Edited - November 6th, 2014: This is a new version of chapter one. As my story's progressed I went back and read this chapter only to find several glaring plot holes. The quality was also terrible (by my standards) so I rewrote most of it. If you're interested in the plot holes I'm afraid you'll just have to read the story. I would be more than willing to list everything I fixed BUT that would ruin the story for those coming in fresh and eager. One thing I will say is that this chapter's date has been changed to July 15 - which is Ichigo's seventeenth birthday.
Chapter 1 - Who'll Stop the Rain?
"Get your lazy ass down here, Ichigo!" The tranquil morning stillness was shattered completely by the piercing and annoying voice of Isshin Kurosaki, patriarch of the Kurosaki family, "I have important news!"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming,"
Ichigo Kurosaki, seventeen years old and a former substitute shinigami, sighed and looked out the window of his room before sitting up with a groan. A little more than eight months had passed since he had sacrificed his shinigami powers to defeat Sosuke Aizen once and for all. Sitting on the edge of his bed, one hand rubbing his face, Ichigo looked at the calendar on his desk and scowled. Today was his birthday which meant his dad would be pulling all sorts of stupid tricks.
As he finished getting dressed, the scowl never leaving his face, Ichigo left his room and headed downstairs. If the past three years had taught Ichigo anything it was that his dad never skipped an opportunity to 'train' his son. Body tensing in anticipation of his father's surprise attack Ichigo stopped and paused when he saw Uryu Ishida calmly sitting on the couch. Looking around, confident that this was a trick, Ichigo asked, "Why are you here, Uryu?"
"What makes you think I had a choice in the matter?" Uryu countered, a small amount of annoyance tinging his voice. Pointing his finger at Isshin he added, "Perhaps you should ask your father. He is the one that dragged me here, after all."
Turning to his dad, who to his credit had an innocent look on his face, Ichigo asked, "What the hell is going on? Why is Uryu here?"
"That's such a simple question, my lucky son!" Isshin proclaimed brightly as he jumped out of the chair, "You've been accepted into the prestigious Honnouji Academy, home of the brightest young minds in all of Japan, and it was all thanks to your handsome and extremely connected father!"
Ichigo turned to Uryu, who shared the same look of confusion, and let out a tired sigh. Raising a hand to his temple, a migraine threatening to erupt due to his father's idiocy, Ichigo growled and said, "What the hell are you talking about?"
"It was back during my days as a young and attractive bachelor!" Isshin excitedly began as he wrapped an arm around his son's shoulders. Annoyed at his dad's childish attempt to include him in his fantasies Ichigo tried to pull free only for Isshin to tighten his grip, "Masaki was off at college so your lovable father was left all alone. To combat the increasing loneliness in my heart I decided to travel across the country on a well-deserved vacation!"
Uryu rolled his eyes at Isshin, "While your story is no doubt fascinating, Mr. Kurosaki, I fail to see why you had to bring me here."
Isshin chuckled condescendingly, causing Uryu to mutter obscenities under his breath, and sighed wistfully, "Your eagerness to hear my story is appreciated, Uryu, but I'm just getting to the good part. Anyway, it was nine days into my vacation when I met an extremely funny and attractive woman."
"Hold on a minute," Ichigo interrupted. He was shocked that his dad, the bumbling idiot who never matured past childhood, was confessing to knowing another woman besides his mother. Rubbing his eyes, the sheer impossibility of his father's story overwhelming him, Ichigo asked, "You actually met a woman? Are you sure that she wasn't just a man dressed as a woman?"
Without warning Isshin let go of Ichigo before spinning around and attempting to kick his son in the face. Barely pausing in surprise at the unexpected attack before ducking down, the breeze from his father's attack rustling his naturally orange hair, Ichigo waited for his father's leg to pass overhead. Clenching a fist Ichigo swung his arm towards his dad's stomach only to be shocked when he missed. Leaping over his stunned son's head and landing on the couch, careful to avoid hitting Uryu, Isshin launched himself from the piece of furniture, tackling Ichigo and sending them both tumbling to the ground. Frowning disappointingly as he watched his son's struggles, the shouts and protests muffled by the carpet, Isshin cleared his throat and continued talking as if nothing just happened.
"As I was saying, it was when I was in Tokyo twenty two years ago that I met the woman. She was tall, beautiful and incredibly…well-endowed." To Uryu's horror Isshin began making suggestive gestures with his hands, "She was the incarnation of everything a man wanted in a woman but alas my heart was already taken by your mother!"
Fed up with having his face smashed against the floor Ichigo managed to gather enough strength to briefly overpower his father. As Isshin stumbled back, a look of mild surprise on his face from Ichigo having managed to escape his patented delinquent chokehold, he was sent flying into the wall as Ichigo kicked him in the stomach. Seething angrily Ichigo gave his dad, who was currently lying dazed on the floor, an annoyed glare, "Goddamn idiot."
"How could you treat your father with such disrespect?"
Completely uninjured Isshin leapt off the ground and dusted his clothes off before giving Ichigo a stern look, "I suppose this means you don't want to know how your awesome father managed to get you into Honnouji Academy."
Ichigo scowled but didn't say anything. Truthfully he was interested for two reasons. The first was that he never heard of Honnouji Academy. The second, and much more important one, was that what he dad said would determine how badly Ichigo would kick his ass when this was all over. Folding his arms, the scowl never leaving his face, Ichigo rolled his eyes and said, "Just get on with the damn story already."
