These themed vignettes/drabbles/whatever are are G-rated.
A Warm and Ominous Breeze
Gift drabbles/vignettes by debbiechan, Holiday Season 2006
Spring turned into summer the morning Yamamato sent for Captains Ukitake and Koyourako. Jyuushiro’s neck sweated. Was summer always this hot? It could not be that he was anxious about seeing the ancient general. Jyuushiro expected that his relationship with Yamamoto was irrevocably changed but not damaged after last week’s events.
“I never expected such a thing,” Jyuushiro said, and he was not talking about what Aizen had pulled. “The boys trumped the teacher.”
“You could say so.” Shunsui smiled. “But I suspect that you’ve been right and Yama-jii’s been wrong lots of times. He just never found out before.”
Jyuushiro held his tea in his mouth a moment before gulping. Shunsui knew him too well. “Never mind that. What matters now is that our teacher is in a delicate position. His stand was unjustifiable, not thought out, and wrong. Imagine if he had allowed the execution to happen and everyone found out later how wrong he was.”
“Not to mention he tried to kill us,” said Shunsui. “His beloved pupils who are like sons.”
Jyuushiro looked into his tea. The sky of Soul Society was reflected there. A sky that looked ordinary and cloudless, but Jyuushiro could still see three white-robed captains ascending through the blue. Aizen, Gin, and Tousen--traitors proud of their perfidy as they bid farewell, three men not denying at all their murderousness and treachery.
A week had passed and Jyuushiro had not yet shaken off the shock.
“Jyuu, Jyuu.” Shunsui rose from his chair and gave his old friend a hard smack on the back (Harder than necessary, but Jyuu was used to Shunsui smacking him whenever phlegm and blood brought on a bad coughing spell). “It’ll be alright, Jyuu. You’ll see. The old man will turn it all into a good thing. You’ll see.”
And Shunsui was right.
Jyuushiro half-expected that in concentrating on preparations for war, Yamamato would forget that he had challenged his pupils to the death. That would be excellent. The old man’s memory, after all, was not what it used to be.
But when he and Shunsui walked into the assembly hall, Yamamato looked as clear-eyed and cognizant as Jyuu had ever seen him.
“Great Providence saw to it that you two would not die by my hand,” said the general of the Gotei 13. “Do you think, my children, that if I had known of Aizen’s betrayal before I challenged you that I still would have been intent to kill you?”
Jyuushiro want to say of course not, but he figured he should stay silent until the end of the lesson.
“There are few things worth dying and killing for, and one of them is the Law. Aizen defied it and you two were defying it as well. I know that you two think that because you considered the ethics of this… situation, and because you were accurate and justified in your judgements that you must be very good men, ne?”
Jyuushiro and Shunsui looked at one another. The gleam in Shunsui’s eye said that he would never consider himself a good man, persay. Jyuushiro had always been the model student; Shunsui had been the rogue.
“You were brave and good men,” Yamamoto went on. “It takes spine and heart to challenge your sensei for the sake of an idea and a little Shinigami girl. I expect you both knew that you would die fighting me?”
They knew. They didn’t have to say so.
“Did you consider that, after your example, anyone with a zanpakutou might see it fit to interpret the law?”
“Yama-jii,” began Shunsui. “I don’t think that there is a soldier within this walls who will not follow your every command into war, not now--”
“Shunsui-kun, what if your idea had been a bad one, your judgement poor and your bravery recklessness?”
Jyuushiro saw Shunsui trying not to roll his eyes; the long-lashed eyelids were twitching.
Jyuushiro cleared his throat. “Soul Society would remember us as tragic, mistaken men.”
“No,” said Yamamoto, “you would be remembered as fools. And because the finest in the Gotei 13 were fools, the Gotei 13 would be seen as an institution that creates fools. And I, a cruel general who slew his own men before allowing them fair trial. The center would collapse; the Law would not be respected anymore.”
The pupils looked at the ground. At least the scolding seemed to be over its peak point.
“But you two are with me now,” the old man continued, “because I still have so much more to teach you.”
Jyuushiro heard Shunsui release a sigh. Maybe this whole thing was over?
