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    Default [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    (Day 13 through Day 19)
    A coming of age
    --------------------------------------------------------------

    [Day 13...late at night]
    (In the 9th Division Acting Captain's office)

    Hirokatsu Goto, Vice-Captain and current Acting Captain of the 9th Division, put down the report he was reading and then looked slowly to his left and over to the empty seat which was where his acting Vice-Captain and 4th Seat, Kaki, had been sitting hours earlier. His tired eyes looked through his long bushy eyebrows in the dim candle lights which Hirokatsu had preferred for late night work.

    Hirokatsu had been forced to order the young and hard working Kaki to take her leave for the night, as she had refused to leave while he was still working. Hirokatsu was proud of her diligence and hard work, and her care to stay up with him was noted and appreciated, however, Hirokatsu had seen her try to hide her drooping eyelids and yawns, and he knew she needed the rest. She had been working as hard as Hirokatsu in the last few days, and had taken to her new role as Acting Vice-Captain as seriously as he had known she would.

    She was a strong and talented Shinigami, but she was still growing. She simply did not have the stamina yet to keep up with the long nights Hirokatsu had been accustomed to for so many hundreds of years. She could very well end up being stronger than him, but for now she needed her rest so she could do her work to the capabilities that Hirokatsu knew she wanted to.

    Hirokatsu smiled a bit to himself, she almost reminded him of himself in his early days in the 1st Division so many years ago. As he looked back over to the "in" box, he was somewhat happy to be greeted by only one remaining reconnaissance report for the day. Hirokatsu loved his job, but even he was satisfied to know his work for the day was nearing completion.

    Hirokatsu took it into his hand and looked at the small clock on the wall reading 3AM, he knew reports could come at any time, but normally there were always update reports delivered at 6AM. 3 hours of rest this evening would be a welcome thing, Hirokatsu thought to himself. He looked to the report, it was bit dirty, something Hirokatsu normally frowned upon, but with the rise of Recon coming from the Rukongai this was becoming more the norm and more acceptable.

    Hirokatsu eyes perked up slightly as he read its title page and leaned back on his sitting pillow. It came from a young unseated Shinigami, Yokohama, on scheduled patrol in the 16th Eastern District, only one district away from his family's home in the Eastern 15th District. On the cover also was a silver star though a bit grimy, the silver star indicating a "higher" priority for reports. How it got to the bottom of the stack troubled Hirokatsu, but at least it wasn't a gold star.

    Hirokatsu opened the report and his eyes looked over the document carefully, and as he read each line his brow wrinkled just a bit more than the last. The twinkle of the dying candle flames on his desk combined with the chicken scratch handwriting of the unseated forced Hirokatsu to bring the report closer to his face to read clearly.

    Yokohama's silver star report was indeed intriguing. It was the 5th of such reports, though first indicated as "higher" priority, and first to indicate the actual sighting and killing of a Hollow in the Rukongai. Up to this point, Hirokatsu had remember Yokohama's reports consisting only of Citizen rumors of Hollow activity, a few lost pets, and a minor injury in the District. This was often the case in the Rukongai, 'ghost' stories and hollows were often reported, though rarely ever true and normally the result of wild imaginations accidents or covered up criminal activity. This report however, not only confirmed the Hollow activity but also described Yokohama's killing of a lesser Hollow the day before.

    Hirokatsu looked up from the report and sighed lightly as he finished it, then signing his name on the bottom of it, and placing it gently in the "out" box for filing, he twirled his bushy mustache and thought to himself.

    Yokohama indicated his time in the District was scheduled to change, and was recommending that he stay in the 16th District longer as the Hollow he had killed had matched the descriptions of several of the stories, though the vast distance between each (within the District) made for the likelihood of the Hollow he had killed being quite remote.

    Hirokatsu turned to his right and the small perch of Hell Butterflies he kept next to his desk. One came to his finger in a quick flutter, and Hirokatsu brought it up to his mouth speaking into it as it recorded his message:


    His voice was soft yet stern and to the point.

    "Yokohama-san, you are to stay within the Eastern 16th District and continue your surveillance and investigation into your findings until further notice, and will report in via Hell butterfly twice a day on your findings...do be as thorough...and CLEAR... with all of your reports as possible"

    Hirokatsu flicked his finger lightly and watched as the Hell Butterfly flapped its wings as it moved up and then out the small open window in the office.

    Hirokatsu twirled his mustache as he pondered to himself. Thoughts of the young Yokohama and his report, as well as others, slowly turned to thoughts of his family in the 15th District. They had requested he come visit earlier than his normal end of the month, due to some family business that needed his more immediate attention.

    Hirokatsu twirled his mustache a bit as the the candles dwindled in their light. Hirokatsu looked to them and leaned into to each, blowing them out softly.

    It had been a long day, and it was time for rest.

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: Coming of Age: When Darkness Reveals

    [Day 14...8am]
    (In the 9th Division Acting Captain's office)


    Hirokatsu sat reading the early morning reports at his desk and waited for his Acting Vice-Captain, Kaki, to arrive. A pot of his family's tea was hot in the kettle and steam from a cup rose in the morning light which shown through the open door to the office.

    Kaki knew to report in at 8am, and she had not been late once.

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki

    At the minute of 07:53, Kaki's voice could be heard muffled from the door as she announced herself this morning.
    "Excuse me, Acting Vice-Captain Okaji Kaki, reporting."

    Sliding the door open respectfully, Kaki raised herself and bowed before entering. The process was formal and precise, but with a few small awkward movements. The uniform looked a little large on her, and the clothes was perhaps causing a little trouble. Perhaps only because it was morning, though there was no sleepy look to her.
    There was a small smell of coffee. It was unsurprising, since Kaki always prepared coffee in the morning for the division. It had a famous reputation now, and sometimes she would make deliveries to other divisions if it was requested.

    This morning she walked over to the captain's desk, and came to sit down on the special pillow he had given her. When she was seated, she looked at the desk, trying to find the work for this morning.
    "Is everything ok, Sir Goto?" She asked.
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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    [Day 14...8am-ish]
    (In the 9th Division Acting Captain's office)


    Hirokatsu looked up as Kaki entered the office early for work, as usual. He noticed her slight disheveled outfit, but he paid it no mind. Placing down on his desk the report in his hands he rose to his feet to greet her with a slight bow as he wait for her to take her seat, after which he sat down and looked over to her.

