A/N: Here's chapter 2. Man o Man, did I have fun writing this! A couple of things before you jump into the good stuff. I know I left with a cliffhanger in the last chapter. So it's common sense that I'd continue from there. Nope. I didn't. There's a small time skip between incidents happening at the start of this chapter and the cliffhanger. We're talking 5-6 hours at most. I just wanted to clear that up before you dive in. I'm sure you'll have more doubts once finish this chapter and I'll try to answer in the end note. Now JUMP IN!.
The cold breezes which accompanied the nights of the Seireitei seemed as harsh as ever, as Kurosaki Ichigo was walking with his head low. The walls of the Seireitei, despite being constructed in a very complex maze structure did nothing to slow down the cold gusts, their howls ringing through Ichigo's ears being a proof of that. But Ichigo didn't feel chilly at that moment. In fact, his blood was rushing through his body like never before. His face was flushed with embarrassment and he couldn't bring his head up to look straight ahead. A single thought kept racing through his mind as he was escorted to the Squad 1 barracks.
'It would've been better if I died back there.'
3 shinigami from the Onmitsukidō lead the charge of the entourage followed by Ichigo alone in the 2nd row. He was followed by Abarai Renji and Kuchiki Rukia in the 3rd row. The final row had 3 others from the Onmitsukidō as well. Ichigo, Renji and Rukia almost seemed like prisoners being escorted to the prison, except for any bindings.
Renji threw the occasional wary glances to the back of Ichigo but he avoided any sort of eye contact as much as possible. He had things of his own to deal with in his mind right now after seeing what he did a while ago. ' I think I'm gonna need some sake to get any sleep tonight.'
Rukia, unlike Renji, had her eyes transfixed on the back of Ichigo. She looked scared and curious at the same time. A chill ran up her spine at the faintest thought of what she witnessed back in the world of the living. She tried her best to erase the image from her mind but there was a small part in her brain which refused to let go of it. Her curiosity to learn the complete truth, because she knew there was more to what happened and the feeling of dread still coursing through acted as the two fundamental and opposing feelings which tore her mind asunder.
It was bad enough that Ichigo was weighed down by the guilt of what he did. He didn't need Rukia gawking at him like she saw a giant Menos grande. Oh wait, she did see a Menos grande and even then, she didn't bat a suspicious eye.
'Good to know she has her priorities straight.' Ichigo witticised within his mind as the squad 1 barracks came into view. 'Fuck. Aizen-taicho, Urahara-san and Yoruichi-san have always supported and guided me. They backed and defended me from the Sou-taicho all this while but I'm not sure even they can convince the stubborn geezer. I should've accepted Kyoraku taicho's offer to drink with him when I had the chance. Maybe he could've convinced the Sou-taicho to spare his drinking buddy.' Ichigo smiled at the last thought. 'Even my death is a joke now, not unlike my life in any way' he thought as he took a deep breath. 'Might as well do it to the fullest. After all, these will probably be my last breaths.'
As he was approaching the Head captain's office, he noticed the reiatsus of ... all the captains except for 1. The one captain he didn't expect would miss such an important meeting. Saying Ichigo had an eventful day would be an understatement. But this moment right here topped the list of all the unexpected things that he encountered today. When the doors in front of him opened, there was no sign of Urahara Kisuke anywhere in the meeting hall while the rest of the captains including the unusual presence of Kenpachi Zaraki stood in two rows facing each other with Yamamoto standing in the middle, clearly displaying his position and his lieutenant Chojiro Sasakibe stood behind him as ever.
Ichigo looked at Yoruichi who in turn was looking at the orange-haired boy with apprehension visible in her golden eyes. He then turned to look at his captain, Aizen Sosuke. The man smiled and nodded a little, trying to provide some reassurance to Ichigo, but the latter didn't kid himself. He was grateful for Aizen trying to provide him with some encouragement but he saw the uneasiness behind the strained smile. It wasn't as natural or charismatic as it usually is.
