Story: Cat Paws and Bee Wings (chapter 6)

Authors: bleeding.blade

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Chapter 6

When Yoruichi woke up the next morning, she found all traces of Soi Fon gone. She found the yukata folded neatly in a corner, the note on top simply reading: Thank you, Yoruichi-sama, but I doubt this will be suitable where I'm going.

Yoruichi cursed. For some reason, when it came to Soi Fon, all her plans ended up backfiring.


All her long life Shihouin Yoruichi had yearned for freedom. She had been born into a double-walled prison, caged first by her nobility, and later on by her talent. She had only known loneliness, though she hadn't known its name.  

And then one day, a child had surprised her. It had been so long since she had encountered anyone capable of blocking her attack. She had asked the child her name and had remembered it. And later, when the child had become a woman, she had asked for them to be together.

Like her, Soi Fon had been a prisoner - though in a far more vicious cage. She had been trapped by her lineage and by her own prodigious talent - and further shackled by an inability to perceive her own strength. It had pained Yoruichi to watch the younger woman's self-doubt, in the same way that it had pained her to endure the younger woman's adulation. It was lonely to be revered; it was simply another bar in her prison.

But she had loved the child all the same, and had tried to soothe her frenzied anguish. But her growing kindness had only served to fuel Soi Fon's loathing of herself and her adoration of her princess. 

So when Kisuke had told her of his exile, she had thought that leaving with him was the perfect solution. She would taste freedom at last. And freed of the blinding presence of her goddess, perhaps Soi Fon would finally perceive her own worth. 

She had never considered her departure as breaking their moonlit promise. In the long span of her lifetime, what was a century or two, but a moment, an instant, a breathless space between two thudding heartbeats?  She had been certain, then, that they would be reunited; that in her absence, Soi Fon would grow to be her equal, return to her someday as her equal, and stand by her side, always, as her equal.

So when she had returned to Soul Society after the agonizingly long pause of a hundred years, and found her gentle Soi Fon mercilessly crushing the windpipe of a Shinigami officer, she had felt an overwhelming despair. weren't supposed to grow strong like this. This isn't strength. Soi Fon, what have you done to yourself? Grief and disappointment had bubbled into contempt, and the rage that she should have directed toward herself she had directed at the younger woman. And when the dust had settled, and Soi Fon had lain broken at her feet, she had felt the full extent of her own failure. You've grown strong, Soi Fon, she had whispered, the half-truth concealing the pain and regret in her heart. 

When she heard later on that Soi Fon had died, she had not believed it. She had prayed instead that wherever her former protégé had gone, she would find the strength to recover from the hundred-year-long damage that Yoruichi had inflicted. 

Then five years later, the younger woman had reappeared. She had become everything that Yoruichi had ever hoped she would be - and more. And now she had left, possibly heading toward a real death. Yoruichi felt her resolve harden. She had postponed it for a while, but the time had come for her to finally fulfill her promise.

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