In a courtyard, a tall man wearing an eyepatch and a white cloak over his black kimono with spiked black hair and bells all over his hair was humming while holding his sword.
It was Zaraki Kenpachi. The 11th captain and captain of the 11th division.
Behind him, the members of his division were mumbling and questioning his mood. After all, Zaraki had been quite cranky those last five years after Gojo had been classed as Captain unofficially and was forbidden to face other captain level existence like their captain.
“Hey, Yachiru, do you know what is happening?”
A red-haired man with tattoos on his forehead talked quietly as he approached the small vice-captain of the 11th division.
“Oh? Ren-chan. Hehehe! Ken-chan is happy because today is supposed to be the captain selection. He is impatient to see how much stronger Sa-Chan grew.”
Abarai Renji, now 6th seat of the 11th division, was immediately convinced. He knew that by Sa-chan, she was talking about Satoru Gojo, his classmate, something of a friend, and someone he aspired to become.
Since he graduated and entered the 11th division, the two of them didn’t have much interaction but they still keep in touch and he would sometimes take care of his daughter when she came to the 11th division.
‘That guy was always a monster.’
Thinking so, he couldn’t help but wonder how the captain selection would go. From the way things were going, there was a high chance that a fight would happen. After all, even if Satoru or Gin were elected, if the other one really wanted the place of captain, they could still challenge the other to a fight.
What Renji didn’t know was that Kenpachi was happy for a different reason, a reason that, aside from Zaraki and Yachiru, only Gojo knew.
Knowing what would happen soon, she briefly wondered if she should be worried but in the end, she shook her head inwardly.
‘As long as Ken-chan is happy, that’s all that matters.’
She didn’t need anything nor did she want anything else…Well, there was one other thing she wanted as much as that.
Thinking so, she couldn’t help but think about her last conversation with Satoru after Zaraki fainted during their fight ten years ago.
[About 10 years ago]
In a vast field that was completely reduced to rubble, one tall man was standing with his eyes completely blank. His uniform was torn to shred and his body was full of bloody wounds.
Facing him was an equally blood-drenched Gojo who was so tired that he had a hard time standing. His only noticeable wounds were his bloodshot eyes and the dried trace of blood on the corner of his eyes as if he had been shedding tears of blood.
“Haha. What a monster, to think that even despite all this he is still standing. Though he at least went unconscious.”
In the fight between them, from start to finish, Gojo had been barely able to hang on. The only reason he managed to win was by constantly healing himself and ditching wounds after wounds to Zaraki.
This had truly been a bitter fight. Even so, he had managed to win.
“Haha, so this is the end. I guess…Ken-chan lost.”
Walking toward the unconscious Zaraki, Yachiru showed a worried expression but she did nothing to Gojo. Pushing him to the ground, she used her small body and raised him before preparing to walk away.
“Hey. There is something I want to say.”
“…What? If it’s about the bet, don’t worry. Though it’s pretty outrageous, Ken-chan won’t go back on his words.”
“No, this isn’t about that. I can help you, you know? About him knowing your true name, I mean.”
‘His face was so funny when I refused.’
She chuckled when she remembered how surprised he had been. But this was an easy answer for her.
Zaraki Kenpachi was everything for her. Her friend, her father, her brother, and more importantly…Her wielder.
She didn’t know how her existence was possible, nor did she care. It would indeed be easy to have Satoru reveal her true identity to Zaraki but then, what meaning would there be to it?
What she wished for was for Zaraki to realize it on his own.
‘Well, all of this doesn’t matter. Since Ken-chan made that bet with him and lost, soon we will see what will happen.’
At least that defeat hadn’t been for nothing. After it, Zaraki became insanely strong, or rather…slowly got back a part of his strength.
If they had kept fighting, it would have been possible for him to become as strong as he was a few centuries ago, but now it didn’t matter. She was sure that soon he would be able to fight as much as he liked whenever he wanted.
Furthermore, the deal they made was without a doubt something Zaraki wished for more than anything else. A proposal he could in no way refuse.
“Yachiru. It’s time to go.”