'I really am in deep shit.'
Renji and Rukia weren't sure why exactly they both were summoned to attend this meeting as well. Sure, they get why the knowledge they possess about the incident that took place in the world of the living is crucial but they already told everything they witnessed to their respective captains already.
Yamamoto tapped his cane on the ground which god knows how produced a deep booming sound, effectively gaining the attention of everyone in the room. "After listening to reports of 5th seat Kuchiki Rukia of Squad 13 and lieutenant Abarai Renji of Squad 6 from their respective captains Ukitake Jushiro and Kuchiki Byakuya, the central 46 has issued the orders to carry out a special trial for the defendant Kurosaki Ichigo for his crimes against the Gotei 13 and the Seireitei in the presence of the all the serving captains. The trial starts now." Yamamoto concluded with sovereignty.
"Crimes against the Gotei 13 and the Seireitei?! Are you kidding me?" Ichigo roared. He looked scandalised. His eyes were bulging out in disbelief. His jaw tightened and anger he never knew he possessed has gripped his whole body. He was being treated as some sort of criminal. He would accept his sentence, even if it's death penalty with grace but he's not gonna sit down and swallow if they are going shove false accusations down his throat. But that's not something recommended irrespective of who one might be or whatever their position is, no one speaks out against Yamamoto Genryusai Shigekuni. That's the thumb rule in Seireitei unless you had a death wish. But Ichigo was far beyond that point. His death was confirmed at this stage, one way or the other. He might as well set a few things straight before his existence vanishes for good.
"SILENCE!" Roared Yamamoto, his eyes barely visible now, a sign of him getting upset. "You will not talk unless you're told you and even then, you will answer the questions posed. Nothing else. You fail to follow this, the trail will end instantly and you will be sentenced to die. Choose your words carefully, Kurosaki Ichigo."
Any reckless confidence that Ichigo had before has disappeared without a trace. The anger refused to die down but he put all his might into controlling it. He hated the position he was in. He was fuming with rage inside but also shaken to the very core by the man standing in front of him. Fear for his life never felt this real and intense to him. His fists clenched hard.
All the captains present threw him glances of pity. They knew the feeling of being at the receiving end of the head captain's wrath. The humbling feeling which makes you feel like an infant staring at a monster in their worst nightmares. They knew it all too well. No shinigami becomes a captain in the Gotei 13 without experiencing it.
"Pardon my intrusion Sou-taicho, but if you let me, I would like to speak on the behalf of Kurosaki-kun. He is my sub-ordinate after all." Aizen said as he stepped forward before Ichigo could melt completely under the gaze of the strongest shinigami ever. Yamamoto glanced towards Aizen who stood determined and fearless while being respectful.
"If you choose to involve yourself in this, keep in mind that even you will have to face the consequences of your actions should the judgement not favour the defendant Sosuke."
"I understand what you mean Sou-taicho," Aizen replied with a nod. "I would like to propose an idea. I suggest we allow Kurosaki-kun to explain his actions in his words. Let's then corroborate the facts we know from the reports given to us by Abarai-kun and Kuchiki-san against Kurosaki-kun's testimony. This way, a more informed and precise judgement can be made."
"I second that." Yoruichi said, not surprising anyone. "Not that I don't trust Rukia's or Renji's words but I feel Ichigo should be given a chance to speak for himself."
Yamamoto kept his silence for a minute while evaluating his options. He made up his mind pretty quickly before speaking. "How many of the captains agree to Sosuke's proposal? I will grant it should there be a majority," he said as he scanned the room.
Ichigo's mind was racing as his life was hanging in a balance. He didn't like it that he had to prove his innocence while everyone present in the room, save for Renji and Rukia, knew he wasn't guilty. But his captain risked a great deal to provide him with this opportunity. So he will not be an ungrateful son of a bitch and prove his goddamn innocence. But the fact that the opportunity lies in the hands of captains vote was a plaguing thought.
