A/N: I know this chapter is long overdue, and I apologize. I apologize further because it's pretty short. I've been absurdly busy lately and things have been kind of shitty in my personal life, so this is what I've produced for now. Hopefully when I have some more free time I'll be able to give you guys a chapter worth reviewing, lol.
||Chapter 17: ||
Opening her eyes, Buffy looked around to see that she was in a meadow, somewhere outside of Soul Society. Across from her, a man with shoulder-length, wavy, dark-brunette hair was leaning against a tree with his eyes closed, as if he were asleep. Knowing better, Buffy quickly removed her zanpakuto - and was surprised to see that her enemy had actually left her with it - before rising to her feet and moving towards her enemy.
"I would put that away if I were you," the man stated as he lazily opened one eye and regarded Buffy with a sigh, "I'm not your enemy."
"You attacked me with a sleep-dart-thingy," Buffy retorted as she hesitated slightly in her movements.
"Not true," the man responded as opened both eyes before stretching his arms upwards with a loud yawn, "That weird clown was the one who shot you with the dart. I just happened to intercept his attempted kidnapping because it's my job."
"Your job is to thwart attempted kidnappings?" Buffy asked as she put away her zanpakuto. Even though she had no idea who the man was or what his intentions were, she actually 'did' believe him when he stated that the captain of the 12th division was behind the attack.
"No, my job is to protect the slayer at all costs and act as her bodyguard," the man revealed and Buffy looked down at him in surprise. She watched as he rose from his position against the tree and suddenly loomed over her before staring her down with a pair of intense chocolate orbs.
"Or at least that's what the Powers that Be told me I was supposed to do. I guess it's a fair occupation considering I get to live again," the man muttered.
"The Powers that Be..." Buffy breathed as she locked eyes with the man, "They seem to be interfering with my life more than usual this year," she rolled her eyes, "So now they think I need a bodyguard?"
"According to them it's not a matter of whether or not you need one, but they want to ensure that no one lays a scratch on you."
"How very thoughtful of them," Buffy commented sarcastically, "Where were they the 1000 other times I was bleeding and near-death?"
Buffy watched as the man just shrugged and suddenly understanding lit up her face, "They want you to spy on me," at the man's silence she huffed, "Do I get any privacy anymore?"
"My primary duty 'is' to be your bodyguard, Buffy, but the Powers would also like to know how you are proceeding with things, and I'll be their direct link to you."
"That's ridiculous!" Buffy snapped again as the man - who she now learned was named 'Starrk' - reiterated his story to Kensei.
"Maybe not," Kensei said thoughtfully and Buffy's eyes immediately snapped to his face, "I'm just saying, Buffy, it might not be a bad idea to have a direct link to the Powers that Be. You remember how many times you were frustrated because you couldn't communicate with them."
"Kensei, they're pretty much putting him here as a Buffy spy-cam!" Buffy retorted and sighed as her boyfriend placed a hand on her shoulder.
"It's not like Starrk is going to tell them every detail of your personal life, Buffy. He'll just tell them things that are business related," Kensei said softly as he squeezed her shoulder and Starrk nodded in agreement.
"What I don't understand," Kensei continued, "Is why the Powers that Be keep hiring former espada for these jobs."
"You're an espada too?" Buffy demanded as she turned to face Starrk once more.
"Was," Starrk replied with a small smile, "And I can't really answer that," he said gesturing to Kensei, "The Powers are more or less a complete mystery."
"No kidding," Ulquiorra agreed from his spot next to Buffy, "I am surprised that they have not killed me yet."
"Why would they do that?" Buffy asked in alarm.
"Because my duties have been fulfilled," Ulquiorra said seriously.
"If they even tried I would go ape-shit," Buffy promised.
"Maybe I should report that to them," Starrk said jokingly but immediately shut up at Buffy's glare.
"Whatever. The most important thing we can do now is report the 12th division captain's attack to the captain commander," Kensei interrupted and Buffy nodded thoughtfully.
"Who cares?" Starrk said with a loud yawn as he looked at his three companions, "I already saved Buffy so it's not like we should be in any hurry. Let's just take a nap," he added as he stretched his arms above his head.
