorry. She had lost her way of life, maybe. She had put an indelible stain on the history of the Shihouin clan, definitely. Yoruichi winced. Her mother would not be happy about that if she was alive. Not that Yoruichi had ever listened to anything that woman said, anyway. She felt bad about leaving her devoted little bee, too. Soi Fon practically worshiped her, and while that wasn't the best thing, Yoruichi wasn't planning on going back for a while. She would feel deserted.

Sorting her thoughts was calming. It eased the burden on her heart and mind, and Yoruichi suspected her skeletons would only come to haunt her in the early hours of morning every so often. A faint smile touched her lips, but it was just as soon wiped away by a moan from behind them. Yoruichi's head snapped over to Kisuke's, and their eyes locked in a fear that was both primal and developed.

The fear of what they would see when they turned was there, as was the fear for their friends. What would the end result be? Who would they find behind them? Hollows? Shinigami? Something else?

It worried her that he was nervous. He had wondered about hollowfication, but he had obviously never wanted to test it. If he was nervous...

Without thinking, she leaned forward and kissed him, briefly. He started, then relaxed and laid a hand on her shoulder. It was merely a flash in time, and with that moment, they stood and turned to face the music.

All of the masks had completed fully after about an hour, and the shinigami-hollows were leaned against trees among gigai and a few small wooden crates Kisuke had managed to salvage right before they left.

The reactions among the group had been different. Hiyori had continued to twitch the whole time like she was throwing punches, but Mashiro had gone completely still. The two friends began scanning the bodies of their friends, looking for the origin of the noise.

All of a sudden, Shinji's mask started to crack. Right down the middle, a jagged split formed, eventually widening enough so that the two halves slid off his face. He groaned again and peeled open one eye.

"Maaan, that was rough. Whatever you shot me full of helped weaken him, but that fight was still no fun!" he complained.

Kisuke relaxed noticeably, then opened his mouth to speak.

"The injection I gave you was the essence of a Quincy arrow of light and a human soul. It was the exact opposite of the hollow inside you."

"That explains why he suddenly got so much weaker all of a sudden," Shinji said. "Oh, and I know you're wondering, I did feel the injection, but only barely. It broke my concentration for a sec!" He scratched his head with one hand and pushed himself up on the other arm. His demeanor became serious.

"I'm the first to wake up, then?" He looked around, his eyes resting a fraction of a second longer on Hiyori. Kisuke nodded. "I injected them with the same serum as I did with you, but they haven't shown much reaction."

Shinji nodded, then paused and stood up. "Don't attack me, but I wanna try something."

He frowned and clawed at the air in front of his face. It seemed to have no effect for a moment, but then his fingers appeared to grab an invisible something in front of his face. He grinned in a dark and nervous triumph, then pulled his hand up and over his head. The mask he had worn in his unconscious state was pulled out of thin air, and he stood, unsure of what would happen next. A breeze pooled around him and the long strands of his hair danced in the invisible currents. His eyes opened: black with those shocking, poison-yellow irises. Kisuke's hand went instinctively to his zanpakuto's hilt, and Yoruichi tensed, ready to spring into action.

"Don't worry, it's still me." Shinji's voice was distorted and broken, and his eyes were still those of a hollow's, but he was undeniably Shinji. He breathed deeply. "This is pretty fine, I must admit. There's a whole lotta power sitting in the palm of my hand now. Not that I would have it this way if I could choose." He gave a small, uncharacteristically sad smile.

Kensei's mask slid off and shattered on the packed turf underneath him. He groaned and stretched.

"That's a nice speech, captain. I almost wish Rose was awake to hear it." Kensei grinned, and Shinji flicked his mask away.

"For your information," Rose started through the broken-off beak of his bird mask, "I am awake, and while the speech was not extremely artistic, it had a sort of undeniable Shinji-specific poetry that I can't help but admire."

"Uuuhh..." Shinji started, then swayed. "Tired, guys." He collapsed. Yoruichi started, and Kisuke rushed to his friend's side.

"His pulse is stable; I believe he passed out from... exhaustion?"

"Yeah, that would make sense," Love's gorilla mask turned to dust on his face and blew away. "Those fights were pretty intense. We seem to have all developed 'inner hollows' who live in our soul worlds. We had to fight them to regain control of our bodies."

Kensei and Rose had both fallen asleep by this point as well, and Love stretched out on the ground. At Kisuke's questioning eyebrow he started to speak.

"What? If I'm going to pass out from exhaustion, I'd rather be comfortable than wake up with a crick in my neck." He grinned and closed his eyes. Within seconds, he was asleep.

Yoruichi and Kisuke relaxed, and they leaned back against the opposite side of the tree as before, so they could watch the remaining Hollow-shinigami hybrids wake up. Lisa, Mashiro, and Hachi woke up in the next fifteen minutes and promptly fell asleep again.

Hiyori stayed asleep. It had been a little more than an hour by the time the horn broke off her mask and the rest crumbled to ash. Her yellow-brown eyes opened slightly and focused. Immediately, the relaxed, almost peaceful, look that had somehow found its way to her face was gone. Irritation drew her face tight and her mouth opened if a ferocious, if weak, snarl.

