Artworks: I got my friend, Monkey, to do a few pictures of Yoriena, Hikatori in sealed form, and an Autumn Fire Omake. You can link to it from my FanFiction profile page, or go to my deviantArt gallery (username's Shadow-Countess).

Disclaimer: Bleach and all related concepts belong to Tite Kubo. I own nothing save this plot and my character, Soroki Yoriena.


Hime no Shizukana Namida
Silent Tears of the Princess

Every girl enters this world to be a princess to her parents and the guy she will eventually love. Where she comes from, be it the slums of Rukongai or the noble houses of First District, does not matter if it is true love she and her man feel. It is a girl's life, fate, to be spoiled and pampered by the one who loves her so.

These are tales of meetings, either planned by fate or by family, that bring about a lifetime of love and delight for the princesses of their men's hearts. These are tales of tears shed by princesses as they learn to embrace their futures, their fears, their joys, and their loves.

Let the tale begin.

~.~.~.~

Autumn Fire
A Soroki Yoriena & Hirako Shinji Novel

Chapter I
Crossing Paths

By Shadow Countess

~.~.~.~

This is a tale that took place after the infiltration of Soul Society and before the attack of the Arrancars. It was just a few months break for Gotei Thirteen to prepare for the upcoming battle, for Aizen to strengthen his army, and for the ryokas to settle down in the World of the Living. After all, what can possibly happen during this short period of time?

For two souls, everything.

~.~.~.~

Autumn...

Though it lacked the tranquil greenery of spring, the brilliant vibrancy of summer, and the cool composedness of winter, it possessed a quiet, endearing charm of its own. A charm no other season could emulate.

Like she did.

Leaves, dry and crisp, detangled from the spidery webs of branches and fell to the ground, readily sharing their colors with the otherwise dull gray path. Streams of sunlight filtered in through the canopy, blending and melting the hues of red and gold. The creation of these magical caresses was a canvas of fiery flames licking at brown tree trunks.

The former taichou of Gotei Thirteen's Fifth Division took a deep breath, letting cool air refreshen his lungs. Deep hazel eyes peeked from beneath his blond fringe to rove and take in anything and everything within sight. Not that there was much to see. Few visited the forest for it was located too far away from town, and authorities just could not be bothered with sprucing up the place.

Which was why he frequented the woods. Sometimes, even the loud and obnoxiously rude Hirako Shinji needed to be alone, away from other creatures capable of thoughts. Company just wasn't what he desired or appreciated at a time like this. What he longed for was the peace and serenity the forest brimmed with; it washed over him like tidal waves engulfing tiny islands and soothed his ruffled thoughts.

The magical moment was soon destroyed by a blast of music. An ugly scowl flittered over his thin countenance as he pulled his cellphone out from his pocket with uncharacteristic roughness. The brief glance he cast at the screen was one of deep annoyance. Though he ended the chimes with a few taps, the damage was done. His good mood had dissipated.

It was time for work.

"Dammit," Shinji swore and added a few words not fit for most to hear. It wasn't the first time he had considered resigning his waitering job, but the mere thought of Hiyori's wrath was enough to change his mind. No way was he spending the next few months groveling at the feet of fat, brainless bosses and having Hiyori bitch his ears off with her banshee-like screeches.

Speak of the devil. Once again, his phone rang, only this time, it was to alert him of an incoming call. Huffing a sigh, he answered with a curt greeting. "Hiyori."

"Dumbass, why didn't you say 'Hello'?"

Sepia-hued eyes rolled with exasperation at her demand. "I forgot," he mumbled distractedly, hungrily devouring the last of his surroundings in an attempt to remember even the tiniest detail of the magnificent scene. Who knew when his next visit would be?

"Dickhead," scolded the other vizard irately, "Yoruichi-san said that someone's coming later so you better come back straight from work. I'll kick your ass into the next century if you don't."

Choosing to ignore her not so feminine but very direct threat, he questioned indifferently, "Did she say who?"

"I won't tell you even if I know." With that, the line was cut off. Growling words he would never let her hear, he cast a final, lingering look at his personal haven and set off on the return path.