He knew that he was on good terms or rather, had no issues with captains of maybe 5 or 6 squads at most and one of them was missing now. He needed 6 votes to get a majority out of the current 11. He had 2 confirmed votes but beyond that, he wasn't sure how many would stick their heads out for him. But what followed next had shocked him. Not just him but Yoruichi and Aizen as well. Only one hand was up in favour of accepting Aizen's proposal.
"Guess I'm the only who doesn't you to die so soon Ichigo," Zaraki said as a sinister smile was etched on his face. "Too bad my wish won't be fulfilled. You would've made a good opponent in a few years."
Any hope that Ichigo gained at his life drained away. All the efforts that Yoruichi and Aizen made to keep him alive were for nought. He slumped to his knees and kept his head low in defeat.
Hope is such a cruel thing. It's like the light at the end of an infinitely long tunnel. You can see it from the darkness but never truly reach the source. It can break even the strongest of wills and sharpest of minds in mere moments. Before the start of this meeting, Ichigo gave up on his life. Even though knowing he was innocent, the guilt of what happened and the undeniable fact that though not consciously, he was responsible for what happened weighed him down. The fear of life that Yamamoto induced in him and the resolution Yoruichi and Aizen displayed to save his life wanted him to live again, out of respect for their efforts if not for himself. But witnessing first hand how much his life was valued among the people he grew up with, the budding hope crashed down like a house of cards in the middle of a gale storm.
"Then it's decided. Kurosaki Ichigo will be prosecuted as it is-"
"I'm sorry Yama-ji but I think you've got the wrong Idea," Shunsui said as he tilted his Sugegasa straw hat up so that his eyes came into the view with his usual smug smile present. " I didn't vote for Aizen's proposal because I don't think Kurosaki Ichigo needs to explain his actions to us to be proven innocent. We all heard what happened in the world of the living. Though what happened happen through Ichigo, I don't think he's the one who's responsible. It's us, the captains of the Gotei 13."
Yamamoto raised his eyes a little in curiosity though it wasn't visible thanks to his overgrown eyebrows. If there's anyone who had any hope of getting away easy after messing with him, it was Kyoraku Shunsui, the captain of 8th squad. Well, Ukitake Jushiro, the captain of 13th squad as well but the latter never misused that privilege. But it was a whole different ball game with Shunsui. He knew exactly where to push the old man's buttons so that he doesn't end up burnt to nothingness.
The other captains in the room diverted their attention from Yamamoto to Shunsui. Yoruichi and Aizen looked a little confused but there was a hint of optimism behind their daze. Rojuro Otoribashi, captain of the 3rd squad, Unohana Retsu, captain of the 4rth squad, Hirako Shinji, captain of the 5th squad, Kuchiki Byakuya, captain of the 6th squad, Aikawa Love, captain of the 7th squad, Mugamura Kensei, captain of 9th squad, and Jushiro Ukitake, all stared impassively as Shunsui spoke. Zaraki Kenpachi looked irked and bored but nonetheless, had his eyes glued to the unpopular romance novelist. Rukia and Renji looked absolutely clueless about what's happening but were paying rapt attention to see where things are heading.
Ichigo looked stupefied. His eyes wide, mouth open like a gasping fish out of water, sweat streaming down his cropped sideburns. He was dumbfounded by what was happening. His emotions were going through a rollercoaster ride. First, he was guilty because of what had happened. Then he felt betrayed when treated like a criminal. He was determined after seeing Yoruichi and Aizen's efforts. Felt broken when only one captain voted in his favour. Now, Shunsui was saying that he doesn't need to prove himself innocent at all. What kind of sick twisted prank was fate playing on him?
"You see Yama-Ji before we entered the meeting, all captains had a little backdoor meeting among ourselves. Of course, had Kenpachi-san arrived in time, he would've known what I was talking about. Since Yoruichi-san and Sosuke-san were with Kurosaki-kun in the holding cell, they couldn be part of it as well. But the rest of us discussed the events that occurred and the facts we know and guessed what this meeting would ultimately result in. So we drew a contingency plan in case our guess was right and unfortunately, it was. Though we didn't expect Sosuke-san's proposal, we did expect Ichigo-kun's future. I can say rest assured when I say this that I speak for all the captains present in this meeting hall, we find Kurosaki Ichigo innocent in the events that took place in the world of the living." Shunsui said with finality.