Isshin nodded sagely and coughed to clear his throat, "It all started one mysterious day twenty two years ago…"
22 Years Ago
Sometimes Isshin couldn't help but wonder if sealing away his shinigami powers was the only way he could have saved Masaki's soul from disappearing from existence. If Kisuke Urahara was the genius everybody lauded him to be, than he should have been able to invent a gigai that allowed him to use some of his powers at the very least.
It was too late for him to do anything about it though. Isshin had willfully and gladly sacrificed his power to save Masaki even though she was a quincy. If given the same choice once more, he would do it once more. He was in love with her and nothing anyone could say or do would change his mind. That did not mean he wanted to sit around and be helpless if Masaki ever got into trouble or danger. He had saved her life once already and he wasn't looking to fail a second time.
When he stopped by Kisuke's shop to ask about improving his gigai, the handsome bastard seemed to mull over his question for a few seconds before proudly declaring that he should be able to whip something up in a couple of days. The exuberance and excitation Kisuke emitted disturbed Isshin. Nothing good could come from the maniacal gleam in the former captain's eye, but left with no choice in the matter he nevertheless complied.
Stopping to pick up his new gigai a few days later, which had been modified to keep Masaki's soul safe from the hollow dwelling inside her, Isshin began to have second thoughts when Kisuke began giggling crazily while holding the gigai. The shop keeper informed Isshin that the upgraded gigai would have reflexes and strength triple that of a normal human. Kisuke lamented that he wanted to do more, but he would begin risked degradation of the spiritual thread connecting Isshin's soul with Masaki's.
"I'm really bored. I wonder if there's a movie theater nearby."
Isshin suppressed a yawn as he explored Tokyo. He had originally come to the city since he heard the Tokyo Fashion Week was about to begin. As he purchased the train ticket, his imagination was running in high gear as his mind was filled with images of hot and beautiful women modeling revealing dresses and bikinis. That did not mean he would ever touch. The only one for him was Masaki, but that didn't mean he couldn't go and enjoy the models as an art critic.
If he had known what he was getting into, he would have skipped coming to Tokyo entirely.
Instead of bikinis and dresses, he watched women strut out wearing clothing and outfits that boggled his mind. Who in their right minds would want to wear something that took four hours to prepare? It wasn't modeling, he quickly realized, but a subtle contest between designers to see who could make the most stupid outfit. He didn't know who was winning, but his interest was surely losing.
"What am I going to do for fun now?" Isshin grabbed his face in frustration. He had planned on staying in Tokyo for a week for the show. He even booked a hotel room for seven days, damn it. Now with the show a bust, he had literally nothing planned. Sighing miserably, he kicked his foot against the sidewalk and grumbled, "I suppose I could go to Tokyo National Museum or something."
So deep was he in his thoughts, that Isshin was completely unaware that his mindless walking had taken him directly past perhaps the most high-end and expensive hotel in Tokyo. The hotel, which catered to those participating in Tokyo Fashion Week, reserved the best rooms and penthouses for the designers and couturiers. As he waited to cross the street on the other side of the hotel, he was nearly thrown forward and into the path of an oncoming car as a large explosion hit him in the back.
"Damn, what was that?" Quickly picking himself off the ground, Isshin turned around and saw that the explosion had originated from the entrance of the hotel. Tongues of orange and yellow flames rose from the destroyed entrance and thick smoke was billowing out from the first two floors. As his ears picked up the far off sound of sirens approaching, Isshin threw caution to the wind and ran past the escaping civilians and into the hotel.
Almost immediately Isshin's nose was assaulted by the smell of burning flesh, forcing him to cover the bottom half of his face with his sleeve in an attempt to filter it out. All around him bodies of peoples unfortunate to have been caught in the explosion littered the ground. Isshin knew, with a morbid sense of realization, that if he could still see the dead, the air would be filled with the floating and broken souls of those surrounding him.
Shaking his head to clear it of the depressing thoughts, he cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted over the blaring alarms, "Hello? Can anyone hear me?"
He didn't see anyone, but his enhanced senses, courtesy of Kisuke, picked up subtle coughing coming from the lounge directly across the lobby. Sprinting forward, careful to not step on any of the bodies out of respect for the dead, Isshin braced his shoulder and slammed the doors open.
The lounge, which had catered exclusively to millionaires and those able to afford bills ranging in the thousands of dollars, was a mess. Tables and chairs, made from the most expensive woods and materials, lay burnt and broken.
"Is anyone in here?"
Isshin's eyes noticed something moving near the back of the lounge. Covering his mouth with his sleeve to keep out the smoke, he pushed forward through the heat towards the survivor. Reaching them only a few seconds later, Isshin quickly determined that the person had been pinned beneath rubble when the explosion went off. Without much effort, he picked up the concrete and wood that must have weighed over two hundred pounds. Quickly pressing two fingers against the woman's neck, he was relieved to see she still had a pulse.
"Ma'am? Can you hear me?" When Isshin didn't receive a reply apart from a grunt of pain, his heart rate picked up. Quickly and carefully picking the woman up bridal style, he said to her in a comforting voice, "Don't you worry ma'am. I'm going to get you out of here."
Isshin hadn't even made it halfway to the lobby when there was another harsh coughing and a man shouted, "Drop the bitch and get on the ground!"
The speaker was a man dressed in full military camouflage and wielding a pistol. He had been part of a group that had planned to take the couturiers and designers staying at the hotel during the Tokyo Festival Week hostage for millions upon millions of dollars in ransom. That had all went to hell when one of the idiots set off the bomb that was supposed to be for the police. Now he was the only one left and he wasn't about to let his ticket out of here just leave.
