The Black Phoenix @akatsukiskyuubi
Kage's Vengence & Vacation

The Black Phoenix

Chapter 6: Kage's Vengeance & Vacation

-Last Chapter-

Once inside Kage slid from his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Kenny we've been lonely without you and Yachiru!" He looked around to see his squad nodding and wrapped his arms over her shoulders. "We are home now" After a dinner that truly made the woman smile the squad could see how much Kage really had missed their captain. As Kage crawled into bed that night she thanked the guardians for the return of her captains.

-This Chapter-

When Kage woke up she dashed out of her room with only her shorts, a sports bra and Kisuke's jacket on. Her bare feet made no sound as she ran down the hall she threw the porch doors open. Kenpatchi turned when he heard the door slam open to see Kage breathing hard and tears in her eyes. "Kage?" He was surprised when she threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck he felt her hot tears hit his neck. He wrapped his arms around her and pulled her into his lap so she wasn't draped across the cold deck, he heard her mumble into his neck and it took his brain a moment to process it. "Don't leave me again please Father, It hurts when your gone." He was shocked to hear her words, he smiled and slightly rocked her like a baby. "Your safe now, I'm here" They stayed like that as the dawn broke, Kenny realized she'd fallen asleep in his arms. Kage called me father....So Yachiru was trying to hide it to protect Kage. He felt Kage shift and hear her yawn, he looked down into jeweled eyes. "Did you mean what you said?" She smiled at him and leaned up to kiss his cheek, before nodding. "You remind me so much of what I have always wanted in a father"was the raspy reply which made him chuckle and he set her next to him. "What is school like?" She looked up at him, and lowered her head. "It sucks. The others are right bastards to me and the teachers let it happen, But I refuse to whine to anyone about it, because I don't want to embarrass you or my squad. I wasn't even allowed to represent my class in the upcoming tournament instead they chose my rival." She knew she could never lie to him so she told him everything flat out.

Kenpatchi was shocked she hadn't been allowed to fight, he knew she studied sword skills under Byakuya and he wondered what the reserved captain would say when he told him this morning at the captains meeting. They sat and talked until breakfast, and while the girls chatted and talked Yachiru could see the bags under her friend's eyes. When she left the table to bath and dress for the day she looked at her and Kenny's squad for answers. "What happened to her?" Yachiru asked with a cold edge to her normally happy voice. "She hasn't been sleeping much lieutenant and she's barely eating, this morning was the first time in weeks she's actually eaten decently." It took him twenty minutes to get the whole story on her condition from his squad, but he held his hand up when he felt her coming back. Kage popped through the door with a smile on her face. "Hey Yachiru wanna go shopping with me today?"Yachiru nodded and asked a question. "Why are we going shopping?" the smile she got in return made her grin. "Its almost Christmas and I need to get some people their presents."Yachiru want and changed her from her pajamas into her uniform and they left. The girls went from one store to the next picking,poking and prodding at possible gifts. Kage bought one gift for each captain and one for Yamamoto-sama, she got presents for the lieutenants. As they returned to the hall the girls split up to wrap their gifts and hide them for the moment away from the squad.

"Hey where is Kenny?" She asked Yachiru when they met up again a little while later. "Captains meeting." They shook their heads and walked into the office together to do some paperwork/homework, they were interrupted near lunch time by one of the newer squad members. "Kage-sama, the cooks have sent finger snaps and tea for you." She told him to enter and the girls enjoyed the quiet lunch together, Kage told Yachiru what school was like and Yachiru was angry that they would dare treat her Wolfy-chan that way. Little did they know of the chaos that same news was causing at the captains meeting. Kenny left the squad hall about twenty minutes after the girls did, his mind wandering on the walk to the meeting hall. As the meeting went on Kenpatchi waited until the meeting was done before he decided to say something. "Hey Captain Yamamoto? I have something I wanna ask you"The old man turned to him he knew the others were curious about the matter. "What is it Captain Zuraki?" He gave a dark smirk before speaking. "I was wondering if you knew how Kage's school was going?"now he had the groups attention and they all looked at the captain-commander for an answer. "All I receive from her teachers is that she is doing well, but nothing more. Why?" Zuraki's eye flashed. "She told me this morning how her classes are truly going and I am disgusted on their treatment of her" He explained everything she told him from the nasty pranks to the neglect from her teachers. "She said she didn't want to sound like she was whining, or discredit the captains who taught her." The captains were shocked at the mans words."Send a messenger, I wish to hear this from her lips." the messenger ran from the room to disappear over the wall.

Kage was just finishing her homework when one of the squad members knocked on her office door. "Kage-sama there is a messenger for you its from the Captain-commander." She rose from behind the desk and walked down the hall, she opened the door and stepped onto the deck looking at the kneeling man. "Captain-commander Yamamoto has requested your presence at the castle we must leave immediately." Before she could say anything he scooped her up and dashed off. The squad was in an uproar when Yachiru came out of the office to see what was the matter. "Whats going on?" the newbie from earlier spoke up. "A messenger came and snatched Kage-sama right off the porch!"She calmed the squad and told them they would wait for Kenny to return before starting to worry. Kage had yelped when she was snatched off the porch and Mirzam was pressing painfully into her hipbone, as he jumped from rooftop to rooftop. He ran straight through the open doors and into the meeting hall, some of the captain were startled when the messenger set the barefoot woman down Kage whirled on the messenger with a growl. She proceeded to berate the man for startling her squad by snatching her off the front porch. "Kage-chan there is a more important matter at hand"Jushiro said softly. She nodded before turning and walking towards the group of captains, her bare feet making little noise on carpet. " Yes Captain Yamamoto?" He asked her if what Kenny said was true, before explaining what was told to them. She sighed and raised her head before speaking. "Yes, its true since I started school I have been pranked, mistreated and ignored." She was asked by Soifon why she didn't say anything. "Because I didn't wish to discredit those who taught me, and I have pride enough not to whine about what I can't change." She looked down her bangs hiding her face from the eyes on her.