    "Good morning Kaki-san...I do hope you slept well...you looked awfully tired last night"

    He then noticed the smell of her famous coffee on her. It was a nice smell, and for a moment it filled his nose more than Hirokatsu's family tea which was steeping nearby. It had been quite a long time since he had considered eating or drinking anything not from his family, but the smell of her coffee every morning was beginning to make him consider reevaluating that fact.

    He smiled under his bushy mustache briefly as he looked at Kaki through his long eyebrows with half open eyes. He then picked up the report he had just sat down which had arrived only a few minutes before she arrived.

    Hirokatsu looked to the report again flipping it closed to look at the front as he then extended his arm with it to show her. He then waived it a little at her playfully, a little silver star on the front of it glimmering in the morning light. He then began to speak to her.

    "This report just arrived from one of our unseated members,Yokohama-san, out in the Rukongai's Eastern 16th District...i had received a silver star report from him last night (silver star meaning higher priority...gold star meaning immediate priority)...after which i sent him a personal hell butterfly ordering him to send me two regular updates every day...However, this report i just received from him was sent before he got my Hell Butterfly...and this report is somewhat troubling."

    He paused and tossed the report in front of her for her to read over as he then spoke again to her.

    "...see, his recent reports have been showing some growing Hollow activity in the Eastern 16th District. At first it seemed just rumors of activity, but in his last two reports not only has he confirmed the presence of Hollows, but he has also fought and defeated now five of them...four yesterday alone...."

    He paused.

    "...this information alone would not cause too much alarm...however the rising numbers in a single district, as well as his descriptions of each of the Hollows being 'identical' to one another has me thinking we may have something more serious going on..."


    Hirokatsu paused closing his eyes but looking over towards Kaki as she looked at the report. Hirokatsu then exhaled lightly before continuing.

    "...Kaki..I believe you and I should join Yokohama-san in his investigation...i am growing concerned that he alone will not be able to contain this threat..."


    Hirokatsu did not mention however that he also had a personal reason to check in on these reports, as his family's home was near the Eastern 16th District border, not only would his personal handling of this serve to allow him to check in on his family...but also his family may know more information on what is going on as well.

    His eyes opened slightly as he looked through his eyebrows to her.

    "Do you have any thoughts Kaki-san?"

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki

    Kaki's eyes followed the silver star when Hirokatsu waved a report. When he handed it to her, she accepted the report curiously and looked at it.
    The captain was asking her opinion?
    She hesitated and thought.

    "It should not be normal to have many hollow viewings in our districts. I...I'm not sure it requires the attention of Lord Goto and me too. But recently there have been many incidents and a few attacks. I think those reports are still in investigation..."

    She stopped. She wasn't speaking well. She took a deep breath.

    "I think it is important to watch it closely. But are there any gold star reports we should focus on? Is it important to send both of us? I can go to investigate, so your valuable time is not wasted." She suggested.

    "But if you think we should both go, of course it is decided."
    Kaki added quickly.
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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
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    Kaki

    Kaki's eyes followed the silver star when Hirokatsu waved a report. When he handed it to her, she accepted the report curiously and looked at it.
    The captain was asking her opinion?
    She hesitated and thought.

    "It should not be normal to have many hollow viewings in our districts. I...I'm not sure it requires the attention of Lord Goto and me too. But recently there have been many incidents and a few attacks. I think those reports are still in investigation..."

    She stopped. She wasn't speaking well. She took a deep breath.

    "I think it is important to watch it closely. But are there any gold star reports we should focus on? Is it important to send both of us? I can go to investigate, so your valuable time is not wasted." She suggested.

    "But if you think we should both go, of course it is decided."
    Kaki added quickly.
    Hirokatsu

    "The PERFECT response" Hirokatsu thought to himself as she spoke.

    Kaki was very right that the situation may not be worthy of both the Acting Captain and the Acting Vice Captain. She had seen quite brilliantly through his attempt to deflect from his desire to check on his family, and she was absolutely right to ask about other more pressing matters, not to mention offer to go alone.

    But regardless of her being right, Hirokatsu had it in his mind that they should go.

    "You are right Kaki-san...perhaps i should send you alone...but as we do not have any active 'gold star' reports...AND all my report updates can be forwarded via Hell Butterfly...AND as the 16th District is not too far out we could get back if needed...PLUS, i have been wanting to see how well our 5th seat, Kaneko, can handle being in charge while we are away....I mean, Really, I dont see why i shouldn't accompany you, just to be sure...you know, it is never a waste of time to be thorough..."

    "Plus... I think it would be a good bonding experience for us Kaki-san....unless you are concerned that i cant keep up with you...or is it that you re worried about being seen in public with such an old man like me?"

    He grinned a bit and bowed his head to her slightly to her speaking with just a hint of playfulness so she knew he was not being serious. He had been trying to get her to relax around him a bit more. Hirokatsu' persona aroudn the 9th was always one of professionalism and seriousness, but he remembered how long it took for Captain Kiku to warm HIM up, and knew it would not be easy with Kaki either...but he knew, as Kiku did before him, that it was ultimately for the better for a Captain and Vice Captain to be more than just 'professional' around one another..."..true friendship could get you through more battles than honorifics" he thought to himself before he continued.

    "...also...my family lives in the 15th District and they may know a bit more information...they are....well...wary of outsiders..."

    "So what do you think Kaki?....our first Recon mission together...and in response to Hollows on top of that...probably shouldn't take more than a day or so..."

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki

    "Oh, I hadn't thought about those reasons." Kaki said guiltily when Hirokatsu mentioned the other reasons.

    But for a straight-laced character like Kaki, it was easy to miss the joke of Acting-Captain Hirokatsu. A comical appearance of panic and horror comes on Kaki's face.
    She is in a fluster when speaking. "N-no Lord Hirokatsu! That's not correct! " She tries to explain. "Acting-Captain is very skilled beyond me, so there is no reason why I could think such a rude thing of-"

    And to realize now it was jokes, she puts her hands over her face to try to disappear.
    Acting-Captain is cruel. To make her panic like this.

    She returns to more normal color and style now, but still a little embarrassed and listening to Hirokatsu's continuing speech.

    "Yes sir. Since the mission will not take a long time, perhaps it will be a good experience." She agrees awkwardly. "I will be ready to leave whenever you would like to go."
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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Hirokatsu

    Hirokatsu frowned a bit as he looked on to his Acting Vice Captain...she hadn't gotten his joke as quickly as he had hoped. "Hirokatsu...you are such an idiot..." He thought to himself. As he moved forward towards Kaki speaking while waiving his hands to her in apology, as she responded in seriousness to his jest.

