Going on Fourteen
Universe: Bleach, One Piece
Theme/Topic: Crossover madness as suggested by fanart and Vinnie
Pairing/Character/s: Zoro, Sanji, Hanatarou, Kenpachi, Jidanbo, Kyouraku, Ukitake, Yamamoto, Hitsugaya
Spoilers: Whole Soul Society Arc for Bleach, none for One Piece that I can think of…
Word Count: 6,913
Time: Years? XD
Summary: Zoro and Sanji bust their way into the Court of Pure Souls. Hijinks ensue.
Dedication: Vinnie and Christine- Christine for the fanart, and Vinnie for poking me into writing this.
A/N: Oh man, I found this after two years of having completely forgotten it. I believe Vinnie told me to write it either after my freshman or sophomore year and I did but hated it so much I never posted it. I just ran into it after going through my comp cleaning up files today. XD Well… gonna just go ahead and post it then. Crossovers are supposed to be stupid most of the time anyway, right? Right. So suspend that disbelief for me and hopefully it'll at least be a little entertaining if completely nonsensical.
Disclaimer: Not mine, though I wish constantly.
Distribution: Just lemme know.
One: Now What've You Gotten Us Into?
"This is your fault."
"How the hell is this my fault?"
Zoro crossed his arms and stared at Sanji severely. "We're dead. And the only way that this coulda happened was if you did something wrong."
Sanji slapped a hand to his forehead. "We were 105. Of course we're dead."
Zoro frowned. "Well I'm not supposed to be dead! It's still gotta be your fault somehow."
Sanji kicked him in the head. "Just…shut up will you? We're dead. There's nothing we can do about it now but enjoy it, right?" the blond theorized. He examined his spiritual form. "Eh, at least they gave us our youth back, ne? I almost forgot how good looking I was. Am."
The swordsman snorted. "Tch. Better than at 105, at least. That's for sure."
Sanji kicked him in the head again. Paused. "Oh god. I just realized we're stuck together for eternity," he muttered dejectedly. "Why you and not Nami-swan?!"
"'Cuz that woman'll live forever," Zoro responded simply, resting his elbows on his katana, which oddly enough, seemed to have followed him here. "Well…I guess we'd better get started, eh?" the former pirate stated to himself after a moment, looking around the… strange forest they'd apparently woken up in.
"Get started with what? What is there to start when we're dead?" Sanji asked incredulously.
Zoro shrugged one shoulder. "Fixin' it, I guess. Should find a way back before we're missed even more."
Sanji stared evenly. "Are you an idiot? Wait… don't say anything. I know the answer to that already." He should have been used to it after all the years, but there were still some moments---some very special moments-- where he was reminded of just how dense the swordsman could still be.
"Oi, this is your fault in the first place, remember? If you hadn't let that crazy girl with the sword touch you in the forehead we wouldn't be in this mess!"
Sanji sighed fondly at the memory. "Such a pretty angel though…"
"Che. That's what landed us here in the first place, yeah? So now we fix it."
"You can't fix being dead!! Especially after we crossed over! It's generally something you fix beforehand, idiot."
"Well it's just not cool for the world's number one swordsman to die in his sleep!"
"Well if you didn't sleep so goddamn much!"
Zoro blinked. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"Ohohohoho, what do we have here, huh? Coupla newbies to Rukongai, looks like, eh fellas?"
Zoro and Sanji turned around at the sound of a new, but achingly familiar voice, both feeling like heaven seemed to be much more horrifically cliché than they'd first imagined.
They had more important things to worry about than dealing with generic bandits one through fourteen.
"It's their lucky day, eh? Us comin' out all the way out here to greet 'em properly, show them the ropes. Usually newbies don't get that kinda courtesy and… WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU GOING?!?!"
Zoro yawned as he and Sanji both brushed past the incredulous leader. "Towards town, I guess," the swordsman explained, indicating with his chin in the direction of what looked like smoke rising from chimneys somewhere in the distance.
The bandits all blinked back at him.
Both pirates kept walking.
"DON'T JUST IGNORE US!!!" the bandit leader yowled, vein popping up rather unattractively on his forehead. "WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!"
Sanji sighed to himself as he heard the sound of weapons being drawn. The chef wondered rather philosophically, why dying was necessary if the parts that came afterwards were exactly the same as the ones you'd been through when you were alive.
Raising his foot high above his head, Sanji also wondered if pain still felt the same here too.
Turns out it did.
Everyone even bled the same. The only difference the blond could think of was the fact that he was moving like he was twenty again instead of a hundred, and that he and Zoro might have been a little bit too enthusiastic upon discovering the fact that they'd regained all of the power of their youths.
