Sōken had always told him that keeping his eyes open wasn't important in shooting a Quincy bow. Ryūken kept his gaze fastened on the point in the air where his arrow would meet the invisible kidō spell all the same, his heart singing out as he let the arrow fly from it just like Sōken had commanded he do countless times; over and over, hundreds of arrows in a day. It had taken him so long to learn that simple credence but he could feel that Kisuke had already mastered that part, the power rushing from the boy came right from his heart; the intent in his reiatsu was filled solely with his feelings for Yoruichi, their budding friendship and her rescue, her protection.
Joy spilled from Kisuke as the kidō unwound and glowing shards of arrow and barrier crumbled and disintegrated as it fell down upon the glowing black kitten now clearly visible on the floor. "Ryū-kun," She whimpered and the Quincy shrugged off Kisuke's hand and fell to the floor hands reaching out to the feline. Yoruichi gave a feeble mew and fell into his waiting hands. "Kisuke-kun?"
Ryūken turned to look at Kisuke as he watched their reunion. He was grinning from ear-to-ear. He was back to normal, his spiritual pressure back under control. The pressure of the situation and Kisuke's determination had overwhelmed whatever dam had been holding back his full power. He would only get stronger but right now Ryūken was pleased to see that now he could see his reiatsu easily. His hypothesis had been correct; it had been mostly dormant inside the boy only waiting for something to slap it awake, Ryūken's reiatsu.
"Let's get out of here," Ryūken murmured as it looked like Yoruichi was just as full of questions as Kisuke. "How did you get inside Kisuke-kun?"
"I snuck in past the guards."
"Well that might have been easy with your reiatsu sleeping but now it's not," Ryūken's mind went over escape plans.
"I'll run a distraction," Yoruichi murmured.
"No," Kisuke shook his head and moved to open the bedroom door. "You're hurt Koneko-sama, I'll get out fine on my own. Ryūken get him out of here."
They moved together out of the quarters and both Ryūken and Yoruichi were impressed as they all moved undetected to the corner garden Kūkaku had hidden in earlier. Yoruichi was bursting with questions, most of them having to do with her blond heroes and not so much the rescue and how it had come about. She curled up tight in Ryūken's warm arms, the reiatsu not nearly as tightly wound as is usually was.
"How are you-" Ryūken trailed into silence as he turned back to ask Kisuke and found him gone. "Kisuke-kun?"
A grin curled her kitty mouth at the informal name, remembering the nickname that Ryūken had called to her through the kidō spell. It hadn't been far off from the nickname she had finally browbeaten him to use (which he still fought using). Kisuke had disappeared up one of the clusters of bamboo, the only sign of his weight a slight sway to the stalks that soon stilled.
Angling her head up Yoruichi just managed to see Kisuke's toothy grin as he hung his messy head over the edge of the roof tile. "Are you guys waiting for something?"
A slight tightening of his arms was all the warning Yoruichi got before Ryūken hirenkyakued them both to the tiles right beside Kisuke. He jumped and spun over onto his back to look up at Ryūken but made no sound. She winced as his newfound reiatsu gave a small flare before he seemed to get a grasp on it. She let her senses absorb both new spiritual signatures, learning them so that she wouldn't have to see them to know the owners.
She watched Kisuke drop to the ground, his legs bending to absorb the landing and he only made a small muffled noise as he hit the ground. "Domo arigatō," She murmured as Ryūken moved down off the roof and they all moved quietly toward the Shiba shouten.
No surprise Kisuke murmured, "What happened Koneko-sama?"
"I found your camp and waited for you but that shinigami found me," A growl rumbled out of her furry chest. "Used a binding kidō as soon as I got my claws in him."
"Did he hurt you?" Ryūken asked, he was calm like always on the outside but Yoruichi could still feel his reiatsu and it told the truth. Hot molten rage rose inside at the thought of a shinigami hurting someone he cared about.
"A little, he carried me by my tail, I can hardly walk because of it," Yoruichi admitted and Ryūken must have finally realized he wasn't as contained as usual because it peaked sharply then disappeared from her senses.
"Maybe Isshin-sama knows some healing kidō," Ryūken suggested and he immediately felt Yoruichi's feline reaction, claws surprisingly.
"I thought I heard Kū-chan," Yoruichi stated, looking up in time to see Ryūken purposefully look down to catch her gaze. It wasn't frightening to think that Kūkaku knew, when they were younger they had been forced to play together enough for Yoruichi to understand how strong her personality was, even then.
Considering this covert rescue Yoruichi was sure she had been right when guessing the rough spoken noble girl would become just as noble as any other, but much stronger. Much kinder.
"Moushiwake-gozaimasen," Ryūken murmured. "I told Kūkaku-chan."
