Summary: Dying as a newborn, Uzumaki Naruto was found in the hills of Rukongai by Unohana Retsu. Following in his adoptive mother’s footsteps, his dream was to be the best healer in Soul Society. [Naruto Bleach Xover] [NaruYoru] [Oneshot]
Sarutobi Hiruzen sighed for the umpteenth time, as he leaned back into his chair, his mind wandering far from the mountains of work on his desk. Uzumaki Naruto had been the container for the mightiest demon, the Kyūbi no Yōkō, for mere moments, before he was assassinated by delirious Konoha shinobi. It was a terrible end for the son of the Yondaime Hokage, who had explicitly asked his people to understand the circumstances, and wished for his son to be recognised as a hero. Sarutobi would no longer have the chance to see another child grow up to become a part of Konoha’s ninja corps; perhaps even the best amongst his peers.
After all, his father was touted as the best of his generation, and his mother was no slouch either, Hiruzen thought, lazy spirals of smoke drifting from his pipe. I’m sorry, Naruto-kun. The world is indeed cruel, to have robbed you of your life so early…but it could be for the better. Your life will not likely be a smooth ride with your status, and death could be a reprieve from a potentially painful and lonely childhood.
Sarutobi looked up at his ceiling, a solitary tear coalescing at the corner of his eye. Wherever you are, I hope you can find happiness.
Unohana Retsu smiled as she reached the peak of the mountain that took her the entire day to climb. The peak was in fact a beautiful plateau, with much wildlife thriving in the cooler climate. Sighing happily, the woman sat down on a fallen log to rest. Her observant eyes quickly picking out the useful herbs, she made a mental catalogue of them. Just as she was about to start collecting the herbs she needed, she heard the soft cries of a baby. Startled, she took a moment to gather her senses, before walking towards where she heard the cries. The newborn that was wailing was in a small shrub, wrapped in an orange blanket. Upon the blanket, the name ‘Naruto’ was stitched at the corner.
“So you are Naruto,” Unohana mused, picking up the child in her arms. “What a charming child you are.”
Naruto ceased his crying, and giggled happily when Unohana tickled the boy’s stomach. The motherly woman smiled, nestling Naruto in her medicinal basket as she began her descent down the mountain. In her mind though, her thoughts were whirling. A newborn of a few days, and I can already feel the faintest hints of reiatsu from him. This is no ordinary child. It is better for him to come to Seireitei and fulfil his potential, rather than die out here.
And I’ve always wanted a child to coddle, Unohana mused, brushing the thin whisker marks upon Naruto’s cheeks, which caused the baby to laugh. He’s absolutely adorable!
Shihōin Yoruichi heaved a sigh of relief as she entered the massive establishment that was the Shinōreijutsuin. The spiritual arts academy was one of the only places in Seireitei where she could be free from her guards and her duties as a Shihōin. Another was the massive underground complex that her childhood friend, Urahara Kisuke, had constructed beneath the Sōkyoku hill. Speaking of which, where is Kisuke? That blond idiot shouldn’t be that hard to find in this crowd…ah, there he is!
Spotting a mop of blond hair, Yoruichi smirked as she prepared herself to ambush her friend. Sneaking around was her forte, and it wasn’t difficult for the young woman to reach the blond without him detecting a thing. Just as she was about to pounce, the blond surreptitiously pointed a finger at her airborne figure, muttering, “Bakudō Yon: Hainawa.”
The kidō spell instantly formed energy ropes that wrapped themselves around a surprised Yoruichi, who fell to the ground in an embarrassed heap. The purple-haired girl’s eyes widened as she struggled against the ropes that bound her tightly. Kisuke was never interested in kidō, always focusing on his wacky ideas and inventions…
The blond turned around, an amused smile plastered on his face. Yoruichi blushed, having realised her mistake. “Gomen! I thought you were my friend, so…”
“It’s okay,” the blond replied, snapping his fingers. Instantly, the ropes binding Yoruichi dissipated. The cerulean-eyed student stretched a hand out, which Yoruichi took gratefully. “Nice to know that I caught the attention of a beautiful woman such as yourself, Shihōin-sama.”
Yoruichi flushed crimson at the compliment, though it was hard to discern with her dark tan. She stood up, brushing the dirt off her hakama. “Please don’t address me so formally. I hate honorifics and all that mumbo jumbo. It’s a whole lot of claptrap if you ask me. Nobility are still human. But how did you know I am a Shihōin?”
“Your stealth,” the blond shrugged. “Normal shinigami don’t even get that good at stealth. Only the Onmitsukidō are trained to such an extent, and judging by your uniform, you must be a student here. And students at the Shinōreijutsuin don’t learn such things even if they are destined for the Onmitsukidō unless they are nobility. And the only noble clan that specialises in stealth is the Shihōin. Hence, I deduced that you must be a Shihōin.”
“You knew I was trying to sneak up on you?” Yoruichi blinked in surprise.
“Only at the last moment,” the blond said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. “Well, I have to go find my class. It was nice meeting you, Yoruichi-dono.”
“Wait!” Yoruichi called out. “You know my name, but I never caught yours.”
The blond turned back, his azure eyes twinkling. “Naruto. Unohana Naruto.”
Yoruichi sighed as she cradled her head in her hands, barely listening as the teacher droned on about shinigami history. She had enough history lessons as a child, and action was by far much more enjoyable for the outgoing young woman. She managed to find Urahara, who was in the same class and now seated beside her. But the self-styled inventor was busy taking notes, and was not in the mood to chat with Yoruichi to relieve at least some boredom.
Why do we have to learn all this history bullshit when we won’t even use it in the future? Yoruichi thought as her golden eyes darted around the amphitheatre-like classroom, looking for something, anything to distract her and keep her awake. As her gaze roved over the other students in the first class, she found most of them all studiously taking notes like her childhood friend. Wishing she wasn’t stuck in a class of nerds, she decided to catch a few winks. Kisuke will fill me in later.
Then, a pair of azure orbs caught her eye. Yoruichi wondered if she imagined seeing Unohana Naruto winking at her from his seat across the room. But her eyes were not deceiving her, for she observed the blond mutter a few words, before the classroom was suddenly filled with smoke that burst out of nowhere. Mass hysteria broke out, as students rushed for the exit while the teacher tried to calm everyone down. No one noticed the disappearance of two students until the commotion was over.
“How did you do it?” Yoruichi asked, as the two truants found themselves a secluded spot in the forests of Rukongai. They were seated near the edge of a small, pristine lake, untouched by human civilisation and surrounded fully by dense forest.
“Bakudō Nijūichi: Sekienton,” Naruto replied matter-of-factly.
“Level 21 kidō?” Yoruichi muttered incredulously. “But we just entered the academy! You must be brilliant at kidō to use something like that!”
“It’s nothing,” Naruto mumbled embarrassedly. “My mother is an expert at kidō, and I picked up a few tricks, that’s all.”
“Your mother is a shinigami?” Yoruichi inquired excitedly. “Which division?”
“Fourth Division,” Naruto answered. Yoruichi looked fairly disappointed, which befuddled Naruto. “Is there something wrong? You look fairly unhappy with my answer.”
“I was hoping your mother is from a combat division, and you’ve picked up some fighting skills,” Yoruichi pouted. “I’ve been looking for a new sparring partner for ages, but I can’t find a decent one anywhere. The only people I get to spar with is Kisuke and Tessai, and I know their fighting styles inside out by now.”
“The Fourth Division may not be a combat division, but its members are not incapable of combat. If you’d like, I can be your sparring partner,” Naruto offered. “How about we have a spar, and you can decide if I’m a suitable sparring partner for you.”
“Great!” Yoruichi exclaimed, jumping to her feet, and swiftly starting a set of stretches that made Naruto look away, hot under the collar. “I’ve been dying for some action!”
Naruto joined the purple-haired woman in her stretches, but paused halfway as a question hit him. “What exactly do you wish to spar in?”
“Well, hakuda is my speciality, along with hohō. But that’s the limit of my abilities currently,” Yoruichi replied. “So I would love it if you could fight me using purely hakuda. But if you can’t, it’s okay. I know most shinigami don’t care much for hakuda.”
“It’s fine with me,” Naruto smiled charmingly. “My mother taught me that as a medic, one needs to be able to stay alive at all costs, in order to save as many lives as possible. So my hakuda is not too shabby…I hope.”
“We’ll find out then, won’t we?” Yoruichi grinned, confident of her victory. She had been training in hakuda all her life, and it was top notch, easily better than even Onmitsukidō members. “Here I come!”
Yoruichi dashed at Naruto with fearsome speeds for her age, her fist already cocked back for a painful punch. Naruto’s eyes widened at the display, before his instincts kicked in. Reflexively sidestepping the punch aimed at his chest, he grabbed Yoruichi’s wrist, before aiming a chop at her windpipe. The purple-haired Shihōin blocked the blow with her forearm, before her foot came flying up. The heel missed Naruto’s chin by an inch as the blond titled his head backwards to dodge the strike. Tightening his hold on Yoruichi’s wrist, Naruto tossed the young woman away from him. Yoruichi landed adroitly on her feet, a large grin plastered on her face.
“You aren’t too bad at this,” Yoruichi commented.
“Arigato gozaimasu,” Naruto smiled humbly. “But I’m sure you’re holding back on me.”
“After seeing that, I think you warrant the whole hog,” Yoruichi stated, her muscles tensing.
