Title: Crimson Flowers Blooming
Chapter 1: 1895
Characters: Urahara/Yoruichi, with a fair amount of Shibas, Soifon ( and slight implied Yoru/Soi ), Mayuri, and a rather important mystery person.
Genre: Drama, with a dash of mystery
Warnings: Spoilers, some language, and there will eventually be bloodiness.
Summary: There are reasons why the relationship between Urahara and Yoruichi is... strained.
Disclaimer: I own nothing, except for a few minor ocs and my own bizarre interpretations of the plot.
A/N: I apologize for some of the strange spacing; I fixed as much of it as I could, but some just wouldn't go ( if anyone knows a way to fix this, please tell me ).
Hanging close I live in the beloved bone
Speaking in the marrow
alive in green memory
– Meridel LeSueur
It was the twenty-fifth of May in 1895. It had been a quiet year, or at least as quiet a year as Soul Society was ever graced with. Oh sure, Second was undergoing a major reorganization, giving the perhaps foolish taichou and fukutaichou who had instigated it their fair share of headaches; Eighth’s former fukutaichou had retired to care for his ailing wife, and had been replaced by some splendid young prodigy just out of the Academy; the taichou of Ninth had become convinced that people were stealing his fundoshi, much to his subordinates’ chagrin.... But these were unimportant things; surely the famed Shihouin and Soifon could handle a little more paperwork, and Eighth’s fukutaichou was settling in quite well, and Ninth’s taichou had always been a little... peculiar.
So what else, wondered the ominous triad of Kyouraku, Kurosaki, and Urahara, was there to do to liven up a dull year than to throw a party of epic proportions? Somebody– probably Kyouraku, or perhaps Shiba-kun– had convinced Ukitake Juushirou into volunteering the main building of Thirteenth for this excess; Yoruichi could do little but sigh and think that she would never allow the property of her Division to be misused like this. Not to mention that if it ever was, Soifon would probably try to bite the party-goers to death; if ever there was a girl who liked order, it was she.
In perfect fairness, the party was indeed impressive. Thirteenth’s courtyard was littered with a sundry mix of shinigami, from famous lords and ladies of the upper nobility, to taichou and their favored adjutants, to unfamiliar members of unspecified Divisions. Kuchiki Byakuya, Yoruichi knew, was sitting primly on one of the upper storeys, not looking very happy. She wondered if somebody had forced him into coming, and speculated with Shiba-kun about the possibility that he would throw the sort of cold, arrogant fit that was the closest this great lord of the Kuchiki ever got to a temper tantrum, leaving early and maligning Thirteenth as an irresponsible Division.
Shiba-kun shrugged, noncommital. “I never know what in the hell he’s gonna do. I don’t think he likes me, to be honest.”
Yoruichi couldn’t help but laugh at that. “Doesn’t like you? I think he regards you as being something of a lesser species, Shiba-kun.”
“Eh, his loss. He doesn’t have to be such an ass all the time, you know. It’s hardly a surprise that nobody who isn’t gaga for him can stand to be around him.”
That, she would realize later, was what she liked about Shiba Kaien: he was honest, in a brutal yet somehow good-natured way. The first time she realized this, she was lonely and living in exile, and she mourned he occasion in her heart. The second time, there was no more mourning to be done; Shiba Kuukaku and Ganju and some poor too-young little girl of the Kuchiki family that had so amused Shiba-kun had already taken on the burden of it. In retrospect, that might have been just as well, because by that point, Yoruichi did not know just how much more breaking her heart could take before she simply gave up and allowed it to shatter completely.
Back at the great party of ’95, her heart still unbroken and her soul still strong, Yoruichi excused herself to find something to eat. Kisuke had promised– promised– there would be some great and exciting variety of canapes to be had at this party of his; perhaps it was unbefitting of her rank, but she was delighted in her hunger to find out that he had been telling the truth.
Later, she would wish that he would only learn to save to truth for more important things than party favors.
It was as she wandering back through the courtyard, nibbling absentmindedly on something that was most likely pork and was certainly good, that she saw him. She wove a path easily through the throng of people, most of them simply standing and chatting with others of their class, her footsteps feather-light on the gray paving stones underfoot, which were still warm with the day’s heat even though the sun had been down for more than an hour now. A minor shinigami of Thirteenth was scurrying around, lighting brightly-colored lanterns in the darkness, and Yoruichi was forced to admit with a crooked little half-smile that at least when her friends decided to get wasted, they did so with some serious style.
Kisuke was lounging in the shadow of a statue of a very stern-looking man that seemed out of place among the festivities.