"I know...I'm that smart," Yoruichi quipped and Kisuke laughed. "But not Urahara-kun I see."
"He won't tell me anything!" Kisuke couldn't smother the smile as he whined and pretended to stomp his foot in a tantrum. "Said you would answer all of my questions."
"Domo, Ryū-kun," Yoruichi muttered sarcastically. "I have lots to tell you boy, when we have some guarantee of privacy let me speak and then what I haven't answered you can ask about."
Kisuke gave a solemn nod and surprised Yoruichi by procuring a salted fish. "Isshin-sama thought you might like this...Don't worry it's not the fire fish," He made a face, as he recalled the memory of the fish in a good way. "They were madness! Delicious...Have you had them?"
"I love Shrieking Shiba Fire Fish!"
"Oh Kami they have a name!" Ryūken groaned his memory not as pleasant as Kisuke's. "Good I can tell Kūkaku-chan what I don't want."
"I wanted to bring some but Kūkaku's peace offering took up most of my carrying space," Kisuke sighed and patted his chest. "Koganehiko said he'd have a snack waiting for us."
Ryūken looked over toward Kisuke, specifically to the hand on his chest. "Carrying space?"
Kisuke gave him a grin, his gaze moving toward Yoruichi. "There's-"
"Pocket sewn into his shirt," Yoruichi yawned. "Don't act like a secret pocket is so hot Ryū-kun, those come standard on Shihōin pajamas."
Impressed with that information and that Yoruichi knew it Kisuke reached into his tunic to pull out the paper that had been wrapped around the fish. "Hai, Koneko-sama! Shiba too."
"Tch," Ryūken was still very serious, his face indifferent but his tone teasing. "Quincy created the secret compartment Yoru-kun."
With a laugh Yoruichi meowed, "Ryū-kun!" She looked up at him, trying to ignore the delicious smell of fish overwhelming her feline sense of smell, empty stomach, and waning reiatsu. He had laughter in his eyes; the feline eyes helped her to see it in the setting sun.
"I had to use my cross to break that kidō," Ryūken admitted.
"You got to see the bow!" Yoruichi yowled in pure jealousy her eyes shooting to Kisuke who only laughed and rubbed the back of his head with a sheepish smile. "Teme...Quincy," She hissed, much like Ryūken had said about the shinigami with just as much conviction. "I'm starving!" Now Yoruichi didn't hesitate to eat the bit of fish out of Kisuke's hand.
"You heard the cat," Kisuke grinned as Yoruichi licked any remains from his hand with her small rough tongue. "Shouldn't you be hirenkyakuing already?"
Ryūken said nothing to this, resolutely ignoring both sets of eyes boring curiosity through him before hirenkyakuing away. They arrived a few minutes before Kisuke who-Yoruichi knew from experience-was a fast runner, fast enough to counter her fledgling shunpo.
"You haven't told him anything?" Yoruichi asked as she sensed his approaching reiatsu flickering and small like a candle's flame. "How did you manage that?"
"I told him you would answer questions about yourself and answered most of the others," Ryūken's eyes were sharp enough to see Kisuke in the setting sun. "He...He's..."
"You like him don't you?" Yoruichi asked in a smug voice. "I noticed, 'Kisuke-kun'," She teased in a sing-song voice.
"He blackmailed me with your wellbeing."
"Teme, shinigami one-way kidō...Sōken's right it's useless."
Surprised Yoruichi didn't reply as Kisuke finally joined them. The Quincy had not only been joking-a miraculous thing to begin with-but to also joke about his father; it was like earlier when he'd teased her about Quincy. She was glad Kisuke had shown up so she couldn't embarrass herself with stuttering speechlessness.
"Oh my dear friends!" Kisuke laughed as he finally caught up, breathing hard from running full speed for so long. "It makes my heart sing that you would wait for me!"
"Hara-chan?" Shouted from inside the shouten.
Ryūken stepped back as Kūkaku flew through the door, tackling Kisuke. He watched in mild horror as the two shrieked and laughed madly while each attempted to tickle the other. "Tch."
"Ryū-kun," Yoruichi chastised as they started inside. "Kids have to have fun."
"Yes you've told me that plenty," Ryūken grumbled, remembering it each time he had mentioned her gross informalities.
"Especially kids from nobles families," Isshin's voice came out of nowhere, startling them. "They have too many responsibilities and when they reach adulthood even the most rambunctious of us wish we'd have done more with the years we had."
"Isshin-sama," Ryūken nodded to the shinigami who was leaning against the wall just inside the shouten door. "I don't know how to thank you for all you've done."
"Make sure that Kisuke brat gets submitted for the guard," Isshin said with an easy shrug, as if that answer should have been obvious. "If he has a problem because he's an orphan I'll talk my brotherinto speaking for him."