It looked like even dead people could well, die here if they bled enough. Odd.
"Ne…stupid," Sanji called out, poking one of the would-be robbers with the toe of one shoe. "Maybe we can ask 'em for some information."
The swordsman smirked and sheathed his weapon. "You left one conscious? Knew you'd gotten soft in your old age."
Sanji kicked him in the head. "When are you going to realize that being dead isn't the same as being alive, idiot? Che. We've got more important things to worry about!" the chef insisted, glaring at his crewmate so strongly he felt his eye tick.
Zoro crossed his arms. "You're just jealous 'cuz none of my guys are still conscious."
Sanji slapped himself in the forehead.
Turning around and kneeling, he decided now was a good time to ignore Zoro until he went away. Instead, he shook one of the bandits, whose eyes were still fluttering slightly as he slipped in and out of consciousness. "Oi…"
Zoro glared at the cook's backside and took Sanji's ignoring him as pure acquiescence to his accusation. So jealous that the swordsman was so much cooler than him.
"Oi… you alive?" Sanji questioned, shaking a little harder and eliciting a groan from his target to-be-interrogated. "Wake up, huh? I've got some questions for you."
Very slowly, an eye fluttered and came to focus on Sanji's face. "Nnngh…"
The blond smiled in self-satisfaction. Good. Now they could finally get some answers. "Got a coupla questions for you, stupid," he started in his most conversational tone, grabbing his man's collar and yanking him upward so that he arched like some sort of would-be seal. "Think you can answer 'em, or should I wake you up a little more?"
"I…I…um…go ahead, boss. I'll uh… argh…I'll uh see if I can't um, help you two any…" the man breathed, eying both newcomers warily.
"Great. Why don't we start with…where the hell are we?"
The man blinked. "You're…dead. This is Soul Society."
"Soul Society? Che…what the hell's that?"
"It doesn't matter if we're leavin'. Where do we find the people wearing the black hakama?" Zoro cut in, obviously not interested in the same sort of information Sanji was.
The blond glared at him. "Oi, I thought I was doin' the questioning, bastard!" he protested, their defeated foe struggling for breath as the chef's grip tightened unconsciously.
The swordsman glared back. "Well that girl in black was the reason we got into this mess in the first place, wasn't it?"
"That doesn't matter! I was the one asking questions, bastard! Your questions don't even go in the right order! If we don't know where we are, then how the hell are we supposed to know where we're going?" the blond snarled up at his companion, shaking his captive bodily as he did.
"Gee, I dunno…by not wasting time and just goin' there?"
"Argh! You never know when to quit, do you? Damn muscle-for-brains."
"A-at the Court of Pure Souls… The ones in black are at the Court!"
Both pirates paused at the sound of the bandit's desperate words, as if just remembering that they'd been in the middle of the interrogation. Sanji coughed and loosened his grip on the man's throat a little bit.
"Court of Pure Souls, eh? And where's that?" the swordsman pushed, arching a thoughtful brow.
"t-the…the very center of Soul Society… the shinigami…"
Sanji blinked when he heard that, momentarily distracted by the announcement. "Death gods?"
"How do we get there?" the blond pressed, not liking how any of this was sounding.
A weak arm rose and pointed westward, in the direction of the town. "S-straight through Rukongai… you'll find a gate. The Hakutomon gate and its guardian, Jidanbo. The court…is beyond those doors."
"And all the shinigami are there?" Zoro asked again, looking in the direction the bandit was indicating and frowning.
"How far?" Sanji asked, more practically. "How long will it take?"
"A…a few days walking."
"Hakutomon gate, huh?" Zoro rested his elbow on the hilts of his katana. "Guardian?"
"Aa. Even… even if you get there, it's impossible to pass into the court. The guardian destroys all intruders."
Sanji scowled, letting the man go and turning back to his companion. "You hear that? We can't get in. It's pointless to even think about..."
But Zoro was already at the top of the first hill, peering down at Rukongai thoughtfully.
"Oi…bastard, are you even listening to me?!" the blond demanded, rolling up his sleeves and following after the swordsman with the intent of kicking him in the head again.
"Yeah, I was," Zoro responded absently as Sanji joined him at the crest.
The chef swallowed as he took in the view that was suddenly exposed to him, momentarily forgetting his ire at the other pirate in lieu of awe at the vastness of it all. "That's…"
"Rukongai, I guess."
Sanji supposed it would have to be huge.
