Walk With Me

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Chef Bryardee

King of Condiments
Jul 6, 2009
Over Yonder
Dahlitium (⏆50 per)
Bigatium (⏆100 per)
Auritium (⏆300 per)
Vitatium (⏆1200 per)
Caelitium (⏆6000 per)
Walk With Me

Amidst the stillness of the forest, there was a sharp, distant chirping. From the side of his long white garb, a mote of blue light flashed again and again until the man reached inside and thumbed the volume button on the side of the device. A few more deliberate footfalls carried him down the winding, narrow path before his patience ran dry.

Pulling the phone out, he glanced down to see the blue light still flashing, the person on the other end still waiting to be received.

Rolling his onyx eyes, the man flipped it open and pressed the green icon. His mouth parted, but before he could even answer...

“Captain!” the female caller squealed immediately.

Pulling his head away from her ear-piercing voice, he searched the keys for the volume button again and mashed it several times over until her voice was just above a whisper.

“Captain Kagetoki, where are you?”

Initially, he was content to let an audible sigh stand as his rebuttal through her enduring barrage of complaints.

“You can’t just up and leave like that!” she wailed. “Not without letting anybody know where you’re going! Least of all, me! I am the second-in-command around here after all! I need to know where you are at all times! Don’t you realize that?! I don’t think you really understand all the stuff that piles up around here when people are waiting on your say-so for certain things around here!”

However, in light of the almost palpable anxiety in her voice and the continuous prattling that would go without end if he let it, the Thirteenth Division leader finally gave in.

“Not that I know much about this captaincy thing quite yet,” he began, ducking under a tree branch. “But I don’t remember anybody from the Third losing their shit whenever Nana decided to go for a walk…”

“A walk?” his adjutant hollered back. “A walk?! That’s what you call a walk?!” There was a short pause; he could hear her fiddling with something in front of her, likely a keyboard, before her lamentations continued. “The soul tracker is showing your signature all the way out in the sixty-fourth district! That’s not a journey, that’s practically a goddamn pilgrimage! How’d you even get out there that quickly anyways, did you talk with the---”

“What do you mean ‘waiting on my say-so’?” the captain interrupted, sidestepping rather quickly past her last query. “I thought that’s what you were there for. You’re not seriously waiting on my beck and call for every little thing, are you?” There was silence on the other end for a moment, but he wasn’t sure what kind of silence it was initially. “If it sounds like it makes sense, just do it. You’re not a child.”

That dead air persisted for a full five seconds before she could be heard muttering something.

“Hello?” the captain called out, almost immediately regretting he hadn’t just hung up instead.

With any semblance of regard or deference cast aside, the third-seat yelled, “What do you guys even do when you become captain?! Does, like, literally no one even begin to tell you what the hell your job is around here or do they just give you that coat and a foot in the ass?! Are you serious?! Just do it?!”

“Oh my god, yes!” Swiping his hand down his face, agonized, the man shrugged and sighed. “Shit…! Did you not handle this stuff when me or Inori were around? Nothing changes, all that annoying shit I don’t want to deal with, you’re dealing with! That’s it!”

Yet another lapse in her response held for a while before she flatly delivered her grim riposte:

“...It’s your funeral.”

Recoiling, he moved to collapse the device and stow it away before she reeled him back in.

“Obviously, whatever you do on your time is your own business, captain, but do remember who it is you’re talking to.” A knowing, smarty edge came to her boisterous words next. “I am your second-in-command. Meaning, I distinctly remember you telling me to organize four patrols in the area you seem to be skirting just outside of right now. That’s in addition to the doubled-up patrols that we have in every district from there all the way out to Zaraki.

“Meanwhile, you have standard patrols in nearly every other district, as per the new measures you had me come up with. Not to mention Ujisato hasn’t returned from whatever little special assignment you sent him on three weeks ago was. I won’t bother telling you how much of a pain in the ass that’s been, what with him being one of our more reliable people around here. But you already knew that and, even still, that’s all beside the point.

His steps came to a halt in a sunken clearing. This time, it was Sumiko observing the wordlessness of her superior on the other end. Whether or not her senses were so acute, there was no bead of sweat to be glanced rippling down his temple. He flexed his jaw once, but said nothing.

“You’ve done a lot more to help people in that region so the fact that the captain himself is lurking rather furtively on his own back to his home district without telling anyone where he is or what’s going on tells me all I need to know.”

His head tilted up, and a shallow grin could be glimpsed beneath the prickly brim of his trademark roningasa.

“A mutual friend of ours informed me,” Sumiko said. “I guess she was concerned about you as well.”

The sky was gradient of blues and purples high overhead, flecked with faint starlight. It warmed to soft oranges and crimson toward the horizon as the sun began to sink beneath it. The pressure points on the soles of his feet pulsated. As much as he wanted to press forward, his stomach had been grumbling in protest for an hour. He had to stop.

Stopping meant more time away from Seireitei than he could afford, in spite of him appearing so ready to eschew all responsibility and delegate his third-seated officer temporary substitute captain status. Pissing away the time better spent endearing himself -- or at least showing face -- to the hundreds under his command was a misstep even he was wise enough to heed.

But still, being so close…

“I can send a personal detachment through Charon’s Road to scout ahead if you li---”

“No,” Manzō inserted abruptly, firmly. She reserved her words, sensing him tottering slightly, internally. “...No, I don’t want a single post changed, and I want you to keep your mouth shut.”

Hesitating herself, it took a second before she pried once more. “Is it serious, captain?”

Manzō laughed once.

A confused furrowing of her brow slowly set in at that. She couldn’t tell if it was sarcastic or genuine; the two of them hardly knew of one another during his short time in the Ethos Corps, and even after his appointment as commander of the unit, only dubious stories and hearsay provided a picture of the man now wearing the revered white mantle as the division’s figurehead. What might have seemed an easier painting to finish with his recent appointment as her direct superior, the vagrant soul reaper was proving more elusive and enigmatic by the day.


He paused, debating. And then.

“I’m just out for a walk, that’s all…”

Craning her head back sharply and rolling her eyes, Sumiko gave a loud and forfeiting sigh. “Sure… a walk.”

Manzō smiled, shimmied his ankles loose, and kept walking. “I don’t want anybody bothering me...”

“Yeah, whatever,” she groaned, hardly listening now.

Before he could finish, “That includes---”




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