Chapter Three to Crelrn's Bleach: Reemergence
Chapter Three: Homecoming
Chapter Three: Homecoming
Shou continued out through the mouth of the cave, executing a flash step to carry him outwards. His uniform and cloak flapped in the air behind him as he flew through the air at imperceptible speeds, disrupting the silence of the night. He moved in a manner of great importance, as if the fate of the world was in the balance.
How nostalgic,he thought as he rushed through his previous domain of work over the past few centuries. It hasn’t really changed as much as I thought it would…
Shou stopped, landing on the roof of a nearby residential building. He looked around, attempting to look out for any Shinigami that were on the lookout in the vicinity. As soon as his suspicions were cleared he hopped down the side of the building, landing directly in front of the door. Hesitantly, he opened it.
The building that he was entering was none other than that of the Eighth Division’s residential building. Shou looked around the corner of the door, but saw no one patrolling the halls. That’s odd; since the entire Seiretei is a battleground, you’d think that they’d have more security around here.Shou stepped into the building. Although, since this is Kyouraku-senpai’s division, I’m not too surprised.
All throughout the hallway, doors were placed every 10 or so feet, indicating a separate place of residence for each Shinigami. On each door was a placard stating the rank and seat of the Shinigami inside; Shou strode down the hallway, scanning each one of these plates. Where is he?
Right before he finished walking all the way down the end of the hallway, Shou stopped. His body turned, now facing the door with the placard stating, “Third Seat.”
Shou’s heart rate elevated as sweat started to drip down the back of his neck. Reaching out for the door, time seemed to slow down, his hand never seeming to move forwards to finish the final inches to reach the door’s handle.
Slowly, he opened the shoji screen door. The room that the door was guarding was dark; the moon wasn’t illuminating the room though the window and the oil lantern inside wasn’t lit.
In the center of the room was a wooden bed; a dark mass veiled by a sheet ay on top of it. A white bandage drooped from beneath the covers over the side of the bed. Shou’s heart stopped and his breath came in small, short drafts. His lips parted slowly and a single, quiet word came out:
The solitude word rang awkwardly in the small space and the room seemed to grow larger. The figure in the bed stirred at the sound of the word and sat up slowly, it’s large silhouette filling up Shou’s view of the room.
“…Sora?” a slow, deep voice answered him back. “Who the hell’s ‘Sora’?”
“Third-chair of the Eighth Division, Sora Fujita,” slowly stated Shou with a hint of confusion in his voice. “This is his room isn’t it?”
The large silhouette scoffed. “I don’t know who the hell this ‘Sora’ is, but he’s for sure not the Third-chair of the Eighth Division because,” he started, now sitting up in the bed, “I am. Tatsufusa Enjoji.”
Shou’s eyebrows furrowed. “What happened to the person that held your post previously?”
“I don’t know, I think he went missing or somethi-,” Enjoji’s voice stopped. “Wait a second, who the hell are you?” he demanded. “What division do you belong to?”
Shou’s pulse quickened. “The…12th division,” he stammered.
“The R&D corp? If that’s so, what’s with that uniform?”
As Enjoji reached for the Zanpakutou on the floor next to him, Shou’s hand immediately bolted to his own. But right before he could draw it, a hand came from behind him and grabbed his hand. Though the grip was hard enough to stop Shou from drawing his sword, it was too gentle to feel hostile.”
“Hey now, we can’t have any of that, now can we?” a familiar voice said from behind him. “What happened in the past hundred years that made you so hostile, Shou-kun?”
A warm smile gathered on Shou’s face as he let go of his Zanpakutou and turned around to face the pink-uniformed man standing in front of him. The scent of cherry blossoms now filled the room; Shou didn’t know why he hadn’t noticed it before. Atop the man’s head was a wide-brimmed straw-hat, framing his long, messy brown hair. The slight smile on his face was complimented by his warm, friendly eyes. “Kyouraku-taichou,” said Shou with a grin on his face. “It’s nice to see you after all this time.”
The flamboyantly garbed captain laughed at this statement. “It’s nice to see youafter all this time. However,” started the captain, a look of concern in his eyes, “I need to ask you a few questions. You probably can already guess what they are.”
“Heh. I knew I couldn’t just run into youwithout answering anything.”
A small smile formed on the captain’s face. “So come clean. What reallyhappened those some-hundred years ago?”
“I…can’t tell you here.” He gestured to a dumbfounded Enjoji, utterly confused as to why this strange man who had snuck into his room to watch him sleep was now being greeted with open arms by his Captain, speaking as if they were equals! “Especially not with thatguy just sitting there.”
“Hahaha!” Shunsui laughed loudly. “Enjoji-kun? You don’t have to worry about him. He won’t say a word! Right?” At this last word a threatening look hidden formed in the captain’s eye directed straight at the bed-ridden man.
Gulping audibly, Enjoji stammered, “Uh-uh-of course not, Kyouraku-taichou! I’d never dream of doing anything of the sort!”