"We mean no disrespect Sensei, but we all knew Kurosaki-kun's situation right from the start. We knew the risks when Urahara-san explained it us 15 years ago and we decided to go along with it. If anyone is to be blamed for this mishap, then it should be us, the captains of the Gotei 13. Kurosaki-kun here didn't even attain his Shikai until a few hours ago. He didn't know the true nature of his Asauchi or himself for that matter. Isn't that unfair to judge him over something that he has no control or awareness over? Please sensei, try and reconsider your judgement on Kurosaki-kun." Jushiro spoke explaining the reason behind the captains' unanimous decision.
The other captains could not help but be impressed by Kyoraku and Ukitake. Both of them being Yamamoto's favorite pupils, knew the old man better than anyone else around here, save for a single exception. Shunsui was firm and resolute, an attribute that Yamamoto respected while Jushiro's delicate explanation made sure that he wouldn't take any offence at their defiance.
The embodiment of conviction, Yamamoto follows the laws and regulations of Soul Society to the letter and expects the same of others. He is not a man to tolerate insubordination and is vocal with those who attempt to act in such a manner. Despite his stern and steadfast personality, it is not to say he has no compassion and admiration. He patiently listened to his student's words and felt something he didn't for over 200 years. Pride. The last time he was proud was when Shunsui and Jushiro made captain. Now, the very two were standing in front of him, opposing his decision without a hint of fear or disrespect. He was proud that his students have come so far along that they were reminding him of the things that he taught them. Living with conviction and upholding your morals above everything else, even one's life. A part of him was ashamed to be in his position but it paled in comparison.
But he cannot show that in front of them. Nope. It would make Shunsui's antics even worse. It was hard enough now to not beat the hell out of him once in a while. He also had a reputation to maintain. The head captain of the Gotei 13 cannot be a sentimental fanatic. So he did the obvious thing.
" You two have time and again taken advantage of the leniency I offer. No more. You two need to be punished." Yamamoto said as he went to grab his Zanpakuto's handle.
"Bakudo #63: Sajo Sabaku." Raising his palm to Yamamoto, Ichigo closed his hand into a fist and called forth the yellow energy, taking the form of a very thick rope, binding the upper body of the head captain. Though the head captain looked unperturbed, the rest of the Gotei 13 didn't share the same sentiment. Save for Shunsui, Jushiro and Aizen and Unohana everyone in the room including Yoruichi pounced on Ichigo with their Zanpakutos aimed at him. Yoruichi held Ichigo's head into the ground with an iron grip. Shunsui and Jushiro shared shocked looks, though the latter was more expressive than his lazy counterpart.
"What the hell are you thinking Ichigo? You really wanna die here?" Yoruichi yelled in rage and frustration. Here they were, 11 captains of the Gotei 13, sticking their heads out to save his life while he does random acts that ensured his death. Yelling, she could understand. But attacking Yamamoto Genryusai Shigekuni? It was unheard of. In a matter of split-second, Ichigo managed to turn everyone in his favour against him. Every captain suppressing him had the same expression. Incredulity. Only one question was running through everyone's mind. 'What the fuck was he thinking?'
Ichigo struggled and squirmed under the captains' constraint. But he managed to turn his head to the side to speak his mind. "It doesn't matter Yoruichi-san. My fate was decided long before this meeting began. There's no way the central 46 would let me live and the old man isn't gonna turn down their decision. Even though you all, Kyoraku-san and Ukitake-san tried to reason, he's hell-bent on carrying his orders from above. The eventual result will be the same. But I won't let anyone else get hurt because of me. No more. Even if it means I'll be considered a traitor, I don't care." Ichigo declared even as he continued to struggle.