"Look over there," the swordsman instructed, pointing into the far distance at what appeared to be a giant white stone structure.
Sanji squinted, and then whistled appreciatively at the sheer size a rock would have to be to be visible from even this far away. "Where the shinigami are, huh?"
"Must be there… the way in."
The two of them stared at the giant gates speculatively.
After a minute, Zoro turned and grinned at his companion. "Impossible, huh?"
Sanji didn't like the look on the swordsman's face. It meant that no matter what, they were going to do this. "Shit."
He suddenly wished he had a cigarette.
Two: Going to Court
"Why are we even going there? Why go through the trouble in the first place?" Sanji demanded, frowning as he swiped his foot in the grass to get the blood off of his shoe.
Zoro scowled back at him. "Were you even listening to me?" the swordsman responded irately, vein on his forehead popping up. "'Cuz we're dead, asshole. We aren't supposed to be dead. So we go to those death gods and fix it."
Sanji grit his teeth at the idiotic sounding solution. "It's not that simple!"
Zoro blinked. "Why not?"
"ARGH." The blond searched for an effective way to explain to Zoro why storming the stronghold of gods of death wasn't going to get them back to pirating Grand Line like in the good old days. "Look…Zoro… we're dead. That's not something you can fix."
"How do you know?"
Sanji's eye twitched. "Okay, fair enough. I don't know. But even still, you think death gods will just let anyone waltz in and out of here as they please? What if that screws up some huge cosmic balance or something?"
Zoro frowned. "Che, that's stupid," Zoro shot back. "No balance was messed up when we were alive. Why would it be messed up if we were alive again?"
Sanji, in all their years as shipmates, had never really been able to convince Zoro that his logic was stupid even though it obviously was. A lot. "Argh," he muttered instead, lashing out fiercely with a foot and catching his intended victim hard in the chin, sending him barreling through the underbrush. "That's stupid, for one thing!" he retaliated lamely. "And no self-respecting death god would stand for it, for another!"
Zoro scoffed and smacked another thug with the hilt of his katana, sending him into blissful unconsciousness. "Then we just make 'em take us back!" Roronoa insisted, losing his patience with Sanji's inability to see the beautiful simplicity of his plan.
"You mean threaten the shinigami?!"
"No, just beat 'em up. No threats or anything. Keep it simple."
"OI! LOOK AT US WHEN YOU'RE FIGHTING! WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK WE ARE, BASTARDS?!?!"
Sanji and Zoro simultaneously spun around to face the leader of their recent, area 42 attackers. "WE'RE NOT TALKING TO YOU!!!" they shouted in unison, turning sideways in tandem as they did and allowing two of the bandits to run each other through as they charged the former pirates from the side.
The leader blinked. "Um…fair enough."
"Che, freaking… where the hell do these guys keep coming from?" Sanji asked a little while later as he and Zoro continued their trek through the fearsome districts of Rukongai.
"Heh. If everyone here's this weak, it'll be a peace of cake convincin' those death gods to let us go back," Zoro mused aloud, grinning with that idiotic sort of self-satisfaction that made Sanji want to slam his head into the nearest hard surface.
"Somehow, I don't think death gods will be the same," the chef shot back. "At least the robbers are gettin' smarter though…" he conceded reluctantly, looking skyward.
They'd been traveling for three days now, passing between various townships and wooded areas as peaceably as possible, though for some odd reason, Rukongai bandits seemed to enjoy attacking the two pirates even though it seemed obvious enough to Sanji that neither of them were in possession of anything valuable, save for maybe Zoro's katana, which had, for some odd reason, followed their dead master into the afterlife.
Sanji thought that he'd heard a couple of highwaymen croak out the words "three zanpakutou" disbelievingly before they'd passed out, but the blond had figured that maybe the dead just had a different way of talking about swords and it was weird to see someone carrying around so many of the damn things.
His logic was obviously far superior to stupid Zoro's.
Zoro thought zanpakutou might be a cussword of some sort.
"It makes sense," Zoro had insisted as they'd continued traveling. "There's three of 'em, and if "zanpakutou" just means sword, then it'd be kinda dumb to just call them swords again after you've been cut with them already. By then you'd think they'd know they were swords or somethin'. I'm telling you, it's gotta be a cussword. Like… I dunno, "Three damn sexy things that beat the shit out of me" or something."
Sanji sighed calmly.
And then kicked Zoro in the head. "Why the hell would anyone call the swords that killed them sexy? That's not even a cussword, idiot."
"Well they are sexy, bastard."
Three: Gate of Hakutomon
Jidanbo shrugged. "I thought it sounded cool."