The captain grinned. “Glad we’re on the same page.” And with that he turned around and strolled out the door and down the hall, with Shou in tow. Rounding the corner, they arrived at a flashy, gaudy set of sliding doors that led to the captain’s room. The doors were but an omen of what was to come, however. The doors opened in an incredibly over-dramatic way, revealing an interior of pinkness. The gaudiness was almost unbearable to most, but Shou had gotten used to it over years of coming into it over and over again to play Shogi and Go with the captain. The ceramic Goban that they’d used was still sitting in the corner, dusty, the Captain now placing his large hat on top of its surface..
Shunsui noticed Shou’s eyes glancing over at their old friend. “Heh. Sure brings back memories, huh?”
“Yeah…” replied Shou, a nostalgic feeling swelling up from within him. “Looks like it hasn’t been used in a while, though.”
“Well, I haven’t really played anyone recently. And by recently I mean about a hundred years. And even the last games I played weren’t really challenges. The people that I played never wanted to play me ever again. I’ll tell ya, the Seretei is full of a bunch’a sore losers!”
“Yeah, the last time I played was ourlast game.”
“Hah! The draw?” laughed Shunsui. “That was the best game I’ve ever played with you!”
“It was a pretty good match! You had me on the ropes…”
An awkward silence followed this, it’s discomfort caused Shou to shuffle to fill it in with a shuffling of the feet. “Anyways,” started Kyouraku, now breaking the silence, “spill it. Tell me what happened that hundred years ago. Why did you leave the Soul Society with that traitor, Urahara?”
A sheepish smile formed on Shou’s face. “I guess there’s no more hiding it. Do you want the unabridged version?”
“Naturally,” the captain chuckled.
And with a sigh Shou proceeded to explain to the best of his ability the events that transpired a century ago, starting with the introduction of the disappearances of members of the Court Guard Squads and ending with the explanation of the Vizards. The captain surprisingly didn’t seem to be the least bit phased by Shou’s revealing of Aizen as the principle orchestrator behind the plot against Soul Society.
The two Shinigami stood for a while in silence, the elder of the two absorbing the avalanche of information and revelations that the younger had poured out to him.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, Shou broke the silence. “You think I’m crazy; don’t you, Kyouraku-senpai?”
With a look of amusement on his face, the Captain turned back to Shou. “If I heard this from anyone but you, Shou, I would think that.” He gave an encouraging smile to Shou, which he returned. “But this,” his facing darkening, “is much more than what I believed it would be.
“So,” began the younger Shinigami, “how do you think we should handle this situation?”
A puzzled look popped up on the elder Shinigami’s face. “Well, I’ve never been too good with these kinds of things, but…I believe that right now we should keep this a secret from the rest of the Seiretei.”
“Well it’s just like you said: they’d think we’re crazy.” A snort of laughter came from Shou at this statement. “They’d never believe information that came from the mouth of a person whom the Soul Society has labeled a traitor. Even if that person was a former Captain,” finished Kyouraku.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” resigned Shou, a doleful expression upon his face. “They wouldn’t believe anything that came from me…”
“However,” interrupted the pink-garbed Captain as he walked over to the window, the moon shining brightly through it, “I believe we should tell Ukitake. He’d believe you, as well.”
“That sounds like an idea.”
“By the way,” Kyouraku started, turning back to Shou, “Why were you here in the Eighth Division halls in the first place?”
“I…was trying to-“
“Find Sora,” finished the Captain.
Shou smirked. “Your vision is as sharp as ever. Where is he?” He gestured back towards the hallway. “He’s not in the third seat of your division anymore?”
“Shou, you don’t know?”
Kyouraku took a deep breath and exhaled it. He turned to face Shou with a guilty look in his eyes. “Shou-kun, Sora disappeared that night, as well.”
Shou’s heart sank to the bottom of his stomach, the impact weighing him down. His knees started to buckle. “Wh-…what do you mean?”
“Shou-kun…Fujita-kun vanished like the others.”
“How did he go missing?” questioned the distraught former Captain through narrowed eyes.
“Well,” started Kyouraku, “he disappeared a little before you and Urahara-san did. He went and followed *-chan after she didn’t come back when I sent her out to look for the rest of the missing Shinigami. Much like *-chan, he didn’t return. I assumed that he escaped with you and Urahara-san. I take it he didn’t.”
“Yeah, he didn’t. I didn’t even see-“ Shou stopped mid sentence, a memory from that night suddenly rushed back to him.
It was dark, though the torchlight from the nearby buildings illuminated the corridors between the Court-Guard houses slightly. The scent of cherry blossoms filled the air; they were in bloom this season and he was near the 8th Division quarters. Moving with the utmost haste Shou rounded a corner and ran almost headfirst into a tall, brown-haired Shinigami. The bands on his shoulder stated that he was a ranked officer in the 8th Division
“Oi! Shou! Where ya headed? Always gotta be on the frontlines, now, don’chya?”
Despite this man trying to talk to Shou he simply ran past him. “Oi! Shou!” yelled the 8th Division officer. “Shou!”
