Title: Turnabout
Author: darkling59
Fandom: Bleach
Rating: T
Date: 10/2/2021
Disclaimer: Bleach and all associated characters, settings, concepts, etc. within this story do not belong to me. All of the original stuff does. Please DO NOT steal.

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Two Years Later…

"Aw, come on…"

"No, Lily."


"No. You haven't gotten to level five kido spells yet."

"I'm at level three!"

"We agreed on level five. Then I'll teach you some of those blasting spells your teachers are so against."

"That's not fair!"

"Who isn't fair? Me or your teachers?"


Starrk snorted and closed his eyes in dismissal, resting his massive head back on his forepaws to show exactly what he thought of that argument. The wolf spirit had heard it all before.

"Staa-aark!" Lily grabbed his ears and pulled them down by his chin, making him look like he was pouting and pulling his head up to meet her eyes. "C'mon!"

The wolf snorted and shook his head, breaking his ears free and bumping Lilynette lightly with his snout so she fell backwards with an indignant squawk to land on her rear. His blue witch light flickered brighter against the stone walls and floor of her Inner World with his amusement. It wasn't limited to the lower level anymore; now, bright blue veins traced the pillars from floor to ceiling in intricate patterns. These days, they only dimmed when one of them was upset.

The two of them hadn't changed much physically since waking up in Soul Society. It took hundreds of years for shinigami to grow up so Lilynette's only real differences were a slightly bulkier, more muscular (and healthier) body - lean, now, rather than skinny - and hair a couple inches longer. Starrk hadn't changed at all. But they were freer, more casual and confident in their words and actions, and that made a much bigger difference than anything physical.

"I already do most of your homework." Starrk pointed out.

"Not most of it. Just the boring parts. Why would I need to know about the history of Soul Society and Hueco Mundo? Everything in the books is a lie, anyways! None of them even mention Vasto Lordes!"

"Probably for the best."

"Hmph. I guess."

With a quick, reiatsu-enhanced leap Lilynette landed on his back and sprawled on her stomach in the thick fur there, resting her chin on her arms and pouting.

"Captain Ukitake's going to teach one of the level five kido classes next month."

Starrk's ears twitched. "Oh?"

"Yeah. It's been a while – do you think he still remembers us?"

"I think we're pretty memorable."

"Yeah, me too!"

Starrk rolled his eyes upwards as he felt her shift around on top of him, tolerant despite the mild discomfort, but confused.

"Is something else going on?"

"Harue wants to join the fifth division."

Startled, Starrk lifted his head, almost knocking his partner off in the process. "You're talking about that already?"

"Already?! What, you don't think I'll graduate the first time I take the test?!" Her hands tightened in his fur and he winced at the pressure. "I'm good at this stuff! I don't even need kido past level two to graduate!"

"That's not what I meant. Sorry." He let his genuine remorse filter across their bond. Mollified, Lilynette let go and ruffled his fur back into place. The wolf sighed. "It barely feels like we've been here long at all."

Lilynette snorted. "Speak for yourself. You should get out more. I know you've figured out how – you could stay in my room if you don't want to talk to anyone."

"Well…" He didn't tell her that he spent an inordinate amount of time in the library in his most human form when she was busy. He'd learned more about kido in the last two years than most of her instructors had ever known. He also didn't mention the guards he still felt on the edges of his senses now and then, keeping an eye on the former hollows.

"Yeah, yeah, you coward. I wish you'd come out, though. I could introduce you to my friends!"

Starrk's deep chuckle vibrated through her entire body. "You talk about them so much that I feel like I already know them. Not today, but some day."

"Oh, fine."

Her disappointment bothered Starrk more than he liked to admit. And it had been a while since he'd hung out with her in the real world, in any form.

"How about we go stargazing this weekend?" He suggested on an impulse. "If we're quick and quiet, we can get to Sokyoku Hill unseen. Then we can talk about your choice of division after graduation."

"Hey, yeah!" Lilynette's jolt of excitement vibrated across their bond, all the justification Starrk needed for the rash suggestion (which was probably illegal). "I can tell you what I found out about the fifth division! I mean, I still like the thirteenth, and Captain Ukitake was really nice to us, but Captain Hirako's cool! And Captain Zaraki's still looking for you – did you know that?"

"Uh-huh." The zanpakuto groaned. He was never going to live down that fight.

"And I've only got another year to decide where I want to apply! What if my friends choose other divisions? What if we're all in different divisions? Would that be bad?"

Starrk let the comforting chatter of her words and questions wash over him. She wasn't really looking for a response, just support, and he was more than happy to offer it.

In fact, both of them were happy. For so long, happiness had been a rare thing, the occasional moments hoarded, treasured, and agonized over. Now? Starrk had lost count of the number of times he'd been happy since waking up in Soul Society. He wasn't sure Lily even remembered that she'd counted them out once.

Now? She was actually living her life and taking that happiness for granted, learning, evolving, and fighting for what she believed in alongside her friends and comrades. And Starrk, even though most people couldn't see him or didn't realize he was there, was along to see and experience every moment of it.

And that? That made everything – everything – worth it.

Author's Notes:

And that's it!

Whoof, what a journey this fic has been!

Thanks to everyone who's taken this journey with me, both those who've been here all along and those who've jumped in along the way. I've read every single comment and I appreciate all of you – I never would have been able to finish without your support. I hope I brightened some days along the way and that you enjoyed reading about Starrk and Lilynette's journey in Soul Society.

My next step is to post a bunch of bonus materials from Turnabout (deleted scenes and such) to Howling at the Moon. Then, later in the month, I'll start transferring some works over to ao3 and post new stuff to ffnet and ao3, things that I've written this year that got put on hold for one reason or another. A lot of it's Bleach-centric but there are a few other fandoms sprinkled in too.

I hope I see you around!

Thanks to everyone who read, reviewed, and favorited my story!

Please Review & let me know what you think!

Reviews are a great source of encouragement and inspiration – I'm always happy to hear your input!