"Shut up you fool." Shinji yelled as he moved his hand to cover Ichigo's mouth. Shinji is fairly calm, serious, and level-headed despite his flippant and carefree attitude. But there are very few times that Shinji loses his cool. Now being one of those times. Over time, Shinji developed a liking towards the orange-haired teen. Ichigo's keen and sharp skills along with the placid and aloof attitude piqued his interest. He considered Ichigo to be one of the most genuine and brilliant personalities in the whole Seireitei. His little speech before just went onto solidify his notions about the teenager.
'He's still worried about Shunsui and Jushiro while being on the death row. Honestly, this kid...Why do the best ones do the most stupid things.' Shinji thought, remembering a certain blonde who could've joined the list. Yoruichi, Rojuro, Unohana, Love, Shunsui, Aizen, Zaraki and Jushiro thought along Shinji's line. Kensei and Byakuya only pitied Ichigo, thinking about how he wasted the opportunity presented to him.
"Release him," Yamamoto ordered as he casually broke free from the bindings with minimal effort. The captains stared at the old man for a second to confirm if they heard right. He just ordered to release the person who attacked him. His callous face showed he wasn't joking around. They slowly rose and got back into their positions rather hesitantly, all the while keeping their eyes on Ichigo for any further movement. Not to keep Yamamoto safe but for his own.
"Boy. You did a huge blunder when you tried to bind me with that Bakudo. You really thought a sixties level Bakudo without any incantation could restrict me, Yamamoto Genryusai Shigekuni? You're stupider than I presumed you to be." The said person spoke while resealing his zanpakuto into his cane.
"I meant no disrespect Sou-taicho, but I had other priorities back there. I knew what I did would most probably be pointless but I couldn't just stand and watch while you tried to harm the people who were trying to protect me. I didn't have enough time to make a proper effort to restrict you, so I apologize, for my insolence." Ichigo replied in mock respect.
"That's enough 3rd seat Kurosaki Ichigo," Aizen spoke in a steady but frightening tone accompanied by his rising reiatsu. "You will not speak another word against the Sou-taicho. If you do not comply with this order, I myself will report you to the central 46 and ensure the harshest of the punishments should you leave this room alive."
Ichigo was taken back at this sudden yet composed display of rage by his captain. He's never seen and never imagined such a side existed to the gentle captain.
"You really think you can bind me, boy?" Yamamoto said as if Aizen's actions were invisible to him.
All the captains started to worry for real now. They weren't sure but they couldn't risk it no matter what. Was the head captain of the Gotei 13 pissed? No one wanted to know. They could only imagine the repercussions of that.
"I apologize Sou-taicho. I take full responsibility for my subordinate's actions. Please-" Aizen said but stopped when Yamamoto raised his hand to stop him.
"Speak up boy. Do you?"
Ichigo was confused. What does he have to do now? Does he answer the head captain or stay quite complying Aizen's order? The standard protocol was to answer the head captain since he outranked Aizen but fuck protocol. He didn't want to disrespect Aizen no matter what. But he didn't want to piss off Yamamoto further any more either. He just stood his ground and looked back at Yamomoto with determination in his eyes.
"Follow me." Yamamoto said before disappearing in a flash. Ichigo Shunpo'd right behind the old man with the captains and the others following the lead albeit being totally clueless. Before long, everyone reached a wide expanse of empty land, a place from they could look over the entire Seirietei in a single glance. The Sokyoku hill.
The cold breezes returned along with the night sky and the open expanse. The captains' haoris were floating in the air as the wind blew all over the place. As everyone in the meeting room arrived on top of the hill, sensing the shift in the high density of the reishis, the lieutenants of the Gotei 13 rushed over to the site, ignorant of the circumstances and apprehensive of the future.