"Hai," Ryūken had planned on doing that already. Truthfully Yoruichi had asked for his help in that endeavor but Ryūken had decided to make doubly sure a few minutes after meeting Kisuke; although he hadn't realized so until just now. Shocked at this realization he missed Isshin's next words.
"Yoru-kun," Isshin murmured and with a hand on Ryūken's shoulder he guided the still recovering Quincy into the vacant back room. "Nice voice," He chuckled. "And your reiatsu is almost completely different from your human form's."
"Isshin-sama-" Ryūken started to quickly object.
"I think that anyone that was around both shapes would find the similarities obvious," Isshin said the words like a warning.
Yoruichi had finally shaken off her own shock-thankful for quick Ryūken-and her ears flattened down on her head. "I don't control the voice, I just sound like a boy naturally in this shape...and the only person I'm around in both forms knows my secret."
Isshin bowed his head in apology when he sensed the buzz of her reiatsu...Trying not to be distracted by a new spiritual pressure that hit his radar as he opened it while sensing the princess. It clicked a second before he went into offensive action that it was Kisuke's. "I need to get going, Ukitake-taichō wants to talk."
"I had to break a kidō spell," Ryūken admitted.
Their eyes met and Isshin nodded. "Don't worry, the fifth seat's a baka he won't recognize the signature difference. He only got a seat because he was good with kidō and has loads of reiatsu."
"He could have killed you," Ryūken muttered to himself about Yoruichi his mind going over scenarios. For once he wasn't logical-even though he was standing here with Yoruichi cradled safe in his arms-still he imagined his "what ifs."
"I'm fine," Yoruichi hissed. "Well I could use some healing."
"I'm pretty savage with my kidō...Quite the opposite of a healer actually," Isshin apologized. "You want Ju-kun, he's good with animals," He offered.
"Of course," Yoruichi carefully moved to a large pillow Ryūken dropped down next to.
"I'll send him on my way to Taichō," Isshin bowed his head before leaving them to try peeling Kūkaku and Kisuke apart on his way out.
"Ju-kun?" Ryūken whispered as racing footsteps clattered through the shouten, heralding Kūkaku and Kisuke's return.
"Shiba Ganju," Yoruichi answered the unvoiced question. "Littlest Shiba cub-"
"Koneko you'd better get to talking before Ju-kun gets here...He can't keep his mouth shut," Kūkaku landed in her pillow nest. The collection had grown and spread out a little more, which was no surprise when Kisuke tumbled headfirst into it with a weird kind of flip.
The landing looked painful but Kisuke only grinned, his hair refusing to move from his eyes even while his head lolled half off a pillow. "Please, Koneko-sama?"
"Well-first off-my name is Yoruichi, heir to the noble Shihōin clan," Yoruichi made a face at that last part and Kisuke was close enough to see it. "Not as interesting as a talking cat."
"You're a human that can become a cat," Kisuke countered, his heart thumping as information ricocheted through his mind. A human? Yoruichi...The princess? "Why do you sound like a man?"
"Feline voice box?" Yoruichi actually managed to make her tail curl up like a question mark as she suggested it. "I don't know."
"I discovered I could do it in a dream, I needed to pass through a small hole in a wall and I just focused on making myself small enough to pass through it. Nobody knows I can do it except the people in this room."
"And Isshin," Ryūken huffed.
Yoruichi gave a meow and tried not to laugh at how upset the Quincy sounded. "Yes, him too."
"It's a secret then," Kisuke nodded. "Don't worry Shihōin-hime."
"Don't start doing that," Yoruichi objected her ears picking up sounds of movement in the next room. "I think our visitor just arrived."
"Yeah, I was wondering when he was going to speak up," Kūkaku called out. "Get in here and get to work, Yūk-kun's cat needs healing."
A small boy-he couldn't be any older than three or four-crept into the room with his head bowed. "How'd ju'know?"
"Heard you," Kūkaku sneered. "Sensed your reiatsu when you came through the front door baka."
"Ojisan told me ta bring ya sum extra clothes," Ganju lifted a neatly bound bundle in his arms before dropping it next to Ryūken on his way over toward his new feline patient. Yoruichi tried to relax as the boy moved and plopped down behind her, grabbed her and dumped her unceremoniously into his lap. "Wat's w'ong wit' ya kitty?"
"She had someone pull her tail, she's having a hard time walking," Ryūken explained so Yoruichi wouldn't have to talk.
"Aw," Ganju's hand gently stroked along Yoruichi's head and back and she had to give him credit-and a purr-he knew just how to scratch. "S'all right, kitty I'll fix ya."