"I see" Yamamoto said after a moments thought. " Perhaps its better if you return to your single studies." Her eyes lifted at she looked at him they were surprised to see her crying,

Kage had never cried in front of them. "I want to prove to them that they can't judge me so easily, just because I am different" He legs gave out under her and she hit her knees, and she wiped her eyes trying to stop the leaking tears. She saw a pair of black boots in from of her and she looked up, before her was her sword master. "Kuchiki-Sensei?" she rasped the other captains were surprised to see the man stand before the watery eyed woman. "Why do you want to prove them wrong?" her eyes met his. "Because! You are my sword-master and they are dismissing you and your training so easily it makes me angry!" the last word was a growl and they saw fires light behind her eyes. Byakuya realized she was trying to defend his honor as well as her own, it nearly made him crack a smirk but years of training helped him suppress the urge. They heard a chuckle and turned to see Mayuri with crossed arms. "This girl only wants a fight to prove that her lessons weren't a waste of time, it doesn't surprise me that she wants them to see her fight after all look where she's been living." the joke even made Kage chuckle as she got to her feet, and she looked up at Byakuya her eyes sending a message she could never say. "Are you entered in the tournament this Monday?"She lowered her head and shook it. "No the school's sword master chose my rival instead of me to represent my class." Kenny saw the smirk that crossed Yamamoto's face and raised his eyebrow.

"Kage do you know that the winners of the tournament must face a team match made up normally of a lieutenant and a fourth seat?" she shook her head and cocked it to the side wondering what he was getting at. "But the lieutenant and fourth must be from different squads." she was scratching her head mind whirling, she looked at Kenny when he laughed. "Kage you can step in as my 4th seat" she looked up at Yamamoto, his eyes had a flame burning bright behind them. "Could I really Yamamoto-sama?"he nodded and was surprised when she hugged him, Kenny couldn't help but laugh. "Thank you thank you thank you" she mumbled as she let go and backed away, blushing brightly. "Thank you for the hug little one its been along time since I received one." she smiled brightly her eyes lighting up. "I wonder which of the lieutenants will fight with me!" Yamamoto dismissed them and she started for the door only to be scooped up to sit on Kenny's shoulder. "Your barefoot" he said when she looked at him, and she chuckled looking at her elder brother she lipped a few words to him. 'sorry I didn't tell you' he nodded in understanding but raised an eyebrow when she started flicking Captain Zuraki's bells in a rhythm. "Christmas is soon why don't we have a party?" Jushiro looked up to see she was talking to them all. "It would be fun.....as long as no one lets Rangiku make the drinks" the captains shared a chuckle from the joke, she looked at Hitsugaya and smiled. "I guess it wouldn't hurt anything to have a party" he said and she yipped happily.

"When will it be?" Soifon asked and Kage thought for a moment before smirking. "Well if I can borrow your lieutenants we could have it tomorrow since the tournament is the day after that." the captains thought for a moment before nodding their agreement, they told her they would send their lieutenants to her as soon as they returned. "Nii-sama Can I borrow Rukia?"he nodded smiling because she had remembered he no longer had a lieutenant. "But the last question that bothers me is where we can hold our party?" the group thought as the walked down the steps. Shunsui snapped his fingers and spoke up. "Why not at my hall I have the largest yard and my squad is out on patrol until the day of the tournament." Kage thought about it Shunsui's squad was mainly a patrol unit so his hall was small but he had a huge yard in turn."Its perfect when should we start tomorrow?" this time it was Byakuya who spoke up and made her smile. "2 o'clock seems to be an appropriate time" she nodded and as they split up she waived to each of them in turn saying she'd see them tomorrow at the party and that she had a present for each of them. The rest of the ride home was pleasant as she would gently flick one of Kenny's bells every so often until he walked through the hall gates. "Wolfy-chan! Kenny-chan!" she waived as she was gently set on the ground and she laughed at some of the comments she got about the messengers act of stealing her.

As they ate lunch she laughed and joked, teased and was gently teased in turn. Afterwards she dashed off to her office to finish wrapping her presents and waiting for the lieutenants to arrive. It was about fifteen minutes later when she was finishing wrapping Kira's present that a voice came through the door. "Yo Kage you in there?" She grinned and set the present aside before opening the door to see Renji standing before her. "Renji you look good" He smirked and enjoyed the hug she gave him and he held his arm out for her, she set her hand in the crook of his elbow and smiled as Yachiru joined them, as they walked out of the hall she turned slightly and waived at Kenny who was sitting on the roof. "Bye Kenny!" Yachiru yelled as she climbed up onto Kage's shoulder. As they walked they were joined by the other lieutenants, the laughter and jokes were relaxed. "Remember keep Rangiku away from the drinks!" the mentioned woman snorted and Kage laughed. "I only want to lighten the party up a bit" she yipped and put her nose in the air, the guys laughed. They arrived to see Shunsui's lieutenant standing there with a small smile on her face. "Hi Nanao-chan!" the woman smiled on seeing her friend. "hello Kage-chan"the woman shook hands and the group got to work on cleaning and setting up the yard for the party, as the girls started painting signs and hanging banners and streamers the guys started to set up the tables and chairs.

As they were nearly finished Kage took a moment to look over the floor plan and smirked Nanao-chan had included a dance square, and the others wandered over to her as they finished the last few things. "what are you thinking of Kage?"Renji asked recognizing the look on her face. "the food for tomorrow" was all she said as she cocked her head this way and that. They tossed back and fourth ideas until Rangiku said something. "Why don't we make it.."Kage's head snapped up and she smiled. " Thats it Ru-chan, We can cook it ourselves!" Rangiku looked at Kage. "I can't cook Kage" there were agreeing statements from the rest of the group when Nanao spoke up. " I can cook" Nemu spoke up. "why don't we use the cooks?"Kage turned her to look at Nemu. "Its tradition in my family that food made for holidays is prepared by us in order to both protect the ones we love from poisoning and show our affection"Nemu nodded tears in her eyes. Kage smiled at the woman her jewel-like eyes glittering,before she turned to Nanao. "As can I, so that leaves Nanao and I to cook so that means you lot will be setting the tables and such" the rest groaned but the two woman said it was punishment for not learning to cook. "So if we prep the food tonight then it will cut down on how early we have to start in the morning" Nanao nodded and the two sat down with the rest and planed out the menu, before sending the men to retrieve the required items that Nemu had been nice enough to write on a list for them.

