Chapter 2: Shinigami

He didn’t know why he signed up to become a shinigami. Maybe it was his zanpakutō demanding him to do so. Maybe it was his inner desire to grow stronger. Maybe he felt guilty over Shirayuki’s death, and wished he tried harder to convince her. He never understood his own motivation to train, or his heart to live. But he was alive and training, shooting through the Shinōreijutsuin like a comet through the sky. At least, that was the expression most people used to describe his progress in the Academy. Graduating in the span of just a year meant he was some sort of prodigy, though he knew that he had some advantages over other students.

His zanpakutō was somewhat pleased with his steady progress, but became an increasingly harsh taskmaster with every step forwards he took. His dedication to work and training led him to become somewhat of a recluse. He did have friends of course; he graduated with Hirako Shinji, and the duo often went to Rukongai to drink. Shinji was critical about his drunken state though, frequently telling his fellow blond to lighten up, or he’ll remain a boring drunk and there’ll be no entertainment. Naruto privately disagreed; Shinji was always trying to hook up with girls at the bar, and never paid attention to Naruto when they went drinking.

The Second Division snapped him up just before he graduated. Having scored full marks in hohō and hakuda classes, he was a perfect fit in the Second, where they possessed an emphasis on those two arts due to the highly connected nature with the Onmitsukidō. Sure, they weren’t completely linked yet, but Naruto had no doubts the whispers about the talented Shihōin heiress were more fact than rumour, and she would unite the two organizations together like Shihōins before her.

Naruto was not one for gossip, so he ignored most of the rumours surrounding Shihōin Yoruichi, and knuckled down. Being a seated officer wasn’t particularly difficult, and when his Shikai was unlocked, he was bumped up the ranks again. Merit-based promotions often left senior shinigami angered and frustrated, but it was a consequence of their complacency. Naruto rather wished he were not eyeballed all the time though; occupying a higher rank meant more responsibilities, more duties, and greater punishments for failure. Thanks to his ‘prodigy’ label from back in the Academy, he was often the subject of awestruck gazes from underlings, and scrutinizing stares from superiors. He disliked the attention.

But there was one form of attention he didn’t know whether to appreciate or not. He noticed many female shinigami giving him second glances every time he walked by. He noted that female shinigami in the division all seemed to love working with him, despite his rather aloof demeanour. He wasn’t stupid; he knew it was admiration (sometimes adoration). But having experienced the loss of Shirayuki, he just wasn’t sure how to approach the issue. Shinji often reprimanded him for hurting the feelings of girls, before attempting to flirt with another girl he spotted. Naruto blatantly ignored his advice.

In five years, he went from top student graduate of the Shinōreijutsuin to a seventh seated officer in the Second Division. People in the Division were already touting him for captain. Hence, he couldn’t be more grateful when Shihōin Yoruichi burst onto the scene, grabbed the limelight and left everyone star-struck. It allowed him to revel in the anonymity of seventh seat, quietly going about his business.

He still didn’t know what exactly possessed Yoruichi to pounce on him that day.

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It was a very normal day for Naruto. He was cooped up in the office, settling paperwork that his fellow gung-ho officers abandoned in favour of going Hollow hunting. Apparently, there was a large congregation of the monsters in Rukongai for no apparent reason, and all the officers were dying to get some action. So they relegated the paperwork to the newbie, and went gallivanting into Rukongai. Naruto didn’t mind, really; he could easily find Eleventh Division members to sharpen his skills against, and Bankai training was progressing nicely. Plus, he had his whole life ahead of him. If there was one thing his short relationship with Shirayuki taught him, it was to look forward in life no matter what.

It didn’t mean he had to look forward to life. As the dull bore of scribbling on papers settled upon Naruto, he found himself slowly drifting away into sleep. A quick nap, the blond conceded, settling his brush down. It was a good thing he did too, for the next moment, his head was slammed into the table rather painfully. Wincing, he aimed an elbow at whoever his assaulter was. The person dodged swiftly, reappearing on his table. Naruto shifted his gaze from long slender legs to the golden eyes the woman possessed. From the purple hair to the tanned skin, she looked a lot like the famous Shihōin Yoruichi.

“Hey buddy, are you too busy gawking at my beauty, or are you gonna give chase?” Yoruichi crossed her arms beneath her ample chest.

Naruto snorted, rubbing his sore forehead. “I have no interest in you, Shihōin-sama, and seeking petty revenge is pointless when it’s obvious all you want is attention. Would you please get off my table? The Division is backlogged horribly, and I’m only one man.”

The purple-haired woman pouted childishly, hopping off the table and into Naruto’s lap. She traced a lazy circle on his chest with her finger, a seductive smile on her lips. “Are you sure you have no interest? It’s such a pity, because I’m interested…”

“Again with the games,” Naruto groaned, placing a firm hand on her back and pushing her off his lap. “Please Shihōin-sama, if you don’t want to work, at least don’t disturb me working.”

The woman gaped openly as Naruto returned to his work, wide awake after his face had a painful union with his table. It’s the first time someone actually rejected me, she thought, a wide grin spreading across her face. Pulling a chair from the table beside Naruto’s, she sat in the chair backwards, leaning her arms on the edge of the backrest. “Whatcha doing then?”

“Paperwork,” he replied in irritation. “A bunch of officers went Hollow hunting, and no doubt a round of drinks after that. Which leaves the newbie to do up the work for the day.”

“Newbie?” Yoruichi echoed. “What’s your rank?”

“Seventh seat,” Naruto muttered distractedly. “What? Who put in an requisition form for candy, of all things?”

“A newbie seventh seat?” Yoruichi cradled her cheek in her palm. “Never heard of ya. So, what’s your name?”