"You are the laziest body guard ever," Buffy declared as Kensei balled his hand into a fist.
"He slept a lot as an espada," Ulquiorra offered.
"If I'm going to take a nap, you'll have to take one with me," Starrk smirked as Buffy faintly blushed at the thought, "I'll need to protect you."
"There's no way in hell that's happening," Kensei demanded as he slammed his fist onto his desk and pulled Buffy more tightly into his side.
"Relax, vizard, it's not like I asked her to have sex with me," Starrk paused and then raised an eye brow suggestively at Buffy, "But that's always an option."
"You were right in the first place, Buffy, I don't think you need a body guard," Kensei growled.
"So now you agree with me," Buffy said in a muffled voice as her cheek was practically crushed into Kensei's chest.
"Your actions are only making you look moronic," Ulquiorra commented to Starrk, who frowned in annoyance, "If you wish to sleep, then you can sleep in my quarters. I have a spare bed."
"Hey, thanks!" Starrk perked up with a sudden smile.
"Hold it!" Kensei warned as Starrk and Ulquiorra made to leave, "Who said I wanted more espada living in the 9th division? I already threw Grimmjow and Halibel out this morning, and the only reason I put up with you, Ulquiorra, is because you've actually been respectful."
"My apologies, Kensei," Ulquiorra stated as he looked back at him, "If you would rather I find another place for him, I can look for another division to house him."
"That's not possible!" Starrk protested and all eyes snapped to him, "I have to be close to Buffy so I can protect her."
"I don't need protecting," Buffy retorted, "I could probably snap you in half with my bare hands."
"Maybe so," Starrk agreed and watched as Buffy raised her eyebrows, "But you won't get the answers you're looking for about Taka-Rahn if you send me away."
"Kensei.....what does he mean?" Buffy whined as her boyfriend moved closer to the former first espada.
"You have answers about their connection?" Kensei asked as he hooked his thumb over his shoulder towards Buffy and Starrk nodded, "Fine. Then you can be Ulquiorra's roommate."
"No...no he can't!" Buffy protested as the duo left Kensei's office, ignoring her, "No he can't Kensei! I can protect myself and I don't care if he has answers, they're probably the same answers that Taka-Rahn already gave us!"
"Maybe," Kensei agreed as he wrapped his arm around Buffy's waist and planted a kiss on her forehead, "But then again, maybe not. For all we know, Taka-Rahn made up those answers because she wanted a host body for herself so that she could live in our world. There might be a chance that the Powers know of a way to either expel her or subdue her or something."
"But....I...." Buffy tried and then deflated, "Okay, I hadn't really thought of that," she admitted as she closed her eyes and planted her face against Kensei's chest, "I hope you're right."
"Me too," Kensei agreed as he squeezed her tightly.
Later on in the day, Buffy found herself walking through the woods, patrolling, even though she knew there was no real reason to. She literally had seen nothing, but she just needed to clear her mind and get away from Starrk who was becoming somewhat of a stalker for someone who was just supposed to be her 'bodyguard'. It didn't help that he and Kensei got into at least 50 arguments that day. It had gotten to the point where Buffy had yelled at them both before taking some asprin and taking off, much to Starrk's protest.
Sighing again as she thought about the situation, Buffy's eyes narrowed as she noticed something glimmering in the distance. What was that? Moving forward, Buffy continued to follow the glimmering 'something' until she was led to a clearing. Looking at the clearing before her in surprise, Buffy was amazed to find that she had stumbled upon a pond that was oddly colored. It was a distinct and vibrant violet-colored pond. Either the asprin that Buffy had just taken was actually acid or there was some sort of mystical pond in the middle of Soul Society that no one knew about. Either way, she had a feeling she probably shouldn't be here. That didn't stop her from moving forward and examining the pond however.
As she bent down to study the sparkling orb floating above the pond that had attracted her here in the first place, Buffy was totally thrown off guard by the pair of hands that grabbed her and dragged her into the pond.
A/N: I had been wanting to try an idea out for a while....so we'll see how it goes in the next chapter. If it doesn't work out, you'll know because Buffy will be back ASAP, lol.