Raising his shaking pistol towards Isshin's face, he snarled, "I said drop her and get on the ground!"
Isshin weighed his options. He was sure he could avoid the bullet the man fired, but he wasn't sure he could do so while holding the woman.
"I cannot do that," he answered stoically, "I'm a doctor. I cannot leave a patient behind."
"You think I'm fucking kidding around?" the man yelled before coughing up some blood. Wiping the bloody drool on the back of his free hand, he shouted over the flames, "I'm not joking around here!"
Isshin was about to answer when there was a sound similar to that of a whip before the man's arm was severed off at the elbow. As the man dropped to his knees, his remaining hand gripping what was left of his right arm, Isshin took the chance to flee. As he turned and ran back into the lobby, he could have sworn he caught a glimpse of a figure watching him leave. Ignoring it as a product of smoke inhalation, he ran through the lobby and back outside. As he took in several gulps of smoke-free air, he was instantly greeted with over a dozen police officers in full combat gear. Upon noticing the woman in his arms, they quickly raised their weapons and ordered him onto the ground.
"Don't shoot!" he shouted, "I found her inside. She injured and needs medical attention!"
The situation was tense for several seconds until one of the officers turned his head and pressed a finger against his ear. After speaking to someone over the radio, he nodded to his fellow officers to stand down and let Isshin pass. Racing down the steps of the hotel, Isshin was escorted by an officer to a waiting ambulance, where several paramedics were on standby. As he delicately put the woman on a gurney, Isshin turned to leave only to find a delicate hand gripping his wrist.
"Hold on…" the woman whispered to the paramedics. Turning her eyes to Isshin, who noted the exotic coloring, she asked, "Who are you?"
Isshin gave her a reassuring smile, "The name's Isshin Shiba."
"Isshin Shiba?" The woman closed her eyes for a moment before smiling, "I'm…Ragyo Kiryuin. Thank you for saving me…"
Ichigo stared at his father in mute shock as the tale finally came to an end. After nearly a minute of absolute silence passed, his mind desperately trying to come up with something to say, Ichigo took a deep breath and said, "That has to be the biggest load of crap I've ever heard. Couldn't you have at least tried to come up with something more believable?"
"But it's all true!" Isshin argued impetuously like a child, "Your amazing father is a hero!"
Before Ichigo could come up with a retort he was stopped when Uryu spoke up in haste, "Hang on a minute, Ichigo, I remember reading something about this. I can't place the exact time but a little over twenty years ago there was a terrorist attack in Tokyo during the fashion week."
"You're kidding me," Ichigo turned to Uryu in surprise. He found it hard to believe that his dad, despite being a former shinigami, was capable of doing something like he described in his story.
"I find it hard to believe myself," Uryu conceded as he wracked his mind for the limited details he knew. The young Quincy had read up about the attack a couple of years ago but found actual details, not those propagated by the media, to be sorely lacking, "The details are sketchy but the goal of the terrorists was to kidnap and random several of the most powerful CEOS and couturiers in the world for hundreds of millions of dollars. Fashion companies twenty years ago were quite wealthy, Ichigo, and Ragyo Kiryuin was one of the richest and most powerful even back then, before Revocs came to dominate the global market."
Ichigo gave Uryu a blank stare, "That's all well and good but explain that in simple words."
Uryu coughed into his hand and adjusted his glasses before explaining, "Ragyo Kiryuin is the CEO and founder of Revocs, the most powerful and influential clothing designer and distributor in the world. Revocs controls roughly ninety percent of all apparel sales, making Ragyo one of the richest people in the world."
That made a lot of sense to Ichigo, but he couldn't help but ask, "That makes things a lot easier to understand, but what's the deal with the blackboard behind you?"
Uryu turned around and saw, to his confusion, that he had somehow drawn a map of the world with various percentages across each continent on a blackboard that hadn't been there a moment ago, "I'm not quite sure…"
Ignoring the implausibility for the moment Ichigo looked at his dad and dryly asked, "How does your story have anything to do with me? You're not going to tell me Ragyo Kiryuin controls Honnouji Academy, are you?"
"Your intelligence makes me proud, my son!" Isshin raced out of the room, sounds of paper rustling and objects crashing to the ground in his wake, before he sprinted back with a framed piece of paper in his hands, "I got a call from Ragyo about a week after saving her life. She thanked me and wanted to know what she could do to repay me. I, the generous man that I am, could not accept payment and refused but Ragyo was a persistent woman. That is why it came as a big surprise when I received your letter of acceptance to Honnouji Academy along with a handwritten letter from Ragyo herself!"
"I don't know," Ichigo wasn't fully convinced by his father's absurd story. There was no chance in hell that his bumbling idiot of a father knew someone as rich and powerful as Ragyo Kiryuin, "I find it suspicious that she waited more than twenty years before paying you back. This seems too much like a scam to me. Are you sure you weren't scammed into giving up your credit card?"
"Do you take your dear old father for an idiot?" Isshin shouted passionately, causing Uryu and Ichigo to collectively facepalm. Upon seeing his son's lack of respect Isshin stepped forward and head-butted him, "Did you think this letter of acceptance was simply dropped in the mail? It was hand delivered by Ragyo's personal secretary. It came in a fancy case and everything!"
When Isshin noticed Ichigo simply staring at him, a look of both confusion and annoyance on his face, Isshin grumbled and folded his arms childishly, "What's wrong with you? You were invited, personally by Ragyo, to one of the best schools in Japan. You should be jumping in joy alongside your old man!"