“Uzumaki Naruto,” the blond shinigami answered, before sighing. “Shihōin-sama, what exactly is the purpose of you staying here? I’m going to be doing paperwork into the night, whereas you have the freedom of leaving the office and finding other people to pester.”

Yoruichi shrugged, a grin on her pretty features. “Well, you have got to be the first person to reject me point blank! My womanly charms failed to work on you, and I intend to find out why!”

“Or it could be that you’ve scoured the entire Second Division barracks, and found no one to play with. So you reluctantly headed for the stuffiest place in the barracks, the office, hoping to find some guy to bully into playing tag with you,” Naruto inferred. “So, with me being your only source of amusement, you decide to stay.”

“You are seriously a stick in the mud,” the woman pouted, before smirking. “I bet you don’t even have friends, burying yourself in work like that.”

“I do have a friend or two, but not many,” the seventh seat readily admitted. “I’m good friends with Hirako Shinji and drinking buddies with Aikawa Love and a bunch of other guys.”

Yoruichi snickered playfully. “You know, at this rate, you’ll never find a girl to settle down with.”

Naruto stiffened, as Yoruichi’s finely tuned senses detected a sudden spike in reiatsu. The atmosphere immediately got colder. Yoruichi bit her lip; it seemed like a touchy subject with the cerulean-eyed man. “Hey, erm…Naruto, right? Gomen, I was a bit out of line there.”

“Iie, you didn’t know,” Naruto shook his head, the tension in the air slowly fading. “It was a valid conclusion to draw in any case.”

“Let me make it up to you then!” she said brightly, leaping off her seat and dragging Naruto off his. “C’mon, let’s head to Rukongai for a drink! Kisuke is always buried in his experiments, so I’m missing a regular drinking buddy. Hey! You can be my regular drinking buddy!”

“Shihōin-sama…” Naruto trailed off, his voice laced with both amusement and exasperation. “You are causing an even greater backlog of work for later, you realise?”

“Course I do!” the golden-eyed woman grinned. “But who cares! And stop calling me Shihōin-sama! It’s such a stuffy name! Call me Yoruichi!”

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Naruto groaned as he was dragged into the bar he frequented with Shinji. As Yoruichi burst through the door to the establishment, all eyes zeroed in on the flamboyant woman. She flashed them a cheesy grin, before tugging Naruto along by the arm. Various shinigami in the bar noted the interaction, filing it away as prime gossip material. Naruto then spotted Shinji and Love. He let out another groan, which alerted the two men to Naruto’s presence. Shinji had a knowing smirk on his face as his eyes flickered between Naruto and Yoruichi.

“I recall advising ya to get laid,” Shinji drawled, as he sauntered over. “But I didn’t expect ya to pick up the princess of the Shihōin clan.”

“Yoruichi-hime was the one to drag me here,” Naruto replied frostily. “Don’t insinuate stuff if you can’t back it up with force.”

“Woah, someone’s testy today!” Love exclaimed, clapping Naruto on the back, as Yoruichi ordered a round of drinks for the four shinigami. Naruto glared at the taller man in response. Yoruichi laughed, patting Naruto on the shoulder friendlily. “He’s my newest drinking buddy!”

“Really?” Shinji chuckled. “Is that what people call it these days? Drinking buddies?”

“Stow it, Hirako, before I thrash your ass all over Seireitei,” Naruto threatened, before a maleficent smirk curled his lips. “You remember that incident?”

Shinji blanched, shuddering in fear. “Yer horribly vindictive, Naruto. Love, remind me to never get on blondie’s bad side ever again.”

“What’s that incident?” Yoruichi bounced in her seat excitedly. “I wanna know! Tell me, Naruto! Onegai~~”

Love grinned widely. “I doubt Shinji or Naruto wanna tell you. That incident was when Naruto framed Shinji as a peeping tom, peeking on Unohana-taichō of all people. Shinji was never the same…Unohana-taichō did heal him up afterwards when she found out it was a set up, but I think he was scarred for life.”

“Don’t remind me,” Shinji growled, downing his beer in one gulp, attempting to wash away torrid memories of rubber chickens, ink and toothpicks. Shinji elbowed Yoruichi, seating beside him, softly. “Hey. How did ya get to know our blond loner here?”

“Well, I just smashed his face into his table, asked a sensitive question, and dragged him out here as an apology!” Yoruichi replied cheerfully. “I’m also trying to take the opportunity to find out if he’s now gay, since he coldly turned me away when I offered him my body…”

Shinji and Love spat their drinks out, as Naruto swallowed all of his in one mouthful. “Stop spreading lies, Yoruichi-hime. This is a bar frequented by loads of shinigami, and the rumour mills will go crazy if people overhear what you just said.”

“What? That the Second Division’s Uzumaki Naruto is gay? Or that Shihōin Yoruichi has something for Uzumaki Naruto?” Yoruichi teased, sidling up to the blond.

“For the record, I was in a relationship with a woman back when I was in Rukongai,” Naruto retorted the homosexual claim. “She died due to…extenuating circumstances. You can make fun of me all you want, but leave the relationship stuff alone.”

“What a mood killer,” Shinji grunted. Naruto rolled his eyes. “Oh, grow up, Hirako. How about you go pick up a girl instead? I see one at your three o’ clock.”

Shinji smirked, as he grabbed his drink. “Heh, ye got pretty decent taste, Uzumaki. Sorry I ever doubted yer sexuality.”

Naruto swore loudly.

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“Hey, did you hear? Uzumaki-san might be gay!”

“Hehe…if he were, then I might want to try and see if I can turn a gay man straight…”

The two female shinigami jumped as a man cleared his throat behind them, loudly. Naruto stood behind them, his face full of annoyance. Then, a devious idea sprung to his mind. Yoruichi-hime deserves it, for causing so much trouble to me. “Actually, I’m involved with Yoruichi-hime. She is very much a woman…so I think my sexuality isn’t in question.”