Bursting into action, Yoruichi aimed a deadly foot at Naruto’s face. The blond ducked, trying to sweep her off her feet literally. Yoruichi back-flipped to safety, before catching a fist headed for her head. Pushing the fist away, she smashed an open palm into Naruto’s chest with lightning speed. Wheezing, Naruto was unable to stop her from slamming another fist into his chest. Feeling his breath leave him completely for a moment, Naruto was helpless against her barrage of fists and feet.
“I give!” Naruto coughed, his palm held up in front of his face.
Yoruichi pouted as she retracted the fist that was on collision course with the blond’s face. “You’re no fun, giving up so quickly.”
“Well, you didn’t have to hit me so hard either,” Naruto retorted, wincing as he rubbed his torso. He was sure there would be lots of bruises if he didn’t heal them that night. “So? Do I qualify to be Yoruichi-dono’s sparring partner?”
“Yea, you do,” Yoruichi beamed. “You’re pretty good at hakuda, and I can help you with that as well as hohō. In exchange, you can teach me kidō! And stop addressing me so formally! I thought I told you that when we met earlier today! We’re friends now, so no stupid honorific!”
“Very well,” Naruto smiled softly. “Yoruichi-hime.”
Yoruichi’s golden eyes gained a murderous glint as she stared down Naruto, who was starting to shake nervously. “I thought I said not to use honorifics…”
“What about Yoru-hime?” Naruto squeaked out. For a moment, the blond shinigami wannabe thought he saw a faint blush, but it was gone the moment after. Yoruichi manifested a dark aura around her, as her eyes glowed evilly. “No honorific doesn’t mean you can give me pet names…you will die here, Unohana Naruto!”
Residents of West Rukongai would wonder where the high-pitched squeals, evil cackles and loud explosions were coming from for the rest of the day.
Unohana Retsu sighed as she healed up the last vestiges of the bruises Naruto sustained in his spar. “You should know better than to get into a hakuda fight with the Shihōin heiress.”
“It was fun,” Naruto shrugged, wincing slightly at the pain that sprung up from the small gesture. “Plus, I didn’t really go all out anyway. Harming her grievously will incur lots of bad consequences for me…and you too, kaachan.”
“That’s very thoughtful of you, Naruto-chan,” Unohana ruffled his spiky locks. “But if she finds out, she will feel cheated by you. Besides, isn’t the point of sparring to test one’s limits? If you don’t go all out, she can’t learn from you and vice versa.”
“But all the pressure points I learnt are killing ones so far,” Naruto muttered. “I haven’t managed to memorise the incapacitation ones yet. If I hit any one of those…”
“I understand you, Naruto-chan, but you should give Shihōin-hime some credit too,” Unohana replied gently. “Keep that in mind, alright?”
“Hai, kaachan!” Naruto saluted.
It’s becoming a daily routine, Yoruichi mused, as she attempted to sneak up on Naruto once more. Of course, it failed once more, with the blond easily sidestepping the pounce. “Ohayo gozaimasu, Yoru-hime.”
“Why is it that you can always detect me before I get you?” Yoruichi pouted, as she fell in step with the blond.
Naruto rubbed the back of his head embarrassedly. “It’s nothing really. But I sensed your reiatsu coming, so…”
“You can sense reiatsu now?” Yoruichi asked, stunned. “But that’s a high-level technique! Man, if you continue like this, you’re gonna end up as a captain before you know it!”
“I’m sure you can do it too,” Naruto mumbled, abashed. “It’s not that difficult a technique, really.”
“Yea, for the guy who’s accelerating through the curriculum like a bullet train,” Yoruichi smirked, slapping the blond on the back. “You’re already doing final year lessons, and we just entered the school four months ago! It’s a record, you know, to graduate from the Shinōreijutsuin in just a year.”
“You’re not trying very hard at studying though,” Naruto retorted. “Which is why you aren’t accelerating like Urahara and I. Otherwise, you’ll be doing as well as me.”
“Meh, I don’t see the point,” Yoruichi shrugged lightly, as they entered the veritable maze of corridors that linked up the entire building. “Besides, my clan is planning to drag me out of the programme, and putting me through advanced training to take up the position as head of the Onmitsukidō.”
“Congratulations then, Yoru-hime,” Naruto said. “So, same time later?”
“Of course!” Yoruichi grinned. “If you’re graduating in a few months’ time, and I have to attend to clan duties, then I need to treasure every moment I have with my lovely punching bag! A pity Urahara can’t make it, again. He’s always off doing his weird stuff. “
“You have to admit, they are interesting contraptions,” Naruto stated. “Will Tsukabishi be there as well?”
“Yea, he loves those kidō fights you two have,” Yoruichi grimaced. “You two are monsters, honestly. It’s a good thing Kisuke designed the underground training area so well. Otherwise, everyone in Seireitei will think there’s a war.”
“You’re exaggerating, Yoru-hime,” Naruto smiled weakly. “Well, this is your classroom. See you later, Yoru-hime!”
“See you…” Yoruichi mumbled, as Naruto disappeared into the throngs of students in the corridor. “…Naruto-kun.”
Yoruichi smiled as she followed the melodious music that filled the forest. Yoruichi had always been a nature lover; she loved the freedom that it represented, and she loved the freedom she had when alone in the forest, with just wildlife for company. And Naruto-kun, Yoruichi thought inwardly, a light blush staining her cheeks.
The shrubbery was dense, and night made the forest dark and foreboding, but Yoruichi knew her way around it, having been through the same way every day for the past nine months. Trudging through a hidden but well worn path, she finally reached her destination, and the source of the music. It was a lake; specifically, the lake where she first made friends with one Unohana Naruto. And said person was the source of music, a piece of grass between his hands, forming a whistle. Putting the impromptu instrument down, Naruto greeted Yoruichi. “Yoru-hime. You’re later than usual. Something happened at home?”
Yoruichi winced at the recent memory. “My father was extra brutal in training today.”
Naruto stood up, striding over to the purple-haired heiress. “Sit down. Let me see your wounds.”
Yoruichi obliged, sitting down on the soft grass, careful not to agitate her painful injuries. She turned her back towards Naruto (who had shut his eyes), before shedding her black Onmitsukidō uniform top. Her tanned back was littered with whip lashes, large purple bruises and even a few shallow knife wounds. Sighing at the sight of her mementos from Onmitsukidō training, Naruto pressed his palms against her back, channelling his reiatsu into her body, refuelling her empty wells. Once her reserves were full, Naruto coaxed her reiatsu into healing her body. The process was slow due to Naruto’s inexperience, but it made for a soothing and relaxing moment for Yoruichi.
The purple-haired young woman sighed happily when the pain faded slowly, leaving a lingering, comfortable warmth. So when Naruto’s hands left her back, she whined disappointedly. Naruto chuckled. “You are incorrigible, Yoru-hime.”
“C’mon, warm me up!” Yoruichi pouted cutely. “You know I love it! Onegai, Naruto-kun~”
The blond chuckled once more, pressing his palm on her now smooth, unmarred back. “As the princess wishes.”
Channelling more reiatsu from his massive wells, he expertly modified the nature of the reiatsu, making it feel warm. Yoruichi moaned contentedly, the feeling extremely comfortable. As it turned out, Yoruichi found it so comfortable that she fell asleep, her head falling to rest on Naruto’s leg. Naruto brushed a stray strand of hair from her face, smiling softly as he did so. Knowing Yoruichi’s habits too well, he took the cloak off his back, and draped it over the slumbering young woman, preserving her modesty and warding off the elements.
She must be really tired from training today. She fell asleep much faster than before, Naruto mused, as he stared up into the twinkling night sky. I wonder what these nightly meetings mean to Yoru-hime…
Naruto sighed inaudibly, before planting a small kiss on the Shihōin’s temple. I hope…that we can live peacefully like this forever.
I wonder what will the Shihōin clan and the Onmitsukidō think when they find me sneaking into the Shihōin heiress’s room in the middle of the night, holding said sleeping heiress in my arms, Naruto mused, as he left the sprawling mansion that was the Shihōin home. Gotta love kidō; although I must agree with Yoru-hime, the standards for Onmitsukidō members is rather low…
Once a fair distance away from his friend’s home, Naruto removed the bakudō that cloaked his presence, before walking to his own home at the Fourth Division. Special permission had to be given in order for him to stay there, but his mother was the captain, and that permission was given rather freely. The blond greeted the division members on night duty, the members returning the greeting sleepily. Taking a detour to see the charts of his patients, it took him a good hour before he actually returned to his room.
Seated in his room was his mother, patiently sipping tea. Naruto groaned inwardly; he could feel the lecture coming. “Kaachan.”
“How was Shihōin-hime?” Unohana asked pleasantly.
“Her father seems intent on killing her before she reaches fifty,” Naruto sighed, plopping himself down on the tatami mat in front of his mother. He didn’t see the need to ask how his mother knew that it was Yoruichi he was meeting every night; she, as with most mothers, was omniscient when it came to their children. “Are you going to lecture me on that?”
“Iie. I think it’s good for you to be friends with Shihōin-hime,” Unohana commented. “I think a noble’s lifestyle is very solitary and lonely.”
“Then what is the purpose of this visit?” Naruto inquired, puzzled.
Unohana raised an eyebrow. “What, is it wrong for a mother to check up on her adorable son?”
“Kaachan!” Naruto spluttered embarrassedly.
Unohana laughed, pouring a cup of tea for her adopted son. “You are officially a graduate of the Shinōreijutsuin as of tomorrow. And since you successfully applied for a position in the Fourth Division, I welcome you into the division as an officer of the fifth seat, and the first leader of the 3rd Advanced Relief Team.”
