She flipped her cascading black hair back and raised her head proudly. “Murano Maki, sixth division,” she said.
Rukia gaped. WHAT?
Rukia angrily whipped around to glare at Byakuya, who was watching the little spat with a mild expression on his face. “Who, exactly, is she?” she hissed, indicating this Murano Maki standing next to her with a jerk of her head.
Byakuya took a long-drawn out breath, and decided that it was inevitable that he was to get involved. “She’s the newest transfer to the sixth division,” he explained.
“I transferred to Seireitei from Gippondai,” Maki drawled, and just the perfect melodious sound of her voice ticked Rukia off. “That old man—”
“Yamamoto-genryuusai,” Byakuya inserted, and Rukia gave an icy glare at him for helping her.
“—yes, him, told me that I would be best suited for the sixth division,” Maki finished, before she turned and flashed a smile at Byakuya.
Gippondai was a small town near Seireitei, although it wasn’t quite as large and didn’t have an organized combat force in it like Seireitei had the Gotei 13. Gippondai was also composed of souls, and only a few shinigami patrolled the streets to settle any problems.
“Kuchiki-taichou has agreed to take me under his wing and show me the ropes of Seireitei,” Maki continued, twirling a silky strand of flowing black hair with her finger. “He’s such a kind person.”
What blatant flattery, Rukia thought. She really was a conniving little bitch – Rukia could always tell these types of people at first glance.
“However,” Maki continued, staring down at Rukia with a disgusted look on her face, as if she couldn’t even bother with people like Rukia in her perfect life. “who are you, speaking to me like that? I don’t appreciate such crude words at a first appearance, you know. Perhaps you would like to brush up on your vocabulary, and next time use more…elegant words,” she finished, with a sneer on her face.
Rukia’s reiatsu noticeably flared in anger, and she couldn’t believe that Byakuya was letting this bitch get away with what was coming out of her mouth.
Rukia noticed that Byakuya looked a bit uneasy as he glanced between the two women facing off in front of his desk. It serves the coward right, Rukia thought irritably.
“For your information, Murano-san,” Rukia started, “I am his wife, and I don’t appreciate people like you trying to come on him when he is obviously married.”
Maki looked at her in disbelief, before she started laughing and Rukia’s cheeks flushed bright pink. “Oh, so you say! That’s a really wonderful joke – you being Kuchiki-taichou’s wife!”
Rukia’s hand twitched as she fought the urge to slap Maki across the face. However, Byakuya decided to choose this moment as high time to interfere.
“She really is my wife,” he said, effectively silencing Maki’s laughter. “And Maki, perhaps—”
Rukia’s fiery anger surged forth once again. “You know what, I don’t care anymore,” she screamed. “Come home at an appropriate hour, Kuchiki-taichou, when you’re done with this tramp!”
She threw a glare at Maki, who returned it with a condescending sneer, before Rukia spun on her heel and stalked out, banging the door shut with as much force as she could manage.
Later, at the Kuchiki mansion
“I don’t like her,” Rukia announced venomously, throwing herself furiously onto the large bed as Byakuya emerged from the bathroom. He had a sheepish look on his face that didn’t suit him and Rukia distinctly wondered if Maki’s charms were rubbing off on the unflappable Kuchiki-taichou.
“She’s my charge,” Byakuya merely said with no feeling, and a sense of resignation. “It’s my duty as the taichou of her division, after all.”
“But honestly, did you hear what she said to me, the nerve of her—”
Byakuya kissed Rukia softly on the forehead as he arranged the covers of the bed around their bodies. “Just try to forget it, and I promise I’ll try and drop in on you tomorrow at lunch, okay?”
Rukia smiled at him—he could always make her forgets the trials and tribulations of a hard, nasty day of work—and snuggled in closer to his body and breathed in his familiar, clean scent.
“That would be nice.”
The next morning, Rukia got up later than usual and didn’t accompany Byakuya to work – she decided to try and avoid that Maki girl at all costs. However, Rukia sometimes not-so-accidentally passed by the sixth division, and sometimes she saw Byakuya talking to Maki in front of the building, and that immediately got her ire up and she would storm away from the scene.
A week or so later, though, Rukia got up early enough so that she and Byakuya managed to leave for work at the same time, and she unabashedly followed Byakuya into his office in the sixth division, ignoring Byakuya’s curious look behind his shoulder at her.
Rukia’s mood immediately spiked in anger as she saw the impeccably beautiful Murano Maki already writing something on a scroll of paper to one side of Byakuya’s desk, and she looked up with a bright, perfect smile as Byakuya strode in, his haori fluttering regally behind him as if he was a king marching to his throne. However, Maki’s expression soured almost instantly when Byakuya turned to seat himself at his desk and she saw Rukia standing in the doorway like a shadow.
