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 Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]

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Subject Post 1PostSubject: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:15 am




Shio had his tea pot stashed safely in a small pouch, and little else with him; he carried his tanto at his hip, and walked through the streets of the Seireitei with little real reaction to everything around him. He smiled, he waved to a few people, he exchanged a few words, but he was largely moving on autopilot. His head was still spinning from his conversation with the captain of division two, and the fact that he had let slip something so very unpleasant. She had been so nice about it all, she hadn't tried to pass judgment, but that didn't change anything...she was going to start probing. Prying. And then it would be time to make a choice. Not on his part, oh no; Shio had already made his choice long ago. He'd joined the Gotei, and the notion of defecting was simply unthinkable to him. Where would he go? Back to the Rukongai? Admitting defeat, nothing more. His only choice was to endure. For as long as it took.

But the Gotei had so very many options. If they realized just how deeply his faith was shaken, would they court martial him, and leave him to spend the rest of his days in the same small hole they had thrown Aizen into? Would they simply sweep it all under the rug, and give Shio some cushy cottage in the middle of nowhere, and hope no one ever went to visit him? Or would they kill him off entirely, so they didn't have to admit any wrongdoing? If Shio had learned one thing, it was that friendly fire was every bit as bad if not worse than anything his opponents could do to him. Or perhaps it was just that he had no allies in the Gotei. In either case, it was the same conundrum. There was no guarantee his superiors would do the right thing, if given the opportunity. And that meant that giving them the chance to make the decision was something Shio still couldn't justify.

Do you truly think she would toss you aside, sweetling? You must realize as much as I do how absurd this is. You're letting your fear control you. There are far more good people than you care to imagine in this world. You have the strength to change things.

"Strength can't change anything. It isn't force which makes the world the way you want it. It's savagery. I have no interest in becoming a savage."

These words Shio spoke aloud, before he even realized it...but he had managed to speak them softly enough that no one appeared to have noticed. He hunched his shoulders, doing his best to appear a smaller target, and continued to walk away from his barracks. It would be time to go on patrol soon, and when he did he had no intention of reporting in for at least a few hours. Time he'd use to decide just how he planned to move forward at this point.

Kisuke Urahara was notorious for housing and collaborating with wanted people, after all. He could come to enjoy working in a store, in the human world. There was no need to worry there, about people sabotaging his efforts...or asking things of him he'd never realized he would have to make a choice on. But nothing was certain yet. For now, he just needed a day out, and a good cup of tea.

And there was the next Senkaimon to Karakura, or at least the outskirts. No one would question it if Shio were to hop in there and go for a stroll, now would they? He walked through the doorway, landing on the soft grass, and beginning to examine the world around him. The forest where he'd ended up was peaceful, quite calm. It smelled of earth and pine and a great many things, things Shio could so rarely get any of in the Sieireitei...unless Taroba decided to bring it to him. Through the olfactory senses, Shio could feel as if he'd gone anywhere in the world. It was something he was coming to appreciate more and more, as the days poured on. Like an escape from the cage he'd willingly walked into.

Not an escape. Merely a glimpse of what could be yours, if you sought to grasp it.

Shio didn't even react that time, simply pulled the teapot out of his pouch. It was an old, battered thing, covered in nicks and dents. It had probably been used by countless shinigami before him. Hadn't he heard somewhere that Yamamoto took great pride in his tea ceremonies? But now the Gotei was a different place. He began to fill it with water, and began to murmur the faint strains of a low-level kido. Most of them were far too destructive to be invoked out here, but as a way to boil water a Shakkaho, properly channeled, could do the job just fine.

"I just wish I understood why I was born into all of this. But there's not really a glut of answers going around. And so, here I sit..."

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Subject Post 2PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:18 pm

For little Irene Luxaria, it was a very fun and bright day! She was going to spend some of it in the forest. She had already tended to her garden, watered the plants, cleaned out the pond, and fed the birds. It had been a while since she wandered around for the fun of it. Last time she did it, it didn't end the best. She tripped over a rock and went tumbling down a hill, sprained her ankle, and ripped an old favorite dress. She knew she was often very clumsy, but couldn't help but go out and explore her own area sometimes.

Exploration was fun until she found a little kitten meowing for help in a large tree. She had no idea how such a small thing got up so high. She had to help it! With little dignity and grace, and thirty minutes of trying, Irene finally made her way up to the high branch that the kitten was stuck in. She picked the little guy up, hearing it immediately start purring. It was cold and wet, likely from the short drizzle they had about an hour ago. There wasn't much sun here for the kitten to dry off. Carrying it in her left arm, getting down was going to be a hassle. It clung to her for dear life as they began their descent.