“F-Fifth seat?” Naruto choked, pounding his chest to get the tea he was sipping down. “B-But I’m a new graduate! I can’t just jump to fifth seat! What about other seated officers who should be given the rightful opportunity?”
“While you were gallivanting with Shihōin-hime, I called for a division meeting. It was unanimously agreed that you are more than qualified to take up the duties of a fifth seat,” Unohana announced calmly. “Tomorrow, you will start your work at the headquarters. Seinosuke will guide you along, so you have nothing to worry about. And you no longer need to hide the fact that you have Shikai activated already.”
Naruto grunted, downing all his scalding tea in one mouthful. “I can’t protest this, can I?”
“You can reject the position, but that would disappoint your legions of fans,” Unohana commented. “But enough of business. What exactly is your relationship with Shihōin-hime? Are you two dating? Can I expect lots of grandchildren in the next twenty years?”
“Hey you!” a loud voice called out.
Naruto sighed, turning to face the tall, intimidating man. “How may I help you?”
“You’re from the Fourth Division right?” the man sneered.
Naruto nodded. “May I ask what this is about?”
“I need one of you losers to help me clean my room! It’s in a mess!” the man demanded.
“Gomen, but your room is your business,” Naruto replied coldly, turning around to continue on his journey. “Please excuse me.”
A large hand clapped Naruto’s shoulder. The man puffed out his chest proudly, thumbing his hairy pectorals. “I’m a member of the Eleventh Division! We are the guys that do all the fighting to protect you weaklings from dying! So do as I say, or I won’t ask nicely!”
“Please remove your hand from me,” Naruto’s voice dropped to a whisper. “I’m a third seated officer, and you do not wish to anger me.”
“HA!” the man bellowed in laughter. “And what can you do to me?”
Naruto tilted his head back, glaring into the man’s eyes murderously. “This. Bakudō Rokujūsan: Sajo Sabaku!”
The man’s eyes widened at the level of the kidō, and tried to run, but to no avail. Massive ropes of energy sprung out of nowhere, wrapping themselves tightly around the man. It pinned his arms to his body, preventing him from drawing his zanpakutō, and it also unbalanced the bulky man, who fell in a disgraced heap on the ground. Naruto towered over the cowering man, his cerulean eyes veritably glacial.
“Do not provoke me again. And if you, or any of the Eleventh Division members attempt to make any Fourth Division member do your menial work, I will report this to my captain,” Naruto stated intimidatingly. “Do. You. Understand?”
The man nodded weakly, the front of his hakama growing darker. His demeanour changed suddenly, as he smiled, snapping his fingers to release the kidō that bound the shinigami. “Well, off you go then. You should learn to clean up after yourself. Women prefer tidy men, you know.”
Naruto smiled at the man once more, before leaving. A passing Eighth Division member picked the trembling man up once the blond shinigami turned the corner, patting the big man on the back comfortingly. “There, there, you must be frightened out of your skin.”
“W-W-Who is he?” the frightened man asked fearfully.
“He’s the adopted son of Unohana-taichō,” the Eighth Division member sighed. “And it seems he picked up his mother’s scary demeanour when angry. You may want to remind your friends not to antagonise him. He’s a prodigy who graduated from the academy in just one year, and was promoted to fifth seat immediately after graduation. He’s probably really strong.”
“T-Thanks for the advice,” the man shivered. “I never want to meet him again.”
“You are a very scary person on the outside, Naruto-kun,” Yoruichi stated, as she hopped from her perch on a nearby building’s roof to join Naruto. Falling in step with the blond, she threw her arm around his shoulder. “But you’re such a softy on the inside.”
“Don’t you have your Onmitsukidō or clan duties to attend to?” Naruto queried. “You’re normally not free at this time of day.”
“It’s my day off,” Yoruichi replied airily.
Naruto stared at the purple-haired woman incredulously until she conceded defeat. “Okay, I’m skipping out, but you won’t rat me out, right?”
“Well, I prepared some food for a relaxing picnic with my mother today, but she had to go observe a captain proficiency test. If you help me finish the food…” Naruto remarked, before he was engulfed in a rib-crushing hug from the overenthusiastic Shihōin.
“Yay! Free food, no work! You’re the best, Naruto-kun! You really know how to make a girl’s day!” Yoruichi exclaimed gleefully. “What are we waiting for, let’s go!”
“I heard you’ve been harassing the Kuchiki clan heir,” Naruto commented, as they sat beside the sparkling waters of the lake.
Yoruichi pouted. “Why does everyone think I’m harassing Byakuya-chan? I’m merely playing with him!”
“Well, what you consider playing is harassment,” Naruto pointed out, as he sipped his tea. “Just like how you attempt to sneak up on me all the time when we were still at the Shinōreijutsuin.”
“Everyone’s so serious these days,” Yoruichi sighed, cradling her head in her palms. “Why can’t you lighten up a bit, Naruto-kun?”
“Because someone has to keep you in check,” the blond retorted. “Soifon respects you too much, and Urahara is even more engrossed in his own work now. Tsukabishi is doing his kidō research and besides, he thinks it’s good for you to be on the wild side. I’m the only one level-headed enough to keep you grounded.”
“Hey!” Yoruichi growled, crossing her arms huffily. “I’m very serious when I need to be!”
“Hai, hai, Yoru-hime,” Naruto placated. “Try the onigiri. It’s my speciality.”
Mock angrily, she snatched the onigiri from Naruto’s outstretched hand. Yoruichi’s eyes widened as she tasted the homemade treat. “You never told me you could cook so well! I should’ve wrangled more free food from you all those times we met!”
“We still meet every day, you know,” the blond stated dryly, to which Yoruichi smirked. “So…what do I have to do to make you bring me food every night? A kiss? Some cleavage? Or my entire beautiful nude body, hmm?”
“Just your company and friendship will do,” Naruto replied without missing a heartbeat.
“You’re absolutely no fun!” Yoruichi groaned, slapping her forehead. “I wonder why so many girls are all gaga over you.”
“Huh?” Naruto blinked, surprised. “What do you mean?”
“You mean you don’t know?” Yoruichi asked, before bursting into merry laughter. “Oh, this is rich! The guy whom the female half of Seireitei fantasises about doesn’t even know he’s popular with the ladies!”
Naruto knitted his eyebrows in a frown. “I faintly recall my mother mentioning ‘legions of fans’ before, but otherwise, I don’t know what gave you that impression that I’m popular.”
“The fact that girls everywhere giggle whenever they see you in the streets, and write love letters to your division. Heck, just yesterday, I spotted one of your division’s officers trying to carry boxes of letters into the division. Boxes!” Yoruichi explained, chortling every few moments. “I know that one of my subordinates even put her panties into her letter!”
“But I never received any non-official letters,” Naruto’s frown deepened, before his face lit up in understanding. “But I’ve seen division members carrying boxes of paper away to be recycled. Every time I ask someone why our paper consumption was so high, they never gave me a straight answer.”
Yoruichi grinned amusedly. “Your mom must have been getting rid of the letters before they reach you! I wonder why though…I thought all mothers wanted their children to make them lots of grandchildren to coddle and pamper. My relatives are all like that.”
“That’s true…” Naruto blushed, scratching his whisker marks nervously. “But since you’re wondering, I think I know why…my mother seems to have this misconception that I’m involved in a relationship with you, which would explain the recycling of those letters…”
Yoruichi flushed crimson, but Naruto was looking at the sky and away from the Shihōin. She glanced towards the blond slyly, before putting on a thinking pose. “Well, we do meet up every night, like a pair of illicit lovers who cannot be together openly…”
Naruto choked on his own spit, and slammed his fist into his chest a few times to get it down. Yoruichi was by his side in a flash, rubbing small circles on his back. “Hey! You okay? I was kidding you know!”
“Yea, but it was highly inappropriate for the situation,” Naruto coughed, his face a deep burning crimson. Yoruichi took notice of this, and instead of returning to her spot, wrapped her arms loosely around Naruto’s neck. “But don’t you think we resemble lovers?”
“You are the heiress of the Shihōin clan, one of the five great noble families of Soul Society,” Naruto said softly. “You shouldn’t be acting in such a manner. It is not befitting of your status.”
“And what if I said I don’t give a crap about my clan, or my status?” Yoruichi shot back, her arms tightening. “What if I said I don’t want to let go of you?”
“Then I will say that I’m not worth such sacrifices,” Naruto answered quietly.
“If I insisted?” Yoruichi pressed on, almost desperately.
“Then I will lie, and hurt you,” Naruto whispered. “Because I know you can find someone else better eventually.”
“No one understands me better than you,” Yoruichi mumbled, burying her face into his neck. “I won’t trade you for anyone in this world.”
“If this is a dream…” Naruto remarked softly. “…I don’t ever want to wake up.”
“Neither do I.”
“C’mon Naruto-kun!” Yoruichi pleaded. “It’ll be fun, trust me!”
“Your idea of fun is very twisted at times,” Naruto remarked matter-of-factly, but allowed himself to be dragged along in a speedy shunpo. “Remember the time when you said it would be fun to tease Tsukabishi about his moustache?”
“You managed to master that level 81 bakudō and save our butts in the end,” Yoruichi defended herself. “I would call that a good trade-off actually. And you have to admit, you really enjoy those kidō spars you two have. Now that he’s in the Kidō Corps and you’re in Gotei 13, you two have become worse. I mean, firing off level 80 kidō at each other, continuously? Only crazy people do that to friends, and you two aren’t even being serious!”