    As she blushed, and realized herself missing the joke, Hirokatsu felt even worse and his eyes showed his apology clearly. He was about to apologize in kind, but she composed herself enough to be professional and respond to him without trying to make him feel bad.

    Hirokatsu nodded to her and sighed a bit as he spoke softly to her.

    "I guess I still need to work on my humor huh?..."

    He paused a moment looking onto her hoping she felt his honest apology in his warm look toward her. Then he continued.

    "...and good...I think we should leave in the afternoon...let's say 3pm here...please notify the 5th seat of our departure and mission, pack a few bedrolls and other supplies for us, then finish up any clerical work you have and have lunch out somewhere nice on me...just have them charge it to my account..."

    He then turns towards his desk, taking a few steps before turning around and looking at her again, speaking with kind eyes.

    "...i feel like this trip will be good Kaki-san..."

    He then bows politely and smiles through his long mustache to her. She would recognize this to be her cue that the meeting was over, unless she had anything else to say.

    --------

    Around 3pm later that day, outside the office.


    As Kaki would come to the office she would find the door closed (an oddity during the daytime), and Hirokatsu sitting on the porch in front of it with his legs dangling over the side waiting on Kaki.

    Over the shoulder of his black haori was a small brown leather satchel, and on his lap sat his closed umbrella horizontally across it. The Acting-Captain sat quietly, his eyes closed as his mustache and eyebrows tossed a bit in the breeze.

    He would look up to her his eyes opening a bit to her as she approached. He then pushed himself off the edge of the porch to the grass below, and even though the grass was only a few feet down, as his feet hit the green grass his umbrella was immediately open and held in his left hand resting on his left shoulder gently.

    Hirokatsu then gently looked to his Acting Vice Captain, his eyes a bit wider now, his voice still soft.

    "Ready to go?"

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki

    "Yes Sir." Kaki responded dutifully. She stood up and left gracefully.

    Later

    Kaki arrived correctly on time. She was dressed in the normal clothing of shinigami, with the badge. But she also wore a backpack with some necessary equipment. It did not make her look older however.

    To acting-captain's question, Kaki responded.
    "Yes sir, I'm ready to go."

    Subtly, she was worried to leave aside all of the division affairs, but at the same time, there was a small smile on her face.

    It is a nice thing to travel sometimes.
    But she reminds that it is the job also.
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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Hirokatsu-later in the day

    Hirokatsu and Kaki had ben traveling for quite a while. First through the many streets of the Seretei, and then passing through the Blue Stream Gate to the Eastern Rukongai districts. As they did so Hirokatsu tossed the brown leather satchel over his shoulder to the Eastern Gate Guardian without a word and only a friendly nod. The Gate Guardian simply nodded with a slight grin as he caught the leather bag watching Hirokatsu and Kaki walk on.

    They continued to travel down the main road towards the 16th District for quite a while. Hiroaktsu had not spoken since they had left, except to recite a few orders into a few Hell Butterflies which found him. And while they traveled directly, they were not hurrying by any stretch of the word. They passed quite a few people along the way, but as they moved farther and farther from the Seretei the numbers of people along the road were few and far between. It seemed almost as if Hirokatsu was enjoying himself in the quiet serenity in the shade of his umbrella.

    Then, as dusk started to bathe the sky in a subtle but growing darkness Hirokatsu turned to Kaki his eyes open a bit as he spoke softly.

    "Well Kaki-san...I think this is a good place to stop for the night"

    They stood in the road on the top of a rolling green hill, overlooking a large meadow and pond in the Eastern 5th District. To the side of the road was a single tree with a large canopy of shade underneath it.

    Hirokatsu pointed to the spot and made his way for it, waiting for Kaki to follow and set up the camp.

    It may seem odd that Hirokatsu chose to stop at this time, neither of them would have been tired from the casual pace they were at. And it wasn't even totally dark out.

    Still, Hirokatsu made his way to and under the tree on the hilltop and as Kaki set the bedrolls out. Hirokatsu looked down the hill to the small pond his umbrella still held over his head resting on his shoulder.

    Turning back to Kaki, he reached down and picked up a few branches and set them down in a pile. Then he stood and brought his right hand up and pointed to the ground.

    Then in an instant, a small burst of fire spit out from his finger tip and struck the wood and lit up with flame. It was a small fire, and just enough to make some tea or coffee. It was a very mild temperature outside and they would not need a big fire for the whole night.

    Hirokatsu then reached into his black haori pockets and pulled out his familiar bag of tea and two small collapsible metal cups.

    "I do hope you brought some water and a small kettle Kaki-san"

    Hirokatsu said as he handed her them, looking on to Kaki with the subtle smile Kaki was getting to know more and more.


    -

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki

    Traveling was a nice thing, Kaki had thought after some time. She wore a larger backpack to carry supplies for her captain, but it was not uncomfortable.

    To be a 9th division member, she is used to this.
    She did not disturb the quietness, though she wondered often the Captain's thinking about as they walked.

    "Yes sir." She answered, and began to set up the camp. She fixed the bags and began to prepare the food they had brought after the captain started the fire.

    But she was surprised when the Captain pulled out the tea.
    Does he always carry this with him? She wondered. Maybe he was just very troublesome with his drink.

    "Y-yes Captain. I did." She answered, trying to find it hurriedly in the bag.
    "I'll prepare it quickly." She continued, taking the tea and put the pot on the fire.

    It was an awkward moment as she waited for the water, so she pulled out her cards idly to look at and order properly. Soon, the tea was ready and she poured it for the Captain.
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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Hirokatsu

    "Excellent"

    Hirokatsu said with a nod as he then moved to shade of the tree.

    Before he sat he looked up to the leafy canopy over his head, his narrowly open eyes seemed to study it for a moment. Then closing his eyes he reached up to his open umbrella and closed it down until it "CLICK" shut. As he sat down, he lifted his black haori up so he would not sit on it, and placed his back against the trunk of the tree, resting his back against it.

    He crossed his legs and lay his umbrella across his lap, brushing off some dirt and straightening his haori sleeves as he sat reclined.

    "ahhh..." he said quietly to himself, as he rest himself.