Naruto left the two shinigami to come to their own conclusions as to what involve meant. As the two female shinigami scurried away, no doubt to spread the ‘news’ that Yoruichi had a certain something with Uzumaki Naruto, said blond strolled to his office, his mood considerably better. Taking a seat at his desk, he noticed a black cat snoozing on his desk. He sighed exasperatedly, rubbing his temple in an attempt to ease the frustration. “Yoruichi-hime…please get off my table.”

The cat opened her yellow slit eyes, yawning lazily. She stretched her front feet, before slumping down on his desk again. A deep male voice addressed Naruto. “How did you even know who I am? And if I weren’t in cat form now, I bet you would be drooling over my hot, naked body.”

“You’re the only person who will conceivably irritate me in such a manner. Besides, there are no strays around as far as I’m concerned. Cats do not usually sleep on the tables of seated officers either, so it was pretty clear who you are,” Naruto rolled his eyes. The officer next to him, an eighth seat, boggled as Naruto conversed with a cat, of all things. Naruto cast a cursory glance at the gaping man, before shaking his head. “It’s not a real cat. Cats don’t actually talk…you know what? For the sake of your sanity, I recommend you get back to work.”

The man nodded dumbly, before mechanically returning to the paperwork that never seemed to end. Naruto returned his focus to Yoruichi, who leapt into his lap and snuggled against his warm body. The azure-eyed man leaned back into his seat, sighing heavily. “Aren’t you a seated officer too? Like, a ninth seat or something? Don’t you ever have work to do?”

The black-furred cat peered up at the irked blond man. “Meh. It’s only in name. I’m a full time Onmitsukidō member. Even if there’s work, I just get one of my colleagues to cover for me. They don’t mind.”

“You mean they think doing so will gain favour in your eyes,” Naruto pointed out. “Ugh, can’t you be a bit more professional? You’re supposed to be the future captain of the Second Division. People are going to look up to you as a role model. And here you are, lazing about in my lap.”

Yoruichi snorted, pointing a furry paw at the seventh seat’s face. “I should say the same! Uzumaki Naruto, prodigy who graduated from the Shinōreijutsuin in one year, and future captain of the Second until I,” she emphasized proudly. “Came along. You should stop being such a stiff. People have lives you know. Imagine, a stiff like you leading the Division! Everyone’s gonna die of boredom.”

“Don’t you have anyone else to bother so early this morning?” Naruto asked, his good mood from earlier evaporating like a puddle in the hot summer sun. “Like your friend Urahara?”

“Kisuke?” Yoruichi said incredulously. “He’s a geek. I’m surrounded by stiffs, I tell ya!”

“Look harder,” Naruto advised sarcastically. “I’m sure you’ll find a shinigami who hates work, and is willing to play tag with you every day, whenever you want.”

“Humph,” she huffed, slinking around his neck and settling on his shoulders. “I have a new goal in life besides playing tag. That can come later, once I accomplished my goal.”

“And what is that?” Naruto rolled his eyes.

“Seducing you,” the cat replied. Sure, it was Yoruichi speaking, but it was a deep male voice (of a cat) conveying the message, and with a deadpan tone, it made for really awkward stares from all around the office. Naruto slapped his forehead, wishing he could make Yoruichi spontaneously combust and turn to ashes at that moment. “You are doing this just so I would leave the office and play with you, right?”

“No wonder people call you a prodigy!” Yoruichi praised dryly. “So, how about it?”

“I can’t believe I’m about to do this.”

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“You’re the fourth person to ever see this place,” Yoruichi gestured proudly. “Cool, eh? Kisuke is pretty crazy when it comes to doing sneaky stuff like this.”

“Wonderful,” Naruto intoned wryly. “Right underneath the Sōkyoku hill, of all places. Is this where you train?”

‘Yep! Me, Tessai and Kisuke trained here as kids,” Yoruichi grinned. “Now that you’re here, we’re going to train too!”

“Eh? I thought you wanted to play tag,” Naruto knitted his eyebrows together. Then, he shrugged, settling into a simple hakuda stance. Belatedly, he realized she was still in her cat form. Sighing, he returned to a relaxed posture, turning around. “Go ahead. I’m not going to look.”

He could feel the rise in reiatsu as Yoruichi shifted to her real body. As he wondered if she had any clothes in the massive cavern to wear, he found a pair of slim, tanned arms draped over his shoulders. A pair of soft breasts pressed themselves into his back, as Yoruichi raised her head to give his earlobe a sultry lick. “Hey handsome. How about we do some…warm-up exercises, hmm?”

Naruto sighed softly. “Look, even if you can ignore all the Shihōin protocol I’m sure your clan has, I can’t forget the one I loved. If this is a game to you, then it’s not very amusing to me. Yes, you are a highly attractive woman. I have to admit that. But as much as any man and some women might want you, I don’t. Not like this. Not when I can’t stop myself from grieving for my aijin. Not when you are the heiress of the Shihōin clan. Not when we’ve only known each other for a few days.”

The arms slipped off of him, as he felt Yoruichi retreat. He heard the rustle of cloth as he maintained his position. “Ya know, you are the first person I’ve met that didn’t worship the ground I walked on. Kisuke and Tessai were childhood friends, so they don’t count. You are also the first man not to succumb to my teasing…you really loved her, didn’t you?”

“Hai, I do,” he whispered. “She would want me to move on, but I can’t. Not so soon.”

“Heh, you do know that if stuff like that leaks out into the gossip mills, girls will be flocking to you in droves right?” Yoruichi smirked. “I mean, you are the archetypal silent hero, broken heart and all. Plus, you respect women. That’s like, a hundred points in any girl’s book.”

“And so far, only you know about it,” Naruto retorted. “So unless you decide to make a mess of my life, that situation just isn’t going to happen.”