As she got to a branch about thirty feet above the ground, her foot got stuck in a very uncomfortable and unlucky place. She tried to get it unstuck, but it was wedged between the branches really good. If she kept pulling at it, she might fall. She was using one hand to hold herself in the tree and the other to hold the kitten. She didn't know what to do! And she was beginning to get scared. Was she gonna fall? Was the kitten gonna fall? She couldn't let that happen! She looked around desperately, but saw nothing and heard no one. It wasn't until twenty minutes passed that she finally sensed someone coming.

"Uh... Um... HELLO!" she called out desperately hoping she'd be heard. She wasn't too far from one of the trails, so maybe it was a hiker? "I-IF SOMEONE IS THERE, I NEED SOME HELP PLEEAASE!" she called out again, hoping to see someone turn a corner around one of the trees to come help her. She couldn't sense anything evil coming her way, so she assumed it was a nice person! It had to be. "I'M OVER HERE!" she called out again, giving them a third way of tracking her down by sound. The kitten in her arms was still wet, but it was warming up because of her body heat. Her ankle was scraping against the bark of the tree and she felt like her other hand was going to give out at any moment. "Please help me..." she muttered, a little worried now.
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Subject Post 3PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Mon Jan 08, 2018 10:44 pm




And already, Shio could hear his contemplation being shattered by someone unexpected calling for him. It almost immediately made him feel overwhelmed by sensations of guilt, and concern; he had just been seen appropriating a kido for casual use, with the same ease one would've turned on a gas stove, or lit a fire. How could he actually justify that one? And what were the -odds- of something like this happening so suddenly? Had Midori sent someone to spy on him? It wouldn't surprise him; he hadn't actually expected her to keep her word, even from the very start.

His fingers twitched, as did his eyebrow, as he very slowly and carefully finished setting out a mortar and pestle, and turned around, walking towards the source of the shouting. She sounded frantic, but that could easily be feigned; the stealth division would have no trouble portraying themselves as innocent civilians, or passerbys, if the stories were to be believed. And that meant he had to go into this prepared for any manner of unpleasant questions. He kept a hand on his tanto, approaching the source of the shouting, his expression carefully neutral, the easy smile covering his features.

And as suddenly as if he had crossed a threshold, the smile grew easier. It was as if a heavy weight had been shucked off his shoulder, or another layer of clothing had been shucked off. He suddenly felt deeply relieved, in a way he couldn't put into actual words. It all seemed so...ridiculous, so pointless, all of his worries and maneuvering. He could feel so much of his darkness receding, leaving him nearly dancing as he approached the tree.

"Is that a person up there? Why can't you just hop down? Did you break a bone? Or are you carrying something fragile? If you want to drop it down I can probably catch it. Otherwise, I can get up there and help you splint whatever break you have. Or probably make some sort of ointment. My name is Shio. I'm a shinigami. Division one. You're very lucky that I was within earshot."

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Subject Post 4PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:22 pm

Irene almost gave up, but she heard a voice chime through. She immediately felt relieved and excited to see someone come over. "Oh, thank you! I have a kitty in my hand! He's gonna get sick and somehow got stuck up here. I was getting him, but..." she looked back to her ankle and then to her hand to show why she was stuck, "If I let go of him, he'll fall! It's too far for a baby to fall, even if it is a kitty. And if I let go with might right hand, I'll fall and likely break my ankle cause the tree isn't letting go. I can't move my ankle cause my leg isn't long enough!" Irene hoped her explanation was clear enough for him. Sometimes she was bad at that and people wouldn't understand.

"If you can catch the kitty... I mean... I'm scared of dropping him! He's so little!" Irene said as she maneuvered her arm to show the tiny kitten resting in it, "C-Can you climb? No! If you do and you fall, then you'll be hurt and stuck too! I don't know what to do!" Irene felt tears well up in her eyes as the fear and panic set in. She normally knew better, but her concern for the kitten was making her feel bad. She suddenly felt a very bad burning sensation in her right hand and screamed out. If Shio looked up, he could see her hand slowly burning, moving from her wrist and outwards. "It hurts!" she said and then clenched her jaw to stop her crying, trying her best to hold on.

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Subject Post 5PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Tue Jan 09, 2018 7:31 pm




Shio's expression was one of amusement mingled with confusion, as he listened to the bright-natured girl speaking. His hands were stuffed into his robes now, eyes tracking the movements of everything without judgment or concern; he watched the cat squirm, and the tree's branches wobble uncertainly, and even the fire spread. He didn't seem overly concerned, simply shucking off his pouch that he had used to carry the teapot carefully, and then holding it out for her to see.

