goat_dono: (URAHARA & YORUICHI)
[personal profile] goat_dono
Title: Mere Vessels
Chapter: I. Touching Earth
Author: [personal profile] goat_dono
Rating: T (angst, erotic touching)
Word count: 1552
Prompt: Springkink 2010, March 27—Bleach, Rose/Lisa: comfort, they find solace in each other.
Summary: The Shōten and the Vizored come to terms with exile in the Human World. Five vignettes inspired by Miyamoto Musashi's Book Of Five Rings.

Disclaimer: Bleach is the property of Tite Kubo. I do not use its characters, settings and/or events for any profitable purpose.


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It is difficult to understand the universe if you study only one planet.

-Miyamoto Musashi


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When the ground shakes, it is a most terrible feeling.

Just beneath the surface, the planet is in constant flux. The plates of the Earth's crust are so massive relative to our scale that it's easy to forget that they move like ice floes jamming a lazy river. Convection currents generate motion, land masses collide and tilt, tension builds and gives way, and in an instant, our perception changes.

To be a physical witness to the action is comparable to a complete and utter loss of control — not just of your body, but of your reality as well. The waves and vibrations distort your sense of space. Things move seemingly of their own accord. Time expands and contracts right along with the walls of your room. Without warning, you find yourself in thrall to the very earth itself, and there is nothing you can do but conceal your vulnerability as best you can and hope that you are lucky.

We can grow accustomed to earthquakes. Our minds and bodies are capable of adapting, of learning not to react with nauseated panic; so we can ride out the tremors as if they were no more than a truck rumbling by.

But we can also choose not to live in earthquake-prone places, and that choice makes all the difference.


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Lisa had no option other than life within the seismic zone. Her old body had been destroyed by the initial cataclysm, and her hollow-contaminated soul now inhabited a new, more sturdily-constructed home, built to accommodate the persistent potential for aftershocks.

Lisa's new body was the second to be fashioned by Urahara. He began with Rose, who'd taken the least physical damage by the hollow transformation, leaving the most model to work from.

In typically dramatic fashion, Rose erupted into keening histrionics immediately upon awakening, and Urahara set to work on Lisa straightaway so Rose would have someone familiar and level-headed to interact with.

But Urahara misjudged them both. Underneath the drama, Rose adapted to his new state of being with very little effort. Lisa, however, remained semi-catatonic after her transferal.

Several times a day, Rose sat outside her door for a short while and listened, letting little tendrils of reiatsu drift about. Eventually, he began to sense movement and signs of awareness, until one night, she called his name.

Her eyes followed him as he crossed the room to where she lay.

“Good evening, Lieutenant. Are you curious as to what is going on?”

“No.” Her voice was raspy and indistinct, having never been used.

Rose sighed and hung his head. To his surprise, Lisa sat up weakly and reached out to touch his wavy locks.

“This isn't really your hair, is it.”

“Well...no.”

“This isn't my hand touching your hair. It's not my voice speaking or your ears hearing. But we're not dead.”

“No. Urahara-san was able to halt the hollowfication process by making full-body prostheses for us. He calls them 'gigai.' They are merely vessels for our souls.”

“Urahara-taichō put my soul into an artificial body,” she stated, tonelessly.

Rose looked uncomfortable.

Without warning, Lisa tackled him, wincing in pain at the effort.

“Hey, what do you think you're doing?” Rose complained, more startled than indignant.

“I want to see this vessel.”

Exhaling, Rose gave in and let her have her way. Lisa fumbled clumsily with the buttons on his shirt, until he nudged her hands aside and undid them himself.

His body was as enticing as she remembered, though oddly mysterious. She pressed her hands against his ribs and felt his lungs expand. Her fingers traced his collarbone, twiddled his earlobe, skritched the golden stubble on his long jaw. She rolled her thumb around the subtle prominence of his Adam's apple. Indeed, his gigai was startlingly realistic. To an untrained eye, it was truly indistinguishable from the real thing.

“Does everything work?”

“Nani?”

“You heard me.”

Rose began to laugh.

“Yes, I think so.”

He lay passively as Lisa placed an ear against his chest to listen to his steady heartbeat. Craning his neck, he watched with fascination as her fingertips transformed his right nipple into a firm, pink nub.