“Nah, I’m not that cruel,” she grinned. “Besides, I’m even more interested in you now. Why should I let those girls fawn over you when I should be the one warming your bed?”

Naruto turned around to face the purple-haired woman, noting that she was did not don the usual shinigami garb or the Onmitsukidō Keigun uniform. Instead, she had a black form fitting undershirt that covered up to her neck, a white and very short kosode that was split at the sides from waist down. Held together by a white obi and a black ribbon, with black jika-tabi that blended in seamlessly with her black stockings, she looked far from the consummate ninja that the Onmitsukidō members seemed to be. The thin cotton band of her underwear was also revealed, making her outfit only borderline acceptable. But hey, Naruto wasn’t gonna complain. The view was good, even if he had no romantic interests in Yoruichi at present moment.

“Enough jokes,” Naruto rolled his eyes. “Are we here to train or not?”

“Okay, okay, I’ll stop teasing you,” Yoruichi grinned, before her voice softened. “But eventually, you’ll have to let go. A soul’s lifespan is far too long for you to brood over past relationships, ya know.”

“I thought women loved the brooding types?” Naruto deadpanned. Yoruichi sniggered in reply. “Dumb ones, yea.”

As they both slipped into hakuda stances, Naruto decided to ask a question that was plaguing him for the past few minutes. “Yoruichi-hime…where did you store those clothes?”

“Wouldn’t you like to know,” she winked, before disappearing from view.

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Yoruichi introduced Naruto to Urahara Kisuke, also a member of the Second Division. The laidback man was enthused to meet a fellow blond, and a new sparring partner. He was also glad that Yoruichi’s negative attention was focused solely on his fellow blond shinigami, and the childhood friend of Yoruichi would no longer have to suffer abuse that the purple-haired woman loved to dish out. Another friend he got to meet was Tsukabishi Tessai, a member of the Kidōshū. A genial man with impeccable manners, he was always breaking up any playful arguments that Yoruichi inevitably got into with either of her blond friends. But being a part of the Kidōshū meant he had little time to spend with them, the secretive corps having their own set of duties to complete.

Shinji expressed little interest in joining their, as he termed it, ‘study group’, so Naruto didn’t bother introducing him. Hence, it was mainly Yoruichi, Urahara and Naruto sparring in the massive cavern beneath the Sōkyoku hill, improving in ability daily. Always eager for good old-fashioned hand to hand combat, Yoruichi seldom joined the two men when they clashed blades. In fact, she started spending more and more time back in her clan grounds, where the Onmitsukidō was based. It was the only place where she could fight people who have focused on hakuda and hohō, instead of being more generalized like most shinigami were.

As his kōhai, Urahara looked up to Naruto. Not just because Naruto graduated earlier, or that he did it in such an astonishingly short amount of time. He was genuinely amazed at Naruto’s dedication to his training (borne, in truth, from Naruto’s zanpakutō being a nuisance if Naruto didn’t train), and sought to emulate his senpai. He also found Naruto’s ability to remain in control of his emotions when confronted with Yoruichi’s playful nature to be rather awe-inspiring; it was the first time he had met a man who could stand the purple-haired woman when she was trying her very best to irritate them. Being a childhood friend of Yoruichi, he was well versed in hakuda and hohō, but he privately preferred kidō. Having Naruto around meant he got to practise them with greater frequency.

But despite Yoruichi’s duties and preferences in sparring partners, that didn’t mean she let up on Naruto’s teasing. While she did train her body and mind intensely, as did Naruto and Urahara, she was also prone to bouts of laziness. Those bouts of laziness often prompted her to lounge around Naruto, poking fun at him endlessly. Naruto could never shake her off, and he gave up trying to do so after she pestered him for an entire week, including sneaking into his bed and flaunting her nude body when he awoke.

And as much as he would like to deny it, Naruto was growing fond of the loud, cheerful woman. While she was not as sweet as Shirayuki, her attitude towards life reminded Naruto strongly of his departed lover. It even led to Naruto almost giving in to one of Yoruichi’s numerous teasing advances. His subconscious actions brought a period of awkwardness between the two; Naruto felt guilty for overlapping his thoughts of Shirayuki with Yoruichi, and the purple-haired woman embarrassed that he responded so aggressively to her jocular actions. After two weeks of avoidance, Yoruichi finally convinced herself that it was a natural reaction for a normal man, and returning to her usual habits.

Speaking of habits, Yoruichi also started a campaign to get Naruto to join the Onmitsukidō. She claimed that he was far better and more experienced at hakuda and hohō than most Onmitsukidō members, and would fit right in with their stoic and rather cold attitudes towards life and everything in it. Once she found out about his zanpakutō‘s abilities, she increased the frequency of her requests, often throwing in promises of a more sexual nature in order to lure him towards the special ops. In order to end the multitude of ridiculous attempts (which included threatening to strip in front of the sōtaichō if he didn’t acquiesce to her demands), he promised that he would enter the corps when she became captain.

It had a nice side-benefit of Yoruichi turning her energies into Bankai training, and leaving Naruto more time alone to do his own training. It was a new form of training that Naruto had devised, as a method to counter the flaws in his shinigami education. The (major) flaw he identified was the reliance on sight. While it was the most convenient sensory ability to use in any combat situation, Naruto felt that over-reliance would lead to his downfall if he encountered enemies that could neutralize his sight in one form or another.

Hence, he found himself sparring with Shinji in the remote forests of North Rukongai, the latter having released his zanpakutō‘s Shikai. Sakanade was a wonderful zanpakutō to fight against for such training; he would be forced to rely on his other senses in order to counter Shinji’s attacks without his well-honed reflexes kicking in. While Shinji himself would love to undergo such training too, Naruto’s zanpakutō was ill suited to conducting exercises of that sort. The only alternative was blindfolding the shinigami.