~.~.~.~

Each click of heels against cement ground brought about an internal wince as she strode down the path. Waves of auburn hair cascaded down her back, waterfall-like, to hang level to her waist. The gentle touch of sunlight brought out the redness in those silky strands, forming a gorgeous contrast with the cream-colored sweater she was wearing.

Every now and then, wolf whistles were tossed her way by guys trying to catch her attention. She simply ignored them. Those who stepped forward to brave a word soon shrank away under the icy stare of her hard, unforgiving eyes.

A small café awaited at the end of the trail. Disappointment dusted those smoky orbs of green as she swung the glass door open with a heavy sigh. Contrary to initial belief, the park was too small for shunpo training. What she needed was a large, secluded forest.

A slight shiver ran down her spine at the blast of frosty air that danced forward as a greeting. She cast a look of longing at the outside, already missing the wind. Though she had come from a division with modern equipments installed by her filthily rich third seat, she still preferred the natural chill. Also, never had they used air conditioners in autumn when the wind was nothing but heavenly.

The café was small but cozy with soft lighting, couches of cream that contrasted wondrously with the dark-colored wooden tables, and many abstract paintings that lined the walls. As she made her way down the aisle, towards an empty table by the window, the fukutaichou of Second Division winced each time her shoes squeaked against the laminated flooring.

That was it, the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Not that she was a camel.

I will not put up with his nonsense again, she vowed silently. With the fluff of her sweater pricking her skin, her shoes announcing her every move, and the overall stiffness of the gigai, she had enough reason on her side to patrol without the mess. Kisuke and his gigai could go to hell for all she cared. Never again was she walking around nosier than a chicken incapable of shutting its beak.

"How can I help you?"

She arched a brow at the waiter who handed her a menu. He was around eighteen, gangly, bespectacled, and terribly freckled. His dark hair was gelled into a mob, a tuft sticking from the side, and he was blushing. How pathetic. He reminded her of the clumsy, stammering fool from the Fourth.

What's his name again? she pondered scathingly. Though she didn't bully the medics the way those uncouth thugs from Eleventh Division did, she didn't exactly look up to them either. Her cold indifference and, mayhap, hatred, blossomed from the deep detestation she held for their taichou.

Unohana Retsu.

The one who had betrayed her young, trusting heart.

A long time ago, when she was still a naïve, gullible girl, she had admired the older woman and her healing powers. She herself had difficulties with basic kidou while the taichou could manage the most intricate ones without problems. Furthermore, she had always appeared to be helpful, kind, and understanding.

Yes, she had wanted to be like her.

Until she realized that everything was a lie, a façade to hide her true self. Unohana's kindness was nothing but a show. Everything about her was one. When the time for her to demonstrate her noble spirits, the one she claimed to have, had come, she had shied. When it was time for her to speak up for her comrades, she had kept her lips clammed shut. Not a single word had left that dainty mouth of hers.

Despicable. Utterly despicable.

The reverence she had once held eroded away. In its place was deep-seated hatred. From then on, she despised Unohana, despised the way she hid her menace, her inner devil, behind a forever serene and smiling mask. No longer could she stand the way Unohana threatened others

with a devilish smile—something she had once stupidly marveled—just because she could, just because she was the oldest, and perhaps the strongest, taichou after Yamamoto.

Unohana's betrayal had shaken Yoriena the way Yoruichi's departure had affected Soifon. It had shattered what little trust she had built up for her dark childhood had left her wary of others. It had stripped away what little innocence she had left, leaving her a cold, emotionless shadow of her former self.

Angered, Yoriena's reiatsu flared. A quick frown flittered over her forehead as she clamped down onto it, an instinctive reaction owing to her Onmitsukidou training. Get a grip. It wouldn't do for others to sense her because she was being childish.

"Um, miss?"

Brows scrunched; she focused on the human before her. Where was I? Oh yes, my order. She paused to examine the long list. Why were there so many choices?