    He opened his eyes a bit as he watched Kaki prepare the tea. Seeing her work and hesitate as the water boiled, picking up her cards, he remembered that the two of them knew so little of each other. He had read her reports and seen her dossier on her abilities, but as is too often the case in the 9th Division, many of the actual application of the abilities of Shinigami in the 9th often goes unseen by others of the 9th since they often work alone or in small groups. But a Lt. and Cpt. must know each other backwards and forwards, their abilities their thoughts...their limits...everything.

    Hirokatsu was often alone with himself and his abilities, practicing, studying, doing reports, observation. It had been some time since he had someone he felt 'close' to. Even the old Cpt, Kiku, while there was a time where they were close the last few years had been filled with much of their time being apart, working on individual projects to keep the 9th working at optimal efficiency.

    Kaki had always had a unique set of abilities, and seeing her organize her special cards only reminded Hirokatsu even more of that. He HAD to try to befriend Kaki, get her to open up to him...and he to her. Hirokatsu had felt like lonely boat on the ocean in his life and duties, but no longer could he fall into that complacency. But HOW was the bigger question.

    Hirokatsu figured stating with something duty related was as good an entry as he could think of.

    "Kaki-san..."

    His voice soft and kind.

    "...would you mind telling me more about those cards?..."

    Waving her over and patting the ground next to him.

    "...you know, i have never really gotten a good look at them"

    Hirokatsu was reaching out to her, it wasn't much but he was trying. He only hoped she would see his interest and care for her.

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki

    "These are the cards I use for Kido to give it shape. But of course one doesn't need hanafuda to do Kido. But one must give a body to the spell shape. How most is the chant. Those words and symbols used are divine meanings. They are symbols.
    Actually the chant is not needed even, you know this."
    She paused to point at the grass.

    "It also has divine form. Everything does. So it can be a symbol based of one's position with the world alone. But it stretches too far with such a sign. It is too much to perceive. So maybe existence can be the seal and tool alone needed, but we do not have enough power in the form that is "us" to access it.
    Those entities that can maybe we can call 'gods.'"


    She points at the cards and picks 1 to hand to the captain carefully.
    "There are 12 suits for months of year, and 4 cards of the month. 2 are twins, one is ribbon, and one is special. So there are 48 completely.
    Kido are also numbered, because order is important. Numbers are symbols also. And we divide them of Bakudo and Hado. So they are also twins like this. Both are the same, and also different.
    I must make an array of cards the same. Like this."


    She picked up another card of Pine (January) and touched her lips to it. she made the seal, and the grass snapped and bound, like restrain.

    "It's a small example."
    She explained, face becoming red. "For more difficult or different things, I use several cards together. Of course there is also meaning for flowers, and the animals, so many things can be done."
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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Hirokatsu

    Hirokatsu's eyes opened and lit up from behind his long bushy gray colored eyebrows as he listened and watched Kaki so simply and elegantly display her cards and their use.

    He nodded as she explained, though he had only partially understood. In his long long years in the Gotei and elsewhere he had never seen a Shinigami utilize this technique she had. Tha she seemed so fluent in it aalso proved her ability clearly to Hirokatsu.

    Most Shinigami, including Hirokatsu himself, studied the standard Shinigami techniques with the strong tutelage of the many generations of Shinigami before them. They had centuries of successes and mistakes to guide their studying and training, but Kakki here was using a technique no others used. A technique that was wholly her own, and she was already so talented in it even at such a young age, and seemingly not at the expense of her other Shinigami talents.

    Hirokatsu smiled very slightly as the small piece of grass whipped about. His eyes then looked up to her.

    "Quite impressive Kaki-san..."

    "...So how did you first come about this technique?..i have never seen anyone use it...even in all my years..."


    The sun was setting over the horizon, and the light of the campfire glistened behind Kaki as she continued.

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki

    Kaki looked a little embarrassed, but also there was pride in her expression.

    "It was a theory. When I was at the academy, I studied Kido very hard. I even was volunteer library assistant at the Kido corp for one semester. Soul Society and we are spiritual energy. We don't have bodies like mortals, so here everything is closer to fundamental existence.


    I... I don't know if my theory would work in the Mortal World. Maybe if there was a good location, like sacred space. Such a place would have a lot of spiritual energy too."


    She looked up at the stars and then pointed at the flame, and then touched her zanpakutou.

    "As long as we remember it is all divine form. Prayer chants in Kido are not different than offerings. Often there is such an offering of an oath or promise."


    She still looked very embarrassed with a red face.
    "Ah, I have not tried it very much in combat. I think it would be difficult to make the calculations for me. But for scout, it is useful.
    It is most important for scout to understand the environment. So, for 9th division, we must understand the spiritual environment.
    Practicing Fuusui and Flower Arranging is a similar thought. Or to make tea properly, or tend a garden..."


    She looked down.
    "I know I am still young. But I hope someday maybe soul society will remember these things are important."
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    Hirokatsu

    Hirokatsu silently looked at her down-looking face for a moment after she spoke her last words. She was so young ,but she spoke with such care and sensibility, and her words were wiser than her age.

    He knew she was a true talent, and he was confident of her abilities and ability to lead and do the work of the 9th, but Hirokatsu was beginning to see something even more special in Kaki.

    He looked on in silence at her through his old eyes. The seconds dragged on. Then almost as if he had to remind himself not to stare, he looked passed her to the fire, and to the tea kettle.

    "I think the tea is done, Lt...."

    He paused for a moment as she would attend to the tea before speaking while she did so.

    "...your technique is very impressive Kaki-san...as i said, much different than any other Shinigami I can remember... and you know, I have always had a special knack for sensing and tracking spiritual energy....perhaps I could help you refine this technique in the Mortal World...i am sure we could find some areas which may be suitable...in fact......He paused to stroke his long mustache. "...I remember a place when i traveled there as a youth...it was a peaceful place..."

    Hirokatsu's words trailed off as he thought back to that time long ago, before he entered the Shinigami academy.

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki


    "Ah!" Kaki frantically turned to attend to the tea.

    Spoiler
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    (ooc: Is it a memory scene now? Is there characters you want for me to play in the memory scene?)
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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Hirokatsu

    Hirokatsu watched as she took care of the tea. Even in its simplest presentations making and serving tea was a beauty to behold in Hirokatsu's eyes.

    However, it was a talent he did not possess. Sure, he could make tea, but the art of making it had escaped him even over his many centuries of life in the Soul Society.

