AN: I'm back folks! I know, I know, I haven't updated in a long, long, long time but I'm here again and will try to update more often, though I'm also working on some other stories and should have them up soon. But enough of my rambling, time for the story! XD
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. If I did, Momo would suffer a very slow, very painful death.
The next day found Soi Fon following her target to the Squad Four medical barracks for continued observation. This meant however, that she had to ask Captain Unohana for permission to be there; she was neither a patient nor a healer after all. As Soi Fon waited in Unohana's office, she took this opportunity to study the décor of the office and through it, study the woman who owned it.
The room was simply but tastefully furnished; there were some flowers, lilies Soi Fon noted, in two small vases on her desk. Her files were arranged in small piles around the room, a testament to how busy Squad Four could be. However, she also noted that each of the piles were perfectly straight, making her wonder whether Unohana was a neat freak or if her neurotic Lieutenant was the one to keep them orderly. As Soi Fon finished scanning the fixtures in the room, she switched her gaze up to the walls, three of which were bare. On the fourth though, was a large chart, keeping a tally on the poisons Captain Kurotsuchi had crafted along with Captain Unohana's various antidotes. Soi Fon remembered all too well Kurotsuchi's boast that he would eventually craft a poison that not even Unohana could cure, and she assumed this chart to be Unohana's way of keeping track of that claim. She heard the door slide open and turned to face a slightly winded looking but smiling Unohana who made her way to the chart in question and placed a checkmark under her own name, bringing Kurotsuchi and herself into a tie once again.
"I take it this means you cured your patient?" Soi Fon asked.
"Yes, though I must admit this one would have nearly fooled me had I not noticed the patient's ever so slight change in skin tone and texture, not to mention the very slight fluctuations in his spiritual pressure." Unohana replied before shaking her head slightly and taking her seat at her desk "Captain Kurotsuchi is truly improving his craft. Now then, what can I do for you?"
"Call me Retsu, Soi Fon. We are of the same rank, are we not? There is no need to be so formal."
Soi Fon's eyebrow's furrowed together for a moment before she sighed in resignation, "Fine then, Retsu. I wished to ask your permission to be present in Squad Four's barracks during the next four weeks so that I may complete an observational mission given to me by Lady Yoruichi."
Captain Unohana folded her hands together, "Who is it that you will be observing Soi Fon, and for what purpose?"
"I do not as of yet know the purpose Cap-, Retsu. Lady Yoruichi hasn't yet revealed it to me. However, my target is the seventh seat of your squad, Hanataro Yamada."
`"I thought you had already observed him on his day off?"
`Soi Fon shook her head, appearing slightly annoyed, "As did I, but Lady Yoruichi told me that I didn't have enough information and that I was to observe him until I knew him as well as I know myself"
Captain Unohana smiled at Soi Fon again, "Provided you don't interfere with our medical tasks, I would have no problem approving your request Soi Fon, and I hope you find all you're looking for."
"Thank you very much Retsu." Soi Fon replied before quickly and quietly slipping to and through the door. She had a target to find after all.
She found her target in Squad Four's storeroom after interogat-, er, questioning a few other squad members. She knocked hard on the door and heard a tumultuous shattering of glass from behind the door along with a panicked shout, "Ahhhh! J-j-just a m-m-minute!" Soi Fon rolled her eyes. I've never seen someone so easily frightened. It's not like he's ever been on the frontlines, so what is he so scared of?
The door creaked open slowly and Hanataro stuck his head out, his body shaking visibly, "C-c-captain Soi Fon? D-d-do you need s-s-something?"
"Yes I do, Yamada-san. Lady Yoruichi has requested that I observe you for a few weeks." Soi Fon replied harshly
. "M-m-me? B-b-but why?"
Soi Fon fixed him with a piercing glare, "I assure you I do not know. However, I do know better than to question the wishes of my Lady."
"Y-y-yes, of c-c-course." Hanataro replied, shuffling a few steps backward in the process.
"Well, shouldn't you be seeing to your duties?" Soi Fon coldly abraded him.
Hanataro turned with a jolt then and ran to one of the nearby rooms containing a patient, Soi Fon hot on his heels.
"So, how are you feeling?" Hanataro asked the patient, as he applied another round of healing kido to the wounded Soul Reaper.
"How do you think I'm feeling, you stupid shrimp?" The Soul Reaper replied angrily, "I'm in tremendous pain from my shoulder wound, and it's not exactly easy to sit here and be the training dummy for a failure of a Soul Reaper such as yourself!"
"W-w-well, I do my best." Hanataro replied as he finished up the healing and turned to leave, only for the Soul Reaper he'd been healing to kick him into the wall harshly. Hanataro simply pushed himself off the wall and continued out the door nonchalantly, as though he had expected the attack. Soi Fon noted this as an oddity, but did not say anything.
This cycle continued at every room the duo stopped at; Hanataro healing an ungrateful patient who berated him mercilessly verbally and then harassed him physically after the healing was finished, with Hanataro responding to neither assault. Soi Fon's curiosity slowly peaked until, after a particularly heinous harassment involving a Byakurai spell aimed at Hanataro while his back was turned, which he just barely dodged, she confronted him.
"Yamada-san, I have a question. Why are you allowing these men to treat you like dirt?" Soi Fon questioned him as they left the last room, Hanataro still healing his slightly singed arm.
"W-w-whatever do you mean, C-c-captain Soi Fon?"
A hand grabbed Hanataro by the collar and slammed him against the wall, a hand belonging to one now highly irritated Squad Two captain, "Do not try my patience, Yamada-san! You will tell me why you do not inform your Captain of their behavior, and you will do so without stuttering!"
Soi Fon expected any number of responses, including denial, anger, fear or sadness. What she did not expect was a sigh of resignation and a hung head, "Captain Soi Fon, do you know how long ago I joined the Fourth Squad?"
Soi Fon quirked an eyebrow, "No?"
"Nearly 60 years ago now. And during that time, I've seen any number of new recruits come in, people of talent who would need only time to learn to harness said talent. However, I also know how most of Soul Society treats the Fourth Squad as second-class citizens." Hanataro shook his head, "I was always a weak Soul Reaper, with my only miniscule healing ability to redeem me, and if I had complained, they who had harassed me would only find some new patsy to torment. Thus, I kept silent, hoping that what I was enduring could spare others the same torment." Soi Fon's eyes widened and she almost lost her grip on his collar before releasing it willingly and Flash Stepping from the scene as Hanataro dusted himself off and went home.
Soi Fon took a deep breath as she closed the door to the outside of her office. Sacrifice of one to save the rest….a core tenet of the Stealth Force training. Something I'm intimately familiar with. And yet…why am I so conflicted about his use of it?
Her thoughts were interrupted by the screen in her office crackling to life, and Yoruichi staring at her through it. "Something troubling you, Soi Fon?" She asked solemnly.
"No, of c-course not my Lady. I regret to say that I have no new data to report at the time." Soi Fon replied, angry at her own fluctuating emotions.
"Do not worry, little Shaolin. You have just told me more than you think." Yoruichi finished with a chuckle before cutting the link.
Soon, Soi Fon. Soon, you will be praising me for my role in this little dance. Now, how to accomplish step three? Yoruichi thought as she grinned mischievously.