Story: Cat Paws and Bee Wings (chapter 1)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 1

[Author's notes:

PREFACE: The first time I thought of the idea for this story, I almost ended up throwing it away. While I'd always loved the thought of Yoruichi and Soi Fon getting together, I had a devil of a time trying to figure out how to do it "plausibly". After all, how do you bring two proud and obstinate characters with opposing personalities together, especially when they have a hundred years' worth of baggage between them? The result of my attempt, as presented in the fiction below, is something I hope you find convincing as well as satisfying.

WARNINGS: The story takes place five years after the Soul Society Rescue Arc of the anime series BUT assumes a somewhat divergent storyline from the Bount and Arrancar Arcs.  Specifically, it assumes the same chain of events as in the anime up to Episode 57 (so watch out for spoilers), then goes on a different tangent from the anime's storyline from there.

NOTES: To increase the story's authentic flavor, I used the Japanese terms for Soul Society designations whenever possible. Readers requiring the English translations and explanations can easily find them in the chapter notes (thank you Wikipedia!).

DISCLAIMER: The characters of Bleach are the creations of Tite Kubo and various associated publishers and producers and are therefore not my property


She had appeared one night, out of nowhere, asking for refuge. They had looked at her delicate face and her slender build and had recognized her strength. Then they had seen her jaded eyes and her scarred hands and had realized her fragility. They had taken her in and she had stayed and served for four years.

Now she had found peace. And for that reason, the time had come for her to go.

They found her in her room, eyes closed in meditation, palms open in the ritual gesture of contemplation. The scars had given way to calluses. Her eyes, when they opened, looked at them with serenity. She knew the day had come.

They blessed her at the gate. She knew no words to contain her thanks, so had bowed deeply to them instead, grateful hands over grateful heart. Then turning around, Fon Shaolin, lastly known as Soi Fon, had taken her first step back toward her abandoned life.


One year later...

Shihouin Yoruichi gasped in pain as a shuriken thudded into her left shoulder. She had been fleeing for days, and even her prodigious stamina was beginning to fail her. Centuries' worth of skill and experience could only last so long against an implacable, unflagging enemy. Even as she paused in her flight to pick them off one by one, the Hollows' numbers continued to grow and their distance to narrow. All her known comrades were elsewhere, engaged in their own deadly battles. Whether she survived or not, she would have to do it alone. She winced as she dug the spiked plate out of her flesh, then increased her speed as another hail of the deadly metal stars showered past her.

Her flash steps quickly took her through the forest. When she broke into the clearing and saw the cliff face, she knew she had been cornered. Staring at the rock wall, she calculated her options. She found only one, and it didn't guarantee her survival. At least the explosion she intended to create would severely reduce the enemy's numbers.

Turning around, Yoruichi lifted her right arm, pulses of energy beginning to swirl in the familiar pattern. If she died in the ensuing attack, she would die without having ever mastered the technique. It was one small regret to add to a long list of big ones. Yoruichi stepped forward and extended her hand -

- and ended up covering her face as a fully unleashed shunkō decimated the entire mass of Hollows in front of her and most of the rock face behind her. The shockwave threw her back against the cliff base, the impact dropping her to her knees. She staggered to her feet, blinking against the blindness wrought by the lightning flash. Out of the haze, a slender hand steadied her, and a quiet voice, unheard for five years, asked:

"Are you alright, Yoruichi-sama?"

Yoruichi's head snapped up in surprise.

"Soi Fon...?"


Yoruichi woke up with a groan, wincing as she finally felt the full extent of the injuries she had ignored for days. Looking down, she found that her wounds had been bandaged as she'd slept. Her head had been pillowed on an unfamiliar coat. As she sat up, she found a pair of midnight-blue eyes staring at her with gentle concern.

"Are you feeling better now, Yoruichi-sama?"

Yoruichi nodded. The last thing she remembered, before unconsciousness had fully claimed her, was the younger woman catching her in her arms. They had been fleeing the last remaining Hollows, Yoruichi already too weak to engage in further battle.

"What happened...after I collapsed?"

"I carried you and ran until I was sure they couldn't follow. We're safe here, at least for now, so you should try to get a few more moments' rest."

The younger woman leant back, resting on her haunches. Under the bright morning sunlight, Yoruichi got her first good look at the woman she hadn't seen - and all the Shinigami had thought dead - for over five years. Soi Fon's hair had grown out to a single length, the bangs and twin braids gone, the latter replaced by a single ponytail worn low and loose. It made the younger woman's features more feminine, and if it were possible, even more delicate. But the biggest change was in her eyes. They radiated a calm tranquility so different from the fiery intensity of old. And right then, the tranquility in those eyes was shaded by a tinge of apology.

"I'm sorry about the blast yesterday. I split the wave of the attack so you wouldn't be harmed, but I failed to take account of the shockwaves."

The memory of yesterday's attack at the cliff face returned with full force. Yoruichi frowned.

"You split the wave...of a shunkō blast?" If what Soi Fon was saying was true, then she had exercised a mastery of the technique that not even Yoruichi had thought possible.

Soi Fon nodded, misunderstanding the slant of the older woman's question. "It was the fastest way I could think of to get rid of the Hollows. In any case," the younger woman added, rising gracefully to her feet, "I think it's best if we move on."

Yoruichi nodded. There were questions she wanted to ask the younger woman, but they could wait until they were both in the safety of Urahara's shop.

[End notes:

Shunkō is a highly dangerous technique that combines hakuda (hand-to-hand combat) with kidō (demon arts). It concentrates high-pressure kidō energy around the body, especially around the shoulder and back, allowing the wielder to fire the energy at opponents. It can also be used to neutralize an opponent's attack. Shunkō was invented by Shihouin Yoruichi (and rediscovered by Soi Fon independently), though Yoruichi does admit in Episode 56 of the series that she has not yet mastered it.

Shinigami is the Japanese term for "death gods"; in the English dub of the series they are known as Soul Reapers.


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