    As he awaited the tea he looked up again through the dark canopy of the tree under which he sat up against it's trunk, the once fading blue sky was now dark and black, with the soft glow of the rising moon and the twinkling stars illuminating the edges of the tree leaves above.

    He then looked back to Kaki and her silhouette against the small fire as she prepared the tea.

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki

    Kaki finished preparation of tea, and served for the Captain.

    She waited until he drank of the tea. She hoped it was enjoyed.

    "It would be nice to have more patrol in the mortal world. I haven't been since examination at the academy." She says.
    "But I understand we must understand spiritual world too." She agrees.
    "What is the place you were thinking about, Captain?" She asks curiously.
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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Hirokatsu

    Hirokatsu smiled as he took the arm tea into his hands and sip it. He had gotten into habit of drinking tea t night as he tended to work very late. The caffeine really no longer kept him up any later anymore, but it was more a way to relax for him.

    "ahhh... very good Kaki-san...very good...And please, feel free to have some as well, my family has been cultivating this tea for a long time...it may not be the best, but it is unique in its taste..."


    He smiled to her a genuine, non-hidden smile from under his mustache.

    He took a few more sips and thought on her questions.

    "Well, it was long ago Kaki-san...it was even before i enrolled in the Academy...if you can believe that!"

    He smiled again to her.

    "It was on a small island....a rocky mountain top, no shrine or anything...but when you were up there...you just...you just felt lighter... almost like you could fly if you stepped off the cliff..."

    As Hirokatsu spoke, Kaki would probably never heard him sound so young.


    "...I could probably find it again..."

    He took another sip, then pulled a small yellowish white cracker which was wrapped in brown paper from his sleeve-pocket and unwrapped it carefully and broke it into two pieces. He offered her one half as he continued.

    "...and as for Mortal World patrol...I think we can work that out Kaki-san... I do need you with me in the Seretei, but i could use your skills on Earth from time to time... in fact... i was planning a trip in a few weeks to check up on 9th Seat Shou-san...i was originally considering only going by myself...but perhaps you would like to come with me?"

    He looked to her awaiting her response.

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki

    Kaki hesitates and reluctantly takes some of the tea. Certainly it is a unique taste. But unfortunately, Kaki is a lover of coffee.

    Kaki listened with awe of the description. She could imagine such a place maybe.

    Gratefully Kaki accepts the cracker and eats it.
    At the offer of Hirokatsu, she looks surprised.

    "I-I would be happy to go to Earth with you!"
    She said. "Of course, after we have finished this mission." She quickly adds, trying to return to professional speech.

    A little bit of daydream, Kaki wonders what it will be like. But she is eagerly holding her cards in her hand now too. It will be a good time to try.
    Always they said that shinigami were to guide souls and purify them, but in 9th it was rare for this duty. Of course Kaki was curious of it too.

    It is becoming dark, so Kaki asks.
    "What time shall we wake up, sir?"
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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Hirokatsu

    Hirokatsu nodded happily to Kaki as she responded then he swallowed the last piece of the small Goto family-made cracker. They had little taste to them individually, but they were lightly salted, a sea-salt of some kind it tasted like.

    "Well, Kaki-san...I believe dawn would be appropriate."

    He rose from his seat against the tree, his closed umbrella in his hand, and made his way to his bedroll near the small fire.

    He knelt to his knees, looking at the fire and the tea kettle for a moment. Then he turned to Kaki and spoke softly, and with a genuine smile.

    "Do get a good rest Kaki-san...we still have a ways to travel tomorrow, and if the travel goes well we should meet up with Yokohama-san..."

    He then laid down gently on the bedroll flat and face up. Tugging his black haori coat around him tightly over his chest instead of using a blanket, he then laid his closed umbrella pointed downward to his feet over his chest and held it with both hands. He then situated his head to be comfortable on the ground, he stared eyes open at the leaves of the trees above, looking past them into the star filled sky. He then spoke again, his eyes still staring upwards and his voice soft again.

    "...I enjoyed our time today Kaki-san...thank you"

    His eyes closed as he began to find his way to sleep.

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    Kaki

    Kaki nodded and finished her cracker and began to cleanup and make her bedroll for sleep as Hirokatsu did the same.

    She wiped the cups clean and was adding a few small sticks to the fire when he had laid down and spoke his last words to her before he slept. They surprised her somewhat and she blushed slightly as his eyes closed.

    "I've never seen Hirokatsu-sama like this..."

    She thought to her self as she then lay down on her bedroll and pull up the small blanket over her before responding very softly, almost to herself, hoping not to wake him.

    "...I had a good day too Hirokatsu-sama...thank you"

    Then she looked up through the same leaves Hirokatsu did, the stars twinkling above them. She lay for a moment thinking of her Acting-Captain, and what the rest of the trip had in store.

    Her eyes closed gently as the breeze rustled through the tree branches, soothing her mind as she drift off to sleep.

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    Default Re: [BitP:R] Episode 10: A coming of age

    [Day 15 morning]
    Hirokatsu and Kaki

    Hirokatsu woke up a few minutes before dawn and as he sat up he saw that Kaki had already been awake for some time it had seemed. Well, that is to say, she had at least gotten up some time before earlier but her now sleeping body slumped forward with her loaded up backpack pressing down on her as she sat near the quiet and dead fire.

    Hirokatsu smiled at her slight sleeping body as he blinked the sleep from his eyes and stood, cleaning the leaves and dirt from his black haori he wore over his Shinigami robes.

    He looked at Kaki for a moment longer before he turned and looked out down the hill they slept atop. Holding his closed umbrella down to the ground and leaning on it like a cane, he peered into the darkness and looked to the horizon while he thought to himself.

    It was as silent and short moment to himself before the day and work began anew. He thought on his family, and his life, his past and his dearly departed friend Osamu. He thought on his friends and his Division, his past Captains, most recently Kiku, and he thought on his new assistant, Kaki, whom he grew fonder and fonder of her as he spent more time with her.

    As he smiled to himself and looked out into the darkness, Kaki woke herself up from having dozed off after packing the supplies trying to impress her Acting Captain by being ready before he woke.

    After rubbing her sleepy eyes a few times, she was surprised to see her Acting Captain standing in the darkness, looking out over the hill and fields below. Her mouth opened to greet her Acting Captain in the morning, but no sound came out, because as she did the first glimmers of warm rays of the sun began creeping over the horizon. Like little rivers of light the slowly spread across the landscape below them catching all the raised elevations as they came to greet it, as if each was greeted with its own first and private warming from the sun individually.