“I was wondering where I’d find you,” she said, sliding out of one of the black shadows the statue so conveniently provided.
“Making good use of your many skills, I see. Yoruichi, can you help me with something?” he asked, half toasting her and half trying to take a drink; a bad combination if there ever was one, and one that left him trying to wipe up the sake that had run down his front before it did something horrible to his clothing.
“This guy,” he said, gesturing to the statue that towered over him, and which seemed to be giving him a look of disinterested disapproval. “Who is he?”
“I don’t know. Does it matter?”
Kisuke paused for a second, glancing up at her with what he probably thought was his most piercing look. Finally, he sighed and admitted, “Not at all!”
“Then why did you ask me?” she huffed, again half-smiling, already knowing the answer, or at least as much of an answer as there ever was.
“I just like hearing the sound of your voice.”
“You’re terrible. Anyway, don’t you have work of some sort to be doing?” she queried,
knowing that there was certainly no answer to this question. It was perhaps a silly question for her, of all people, to ask; the truth was that neither of them had actually worked a day in their lives; they simply did that which came easily to them and few others.
“I do have work!” He sounded absurdly proud of this for somebody who had been Soul Society’s most prodigious inventor since before most of the shinigami at this party had even been born. “I was just telling– Hey, where’d he go?”
At that moment, as though the whole night had been choreographed, Eighth’s fukutaichou, the apparently ingenious young man with medium-length blond hair and a ridiculous smile on his face, appeared as if out of nowhere.
“I’m baaaack– shit,” he blurted as he accidentally tipped a cup of something violently pink he had been holding too far, splashing it all over the cobblestones. Even in her human form, Yoruichi’s sense of smell was almost unrivaled in Soul Society, and she crinkled her nose at the smell of the drink; at least its color was truth in advertising, because it even smelled nauseatingly pink.
She tried to ignore this, however, as they were introduced; fukutaichou, taichou and commander of the Secret Remote Squad; very pleased to meet you, another splash of spilled pink and a hasty apology.
“Anyway, as I was just saying, we just launched a couple of new projects, and Kurotsuchi actually stayed behind to work on...”
She never heard exactly what was being cooked up in Twelfth, at least not until it was far, far too late to do anything to fix what had already been so badly broken. At that moment, Shiba-kun tapped her on the shoulder, saying that he would have to duck out early for Miyako’s sake, sorry. It was understandable, to say the least; Shiba Miyako was already six months pregnant, and her constitution was apparently taking it worse than expected. Yoruichi was a little surprised that she had come at all. It was a pleasant surprise though, even if the two had only talked briefly earlier in the evening.
A golden sliver of the waxing moon gazed down on them, and in its beneficent light, all
seemed pleasant and hopeful. At the time, Yoruichi wouldn’t have guessed, even with Unohana’s stern warnings as confided by Shiba-kun, that in the rapidly approaching August, she would stand with her eyes downcast, pointless sorrowful words spilling from her lips; she would be one of a more sedate and smaller throng offering the Shiba their condolences on the stillborn baby.
And that was only the start, because if this year was simply tinged with sadness at its
corners, the next would unfold like a blood red chrysanthemum, each petal revealing one more obvious, stupid horror.
One, two, three, four... how many were there, really? It all depended on who you were,
and how much you knew. And even Yoruichi, who knew far too much, would eventually
discover that there was still some little detail left hidden in the darkness, too horrible to touch, but too tantalizing to look away from.
Even under the carefree moon, the evil little crimson flowers of things to come were
beginning to bloom. There was the first of Kisuke’s new projects; why he thought an untraceable gigai was a good idea she never knew, or at least, not until the Kuchiki girl showed up and it became useful. Then there was the other one, the mystery compound of the Hougyoku. Combine these two things with his attitude when they put him on trial, and it wasn’t surprising he got the sentence he did.
More than that, there was the bitterness, unnoticed at the time, that he fostered in
Yoruichi, the ambivalence. Many years later, although she tried not to think of herself in such a way, she would be forced to admit that she shared something in common with the greatest of the Kuchiki: she too was never quite sure whether it was worth it to break the law for one you only half-loved.
And there was the other thing. Urahara Kisuke, arrested and tried for the creation of two highly illegal items, both potentially dangerous to Soul Society...
...And for the murder of Eighth’s promising young fukutaichou, with his silly haircut and his silly smile, who apparently died rather horribly and took a large swathe of Northern Seireitei with him, leaving behind nothing but ashes and rubble and the taste of bitterness.