The two women set to cleaning and preparing the pots and pans they would need. When the others returned they set to preparing and were surprised when Nemu revealed she could also cook. The now three woman team tackled the prep job in only four hours when they were finally finished they sat out on the deck laying on their backs watching the stars. "you know this is the most relaxed I've felt in a while" they nodded and the group made of lieutenants and one young woman fell asleep on the blanket. As she woke Kage felt an arm across her waist and felt warm breath cross her forehead, her mind was foggy and she remembered laying on the blanket with a quiet chuckle, she turned to see who she had coiled up next to for warmth. She was surprised to see Renji's face in front of her but it wasn't his arm that was wrapped around her, she noticed that it was her fellow redheads arm she was sleeping on though. She turned her head to see Shuuhei nuzzle her shoulder and she realized it was his arm. She smiled and stretched her legs that were twined with both Renji's and Shuuhei's. She heard someone mumbled her name a little bit later and shake her foot, she opened one eye to see Nemu holding her foot. "Morning Nemu" she mumbled before yawning. "Morning Kage its time we started cooking" It took Kage three tries before she could get away from the two lieutenants. "how did you sleep Nemu?" the woman blushed and she noticed the empty spots next to Kira and Iba. "So which spot was yours?" Nemu blushed but pointed out the one next to Kira. "awwww"

The three spent the morning bonding and cooking, they had to chase Shunsui out of the kitchen so many times that Kage told him she'd break all his sake bottles if he stepped foot in the kitchen until she said he could. Shunsui looked at her seeing the same look Jushiro gave him and decided to stop pestering the girls, he told them he was going out to buy presents and left them to their work. "How did you do that?"Nanao asked her with a grin. "Nii-sama told me he loves his sake, if I threaten to break them he will back off" the women shared a laugh as the rest of the group woke up and entered the kitchen. "Good morning all!" Kage chirped she received grunts and yawns in reply before handing out some strong tea, after a few cups everyone seemed alive and aware. "OK everyone today is the party and we need to get our clothes,bathe and get ready. So we are going to send a couple of you for everyones clothes and such and while we are cooking you guys are gonna bathe and get ready and while your setting the tables and stuff we are going to take our turns in the bath and getting ready." the girls sent Rangiku for theirs while Yachiru said she'd grab Kage's stuff. "Its all ready Yachiru its wrapped in black and tied with an emerald ribbon, my bag full of presents is in my office but you can leave that for Kenny to bring if you want to." and with that the group split, leaving only the three women and two guys. "Renji, Kira I want you both to set up a couple of tables so that one of us can set the presents on it please." they were happy to because at least they didn't have to run all over Seireitei.

When the others returned they saw Nemu spreading silvery fabric over some tables, her fingers made sure their were no tears or stains on the fabric as she straighted it. The bags of presents that each brought were good sized and Nemu started setting them on the tables, gently making sure that they left room for any presents that would be added later with the arrival of the others. As the food was getting pulled out of the ovens and such the clock rang its cheerful chirp. "its time" Renji said and the girls looked up at him, he looked handsome in his black kimono it had crimson sakura petals on it with a crimson obi that had the blossoms in black on it. "you look good Renji, hurry we want to get ready too." Kage said as she lifted a good sized pan from the oven and set it on the racks. Once all the food was out the girls grabbed their bath stuff and clothes and all but ran for the bathing room. The three helped one another do their hair and tie their obi. The three women admired their kimonos and grinned at one another. "Are we ready ladies?" the other two nodded and a knock sounded on the door. "The guests are here and awaiting your appearance ladies" It was Jushiro and the girls shared a smile. "Enter Nii-sama" the man wasn't prepared to see the three beautiful women smiling at him. "Shall I announce you?" he grinned and was surprised to see his sister smile at him. "Yes please Nii-sama" He walked back to the front to see his assembled friends. "Welcome friends and fellow captains, I got up here to announce the arrival of the three women responsible for todays feast" Jushiro's voice brought the attention of the entire party unto him.

Toushirou looked up at hearing captain Ukitake's voice. His jaw nearly dropped to see the 8th squad's lieutenant dressed in a violet kimono embroidered with blue forget-me-not flowers and a matching blue obi, her hair was placed up in a beautiful bun held with lacquered sticks inlaid with the same design as her kimono. The next to appear was the 12th squad's lieutenant dressed in a deep purple kimono embroidered with phoenixes with a red-gold obi that looked like a living flame, her hair was clipped back from her face by a carved phoenix shaped comb. The last to appear was the one that made his eyes widen. It was Kage she was wearing an emerald kimono embroidered with ice-blue dragons and silver foxes her obi was silver with that seemed to glow, she wore her hair with the two sections behind her ears braided and until it reached the back with the braids were joined together to hang and the rest of her hair was free to dance around her only held in check by the braids that kept it from her face. "Welcome all to our Christmas party" she said as she stood next to her brother who offered her his arm. "Thank you Nii-sama" the girls mingled and laughed roaming the party chatting to the captains. As they were eating the girls had received enough comments on their cooking to make them blush prettily, and as the early dinner was finished it was about four o'clock and the group settled around the present table. Kage stood at the head of the table with a smile on her face, she raised her hands for silence and a few moments later all was quiet.

"Its time to open presents and share laughter, we decided that each of us is going to stand and hand out presents." She handed Toushirou a present wrapped with black and silver wrapping paper. "Go on open it" she urged and he tore into the present, as he lifted it out of the box he heard a gasp from his lieutenant. It was a jacket and scarf set the jacket had his squad number and had 'Captain Hitsugaya' Gently stitched over his heart in ice blue, but it was the scarf that drew his breath it was pure white with a glittering icy-blue and silvery thread dragons on the ends. He looked at the tag to see who it was from and was surprised to read the little note. Captain Hitsugaya when I saw these I knew they were made for you and the scarf is a quiet present to both you and Hyorinmaru -Kage He looked up to see her smiling at him, before she turned and handed Zuraki his present. Kenpatchi opened the box easily and they were shocked to see the soft expression on his face. He lifted a small carved wooden box out and turned it so they could see the six sets of bells gently held by the box, but at the bottom their was also a black band that looked like a bracelet. "I saw that the ones you have are cracked and one doesn't ring at all and the band is just like your eye patch but its a little stronger I asked Mayuri for his help." she told him as he closed the box and set it in his jacket pocket. She turned and plucked out a mid sized box and handed it to Soifon, she opened the box and gave the younger woman a grin. "how did you know?" Kage's words were universal to women. "Through the grapevine"