“Still, I don’t feel comfortable about doing this,” Naruto muttered. “This is a noble clan we’re talking about. Your clan may have good relations with them, but I certainly don’t.”
“Nah, Kuchiki-taichō is a big softy like you,” Yoruichi remarked, punching the blond’s shoulder lightly. “Plus, I got permission from your mom and Kuchiki-taichō, for you to help with Byakuya-chan’s kidō training. Kuchiki-taichō even said he was glad it was you. He regards your ability rather highly you know.”
“That’s nice to know,” Naruto rubbed his temples, sighing.
“Aw shucks, Naruto-kun is embarrassed!” Yoruichi teased. “Such a humble person…kya! It makes me wanna gobble you up!”
“Your fangirling needs some work,” Naruto stated dryly. “You forgot the placards asking me to give them babies, and the flying underwear.”
“Ooooh, does Naruto-kun want Yoruichi-chan’s undies?” Yoruichi smirked, hugging Naruto’s arm to her voluptuous chest. “Yoruichi-chan is sooo happy!”
“You do know Soifon is tailing us, and that I’m going to take the brunt of her wrath later?” Naruto said weakly. “Can you at least have some pity on me, and not continue this?”
“Nope!” Yoruichi beamed. “It’s training for you, so you better appreciate it!”
“I give up!” Naruto threw his other arm up in the air in defeat. Yoruichi giggled in a disturbing manner, and in a feat of acrobatics, clambering on Naruto’s back while they were still flashing across rooftops. “Go, my stallion!”
Naruto rolled his eyes, but smiled as he bent slightly. “As you wish, Yoru-hime. Hold on tight!”
Soifon growled, clenching her fist as she watched her mortal enemy steal her beloved mistress away, her mistress’s haori flapping in the wind. Mark my words, Unohana Naruto, you will pay!
The sounds of laughter and shouting filled the halls of the Kuchiki mansion, as two figures shunpo-ed around the place, one chasing the other fervently, the other running away playfully. Two men sat on on the polished wooden floor, enjoying the beautiful view that was the Kuchiki mansion grounds. A tray sat between them, a pot of steaming tea and two cups on said tray. As the figure being chased landed near them, the seated blond man’s hand darted out unnoticed, retrieving the hair tie that the chased person stole.
“Here’s your hair tie,” Naruto proffered to the panting young man that landed in the same spot mere moments later. Kuchiki Byakuya snatched the hair tie from Naruto’s hand rather rudely, before thanking the older male gruffly.
As an angry Byakuya continued chasing a laughing Yoruichi, Kuchiki Ginrei smiled. “Shihōin-taichō is rather lively, do you not agree?”
“Rather,” Naruto replied dryly, sighing as he recalled various moments her liveliness got him in trouble.
Ginrei chuckled in a grandfatherly manner. “Ah, the joys of youth. Old men like me can only wish we can run like that once more.”
“The old have to give way to the young,” Naruto said. “It is the way of life. No offence, Kuchiki-taichō.”
“None taken, Unohana-san,” Ginrei chuckled. “You are right in every regard. Soon, I will step down, and Byakuya-kun will take up the mantle of Kuchiki clan head. Now, if only he will curb his rashness, he can fully develop his potential.”
“There is no rush,” Naruto commented. “Thrusting responsibility on one so young as he…is never good for the one in question. I firmly believe that we need to give people time to blossom as individuals. The responsibility of a clan head is massive, and could destroy his true personality.”
“And you are right once again,” the captain nodded. “Unohana-taichō taught her son well, both in the art of kidō and in the ways of life. Speaking of which, how is Unohana-taichō?”
“She is doing well,” Naruto replied. “Thank you for your concern.”
“Unohana-taichō is an old friend of mine,” Ginrei said wistfully. “I still recall the times she reprimanded me for overworking myself.”
“She is still rather intimidating,” Naruto remarked. “And I highly doubt that will change any time soon.”
Ginrei laughed. “Indeed. So, I hear you have attained your Bankai already? Unohana-taichō sounded rather proud of your achievements.”
Naruto paled. “She told Kuchiki-taichō about my…”
“It’s a mark of excellence, Unohana-san,” Ginrei praised. “Do not be ashamed of it. I know of your desire to succeed your mother, but you should consider becoming a captain of another division. The Gotei 13 needs strong, just individuals like you to protect Soul Society.”
“I was hoping to keep my Bankai a secret, but it seems it’s no longer one,” Naruto sighed, picking up his cup of tea. “In any case, there are no vacancies for captain currently.”
“And if there was one?” Ginrei queried. “Will you become a captain?”
“Perhaps,” Naruto sipped his tea. “My zanpakutō does not belong to the Fourth Division after all. I love my zanpakutō, but it is a zanpakutō that ends lives indiscriminately.”
“Think of it not as a blade that ends lives, but as a blade that protects lives,” Ginrei smiled. “It is a far more comforting thought.”
“That, it is,” Naruto admitted, taking another sip. An amicable silence fell upon the two, only to be broken intermittently by the sounds of more shouting. “I mean you no offence again, Kuchiki-taichō, but you are very different from the image portrayed by others.”
“How so, Unohana-san?” Ginrei inquired.
“You are far friendlier than rumours imply, for one,” Naruto remarked. “People always say that you are the perfect noble, but you are not as apathetic as many nobles are, nor are you haughty and condescending. Speaking with a commoner like myself in such a manner was unexpected.”
“I may be a noble, but I am human too,” Ginrei stated. “And an old one, at that. Old men tend to like young company. It makes them feel youthful for a moment, you see.”
At that moment, Yoruichi materalised in front of Naruto, and promptly sat down in the blond’s lap. She stuck her tongue out childishly at the heaving Byakuya, whose eyelid was twitching madly. “Ha! You wouldn’t dare hit me when Naruto-kun is in the way!”
Naruto sighed loudly, rubbing his temple. “Shihōin-taichō…”
“Onegai Naruto-kun~” Yoruichi pouted, her eyes round and watery. “Protect me from the big bad Byakuya~”
Ginrei laughed heartily as the tick on Byakuya’s forehead grew massive, while Naruto’s eyelid started twitching like his grandson’s. Yoruichi cheered gleefully when Naruto didn’t give a verbal reply, throwing her arms around his neck and snuggling up against him. “I knew you would protect me, Naruto-kun~”
“Kuchiki-taichō,” Naruto nodded at the elder Kuchiki. “We ought to be leaving now. I look forward to our next meeting.”
“As will I,” Ginrei smiled.
As Naruto slipped an arm beneath Yoruichi’s knees and behind her shoulders, lifting her off his lap in a bridal carry, he bowed. “Sayonara.”
The blond man disappeared in a flash, the sound of a woman’s laughter lingering in the air. Ginrei picked up his cup of tea, an indulgent smile etched on his face. “Ah, youth.”
Yoruichi found each step heavier than the previous, as she walked towards the source of the haunting music. The forest was quiet for once, making the short journey even tougher for the Shihōin. But eventually, the shrubs gave way to the beautiful glade she had come to know and love. And sitting by the small lake was none other than the man whom she had come to know and love, as with their little secret meeting spot.
The Second Division captain waited patiently for the blond man to finish his piece. “I’m sure you heard the news.”
“I did,” Naruto stated, tucking the flute into his shihakushō.
“Are you going to stop me?” Yoruichi asked seriously, as Naruto turned to face the purple-haired woman.
“Iie,” Naruto replied softly.
“I can’t use jigokuchō,” Yoruichi said. “They can track me with them.”
“You need someone to help to hold the Senkaimon open so you can escape,” Naruto remarked.
Yoruichi took a step forward, her voice filled with uncertainty. “Before I go…I want, iie, I need to know…”
“Anything for you, Yoru-hime,” Naruto declared.
Yoruichi bit her lip, hesitating. Naruto waited quietly for Yoruichi to finally gather the courage, and look into Naruto’s azure orbs. “Do you…do you love me?”
Silently, Naruto walked forwards until he stood just inches from the golden-eyed woman. Brushing an errant lock from her face, Naruto bent down and planted a chaste kiss on her lips. He smiled wistfully, as a single tear coalesced at the corner of his eye. “Does that answer your question?”
Yoruichi melted in Naruto’s sudden embrace, memorising his musky scent. Shutting her eyes, she momentarily let go of everything plaguing her mind. At that moment, there was only Naruto and her. Nothing more, nothing less. But all good things have to come to an end, as Naruto broke the hug. He retrieved a silver crescent moon pendant from his voluminous kosode, fastening it around Yoruichi’s neck. “I’ll wait.”
“I know,” Yoruichi replied.
“Due to the unfortunate incidents that have happened in Rukongai five days ago, the Gotei 13 lost a number of exemplary captains,” Yamamoto stated solemnly. “On the same day, I informed the captains about the various openings and the need for selection of new captains to fill the void that has been left.”
The following day, according to the recommendation of the Fourth Division captain Unohana Retsu and the Sixth Division captain Kuchiki Ginrei, I summoned the third seated officer of the Fourth Division. Then, two days ago, I, Yamamoto Genryūsai along with three other captains examined the qualities of the potential captain with a captain’s test. We concluded that his abilities and personality were acceptable. Therefore, the former third seat of the Fourth Division, Unohana Naruto, who stands before us, you are now the newly appointed captain of the Seventh Division,” Yamamoto announced.