“You remind me of my captain a little.”

“Really.”

“Yeah. Lazy and sensual.”

Rose laughed again. “Ukitake-sama used to say the same thing of him. I think that's a big reason why he found me attractive. Although, I'm not nearly as much fun when I'm drunk.”

“Did Ukitake talk about Shunsui much?”

“All the time. He told me of his childhood, and their school years together, about the relationship between their families, and story after story about his pranks and heroism. You know, I don't think I've ever seen a love so deep as that of my nenja for your captain. I always had the impression that it was impossible for Ukitake-sama to be unhappy, as long as Kyōraku-taichō was nearby.”

Lisa's chest felt tight. I know the feeling, she thought.

Rose sat up abruptly. “So. It's my turn. I want to look at you, now.”

Lisa obediently shrugged out of her juban.

Intrigued, Rose explored her body with equal curiosity, less from a desire to understand a gigai than from the novelty of touching a woman. His hand traversed the deep curve of her waist almost jealously, and glided down one long, smooth leg to grasp her foot, gently pressing the arch to his lips.

He knew he was turning her on, though that wasn't his original intent. Reversing his path, he ended at her neck, laying soft kisses along her throat and down her sternum, then cupping one soft breast and taking the nipple into his mouth with a murmur of satisfaction.

“Taichō,” she whispered, burying her hands in his golden mane, and for a moment he thought she was thinking of him. But when he opened his eyes and saw the pained longing on her face, he knew otherwise.

He sat up and pulled her into his lap, and held her close and tight, his hair draping down around her face.

“You really miss him, don't you.”

“Yes. Don't you miss Ukitake?”

“I do, but it was so long ago that we were together, my feelings have had time to fade.”

“Ōtoribashi-taichō?”

“Hai.”

“I can't remember the smell of his skin.”

Rose was silent, wary of the tremulous tone of her voice.

“I keep hoping he’s going to come for me, but I know he won’t.”

“Why not?”

“He probably thinks I’m dead.”

You're probably right.

Lisa suddenly flared in panicked desperation.

“Why did this happen? I don't want this! I want to go back! Let me go back! Help me! Let me go!” She struggled and thrashed, but she was no match for Rose's strength. He held fast.

“You can't go back. They'll torture you to find out where we are, and then kill all of us for hollows.”

“I don't care! I can't stay here!” She struggled on, fruitlessly.

“Do you think Kyōraku-taichō would approve of this outburst? He sent you with us because he believed in your ability to assist in the completion of the mission. And indeed, with your help, we did complete it. We discovered what happened to all those people. We found out who was responsible for their disappearances. We did our jobs and we honorably sacrificed ourselves for our duty. And, damaged or not, we survived. If the Central 46 Chambers refuse to recognize us for that, then to hell with them. You still have your memories and your pride. You know what is really real.

“Be strong, Yadōmaru-kun. Be who you are now, not who you used to be. One day, the truth will out, and you'll see Kyōraku-taichō again.”

She slumped against him. He loosed his embrace and pulled her to her feet, wrapping her in her juban and carefully supporting her until she could stand on her own, if a bit unsteadily.

“It takes some getting used to. Go on and get dressed now, and come downstairs. You need to eat something, and then I want to show you the training grounds that Kisuke built for us.”

Rose turned to leave. Sliding the fusuma, he paused.

“I just remembered something that Ukitake-sama said once. He had just recovered from a bout of his illness and we were drinking tea under the big tree on the hilltop. He said, 'To open your eyes and breathe a single breath, and know that you are still alive — that is truly a miracle.'” Rose gave her a gentle smile, and closed the door.


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Eventually, the trembling stops and the aftershocks fade, and we begin the arduous task of cleaning up the destruction and rebuilding our lives. There is no going back; there will never again be a time when the disaster didn't happen. Though we would rather things be as they were before, we grow accustomed to change. We heal the damage, and learn to live through the pain, and that is the process by which we make ourselves stronger.


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Chapter I. Touching Earth: Rose/Lisa
Chapter II. Pouring Water: Kensei/Mashiro
Chapter III. Setting Fire: Love/Hachigen
Chapter IV. Catching Wind: Shinji/Hiyori
Chapter V. Not-doing No-thing: Urahara/Yoruichi


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February 2012

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