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Genre: Romance
Rating: T
Pairing: Yumichika x OC
Spoilers: None
Summary: You do not love a woman because she is beautiful, but she is beautiful because you love her.
Word count: 2,419
Warning: Some language. Unclear timeline.

Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Tite Kubo. Summary is an anonymous quote. Title is a Laura Whitcomb book.
Other: Song used for this chapter belongs to Christina Aguilera.

 Chapter listing


Welcome to the greatest show,
The greatest show on Earth
You’ve never seen before
Here the fairytale unfolds.
What’s behind the smoke and glass?
Painted faces everybody wears a mask
Are you selling them your soul?
Will you be left out in the cold?




The first thing Arya was aware of when she forced her too-heavy eyes open was the pain. She hurt everywhere. And for a brief moment, she could not remember what had happened to her or where she was or even how she had gotten there. But then the bright lights dancing along the insides of her eyelids faded and she recognized the pristine white ceiling of the Fourth Division.


The second thing she was aware of that she had been unconscious in the Fourth Division. She bolted upright as fast as her incapacitated state would allow her. Too fast, it seemed, since the room began to spin violently and Arya felt what breakfast she had eaten (however many hours ago that was) rebel against her as her stomach churned nauseatingly.


Too bad she didn’t have the luxury of being sick or injured. As it was, she had been here for… She glanced around for a clock. Four-thirty. So… She estimated she’d been here for about four hours, five tops. Actually, she was surprised no one from her Division had barged in a long time ago and dragged her out by her hair. Guess she was having a lucky day.


At least until she hobbled back to her Division and one of the higher-ranked seats decided to beat it into her that she was weak. Like she needed the reminding. And Unohana-taicho was going to be awfully angry when she found out that Arya had just up and left… Oh well.


Sliding to the floor, she shivered when her bare feet touched the cold tile of the Fourth Division floor. She was pleased to see that her clothes were all cleaned and folded neatly at the foot of the bed, her sword placed carefully beside the pile. Fighting off the dizziness that standing up caused, she dressed as fast as she could, fingers brushing over the white bandages that had been wrapped tightly around her entire midsection, as well as from shoulder to wrist on her left arm. She ignored the fact that she could already see blood seeping through the bandages on her stomach.


As she strapped her zanpaktou to her left hip, she happened to glance up and catch a glimpse of herself in the small mirror across from the bed.


She titled her head at the image. The murky-brown, too-wide eyes, like pools of dirty water. A small nose, noticeably crooked from falling out of a tree as a child and begin hit in the face too many times. The prominent cheekbones that made her face seem sunken in, something not helped by the dark circles under her eyes. Thin, pale lips, almost white. And brown hair, the exact same shade of bloody mud, that fell to her waist, pulled forward in a great, tangled mess, framing her thin, colorless face; long bangs falling past her eyebrows, in order to hide as much of her face as possibly.


The mirror was too small for her to see anymore than her face, but there wasn’t anything special about the rest of her either. Arya was tall and lanky. All arms and legs. With none of the grace of a dancer and all the clumsy, gangly movements of a newborn colt.


You are you, came the disembodied voice of her sword. And that is all that matters, yes?


If you say so, Naichingeru, Arya thought back. And before she had the chance to say anything else, the door to the room slammed open so hard the door slid off it’s hinges.


The man in the doorway sneered at her, giving her a once over. “You seem fine to me, care to explain?” He asked, crossing his arms over his chest.


“Madarame-san,” Arya murmured, lowering her head respectfully to her third seat. “I awoke only moments ago.” In retrospect, this was probably not the greatest thing she could have said, but it was better than coming up with something else. Something else which would have been a lie.


“Moments ago?!” Ikkaku yelled, flashing a glare at some unseated Fourth Division member who tried to ask him to lower his voice, since this was a hospital. “You’ve been in here for four hours and you’re just now getting your lazy ass out of bed?!”


Arya let her head sink down lower. “Sorry,” she said lowly. She didn’t have to look up to know that Ikkaku had a disgusted sneer plastered across his face as he looked at her.


“Fucking disgrace,” he said to himself, although plenty loud enough for Arya (and anyone in the hallway) to hear. He sighed in loathing. “Come on, you worthless girl,” he said, grabbing her by the arm. With a yank that rocked her head on her neck, he pulled her forward. “Let’s go. Zaraki-taicho can deal with you, I can’t even look at you.” He hauled her through the doorway, kicked the boy trying to fix the door out of his way and started walking down the hall, muttering something along the lines of, “Can’t believe she’s in the Eleventh Division. Waste of damn space.”


Arya sighed and hurried after him, tripping when he let her arm go all of a sudden, and fell into step behind him. It didn’t take them long to make their way to the Forth Division’s exit, since the timid members of this squad parted like the Red Sea at the sound of Ikkaku’s heavy and violent footsteps.


The bright sun outside partially blinded her and Arya held up a hand to shield her eyes. She only half-heard when someone called out the third seat’s name. There Ikkaku stopped so abruptly that Arya, hard on his heels, nearly collided with him. He flashed her a brief glance filled with ill-concealed annoyance, before turning away.


“Yo, Yumichika. What’s up?” He questioned as the effeminate man walked over gracefully.


The fifth seat shrugged. “Nothing, I just thought we could walk back to the Division together- what is she doing here?” He asked suddenly, not even attempting to hide the revulsion in his voice as he finally noticed Arya standing behind his friend.


Ikkaku answered with an eye roll. “She’s been in there all day,” he said, jerking a thumb over his shoulder towards the Fourth Division and nearly taking Arya’s eye out in the process. Not that he seemed to care.


