Disclaimer: see chapter one.
A/N: I know it's been forever and I am so very sorry. RL has had me very incredibly busy on top of my laptop deciding to fry less than a year after I bought it. I didn't lose everything again because I've become paranoid about backing up my stuff after my last laptop blow up but it still put a big crimp on both my writing and work.
I know this chapter is short but I've been completely redoing my outline of this story along with trying to plan some stuff for my other projects so everyone will just have to forgive me.
As always thanks so incredibly much for all the reviews and rec's (I tend to go back and reread them when I get stuck) and to the amazing Kat and Wolfie at PL for putting up with me because I know they get tired of me complaining that I'm stuck and need help.
Anyway. On with the show.
Saying that something was going on that no one was telling her about was like saying the sky was blue. Anyone with even two brain cells and a pair of eyes could see it. And as she was neither brain dead nor blind she fully intended to find out just what the hell was going on.
She pulled herself close into the side of a building as a partol of Third Division members passed. Her reatisu was regined in tight, she didn't have the time or the patience to deal with a bunch of low level shinigami when she needed to get back to the cave and find out just what the hell Yoruichi was playing at. She kept still, waiting for them to get out of sight and earshot before she moved as her brain worked.
Something was up. What, she didn't have a clue, but something was. Why was it so important that Ichigo beat Byakuya? Why? Beating Byakuya didn't protect Rukia from being executed. It didn't guarantee that the rest of the Gotei 13 would leave any of them alone in the real world. She pushed herself off the wall and started moving again.
Something was going on and the minute she got her hands on Yoruichi she was going to find out what it was. Even if she had to drag it out of her former student.
The sun was low in the sky, casting a burnt orange glow over her as she stood once again on the ledge before the cave. It'd taken hours to get back, time spent evading patrolling groups of shinigami making the trek back take much longer than she'd liked. But had had an upside, it'd given her time to think and that, depending on various factors, tended to have explosive results.
She moved into the cave, the fading light of the day behind her as she surveyed the open space before her. The room looked a lot like it always had, full of weapons, food, clothes, healing supplies and bedding. That nothing about the room itself had really changed wasn't what she paid attention to however. Her eyes passed over where Ichigo lay still unconscious for a moment before settling on where Yoruichi sat on the ground a few feet away. In her mind's eye she could see a much younger Yoruichi sitting in that exact same place.
But time had passed and Yoruichi wasn't her student any more, the girl was gone and an equal sat on the ground in front of her. That was one thing she knew for certain. One of only a few things she was certain of at the moment.
And it was time to add to that list. "The truth, the whole truth right about now, Yoruichi, would be of the good."
She wasn't the genius that Kisuke was, she wasn't even as good at reading people as Shunsui was but she was more than able to piece things together. Like the fact that Yoruichi could have broken Kuchiki Rukia out at any time given Yoruichi's former position as a Captain and the Head of the Secret Mobile Corps. Or that both Kisuke and Yoruichi seemed to be using this little incident to push Ichigo into becoming stronger. They were using Ichigo for something and she didn't like it. She met Yoruichi's amber gaze in the dim light, a challenge given.
Once upon a time, back before arguments and pom poms and burning gyms and blood and wooden stakes and vampires and old books and betrayal and lies demons and witches and nightmares and monsters and secrets and hell gods and slayers and death and evil with a capital E and resurrection and cold and numb and pain and more blood and explosions and millions of other things her sister had caught her out in the back yard spinning.
Spinning and spinning and spinning until she'd made herself sick. She'd been four, only not really because she'd never really been four, and her sister hadn't changed yet. She hadn't turned into a vapid mean little princess or the person who had to hide flesh wounds and blood from their mother. Or even into the cold and distant person that had crawled out of her own grave and acted more like an old broken general than a twenty something former prom queen.
But that day, she remembered it so clearly, real or not. She could remember the way her sister's green eyes had seemed to laugh, the smell of flowers and sunshine and home. But most of all she remembered the words.
Spin too much and you got dizzy. You would fall.
Keep your eyes focused, find a spot and keep your eyes on it. Let the world spin around you, spin with it even, but don't lose sight of that spot. Do that and you can spin forever.
The memory might not have been real but it didn't matter. It hadn't mattered when she'd been all alone and her sister had been in the ground and she'd remembered the lesson and it mattered even less now. What mattered was the lesson.
Everything was spinning around her. Everything she'd thought she'd known about her sister changed in one day. Nothing was the way she'd thought it'd be when they'd left the Hyperion in hours before sunrise. When she'd been so upset about leaving but unwilling to give in to doubt again. Not again, never again. If the whole world came crashing down around her and finally ended she would not lose faith in her sister.
Spinning. Spinning. Spinning.
Everything was spinning.
And oddly enough it didn't bother her. Everything could spin and spin and spin and spin. It didn't matter. It didn't matter that her sister wasn't who she'd thought, it didn't matter that she'd just found herself dropped into something she was only just beginning to understand. I just didn't matter.
Everything could just keep spinning, she had her eyes on the things that could keep her from falling. Keep them both from falling.