“You three!” Hisagi Shūhei shouted. “I told you to run!”
“We’re not going to leave you here, senpai!” Kira Izuru stated firmly, as Hinamori Momo started a kidō chant. A small but powerful ball of flames morphed into being in her palm, and was blasted into the massive Hollow’s face. Smoke covered the mask of the Hollow, and both Abarai Renji and Kira relaxed. Until the smoke cleared to reveal no damage was done to the Hollow. As the Hollow reared back to attack, its mask was pierced by a truly massive sword. Screaming in its final moments, the Hollow dissipated, leaving nothing behind.
“Unohana-taichō! Komamura-fukutaichō!” Hisagi shouted in relief. “What are you doing here?”
“You called for backup, did you not?” asked Naruto amusedly. “Sajin-kun, if you would. Hisagi-kun looks like he needs a bit of help.”
“Of course, taichō,” the quiet giant nodded, his Shikai smashing the Hollows with apparent ease.
“Unohana-taichō, there’s really no need-” Shūhei said, but was interrupted by Naruto’s raised hand. The blond chuckled, patting the sixth year student on the shoulder. “I am the son of Unohana Retsu, the best healer in Soul Society. I have a reputation to maintain you know. Now sit still while I heal your face up.”
Renji, Hinamori and Kira watched in awe as the Hollows were killed speedily, and were stock still until Naruto called them. “Kids!”
“Huh?” the three said in unison.
“We’re done here,” Naruto smiled. “Good job, you three. I hope to see all of you in the Gotei soon.”
“Byakuya-kun,” Naruto greeted.
“Unohana-taichō,” Byakuya replied coldly.
The blond captain placed a comforting hand on the younger shinigami‘s shoulder. “Hisana will not want you to wallow in her passing. What you are doing now is hurting yourself and hurting Rukia-chan.”
“And what do you know about loss, Unohana-taichō?” Byakuya demanded angrily. “Hisana is not Yoruichi! Yoruichi can come back, but Hisana cannot!”
“Stop dwelling on her death, Byakuya-kun,” Naruto shook his head. “Instead, keep the fond memories of her in your heart, and move on. I’m sure that’s what she would have wanted.”
“But I cannot do it,” Byakuya sounded defeated. “I cannot move on.”
“If you can’t, at least treat Rukia-chan properly,” Naruto admonished. “She is a commoner, brought into the world of nobility at Hisana’s desperate request. She is ill-treated by your clan, and isolated from her friends and peers. And her closest link to the clan is you, but you ignore her, preferring to protect her from the sidelines. She is not Hisana, Byakuya-kun. Ignoring her because she looks like Hisana may help alleviate some pain, but in the end, both of you will hurt.”
“It has worked fine so far,” Byakuya retorted weakly.
“Hai, but do you enjoy this arrangement? Does Rukia-chan look happy in the clan?” Naruto said. “She spends more time in the division quarters than here. I think that says a lot, don’t you think? Let her into your heart, Byakuya. She is now your sister legally. Treat her as you would treat your own sister, as you would treat Hisana’s sister. Guide her along in her path as a shinigami. Protect her, but do not deprive her of opportunities. I know she is of a seated officer level, but you pulled some strings to keep her safe.”
“I…I will try my best,” Byakuya muttered.
“May this be the start of your journey to recovery, Byakuya-kun,” Naruto patted him on the back. “By the way, Yachiru-chan was looking for you.”
“Naruto-niichan!” Kiyone shouted happily, launching herself at the blond man. He laughed, patting the younger girl on the head. “Good to see you again, Kiyone-chan.”
“How dare you address Unohana-taichō so…so intimately!” Sentarō yelled.
“It’s alright, Sentarō,” Naruto waved his hand airily. “I treat Kiyone-chan and Isane-chan like my younger sisters.”
“We’re here to collect Ukitake-taichō’s medicine!” Kiyone said. Naruto nodded, leading them into the Fourth Division headquarters. “Isane-chan is accompanying kaachan on her mountain hike today, so I’m practically in charge here now. Plus, Sajin-kun needed a checkup, the equipment here is much better…ah, Iemura-san, can I have Ukitake-taichō’s medication please?”
The third seat nodded, bowing at his waist. “Certainly, Unohana-taichō!”
As he hurried off to get the medicine, Naruto turned to Kiyone. “So, how is Ukitake-taichō holding up?”
“His condition is stable, Unohana-taichō!” Sentarō piped up, sending a smug look at the snarling Kiyone. “Thank you for your concern, Unohana-taichō!”
“That is good,” Naruto nodded, just as Iemura popped up, a bag of medication in his hands. “Kotetsu-sama, Kotsubaki-sama, Ukitake-taichō’s medicine!”
“Arigato,” Kiyone said, taking the bag. “We’ll be off now, Naruto-niichan! Take care!”
“I apologise for my fellow third seat’s rudeness, Unohana-taichō!” Sentarō shouted, as he tussled with Kiyone on who should carry the medicine to Ukitake. “Sayonara, Unohana-taichō!”
Naruto chuckled as he watched the two leave. “It must be rather amusing to have those two as third seats, wouldn’t you agree, Iemura-kun?”
“Indeed, Unohana-taichō,” the man nodded in agreement.
“You should lighten up, Iemura-kun,” Naruto clapped the man on his back. “Well, kaachan should be back soon. I have duties to attend to. Can you watch the division for the moment?”
“Of course, Unohana-taichō!”
“Good. Now, where did Sajin-kun go?”
“You know, he’s still waiting for you,” Shiba Kūkaku said softly, as they watched Ichigo and friends learn to use Kūkaku’s cannon orb.
“I know,” the black cat mumbled.
“I heard he’s published a book too,” the Shiba commented. “It was a romance novel titled Silent Night. Guess who the heroine was modelled after?”
“Was it good?” Yoruichi enquired.
“Good?” Kūkaku laughed. “I heard they ran out in the first day. The Ninth Division stated they’ve never seen such sales before, and the Seireitei Communication was full of rave reviews.”
“His fans, I presume?” the cat muttered fiercely.
Kūkaku shook her head, a Cheshire grin on her face. “Only for the first hour. I heard from the rumour mill that even the stoic Kuchiki shed a tear after he was done with it.”
The cat pawed at its pendant listlessly, before sighing. “I can’t meet him. Not now.”
“You gotta keep these kids safe, huh?” the well-endowed woman murmured, stroking Yoruichi’s dark fur absentmindedly. “He’s waited a hundred years. I think he can wait a few weeks. Oh, by the way, I have a copy of his book if you want to read it while waiting.”
“Arigato,” the cat thanked, as Kūkaku went to find the book.
“Sajin-kun, could you please wait for me outside for a moment?” Naruto requested.
“Of course, Unohana-taichō,” the giant rumbled, exiting the door of the morgue. Once the lieutenant left, Naruto walked up to Aizen’s body, beside his mother. “This…isn’t Aizen, is it?”
“Iie,” the elder Unohana shook her head. “It doesn’t feel right, although I cannot pinpoint the actual reason for this discrepancy.”
“Your instinct is good enough for me, kaachan,” Naruto remarked, pressing his hand against the cold corpse. “It feels as if a doll was infused with Aizen’s reiatsu. His reiatsu doesn’t feel like it belongs in this body. Kidō?”
“Unlikely. If it was kidō, it will be far too easy to break. I think…it is likely a zanpakutō ability,” Unohana theorised. “And since this is Aizen-taichō’s corpse…”
“Kyōka Suigetsu,” Naruto answered. “Illusions…maybe he gave a half-truth, to hide its true capabilities. To be able to almost fool you…it’s on the level of hypnosis. Very powerful hypnosis, to suggest that what we see here is indeed his corpse.”
“But to fool everyone in Seireitei?” Unohana frowned.
“Aizen never really hid his Shikai from people, did he?” Naruto supplied grimly. “He was always glad to help fellow shinigami attain greater strength, and demonstrating his Shikai while he was at it. It’s probably the type where one release is enough, and anyone caught in its radius will be snared indefinitely.”
“For now…let’s keep this to ourselves, Naruto-chan,” Unohana sighed, throwing the white sheet over Aizen’s pale face.
The two Unohana walked out of the morgue, outside where Komamura and Isane stood. The Fourth Division captain smiled at the Seventh Division lieutenant. “You should take off the helmet, Komamura-san. It doesn’t suit you.”
“I told him dozens of times,” Naruto grumbled. “But he’s still too afraid, too shy to do it.”
“It is not a look I am proud of,” the giant stated, downcast. Naruto sighed. “Sajin-kun, you should realise that the entire division has utmost respect of you, and that won’t change no matter what you look like. You are an exemplary vice-captain, a model shinigami. There’s nothing for you to be ashamed of.”
“I…I will think about it,” Komamura mumbled.
Naruto nodded, patting the much taller individual’s arm comfortingly. “Good. Now, how about some ramen?”
“Sajin-kun, I know you wish to pursue Zaraki-taichō,” Naruto stated, as the captain and lieutenant walked towards the execution grounds. “But he is a captain of the Gotei 13. Even I will find myself in trouble when fighting him. You are captain-class, yes, but it’s not worth your life fighting such a dangerous man.”
“I understand, taichō,” the giant nodded.
“Good,” Naruto sighed. “I was afraid you will be reckless, and follow Tōsen-taichō in confronting Zaraki-taichō.”