Yelling at him without looking back, “I can’t talk now, Sora! I’ll...see you later!” Shou looked over his shoulder and saw that Sora wasn’t there anymore, which seemed funny because he could have sworn that he heard the sound of footsteps behind him. Probably just my imagination, thought Shou to himself as he hurried ‘round the next corner.
Looking back at the puzzled Captain Shou went and slid open the door. “Where ya plannin’ on goin’, Shou?” A sideways expression formed on the Captain’s face. “Ya have somewhere in mind?”
Shou’s gaze remained fixed forwards towards the doorway. “I’ll…see you later…” And with that, Shou vanished.
Kyouraku stared blankly at the doorway, then shifted his gaze back to the moonlit window. With an apprehensive look on his face the Captain grabbed his large hat off of the dusty surface of the Goban. “My, my. This is quite the unexpected turn of events.” He walked through the doorway that Shou had left open, closing it behind him. “Looks like I’ve got a lot of work to do.
The stench of blood filled the air, a dull red painted on the desks and chairs of the chamber, like a red milk that had spilled on the counter and had long since spoiled. The blood had dried and congealed by now and was starting to chip, flakes of the stuff now starting to float in the air.
Official-looking figures with wide eyes were strewn across the desks and chairs, pale-faced, mouths ajar, completely covered in the red glaze.
Past this room, through a door and down a series of corridors was another, although smaller, chamber. The pale light of a monitor illuminated this dark chamber, a tall, bespectacled figure gazing at its display, the light shining through his glasses highlighting the pair of commanding eyes on his face. With one hand he used two slender fingers to enlarge the display, the other hand slicking his brown hair back.
“So…he’shere,” the man remarked, his speech slow and calculated. “He may throw a wrench into my plans…no, it’s of little consequence. I’ll just have to change my plans slightly. I’ll send someone to greet him…” A grin crept onto his face. “These events may turn out to be more interesting than I originally planned.”
The moon had crept back over its horizon, making way for the dawning sun. Though the sun had not come up from its side of the earth yet some of its rays had managed to crawl over the horizon, pale light illuminating the Seiretei.
Wandering in an alleyway, lost in thought, Shou sat down to rest his legs, his back leaning against the cold, hard stone of a building’s wall. Sora…where did you go?asked Shou to himself as he gazed up at the sky.
Suddenly a burst of spiritual pressure resonated through the corridor. So sudden did the energy shockwave come that it caused Shou to jump up in surprise, his eyes darting to the direction where the spiritual pressure came from. This…spiritual pressure…thought Shou with narrowed eyes. No…it couldn’t be…He ran towards where the pressure originated from, turning round the same corner that he had ran around a century ago.
The last time he felt this spiritual pressure was a century ago.
After rounding the corner Shou came to a halt. In front of him stood a tall Shinigami, ‘round six feet tall. Shou audibly let out a sigh of relief at the sight of him. “Sora…”
The brown-haired Shinigami wore a warm smile on his face, friendly eyes gleaming at Shou. “It’s been a while…Shou…” The former captain walked over to his old comrade, meeting him in a warm embrace.
“I’ve been so worried about you, Sora.”
“And I you, Shou. I’m glad to see you haven’t gotten yourself killed.”
At that moment Shou had a very odd sensation, as if a hot pole was being rammed through his body. He looked down to see Sora’s shaking hands grasping the handle of a Zanpakutou that emerged out of his stomach. “Sora…why…?”
Shou looked back up to see Sora’s once friendly eyes now full of frenzy and glee. “I’m glad you hadn’t gotten yourself killed,” Sora started with a shaking voice, “because it would deprive me of the chance to kill you myself.”
Shou felt like he was being sucked into a vortex, absolute darkness surrounding him. When he opened his eyes he found that they were no longer located between buildings of the Seiretei but now in a desolate, moonlit desert. The sand carried on the harsh wind worsened the pain that Shou felt in his stomach, but it was still nothing compared to the pain that Shou felt in his heart.
Sora lept backwards, pulling the sword in Shou’s abdomen out with a sickening sound not dissimilar to pulling one out of a sheathe. Shou fell to his knees, looking up at the man he’d trusted for all these years standing on top of a sand dune. He looked down upon him like a king would look down upon his subjects.
“You abandoned me, Shou. And now…it’s time for me to return the favor.” Raising his hand out in front of him seams seemed to appear out of thin air, pulling apart the air like a mouth opening up.
“Sora!” yelled Shou to the back of the Shinigami he once had called his best friend. “Wait! What did I do to you?” Sora looked back to the distraught Shinigami, a cold look in his eyes.
“I’ll…see you later.”
And with that, the Shinigami walked through the portal, disappearing as it closed behind him.
Moments later, many large Hollows appeared as if summoned by the call of Shou’s pain, swarming around him, stalking him and imagining the meal that awaited them. Their cries pierced the still night air.
Shou slowly worked his way up off of his knees and up to his feet, trembling slightly. He gripped the hilt of his Zanpakutou, sliding it out of its sheathe, holding it out in front of him. He closed his eyes, focusing his mind to the tangible object of his soul in his hands. All the Hollows that had gathered swarmed him at the same time from every conceivable angle. His eyes opened up, expressionless.