That brought laughter among the females gathered. She pulled out a box and grinned before handing it to Yamamoto they watched him open it, and saw him lift out a red scarf embroidered with golden phoenixes. "how did you know my element and favorite animal?"She raised an eyebrow at him. "Its not hard to ask Yamamoto-sama" He chuckled. She handed another box to Shunsui when he opened it he gently lifted out a glass bottle with an amber liquid in it. "its bourbon the stuff you were guzzling down while in the other world."He was touched when he read the tag tied to the bottle. 'For my other older brother Shun -Kage' It made him smile as he set the bottle gently back into its box and set the pried gift beneath his chair. She turned and handed a decent sized box to Byakuya with a slight blush he opened it and his eyes widened slightly the box was tilted enough for them to see the exquisitely carved sword holder. "Its for both of you so he can sit in your office in a place of honor, but there is something for you below it"They watched him move the piece to lift out a black scarf with silver cherry blossoms on the ends, he saw the note sticking out of the folds.

It read 'the colors reminded me of your eyes. P.S. If Ichigo irritates you, you can always threaten him about staying with Kenny' He finished reading her note and nodded at her, she grinned back at him. She handed a package to Sajin with a soft smile he opened the paper to reveal an emerald green scarf with gold foxes running all over it. His eyes told her more then the man would ever be able to say. She turned and picked up a medium package and handed it to Mayuri. The man tore open the package to grin as he looked up at the woman. "you are far more intelligent then most women I will ever meet" she smiled at him as he plucked out a vial of some chemical, the others could see the box held a great many vials of chemicals. She picked up her last package for the captains and handed It to her brother. Jushiro opened the box carefully to reveal a small but sturdy velvet box, he opened it and his eyes snapped to hers. "Open it" she urged and he pulled the locket from the box and opened it gently inside was a picture of the two of them taken out side his room as they stood on the bridge watching the sunset Kage had wrapped her arms around him and was smiling. On the other side it was engraved 'To my beloved brother Jushiro' he smiled at her as he placed the silver heart gently around his neck. She handed her presents out to the lieutenants and the captains watched the laughter, Renji got a necklace with his name written on it. Rangiku and Shuuhei got heavy bottles of sake while she gave the 1st and 2nd squad lieutenants a new set of stationary, she gave Kira a bottle of rum which made him grin. Yachiru opened to gift and gasped, her eyes lifting to meet Kage's. Nanao looked over her shoulder to see and her hand covered her mouth.

"What is it?"Kenny asked and Yachiru finished unwrapping the painting and turned it so the rest could see. It was a picture of the western deck of their squad hall but it was the people in the picture that made her eyes water, there laying on a blanket was Kenpatchi, Kage and Yachiru. Kage was laying in a half moon shape her head supported by her arms while Kenny was leaning against her his shoulders shielding her body from the night, his left arm from shoulder to elbow was resting on her thigh as his hand was resting on Yachiru's back who was asleep on his chest a small smile on her lips. Kenny's hair was down to dance on an invisible wind as he dozed their Zanpaktou resting in easy reach of their sleeping masters, Yachiru looked down on the bottom left hand corner to see a black crescent moon and signed in silver below it was the name 'Tsukakage'. The group looked at Kage with shock and she returned a blushing grin. "So I can draw a little"She said as she turned her head to look at the setting sun. the next thing Kage knew she was laying on her back and being squeezed by a happy girl.

"Someone help I've been attacked by a sugar happy shark-girl" the joke made the gathering much lighter as she handed out her last few presents and watched as the others took their turns up there. It was the end of the party when Renji was up that a present was set upon her lap, she looked up at him in shock. "well woman open it!" She opened the package with care using her nails to tear the paper easily and when she finally go the box open she gasped, she lifted the silver collar-like choker out of its box. It was engraved with the squad symbols and next them were the captains names. "We decided since your captain trained you should have something that marks you under our protection." She ran her fingers over the collar's surface seeing all the captain's names but there were spots next to the 5th and 9th squad symbols for names of the new captains. "Oh Renji its beautiful how did you know I prefer this type of necklace?" He pointed to Yachiru. "She said it had something to do with a favorite memory of yours" She smiled and nodded, then proceeded to hug all of the lieutenants. "Will you help me put it on?" Toushirou was surprised but realized he was the closest to her so he got up and gently took the collar from her and gently opened the hidden clasp and as she held her hair out of the way he gently buckled it, his fingers touching her soft skin as the collar settled against her neck. He puled his hands away as the silken curtain of her hair fell over his hands, Rangiku offered her the mirror she had been given to look at it. The collar was beautiful it gave her neck length and elegance while making her eyes look like living jewels.

"This means more to me then I can ever say"She mumbled as she handed the mirror back and hugged everyone, including Byakuya and Mayuri. The party started to die down and settle into slightly drunken laughter as the group broke into the sake Shunsui had brought out. As the moon rose the part finally broke up and separated to head home Kenpatchi laughed as he carried the sleeping Kage and Yachiru, they had passed out after the third round of sake. Kenny walked through the moon light his mind wandering while he carried the two, he chuckled when he heard Yachiru mumble his name and snuggle closer to him. He got them both settled in their rooms before heading to his own, he took the little box Kage had given him out of his pocket and set it on his bedside table. He took his hair out of the spikes he wore it in and settled into his bed for some good sleep. Kage was woken in the death of night just before dawn by a lightening storm, she got out of bed smiling as she undressed from her kimono and got dressed in her sports bra and comfy pants settling Kisuke's jacket over her shoulders as she left her room and walked towards the deck. As she slipped onto the deck she watched the storm spending its fury over the Seireitei, she fiddled with her new collar a smile on her face as she traced the captains names. It was a while later she was joined by Kenny who sat next to her with barely a sound. "You know something Kenny?" he turned to look at her his eyes focusing on her figure in the blackness. "I meant what I said earlier this single present means more to me then I will ever be able to express." He smiled and saw the shape of her head turn towards him. "your wearing it?" he nodded and she smiled at him as the darkness deepened. "Will you paint me a picture?" She smiled and nodded. "I have one already in mind for you, but its going to take a bit of time" he nodded and the watched the sun rise together until Yachiru joined them a couple hours later. "today is the tournament Wolfy-chan are you ready?" She nodded and went to grab a set of clothes before heading to the bath.