"What?" Kisuke's face drooped in an admonished kind of look.

"Your face had to be the first thing I saw when I woke up, huh baldy?"

Yoruichi barely controlled the twitching corners of her mouth. The two of them bantered back and forth for a while before Hiyori promptly fell asleep mid-sentence. Kisuke went out in a 'gigai' he had invented (equipped with some "borrowed" clothes) and bought some food, and by the time he returned, Shinji, Rose, Love, Kensei, and Mashiro had woken up again, ravenous. They quickly devoured the food set out before them, and Kisuke showed them how to use the gigai. Lisa and Hachi woke up and ate, and the newly-christened "Vizards" minus Hiyori went out to purchase human world clothes for their gigai with Kisuke, the only one who could be seen by humans. Yoruichi was left to watch Hiyori.

Hiyori woke up at around three in the afternoon. "Where...?"

Shinji and the others had come back a while ago.

"World of the living, remember?" Shinji replied.

"Oh yeah. Hey! What's with the clothes and haircut, baldy?!"

"It's called a gigai. Urahara made them. We'll be living here for a while."

"Right." Hiyori's eyes drifted to the side. Her melancholy look was quickly wiped away, however. She jumped up and looked straight at her former captain.

"I guess this is goodbye, then, taichou."

"Yeah, see ya, Hiyori." He smiled a little and acknowledged the other Vizards as they walked away through the trees. It was the only time Hiyori called him captain.


Urahara smiled slightly as he thought about that day. Mainly about the part Yoruichi had played in it, truth be told. He was sitting on a the rooftop of the Urahara Shop in Karakura Town, and the sun was rising palely on the tranquil surface of the lake of the sky. The pink-orange light colored the cloud-bottoms coppery-bronze, and nothing stirred in the city below. Undoubtedly, there were hundreds of thousands of sleep-glazed eyelids (sticky, like syrup) and soft, unmoving bodies lying in a peaceful state of inertia in the city below, but from the top of this roof, he saw nothing.

Yoruichi had been nervous, sad, confused, and terrified. She was blind in this world; she knew no one, and the landscape was unfamiliar. She was lost and scared of her blindness. She had been forcibly transplanted from her home into a world that she did not know. That much, Urahara had known. He did not need for her to tell him that. She was also sad to leave her life.

Urahara tipped his hat over his face and smiled a small smile. She had been happy, though, too. She had left with him. She had loved him, deeply, with the innocence of not-quite-lovers. A fresh, happy outlook on life.

And she had kissed him.

Urahara shook his head. He took his hat off and set it beside him, running his hand through his hair. He was still bewildered by that. Not in the sense that he didn't see it coming, no; it was the kind of bewilderment that occurred directly after a phenomenon that he still felt. He loved her back, of course, but he was still confused. How could that have happened? The bewilderment had lingered long after the phenomenon.

After a hundred years in the world of the living, she had only kissed him once (just then). After a hundred years in the world of the living, he was still lost in that moment.

Lost, in the moment. He enjoyed the feeling of being lost, for once. It was that unexpected warmth that one enjoys in a sudden sense of camaraderie. You haven't noticed how much these people mean to you until just now. But he was also lost, falling in that feeling in a terrifying beautiful chasm that goes on into infinity.

She never said anything about it. She had never mentioned that moment. Neither had he. He supposed that, if he had known where they would end up today, he might have said something, offered some form of retribution. Had he known he would be calling her Yoruichi-san, that she would have left for the majority of the time they had spent in the world of the living... It might have been different. They still loved each other, of course. It was different though. It was a given, and they didn't need to mention it. But just once... He sighed. Just once it would be nice to hear her say something, feel her hand on his shoulder. To embrace her close to him and feel her heartbeat against his chest.

He laughed at himself, weakly. He was being ridiculous. As with so many aspects of her personality, that moment was fleeting. She had been prepared for possible death, and had shown him that facet of her. She was older now, of course. He snorted: Yoruichi didn't hold grudges well, either.

Ah well, there was little he could do about it. Urahara clasped his hands around his knees and leaned back over the edge. A figure slid over next to him in the gradually growing light. She was curled over herself, slouching in a half-asleep state. Her hair was tied back loosely, a few strands breaking free around her shoulders. She was wearing human world clothes, for once. A simple black turtleneck and black sweatpants. She had obviously only recently woken up.

"Hey, Kisuke."

"Hey."

"What were you thinking about?"

He hesitated, weighing the pros and cons of answering truthfully. He shrugged.

"You."

"Hmm." Her eyelids slid closed, and she leaned against his side, curling her legs up opposite. His eyes widened imperceptibly, and he blinked.

"That's funny," her voice was a lazy drawl. "I was thinking about you, too."

Fleeting, huh. Maybe Urahara was knew less about her than he thought. A faint smile touched the corners of his mouth. He wondered if he had been waiting for her.


^_^ Yoruichi totally has a soft side. I believe it. Ta for now!