"Thanks but no thanks," Ichigo ignored his father's shocked sputters, "I'm fine staying at Karakura High School. Why would I go to some fancy school in Tokyo when I can stay right here?"
"I find it difficult to say this, Ichigo, but your dad has a point," Uryu interjected, a sour taste in his mouth upon agreeing with Isshin, "This is an opportunity most people will never get. Honnouji Academy is one of the best academies not only in Japan but in the entire world. The selection process is notoriously difficult. Ragyo Kiryuin handing you a full scholarship is the educational equivalent of winning the lottery. You shouldn't refuse to go just because you're stubborn."
"Your womanly friend has a point, my ungrateful son," Isshin shouted, causing Uryu to sputter in embarrassment and rage at the comment.
"What did you say?"
Isshin sadly patted Uryu on the shoulder, "There is no reason to be ashamed of your secret. Sewing is a fine pastime! To think that my son was this open-minded about his friends! Tell me, does your father know of your dark and embarrassing secret?"
"My father?" Uryu sputtered, "Ryuken is the one that taught me to sew in the first place!"
"Ah," Isshin adopted a sagely stance, "That explains so much about my old friend. Such as why he didn't play sports or why it took him forever to get married. To be honest, I was kind of surprised he even got married. With his looks and fashion sense, I would have thought otherwise."
While Uryu sputtered indignantly, Ichigo rolled his eyes, "Do I even have a say in the matter?"
"Of course you do, my ignorant son!" Isshin exclaimed seriously, "You can say whatever you want but as of last week I've enrolled you as a third year student at Honnouji Academy. Now, there's no need for the stunned silence. Your awesome father deserves what's coming to him."
"Everything, huh?" Ichigo grinned maliciously while cracking his knuckles. His father deserved the beating he was about to receive wholeheartedly, but just as he began to sneak up on his dad, there was a sudden knock at the door.
"A guest this early in the morning?" Isshin pursed his lips as he tried to think if he missed any appointments. Ducking beneath a haphazardly thrown punch from his son Isshin knew that it was Monday, which meant the clinic was open, but he didn't have any appointments until the afternoon. Vaulting into the air, avoiding Ichigo's sweeping leg, Isshin decided to answer the door anyway. As a doctor he took the Hippocratic Oath. Turning away a potential patient, someone who might need medical attention, never crossed his mind. Slamming his feet into his son's back, forcing Ichigo back to the floor once more Isshin nodded his head and said, "Whoever's outside must be important! Ichigo, stop lying down on the job and go see who it is while I entertain your friend with further tales of my manly exploits!"
"Whatever," Ichigo groaned as he pulled his body off the floor for the second time in five minutes. Ignoring the look of terror on Uryu's face as his father dragged him towards the photo albums Ichigo realized a normal person would have felt guilty. He personally knew how boring his dad's stories were. Usually he would not want anyone to suffer listening to his old man prattle on about stuff he made up but Ichigo decided that Uryu deserved whatever was coming to him.
Suppressing a yawn as he walked to the door, his mind making a mental note to get more sleep, Ichigo opened the front door to the clinic and was greeted with a teenager roughly his age with flat green hair and eyes. While the color of the teen's hair was strange enough it was his outfit that drew the full brunt of Ichigo attention. Instead of wearing what Ichigo, and most sane people, would call normal clothing the teen wore a full white trench coat and pants with several sets of spikes jutting forward from his waist and shoulders.
Wondering how the hell the teen could sit down without impaling himself Ichigo decided to cut his loses while he still could and began closing the door, "I'm sorry but I'm not interested in anything you might be selling."
Before Ichigo could fully close and lock the door the teen jammed his foot in the opening, "Perhaps I should have worn something a bit less unique. Anyway, the name's Uzu Sanageyama, Student Council Athletic Committee Chair of Honnouji Academy."
Ichigo gave Sanageyama a deadpan expression, "Who?"
Sanageyama looked at Ichigo in confusion, "Didn't you receive your letter of acceptance last week?"
Ichigo closed his eyes and let out an aggravated sigh as he tried to figure out a way he could murder his dad without getting caught. As much as he hated admitting it he had to give his old man credit. Ichigo didn't think the bumbling idiot was savvy enough to transfer him to another school long enough in advance that he couldn't do anything about it. Either his dad was a genius or insane and Ichigo was leaning towards the latter option, "Look, I don't know what my old man told you but I'm not going to Honnouji Academy.
For a couple of seconds Sanageyama was surprised by Ichigo's refusal. This wasn't the first time he had to visit a prospective student. Usually by the time he explained why he was there Sanageyama had to shake the prostrating student off his leg. Smirking as his opinion of Ichigo increased Sanageyama gave a hearty laugh, "I wasn't expecting you to say that! Oh man, if Gamagori heard you say that he would try dragging you all the way to Honnouji Academy."
"Gamagori?" Ichigo had no idea who that was, "Who the hell is –"
"It is very rude to leave guests outside, Ichigo!"
Grumbling as the sounds of heavy footsteps drew closer Ichigo let out a sigh and leaned to the side. As Isshin came crashing through the air, his bare foot barely missing his son's head by only inches, Ichigo reached up and clenched his hand around his shirt. Spinning around once, his grip never faltering, Ichigo quickly let go and watched his father impact against the street with a hollow thud.
Huffing in irritation, both at his father's childish antics and the fact that he tried doing it when they had a guest, Ichigo gave Sanageyama a frustrated look, "I suppose you can come in if you want."
Sanageyama nodded and gave Isshin a cursory glance before taking Ichigo up on his advice, "What about your dad?"