Sanji sighed. "Okay, so we can't go through?"
"Nope," the enormous gatekeeper told him, in a much friendlier way than Sanji might have first anticipated.
"We need to," Zoro said, matter-of-factly, and rested his arms on his swords.
Sanji sighed, turned back to Jidanbo. "Okay, I know this is probably against the rules, right?"
The guardian nodded.
"And you've never let anyone in before, right?" the chef continued, and eyed Zoro. "Not in the like, thousands of years you've guarded this gate?"
The guardian nodded again.
Sanji threw his companion another significant look. "I see. So it is impossible."
Jidanbo looked thoughtful. "Well…there was this one time…"
Zoro grinned. "So it's not impossible."
Sanji slapped a hand to his forehead.
He really had.
The swordsman drew his swords, and Sanji went to go sit on some nearby rocks.
"Pretty deserted for the shinigami stronghold, dontcha think?" Zoro mused aloud, as they strolled the empty, mazelike streets of the strange stone city.
Sanji rubbed his forehead, where a stray bit of gravel had beaned him in the head during Jidanbo's demonstration of what, exactly, his Matsuri attack was.
"Don't sulk at me, it's your damn fault for not getting out of the way quick enough," Zoro told him, because after all this time he definitely knew what that look on the blond crybaby's face meant.
"They're gonna sound the alarms any minute. And then an army of death gods is going to come raining down on us," Sanji told him instead, and kicked halfheartedly at a loose pebble at his feet.
"What, you scared?" Zoro asked, and grinned. "I'll protect you, sweetheart."
Sanji kicked him in the head. "I'm not scared! I just don't see what the damned point is if we're already dead, fucker."
Zoro rubbed his head this time. "Just lemme handle it, okay?"
The sound of voices approaching them shut both pirates up, and dodging around a nearby corner, the held their breaths as a small platoon of shinigami walked by, seemingly unaware of their presence.
"Man, this hasn't happened since Zaraki-taichou became captain, eh?"
"A direct challenge… I never thought I'd live long enough to get to watch one!"
"Che… guy's a damned coward, you ask me… tryin' to go after Hitsugaya-taichou."
"Any advantage you can get, man. He is our newest captain and all that."
"Still, should be fine, boys. He's a captain any way you slice it, right?"
"And the size of my fuckin' pinky. You really think he's got a chance?"
"What's size got to do with it, dumbass? You think you can take Hitsugaya-taichou on?"
"Well, I'm just sayin'…this guy obviously thinks he can."
"Either way, it'll be fun to watch, am I right?"
"'Sides, not every fuckin' day Zaraki-taichou lets us off to go do somethin' leisurely like, right?"
"Che, that's just 'cuz he wanted to watch too."
"Still, count yer blessings, man. A full day off, a good fight to watch… and you know everyone's gonna be there. Hell, maybe I can get into Kurotsuchi-fukutaichou's skirt after the match and make it a three for three. Heard she's real compliant, know what I mean?"
"Yeah, 'til her dad cuts you open four ways to Sunday and makes you watch him take out all yer own internal organs one by one."
The group's voices faded as they walked, and Zoro and Sanji looked at each other as they digested the new information they'd just overheard.
"No!" Sanji hissed frantically, knowing all too well what Zoro was thinking.
"Everyone's gonna be there," Zoro said—simply. "Best way to deal, you ask me."
"Fucking hell," Sanji grumbled, and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "FINE. But let's at least see if we can't find some of their uniforms or something—least that way we won't have to fight our way in. Maybe."
The swordsman grinned and started following after the group of guys that had just passed them. "Easy enough."
"Who the hell are you?"
"No one," Sanji said calmly, looking up at the behemoth of a man who'd come out of nowhere and suddenly gotten in his face with all this attitude.
He'd just been standing. Granted, guarding the bathroom door while Zoro changed and stowed bodies, but still. Just standing. Innocent.
"Yeah, you sure as hell look like no one," the guy said, and moved to plow through the chef in order to get into the room behind him. "Outta my way skinny, I got an important fight to prepare for."
Sanji eyed him. "Just a minute, will you? My friend's changing. He'll be done in a second."
The man turned menacing. "I've got a fight to get to in ten minutes and I need to take a goddamned piss, so kick your 'friend' outta there and lemme through. Now! And next time find a different goddamned place where the two of you can get your kicks, you sick fuck."
The cook glared. "So sorry," he started, and moved to get out of the way.
A few minutes later Zoro poked his head out of the bathroom after he finished putting on his shinigami uniform, only to find that there was a huge hulking mass of something blocking the doorway. "The hell?"