“What are you doing here again?” Maki asked, her voice dripping with venom and irritation at having to deal with scum like Rukia.
Rukia’s eyes blazed a menacing shade of violet. “I could say the same for you.”
“Unlike you, I work here, under Kuchiki-taichou, ne?” Maki punctuated this last point by abandoning her calligraphy on the scroll and smiling flatteringly at Byakuya, who regarded her with a look akin to boredom before he returned to whatever paperwork he was shuffling around.
Rukia seethed, again. This girl riled her up so easily—
Before she could retort, though, the door slid open again and Renji stuck his head in, taking notice of the surroundings (Byakuya flipping through paperwork, and Maki and Rukia viciously facing off against each other), before he deemed it safe and tiptoed in. Rukia drew breath to yell at him, surely her old childhood friend would help her in dealing with this bitch—
But then a soft voice interrupted Rukia’s train of thought. “What’s going on here, Maki?”
Rukia turned to see a woman of about Maki’s age edge in through the door following Renji. She wore a standard-issue shinigami’s shihakusho fitted appropriately (unlike Maki, Rukia thought with a sneer at Maki’s obviously-exposed cleavage), inquisitive light blue eyes, and neat brown hair twisted up into a bun in a very Ise Nanao fashion, with a lone wooden chopstick thrust into the middle of it. Her face was more plain-looking and earnest than Maki’s, and she was a bit shorter than the other shinigami, although a bit taller than Rukia, too. From what Rukia could gather, she could see no signs of a zanpakuto on the newcomer’s body, although she was obviously a shinigami.
The newcomer turned to Rukia, as if noticing her for the first time. “Hello,” she said, giving a slight bow to Rukia as decorum dictated, and noticing the Thirteenth division fukutaichou badge Rukia proudly displayed on her arm. “I’m Satushi Kimiko, sixth division. Most call me Kimi, anyways.” She smiled, parting plump pink lips into a bright smile. “I came here from Gippondai with Maki, and I’m mentored under Renji there.” She turned the bright grin onto Renji, and Rukia noticed, horrified, that Renji actually blushed a little and tried to hide a goofy smile of his own (although Rukia could see everything concerning her old friend).
“You’ll have to excuse Maki,” Kimiko, or Kimi, prattled on. “She doesn’t like Seireitei that much – she prefers Gippondai more. She’s not usually this mean, just give her time and you’ll see.” Rukia found it hard to dislike this new girl, with her eager grin and her sweet, coaxing voice, which was totally different from the snide tone Maki’s voice carried from the few short encounters Rukia had had with the taller shinigami.
“H-hai,” Rukia mumbled, at a lack of words. She fixed her gaze onto Byakuya, and noticed with annoyance that he was still signing paperwork and didn’t give the slightest hint of noticing Renji and Kimi crowding along with Maki and Rukia in his office.
Kimiko, at best, could be defined as “cute”. She wasn’t that pretty, with a peasant-like roundish face that was slowly lengthening out, dull brown hair that she pinned up into her bun, and light blue eyes that sparkled when she smiled. Next to Maki, who was a denizen of beauty with flowing black hair, wicked green eyes, and a perfectly sculpted body, Kimiko simply couldn’t compare.
“It was nice meeting you, Kimiko,” Rukia muttered hastily, giving a slight dip of her head as she sidestepped towards the door. She elbowed Renji on her way out, not too regretfully as the red-haired fukutaichou was still grinning foolishly at Kimiko (she suspected that he might have had too much sugar in his breakfast that morning), and threw a vicious glare at Maki, before edging out of the room and sliding the door shut behind her.
As Rukia made her way to the Thirteenth Division, passing a whistling Kyouraku-taichou on the way, she thought that this morning was turning out to be very interesting indeed.
“Ohayo, Rukia!” Kiyone chirped cheerily upon Rukia’s arrival into the Thirteenth Division offices, as she looked up from where she was watering a potted plant perched precariously atop tottering stacks of paperwork pile on Ukitake-taichou’s desk.
Rukia gaped. There hadn’t been that much paperwork yesterday…
“Ne, Rukia, what’s up? You look kind of angry.” Kiyone said, abandoning the watering can and peering at Rukia. “Is something wrong?”
Rukia slammed down her bag atop her desk with unnecessary force. “You could say there is,” she growled. “That new girl in the sixth division, what’s-her-face—Murano Maki. Why wasn’t I warned that new shinigami would start popping up all over the place? The other girl, Satushi Kimiko, isn’t all too bad, but Renji looks like he’s hopelessly in love with her.” She punctuated this sappy statement by rolling her eyes in irritation – not that she didn’t believe in hopelessly in love herself (she tried to will away the image of Byakuya that suddenly appeared in her mind), but because of Renji’s foolish behavior. “And then,” she ranted on, “that other shinigami, Maki, is completely, unnecessarily flattering Byakuya and stealing my husband away with matters or something that aren’t even important.”