Since Chojiro Sasakibe and Abarai Renji, lieutenants of their respective squads were already in the meeting room, the new arrivals included Sui-Feng of the squad 2, Ichimaru Gin of squad 3, Kotetsu Isane of squad 4, Tosen Kaname of squad 5, Komamura Sajin of squad 7, Yadamaro Lisa of squad 8, Kuna Mashiro and Hisagi Shuhei of squad 9, Rangiku of squad 10, Kusajishi Yachiru of squad 11 and Hitsugaya Toshiro of squad 13.
The captains looked at their lieutenants at their arrival and they didn't look pleased. Things were escalated enough as it is. The involvement of the lieutenants in what was supposed to be a captains meeting is not only unprecedented but also detrimental in this case. The lieutenants were known to be notorious gossipers. The captains themselves had no clue what was about to happen but were sure it was nothing good. Rumours about what happened on the Sokyoku hill spreading first thing in the morning isn't what they need right now.
"Who told you people could be here?" Byakuya asked, in his usual apathetic manner. Being the youngest of the current Gotei 13 captains made no difference to him. He was as predominant as any of the others if not more.
"We sensed everyone move and thought there might be trouble." Hitsugaya was quick to reply, a huge mistake on his part if asked Renji.
"And you thought the fuku-Taichos are capable of handling something that the Taichos and the Sou-Taicho of Gotei 13 can't?" Byakuya shot with indifference dripping in his voice. Some might say he looked irritated but those who know him knew that he wasn't. He looked far worse when he's irritated for real.
"That's... not what ...I-" Toshiro tried to explain himself but was cut off.
"Leave." Byakuya said as turned to face Renji and Rukia behind him. "You two as well. This doesn't involve you both anymore. Speak of anything that happened in the meeting and you will be treated as traitors."
"Let them stay. Truthful gossip is better than baseless rumours." Yamamoto said, clearly getting why Byakuya ordered them to leave. The lieutenants looked embarrassed at the head captain's straight forward accusation, which was true if their reaction is anything to go by.
"But Sou-taicho, are you sure?" Sasakibe asked from behind the older man.
"Are you doubting my decision Chojiro?"
"Of course not Sou-taicho." He replied with an apologetic bow.
"Hmmm. I suggest you join the other lieutenants."
"Hai," Chojiro said before disappearing in a flash.
"Step ahead boy."
Ichigo did as told as he took a few steps forward from the group of captains. Everyone was dead silent, watching intensely what was about to happen. Though a confrontation was the only logical answer everyone came up with, the notion of head captain fighting a mere 3rd seat sounded ridiculous.
"I'll give you one chance boy. Try your best to bind me. Use whatever means you seem necessary, I don't care. One shot is all you get. You said you didn't have enough time back there, now I'm giving you that. Remember, intentions alone don't matter. You must be able to back them up. If you can't, you're a failure. You're nothing more than a delusional dreamer. One shot." Yamamoto said as he stood his ground.
Audible gasps erupted from the lieutenants' group with Matsumoto's being the most noticeable. She didn't have a clue what was happening. She didn't even know that Ichigo was under trial. All she knew was a captain's meeting was called at this ungodly hour and she had to wake up to be a responsible lieutenant. When she sensed the shift in captains' reishis, she like every other of her peers rushed here. Now she learns that her sub-ordinate is going up against the head captain of the Gotei 13.
Ichigo was considered a prodigy since he could talk. He possessed an unusually high amount of reishi. He mastered to control that ocean of reishi to a point where he can mask it as good as captain worth his salt. His prowess in Kido was unparalleled in the Shin'O academy. He graduated in a record 2 years, with the second place being 3 and a half. He was handpicked by Aizen straight out of the academy and was given the 5th seat based on his abilities. It didn't take long from that to rise another 2 ranks. Technically speaking, he is as good as if not better than most of the lieutenants in the Gotei 13 with reiatsu levels comparable to that of strongest of the current captains.
But it's still a horror inducing thought to fight the head captain. The man remained undefeated for 1000 years. It is said that his zanpakuto, Ryujin Jakka has the strongest offence in the Seireitei. No one can say they witnessed the wrath of Yamamoto Genryusai Shigekuni and stayed alive.