The Sōkyoku was morbidly majestic, a massive halberd that stretched into the sky as far as the eye could see. Most captains were already there with their vice-captains, although there were a few notable exceptions such as Kenpachi. Naruto took his place beside Kyōraku Shunsui, who tipped his bamboo hat in greeting. “Unohana-kun. Any idea where your mother is? She’s late, which is rather curious.”
“I sensed Byakuya-kun’s reiatsu earlier, along with Abarai-kun’s reiatsu, which disappeared for a moment. I have no doubt young Abarai-kun tried to stop Byakuya-kun, and is being healed by my mother now,” Naruto said. “He is rather reckless, Abarai-kun. But his loyalty and bravery is commendable.”
Unohana Retsu arrived shortly, and soon, Kuchiki Rukia was raised to the very top of the Sōkyoku cross. Naruto watched curiously as one Kurosaki Ichigo appeared out of nowhere to stop the massive phoenix that was the true form of the Sōkyoku. He halted Komamura in his tracks as Ukitake and Kyōraku destroyed the Sōkyoku with a Shihōin artefact. He placed a hand on Komamura to further stop him from following Soifon’s orders, and watched as Ichigo single-handedly take out three lieutenants with eye-popping ease.
“Unohana-taichō!” Komamura stated urgently, as Ichigo engaged Byakuya, while a masked figure kidnapped Soifon, who had assaulted the two third seats of the Thirteenth Division. Kyōraku and Ukitake had run off, Yamamoto hot on their heels.
The Unohana captains shared a glance. Naruto turned to Komamura. “We will head…to the Central 46 chambers.”
Hitsugaya Tōshirō burst into the Seijōtōkyorin in a panicked fashion. His eyes roved over the present company, before they fell upon the fallen Hinamori. “Hinamori!”
“Hitsugaya-kun,” Naruto greeted, pressing a hand on the younger captain’s shoulder. “It is unwise to attack, despite your anger at Aizen.”
“How true,” Aizen smirked, addressing Naruto. “There isn’t much he can do against me, despite his potential. Tōshirō is, after all, young.”
“That may be so, but he is still a captain,” Naruto remarked. “It will do you no good to underestimate him.”
Aizen’s smirk widened. “Out of all the captains, there are only three I view as a threat. Yamamoto is one…the other two are you, Unohana Naruto, and your mother Retsu.”
“I’m glad you think of me so highly,” Naruto remarked dryly. “And what about Kyōraku-taichō and Ukitake-taichō? They don’t register on your radar?”
“Iie,” Aizen shook his head indulgently. “Kyōraku is powerful, but is of no consequence. Ukitake’s tuberculosis is so bad that he cannot fight properly half the time…iie, they are inconsequential. But both you and your mother…are far more powerful than you let on. You especially…the power of the wind, the very air we breathe in your hands…”
“I am flattered,” Naruto murmured. “But you are the most deceptive amongst us captains, are you not? Staging your death, using the Central 46’s name as your tool to achieve whatever your aims are…you are truly a dangerous foe, Aizen.”
“Arigato gozaimasu,” Aizen bowed. “But time is running short, both for me and Hinamori-kun behind me. I would rather not fight here, where there could be collateral damage…especially to injured individuals. Come, Gin.”
Gin retrieved a long bandage from his voluminous sleeves, and they whirled around the two traitorous captains, taking them away from the site. Hitsugaya rushed to Hinamori’s still form, cradling the fallen girl. Naruto hurried over as well, his hands glowing visibly with reiatsu. “I can only stabilise her condition now. We’ll need my mother’s zanpakutō to heal her properly. Will both of you please go to the Sōkyoku hill, where Aizen is bound to be?”
Komamura nodded, and dashed off, but Hitsugaya was reluctant. Naruto smiled kindly at the white-haired boy. “She’ll be fine. Now go!”
Naruto sighed as he returned to the Sōkyoku hill, only to find Hitsugaya and Komamura on the ground, both bleeding profusely from singular wounds dealt with one swift stroke of a blade. Renji and Ichigo were some distance away, similarly injured. In Aizen’s hand was a frightened Rukia, while in his other was a small spherical stone no bigger than the size of one’s palm. “How nice of you to join us again, Unohana.”
“Tōsen is in on this too,” Naruto pointed out, a he spotted the Ninth Division captain standing with Gin and Aizen.
Aizen smiled. “Indeed, Unohana. Kaname has been my loyal subordinate for all these years. I thought I explained to you that my zanpakutō‘s Shikai works when someone sees it.”
Naruto closed his eyes, sighing. “The other captains have only just finished their own fights. It seems…I have to fight you for now.”
“Oh?” Aizen raised his eyebrow. “I thought your mother was abhorrent of fighting? What happened to her teachings, hmm?”
“Sometimes, there is a need to fight, to protect what’s important,” Naruto stated, unsheathing his zanpakutō. “I don’t suppose you’ll just let Rukia-chan go?”
“She is unimportant now,” Aizen shrugged. “Since you so nicely asked it of me, I will acquiesce with your suggestion.”
Aizen threw the petite shinigami aside. Trembling in fear, all Rukia could do was stay in her spot. In an impressive display of speed, Naruto shunpo-ed to all the injured parties, bringing them away, and erecting a kidō barrier around them all in the blink of an eye. Aizen applauded the man verbally. “Your shunpo is truly unparalleled amongst the current captains, Unohana.”
“Enough talk, Aizen,” Naruto declared, before raising his zanpakutō. “Fuku, Harukaze!”
The katana’s gear-like guard expanded in size, accommodating the splitting of his katana blade into two. It formed a double-bladed katana, both blades pointing in the same direction. A thin sheath of wind let out a low hum as Naruto brandished it around. “It’s been a long time since I released my Shikai in combat.”
Suddenly, he went into a block, with no one attacking him. Or so it seemed initially, until Aizen dissolved into nothingness, and the real Aizen was revealed, his zanpakutō clashing with Naruto’s. Aizen’s eyes held an amused glint. “To be able to sense my presence even while under Kyōka Suigetsu‘s kanzen saimin. ..you are a truly fearsome opponent.”
“Kazekiri,” Naruto uttered.
A massive blast of wind erupted from Naruto’s blade, almost taking Aizen by surprise. The man shunpo-ed safely away, a smile still etched upon his face. Naruto raised his blade into the air, pointing it high into the sky. “Against three captains, although two are not attacking yet…it will be foolhardy not to go all out. Bankai.”
His blade shattered into nothingness, leaving an empty palm. Then, a truly massive gust blew across the Sōkyoku hill, all centred around Naruto. The wind coalesced into a double-bladed nodachi, which Naruto lowered to waist level. “Harukaze Kōtaikō.”
All of a sudden, blades of wind appeared out of nowhere, smashing into the spots where the three traitorous captains stood mere moments before. Tōsen raised his blade, ready to unleash his Bankai, when Naruto disappeared and materialised in front of him, too fast for even his reiatsu-sensing capability to detect. In a single swift motion, Tōsen was taken out, his right arm severed from his body and the rest of his torso littered with cuts of varying degrees of seriousness. His clothes were left in tatters for the second time that day, as Tōsen collapsed on the ground, his sightless eyes widened in shock.
Naruto turned around quickly, Gin’s zanpakutō slipping in between his nodachi blades and stretching quickly towards his face. With a quick twist of his zanpakutō, Gin’s blade was broken like a dried twig. The momentary pause in Gin’s movement was more than enough time for Naruto, as he shunpo-ed behind the Third Division captain, stabbing him in the right lung. Pulling out his blade with naught but a whisper, Gin crumpled to the ground, unmoving.
“You didn’t kill them,” Aizen noted, his tone nonchalant.
“I do not kill fellow souls,” Naruto intoned. “Furthermore, interrogation cannot be done on dead souls.”
“You are truly scary, Unohana,” Aizen commented. “To take out two captains in such quick succession. Only shinigami on Yamamoto’s level can achieve something like that.”
“I had the element of surprise and speed. It is child’s play for Harukaze Kōtaikō to remove air resistance and thus improve my speed drastically,” Naruto replied. “And do not bother trying to distract me. Harukaze Kōtaikō controls all the air in her field of reiatsu, which means I can detect every bit of displacement of air around me. Your visible form is insubstantial, while your true body is currently walking towards me without a care in the world. You may control all five senses, but you cannot control my Bankai‘s ability.”
Seeing no point in hiding anymore, Aizen released his illusion, sheathing his zanpakutō. “Such power…the most powerful wind-based zanpakutō in Soul Society lives up to its reputation indeed. I was right to deem you a danger to my plans, although I should have acted much earlier.”
“Are you sure it is the right time to sheath your zanpakutō, Aizen?” Naruto questioned.
“Don’t worry,” Aizen smirked. “You cannot kill me anyway.”
“Famous last words,” a purple-haired woman appeared out of nowhere, pressing her palm against Aizen’s sword pommel, preventing him from drawing his zanpakutō. “It’s over, Aizen.”
“Move an inch, and I’ll cut your throat out,” came the dangerous voice of Soifon from behind the brunette, her zanpakutō placed across Aizen’s exposed neck.
Naruto swung his blade down, returning his zanpakutō to its sealed state. He shunpo-ed over to his barrier, dissipating it, and starting emergency treatment, as more of the Gotei 13 arrived. Kūkaku also arrived on Jidanbō, the massive gate guardian blowing away his other traitorous gate guardians. Yet, in spite of everything, Aizen smiled. Yoruichi’s eyes widened. “Soifon! Get away from him!”