"It doesn't matter Shiro."
Over and over it kept playing through his mind, Amaya-chan's words. How could it not matter? How? For over two centuries they'd believed her dead and suddenly there she'd stood not ten feet from him and said that it didn't matter.
“My, my, she never changes does she?” he turned his gaze to Shunsui sharply, the comment drawing his attention. Of course his old friend was right, he could see that clearly enough. Rukia-san was going to be executed for sharing her powers with a human, for saving the boy and his family's lives if what he had been told was true and Amaya-chan seemed to be intent on preventing the punishment from taking place. It was something that the Amaya-chan he'd known and still believed he knew would do.
But the ryoka boy, Kurosaki Ichigo, and Yoruichi, what was their connection? Yoruichi had once been a student of Amaya-chan's but she had disappeared over a century before Yoruichi had. And the boy, aside from the fairly common name Kurosaki there was no connection. It did not make sense. Especially when he considered that Rukia-san had seemed to have no knowledge of who Amaya-chan was other than a name from Sereitei's past.
He shook his head. “No, she doesn't.” he let out a sigh at his frustrations from lack of answers, from lack of action on the part of Kuchiki Byakuya in saving his own sister and at the very large confrontation he could see in the future between Amaya-chan and anyone who stood in her path. He shook his head as he looked up into the night sky. When had everything become so complicated?
She was sitting on one of the many rock formations that peppered the hidden training grounds that Kisuke had built so long ago, the feel of the dirt under her hands and the false sense of day reminding her faintly of other places. The landscape was a lot like the desert found back in California, a far cry from the desert she called her own. The place she was in now was less harsh, brutal than her own personal desert.
Those words, that description, brought her mind to other words, other things. Back to the last hours of Yoruichi telling her a story that made her blood run hot and cold at the same time. A story about a power hungry man, betrayal, and plans within plans. About power and manipulation and death and lies and secrets and a thousand other things.
How could so much have gone so impossibly wrong and no one noticed or put the pieces together?
She knew the answer to it even if she didn't like it. But the facts remained the same. Aizen Sōsuke was a murderer, a manipulator, a monster and a threat. A month before he hadn't been her threat, a month before she'd thought she'd be spending the rest of her human life living normally. Now though, now she'd just stumbled into the middle of something so big and dangerous to people she cared about that she couldn't walk away.
Wouldn't walk away.
She sighed, pulled herself forward and crossed her legs as she considered things. Aizen had murdered people she'd once known and framed Kisuke for it. He'd manipulated Kisuke of all people into not only taking the fall for his actions but into creating something that he needed. Looking at it from the outside it was impressive, Kisuke was the smartest person she'd ever met bar none, he even made Willow seem average. But then she looked more closely at it and what had happened after and she wondered if Yoruichi had even considered that she'd be able to put the pieces together when she'd stared down her old student and demanded the truth.
Yes, Aizen had framed Kisuke for hollowification experiments. Yes, he'd tricked Kisuke into making the Hōgyoku, a creation that could break down the barriers between shinigami and hollow powers, which was damn dangerous even in well meaning hands. Yes, Aizen did want the thing and was willing to do whatever it took to get it. And a big yes that Aizen had succeeded in hiding that he was evil from everyone but Kisuke, Yourichi and Tessai so far.
Fool Kisuke once and shame on him, but a second time? Not even remotely likely. Kisuke had been the smartest person she'd ever met back when he was a teenager and the only person besides Shunsui who'd ever been able to predict an attack from her, so him making a mistake like placing the Hōgyoku inside Kuchiki Rukia who could so easily bring the thing back into Aizen's grasp just didn't make sense.
She swore under her breath. It did make sense, well if you were good enough at predicting the actions, motives and plans of others. Kisuke was playing a dangerous game, one she didn't like at all. She could see it in front of her like pieces laid out on a chess board. It was planned, all of it was planned.
Shadows and secrets and a feint within a feint within a feint.
She didn't like it, at all. Manipulation, games, hidden motives and sneaky plans had never been things she liked. And now, when it involved people that she cared about were involved she liked it even less. She made a mental note to kick the crap out of Kisuke when, if, they made it back to the human world. Because it was an if, a big if.
Things had been so much simpler in her head before. Save the girl, go back home, make sure Dawn managed to stay out of trouble. Her brow furrowed and she frowned. They could be simple, well more simple-ish again. The main objective when they'd arrived had been simple-save Kuchiki Rukia. And it was still simple. All they had to do was keep her from being executed and force Aizen to reveal himself as the real big bad.
And that, well that she could do.
She smirked into the expanse of the training grounds. Oh yes, that she could do. Now that she knew the game it was time to change the rules a bit.
*please don't yell, I'll try and have another chapter out as soon as I can.
And remember reviews are love as well as any ideas for stuff you'd like to see, questions you might have or even pairings. (Though I've gotten quite a few who seem to favor Buffy/Byakuya)
Also I WILL be doing all three of the currently released movies and the Sealed Sword Frenzy along with the current arc going on with the anime just to warn you. And I have a soundtrack list too if anyone wants it.