Sanji sat on the other side of the hall examining his shoes. The mass groaned when Zoro shoved the corner of the door into its ribs.
He grinned at the chef. "Oi, I thought you said we were bein' discreet?"
"We were," Sanji told him, and flicked imaginary lint off the corner of his stolen uniform. "And then he," he nudged the mass with his foot, "was an asshole."
"Oh," Zoro said. "Now get in here and help me with these goddamned sandals, will ya?"
Sanji sighed and kicked the body through the door, almost sending it barreling into Zoro.
"Watch where you're kickin' that shit, asshole!"
"We need to hide the bodies until everything's sorted out," Sanji reminded him practically—and with a particularly withering smile—the chef not mentioning that maybe he'd kicked asshole's body just a little bit harder than the rest of them. "To be discreet."
Six: Mistaken Identity
"There… see? Easy," Zoro told him, and admired their handiwork.
The bathroom stall bulged dangerously with unconscious shinigami bodies, but otherwise held well enough if no one moved or breathed too hard.
"This is gonna be a piece of cake. They didn't even notice we got in," the swordsman finished with a grin.
Sanji groaned to himself— and he just had to say that. "Good job, asshole."
As if on cue, the alarm sounded.
"Jidanbou of the Hakutomon gate reports intruders in the western quarter of the court. Repeat, intruders in the western quarter of the court. Extremely dangerous. Subdue immediately. Kill if necessary. All available squadrons please report to superiors for further instructions."
Sanji slapped a hand to his forehead as the ringing bells rapidly dispelled the otherwise peaceful quietude of the bathroom.
Zoro shrugged, mentally. "Guess Jidanbou woke up."
"Guess so," the cook sighed, and was beginning to think he was getting more resigned than resentful of everything that was happening here as time went on.
A fierce knocking on the bathroom door a few minutes later got both of their attention then, and Zoro automatically moved his hands to his swords.
"Ch-challenger Ogata, th-they're calling you to the field f-for your official c-captain's challenge match! T-the captain's c-committee is waiting for you, please!" Pause. "Er, I'm Hanatarou! Uh, everyone else was called out because of the ryoka alarms so um, so I'm in charge of you now! Nice to meet you!"
"Er, be just a minute," Zoro said, and eyed Sanji. "I uh…got some indigestion."
Sanji groaned internally. "Challenger, huh?"
Zoro shrugged. "If everyone's waiting for me it's easier that way, right?"
"THAT'S NOT ACCEPTABLE LOGIC," Sanji hissed.
"I kinda wanted to fight one of these captains anyway," Zoro added, and grinned.
That, unfortunately, was something full of Zoro-logic.
The stands were emptier than Sanji expected, but then again, those damned ryoka alarms were still going off, or whatever.
He slid into the seats near the top row and sat down as Zoro took the field, only a few intimidating-looking people there to watch in the box seats below him.
One of those people scoffed, loudly. "Tch. This new method's fuckin' wimpy, you ask me. Ain't allowed to kill him? Like sayin' people aren't allowed to step on bugs no more."
"Zaraki, surely you wouldn't want to see cute little Shiro-chan killed, would you?"
"Well I wanna see someone killed. 'Cuz you didn't bring damned near enough goddamned booze to make this interestin' less someone bites the dust, Shunsui."
The other man smiled enigmatically. "Oh I assure you, I brought along enough."
Zaraki looked a bit mollified at that. "Well, I guess if I'm drunk enough, one of 'em gettin' beat up pretty bad'll be okay."
Shunsui laughed. "Good man, Zaraki." And the two shared a nonchalant drink.
Sanji scowled and told himself Zoro better not get beat up. Or die.
Though, when he looked at the petulant looking twerp waiting down in the field for Zoro, he supposed the swordsman wouldn't likely have much of a problem.
An ancient looking man with a really long beard stood once Zoro stepped onto the field, brandishing a knobbed piece of wood and balancing on it with an air of great authority. "Challenger Ogata Kamigawa to face Hitsugaya Toushirou-taichou in a battle for the captaincy of the tenth division. No killing, twenty minute time limit. Please bow to your opponent."
Zoro and the kid bowed to each other.
They drew their swords.
Zoro was kind of getting his ass kicked.
But to be fair, the kid had a fucking dragon, which he'd pulled out a few minutes ago when Zoro showed himself to be no slouch on the sparring front.
Zoro didn't have a fucking dragon.
And half his goddamned body was incased in ice now. Needless to say, that brought back some damned bad memories for Sanji, sitting by and watching while the assholes next to him got drunker and drunker.