As the two wound down from their most recent spar, having taken a leave of absence to train, Shinji turned to address his oldest friend. “Hey, Naruto.”

“Hmm?”

“What’s yer relationship with Shihōin?” the toothy shinigami asked casually. They were lying on the thick boughs of a tree, enjoying the cool breeze that the night brought. Naruto sighed, staring intently at the canopy above their heads. “I don’t know, Shinji. I think I’m developing feelings for her, but Shirayuki haunts my dreams every night.”

“Maybe you should give yer former lover a visit,” Shinji grunted, shifting to find a more comfortable position. “We still got a couple of days off. Maybe some time alone will sort ya out. You’ve never taken a real break since ya got into the Shinōreijutsuin, right?”

“Yea,” Naruto conceded. “I guess.”

“Well, not that this training ain’t fun and all, but I gotta go back tomorrow,” Shinji declared. “Gotta babysit Hiyori. That brat’s a real handful, I tell ya.”

“Ne…arigato, Shinji,” Naruto thanked his friend.

“Tch,” Shinji scoffed. “We’re friends.”

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Naruto swallowed as he stepped into the glade for the first time in seven years. The field was untouched, the white daffodils swaying gently in the spring breeze. From the distance, Naruto’s sharp eyes could easily pick out the carving from those years ago. Biting his lip, he pushed away his hesitance. He had been avoiding a return since he made that journey into Seireitei, and it was only that short conversation with Shinji that finally convinced him to give Shirayuki a visit.

Taking his time as he walked through the field of flowers, it took him five minutes to reach the oak. Smiling sadly as he traced the pattern carved upon the tree, he reminisced the short four months spent with Shirayuki. Swiveling, he leaned his back against the tough trunk of the tree, slowly shutting his eyes. He relaxed, allowing the tension in his body to flow away gently. Sliding to a sitting position, Naruto inhaled the fresh spring air. He could almost feel Shirayuki’s presence then, her head pressed gently on his shoulder, her soft hands playing with his.

“Shirayuki-chan…it’s been quite a while,” Naruto whispered into the wind. “Gomen. I should have come earlier.”

A short pause interrupted his monologue, as he gathered his thoughts. “Ne, Shirayuki-chan…Do you find me silly? I was afraid to come back, because I didn’t want to face the fact that you passed away.”

“If you were here, you probably would give me a good wallop to the head,” Naruto chuckled lightly, before he sighed wistfully. “I miss you so much, you know? You were there from the very moment I stepped into Soul Society. Half my mind was thinking, ‘I must really be dead like she says, because I’m walking beside an angel’.”

“You told me to always look forward in life. It’s tough, trying to adapt to life without you,” Naruto murmured. “I still see you every night in my sleep. It’s so hard…but I think I can finally let go. Yoruichi-hime’s an able replacement.”

Naruto smiled mirthfully. “She’s somewhat like you, except louder, more violent, and more…open…with her body. I think you would approve.”

The tree rustled as the wind blew, seemingly a reply to Naruto’s words. “Arigato, Shirayuki-chan. I’m not sure I’ll ever come see you again. Looking forward in life and all. But you’ll be here,” he patted his chest, over his heart. “Forever. Sayonara, Shirayuki-chan. May you find happiness wherever you are.”

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With a lighter heart and a brighter disposition, Naruto found himself humming a tuneless song as he returned to the Second Division barracks. Subordinates (mainly female shinigami) greeted the man, and he returned the greetings, causing more than a few of them to swoon. As he reached the office, he found his desk empty and one Shihōin Yoruichi seated on it languidly. Greeting the few officers that were already there, Naruto strolled to his table. “Yoruichi-hime.”

“Where were you the whole month?” the purple-haired woman pouted cutely. “I missed my Naruto-kun so much~~”

“Sure you do,” Naruto smiled amusedly. “So, what did you do to all my paperwork for the day?”

Yoruichi smirked as Naruto took a seat, placing her covered foot on his thigh. “Well, I was thinking that maybe we could go for some rigorous…training. So I dumped your paperwork to someone else.”

“Training?” Naruto raised an eyebrow, giving the foot stroking his thigh suggestively a short glance. “How about a date?”

Yoruichi stared at her friend, jaw agape in disbelief. Naruto grinned inwardly. You really rubbed off on me, Yoruichi-hime. Pushing her foot aside, he stood, lifting her chin with his finger. Her lips now closer, it made it easier for Naruto to plant a soft, chaste kiss on her lips, stunning the entire office. The blond man winked cheekily at Yoruichi. “I’ll be in my room if you…want…me.”

Her mind shut down. Naruto gave the office a cheery wave, smirking as dumbstruck gazes watched him leave the place languorously. Stupefied, Yoruichi sat on Naruto’s desk for a minute as her mind rebooted. Only when she finally registered the fact that the usually serious and stoic Naruto had just kissed her, she leapt off her perch in a quick shunpo. She found the man walking down a relatively deserted corridor to his room in the barracks. Bowling the blond shinigami over from behind, she found herself subconsciously shaking and strangling him, who had somehow twisted around to face her.

“You…you bastard!” she shouted angrily, vigorously rocking the man back and forth. “You stole my first kiss, you asshole!”

He looked like he was about to reply, but his bulging eyes and bluing face indicated that he was actually attempting to draw breath. Once the hysterical Shihōin princess regained some measure of decorum and noticed that he was, in fact, on the verge of asphyxiation, she let go of his neck roughly. Naruto collapsed on his back, wheezing heavily. Locking her legs on either side of his torso, Yoruichi grabbed the front of his shihakushō, leaning her furious face close. “How…how could you?” she hissed. “My first kiss was supposed to be special!”