    Kaki stood and walked a bit closer to the rear of Hirokatsu as the light began casting him in silhouette. She said no words and watched as they day began to now radiate across the valley and turn the black sky blue. She walked forward even further, coming to stand right next to Hirokatsu, smiling to herself and clasping her hands in front of her as she began to feel the warmth of the sun on her face.

    She looked over and up to Hirokatsu after a moment. The light began to nip at his face, finding his wrinkles and all the contours of his long eyebrows and mustache, and his eyes were OPEN and they twinkled showing the soft blue tones in them clearly. The light alone would have made his face seem warm, but his open, kind eyes, and unhidden smile were more than enough to take the young Kaki aback.

    Hirokatsu had always been calculating and kind, and always hospitable and rewarding with honest praise of a job well done, but rarely if ever would one consider him "warm" to be around, and always far from happy in his demeanor no matter the circumstance. But right now, in the warmth of this new day's light he seemed happy. His face was not covered in the shade of his umbrella. His eyes not closed to keep out the light of the sun, and he stood quiet as usual, but there was more to it at the moment. Something else, he did not seem quiet, tough he spoke nothing and did not move or look to her. He seemed alive and full of life it seemed. Kaki could not help herself but smile openly at him. She opened her mouth again to greet him, her smile leading the way, but once again no words came out as she was interrupted by Hiroaktsu's soft and kind voice.

    "Good morning Kaki-san..."

    He bowed his head slightly while still looking forward.

    "...I am happy you are awake and could enjoy this beautiful day begin..."

    His head then looked over, his eyes wide and glimmering, and looked to Kaki and smiled a warmer greeting than the sun could ever bring to her, she thought as she felt his individual kindness and care being rained down on her.

    She couldnt help but blush and look away as she nodded and responded.

    "Thank you sir. Good morning to you as well"

    Hirokatsu's smiled receded and he turned his head back to the sunrise, oranges and yellows peaking through and warming away the night time clouds.

    He took a deep breath in and his eyes closed. Stepping back from under the canopy of the tree above and the overlook, he slowly brought his umbrella up from being held upside down and opened it carefully as she stepped forward out from under the tree, setting it down on his shoulder softly as he made his way out from the shade to the road once again.

    Hirokatsu then spoke up and out to his Actin Vice Captain, Kaki. His voice was kind and his words honest.

    "I am quite impressed that you woke up to pack like you did...Now, let's get going, we have far to travel today if we want to meet up with Yokohama-san"

    Kaki watched the sunrise a bit longer as Hirokatsu moved away, she turned and followed him as she heard his words and responded quickly before catching up to walk next to him.

    ---
    [Day 15 late afternoon]
    Hirokatsu and Kaki


    They traveled for quite a ways down the road that weaved to and fro in the rolling countryside in the Eastern Rukongai Districts. They passed small towns and a few travelers. Even a few Shinigami on their way back to the Seretei from a vacation. They spoke very little along the way, mostly each of them checking on the other to see if they were tired or in need of water or food, to which both would always respond by asking how the other felt before commencing with partaking. They even ate their lunch as they walked, Kaki having made some beautifully made onigiri rice balls for the road just in case. Hirokatsu was delighted at the offer but did not partake, in stead eating his lightly flavored bread and tea from his own canteen.

    It wasn't until they entered the edge of the Eastern 15th District, that they considered stopping for dinner, and both had decided that once they got to the 15th District, they would take a moment to rest, before pressing on as far as they could until they reached their comrade, Yokohama-san, or nightfall came and they would find a place to sleep for the night, whichever came first.

    They stopped by the edge of the road, Hirokatsu spotting a few old dying trees by which they sat in their shade as they ate each of their meals, Hirokatsu's his same but with warm tea, and Kaki with a nice bowl of warm soup made over a kido started small fire.

    They ate in some silence, but as Hirokatsu finished his bread, he then spoke to Kaki, without warning and as if they had been talking all day.

    "You know Kaki-san...I grew up around here...It seems like a lifetime ago, but I spent many days on this road, running back from here to my family's home..."

    Kaki's eyes lit up as she looked up from her soup to Hirokatsu as he spoke. He never spoke of his family in any detail other than when he went to visit them, and she could not even imagine him as a child.

    "....all of us had to train our bodies almost as much as we had to train our minds through reading and studying...even from my youngest days in the Soul Society we were to run and get stronger..."

    He then looked up to the dying trees that slouched over them, pointing at them with his thumb.

    "These trees here were where we had to run to every day, in the morning, then after lunch...then before we went to bed....but they were a lot bigger back then though...It's how i knew we were in the 15th District...as we weren't allowed to go passed its borders without permission...."

    He reached back and pat the nearest one on the trunk lightly as if it were an old friend.

    "...I remember, when i first got here, i was always last back on all the runs..."

    He then snickered at himself and a gruff, false look came over his face as he then spoke again. His voice was fake and old sounding on purpose, almost 'comical'.

    "...Hiro-san!..."

    He wagged his forefinger at Kaki, depicting how someone had referred to him as a child.

    "...don't you be the last one back from your runs!.. There's plenty more work to train for, and you won't get any of it done by dawdling!"

    His demeanor changed and it was him talking as himself again.

    "Then, after a while...i got stronger, and faster...and i was never last again..."

    Hirokatsu then smiled to himself and took a small bite of his bread.

    Kaki looked and listened to Hirokatsu talk of youth with full interest. She then caught herself staring as she then quickly gulped up the rest of her soup, while Hirokatsu finished his bread.

    They sat for a few minutes finishing their drinks and relaxing. Hirokatsu leaned back against the one of the old trees his eyes closed but not asleep, and Kaki pulled out her cards and shuffled through them, organizing and reorganizing them over and over while mouthing words as she did so, though making no sounds.

    Their rest was short lived however, as Hirokatsu sat up and jumped to his feet bringing his closed umbrella up and open to his shoulder all in one motion. His eyes opened and he looked up the road farther into the 15th District. He walked out to the middle of the road and looked to the horizon.

    Kaki was befuddled, as her Acting Captain was obviously hearing or sensing something that she could not hear or feel. She came out to the road with him and looked down the road, for what, she had no idea, but she looked anyways.

    "What is going on? Hirokatsu-sama....."