“And because,” said Yamamoto, “I still have so much to learn from you.”
The pupils’ heads shot up and their eyes widened.
Later, Shunsui insisted that Yama-jii would not remember what he said, but Jyuushiro did not laugh. The old man had seemed wise; his words had seemed deliberate and practiced.
“Soul Society will change,” Jyuushiro said. “It will not be a catastrophic change like the old man feared, but can’t you feel it? That orange-haired boy has set the wheels into motion. The ox will lead the carriage and take us us far and wide….”
Shunsui did not lose his smile. “I know.”
Running her hand through her hair, Tatsuki felt bits of glass and remembered what she had done to Ichigo. She’d hit him as hard as she could. His head had crashed through the window, and some wacky, incomprehensible power had kept him from even bleeding.
“Either he’s turned into an iron-head like Chad or he really is a ghost,” she muttered.
“Why are we following him?” asked Mizuiro, struggling to keep up with Tatsuki’s long strides. “So you can beat up on him some more?”
“I don’t want to beat him up,” she said. “I just want some answers.”
“What makes you think he’s going to give them to you?” asked Keigo. He was knee to knee with Tatsuki and within arm’s reach of her. He would grab her and protect her--just like Ichigo had asked--if she tried to do anything stupid. “I know Ichigo,” Keigo said, “and when he wants to close up about something, he stays closed up.”
“I’ve known Ichigo longer than either of you,” said Tatsuki. “He’ll talk. He’ll talk if he thinks one of us is going to be in danger if he doesn’t talk. Besides, Orihime is involved in this somehow, and I’m not going to--argh!”
She had fallen into a shallow hole made by some burrowing animal--a mole or rabbit. Keigo’s hand on her elbow had probably saved her from a sprained ankle.
“Watch where you’re going,” Keigo said.
“Oh I am.” Tatsuki was unfazed. She shook herself from Keigo’s grip and kept on walking.
Mizuiro resorted to a light skipping jog behind Keigo and Tatsuki. He didn’t want to lose them. He didn’t know quite why he was following them either. He had a loyalty to Ichigo, but he wasn’t exactly the protective type--Keigo would do a much better job of corralling Tatsuki.
All he knew was that he felt a pull in his soul, something weird and indefinable leading him away from his old life and towards a more grown-up future.
And he could sense something in the air. The busy spirits of people? Or was it destiny blowing over him like a warm and ominous breeze?
More than most captains, Captain Hitsugaya thought about Death. He wasn’t a coward; he was just aware of consequences. He measured the probability of Death on any given battlefield. Death was more likely to occur when (1) a fighter was reckless (2) a superior opponent was confronted directly, or (3) one’s own abilities were diminished by injury or lack of training.
He tied a loose string around the latest stack of reports and put them in the “Urgent” pile. Yamamoto needed to be made aware of what Hitsugaya and others had observed during their brief stay in the Living World. The concentration of reiatsu in Karakura is alarmingly high; humans are naturally aggressive but unintelligent fighters; the chances of the town being able to protect itself against the likes of Arrancar….
“Nil,” Hitsugaya said out loud.
He did not understand why some soldiers insisted on putting themselves in needlessly dangerous situations. Hitsugaya himself never be like Abarai who had just defied Yamamoto’s orders and flown to help Kurosaki Ichigo against overwhelming odds. Did Abarai have no sense?
Hitsugaya remembered a blur of red hair and tattoos as Abarai flew, slashing about, during training sessions. Ignoring conventional strategies and never keeping his head low.
Why was that style of combat so beautiful? Believing that he would win made Abarai a winner even if he lost his life. His bravery was that admirable.
His actions were still stupid.
The Kuchiki girl wasn’t a reckless fighter but apparently she had some sort of loyalty to Ichigo. Hitsugaya wondered if Abarai had convinced Rukia to go with him or if it had been the other way around. Overwhelming odds. These were not stupid Shinigami. They knew what they were getting into.
He pinched the top of his nose and wiped his eyes against his sleeve. This much paperwork was an unnecessary strain on his eyes. He should have been more diligent trying to make Matsumoto do her part….