"A diet coke, I guess." It was the only human drink she had ever heard of. "And..." she trailed off, scrutinizing the fine prints, and nibbled on her bottom lip.

Gnawing on her own lips was a subconscious habit she couldn't kick despite having tried her hardest to do so, especially after the bout of serious thinking that had left them torn and bloody. Ignoring her angry protests, an insistent Soifon had dragged her to the Fourth after she had turned every glass of water touching her lips red and salty.

"One tuna salad." How bad could a salad be?

"You like them too? They're my favorite!"

The answer was 'very'.

The waiter cringed under the far from friendly gaze she cast him at his comment. The corners of her lips tightened ever so slightly with distaste. He could almost see disdainful thoughts of 'Who's this jerk?' and 'Should I change my orders to shut him up?' running through her mind. He then decided to do the only smart thing he could think of—leave.

"I'll serve your food soon."

She offered him a dispassionate tip of head before leaning against the seat, watching him return to the counter.

A computerized screen, she mused as his fingers darted across the glass, maybe Omaeda can get one installed. It was amazing how those brainless fools named 'humans' could invent something so useful. Then again, they had all the time in the world, seeing they didn't have to fight against hollows on a regular, if not daily, basis. They even had time to wage wars against each other for the mere fun of it.

"Here's your food, miss." She nodded curtly, slipped him a note with a cool 'Keep the change', and let him set the plateon the table. "Please enjoy."

As he turned to leave, the bell of the café sounded a clear chime when the door it was hanging over opened. Yoriena stiffened momentarily upon catching a whiff of delicious cinnamon that touched a certain nerve within her. A wave of warm nostalgia overwhelmed. Fingers coiled.

It wasn't him, was it?

It isn't. You're just being delusional, she scolded mentally, and was taking a sip of iced coke when someone brushed past her, knocking against her arm.

"Sorry," muttered a low voice.

She tilted her head, about to give him one of her infamous death glares that could unnerve even the brutes from Eleventh Division, when she saw his face. The mask of icy indifference she had always taken care to wear faded away. Eyes widened.

It was he.

Though his signature long hair was cut short, there was no mistaking the flat glare he shot at her, the downward turn of lips, and the bright yellow tresses. A small, uncharacteristic smile tugged her lips, forming on her stoic features. Confident voice came out as a hesitant yet excited call.

"Shinji-sama?"

He blinked those chocolate-colored eyes of his and stared blankly down at her. Without a sign of recognition, he asked the question that sent shock crossing her nearly always impassive countenance and wiped away her smile instantaneously.

"Who are you?"


Summary for Chapter II

The two souls couldn't help but cross paths in a town as small as Karakura. Or maybe, they just couldn't defy fate. So, they met again after an entire century apart. Shinji had two choices—acknowledge her, or ignore her. What will she do when he chose the latter since shedding tears, whining, and throwing the most spectacular tantrums is just not her? But neither is taking it quietly, wordlessly, and letting him stomp over her the way one would do with a doormat.

She would say something.


Authoress' Note: To be continued...

Some information before you continue with the story:

Firstly, Hime no Shizukana Namida (HSN) is a series of Bleach fics, both novels and one-shots, I hope to write. The novels have interlinked plots while one-shots are purely for entertainment and do not follow the main plot. However, they do feature the same pairings, either between canon characters or with my own. The list of HSN fics is on my profile.

Secondly, Soifon is listed as a main character because she will be playing a crucial role. I want to give her the recognition she deserves. Also, to the best of my abilities, Yoriena will not be a Mary Sue. She has flaws that will be revealed with the progression of the plot.

Thirdly, though I will be touching on other pairings in this story, they will not be the center of attention. As this will not be my only Bleach novel, I hope to explore and play out the other characters, main or not, and pairings in the other stories. So it's just a glimpse of them here and there for this one.

I'm nagging. So, I hope that this has lived up to your expectations as a Shinji x OC fic, and feel free to review and criticize as you deem fit. I'm open to critiques so long they're objective and constructive. Anonymous reviews are welcomed too! And if you've come late in the show, know that I won't mind an individual review for each chapter.

Thank you.