Ichigo gave the unconscious body of his father a quick look before shrug
Uryu watched Sanageyama walk into Ichigo's house and immediately suppressed a look of shock. He knew of Satsuki Kiryuin's Elite Four, if only in passing, and the exploits of Uzu Sanageyama, both during and prior to his enrollment at Honnouji Academy, were impressive. Glancing at the green haired youth's shinai Uryu extended his hand, "Uzu Sanageyama…I can't say this is a surprise considering who you work for."
"What can I say?" Sanageyama chuckled as he shook Uryu's hand. Looking around Ichigo's living room, missing the slight narrowing of the Quincy's eyes in the process, Sanageyama whistled appreciatively as he flopped down on the couch, "So who are you?"
"I am Uryu Ishida."
It would be a lie to say Sanageyama wasn't surprised by the name. He recalled Satsuki mentioning an Uryu Ishida several times in the past. What were the odds that he would meet the person Satsuki talked so highly of on his mission to gauge Ichigo Kurosaki's power and personality? Chuckling quietly at the irony of the situation Sanageyama folded his hands against the nape of his neck, "You're just as smart as Lady Satsuki said."
"Lady Satsuki?" Ichigo, confused by the strangely archaic honorifics Sanageyama was using, turned to Uryu in confusion, "Who is he talking about?"
Uryu gave Ichigo a tense glare as he fixed his glasses, "It's none of your concern, Ichigo."
"Don't pull that on me," Ichigo countered, "He obviously knows who you are."
Seeing no way to avoid having the conversation Uryu gave Sanageyama a curt glance before beginning, "Last summer my father enrolled me in a two week internship at Revocs. I, of course, protested going but Ryuken insisted working under Ragyo Kiryuin would be a good learning experience and broaden my horizons. I met Satsuki Kiryuin on my first day. I only spoke with her a handful of times but she is an intelligent and driven woman who is not to be underestimated. However, I'm sure Sanageyama didn't come to Karakura Town to hear about my life."
If Uryu had to admit the truth he didn't want to explain what he did last summer.
When Ryuken informed him of his internship at Revocs blue he gave him only one day to get his affairs in order before he would need to leave. That wasn't even enough time to tell his friends, which made explaining why he disappeared when he came back extremely awkward. Luckily Orihime had been there. Her fantastical tale, accompanied with drawings that still confounded Uryu, that he had been abducted by aliens and brought to a world reduced to a nuclear wasteland where he had to collect bottle caps and fight mutated animals was enough to cause everyone else to shake their heads and collectively groan.
"True enough," Sanageyama smirked and reached into his Goku Uniform. Pulling out a thick envelope and tossing it to Ichigo Sanageyama explained, "Honnouji Academy's fall term begins in twenty three days. As a new student you're required to attend Student Evaluation Day. It's all simple stuff, really. Lady Satsuki will determine your initial placement and potential to wear a Goku Uniform."
"Goku Uniform?" Ichigo looked up from the papers in his hand, a confused look on his face.
Uryu grumbled, a look of mild irritation in his eyes, before he began explaining once more, "Goku Uniforms are the standard uniforms of Honnouji Academy and are imbued with special threads known as Life Fibers. The percentage of Life Fibers in a uniform indicates the overall power. A higher percentage enables the wearer to accomplish feats of strength most people could only dream about.
Ichigo stared at Uryu, a deadpan look in his eyes, and asked, "Just how the hell do you know all this?"
"Like I explained…" Uryu smugly turned away from Ichigo with a grin on his face, "…I may have only spoken to Satsuki Kiryuin a handful of times but I never said our talks weren't productive."
Ichigo didn't need to know, and Uryu wouldn't tell him unless the situation was dire, that Satsuki attempted to recruit him. It wasn't as overt as simply asking him to come to Honnouji Academy but Uryu was intelligent enough to realize he was being led along during some of his conversations with Satsuki. If Satsuki's subtle prods at convincing him to enroll at Honnouji Academy weren't bad enough there was one other thing that caused Uryu to refuse to work with her.
During the last few days of his internship, after most of the others quit or returned home, Satsuki had pulled him aside and brought him to a highly secure room. Uryu remembered watching in more than mild interest as Satsuki inputted at least a twenty digit code before ushering him into the room, inside of which sat several high density bundles of Life Fibers. Satsuki allowed him to examine them, under the single rule that he not remove any of the Life Fibers from the room. A rule, in hindsight, that Uryu had been glad to follow. As he stared at the glowing red fibers, a nauseous feeling growing in the pit of his stomach, Uryu could feel the Life Fibers giving off a small but substantial amount of spiritual energy.
"That right," Sanageyama propped his feet on the coffee table and leaned back against the couch, "The strength of a Goku uniform comes from the number of stars stitched on it. The normal Honnouji Academy uniform contains no Life Fibers and those that wear them are called No-Stars. After that are the One-Star students and the Two-Star club captains."
Upon noticing Ichigo's attention on his Blade Regalia Sanageyama grinned as he pointed to the three four pointed stars stitched into the fabric, "This is a Three-Star Goku Uniform. Only the Elite Four of the Honnouji Academy Student Council has the right and privilege to wear one."
Ichigo frowned as he tried to think who in their right minds would allow students access to such dangerous things. It made no sense to him, "Isn't it a little dangerous to give students super-powered clothing?"