When the three of them left the squad hall for the tournament grounds Kage and Yachiru were sitting on Kenpatchi's shoulders chatting gently, while the silver bells in his hair jingled sweetly with his steps. The met up with Jushiro and Rukia and the three women fell in to chatting while the men enjoyed the beautiful morning. The girls chatted until they reached the grounds and Yachiru and Kage slid off of Kenny's shoulders, Kage was allowed to sit with the captains and lieutenants, she waived at Renji and the others as they sat down on there cushions. "So I still have to pick a lieutenant to fight with." Kage said was she sat between Shuuhei and Renji. They chattered amongst themselves as the captains greeted one another, Yachiru popped in. "Why can't I fight with you?" Kage turned to look at her. "Because the lieutenant and 4th have to be from different squads and I'm from the 11th just as you are" Yachiru nodded and grinned. "can I cheer you on" Kage grinned back. "Of course I'd feel bad if you didn't" the girls laughed and the talking continued until it was decided that her partner would be Renji, who blushed but grinned a the chance to show off. They watched the first several rounds of the tournament with Kage pointing out her rival in the fifth round as he mercilessly beat his opponent. As they watched the semi-finals her fingers traced her fingers over Mirzam's hilt. The matches were fierce and the excitement in the air made Kage's blood heat and she could see her teachers below her but they weren't looking at her or the captains above her.

As the final matches started Kage felt a tap on her shoulder, her head turned to see Renji motioning for her to follow him. They made their way to a small enclosed space where he handed her a badge marked with the seal of the 11th squad and set of markings she knew meant she was the 4th seat. Renji had been limited to only twenty percent of his full power, but Kage was left alone. They talked strategy for a few minutes after they were told the match would begin in a soon as the arena was cleaned. Kage took a deep breath to settle her nerves and felt her body relax as they were being escorted to the ring, their opponents were introduced to the crowd. "Welcome to the final exhibition match of the tournament. Today we have a new graduate and an extremely promising first year lets hear it for Matt Seka and Steel Kado our challengers!"He turned to the corded off side of the arena and started talking again. "Now to introduce the fighters on behalf of the thirteen court guard squads. I give you Lieutenant of the 6th division Renji Abarai!" the 6th squad cheered and clapped their lieutenant on. "His partner is the 11th division's 4th seat, May I present Tsukakage Ukitake!" the 11th squad howled its encouragement to Kage, she turned and waved to them noticing the dumb struck look on her teachers faces. "So Stray your part of the 11th squad?"Steel said as they got into position, she didn't answer him but her eyes hardened. Renji and Matt were trading insults with a practiced hand, but Kage was eerily silent as the judges watched. When the bell sounded the fight began, Kage was having fun playing with Steel as Renji all but back-handed his opponent out of the ring, Renji moved to sit on the side lines as the two dueled it out.

Kage seemed to dance in the arena dodging and avoiding the mans attacks with ease but what made the school's sword master worry was that she had yet to draw the Zanpaktou strapped to her right hip. In all the duels he'd put her in she always finished it quickly, but now she was playing with her target like a cat to a mouse. He watched time and time again she allowed Steel close and laughed as she danced out of range. He had already called out his Zanpaktou and was slashing at her wildly. Kage danced out of range yet again but stopped in the center of the stage, her head bowed her bangs shielding her eyes the master shook his head as Steel charged her. He recognized the move it was impossible not to, Byakuya Kuchiki had made that move infamous against people he didn't think were worthy of his blade it required near perfect timing to successfully complete it. With every step Steel took that closed the distance between them the man's fear grew her stance was perfect, one heel raised the other planted breathing steady she stood and waited. And then it happened in a time it took for a man to cough three times Steel had come in range his blade poised to stab her through the back when she spun. Her hand had slid down the back side of the blade to grasp the guard as her second grabbed a hold of his belt and she turned using both his momentum and her brute power to throw Steel out of the ring to skid to a disgraced stop on his ass, the sword master turned to her in shock as she stood on the center of the ring as cold emerald eyes met his. "Never....Insult my Sensei." Her lips formed the words and then he understood, Byakuya Kuchiki was her sword master.

As they were walking home a while later Renji looked at Kage as she sat on Captain Zuraki's shoulder chatting with one of the 11th squad members, he saw the setting sun catch her necklace just right and make her eyes shine. She had fought just like his captain and for some strange reason he wondered if she knew Orihime had left from her training for the mortal world, Renji knew that the woman only wanted to help her friends. She turned her head and smiled at him and he saw it the loneliness she kept hidden, she was missing someone and it was hurting her deeply. Then it hit him she had fallen in love with that hat n clogs guy Urahara, and when he thought about it a little more Renji realized he loved her too as Urahara spent more time staring at the moon with a lost look in his eyes. Now he understood why she was so sad when no one was looking he noticed that her eyes were on him again but this time he could see she knew, she knew he knew her secret and he could also see the plead not to say a word and he nodded. Kage saw the looks on Renji's face out of the corner of her eye she turned to see the look he gave her and she knew that he had figured out her secret, she gave him a pleading look and he nodded telling her he'd keep quiet.

As she lay in bed that night she decided she would ask Yamamoto-sama if she could visit Ichigo's group for a short vacation, she hoped he would say yes because she wanted to see Kisuke. She'd been wondering why Ichigo's group hadn't come back but she figured their must be a good reason. Kage smiled and rolled over burrowing into her blankets and her last before she passed into the land of dreams was Kisuke. The morning brought another thunderstorm that seemed to shake the squad hall, but despite the weather Kage was sitting next to an open door watching the storm. The noticed that on the other side of where she was leaning was their Captain his eyes too drawn to the storm above. "They are so much alike eh Seiji?" Yumichika said quietly. Seiji nodded as he leaned back watching the two's silent communication. "Its as if they are talking with out saying a single word" Seiji replied a while later. Kage left the hall after breakfast headed to meet with Yamamoto-sama, as she walked she saw some of her former school mates and noticed they still avoided her like the plague.