"Mmmph… this Ogata guy's pretty strong, I guess," the one with the spiked hair and the eye-patch admitted, reluctantly.
"But he's got no chance against Histugaya-taichou if he can't even conjure up shikai, let alone bankai," Kyouraku agreed. "Pity."
"Just watch and hope no one gets hurt too badly, will you?" a man with long white hair chastised, looking concerned for Zoro despite not knowing who the fuck he was.
"Don't need to call out a fuckin' sword's name to be able to use it, you ask me," Zaraki continued anyway, tossing back his sixth or seventh shot.
"Well maybe the challenger doesn't have reiatsu to spare like some of us, ne?" Kyouraku responded good-naturedly, and broke out more alcohol from… somewhere.
Sanji bit his lip as Zoro's left arm was frozen and he fell to one knee on the field, the kid practically flying, encased in ice-armor and looking kind of bored now that he'd made the odds TOTALLY uneven.
Sanji glared down at the shitty swordsman, trying to think fast.
"Hyourinmaru!!!" the kid called—for the second or third time-- and prepared for the winning blow.
The dragon roared in acknowledgement and sped down towards Zoro like a snowy blade.
Zoro dodged—rolled right onto his frozen leg, but managed to avoid a critical hit.
"Hyourinmaru…" the blond muttered, and thought about it, about how the kid had said the same damned thing when his sword had transformed into that enormous serpent a little while ago. ""Bankai? Shikai? Names? What the…"
And then it hit him.
"ZORO!!!!" he shouted, standing and cupping his hands around his mouth in the hopes that the idiot would be able to hear him even this high up. "OI DUMBASS!!!!"
The drinking men sitting in front of him turned around, blinking.
"ZORO CALL THE SWORDS' NAMES!!!!" he shouted, and didn't know if anything would happen, but figured whatever shikai and bankai meant was somehow connected, if what he'd been listening to from the peanut gallery down below had meant a good goddamn.
Zoro blinked, scowled back up at the stands. "HOW THE HELL IS THAT SUPPOSED TO HELP?!" he shouted back, angry. "STUPID USELES LOVE CHEF!"
"JUST DO IT, YOU STUPID FUCK, OR YOU'RE GONNA GET BEAT BY THAT BRAT AND THEN WHO'S THE STRONGEST SWORDSMAN ON ALL GRAND LINE?!"
Zoro scowled and staggered to his feet at the low blow, momentarily forgetting about Toushirou and about ready to climb the stands to give that shitty cook a piece of his mind.
A blast of pure cold hit him from behind then, and he instead, he toppled over.
"Oi…don't forget who you're fighting, damned old man," the bratty white-haired kid said, and stood over him with that fucking dragon looming behind him like some sort of back-up goon. "Hyourinmaru!" he repeated, and his eyes glowed frost.
Third goddamned time the kid had said that, and the dragon was tossing its head and…
Zoro blinked. Looked down at the swords in his hand. "Call its name… huh?" he breathed, groaning as he spit up blood. Nothing to lose now, after all. "Why the fuck not?"
Forcibly, the Grand Line's greatest swordsman pushed himself to his feet, clutching his three weapons offensively. "Call its name… call its name…"
"Impossible," Toushirou murmured when he saw Zoro regain his legs. "Damn old man, just stay down, would you?" he cursed, thinking at this rate he might accidentally kill the challenger. While he respected the newcomer's tenacity, this was as good as over. The sooner the green-haired old man he was fighting figured that out the sooner he got to keep his life.
Well, one more good hit should down him, he supposed. Taking a deep breath, the young captain concentrated his reiatsu and shouted. "Soar in the frozen sky! Hyouin…"
Histugaya stumbled backwards as the old man shouted something and an immense wall of power erupted from nowhere before he could summon his own attack again. He gaped. "This can't…"
…wait, what the hell?
Toushirou, too surprised to react to the sudden tripling in reiatsu, felt Hyouinmaru's power shrink back to cover a smaller, more conservative area directly around his body, a defensive reflex action to counter the sudden onslaught. "Three different zanpakutou?!" He'd thought the other two swords were just for show—some ridiculous compensation for an obvious weakness.
That wasn't allowed. That wasn't possible.
The spectators were dead silent in awe.
Twin zanpakutou weren't unheard of in seireitei (if rare), so that didn't discount the possible existence of triplet swords. But nevertheless, a shinigami's zanpakutou, be it singular or plural, always had only one name.