"You have to understand Ichigo," Uryu began with an overly exaggerated sigh. He couldn't fault Ichigo for his lack of knowledge. Not a lot of people left Karakura Town except for business trips and vacations. Turning to Ichigo, memories of what he saw outside of Karakura Town fresh in his mind, Uryu said, "Karakura High School is perhaps the most normal, or least if you look at it from a different perspective, school in the country. Despite how absurd it sounds most academies are completely controlled by the Student Councils, who are subsequently backed by their family's businesses. The Kiryuin Conglomerate is a good example. Through a mixture of espionage and blackmail Satsuki Kiryuin is indirectly controlling all but a dozen or so schools."
"I knew that."
Ichigo wasn't as stubborn as other people thought. He had been suspicious of his dad constantly making up excuses about why they couldn't leave Karakura Town for anything, even vacation. One night on patrol he decided to take a little detour out of Karakura Town. What he saw past the outskirts of the city stunned him into silence. It turned out that most of the world was a wasteland. When he confronted Kisuke Urahara about it, since the former captain knew just about everything, the man gave a frustration-inducing smirk and hinted that things were quite strange around the world. Needless to say Ichigo turned around and left without asking anything else.
"This place is quite nice. It reminds me a bit of home," Sanageyama admitted, nostalgia evident in his voice, "But you don't need to worry about anything like that. Lady Satsuki is aware of the power Goku Uniforms possess. Every student is carefully screened and tested before receiving a Goku Uniform. In the three years she's been the Student Council President Lady Satsuki hasn't made a single wrong decision. If anyone attempts to go around her orders they are immediately met with harsh and direct punishment."
"You kill people over stealing some clothes?"
"It's much more complicated than that, Ichigo," Uryu interjected again, letting Ichigo know he was about to start on another one of his lectures, "Goku Uniforms are designed and distributed by Satsuki Kiryuin, who modeled them after her mother's line of clothing. If anyone were to somehow acquire a Goku Uniform they could reverse engineer Life Fibers, which would lead to a global arms race involving increasingly powerful clothing."
"I still find this hard to believe," Ichigo crossed his arms and let out a heavy sigh, "Clothing with superpowers still sounds really stupid to me."
"I wouldn't worry too much," Sanageyama lightly tapped his Goku Uniform as he leaned forward and uncrossed his legs, "Lady Satsuki wouldn't allow you to come to Honnouji Academy if she thought you were a spy. Everything about you, from your history to who you know, has been investigated under Lady Satsuki's orders."
"Great," Ichigo grumbled and turned away, "I have a stalker now. That's just what I needed."
Sanageyama shrugged but his expression tensed upon hearing Ichigo's casual insulting of Satsuki, "I don't pretend to know what Lady Satsuki thinks but she was impressed with what she found. I'm more than sure you'll get at least a One-Star Goku Uniform once you arrive and take your evaluation. Hell, you might even make Two-Star if you try out of the Kendo Club. I heard you're quite skilled with a sword."
"How do you know about that?"
"If you really want to find out, come to Honnouji Academy," Sanageyama looked at his cell phone and sighed, "Great, it seems my work is never done. It's been nice chatting with you but I have to get going. I hope you decide to go to Honnouji Academy, Ichigo. Perhaps we could have a little spar."
As soon as Sanageyama left, Ichigo turned on Uryu, "Why does it feel as if I'm out of the loop?"
Uryu seemed mystified as well. Eyes narrowed slightly and propping his fist in front of his face, the Quincy answered, "I am not quite sure. From my limited interactions with Satsuki Kiryuin, she does not seem like the type of person to take interest in anyone without similar mental fortitude and force of will as herself."
"You seem to know all about what's going on," Ichigo's eyes narrowed dangerously, "Did you have anything to do with this?"
"Who do you take me for, your dad?" Uryu seemed insulted by the accusation, "If I went through all the trouble of getting you into Honnouji Academy, wouldn't it make sense that I would get myself enrolled as well?"
"Oh, shut it already," Ichigo grumbled at Uryu's logic, "So who is this Satsuki person anyway?"
"Satsuki Kiryuin…" Uryu wracked his brain for the information, "She's driven, motivated and possesses an utter disdain for anyone that doesn't meet her own personal criteria and standards. When I started my internship at Revocs there were fifteen of us. The very first day we were brought into a room where Satsuki Kiryuin was waiting for us. Before we knew what was happening Satsuki began speaking about how all clothing is sacred to humanity and that it is our fate to wear it. Right then and there half of the interns dropped out and I think Satsuki expected that to happen."
That was a rather terrible story, so Ichigo said the only thing on his mind, "Well…shit."
"That is exactly my point," Uryu nodded and looked out the window. He was surprised, perhaps even more than Ichigo, to see Sanageyama. Satsuki Kiryuin was an intelligent woman. She wouldn't have sent one of her most loyal followers to Karakura Town without a very good reason, "Her interest in you is quite surprising. Be careful, Ichigo. Satsuki Kiryuin is not someone to mess with so take my advice and stay far away from her if you do go to Honnouji Academy."
Ichigo scowled, more out of frustration than annoyance, and opened his mouth to say something when the front door began shaking. Ignoring the muffled protests from his father, demanding to be let back inside, Ichigo ran a hand through his hair, "Damn, why do I have to go to Honnouji Academy?"
"You should look on the bright side."
Ichigo turned to Uryu and was immediately annoyed by the smug look on his face, "And what exactly is the bright side to all this?"
"At least Honnouji Academy won't be boring." Uryu answered with an amused hint to his voice. He knew Ichigo well enough to realize trouble followed him like a magnet. It was only a matter of time, perhaps even days, before something surprising happened at Honnouji Academy, "Just try not to get into too much trouble."
"Go to hell, Uryu."