The Second Division captain did so, just as a yellow, square beam of light slammed into the ground where Aizen, Gin and Tōsen were. The ground Aizen stood upon (and Gin and Tōsen had collapsed upon) broke off, and started rising. Naruto ignored Aizen as he declared his intentions, focusing on his patients. Then, the Fourth Division arrived, Iemura directing various teams to conduct emergency treatment on the injured parties. Naruto watched as Byakuya finally revealed the truth to a teary Rukia, before casting a glance towards Yoruichi, who winked coyly at him.
She took off into the forest undetected; she wasn’t the former corps commander of the Onmitsukidō for nothing. Naruto left in the same direction, the frenzy of activity that was the Sōkyoku hill allowing him to slip away unnoticed.
“You made captain,” Yoruichi commented.
“Right after you left,” Naruto shrugged.
They were once more seated by the edge of their lake, the pale moon reflected in its calm waters. Yoruichi leaned her head on Naruto’s shoulder. “You wrote a book.”
“It’s nothing much,” the blond murmured, wrapping his arm around Yoruichi’s waist.
“I made you wait for me,” Yoruichi mumbled.
“You did,” Naruto murmured. “But you’re worth every second I’ve waited.”
The couple turned to look at each other. Gold met azure, and slowly, they inched towards one another. Their lips met softly, chastely. But the aching need both felt couldn’t be ignored, as their kiss grew deeper, frenzied, and sloppy. Their passion was curtailed by the need for air, as they finally broke apart, a thin trail of saliva linking their puffy lips. Naruto smiled despite everything that happened not an hour previously; at that moment, only Yoruichi existed.
“I never told you outright, did I?” Naruto asked the Shihōin rhetorically.
“Neither did I,” the woman added.
“I love you.”
“I love you too.”
They kissed again.
“I see you’ve taken off your helmet, Sajin-kun,” Naruto noted, as he walked into his office. “I told you no one will view you badly if you did, didn’t I?”
“Hai, Unohana-taichō,” Komamura nodded.
“Yamamoto-sōtaichō was asking for nominations for captaincy. I’ve nominated you for my position,” Naruto informed the anthropomorph, who stood up in astonishment. “Taichō!”
“Don’t worry, I have full confidence in you,” Naruto said. “If I was ever absent, you’ve always run the division admirably.”
“But taichō, where will you go?” Komamura asked, befuddled.
“To take over the Fifth as an interim captain,” Naruto answered softly.
“The Fifth?” Komamura echoed.
“Hai. Aizen has betrayed Soul Society, and Hinamori-chan is still bedridden, while mentally, she’s also not in the right state to run the division,” Naruto shrugged. “Yamamoto thought that it will be good if an established captain went in to help run things, and when the war is over, take over permanently. And since this leaves my position open, I nominated you.”
“But it is a great responsibility, one I’m not sure I can take up,” Komamura said humbly.
“Great leaders are not ones that were chosen at birth; they are those who had leadership thrust upon them, but grew into their roles,” Naruto smiled kindly. “Have some faith in my choice, will you? The captain’s proficiency test is tomorrow, at the First Division headquarters at ten in the morning.”
“Arigato gozaimasu, Unohana-taichō!”
“I’ve showed you my zanpakutō spirit before,” Yoruichi stated. “How come you’ve never showed me yours? Plus, you always try to change the subject.”
Naruto laughed weakly, his eyes darting about to find a convenient exit. “Er….”
“I demand you to show me your zanpakutō spirit!” Yoruichi pouted. “It’s not fair I don’t get to know about your zanpakutō, but you know almost everything about mine!”
Finding no way our of this (and knowing Yoruichi would hunt him down if he ran), he sighed. “Well, I’ve never showed you Harukaze because you’ll get jealous. She’s…a bit clingy, if you get my drift.”
Yoruichi raised an elegant eyebrow. Naruto sighed once more. “I’ll show you.”
Prodding his zanpakutō with his reiatsu, he pushed the spirit of his sword out. His pale blue reiatsu took the figure of a shapely female, and gained colour quickly. Harukaze was a white-haired woman, her long tresses reaching her lower back. Her aquamarine eyes were shining with joy as the yukata-clad zanpakutō spirit launched herself at Naruto, cuddling against the taller blond. Her white yukata was very loosely worn, and was on the verge of slipping off her shoulders.
“Naruto-sama~” Harukaze squealed. “You brought me out to play~”
She looked around, her eyes widening. “Naruto-sama, this place looks like my home~”
Under both Yoruichi and Harukaze’s questioning glance, Naruto shrugged. “It’s the place where we first met, Yoru-hime. Where we spent all our wonderful moments together. Of course it’s reflected in my mindscape.”
“WAH!” Harukaze burst into tears. “You call her Yoru-hime, but you call me plain old Harukaze! You’re a bad, bad master, Naruto-sama!”
As Harukaze wailed, Naruto smiled feebly at Yoruichi, who was already seeing red, what with Naruto’s arm sandwiched between Harukaze’s heavy breasts. “Yoru-hime…”
Yoruichi took a deep breath. Why am I getting jealous over a damn zanpakutō spirit?! Oh great, this stupid jerk really hooked his claws into me. Calm down, Yoruichi, calm down. “Can you…return your zanpakutō to where it belongs?”
Naruto nodded frantically, and while Harukaze protested heavily, she was turned into a cloud of pale blue reiatsu, and absorbed by Naruto’s blade. Naruto looked up, and was pleasantly surprised when Yoruichi slammed her lips against his. He wrapped his arms around her, and deepened the kiss. Breaking the lip lock, Naruto grinned stupidly at his dark-skinned lover. “I don’t do things without a reason, Yoru-hime. That was why I didn’t want you to see Harukaze.”
“Shut up, and kiss me,” the woman demanded.
“Oh wow!” Ukitake remarked, as he spotted Naruto. “That’s a very nice scarf you have there!”
“Ah, Yoru-hime gave it to me,” Naruto blushed faintly, as he tugged at the orange scarf wrapped loosely around his neck, the two ends trailing behind him. He looked at his black, fingerless gloves which stretched to his forearm. “I think it goes well with my gloves. And shihakushō. Although it looks like I’m copying Byakuya-kun.”
“It does seem that way,” Ukitake nodded. “Have you gotten your new haori yet?”
“Hai,” Naruto nodded, tugging at his sleeved haori. “But it feels weird, wearing the Fifth Division symbol on my haori. Every time I see Sajin-kun around with my haori, I feel like I’ve become an old man.”
“Ah, you still look as young as ever,” Ukitake remarked. “Why, I just saw a group of young female shinigami looking for you! Should I-”
“NEVER!” Naruto hissed, covering Ukitake’s mouth with his hand. “Look, don’t ever direct those crazy fangirls at me, you understand? They are menaces of a higher order, and don’t even fear my mother’s anger.”
Ukitake’s eyes widened at Naruto’s mention of his mother. “You mean…they aren’t scared of Unohana-taichō? Good heavens, that is scary.”
“Precisely,” Naruto mumbled, before his azure eyes caught sight of movement around the corner. “Oh shit. Talk to you next time, Ukitake-taichō. I spotted a scout. And I think they’re going to bring in the heavy cavalry this time.”
“What?” Ukitake blinked, as Naruto disappeared in a lightning-fast shunpo.
Soon, the poor captain was trampled by a horde of women as they chased Naruto.
“Oh, you’re the Seventh Division captain, right?” Kurosaki Ichigo asked, as the two met. Orihime was tagging along, but felt slightly out of place as the two spoke. “Unohana Naruto, right?”
“Yea, but Sajin-kun took over my post,” Naruto smiled. “I’m taking over Aizen’s post for now.”
“That’s…the Fifth Division,” Ichigo recalled. “Wow, you guys sure have some confusing hierarchy. You’re related to Unohana-taichō of the Fourth Division, huh?”
“She’s my adopted mother,” Naruto replied. “She found me on a hill in Rukongai.”
“Oh, I see,” Ichigo nodded, before remembering something. “Right, I was about to ask you, Naruto. Do you know where Rukia went?”
“I believe she went over to the Shiba home,” Naruto tapped his chin in thought.
“Arigato, Naruto!” Ichigo thanked the blond. “C’mon, let’s go, Inoue!”
“Huh? Oh, sayonara Unohana-san!” the bubbly girl said. “Wait up, Kurosaki-kun!”
Kurosaki? Naruto thought, as he watched the orange-haired shinigami dash off in search of Rukia. As in Kurosaki Isshin, former captain of the Tenth Division, Kurosaki? Is he the child of Isshin and that girl in the human world he fell in love in?
“I’ll ask next time,” Naruto made a mental note.
“Yoru-hime…must you go?” Naruto questioned. Yoruichi was seated between Naruto’s legs as they watched the sunset on the roof of the Fifth Division headquarters.
“I’ll be going back and forth,” Yoruichi murmured, leaning her head against Naruto’s chest. “So you can see me in Seireitei once in a while.”
Naruto tightened his arms around Yoruichi’s waist, burying his face in her long purple hair. “I don’t want you to go.”
“I don’t want to go either,” Yoruichi smiled, placing her slim hands above Naruto’s. “But it’s for Soul Society and Karakura Town. I’m the speediest, most efficient information courier Soul Society has right now. Correspondence between Yamamoto-sōtaichō and Kisuke is imperative if we want to coordinate plans.”
“I get it, I get it,” Naruto mumbled, kissing the woman’s neck. “Doesn’t mean I have to like it though.”
Yoruichi giggled, tilting her head to allow Naruto better access to her neck. “You’re like a child at times, Naruto-kun.”