But no longer did she care, they had judged her falsely and were now stuck with it. As she entered the castle she waived to a departing messenger as he dashed past her in the hall, she knocked on the big doors and was admitted entrance to the captains hall. "Kage-chan what brings you here this dark morning?" She smiled at him before answering. "I wish to ask a favor Yamamoto-sama" He looked at her in surprise she'd been here almost six full months and hadn't asked a favor of him. "What is it young one?" She looked at him with those jewel-like eyes. "I wish to spend the holidays with my friends on the other side of the Gate, But at the same time I don't want to leave everyone here as stressed they are. "Yamamoto saw the girls wisdom, his captains had barely been home a week yet, they were quite stressed and the attacks in the living world were getting worse. "I see your point Kage-chan what do you suggest?" She thought for a moment before she smiled. "Why not send them on to stay the holidays with me? That way the other world get some protection and they get to relax a little. All this worry isn't good for them and I don't want my brother collapsing again." He thought about it before motioning her to join him on the empty cushion beside him. "You are wise for your age and you care for your Captains and their lieutenants, therefore I will grant this vacation but you are to return the second day of the new year." He said and watched her mind catch up to what he'd said and found himself on the receiving end of one of her fierce hugs. She smiled at him before speaking. "I just don't want anything to happen to the people I care for, and that includes you Yamamoto-sama. Thank you for understanding"

She mumbled her thanks again as she pulled away he dismissed her and watched her practically dance out of the hall. Kage waited until she was out of the castle to run hell bent for Jushiro's place she ducked, dodged and weaved around things left in the rain to get to her brothers house on the water. After scaring his third seats with a look she knocked on the door. "Nii-sama you in?" She heard a mumble followed by shuffling steps, when the door popped open it was Shunsui standing there. "Shun? What are you doing here at this hour?" the man chuckled and opened the door enough for her to slip in. She saw Jushiro tucked under his blankets looking at her. "Nii-sama are you OK?" He smiled and nodded sitting up, Kage called for some tea and it surprised him that his third seats brought it to him along with breakfast before darting out of his room. "You my girl have dominated my third seats, they fear you."Kage gave him a grin and shrugged. "What can I say Nii-sama? They fear what they cant understand, aka Woman or me for short." the joke sent Shunsui into a fit of laughter and Kage only smiled at him. "By the way Nii-sama, Yamamoto-sama is sending us on a vacation."That got their attention and they both looked at one another before giving her questioning looks. It took them a few more minutes to get the whole explanation out of her, they were shocked to find out what the young woman had done.

"You got us a vacation in ten minutes by asking politely??" Shunsui was stunned. Kage nodded and the next thing she knew was that she was being twirled around in a hug by Shunsui. "I have been asking for a vacation for almost a hundred years and you get it in ten minutes, but not only me but all of the captains! Damn your good!" He yipped and kissed her cheek before setting her down. "I will send messengers to gather and inform the captains! I will return!" he waived and was gone before either sibling could say a word. "OK what did I just do?" Jushiro shrugged and he invited her for a hug, she grabbed the blanket Shunsui had been using and tossed it over her and Jushiro before cuddling into her brothers side. Some time later the captains had gathered outside Jushiro's door and were awaiting Shunsui's arrival. When they went inside they saw Jushiro sleeping peacefully but didn't see that their was a wider lump in the blankets then the slender man could make. "Oi Shunsui where is Kage you said she'd be here" Kenpatchi growled. It was Mayuri walked over to the blanket and pulled it back to reveal the woman in question, who was sleeping tucked into her brothers side. "She is here Zuraki. Look!" the man looked to see his charge snoozing peacefully.

Mayuri ran his fingers down her spine and they watched her open one eye and look at him. "Mayuri? wha?" Her voice was muffled but aware. "Its time to get up." She rolled over and sat up rubbing her eyes, she looked at them with still sleepy eyes. "Hi" she chirped and made Kenny chuckle. Jushiro smiled at the easy manner his sister held with the most powerful people in Seireitei, he could see that she had an impact on each of their lives. As they talked and discussed the vacation Kage was happy, she was getting to see her friends while taking care of her Captains. They planned to leave the following morning so that they would have time to inform their people and pack properly. As they departed Kage waived at her brother and told him to make his third seats pack while he rested. "Bye bye Nii-sama" She yelled. Kenny took to the roof tops and she squealed in happiness. The rest of the day went by in a flash while Kage prepared for her vacation with a smile as bright as the dawn on her face. She seemed to dance back and fourth between her tasks and Seiji was wondering what had made her so happy. He'd asked around but couldn't figure it out, so he decided to wait until she would tell him. She danced around her room packing her things in a bag Mayuri had given her especially for the trip. While laying in bed that night she looked at the mirror on her bed-side table and smirked. "Kisuke Urahara be prepared for the shock of your life" She nuzzled under blankets and fell into a sleep she started to dream.

-Kage's Dream-

She was running through a moonlit desert, she could feel the sand under her paws as she leaped over a small sand dune. 'wait paws? What is going on here?' She noticed their was a weight on her back, yet it was very light. She could feel the sounds of a heavy battle below her paws as she ran she felt the weight shift and she moved to the left towards an opening in the sand. 'What the hell? Someone is riding on my back!' Then she heard it the sounds of someone running beside her but she couldn't see them. Then she woke up.