    She said weakly as she thought she saw Hirokatsu reach up for his umbrella, as if to close it, but then in a puff of dirt and a flap of breeze in her hair, he was gone.

    She was perplexed and confused, looking all around her until she then looked down the road and she could see him moving like a blur, his umbrella closed held behind him, down the road where they were just looking before.

    In front of him, farther down the road, she thought she could see another dark spot on the road, but it wasnt moving fast, if at all. Kaki then sped off at her fastest shunpo down the road following her Acting Captain as fast as she could.

    When she finally caught up to him, he was already stopped and in his knees next to a young man. A young Shinigami. It was Yokohama-san...and he was bleeding terribly causing the dirt under him and the kneeling Hirokatsu, to grow darker and darker red with each moment.

    Hirokatsu had his hands over a wound on his stomach, applying pressure it seemed, and his head was down and Hirokatsu's ear next to Yokohama's mouth as the young Shinigami was trying to speak.

    Kaki rushed over to Hirokatsu's side, but as she knelt down to his side and attempted to lay her hands out over Yokohama-san, Hirokatsu's closed eyes opened, and his hands slackened over Yokohama's wound.

    Yokohama-san was dead.

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    Hirokatsu and Kaki

    Kaki's outstretched arms slackened to her sides as she looked onto Yokohama-san's motionless body while kneeling next to Hirokatsu. Her eyes began to well up with tears as she stared at her fallen fellow 9th Division member.

    She didnt know Yokohama that well, but she did know him to be a good and loyal Shinigami and model 9th Division division member. A tear started to roll down her left cheek as she then lifted her right arm up to reach out to touch the robes of Yokohama. Feeling his dirty and blood stained hakama she felt a tear from her right eye begin to roll down her cheek as her lower lip began to tremble lightly.

    Her careful and soft touch of his robes then began to tighten up as she felt her emotions begin to take over her. She started to get angry. This wasnt fair, he was a good member, a smart and kind man. How could he be reduced to this bloodied heap? Only a few years earlier this could have been her on the ground. She had spent many missions in the Rukongai and never seen any kind of threat that could have done this kind of damage. A few civilian brawls, and occasional low level Hollow maybe, but nothing that a competent Shinigami like Yokohama or herself couldnt deal with.

    Kakis grip tightened more and more as she stared down with closed and tearful eyes at Yokohama-san. She was about to call out in anger when she felt a soft but steady hand on her outstretched tight-fisted hand. Her eyes then opened to see Hirokatsu's hand on top of hers, for a moment she just looked at it and then she felt it slightly squeeze hers. Then she looked up to see the closed eyes of her Acting Captain next to her looking down on to Yokohama-san. Though they were closed, she coudl tell they held remorse behind them.

    She then let her grip slacken on Yokohama's robes as she allowed Hirokatsu's grip on her hand take precedence. Her anger began to recede somewhat and she sat for a moment looking at Hirokatsu.

    They had dealt with death in the Division before, but not like this. Something linked the two of them right now, perhaps it was the fierceness of the injuries or perhaps it was that this was the first time both of them, as the leaders of the 9th Division had lost one of those under their ultimate care.

    Then as she look up at Hirokatsu she felt her tears on her face and reached up with her other hand to wipe away the tears form her face. As she did Hirokatsu squeezed her hand again and letting it go gently and then leaned back in his kneeling position and rose to his feet, and stood looking over the body of Yokohama-san.

    Wiping away her tears she turned her eyes to look back down to Yokohama, and softly spoke.

    "...What...what happened Hirokatsu-taicho?"

    She then started to try to straighten out the robes of Yokohama-san and cover his injuries as best she could as she stay in her kneeling position.
    Hirokatsu said nothing as his eyes opened very lightly as he looked over Kaki and Yokohama-san.

    "...He didnt say much before he succumbed...but it is what i feared...the reports he gave were much more troublesome than we had first thought...he was attacked by not just one or two low level Hollow...he was attacked by at least 10-15 of then...and they were stronger than when he encountered them before...whatever is happening out here is not a simple run small random occurrences ...but something much more serious..."

    A hell butterfly fluttered down to his shoulder from above, and he paused speaking to Kaki while he whispered what had happened into the message before it fluttered away from his shoulder and in the direction of the Seretei.

    Turning his attention back to Kaki he continued.

    "...His injuries are even more troublesome as well, they are deep and seem to have been targeted to specifically keep Yokohama from escaping..."

    Kaki's the looked a little closer at Yokohama'a body noticing the deep cuts on the backs of his legs and on his arms and legs. There was a large slash on his torso too, but it definitely seemed to have not been the focus of the attacks.

    "...Whatever did this to him did not want him to get away, and perhaps keep him from getting to his soul phone or a hell butterfly...as his soul phone is nowhere to be found. The damage on his zanapktuo is worrisome as well, as it is heavily knicked and dug up...meaning whomever he fought was more tough than a typical Hollow...especially in regards to how he had earlier reported the attacks he had dealt with before with little trouble."

    Kaki looked to the damaged sword and mangled sheath that lay to his side on the ground. That was when she started to see his body start to disintegrate into reishi. Starting at his feet and hands and moving inwards to his body and head it slowly crumbled and rise and disappear into the air, until all that was left was the blood stained dirt and the unsheathed damaged zanpaktuo in the road.

    She felt another tear come down her face as Yokohama's body disappeared back into the spiritual flow. She then saw Hirokatsu reach over and pick up Yokohama's spiritless zanapktuo into his hand and grip it loosely as he then spoke again.

    "...Kaki-chan...we should take a moment for Yokohama-san."

    Kaki wiped her face and rose to her feet and followed Hiroaktsu as he moved to the side of the road and off it to a small leafy tree. Pausing, he then took out a small piece of paper from his sleeve and a small pen, writing Yokohama's name and rank on it as well as something else on its reverse side which Kaki couldnt make out, before then attaching it to a loose tassel on the end of the sword. Then, kneeling down he stabbed the sword carefully into the ground near the tree's base and rose back to his feet closing his eyes and clasping his hands around his umbrella behind his back horizontally.

    Kaki came up and stood next to Hirokatsu and wanted to say something. But she didnt say anything. She thought perhaps Hirokatsu would say something, but he didnt either. Instead they both stood in a sympathetic silence as they thought on their fallen comrade. The breeze lapped at their face and hair as they stood and after what would never have been long enough Hirokatsu stepped back and turned away from the tree and back to the road.