"Believe me, I'm in heaven right now," Uryu answered smugly as he walked past Ichigo towards the front door. Holding onto the handle of the door but not yet pulling it open Uryu turned around and snapped off one final comment, "I can't wait to hear you tell everyone where you'll be going next year. I'm sure Tatsuki will be more than thrilled to hear about it."
As the weight of what he would need to do came crashing down upon his head Ichigo failed to notice Isshin quietly opening the window and letting himself back in the house. He did, however, feel the subtle change in the air and quickly spun around his father's meager attempt to tackle him. Grabbing Isshin in a chokehold before slamming the older man into the ground Ichigo gave Uryu a dry look and asked, "Why don't you go back home and sew something. I heard Orihime wanted you to make her a new dress."
"I told you, it's just a hobby!"
In the darkened Student Council Chambers of Honnouji Academy several people watched the information scrolling across the screen in front of them. Situated on the screen, wearing the standard Karakura High School male uniform and a familiar scowl, was an image of Ichigo Kurosaki. The picture, which appears to have been lifted directly from Karakura High School's servers, took up the entire left half of the screen while data and statistics about Ichigo streamed down the right side.
"He looks like a delinquent," the largest figure in the room growled irritably as he stared at Ichigo's picture, "Just look at his hair! There is no doubt that his punkish attitude will bring disorder and chaos to this academy!"
"There's no need to raise your voice when we're standing right here, Gamagori," A shorter figure with teal hair chided from where he was sitting. Pressing a few keys on his laptop, the command instantly traveling to the screen, Houka Inumuta's collar automatically unzipped itself as he began speaking, "Ichigo Kurosaki – Age 16. Third year student at Karakura High School and is currently ranks fifth in his class."
"Karakura Town?" a regal voice muttered quietly. Holding the nearly empty teacup gently in her hands she nodded her head, "I see…continue, Inumuta."
Inumuta nodded and immediately several pictures of Ichigo's family appeared on the screen, "Ichigo Kurosaki is the eldest of three siblings, the other two being Karin and Yuzu Kurosaki – Age 12. His father is Isshin Kurosaki, who runs a small family clinic. Hmm…it says his mother, Masaki Kurosaki, is deceased and yet…"
The regal figure turned away from the screen, her eyebrows raised in mild interest, "What is it?"
A frown marred Inumuta's face as his fingers raced across the keyboard. As he searched databases and servers, the data he was looking for conspicuously absent, Inumuta's eyes narrowed as he let out a frustrated sigh, "It says that Masaki Kurosaki was murdered nine years ago but there is a strange absence of media coverage. From all accounts Ichigo's mother was a well-liked woman in Karakura Town. There is only one police report and even that fails to mention the cause of death or any suspects."
"Is that why Strawberry is always scowling?" Nonon Jakuzure, Honnouji Academy Student Council Non-Athletic Committee Chair, stood up to get a better look at Ichigo. After a moment of staring at his picture, Nonon's mouth spread in a mischievous smirk, "He may have a stupid name but he's quite good looking."
"You dishonor yourself in front of Lady Satsuki, Jakuzure!" Gamagori shouted, his eyes gleaming a malevolent yellow.
The regal figure turned her gaze to Gamagori, her piercing blue eyes causing the argument to immediately cease, "Calm down, Gamagori."
Gamagori deflated slightly, "Of course, Lady Satsuki."
Satsuki Kiryuin, daughter of the illustrious Ragyo Kiryuin, stared at the image of Ichigo Kurosaki for several seconds. Three days ago her mother called to inform her that Ichigo would be attending Honnouji Academy yet Satsuki could not find a logical reason for the decision. Her mother may control the Board of Directors for Honnouji Academy but she was usually content to let Satsuki do what she pleased. To so suddenly show a vested interest in a random teenager implied she knew something about Ichigo that Satsuki did not.
"If I may continue," Inumuta's fingers were a blur on the keyboard as he rapidly typed in commands, "Pertaining to your request, Lady Satsuki, I expanded my search from Ichigo Kurosaki to his immediate family, both paternal and maternal, and found something quite interesting."
With one final keystroke from Inumuta the image of Ichigo vanished only to be replaced by several digital newspaper clippings. Leaning forward, her attention focused on the headlines describing a terrorist attack in Tokyo, Satsuki's blue eyes narrowed when she failed to find a single picture of the attack. Inumuta, sensing her irritation at the lack of evidence, adjusted his glasses and explained, "As you can see, Lady Satsuki, there are absolutely no images of the actual terrorist attack. All the media sources describing the attack come from third party witnesses."
Satsuki frowned before closing her eyes, "This is quite suspicious, Inumuta. Am I to assume this has something to do with Ichigo Kurosaki?"
"Not Ichigo but his father," Inumuta corrected before bringing up an image of Isshin, "While the lack of photographic evidence is suspicious every single source I could find agrees that Isshin Kurosaki, or Shiba as he was known back then, somehow saved your mother's life during the attack."
So it appeared her mother was inviting Ichigo Kurosaki to Honnouji Academy because his father saved her life more than twenty years ago. Satsuki, rather than being satisfied with that answer, only found her annoyance at the situation growing. If there was one thing she hated in the world it was nepotism. People should not advance due to familial ties but because they earned it through hard work and dedication.
"We must face the facts of the situation," Satsuki said after a moment of quiet contemplation, "Ichigo Kurosaki will be attending Honnouji Academy at the start of the fall semester. Gamagori, are the preparations for the next school year nearly complete?"