Hope, wild hope--why could he not sustain it? Hitsugaya did not discount the possibility of Abarai’s mission succeeding, but he believed that he would never see the vice-captain again. Or Kuchiki Rukia.
They would step, he thought, from this world to the next without hesitation, without fear or regret. He wondered if that made a difference as to how their souls would re-emerge into other lives. Unconscious of their triumphs, not remembering their sacrifice?
If he were God, Hitsugaya would reward those who gave their lives defending the helpless. He would allow all the memories of these heroes to stay sealed in their souls. Why should the best people have to learn the same lessons all over again--they should build knowledge upon knowledge, one life on top of another…
The corner of Hitsugaya’s eye caught the massive stack of completed forms to his left. Like that.
People believed that Hitsugaya Toushiro’s soul was so icy that he had no need to restrain his baser impulses. They believed that he didn’t want to yell, rage, snatch the last dumpling, or stare at his vice-captain’s chest.
Maybe he didn’t. What he did have to restrain, though, was his hand on his sword. He had lived in Orihime’s house. He had been a recipient of her immeasurable hospitality, healing, and graciousness.
Feeling tired and yet longing to join the rescue, he rose from his desk. Not everyone needs to be a suicidal hero, he thought. Someone needs to write the log.
for Ileenka and Syneiam
Not like a wound and not like the grief he had felt when his mother died. Absence? Separation from her? That couldn’t be it. He had been fine with her staying in Soul Society before.
Other people--his sisters, his friends, innocent strangers--he expected that they would be alright because he would protect them. Rukia…Rukia. Was he actually afraid that--?
Forget it. Rukia could take care of herself. Ichigo had seen the resolve in her eyes when the rescue party split. Rukia was nothing if not sensible, strong, and capable. When did her eyes not look that way? Like their deep dark intelligence could defy the whole world.
Her eyes had not looked that way when she said, “We’re friends, right?”
Ouch. There it was again.
Relationships are not supposed to change. People who are happy being friends just stay good friends. You don’t care for your family more and more as the days pass. Caring, feeling, wanting only the best for them….
Ichigo could sense his feet slowing as those thoughts rose in his head so he speeded up. He had to prove his strength. What was going to change here was his speed. Yeah, even his bankai speed. His control, his power, his ability to overcome his own weaknesses--
He remembered her full eyes, the dull pang in his chest.
“We’re friends, right?”
Something had changed.
Something was changing.
The top of the staircase led to a massive room. The ceiling was so high it was hard to tell how high it actually was, and pillars the size of small buildings stood in asymmetrical rows.
Ishida’s steps slowed, and his breathing became more shallow. Wait. Listen. Feel for the reiatsu of an enemy.
The sharp sensation of endangerment brought his level-headedness to fore. Ishida was nothing if not calm under pressure. What was the function of such a strange room? It looked like games were played here. Games or other elaborate rituals. The pillars could have no other purpose. This room… Ishida took a deep breath and kept walking, all his senses on edge. This room seemed designed for hide and seek.
An attack, if it came, would come from anywhere except head-on.
Heightened moments freeze time. Ishida felt like he was standing between his past and his future. There was nothing but this. This waiting, this calm, this enormous white room. If there was a reason for his being here, he could only remember it dimly--as if looking down from a high precipice.
To save her. To fight for her. Yes, yes, keep going. The tension would break eventually. The race for his own life towards hers could start. Battles that no one, not even Urahara-san, could predict, would be fall behind him. He would keep going. He would enter the future with his cape waving from an unlikely wind, and his chin held high. He would--
A shift of reiatsu above him brought his weapon to his eye. He aimed at a strange winged creature.
He was running towards a pillar. He stood behind it and aimed again. He ran again. Time was flowing once more, and the sound of his breathing measured it. No fear, no more anticipation.
This was the path of an arrow. Up and towards its mark. If it didn’t hit the mark, it fell useless on the ground.
He would not be useless.
He shot from his heart.
His feet rode on a silver flame.
I wish I could’ve written a gift for everyone on my f-list, but even hyped-up muses slow down eventually. I didn’t purposely leave anyone out! As each drabble came to me, I thought about who would appreciate it the most and hence the dedications.