    Kaki looked down to the sword and knelt one last time reaching out and touching it once more. The little paper message fluttered in the wind as she looked at it, but she still could not make out what Hirokatsu had inscribed on its reverse. She thought for a brief moment about looking at it, but chose not to. Rising back up she looked one last time at the sword speaking very lightly.

    "Goodbye Yokohama-san..."

    Kaki then backed up and then turned to follow Hirokatsu ho had already began walking up the road. His umbrella was not raised over his head, instead it rest closed on his right shoulder.

    She hurried to catch up with him and walk next to him on his right side. She looked up and over to him and thought long before saying anything as they walk down the road.

    Opening her mouth to speak she was interrupted by Hirokatsu's own light voice.

    "We are going to make a slight detour to spend our night somewhere safer and think a bit more on our next step..."

    As he spoke Kaki noticed that Hirokatsu altered his line of walking so as to bring them much closer together as they walk next to each other along the road.

    "...We are going to spend the night at my family's residence"

    Kaki's eyes widened slightly at learning that she was going to visit her Taicho's home. She was not sure what to say, or how to react finding her gaze onto the dirt road as they walked.

    It was only a few steps before she felt as if her worries were gone, the evening sunlight's rays no longer warming her but she still felt its warmth.

    That was when she looked up again having noticed that Hirokatsu had raised his umbrella to its open position, allowing its shade to not only cover his head, but also hers.

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    Hirokatsu and Kaki

    It did not take long for Hiroaktsu and Kaki to reach the Goto family residence.

    Kaki had seen reports by her Captain that told of him visiting and some of the things he had to do while he was there. She knew it was on the coast of a large sea as Hirokatsu had described one time having to fix the lighthouse, and she knew it had a grassy courtyard with high walls from his stories of some training he did there, as well as some classrooms, but beyond that she had no idea what to expect. Other than there were only men that lived there.

    As they approached the residence, Kaki could feel the breeze and saltiness in the air as the temperature cooled somewhat. The road to the home was also immaculate, simple rock pebbles, but there were few out of place or straying off the path into the surrounding grassy areas. It did not seem manicured in an artistic way, more in a way of adding order to something potentially disorderly.

    She first saw the building fro ma distance, the red and white striped lighthouse looming tall over it. A rather large ship's mast and furled sails also could be seen behind the house and lighthouse probably moored to a simple dock below, as she could not see the water of the sea the house and lighthouse were obviously on a short cliff.

    The walls surrounding the house were tall and did not let glimpse much but the top floor of the large Goto residence, which had simple adornments and window trimmings. The walls themselves were a gray stone and there was a single tower on one of the corners where the faintest glimpse of a figure could be seen as they were undoubtedly on watch for the residence.

    As they got closer, the walls grew a bit higher than Kaki had first thought seeing as she hadnt noticed they approached in a slight decline down a hill. There was a large thick wooden double doors from the ground to the top of the wall, which the path led to, with tall leafing trees lining the last 50 yards or so of the now much more manicured and widened path.

    As they came within about 20 yards Kaki coudl see the Goto family crest carved into the large wooden doors as they creaked open revealing their true thickness, which was at least 8-10ft deep, same as the stone walls it seemed.

    As the door opened light flooded through the doorway onto the path silhouetting the figures she started to see beyond and inside.

    Not changing their gait and stepping into and through the doorway Kaki still stayed and walked in the shade of Hirokatsu's umbrella, the shiloetted figures now coming into focus, along with the green courtyard on either side of the continuing pebble path.

    There were many people gathered lining the sides of the road as they stepped in. She heard the creak of the door closing, Kaki looking back quickly to see two men closing the door as soon s there was room to do so. Kaki then looked back to the lined men on either side of them as they passed through.

    Each were different, some older, some younger, but all were fit and dark haired, like her Captain. They all wore simple outfits and stood proud with their heads and eyes forward until the two of them passed each man, to which they would immediately bow their head and say:

    "Welcome home, Brother-dono"

    It was hard to judge exactly how many of them were, but as they passed through the grassy area, which was probably 50 yards long from the gate to the house, towards the large wooden house, she realized that there were more than just those gathered in the opposing lines.

    The last 10 yards of the walk on the right side were all very old members, all looking much older than her Captain, and opposing them were all very young boys, none more than 5 years old. They too stood as confident and strong as they could, their higher pitched voices when saying "Brother-dono" was a stark contrast to all the others gathered, especially the old men across from them. Kaki looked up to her Captain as they passed the children and saw his eyes open and looking to the children, he hadnt looked to any of the other lining.

    At the end of the two lines, were two figures in the middle of the path standing in front of a wide set of stone stairs leading up into the house behind them. They were both much older looking than her captain, but they bowed deeply to him as she and him approached and stopped in front of them.


    "Welcome home , Brother-dono"

    They said almost in unison, as they bowed and rose.

    The older of the two then spoke.

    "We prepared for your possible visit, and we have a room and food already prepared...as well as all the intelligence you requested..."

    Hirakatsu looked and bowed his head to the elder then spoke to him as he turned around to the others in the lines to speak as well

    "Thank you Shiko-sama..."

    His voice raising as he spun, closing his umbrella and holding it behind his back horizontally. Stepping back from Kaki he motioned to her as she spoke.

    "This is Okaji Kaki...she is my Acting Vice-Captain in the 9th Division, and i expect you to extend her the same respect and gratitude you not only give to all Shinigami, but also the same respect you give to me."


    He paused for a bit stepping forward and back next to Kaki speaking again.

    "...Now i'm sure you all have better things to do than stand here...so please do not let us hamper your work any further, we will only be here for the night, but thank you for the warm reception, it makes me happy to see you all again."

    He looked at the children nodding to them with almost a hint of a smile.

    He then bowed to them, at which point they all bowed lower to him and then turned and went about their business. The young boys all ran off across the path pushing their way through the elders who were too slow to get out of the youngsters' way.

    As they ran passed, Kaki felt the gaze of many of the kids each staring obviously at her, and as they went she heard a few of the kids speak to each other softly.

    "She's so pretty!...I know..i know.... Brother-dono is so lucky...i know... i know..."

    Hirokatsu then grinned slightly to himself as he turned around before Kaki, letting her blushing cheeks not let her feel awkward in front of him. He then began to walk up to the house with the two elders leading the way.

    Kaki, after feeling her cheeks redness wain, turned and followed Hirokatsu up the steps and into the house.

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