-End Dream-

Kage sat up breathing hard, she wiped her face to realize she'd been crying in her sleep. "How strange for a dream"She got up gathered the clothes she had chosen to wear and left for the baths, after soaking a while she felt better. She decided just to ignore the dream and focus on the vacation, as she walked towards the meeting hall she heard voices. "Good morning" She chirped as she walked through the door, she saw that most of the captains and their lieutenants were already there. As she received her greeting returned she looked around to check on everyone, she noticed that Mayuri and Nemu hadn't arrived yet. But breakfast was served and she ate heartily with a small smile on her face, as she thought of the look of Ichigo's face when they arrived. As they were grabbing their packs Mayuri and Nemu arrived, she was carrying a small box in her hands along with the pack strapped across her back. As they walked to the Gate Kage was playing with Kenny's bells. The sweat notes that the bells admitted was pleasant on the morning air, fresh by the scent of the rain they'd been having. Kage waived at Kira as they passed him, he and his captain had chosen to stay behind, Kage knew that he didn't trust the man's third seat. As they topped the ram leading to the gate she smiled. A hell-butterfly landed on the finger she'd extended. "Pretty" Jushiro chuckled at his sister's fascination with the butterflies. "Its time"He said and the butterfly headed for the opening gate, the captains stepped through and set off at a run. Kage's braid flew behind her as she watched the walls of the passage, she grinned at Renji before speaking. "This is a lot nicer when your not getting chased by a train-monster" She called over the wind. Renji and the others chuckled but they had never been chased by a cleaner.

The gates popped up ahead of them and Kage's smile got brighter, the gates opened and they jumped through. Kage realized that the air felt so much lighter here then normal. They heard a gasp and all turned to see Rukia standing in the doorway of the shop looking at them. "Hi Rukia-chan long time no see!" Kage chirped, and Rukia invited them inside. As they settled around the table Kage plopped into Kisuke's spot with a grin. "Where is everyone?"Tessai walked through from the kitchen and greeted the visitors. "They are on a hollow hunt they should return soon, Kage you look so much healthier then the last time I saw you."She gave him a bright smile. "I've been taken care of and protected by the best since I arrived in this town." A couple of the chests puffed out by her complement. But Kage went back to sipping the tea Tessai had brought her. The chatter over the table gave Kage a feeling of utter contentment she hadn't had since her families last Christmas together, her collar caught the light and glittered slightly. Rukia's attention was brought to the piece of jewelry that was glittering around her friends neck, and she was close enough to read the inscription in the metal. Rukia understood the implied notion of the piece, it meant she was protected by the captains and their lieutenants. All of a sudden cellphones started going off, they all looked at one another. "Yay hollow hunt!" Kage chirped and they departed Kage being scooped into Kenny's arms. As they ran Kage navigated the way through the city streets until they reached a park, there were so many hollows that it was nearly impossible to count them. "Look Kenny-chan Fun!" Yachiru chipped in and they drew their Zanpaktou for a fight.

They charged down the hill the hollows howling at the flair of spirit energy, turning they charged the group. Kage was having a blast as she sliced and beheaded hollows in her way. She was suddenly scooped up by a hollow who wrapped its claws around her waist and was carried into the air. "Let me go!" she snarled at it as she jabbed Mirzam into its stomach, it dropped her and she saw the that bird-hollow was coming back. It sliced at her and managed to get her to drop Mirzam she snarled at it as it started its final dive talons extended. She felt a pulse and smiled, this thing thought it had defeated her so easily. Benihime, Zabimaru I need you! She called in her head, and she felt the swords roar as she fell. Down below Renji felt Zabimaru howl and transform the blade shooting for the sky then he saw it, Kage was falling and a hollow was charging her. "Kage!!!" He bellowed and the others flicked their eyes up to see Zabimaru snatch the woman out of the sky and the bird-hollow hit a red shield. "Kage!" a new voice yelled and they turned to see one Kisuke Urahara standing their Zanpaktou released and glowing a bright red. The hollow dove a the woman again but the serpent she rode on avoided the creature, but a blue light blinded her and she fell off Zabimaru. The next thing Kage knew she was being held by strong arms, she looked up into unfamiliar blue eyes protected by square framed glasses. The eyes carried a sadness as deep as the sea, but a howl above them broke the trance they were held in.

The man looked down at the woman who had fallen into his arms her eyes were like liquid jewels, but he could see that the light of his spirit arrow had blinded her for a moment. But as her eyes cleared their eyes met he could barely breath her eyes were warm and understanding, but she looked up and screamed he saw the hollow but couldn't draw his bow without dropping the woman. The second winged hollow was coming down on them, Kage screamed and a red barrier appeared the hollow slammed full force into it. The hollow was blown to pieces by a flare of spiritual pressure from one of the several men now surrounding him, they looked ready to slit his throat then he realized they were all Shinigami. "Father? What are you doing here?" He looked to see his son standing there, backed by several others including another Shinigami. "Uryu" his voice was cold, he decided to ignore the question he looked down to see that the woman had passed out. "Give her back" One of the Shinigami growled he wore some silver pieces in his hair and Ryuuken snorted. "Why would I give a passed out woman to a bunch of Shinigami?" It was Rangiku who stepped forward, when he shifted into a defensive stance she stopped, but a voice called out. "Ishida wake the girl to find out what she wants." They turned to see Ichigo's father standing there but he was dressed as a Shinigami. "Kurosaki! Stay out of this!" his voice was like a blade of ice, Ichigo was dumbstruck. Kage shifted and groaned lifting a hand to her head. " Anyone get the name of what ever it was the hit me?" She opened her eyes to look up into the blue that held her, she smiled at him which shocked him to the core. "will you set me down please?" He gently set her on her feet and caught her when her legs crumpled beneath her.

She felt the violence in the air and looked around. "whats going on?" After a few minutes of explanation coming from surprisingly Ryuuken,Kage nodded. "Thank you for protecting me while I fainted but these are the last people I will ever have to fear."He raised an eyebrow in question as she slowly got to her feet, she stumbled into one of the Shinigami in front of him. "They are my Captains, my protectors and my teachers. And in turn I am theirs my loyalty, my power and my well being are entrusted to them in turn." She turned to him her eyes kinder then he could ever remember seeing. "What is your name?" His voice was a bit warmer then he'd intended for it to be. "Ishida, Ryuuken" She smiled and nodded. "Thank you Ryuuken you saved me when I couldn't see my enemy, I hope to have found an ally in you." he nodded tossing her something before turning and walking into the darkness. She opened her hands to see a symbol on a thin chain, she held the chain to let the thing dangle in the moonlight. "Pretty" she mumbled before she squeaked, being scooped up. She looked up to see worried eyes. "I'm OK just a bit shaken up, Has anyone seen Mirzam? He got knocked from my hand." Renji laughed and handed her the blade he'd picked up.