“The fact that I was the one who kissed you is special enough,” the blond grinned weakly. Yoruichi-hime, you were the one who corrupted me. You asked for this. “How about you take a kiss from me as payment?”

“What has gotten into you?” she mused aloud, her ire ebbing away. “I’m the one who’s supposed to tease you, damn it! One month gone, and you’re a completely different person!”

“You got into me, Yoruichi-hime,” Naruto whispered, his hand reaching up to cradle her cheek softly. The purple-haired woman’s eyes widened as he pulled her in for another kiss. Her eyelids fluttered shut as she lost the tension in her body, all of it sliding away as she lost herself in the gentle caress of Naruto’s lips. Just as she was about to start ripping clothes off, both of them were interrupted by a soft, awkward cough. Yoruichi leapt off Naruto as if burnt, crimson staining her tanned features. Naruto smirked, flashing a victory sign from his position on the ground at Urahara Kisuke, who stood dumfound in the middle of the corridor.

“Am I…am I interrupting something?” he asked nervously.

Yoruichi disappeared in a shunpo. Naruto sighed, getting back up on his feet and brushing dirt off his kosode. Giving Urahara a quick wave, he chased after Yoruichi. Being in her distraught state, her shunpo was far from her usual standards, and it was a simple matter for Naruto to catch up. Grabbing her trailing wrist, he tugged the woman into an embrace just as they stopped. Leaning his chin on her crown, he whispered into her hair. “I like you, Yoruichi-hime.”

“What about your former lover?” she mumbled, relishing the warmth of Naruto’s hug. He smiled, pressing his lips to her head. “I’ve moved on.”

Yoruichi snuggled into his chest, sighing happily. “You are a big jerk, you know that? Making a lady wait for so long.”

“What lady?”

He earned himself a kick to the shin.

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“What’s with the change in outfit, Yoru-hime?” Naruto asked curiously, as the two leapt around in the vast expanses of Urahara’s secret training space. “Not that I mind…”

She was no longer wearing her white outfit. Instead, she replaced it with a more stealth-worthy black top, which was backless and sleeveless. Changing her black stockings for a pair of looser hakama and a white obi, she seemed much more like a member of the Keigun. Her black ribbon also migrated to her neck. Regular jika-tabi still adorned her feet, and she wore forearm sleeves, but Naruto wished her new state of dress weren’t still so revealing. Being a rather narrow and tight piece of cloth, her top revealed the sides of her generous breasts, and left little to imagination. Her hakama was no better, still revealing skin and the band of her panties. It was a massive distraction for the blond man whenever they sparred, especially after they shifted away from a platonic relationship and into a far more intimate one.

“It’s for a new technique I’m learning,” she shrugged, parrying Naruto’s punch with a light touch to the wrist. “It blows away all the cloth on my shoulders and back, so I decided to change outfits or I’ll flash you every time I use you as a practice dummy.”

“Stop enticing me, Yoru-hime,” Naruto retorted, grabbing her wrist to prevent a painful palm strike to his sternum, and countering with an attempt to knee her in the gut. “It’s counterintuitive to training.”

“You know, if I really wanted to beat you,” Yoruichi grunted, avoiding Naruto’s knee by sliding around it and returning the favour with a knuckled fist to a nerve cluster underneath his arm. “I should just flash you to submission.”

Naruto tossed her aside, preventing a painful hit as they fell towards the ground, landing adroitly on their feet. “I could say the same. That time I walked out of the onsen, you wouldn’t stop drooling.”

Yoruichi huffed, crossing her arms childishly. “What, a woman can’t ogle his man if she wants?”

“So I’m yours now?” the blond man arched an eyebrow. “I think your legions of fans, along with your clan, won’t be too happy about that.”

“Meh. They can go suck their thumbs or something,” Yoruichi shrugged nonchalantly. “Once I become head of the Shihōin, they can’t do anything to stop me.”

“Already prepping yourself to take over the Onmitsukidō?” Naruto asked, as they took a short break from training, sitting on a large slab of rock. “I noticed you seem to be far less clingy these days.”

“Clingy?” she growled, a tick appearing on her forehead. “I’m clingy?”

“Then explain all the times you disturbed me at work,” Naruto retorted jokingly. Yoruichi pouted, before slinking onto Naruto’s lap. “Admit it. You love it when I’m clingy.”

“Maybe,” the blond shrugged casually, as his girlfriend draped her arms around his shoulder. “But if you’re clingy, it means you aren’t training. And if you aren’t training, you can’t achieve Bankai, and I won’t join the Onmitsukidō. Which means you can’t be around me as much.”

“Pfft. You are such a bore. Always training this, training that,” Yoruichi stuck out her lower lip. “I can’t even get some nookie!”

“You always get too shy and punch me in the face whenever we delve past touching,” Naruto remarked matter-of-factly. “Besides, you have a new stalker, and she’s far too young to be seeing such things. Not to mention if she does see, I’m going to be a hunted man for the rest of my life.”

Yoruichi laughed merrily, giving the blond a comforting pat on the shoulder. “There, there, Yoruichi-sama will protect you from big bad Soifon.”

‘I’m genuinely surprised she hasn’t already tried to assassinate me, after all the times she probably saw us together,” Naruto commented lightly, as he pulled Yoruichi closer. The woman responded by laying her head on his shoulder, reveling in the love Naruto seemed to exude. “She respects me far too much to harm you. Although, if she catches us doing anything intimate, she’ll probably stab you in your sleep.”

“So much for professionalism in the corps,” Naruto joked, earning a playful punch to the shoulder. “Say, are you really planning to let Kisuke take over the Karintai? He doesn’t seem like the type to enjoy leadership of any sort. He doesn’t have the commanding presence or charisma of a leader.”

