Title: Crimson Flowers Blooming
Chapter 2: As the Moon Set
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: Guess what I'm not entirely happy with? This chapter! But there really wasn't anything I could do to fix it any more, so... yeah.
I bring it all into my house.
It slides around the doors,
under the beds.
It is pungent
– Cary Waterman
2. As the Moon Set
Shihouin Yoruichi sat, legs folded beneath her, still as a rock, watching the moon set
outside her window, a page from the transcript of Kisuke’s trial clutched in one hand.
Urahara: (shrugs) I don’t know. Why don’t you ask somebody else?
Questioner Higurashi: I’m asking you. Answer the question.
Yamamoto: Answer, or I’ll have you removed; you may be tried in absentia.
Urahara: I’m trying to tell you, I still don’t know. It was an experimental compound; I can only really guess what its reactions to certain stimuli are. If I guessed wrong...it must have evaporated.
Questioner Higurashi: Why do you say that?
Urahara: Well, you didn’t find it, did you? It doesn’t actually take a genius to figure out that something else must have happened to it.
Questioner Higurashi: And you have no prior knowledge about the reactions of this compound?
Urahara: Of course not. Why did you think I had to test it?
Ooi: Shut up, somebody shut him up!
Yamamoto: Sit down, Ooi-san; this is your final–
Ooi: Sit down?! Soutaichou, he killed my nii-san; he killed----
She had been over the transcript again and again, like a moth beating repetitively against a lamp, trying in vain to reach the fire within. Reading it was like attempting to talk to the patients in some of the more ‘special’ wards of Fourth: individual words were clearly present, but the overall meaning refused to shift into a focus that she could understand.
Soifon was walking around in the hallway outside; although she slunk through the shadows and made less sound than a hare, Yoruichi could hear her footfalls and see the delicate
black silhouette more clearly than she sensed the sheaf of paper sitting on the writing desk before her. Some things just made sense; others never would.
Soifon’s shadow, the way it crept along when she thought she was being really sneaky, was familiar, and disturbing in its familiarity. On the other side of this wall, she thought, is somebody for whom life was still completely normal. It would be devastatingly easy, she knew, to reach out and snatch at her fukutaichou, who was now moving in a clumsy, mock-delicate manner across the ceiling; it was just a pity that there was no way of grasping the other’s normalcy.
Yoruichi turned away from the slickly moving shadow outside, looking back to the loose
layer of thin paper that coated the glossy maple of her desk. She didn’t know if she could bear to look at her fukutaichou right now.
Oh, it wasn’t Soifon’s fault, not really. The girl had attended Kisuke’s trial as a
representative for the Secret Remote Squad and for Second, and had done so out of diligence, out of dedication and of duty. It was duty to Soul Society, though, and that was precisely the normalcy that Yoruichi found herself lacking in: after so many lifetimes of serving Soul Society, she suddenly found her fukutaichou’s unwavering allegiance to it just barely short of offensive. It was simple; although Yoruichi had not attended the trial, she knew that if she had, Soifon would have assumed it was out of duty to all their laws and systems, not to any particular person in and of himself.
Soifon, for all her devotion, would never credit her taichou with actual feelings.
As for the reason why Soifon had gone in Yoruichi’s place ( all the other Division
representatives were taichou, after all ), it was quite simple: Yoruichi had been dispatched on a suddenly urgent mission that day. And it was simple, she knew, because even though it was a Menos attacking that island, and an adjuchas class one at that, it wasn’t a particularly smart one, and surely Yamamoto knew that Soifon would have been perfectly capable of handling it on her own. The simple, bitter little truth was that the soutaichou didn’t trust Yoruichi, not completely, not while the Council of Forty-Six was pursuing her oldest and dearest friend for a variety of capital crimes. Maybe he was right not to trust her, because no matter how vicious that Menos had been, in retrospect, it probably hadn’t really been necessary to shred it into quite so small of pieces....
It was obsessive, and she knew it, the way she reread every sentence of the report, but just knowing that didn’t mean she could break the fascination it held for her. Unlike her main compatriots, she had never had any particular addiction, so it was a slightly unfamiliar feeling. Her fingers flicked through the pages compulsively, as though they were doing it of their own volition, not in any relation to her own will. She flipped randomly to a page, and began to read.
Questioner Higurashi: One final question, Kyouraku-taichou. Did the accused ever ask your permission to use the decedent in his experiment?
Kyouraku: Well, no, I guess he didn’t.
Questioner Higurashi: Thank you, Kyouraku-taichou. You may step down.
Outside, there was a noise as would perhaps be made by a small pillow being turned over;
Yoruichi, despite her concentration, cringed a little to hear it; it rang in her ears like a gunshot and she knew it was the sound of Soifon slipping from her precarious hold on one of the light fixtures and barely saving herself from collapsing in an inelegant heap on the floor ( and how many times had she tried to explain this to her subordinates: it was no good walking on the furniture if you were just going to fall over afterwards ).