Three zanpakutou with different names peacefully coexisting under the hand of one master was unheard of. And having them work so harmoniously…
It figured that his first challenger in a captain's match ever would be able to pull this sort of thing off.
Hitsugaya felt a little bit shafted as he stood there, struggling to shield himself under the onslaught of monster energy, red reiatsu attacking him from one side, black from another, white from a third. "THIS ISN'T FAIR!!!" he complained, loud enough for Yamamoto-soutaichou to hear from his elevated seat.
Yamamoto, ever so slightly slack-jawed, was inclined to agree.
Sanji watched from the sidelines with his own dropped jaw at the strange shock of power Zoro's swords had suddenly released, just as surprised as the shinigami were, even after years of being around his companion's ridiculous power. But this…this was so strong it was retarded.
The stadium remained dead silent for several moments, Zoro clenching his teeth and streaming power everywhere while the little spiky-haired kid he'd been fighting struggled under it, barely able to hold it back safely. Sanji thought that if something didn't happen soon, the whole place was going to be knocked down.
"OI!!! STUPID BASTARD, YOU HEARD THE KID EARLIER, RIGHT?! YOU GOTTA DO IT AGAIN FOR THE NEXT LEVEL! THAT BANKAI THING!!!! YOU ONLY SAID IT ONCE SO THAT'S GOTTA BE SHIKAI!" the blond shouted over the din, waving at Zoro threateningly. "HURRY UP, GODDAMMIT!"
Hitsugaya scowled and gritted his teeth as he heard Sanji's outburst, wanting to shout back the very obvious fact that bankai couldn't be learned on the spot, no matter how ridiculously strong someone was. Instead, he concentrated on channeling his energy for a counter attack, ready to finally use his own bankai.
This was serious now.
Zoro blinked to himself. "WHAT DO YOU MEAN DO IT AGAIN?!" he shouted back at the blond incredulously, already feeling drained just from whatever it was he was doing right now. "THIS ISN'T EASY, ASSHOLE!!"
"JUST DO IT, STUPID! YOU"RE SUPPOSED TO BE STRONG, RIGHT?!"
A vein popped out in Zoro's forehead. "FINE!!!"
Hitsugaya, as irritated as he was at the fact that his opponent could afford to have a shouting match with someone on the sidelines, let the fact that instant bankai was definitely impossible comfort him.
He moved to concentrate then, to call forth his own bankai and finish this. He was still ahead as far as physical damage went, and confident in his impending victory.
At least, until he felt the spiritual energy around him triple again.
"Oh fuck me."
Seriously, this wasn't funny anymore.
Everyone in the audience winced and closed their eyes. Well, except for Zaraki, who looked like he wanted to climb on down and visit.
But before the three-headed roaring dragon that Zoro had released could hit-- as all great misunderstandings inevitably were righted-- a voice from heaven rained down over the chaos and miraculously saved young captain Hitsugaya Toushirou from demon cutting fanged-swords of doom that were so strong it was really very stupid.
"Waaaaaaiiiitttt!!!! He's not the challenger! He's one of the ryoka!"
The present captains of the Gotei-13 all stopped and stared at the panting messenger, who'd just saved the tenth division captain's life.
Stared at Zoro for a little bit.
Stared some at Sanji.
Blinked some more.
Yamamoto-soutaichou summed up everyone's thoughts and emotions when he turned to the messenger and said, "Wait…what?"
"They're trespassers! Execute them!"
"They're kick ass. Enlist them!"
"Can I fight the guy with the swords?"
"I want to examine their bodies."
"Ahh, I'm gettin' too old for this, how 'bout you, Jyuu-chan?"
"It's amazing, really."
"Punish them and then enlist them!"
"Shouldn't we tend to everyone's injuries first?"
"This is a waste of time. Consult them first."
"How do we even know if the blond one's strong though? The green-haired guy's okay, but the blond's a little skinny if you ask me…"
"I'll fight him! Then we can see, right? Ehehehehhe…yeah. Lemme at him."
"Would you shut up about the fighting for a minute?"
"You wanna die?"
"I'm still bleeding, you shitty old men. Why do I have to be here?"
Zoro and Sanji looked at each other skeptically.
"Highest court in Soul Society, huh?" the blond murmured, thinking that maybe Nami-swan's, "so strong it's stupid" theory applied pretty much everywhere.
"Don't care if they're dumb, long as they let us go back," Zoro responded, leaning back against the wall and closing his eyes. "I'm nappin'. Lemme know if anything important happens."
Zoro was already asleep.
The blond looked up at the sound of the oldest shinigami's voice, the guy looking down at them from his high throne like he didn't quite know what to make of the two newcomers.