Ichigo took a deep breath after listening to Yamamoto's words. 'What he said is true. Intentions alone don't matter. I need strength to back up my words. I know I have it. I just need to put it out. I need to stretch my limits and go beyond them to do that. Everyone back tried to help me even though I'm not connected to them in any manner. They believed in me. Now, I'm going to prove them right.' Ichigo thought. His chocolate brown eyes turned pale with a blue aura as his reiatsu started to build up. Soon, his reiatsu raised to such levels that it was visible in the form of transparent blue flames. He raised his right hand facing his palm towards Yamamoto. He used his left to reinforce the right.
"Come forth roots of the world tree, one which unites the three worlds. Rise up Tartarus, the eternal prison of darkness. Yield to me Chronos, letting time dance to my tunes. Bodhi's prayer, Prometheus's decent, Titan's stampede. Writhe and wrangle, let chaos be your salvation. Your own screams will bring upon the eternal damnation. Bakudo#95: Eien no Mokusei Keimusho.
As soon as the words started to come out of Ichigo's mouth, Yamamoto's eyebrows raised high, showing his shock filled eyes. Unohana had a disturbed look on her face realising what Ichigo's incantation was for. Apart from them both, there was only one person who realised which Kido's incantation that was. When people heard the number 95, only then did they realise the impact of the Binding spell Ichigo was casting but it was too late by then.
When Ichigo finished his incantation, the ground started to shake. Large bones protruded from beneath where Yamamoto was standing to form a cage around him. Large tree roots followed that and wrapped around the bones, covering them and leaving no gaps in between. Finally, an ethereal black cloak enveloped around the bone and wooden prison, leaving nothing to be seen beyond it.
Ichigo observed everything that happened. He saw this spell just recently but never thought he'd use it so soon. This was his first time even chanting the incantation out loud and for some reason, it felt sickening to say it. He was panting heavily by the time it was complete. The place where Yamamoto stood was radiating reiatsu.
Otoribashi Rojuro and Aikawa Love stared at the black ball which contained the head captain.' So much reiatsu' Rojuro thought, feeling the immense pressure which was being suppressed inside. 'Honestly, the potential this kid has is kinda scary.' Aikawa noted.
Kyoraku and Ukitake just looked at each other with raised eyebrows. 'The Old man had to put on a show. I'm honestly starting to doubt if he ever intended to convict Ichigo-kun.' Shunsui thought.
'This whole thing was just a charade to prove the value of Kurosaki-san. You're as cunning as ever Sensei.' Ukitake concluded with a smile.
'This kid can throw a high 90's Kido? I think I understand why everyone else wanted him alive.' Kensei thought.
'He had to show off. Now he's panting like a dog.' Shinji noticed how tired Ichigo looked after that spell. Even standing straight after using such high-level Kido is a feat on its own. Byakuya looked as stoic as ever but internally, the impression he had on Ichigo as a shinigami just went a few steps higher.
Zaraki's usual sinister smile was wider than ever. Yachiru was already on his shoulder and noticed how happy he looked. "Did you see that Yachiru? That's a fucking good amount of reiatsu that kid has got. He'd make a worthwhile match, don't you think?"
Yachiru could only nod furiously with an innocent smile. But the ominous intentions behind that smile weren't visible to anyone.
The lieutenants had their jaws slack.
'Am I dreaming?'
'This must be some kind of illusion.'
Those were just some of the thoughts running through their heads. Sasakibe looked the most composed out of them all, with just his eyes wide as saucers. Renji and Rangiku were among the first to regain their composure. Maybe because they've already seen Ichigo do some insane feats beyond that of a 3rd seat or a lieutenant but nothing like this before. Sui-Feng's first reaction to fake disinterest and pass it off as nothing exceptional. Isane looked like she could faint any moment, worried as hell about god knows what now. Komamura's reaction was hidden due to his large slitted bucket helmet.