“Bah, it’ll toughen him up,” Yoruichi declared. “He’s got a brain behind that silly exterior, but he doesn’t use it to its full potential. I’m thinking of pushing him into being a captain if a position becomes available. That way, he can actually contribute to Seireitei and not be such a mega pussy all the time. Speaking of which, don’t you have any ambitions? It’s been almost seven years since you graduated, and you’re still a measly sixth seat. I know you’re far better than that.”

Naruto shrugged. “The lower ranked I am, the easier for me to switch to the Onmitsukidō. Being of a higher rank isn’t that wonderful anyway. The stronger you are in the Gotei, the less action you get. Only in major disasters or wars do you get deployed, and sometimes not even fully. I’ll rather stick with the lower pay for greater action and lesser responsibility. It also gives me more time to spend with a certain someone, but she probably doesn’t even know or care.”

“Hey!” Yoruichi shouted indignantly. “I treasure our time together, okay?”

“Who said I was talking about you?” Naruto quirked an eyebrow, chuckling as Yoruichi dealt him another punch to the shoulder. “So, do you have plans for me if I do join the corps?”

“You mean when,” Yoruichi shot him a cool stare, before tapping her chin in thought. “Well, I always thought about putting you as part of my escort guard, or have you completely replace my escort guard. That way, whenever I am free, we can go have fun!”

“Not going to put me into the Keigun instead?” Naruto asked. “That’s where my zanpakutō excels anyway.”

“Yea, I know…it’s okay against Hollows, but only shines against shinigami. It’s like the perfect assassin’s weapon,” Yoruichi muttered. “But I’m going to command the Keigun, and you won’t be able to. And that’s a waste of your abilities. Plus, it’ll make me see you less.”

“So your insistence that I join the Onmitsukidō, right from the beginning, was so that you could see me more?” Naruto quipped. “Does that mean you liked me even from then?”

Yoruichi blushed lightly. “S-Shut up.”

“Ne…if I choose to join another Division instead of the Onmitsukidō, will you be displeased?” Naruto enquired, his index finger running up and down Yoruichi’s spine slowly. She chewed her lip, her mind doing flip-flops as the blond man played on her weakness to his touch. “Iie…stop that! I-I won’t be displeased as long as you spend more time with me. S-Stop already! What if Kisuke turns up?”

He claimed her lips in a passionate kiss. Melting into the lip lock, Yoruichi found herself unable to push her lover away. She shivered as Naruto traced lazy circles on her back, his finger raising goosebumps all over her skin. Naruto broke the kiss, a soft smile etched on his features. “Arigato, Yoru-hime, for being such an understanding angel. But you’re a very bad liar, Yoru-hime. Both of us know Kisuke is in the human world for a mission for the next two weeks at the very least. We have the whole place to us.”

“It’s not comfortable here,” she whispered, her cheeks burning red. Naruto scooped her up into his arms, earning a soft yelp from the woman. “Then let’s find somewhere comfortable.”

“O-Okay,” she mumbled shyly.

8888888888888888

Yoruichi mewled softly as Naruto cupped her ample bosom, slowly caressing her soft mounds. Through the thin cloth of her uniform, Naruto could spot her nipples hardening. A smirk on his lips, he pressed his mouth to one of her hardened nubs, lathering the sensitive region through her clothes. Yoruichi arched her back, her hands softly encouraging Naruto. Pushing her uniform to the side, Naruto swallowed thickly at the sight of her well-formed breasts and her dark nipples. Yoruichi blushed deeply at Naruto’s gawking, her arms flying up to cover her alluring chest. It only served to make her seem even more attractive in his eyes. Gently removing her arms, Naruto sucked a nipple lovingly while massaging the other breast. His free hand reached for her obi, removing the waistcloth.

Switching nipples, Naruto kept Yoruichi in a constant state of arousal as he slipped his hand into her hakama. He was extra cautious as he did so; the previous few times he tried without distracting Yoruichi enough, she dealt him an embarrassed punch to the face. That inevitably ruined the mood, but the blond was confident he would make it this time. As his fingers ghosted over Yoruichi’s dampening folds, she stiffened but soon relaxed as Naruto’s ministrations drew out another cute mewl.

Heartened by his success, Naruto probed further, a single digit slipping between her nether lips to stroke the sensitive flesh. Yoruichi’s breath came in short as Naruto maintained the slow tempo, edging the tanned woman closer to climax. His lone finger flicked her clitoris playfully, before rubbing it in circles. Yoruichi shuddered lightly, her breath hitching as she melted into a blissful orgasm. Naruto didn’t let up on his motions, instead slipping his finger into her pussy slowly. Her mind in a muddle, Yoruichi was in no condition to stop the blond from doing so, even if her cheeks were burning red with embarrassment.

Once Yoruichi seemed to have recovered from her orgasm, Naruto paused in his actions. He placed his hands on her lips, at the edges of her hakama. His azure eyes stared deeply into her golden orbs, a silent request for permission. Yoruichi nodded coyly, lifting her hips to allow an easier removal. Hesitating only slightly, Yoruichi also removed her top, leaving her clad only in drenched panties. The brief lull in activity helped the purple-haired woman regain some of her playfulness, as she smirked sultrily at her lover.

“Ne…it’s unfair for me to be undressed and yet, you still have all your clothes on,” she purred seductively, leaning forwards to tug off Naruto’s hakama-himo.

The blond man obliged, removing his shihakushō swiftly. As Yoruichi did her own share of ogling, Naruto surreptitiously slipped her panties off, leaving both of them in the buff. Spreading Yoruichi’s legs apart, Naruto licked his suddenly dry lips. Bending down, he took a good whiff of her womanly scent. The Shihōin princess flushed crimson as his warm breath washed over her wet folds, a clear indicator of his next move. And so it proved, as Naruto’s head dipped in, his tongue extended to coat her folds with a thin layer of saliva.