Yachiru smiled as she stood up and jumped on the back of Kenpachi.
“Let’s go! I know a sure way for us to reach the 1st division very fast.”
“Okay! Let’s go.”
Looking at the vanishing back of Zaraki and Yachiru after Zaraki busted the wall of the room while running, Renji facepalmed as he asked Ikaku.
“Do you think they will be alright?”
“Hahaha! Don’t worry. Even if Yachiru gets them lost, they just have to jump over the walls.”
This was truly an 11th division-like way of thinking.
Standing up with his arms wide open, a tanned man with his hair tied up in dreadlocks and wearing white bandages around his eyes was having his cloak put on him.
The one who was helping him was a black-haired man with the tattoo of the number 69 on his face.
Once he had his cloak on, Kaname Tosen, Captain of the 9th division smiled while looking in the direction of the one helping him.
“Thanks, you have been a great help to me, Shuhei.”
Those words overwhelmed Shuhei Hisagi with joy. Ever since he entered the soul society, there were only two people he ever admired.
“Your words are too kind. It’s an honor for me to be of help to you.”
The first one was his savior, Kensei Muguruma. He was the one who inspired him to become a Shinigami.
The second one was the man standing here right now.
For him, Kaname Tosen was a man whose ideals were what Shinigamis as a whole should aspire to become.
This is why he worked so hard and managed to receive the title of vice captain just ten years after graduating.
It had been an arduous task and he worked harder than anyone else.
What really helped him pull ahead though was the existence of two people. Toshiro Hitsugaya and Satoru Gojo.
All his life, he had thought that he was a sort of genius. It was only that night ten years ago, when he fought alongside them against those hollows, that he understood what a true genius was.
In fact, for a moment, he had even fallen into the abyss of self-doubt.
But thanks to Kaname Tosen, he understood that rather than envying them and looking down on himself, the existence of such genius should make him strive even more.
By using them as examples, he had managed to unearth his true potential and reached greater heights.
If Kensei Muguruma was the one who saved and changed his life as a civilian, then Kaname Tosen was the one who saved and changed his life as a Shinigami.
“Well then, I guess it’s time to go to the 1st division.”
The 1st division headquarters also served as the main place when Captains had to reunite and take important decisions.
Hearing this, Shuhei showed a struggling expression.
“I can feel that your heart is disturbed. What’s the matter?”
Since he was blind, Kaname Tosen had developed his other senses to a level few could hope to ever reach.
Shuhei, knowing that he couldn’t hide anything sighed.
“I just wonder why you do not wish for Satoru Gojo to become captain.”
Kaname was not surprised by this question. This had been a frequent topic of discussion.
“I know people like Satoru Gojo. Self-centered. Mocking. Arrogant. Egoistic. Such people have nothing to do as captains. He is like Zaraki Kenpachi. A killing machine that will cause only more bloodshed in the world.”
Shuhei could say nothing about those words. After all, the Gojo he knew was true as described by Tosen.
But this was the Gojo of ten years ago. Even though he didn’t speak regularly with Gojo, he did go on some missions and he could feel that Gojo was a little different, a little warmer.
This was even more so after his daughter appeared.
Sadly, this was something he couldn’t put into words since he had a hard time understanding it himself.
“Remember Shuhei, Justice without a great cause begets nothing more than slaughter. This is why, even though Gojo may have the strength of a captain, I believe he is unworthy of the title.”
Saying so, he turned and began to walk out, Shuhei following in silence behind him, deep in thought.
There was one part of this saying that Kaname did not share with Shuhei.
‘Justice without a great cause begets nothing more than slaughter. However — the same slaughter in the name of a great cause is Justice.’
He believed in the justice Sosuke Aizen would bring to the Soul Society. No matter how many people were sacrificed on the road, it would be all worth it for they were just.
(AN: Ah. Kaname Tosen. The single most hypocritical and pitiful character in Bleach. I really would have been happy if Kubo showed how Aizen twirled the dude around his finger. Anyway, the last arc of this volume is high on. Let’s hope I don’t fuck it up.)