Rukia sat down at her desk and withdrew a brush viciously from her drawer. She looked around to see Kiyone’s reaction, but the other shinigami was nowhere to be found. The watering can had even disappeared.
“Figures,” Rukia snorted in derision, and too pissed off at just the mere thought of Maki, she decided that nothing like dull paperwork would take her mind off of recent developments.
Rukia was surprised when Renji swung by the Thirteenth Division a little after lunch, telling Rukia that Yamamoto-genryuusai wanted to see the taichou and fukutaichou of the Sixth and Thirteenth divisions at three o’clock.
Ukitake-taichou merely smiled merrily when Rukia informed him of the news, and at a little after a quarter till three, they (Rukia and Ukitake) set out towards the direction of the large First division headquarters.
Inside the meeting chamber, they bowed graciously to Byakuya and Renji, who were already there, and Rukia caught Byakuya’s eye and gave him the smallest of smiles, which he grudgingly returned after a while.
The doors banged open, and Yamamoto-genryuusai strode in with all the dignity of a young shinigami.
“We are coming to dire times,” he said, in his old creaky voice once tea had been served. “All of Soul Society, and especially Seireitei and the Gotei 13, are starting preparations for an attack by Aizen’s forces in Hueco Mundo,” he continued. “We know that what Aizen is after is the key to the palace – and he wants to crown himself king, but we cannot let that happen, at all costs, even if we must die for it.” He pinned them all with a severe gaze that Rukia met with equal steel. “Therefore, as time lags on, I have decided to speed up preparations of all divisions of the Gotei 13 so that we may all be prepared when that day of the attack dawns, and we can successfully push back Aizen’s forces.”
“One essential part of my plan is for two divisions to work closely together, correlate and collaborate plans, and that is why you are here. The Sixth and the Thirteenth division will work together, train together, and strategize. I expect both of your divisions to do very well together and I also expect to see good results at the end of the preparation time frame.”
Byakuya dipped his head respectfully, and Ukitake followed suit. Rukia’s mind was spinning, though. Did that mean that she had to be smashed together with Maki every day from now on, because their divisions were training together?
On a brighter thought, though, now she definitely had an excuse to go see Byakuya whenever she wanted to…
“Other divisions are doing this too, under my plan,” Yamamoto-genryuusai said. “Divisions like the seventh and eighth are also collaborating together. Your divisions’ first training session shall be tomorrow.” He closed his old eyes and stood up, and immediately, so did his audience. “Dismissed.”
Yamamoto-genryuusai strode back through the doors through which he had emerged, his haori fluttering behind him. As soon as the doors had safely slammed closed, Ukitake turned and grinned at Rukia. “This’ll be fun, won’t it?” he asked.
The next day, Rukia trudged to the training grounds where both divisions had agreed to meet. She was hoping to achieve Sode no Shirayuki’s bankai, and she felt that it would be soon, she could nearly feel it, and she hoped that Byakuya could help her.
Too soon, though, she encountered the vileness that was Maki, blocking her way. Her long hair that Rukia had only seen flowing down her back, was neatly knotted into a thick braid hanging down her back in a very Nemu-like fashion, and she had her zanpakuto hanging in one hand.
“Get out of my way,” Rukia said tiredly, not feeling like dealing with the bitch for the time being.
Maki’s response was to sneer, and say, “Awww, are you going to go practice your shikai? I didn’t know that your skill level was so low that you haven’t even mastered your shikai yet!”
Her voice was syrupy sweet, but Rukia knew her intentions were far from it. Why was this Maki so hell-bent on provoking her all the time? From what Rukia could gather, they seemed to be the only ones out so far on the edges of the training field.
She hissed at Maki, her eyes shooting embers of violet fire. “My shikai is obviously good enough for a fukutaichou’s position,” she asserted confidently.
“Well then, we’ll see about that,” Maki retorted. “I’ll show you a real shikai, not that little show and trick you shinigami here in Seireitei call a shikai.” Her zanpakuto had started to glow ominously, and Rukia faintly wondered if her zanpakuto was anything like Byakuya’s Senbonzakura.
Rukia tightened her hold on Sode no Shirayuki, ready to draw it and use it should things get nasty and out of hand with Maki here.
“Think of it as a little spar,” Maki said sweetly. Now she held her zanpakuto out in front her, and it was glowing a healthy yellow shade.
“All ready to go,” she purred, and then drew breath to shout out her shikai.
Comments are appreciated! :D