“I picked it up from you,” the blond captain responded, before returning to his ministrations.
“Hey, we shouldn’t be doing this here, where everyone can see,” Yoruichi moaned, although she wouldn’t be too bothered if the whole world saw her doing the horizontal tango with Naruto at that moment.
“Let’s take this somewhere private then,” Naruto whispered lasciviously, sending tingles shooting up her spine.
“Ne, ne, Nana,” Yachiru sounded subdued.
Ise Nanao looked up from her various documents, wary of any threat. Yachiru never sounded subdued before; it was an anomaly that required much caution. “Hai?”
“I saw Boobies and Ramen naked and doing something weird,” Yachiru whispered conspiratorially. “Do you know what they were doing? Is it fun? ‘Cause Boobies was making a lotta noises like she was in pain, but she was asking Ramen not to stop.”
Boobies…she’s referring to Shihōin Yoruichi, Nanao recalled from that disastrous time they tried to get pictures of famous shinigami. As for Ramen…that’s Unohana Naruto-taichō. Wait, naked? Were they…oh my.
Nanao blushed crimson. “I-It’s none of our business, president! And you mustn’t peek on them anymore, especially when they are…doing that weird thing! And don’t tell anyone else about it, understand? It’s a very private thing!”
Yachiru tapped her chin with her index finger, deep in thought. “But I already asked Re-chan and Shun-shun. Re-chan smiled, and said she will tell me next time. Shun-shun laughed, and told me to tell you he wanted to do the same to Nana.”
“What?!” Nanao exclaimed, her anger growing. “I’ll kill that lecherous idiot!”
As the Eighth Division lieutenant stomped off, Yachiru pouted childishly. “Why won’t anyone tell me what Boobies and Ramen were doing?”
“Now, Soifon, there’s no need to be hasty about this,” Naruto said, squeaking as he shunpo-ed away from a massive blast of kidō. “Wow, your kidō improved by quite a bit.”
“All the better to kill you with!” Soifon snarled, Suzumebachi already released.
“Look, I love Yoru-hime!” Naruto pleaded his case, but was cut short when Soifon attempted to pierce his brain with her Shikai.
Soifon glared at the blond captain. Lesser men than Naruto would have spontaneously combusted. “That doesn’t excuse you from defiling Yoruichi-sama’s beautiful body!”
“I know you love Yoru-hime as much as I do-” Naruto started, but had to dodge another ball of flames. “-more than I do, but it’s different!”
“It doesn’t matter,” Soifon growled. “You’ve invoked my wrath, and I cannot let you go this time. Yamamoto-sōtaichō will just have to make do with two less captains. Bankai!”
Naruto’s eyes widened as Soifon used Bankai. “You’ll kill yourself at this range!”
Soifon’s grin was savage, vicious, and most of all, it was grimly happy. “As long as I can kill you. Jakuhō Raikōben.”
The blond captain groaned, as he shunpo-ed behind Soifon. With her bulky Bankai, she couldn’t move in time, as Naruto knocked her out by hitting a few pressure points. As her Bankai dissolved and she fell unconscious, Naruto sighed. If I never learnt those incapacitation pressure points…now, how did she find out about Yoru-hime and I?
Kira watched in fear as Allon made its way towards his barrier. As he tried not to panic while healing Rangiku, he found a comforting hand on his shoulder. Snapping his head back, he saw a friendly smile etched on Naruto’s face. “Kira-kun. It’s fine. Yamamoto-sōtaichō will take care of that. Meanwhile, let me heal Matsumoto-chan. I’ve already healed Hinamori-chan, so please get Hisagi-kun and Iba-kun into this barrier.”
Kira nodded dumbly, disappearing in a shunpo to collect the two fallen lieutenants. Naruto focused his efforts on Rangiku, who had her entire right abdomen torn out of her. He smiled kindly at the semi-conscious woman. “Hey, don’t worry. I’m going to heal you, and then you can go back to teasing Hitsugaya-kun.”
Rangiku managed a slight smile, as the chunk she lost grew back quickly. Internal organs were formed first; then came the blood vessels, and then her flesh, muscles and skin. By the time Kira got back, Rangiku’s condition was already stabilised, and she was breathing normally once more. Kira marvelled at Naruto’s skill as he gently laid an injured Hisagi and Iba down. I was gone for only a moment, yet he managed to completely stabilise Rangiku-san’s condition despite her having lost her liver and kidney!
“Iba-kun’s injuries are slight,” Naruto observed. “I will handle Hisagi-kun first. Meanwhile, keep this barrier up.”
Naruto speedily healed up Hisagi, clucking his tongue at the lieutenant. “How reckless, Hisagi-kun. You really should have checked if that monster was really out before jumping so close to it.”
“G-Gomen, Unohana-taichō,” Hisagi muttered weakly.
“Ah, it is a mere mistake,” Naruto grinned. “You’re alive, are you not? Learn from your mistakes, and don’t repeat them. Oh my, your internal organs are a mess.”
As Hisagi listened to Naruto’s ramblings as he worked, he wondered if he would feel better about the treatment if the man wasn’t mumbling about his various organs with a casual air.
“Make sure they don’t try to rejoin the battle,” Naruto informed Kira, who nodded. “They are badly injured, and joining battle now will only make it harder for the other fighters to fight.”
As he passed through the kidō barrier, Naruto smiled comfortingly. “Don’t worry, Kira-kun. Everything will turn out alright.”
Casting a powerful kidō barrier in addition to Kira’s barrier, Naruto hummed as he observed the battles around him. “Looks like Sajin-kun might need help.”
“Los Nueve Aspectos,” Tōsen uttered, as his hands drew circles in the air.
A massive concussive blast of sound burst forth, aimed at the centre of Komamura’s massive Kokujō Tengen Myō’ō. Just before it collided with the giant Bankai, it was dissipated. Surprised, Komamura looked up, and spotted Naruto standing in mid air, directly in front of Kokujō Tengen Myō’ō. “Unohana-taichō!”
“Looks like you’re in a bit of a bind, Sajin-kun,” Naruto remarked airily. “Take a rest, Sajin-kun. I’ll handle Tōsen. And do seal up your zanpakutō. Your Bankai is too large a target…and I don’t want to accidentally harm you.”
Komamura hesitated, but nodded eventually as he sheathed his zanpakutō, his Bankai disappearing bit by bit. I’m not strong enough, nor do I have the will to kill you, Tōsen. In the end, I cannot kill you. But now that Unohana-taichō has stepped in, it is inevitable that you will die.
Tōsen snarled at the new arrival. “Unohana Naruto…you cut off my arm the last time we met. This time, you will be the one losing your arm!”
“You can try,” the blond shrugged. “But don’t use any sound-based attacks please. My zanpakutō controls the air around us; sound uses air as a medium. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.”
“If sound doesn’t work,” Tōsen roared, flying at great speeds towards Naruto. “Then I will use my hands!”
Tōsen stabbed Naruto in the chest triumphantly, laughing as he did so. Until what he stabbed dissipated into nothing. Tōsen swivelled around, only to see Naruto’s blade held up high in the air, primed to slash him. Naruto’s eyes were glacial as he intoned his attack. “Kazekiri.”
Slashing down, two large crescent blasts of wind erupted from the twin tips of Harukaze, easily severing Tōsen’s left wing, the horn that had sprouted from his back, and an arm. The Hollow-shinigami hybrid howled in pain, anger and humiliation at losing his appendages to Naruto once more, launching another blast of sound at the blond. Spinning Harukaze in a lazy arc, Naruto easily disrupted the attack. “I told you, sound-based attacks don’t work against me.”
“DIE!” Tōsen howled.
Two Ceros charged up in front of his eyes. But before he could fire them, Tōsen found two blades stabbed his furry neck. Naruto stood on his left, his zanpakutō held loosely in his right hand in a reverse grip. “You truly have fallen far. It’s such a shame Sajin-kun lost a friend. Goodness knows he needs more friends.”
“How…” Tōsen gurgled, blood pooling in his mouth.
“If you were the old, blind self, you would have sensed my approach at the very least. I am using only Shikai after all. But you have lost yourself in this power,” Naruto intoned. “And now, all you are is a monstrosity to be eliminated. Sayonara, Tōsen, and may your soul find peace. Kazekiri.”
Tōsen’s body was shredded to pieces by the attack, and he fell to the ground with a loud thump, unmoving. Naruto stared down at the broken body coldly, before sealing his zanpakutō. “And so the cricket sings its last song.”
“Are you alright, Ukitake-taichō?” Naruto asked concernedly, as he knelt beside the recently healed man.
The pale captain nodded, coughing lightly. “Hai. That Arrancar took me by surprise. Where is he now?”
“Kensei is fighting the Hollow. The rest of the captains are fighting Aizen, although I don’t think it will change anything,” Naruto said bitterly. “Aizen is too strong…we’ll be slaughtered if we approach the battle now. And I believe he’s already using Kyōka Suigetsu. He took out his Espada that way after all.”
“We should render as much help as we can to Ichigo!” Ukitake pointed out.
“By staying alive for now, and discover a way to give Ichigo the opening he needs,” Naruto replied. “Going now, we won’t be able to do much. Not even Yamamoto-sōtaichō can fight Aizen properly once Kyōka Suigetsu is in effect.”
Suddenly, Naruto cursed, turning to the mid air battle. “My barrier just got penetrated by a powerful reiatsu. Aizen’s, no doubt. He’s going for…shit, he’s going for Hinamori!”