As she noticed her impromptu critique of Soifon’s motions, she felt just of tinge of that
old prosaicness flow back into her; it felt good until the moment she looked down to see that her slender fingers had already chosen another random sheet, another little morsel for her to allow to fester in the back of her mind.
Questioner Higurashi: Please state your name for the record.
Kurotsuchi: Kurotsuchi Mayuri.
Questioner Higurashi: And your position?
Kurotsuchi: Fukutaichou of Twelfth.
Questioner Higurashi: What involvement, if any, did you have in the creation of the defective gigai?
Questioner Takashi: And the Hougyoku, don’t forget the Hougyoku.
Questioner Higurashi: What? Oh, yes, of course, and the Hougyoku?
Kurotsuchi: I’m sorry to say it, but I was involved with all of it; practically all of the ranked officers in the Division were.
Questioner Higurashi: Were you aware– at the time– that your conduct was illegal in the
Kurotsuchi: (affirms) Of course I was; we all were.
Questioner Higurashi: Then why did you continue your research?
Kurotsuchi: It’s not like we had any choice. We had to do whatever he said; he was in charge, after all. There’s still a lot of stuff that none of us knows; he never told us the real purpose behind any of this.... Yamamoto-soutaichou, Higurashi-sama, I hate to interrupt, but you have to allow our Division to question him further! We have the research, or at least we will if you ever declassify it, but I know there’s something else going on...!
Questioner Higurashi: Yamamoto-soutaichou?
Yamamoto: Respond to the questions being asked, Kurotsuchi-fukutaichou. We’ll consider your petition later after the verdict has been handed out.
Kurotsuchi: But we’re the only scientists capable of deciphering this! Soutaichou, I–
Questioner Higurashi: I have no further questions for this witness, Soutaichou.
And then there was this, and here the edges of the page were crumpled; Yoruichi had come back to this page many times:
Unohana: Fourth has nothing to say on this matter, save that we have strict ethical rules on experimentation; they have certainly been breached here.
Yamamoto: Dismissed. Second and Secret Remote Squad?
Fon: Nothing, Soutaichou.
Nothing. Yoruichi traced the word unconsciously with the tip of her finger. Second had nothing to say, not even when surely everybody knew by then what the verdict was going to be? Perhaps it had been a blessing after all that she herself had not been present, because she knew in her heart of hearts that she would have found herself saying the exact same thing as Soifon. At least this way, she could take refuge in the knowledge that it was her fukutaichou that had said it, her fukutaichou who had no particular connection to Kisuke; this way, she could at least pretend she didn’t feel like a traitor.
She skimmed past the verdict and sentencing; she would have known what they were even had she never bothered to read them. She had read them though, over and over again a few
nights ago. She wasn’t really surprised when tears began to prick at the corners of her eyes, obscuring Urahara and Forty-Six and Soukyoku and touching up everything with a score of fleeting rainbows; however, she also wasn’t really surprised to look in a mirror afterward and see that she certainly didn’t look like a person who had been crying.
Then there was the last bit, the bid Kurotsuchi and apparently most of the rest of Twelfth’s officers had made for questioning rights, and seemed to have won. That sounded ominous no matter how she put it to herself, but the truth was, she couldn’t really make head or tails of it.
It sounded a hell of a lot like torture, but she was unsure of how much they could really do. They couldn’t possibly hurt him too badly, because Kisuke would have to at least look presentable, or surely there would be inquiries. And no matter what Fourth’s opinions on the coming execution were, it seemed unlikely that Unohana would agree to be party to anything that Kurotsuchi was cooking up in that mind of his. Of course there were always ways of making sure no marks showed... but she didn’t buy it, not with Kurotsuchi involved. She had seen what he did in his free time, for crying out loud, and afterwards she had to thank Kisuke for a look around the inside of Twelfth, but decline his offer of lunch. If that man decided to torture somebody, she thought, the subject of his dubious ministrations certainly wouldn’t be fit for public examination afterward.
So that left her with... what, exactly? It skirted around the edges of her mind, subtler and quicker than Soifon as she prowled along outside. And yet... she had a feeling, just the barest feeling, that she could catch it she really wanted to. But if you catch it... that means you’ll have to look at it, Yoruichi. There’s something really obvious, isn’t there? And it’s not something you’re missing, either. It’s something you’ve skimmed over, pretended you have covered... but the truth is, even if you won’t look at it, you can feel the hole in your argument; it’s eating away at you....
No, stop it, shut up.
This was Kisuke’s mess, Kisuke’s stupidity. What did he expect when he hired as his
second-in-command a man he knew to be unstable, he knew to be downright dangerous? Didn’t
he know that, given the opportunity, Kurotsuchi would turn on him in a second?
The thought should have at least given her some self-righteous satisfaction, but she was
too exhausted to feel it. She was pretty sure she was too exhausted to feel anything; she resolved to burn the transcript in the morning so she could finally get some sleep.
And yet, even through her haze of tiredness, the little hairs on the back of her neck
prickled and stood on end, and the thing she was refusing to look at slipped through the back of her mind with the stealthy, disconcerting rippling of a small fish through still water.
Outside the window, the moon continued to set.