"Just about," Ira Gamagori answered proudly. As the Student Council Disciplinary Committee Chair of Honnouji Academy it was his duty to make sure those unworthy of wearing Goku Uniforms did not try to abscond with one. He could not count the number of times another academy sent a spy to steal a Goku Uniform, "All the new One-Star students have been announced and their uniforms are prepared and waiting to be picked up. The elections for the new club captains are nearly complete and Iori is distributing their Two-Star Goku Uniforms as we speak."
Satsuki sipped the last her tea, the bitter liquid going down smoothly, as she listened to Gamagori's report, "Very good. Ichigo Kurosaki will be here in twenty two days. Let us make sure that he receives a warm welcome. Jakuzure, have one of the club captains meet him upon his arrival."
"Which club would you prefer, Lady Satsuki?" Jakuzure's pink eyes glinted maliciously as she thought of various ways to make Ichigo's life miserable.
"It does not matter," Satsuki answered calmly, her mind already focusing on other events, "My mother might have gone over my head to allow Ichigo Kurosaki admittance to Honnouji Academy but it is still my decision whether he is qualified to stay."
There was a pregnant silence as the three members of Satsuki's Elite Four allowed her words to sink in. After about a minute of silence a sharp ringing noise echoed from Inumuta's laptop. Looking at the ID of the caller Inumuta turned to Satsuki, "Sanageyama has finished his task in Karakura Town. Shall I connect him?"
Satsuki nodded, "Yes."
Inumuta pressed a single key before there was a slight rise in the ambient static in the room as his laptop connected to the speakers on the screen. After a moment, the static dying down to nothing, Sanageyama's voice filtered in, "Hey Inumuta, is everything working?"
"You are speaking to Lady Satsuki! Show some respect!" Gamagori rebuffed.
"Forgive me, Lady Satsuki," Sanageyama's tone was apologetic before he resumed speaking, "Anyway, I just left Ichigo Kurosaki's home. He's definitely an interesting guy to say the least. However…I got the feeling that Ichigo doesn't want to go to Honnouji Academy."
"What do you mean Ichigo Kurosaki does not want to attend this prestigious academy? Speak some sense, Sanageyama!" Gamagori shouted, his disbelief speaking for all four people currently in the room.
"It turns out his dad enrolled him without telling him about it," Sanageyama paused for a moment, causing only the ambient sounds of Karakura Town to come over the connection. After a few seconds of silence, interspaced by what sounded like someone muttering to themselves, Sanageyama's voice reappeared, "Ichigo seemed quite pissed off when he found out."
"We might be able to use that against Ichigo Kurosaki if the need arises," Satsuki announced as several plans came to mind, "Do you have anything else to report?"
Sanageyama was about to say no when he remembered Uryu's presence in Ichigo's house, "Yeah, I think he's close friends with Uryu Ishida."
That was a name Satsuki did not think she would hear again anytime soon. Uryu Ishida was a brilliant teenager whose theories and ideas concerning Life Fibers greatly intrigued her. It was his theory of using a zigzag cross-stitch, after all, that increased the power of her Goku Uniforms by nearly fifteen percent. After his internship at Revocs Satsuki had subtly tried to convince him to enroll at Honnouji Academy but Uryu had politely refused.
"Uryu Ishida is a name I did not think I would hear again," Satsuki closed her eyes and smirked, "Thank you for the report, Sanageyama. You are free to return to Honnouji Academy while the rest of you are to finish the fall preparations."
As the three members of the Elite Four bowed and left to complete their tasks, leaving Satsuki completely alone, the Student Council President stared at the screen in front of her with a scowl adorning her face. She was not naïve enough to believer her mother would have allowed Ichigo Kurosaki admittance to Honnouji Academy based simply on the actions of his father. Her mother was an extremely sophisticated and intelligent woman. There was something, a piece of the puzzle, she was missing that would help explain her mother's actions.
"Who are you, Ichigo Kurosaki?"
Satsuki steeped her fingers in front of her face. If her mother had a vested interest in Ichigo Kurosaki attending Honnouji Academy than Satsuki could not be too careful. As she focused on her plans, Satsuki paused when her ears picked up the subtle sound of someone walking towards her. Immediately recognizing the gait she asked, "What is it, Soroi?"
Soroi Mitsuzo bowed his head respectively, "I know it is none of my business, Milady, but I could not help overhearing your interest in that young man."
Satsuki smirked at the smell of freshly brewed tea, "Yes, I suppose Ichigo Kurosaki fascinates me. He has managed to garner my mother's attention yet I cannot find any reason for such respect."
A slight frown marred Soroi's face as he stared at the picture of Isshin Kurosaki, "I have spent years in the service of your family, Milady, yet the reasons behind Lady Ragyo's actions have always puzzled me. I do know, however, that Lady Ragyo's interest in the young Ichigo Kurosaki stems from the actions of his father."
Satsuki carefully scrutinized over the facts as she listened to Soroi speak. There were no images of the actual attack or Isshin Kurosaki rescuing her mother but the eyewitness reports obtained by Inumuta indicates he was able to save her mother's life without sustaining a single wound in the process. Such a feat of strength was something she was more than capable of doing herself but something about the situation bothered her. Satsuki wracked her mind, hoping that some small connection would allow the pieces to fall into place, but gave up after a minute. Leaning back in her chair, the fingers on her right hand strumming the armrest, Satsuki looked out the window and said, "Your words may hold a trace of the truth but I will not allow Ichigo Kurosaki to attend Honnouji Academy without proving himself first."
"As you wish, Milady," Soroi gave a soft bow of his head as he poured Satsuki a cup of tea. He had given his opinion on the matter, however small it may be, but once Satsuki made up her mind nothing anyone said or did could change it.