"If you drop the cat, it'll land in here. I guarantee it. Once you do that, we can figure out why your hand suddenly lit aflame, and then we can see about getting you out of that tree. We're going to work on these things one at a time, alright? Just stay focused. Keep the cat safe, get the fire put out, and then get you out of the tree. That's what's most important right now."

His tone was soothing, filled with a certainty and sense of control that was hard to fake; he had effortlessly taken the situation into account, examining the circumstances, and putting every asset to work. He was even now digging away at the ground beneath them, creating a small pile of soft dirt aside, at the base of the tree. He worked at this while humming, ever so softly, and then glanced back up at her.

"Keep talking to me. It's important that you stay focused. Like I said, my name's Shio. Why don't you tell me about yourself, so you can take your mind off all this? Worrying won't do any good when you're stuck in a tree. Help's already come, so what I need from you right now is for you to remain focused, and make sure that you don't make anything worse. So how about you tell me your name, and what you're doing in these parts?"

Not like he expected a straight answer, honestly...but hell. This time, he'd make sure not to make the first aggressive action.


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Subject Post 6PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Wed Jan 10, 2018 4:50 am

The panic Irene felt was beginning to lessen. The more he talked, the calmer she became. She was still a little worried about dropping the kitten, but she trusted this man's judgement. He obviously was smart and new what she should do, so she was going to listen and everything was going to be okay. She nodded at him, swallowing nervously, and then took a deep breath. She made sure to focus on his voice, while trying to carefully let the cat drop. She was a little hesitant, but began readying for it. She tipped the cat over her arm and the little guy went tumbling down. She trusted her new friend to catch it!

"My name is Irene and I live here."

Irene said and her smile returned quickly when the kitten landed where it was supposed to. When her smile returned, the burning stopped, but it left a pretty decent mark. Her eyes brightened and her smile got even bigger when she heard the kitten meowing. She quickly reached up with the free hand she now had and pulled her ankle from the two branches it had been caught between. As her leg came free, it swung down and unfortunately applied enough pressure on her injured hand that she winced and let go. She didn't have the skill to catch herself and falling to the ground, right beside Shio.

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Subject Post 7PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Wed Jan 10, 2018 7:01 pm




Shio's hand flung outwards, his voice almost absentminded as he murmured to himself. He didn't even seem to realize what he was doing, his brain elsewhere entirely. His fingers weaved themselves in a slow manner, looking very much like he was trying to tickle someone, or to run his fingers along a doorway, seeking a crack or opening. His expression was one of unconcerned delight as he murmured, still digging away at the ground.

"Bakudo number 37: Tsuriboshi."

As he spoke, his reaitsu seemed to unfurl like a carpet, extending towards the falling girl, and then exploding outwards into a mass that brought to mind a spider's webs. He hummed to himself as he watched her land on it, breaking her fall enough to avoid any major damage, then walking over to her, cat in hand, and sighing softly. His expression was one of faint amusement mingled with great frustration, of someone trying to figure out whether or not to make an insulting comment, or let the person they were speaking to grasp for themselves what had gone wrong.

As he crouched next to her, the air around her seemed to change in its quality, suddenly smelling far fresher. It had rained recently, but barely a drizzle. Now, however, there was the fresh, unique smell of humidity that was almost painful in its intensity. It was the sort of smell one got on a very cold day when they first walked outside, or when they had stumbled upon a stream. The scent of fresh, clean water, of a cool day that had just begun, full of potential, seemed to follow Shio's every movement.

"You live in a forest. Fascinating. Why would you ever choose to do that? The city is within walking distance, easily. There's nothing that important out here, is there? Or do you simply have problems dealing with large groups of people? I can sympathize with that. I don't enjoy dealing with large groups of people either. It leaves me antsy."

To be honest dealing with individuals made him antsy too. The mere possibility one person could become part of a group of people was -always- in the back of his mind. But...not right now, for some odd reason.

"I was just about to make some tea. What kind do you enjoy?"

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Subject Post 8PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:42 pm

Irene expected to hit the hard ground, not a flexible boing blanket. Irene laid there for half a second and then rolled over on it. Excitement sparked up in her eyes as she pat the thing that saved her and looked up to Shio with a huge elated smile plastered over her childish face. It was obvious she thought it was amazing! She didn't get hurt at all and never hit the ground.

"You saved me. Thank you!"

As he crouched down next to her, she eyed the kitten first. The little guy was okay! That made Irene very happy. Her smile dropped momentarily when she caught a fresh scent. She leaned forward into Shio and sniffed the air.

"Oh, I think that's you. You smell really nice."

The question that came moments later had Irene thinking. Normally, people don't ask her why she chose to live out here. It wasn't the safest place, she was almost always alone, and there was so much more that a city could offer. She had thought about moving back, but she just love the lifestyle of being out here. Besides, no city noise was a relaxing thing. Couldn't put a price on that.