Ryūken watched her eyes drift closed and he wished he could get his reiatsu to do healing kidōs but the Quincy's power was different. They had their own type of kidō but in order to use it effectively large amounts of the Quincy's reiatsu had to be stored in silver tubes called, "Gintō."
"Questions Hara-chan?" Kūkaku joked, of course he had questions.
"I have to think first," Kisuke admitted, and his eyes moved toward Ganju, and everyone knew he remembered how secretive this information was.
"Well I have one," Kūkaku continued.
Ryūken eyed her nervously and she noticed with a maniacal grin. "What?"
"What is Furui-jiji thinking accepting submissions from Rukongai?"
"Everyone still has to show ability, he's not just taking them in off the streets...fighting, reiatsu..."
"Like the academy started doing a few hundred years back," Kūkaku nodded approval. "Ojisan said when the school started it was low ranking nobles only. 'Bout time you snooty upper households realized there's potential in people you consider inferiors."
Yoruichi gave a long irritated meow but soon succumbed to the pleasant green glow radiating from Ganju's small hands. Ryūken didn't mind helping and shot Kūkaku a withering look.
Even though he was still digesting the whole "Koneko isn't an animal-not only that but a girl-and a princess on top of that!" nonsense, that didn't keep all his brain's attention. He was keeping tabs on the conversation that had continued while he had slipped into silence watching Yoruichi get healed.
Kisuke didn't know he looked dazed since he was really on overload. Too much curiosity and simultaneous information input had his brain zipping along while he was catatonic on the outside. So many questions! So many answers!
"Ju'should eat ya know," Ganju whispered soothingly to Yoruichi.
The discussion ended as Koganehiko appeared at the hidden door like he'd run up the entire flight of stairs. He moved with more grace to the door of the dumbwaiter concealed beneath a very large bronze fan.
Ryūken watched Koganehiko lift all six trays and carry them as if they weighed nothing before setting them up in two lines down the middle of their circle. He noticed the glassiness of Kisuke's stare as it followed the lightning quick Koganehiko.
"Kisuke-kun?" Ryūken called, cutting off Kūkaku who he hadn't really been paying attention to, thanks to Kisuke. "You all right?"
Kūkaku turned to look at the stunned boy. "Hara-chan?"
With a cackle Kūkaku rolled over to cuff the back of his head with her hand. "Hara-chan if you do this no one is going to want to answer any of your questions."
They all stayed relatively quiet as Shiroganehiko appeared at the top of the stairs with a stack of large empty plates and he helped Koganehiko fill one for each person. They were done fast and as Shiroganehiko moved to put the empty trays and platters into the dumbwaiter his brother moved to his mistress's side. "Kūkaku-dono!" Koganehiko barked his posture ramrod straight.
Instead of answering Koganehiko moved across the room to intercept Maukawa-Isshin's hell butterfly-who had managed to silently fluttered in while they were distracted with talking and a stunned Kisuke. He lowered his arm gently after the butterfly landed and tip-toed back to Kūkaku where he knelt down and extended his cupped hand.
"You may go," Kūkaku said with a nod of thanks and Koganehiko gently placed the butterfly onto her waiting fingertip.
"Hai, Kūkaku-dono!" And both he and Shiroganehiko were gone in a blink.
Kūkaku looked down at the butterfly, as did everyone else as they started to devour the food, even Kisuke. "You done yet Ju-chan?"
"Yeah, like forever ago," He said in a taunting sing-song, mouth full of rice.
"Then scram!" She shouted and Yoruichi gave a startled yowl when the boy jumped to obey and left her crumpled on the floor, almost in the plate he'd been eating out of.
"Domo arigatō gozaimasu!" Yoruichi managed to shout after the frightened boy. "Kū-chan that wasn't nice," She chastised as she moved back to the pillow she'd been lying in before Ganju's arrival, her motions much more fluid. There she was able to gulp down the food Ganju had left behind.
"Well I'm sure ojisan wouldn't send a message everyone could safely hear that won't start when the butterfly touches me," Kūkaku lifted her hand, the butterfly slowly flapping its wings as silent as death. She gave her hand a shake and the butterfly took off and fluttered over toward Yoruichi.
Maukawa fluttered over and landed on Yoruichi's back since she was half-crouching/half-laying on the edge of the pillow so she could reach the food. As soon as he landed Isshin's voice boomed out into the silence, "Gomennasai kids but Ukitake-taichō wishes to make a more detailed report of Nakamura's behavior. Maukawa knows the way and I told him to show you, just let him know when you're ready to go." There was a pause and then Isshin's voice came, hushed, as if he were trying to keep someone on his end of things from hearing his next words. "Don't worry about the clothes Ju-kun brought for Yoru-kun leave them behind with Ryūken-kun..."