She noticed that Ichigo hadn't said anything and looked at the other man standing their she recognized the jacket pattern that was slung over his shoulder. "Who's that?" she asked and Ichigo answered. "My father" She waived at him. "Will you come closer please, I've never met you before." He did smiling he looked to see two of his old friends standing protectively close to the woman. "Kurosaki, Issun at your service my lady."She giggled and held her hand out to him. "Ukitake, Tsukakage. Pleased to meet you!" she chirped as she snuggled into the large chest that she rested against. The yelling match between father and son started then, Kage learned that his father was a former captain who's fallen in love with his mother while on an assignment, and when the Seireitei had found out he left and asked his old friend for a gigai that would hide his spirit energy. She'd had enough of the yelling as it was giving her headache.

"Enough! This yelling is solving nothing but giving me a migraine." Both Kurosaki's were looking at her in shock, but when she crossed her arms and gave them a pretty good rendition of Byakuya's glare they grumbled but separated. "Thank you can we go now? I want some of Tessai's tea and maybe a nap" she mumbled to the one who carried her, he nodded and they were gone. When they arrived Sajin only snorted at them, they settled around the table before Kenny opened his mouth. "Where's Kage?" Sajin pointed towards the bath room door. "Tessai-san suggested a soak to relieve her headache and she invited the girls to join her when they returned." he said and the girls left the table to join their friend in the hot water. As the men started talking and getting acquainted Issun had to ask his friend something that had been bothering him. "Hey Jushiro?"The white haired man looked up as he took a sip of his tea. "That girl has the same last name as yours is she your wife?" His old friend actually spit his tea out in shock, Shunsui was no better as he snorted his out his nose. The growls that came from some parts of the table were drowned out by the laughter of the others. "No Issun she is my younger sister one of the twins" His friend said as he used a nearby rag to clean up his mess, while Shunsui was coughing.

"Are you trying to kill me Issun, I nearly coughed up a lung." the man said as he glared at his old friend. A shriek of laughter from the bath room made the men look at the door in question, as Renji spoke. "I wonder what is going on in there." the red-red mumbled loud enough to be heard by all the men at the table, who surprisingly nodded in return. More laughter greeted them a moment later, as one voice could be clearly be heard. "You're in love!" the voice belonged to Rangiku when another answered with a smug tone. "And Ru-chan I saw the way you looked at him! Your head over high-heels in love with...." they heard a splash and a thump. "That was Kage I wonder what she was going to say." They heard Rukia mumble and swoons and sighs. "So are their markings all over of just what we saw?" They heard a mumbled answer and howls of laughter. "really that makes me curious to find out" Kage and Rangiku said together, before Nemu spoke up. "Anyone wonder what Captain Zuraki is hiding under his robes? The chatter drowned out the individual words. "they are talking about us!" Renji groaned. "Hey anyone wonder what Urahara hides under those baggy robes?" Nanao's voice chipped in. "He's all silky skin over corded muscle" came the moaned pitch of Kage's voice the girls turned on her with questions. "Hey why wouldn't I know I've had my fingers on him."

They heard Rangiku ask if she'd share. "Nope I don't share, he's all mine!" she laughed and Kisuke groaned. "Hey ladies I wonder what Captain Kuchiki is built like" that was Rangiku again. "Hmm If I have to base my thoughts on the way he moves he is lean but strong and flexible as hell." the women roared in laugher the guys couldn't believe Kage had said that. Rukia spoke up again and made a few jaws drop. "What about Captains Ukitake and Shunsui?" Their was some unrecognizable chatter before Kage's voice was heard. "My brother is all corded muscle with a cuddly side, but don't tell him I said that."They heard Jushiro grumble and when they looked he was blushing darkly, glaring at the bathroom door. "Shun on the other hand is hard muscle and a closet romantic." Rangiku spoke up again. "How do you know what their like?" Kage laughed a deep throated sound, that send shivers up the mens spines. "I've cuddled up to my brother a lot, and Shun is like a second older brother so he gets the same treatment. And I spent enough time to pick up on these things."They heard more chattering before Nemu said something the shocked the listeners, including startling Mayuri enough to drop his drink. "I wonder what my captain is like when he's relaxed?" Kage's voice again took up the conversation. "Mayuri is a complex man to understand, he loves science and he'll be damned if something escapes his notice. It irritates him to no end when something slipped between his fingers but he is a good fighter but he relies on his mind not his power in order to beat his opponents"The shocked silence rained in both rooms for a moment before Nemu spoke again. "Your right but now can you summarize him so easily?" Kage chuckled. "Its because I see what most people miss and Mayuri is a good man." the women's voices dropped in to chatter once again and the men sat out there stunned at what they had discovered that night.

A while later the girls began singing together , their voices mixing to create a beautiful harmony. The door popped open and the girls split up and went into the back room. Tessai went into the kitchen and prepared the women some fresh tea, and was admitted into the back room for a moment and returned with a blush. "Tessai?" Issun inquired with a grin. All he received in return was a full blown grin, as a familiar head popped out from the door to the back. "Tessai? Can we bother you for some finger-snaps? We're hungry!" Kage chirped as she turned her head to address one of the gathered men. "Kenny?" He spiky-haired man looked up. "Can I borrow one of your shirts for a yukata?" He smirked and nodded, Kage giggled and pulled her head in before shutting the door. A few minutes later Tessai brought the women their snacks and left them to talk. It was about an hour later when Kage walked out of the back room and upstairs, all but one of them men in the room thought their was a second bedroom up there that she was headed for but Kisuke knew better and smiled. He excused himself for bed awhile later and followed his lady up the stairs, he opened the door into his room he noticed the tell-tale lump on the far side of the bed. He smiled when he noticed that Mirzam was sitting in the second spot on the sword rack on his nightstand, he changed into a pair of sleep pants and crawled in to curl up to her warm body. "Kisuke?"she mumbled sleepily, He kissed her cheek and whispered into her ear. "I am here, lets go to sleep I want to spend as much time with you as I can for the next two weeks." She nodded as she turned over to settle herself against his chest, her hand resting over his heart. As Kisuke drifted off he heard her mumbled words. "My Kisuke" and smiled as he slipped into the world of dreams.

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