"It's a lot prettier out here. I like hearing the birds, not machines. I like looking up to see trees, not buildings. When people find me out here, they're more interesting than those who stick to city limits. Besides... I moved out here to get away from people because they keep picking on me. They ask me to do this and that and this and that. I never got any rest and it made me sad a lot. My hair started falling out and looking really dull. I like my hair where it's at."

Irene finally stood up and dusted herself off. She reached out and gently took the kitten to make sure it was okay. She could hear and feel it purring and her expression softened. She was happy that they got it down.

"There's a tea I grow in my garden. My home is up the trail a bit, if you wanted to go over there. Most people come out here to be happy in the quiet of the wilderness, so I wouldn't mind joining you at your campsite. It's up to you. Be careful though, it might start raining again. It does that sometimes."

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Subject Post 9PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:54 pm




"You grow tea. In this soil. My gods, I can't imagine that being a treat to drink. No offense to you, of course, but...I'm an aficionado. I know how even minute things like the nitrogen content and the recency of a brushfire in the area impacts the flavor of the tea leaves. I've got my own leaves. Why don't we try comparing? I'll make cups with both and you can see which you prefer."

He began to rise from the ground, examining the small hole he'd made; it was perhaps a foot deep, and a good spot to go burying something if you wanted it to be safe, and relatively hidden from others. He rolled his shoulders, musing for a moment as to exactly why he was digging. He hadn't gone looking for something, but had he thought of something he'd wanted to bury? Perhaps that was why his mood was so light today. If he wasn't going back, then...well, there was no point in worrying.

"I prefer life away from others too. Probably not for the same reasons as you. I hate to think of what would happen if too many people in a room started hearing rumors, or making them up. People seem to have an amazing capacity to just generate information from thin air, like generating body heat. I get very tired of hearing people discuss topics they understand next to nothing about."

He began to walk ahead, gesturing for her to follow, but taking no real effort to see if she did. He began to move between the trees and underbrush, approaching his teapot and snagging it up absentmindedly with one hand. It was very hot, warm enough to leave his palm red and scalded right away, but he hardly even noticed; he'd gotten accustomed to pain like this long ago. He carried it along, tucked against his side, careful not to spill a drop of water.

"It's one thing to be light-hearted and friendly, but you strike me as walking right along the line to being a scatterbrain. Climbing a tree to get a kitten, and getting stuck? I hope this isn't the sort of thing you make a habit of, because I don't plan on making it a habit of coming to these woods. Next time you might have to make a tough choice if you go climbing after a cat without a plan."

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Subject Post 10PostSubject: Re: Fell on Black Days [Shio/Irene]   Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:55 am

This poor little lady was dumbfounded for the first bit of what he was saying. She stared at him, the wheels turning in her head. When he finished about the tea, she said one thing to make it clear that there was one thing she didn't get.

"A-fish-anado."

That word flew way over her head. The expression she held showed that she knew she probably looked like an idiot to him. The fact was, there were some things that Irene just didn't understand. It wasn't her fault. She wasn't an idiot. She was just ignorant of some parts of the world. What did you expect from a girl living alone in the forest? She learned most things when people came around to visit or stumbled across her, like Shio had done today.

"Sure we can be tea-tasters together! I usually use mine as a detox drink. It keeps my skin clear and my tummy happy. My hair stays shiny too."

Now that she was standing next to him, Shio was much taller than her. She tilted her head back pretty far to look up at him. He turned and walked off, so she followed him like he motioned her to. She followed him to his teapot and noticed the steam coming off of it. He grabbed it before she got a chance to warn him and she was absolutely stunned by the lack of scream that normally came with such a thing. She looked at him immensely concerned about his hand.

"K-Kittens... Don't... Um..."

Irene was so confused and worried about the fact that he was still holding that teapot that she couldn't focus her words correctly. She closed her eyes and rubbed them before looking back to Shio. Realizing what he said, she put a hand on her hip and puffed up her cheeks at him. She was offended! But there wasn't much seriousness there. She was still being playful. She also made sure to keep the kitten balanced and comfortable in her other arm.

"I'm not a scatterbrain and kittens don't get up that high normally. I think it's Mom took him up because of the rain and then had to leave. It was trying to get down, but... It's too little. It's not supposed to be left alone like that, not until it grows up enough to understand the world it lives in... It's Mom just left it there. If I didn't come back to help it, then who would have? I don't make habits of it, but I didn't want it to stay here abandoned either."

Irene cradled the now sleeping kitten in her arms, watching it with a soft expression as she said all of that to Shio. As she went on, it felt like the subject merged with something she felt more deeply. It was like she wasn't just talking about the kitten in her arms, but her own personal experiences.

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