Yumichika sniffed disdainfully. “A pity they couldn’t do something about that face of hers,” he said, like she wasn’t even there.


To her credit, Arya didn’t even bat an eyelash at the insult. For one, Yumichika was someone with the face of an angel, but the personality of a blunt ax. And for two, it was nothing Arya hadn’t heard before. The students at the Academy had liked to throw class-trash around, back when she had still been a student there. Orphan. Poor. Weak. Ugly. Worthless. Alone. Too pathetic to save her own brother. Too scared to fight for him, to die for him. Nothing but a frightened child. A cry-baby. A coward. A nobody. Arya had heard it all.


“Well, I guess we should start heading back,” Yumichika said, violet eyes sliding from her to his friend. “Zaraki-taicho said he had something to speak with us about.” Arya refrained from rolling her eyes when she heard the way he emphasized ‘us’ in that sentence. That’s why she hated the higher-ranked shinigami. That tended to get that over-inflated ego air about them, that they knew their orders came from the Captain and yours came from someone much weaker than that. Just a subtle reminder that Arya was only ranked as fifteenth seat, one of the two people to hold that number in her squad.


Ikkaku nodded. “He can deal with her, too,” he said, starting off towards the Eleventh Division and frowning in irritation when Arya followed like silent smoke in their wake.




The walk back to their compound was filled with Ikkaku and Yumichika’s mindless chatter, about what, Arya neither knew nor cared, as it was none of her business. And Arya stayed out of other people’s business. Arya just did what she was told.


It wasn’t like she wanted to be in the Eleventh Division. Hell, it wasn’t like she wanted to be a shinigami at all. But her life wasn’t about doing what she wanted to do, it was about doing what she needed to do. And she needed to be in the Eleventh Division. She had promised. And ever since she had, ever since the day her brother had died, Arya’s life had never been meant for her. It no longer mattered what she wanted, it only mattered what she promised.


She was jerked out of her reverie when suddenly something slammed into her midriff with the force of a train wreck. She hissed in through her teeth when the bubblegum-haired lieutenant smashed right into her wounds. But one glance from the two men she was walking with and she held in whatever pain-filled sound she was going to make and just stood there.


The pair she had walked here with eyed her strangely, as she stood there while Yachiru flitted around her like a hyperactive bumblebee. (“Ugly-lady has been gone for a long time.” “Ken-chan is mad at you!” “Did Pachinko-head and Feathers come get you, that was nice.” “Where have you been?” “Do you have any candy?”)


Arya, to her credit, completely ignored it. There were a lot of things in the Eleventh Division that were… strange. Things that were odd the first time you joined their ranks. So it had only bothered Arya for a little while that her lieutenant had the attention span of a three-year-old on crack. Then she just learned to deal with it.


“Hey, hey, hey, what’s going on out here?”


Yachiru immediately flung herself at her Captain, using Arya as a springboard, while Ikkaku and Yumichika called out greetings. Arya bowed low at the waist, the tips of her hair brushing the ground. “Zaraki-taicho,” she murmured. She could feel the eye rolls at her behavior, but ignored it.


The truth was, Arya wasn’t like the other shinigami in this division, a fact that was glaringly obvious. They were true combat junkies. Arya was just here. A fact that at the Eleventh Division members seemed the take great joy in reminding her of. She wasn’t as good as them. Of course, everyone else just saw some Eleventh Division battle-monger, so they didn’t like her all that much either.


“Kurosawa,” Zaraki said to her, “I see you decided to come back. Thought you might have been dead, what with how long you were gone for.”


It wasn’t a question, so she didn’t answer.


Her captain huffed, before turning to the other two. “I wanted to tell you two that old-man Yamamoto is sending a team back to Kurosaki’s town. Something about Hollow numbers and something.” He shrugged. “Whatever.”


“He said there were new Hollows to fight,” Yachiru chirped up from Zaraki’s shoulder. “That they were different than normal. Nanao-chan thinks because of all the Arracar that have been around there lately.” She crossed her eyes and stuck out her tongue. “Nanao-chan is so boring.”


New types of Hollow? Arya thought. She frowned lightly to herself. That sounded like a bunch of bad joo-joo to her.




She snapped to attention. “Yes, Zaraki-taicho?”


“I don’t have time to deal with you right now, so just…go with these two to talk to Hitsugaya, see if that boy can take you with him or something.”


Ikkaku sputtered indignantly. “W-what?! Taicho you- you can’t! She can’t come with us! She’s so…” He groped blindly in the air, searching for a word. “Useless,” he settled on pathetically.


Their captain shrugged. Clearly he was lethargic on sake and was too drunk to care. Either that or… he just really didn’t care.


Ikkaku frowned when Zaraki told him something along the lines of, “Deal with it,” and walked away, already yelling at someone in the courtyard. The bald-shinigami turned to Arya with a thunderous glare, like all of this was her fault.


“If something attacks you in Karakura Town, I will not help you,” he told her firmly, before turning towards the Tenth Division barracks and walking away with Yumichika, clearly just expecting her to follow.


Arya sighed when he told her that. She wouldn’t have expected him to help her anyway. And with that, she hurried after the pair of them.



Is it all blue skies?
Fun and games until you fall
Then you’re left without anyone at all.
You’re riding on a shooting star
With a smile upon your face
But soon the shine fades.
And you’re left out all alone,
Wondering, where did it all go?



A/N: Trying to make Yumichika get along, let alone fall in love, with someone who is not a supermodel is not easy. But, I plan to give him hell once I do, just because he’s fun to toy with.


1. The name of Arya’s zanpaktou, Naichingeru, means ‘nightingale.’