Kurohyou Keikan

Mistress of the Palace

Kisuke often wondered what others dreamt about-when it wasn't so peculiar an occurrence (in the World of the Living for example)-since his were so elaborate. Mostly because it was still an unanswerable curiosity for him how he could walk all night through thick jungle, or polished palace corridors and still wake up refreshed. Were all dreams as intense and detailed?

The locked doors that had frustrated him in last night's dreams were still firmly closed. Kisuke made his way through each hallway and door off that first room he'd come to again, his gaze wandering occasionally to where the wall and floors met with jungle.

After exhausting each corridor and doorway he started collecting pillows off the furniture he passed (amazed at the myriad types of upholstery; silks, more than one wild fur) and piling them together in the main room. He only called it that because it was where the jungle met the marble dream palace, and he found himself returning there after each failure. He finally stopped scouring the available rooms for pillows and flopped down into a pile that easily rivaled Kūkaku's.

Part of him wanted to take off into the jungle again just for something to do, but it had proven itself endless and with no landmarks to speak of...except for this palace. He buried himself into the pillows in an effort to get comfortable, and perhaps distract his curiosity.

As he lay there staring up at the elaborately carved ceiling he could see from under the pillows his mind suddenly recalled that Yoruichi dreamt about a palace as well. She had mentioned coming upon an unused passage she was too large to fit through, and it had led to her shape shifting in her dreams...

Kisuke wasn't sure if he had gained better control, or if things were different in dreams, but when he concentrated on his spiritual energy it came gently and quickly. He was happy not to be overwhelmed even as the power swelled and erupted out past his skin.

He looked down at the soft red glow of reiatsu that pulsed out from his skin. What to turn into? Yoruichi had mentioned focusing on being smaller...Maybe the smaller shape the easier it was?

Cat, he thought squeezing his eyes closed for several minutes.

When he opened his eyes to peer at his hand again the glow of his spiritual pressure was brighter, the aura extending out further like a cloud around him, but it was still a hand. He pictured himself as a cat; maybe a soft brown tabby cat...Was he doing it wrong-?

"What are you doing?"

Abruptly Kisuke found himself surrounded, the air around him heavy and hard to take in. He gasped and tumbled out of the pillows in a panic Kisuke landed in an undignified sprawl, pillows scattering on the polished floor. He shot to his feet and spun toward the voice, toward the encroaching jungle, but there was no one there. As he took a slow, deep breath and found the air as easy to draw in as usual he quickly took in his surroundings. All the doors were still closed.

Bare feet slapping loudly across the marble Kisuke ran into the jungle, casting his reiatsu out in front of him like sniffing hounds.

Oujisama? Echoed in his head in a deep, sultry female voice, bringing him up short. He easily knew the difference between them the first being an aural voice and the second a telepathic one. It was the same person but as she called to him telepathically it tripped something in his memories.

It was more than the running that had Kisuke's heart hammering as he hurried back toward the structure. As he moved through the foliage he caught sight of the mound of pillows and came to an abrupt stop.

Reclining in the pile, as if he'd made it for her, was a woman with skin as dark as Yoruichi's, the outside of it swathed in gently rolling red reiatsu. Her hair was much longer-probably brushed the floor-unbound, wild and was a blood red so deep it reminded him of the life's blood he couldn't seem to stop seeing when he used his second sight.

Even though she had thrown one of the dream palace's fur blankets-red and black tiger-stripes-over her Kisuke still noticed what was showing didn't looked very clothed. The only real accoutrement were the tiny gold hoop piercings that ran along the curve of her eyebrow and along the edge of the ear on the same side.

"So you finally made it in from the jungle?"

Kisuke moved a few steps closer, his gaze just as intense as when he'd looked upon Yoruichi's human face for the first time. Just as he'd tried to make connections between the human and feline faces, he tried to connect the woman's face to the memories that had shivered at her voice. "I know you," He heard the words spill out but there was no visual recognition. "Your voice..."

Red, red lips curved into a wicked smirk. "You have heard my voice before?"

The shock and delight in the stranger's tone brought him up short again. "I don't remember when."

"Oh," Her beautiful face fell, the arch of gold hoops an accent to her expressions. "You remember your death."

"What?" Kisuke winced as his knees suddenly met unforgiving marble when his legs unexpectedly failed him. "I...M-my death?" He was pretty sure he'd remember something like that if he could.

The woman's eyes (from here they looked black) seemed to reconsider Kisuke as he trembled. "You..?" She hesitated and the blanket wrapped around her more securely as she moved to her feet. "Do you know my name?"

Kisuke stared up at the woman as she moved closer; there was a simplicity to her movements that reminded him of Yoruichi, feline Yoruichi (he hadn't seen the human version move enough). As she moved closer he felt that same thickening to the air and he met her gaze, "If you already told me I don't remember."

At his admission she smiled softly with a knowing nod. "I haven't told you before." She watched the boy gasp, his breathing coming in a strangled sound as she lowered down to kneel in front of him, her free hand reaching out to touch his narrow shoulder. She felt the hot burn of his reiatsu under her fingers, trying to push out-to shield him-so he could breathe in the face of her massive spiritual pressure. "My name is-"

His eyes rolled up in his head as his breath stuck in his lungs like sand for a moment and he felt on the verge of fainting from the struggle of inhaling. The moment of suffocation passed and he forced his eyes open to stare up at her to find her crisp red eyes full of concern. "W-what?" He asked bewildered.

Somehow she seemed to expect his reply. Her smile curled up a little on one side, popping a sharp-looking canine out unintentionally. "I am-" She tried again, watching as the child gasped, his reiatsu intense and violent, but not enough to keep her attention from crushing him.

"I can't...hear...you..." Kisuke grumbled confused and she only nodded in understanding. "My name is Urahara Kisuke."

"I know your name, Oujisama," She shook her head with a small tsk of her tongue her red hair coming around her like a curtain as she stood and moved away. "If you cannot even hear my name you have found your way to me much too soon."

"Too soon?" Kisuke moved to follow her, encouraged when the mysterious pressure that had plagued him since she had appeared lifted, even as she started to leave the palace. "Where are you going?"

"I'll tell you when you can hear my name..." She moved gracefully from the marble to the soft earth. "Or when you can catch me."

"Catch you?" Kisuke's eyes went wide as the blanket slipped off her shoulders, exposing sharp shoulder blades.

Right before he could start forward there was that sensation in the air again and she disappeared in shunpo. He gasped in realization as he used both his second sight and reiatsu to seek the woman out, his feet carrying him as fast as he could. Like he had guessed in regards to Ukitake-taichō's reiatsu, this woman's unchecked was large enough to press down on him physically.

With a startled yelp his feet tangled and he fell on his face. He kicked his feet brutally, sending the discarded blanket flying.

You are hopeless Oujisama, echoed in his mind and Kisuke rolled to his feet to chase after the glowing red trail of the woman. Like the feline shape of the other night's dream...

Bravely he hurried after her, his courage bolstered as he glanced back to see his own trail (was it dreams that made reiatsu red?).

As he chased he recalled again Yoruichi learning shape-shifting from her dreams. Surely if she could learn something he could...Oh, no...

Jaa ne, Oujisama.

When insistent hands continued to shake him awake Kisuke's eyes snapped open. He looked up to meet Ryūken's brown gaze, strange for some reason...Ah, no glasses!

"I need to learn how to shunpo!"

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