Naruto ignored the tickling of his nose by her pubic hair, a problem he didn’t encounter with the clean-shaven Shirayuki as he lathered her pussy liberally, coaxing soft cries of pleasure from the woman. As he tongue brushed her clitoris, Yoruichi’s body twitched noticeably. Her hands found themselves tangled in his spiky hair as he slipped his tongue into her womanhood, her breath coming shorter. Retracting his tongue, Naruto enveloped her engorged clit with his lips, stimulating the sensitive flesh as he wriggled a finger into her pussy. Probing her vagina, he quickly found her G-spot. He ran his finger across the patch of nerves, eliciting a scream from Yoruichi as her toes curled, a stream of her womanly juices spraying all over Naruto’s chest. She trembled uncontrollably as her ejaculate soaked the futon they were in, drool trickling from her lips.

Naruto slid over her body, waiting patiently for her to catch her breath. Naruto pressed his throbbing manhood to her folds, smearing the head of his member with her juices to aid a simple entry. But even before Naruto asked, Yoruichi halted him with a slim hand to the chest. Naruto, though disappointed, nodded understandingly. He moved to pull on his clothes again, when he was stopped in his tracks by Yoruichi once more, her hand now clutching his wrist softly.

“I…the clan has ways of checking my chastity,” Yoruichi mumbled shyly. “But they won’t know if it’s…if it’s…anal.”

Naruto blinked, his features gaining a touch of concern. “Are you sure, Yoru-hime? It will probably hurt.”

She nodded, declining to give a verbal response. Naruto smiled reassuringly, before resuming his prior position with his head between her legs. His tongue flicked out once more, but this time he had a different target. Yoruichi gasped as his tongue circled her tiny rosebud, before pushing slowly against the tight ring of muscle. It was slow going, but eventually, Naruto had her writhing as he wriggled his tongue about in her rectum, coating the walls with saliva. Yoruichi panted as she let herself fall into the whirlwind of completely new sensations. She masturbated, yes, but never in the butt. She was far too scared to attempt it, although her wet dreams often featured her butt being plundered.

Naruto did a good job of realizing her naughtier dreams as he left a shiny sheen of saliva on her anus. Taking a moment to coat his cock with her natural lubrication first, before lining his member against her relaxed anus, he slowly pushed in. Yoruichi clenched her anus instinctively at the feel of a large object barging in, but soon relaxed as Naruto diverted some attention to her breasts, arousing her enough to loosen up. Once he felt her walls become less restrictive, he thrust further in. Yoruichi blinked away tears as she was stretched beyond her limits, but the lubrication did its job, preventing any lacerations. Once he bottomed out, Naruto stopped, allowing Yoruichi to get used to his larger than average size. The desire to plunge in and out of her was immense, but he held out admirably.

Yoruichi gave him a slightly wet smile as she nodded, a silent approval for him to move. Unable to control his urges anymore, he pulled back until the head of his member was the only bit remaining in her butt, before plunging back in roughly. Yoruichi cried out, a mix of pain and pleasure as Naruto set a quick pace right off the bat, thrusting in and out forcefully. But soon, as her body accustomed itself to his manhood, she felt the pain flow away as pleasure dominated her senses. Wrapping her legs around his waist, Yoruichi gasped loudly with every thrust, rocking her hips in tandem with Naruto’s. It didn’t take long for Naruto to cum, roaring as he splattered her rectal walls with his seed.

Yoruichi screamed as the sensation of hot semen spurting into her ass triggered her third orgasm, her back almost bent in half as the pleasure overwhelmed her senses. Naruto struggled to regain his breath as he slowly pulled out of his lover, his cock emerging with a wet plop. Yoruichi tried clenching her open anus close, but only succeeded in expelling the sperm in her butt, releasing an embarrassing cacophony of noise as she did so. As she lay on the dirtied futon, tired from the vigorous activities, Naruto left and quickly returned with a clean futon. Smiling thankfully at the man, she clambered into the bedroll with him, throwing a slender leg over his while laying her head on his chest.

Naruto smiled gently as Yoruichi snuggled into his chest, mumbling incoherently, asleep after the day’s exertions. His smile widened as his mind drifted to their bout of lovemaking. Naruto loved the way Yoruichi always seemed so open about her body, flaunting it everywhere, and yet was in fact very shy when it came down to the real thing. He loved her soft mews, her infrequent purrs, the way her toes curl, and how her body twitched and her breath hitched whenever he found a new erogenous spot. And he loved the way she curled up and cuddled against him when she slept; it was beyond adorable.

At least I didn’t get a fist to the face again, like the last few times I tried…he mused jovially. His thoughts turned slightly darker though, as he pondered upon their still-secret relationship. Secret to at least most of Seireitei. I’m sure Kisuke and Shinji have a clue, and I’m pretty sure people in the office suspect something, since I did kiss her four years ago. But that was quite a while ago, and I doubt they really think there was anything behind that except for playful teasing.

He chewed his lip in thought. And it’s a good thing it’s a secret, or I’ll be drawn and quartered before I can even blink. The Shihōin won’t be too happy about their Tenshiheisōban being anywhere near a no-name shinigami who came from the seventy-eighth district of East Rukongai…hell, I’m surprised they haven’t already assigned someone to kill me just for associating with her.

Naruto sighed in frustration, blowing aside a tuft of hair that fell on his forehead. I hate aristocracy. Small-minded traditionalists who can’t see the good beyond their little worlds…and yet, they still possess so much power in the courts. If they knew, not only I will feel the brunt of their fury at broken tradition, Yoru-hime will be shoved into some unhappy omiai kekkon. I hate all this cloak and dagger bullshit. It only makes everyone unhappy. The worst part is that it’s necessary.

As Yoruichi shifted, moaning his name softly, Naruto smiled sadly. If only we can stay like this forever.

If only…

<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>

Chapter 3

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