'That was hot.' Lisa thought while her face remained flat as a chessboard.
The co lieutenants of squad 9, Mashiro stared at Ichigo with a tilted head while Hisagi was still shocked and trying to recover.
Toshiro eyed Ichigo carefully. Like Ichigo, Toshiro too was hailed a prodigy. Probably the youngest shinigami in history of Gotei 13 to be named as a lieutenant, he was quite happy with his progress but his appetite for growth not receding at all. That was until a minute ago. Whatever he achieved so far felt tiny and insignificant after witnessing Ichigo's deed. He wasn't jealous. He was just frustrated with himself for not noticing someone was advancing at a rapid pace while he was falling behind. 'Ranks means shit to me now. He's the one I need to catch up to.' Hitsugaya thought, looking at a heaving Ichigo.
Ichigo felt a hand on his shoulder, the gentlest of touches he ever experienced. He turned his head back to look at a concerned-looking Unohana, something that rarely happens.
"Kurosaki-san. May I ask where you learned that spell?" She enquired, not trying to be forceful at all.
'That's what she's concerned about?' Ichigo thought but decided to answer her question without too much delay. He wasn't sure how everyone was reacting to him going up against the head captain. If possible, he didn't want to make things any worse than they already are.
"Uh...I found it in one of the records in Daireishokairō while helping Aizen-Taicho with some research."
"Did Aizen-Taicho specifically ask to go through any records?"
"He gave me access to a section of records and asked me to go through it. That's when I saw that. Why? Is there a problem Unohana-Taicho?"
Unohana took a deep breath and let out a sigh. "I'm afraid so Kurosaki-san. The spell you just used is a forbidden one. Any records relating to it are sealed off and shouldn't be accessed without Sou-Taicho's and Central 46 approval. And I'm sure that no such mandate was passed in the recent years. You committed treason by accessing those records Kurosaki-san."
Ichigo's head started to feel light. For a brief moment, the world spun around him before he put his soul into regaining his poise. 'Calm down Ichigo. Calm down. It must be a misunderstanding. Just like it was before. You did nothing wrong. Heh. Aizen-Taicho isn't capable of doing such a mistake.' He kept telling himself in an effort to convince himself while somewhere in the back of his head, a voice was screaming that he was being in denial.
He knew Unohana Retsu as nothing more than as captain of squad 4, an exceptional medic with a gentle personality who for some reason was feared by captains as well. But one thing he could say was she wasn't the type of person who would throw accusations around easily unless she had a solid reason to. The woman barely talked and when she did, most of the time, she spoke reassuring stuff. Not baseless allegations.
"But that's not the biggest problem here Kurosaki-san." Unohana continued which brought Ichigo out of his musings.
'It's not? What's bigger than my life hanging in balance?' Ichigo thought when Unohana cleared his doubt.
"You potentially put the Sou-Taicho's life in danger Kurosaki-san. He could be dead as we speak."
E/N: That's chapter 2. Another cliffhanger. I know, it's getting out of hand now. I promise no more cliffhangers in the upcoming chapters. So I want to explain three things. 1. I referred to Shunsui once as an unpopular romance novelist because he writes a romance novel which didn't fare well in the Seireitei Tsushin. Second is the Bakudo#95. Is there something like that shown in canon? Nope. I'm sure there is a Bakudo #95 but it was never shown. So I basically envisioned my own version of a high level Bakudo and depicted it. Copyrights are underway Tite Kubo. Third, the current captains of Gotei 13 are different from canon at this point of time in the timeline. Reason? It'll be in the upcoming chapters.
Also, the response to the first chapter was freaking amazing. The pairings are still in play. I received 3 votes for Nanao who's in the lead. Lisa and Orihime each received 2 votes. Rukia received 1 vote which unfortunately means a goodbye. Keep voting guys. I'll close the polls to pairings soon. Maybe a couple of chapters at most. So make sure you're favourite girl grabs the top spot. P.S: I personally prefer Nanao-chan as well. ;). Have a good day.