Sanji looked back at him steadily. "Yeah?"
"Where did you come from, and how did you get here?"
"Um…we died, pretty much."
"Well, we died and we spent a couple of days hanging around I guess."
There was a general murmur amongst the captains. "Lost spirits?"
"Maybe, dunno." Sanji shrugged one shoulder and rested his forearms on his bent knees, feeling suddenly tired after the whole ordeal. "But then someone dressed just like you found us… heh, she was a cutie…"
"My division's Aoyagi," Ukitake filled in. "She recognized them today when she saw them from the audience."
"Aoyagi-chan huh? I'll have to say hello to her later…hehehe…"
"So she performed konsoh on the two of you?"
"That what it's called? She did somethin' shiny with her sword and we woke up um…outsida Rukongai?"
"This was…only a few days ago?"
Another murmur session.
"Your companion… his zanpakutou… did he awaken with them here?"
"Well, yeah. I thought it was kinda weird too, 'cuz I only woke up with what I'd died in and he hadn't even had his swords on and they'd tagged along…" Sanji admitted sourly, feeling slightly put-out that Zoro got to be so freaking strong here just by waking up.
"A swordsman in his mortal life, then," Yamamoto posed, thoughtful. "The blades' spirits bonded with his as a mortal and were dragged with him here without their physical bodies, becoming true zanpakutou."
"Very rare. Only the most disciplined, skilled…"
The moment was ruined when Zoro let out a particularly loud snore and rolled onto his side, scratching his ass with one hand.
Some of the captains looked skeptical. "This guy's that strong, huh?"
"Che, not that strong," Sanji scoffed reflexively.
"You're stronger?" Kenpachi made to step forward excitedly. "Wanna fight?"
"Would you silence yourself already? It's painful to listen to your idiocy."
"How 'bout I kill you first, Kurotsuchi? You'd never hear anything again, wouldn't that be nice?"
Sanji blinked back and forth between the two quarrelling captains. "Um…"
"Ignore them," Yamamoto prompted, fixing the two younger shinigami with a stare and a warning push of his reiatsu. "They're children."
They broke it up for the time being, though they continued to scowl at each other from across the short expanse.
"Now…where are the two of you from?"
"Well, we've been livin' on Grand Line for pretty much…forever, I guess."
That elicited another group murmur session.
"Grand Line… huh?" Yamamoto sighed to himself as he studied the two ryoka steadily. It figured they would be from the one world that even the Hollows were too afraid to cross into.
The prey there was often stronger than the hunter.
As these two had already proven.
"Um…not that I don't mind answering all the questions or anything," Sanji began after a moment of the shinigami ignoring him. "But…what're you gonna do with us?"
Yamamoto-soutaichou stared back at him for a long while.
And then, "I've got an idea."
Ten: Occupation: Pirate/Death God
It took several days to get all the signs and forms changed, but soon after what was beginning to be known as ryoka incident #2, the members of the Gotei-14 were beginning to get used to it.
"But why fourteen?" one shinigami posed thoughtfully to another. "I thought it'd always been thirteen."
"Why not fourteen?" his companion responded with a shrug. "Who was the genius that said it could only be thirteen anyway?"
"I guess that's true, but it's like…tradition or something, man."
"Well, look at this way. Outta the two ryoka incidents we've ever had in seireitei… the first one lost us three captains, right? So the second one gets us a captain and a vice-captain and we're still behind by two, one-and-a-half, take your pick. Plus, since Histugaya-taichou didn't officially lose that challenge match, he can't be kicked out of his position, so… this is the best thing for everyone, right? Fair and all that."
"Um…I guess that…makes sense?"
"Besides, the food's better now, yeah?"
The story of how, on some mad rampage after tasting the commissary cuisine, the new fourteenth division vice-captain had stormed the kitchens and taken it over as his own was already almost legendary amongst the ranks of seireitei's shinigami, and while there had been concerns at first with an outsider simply taking over the task of food preparation, two bites into that day's lunch had seen no one minding or complaining or doing much of anything else save shoveling food into their faces.
That was definitely another plus to be credited to the side of the newcomers.
The only problem that was beginning to arise seemed to be the rampant property damage being caused by Zaraki-taichou's constant visits to Roronoa-taichou. The two had become, well…friends, for lack of better word, though the amount of blood they lost on a daily basis when conversing with each other seemed rather excessive and astounding.
But it kept Kenpachi entertained and off everyone else's backs, and so no one could really complain about that either.
Sanji and Zoro, for the most part, seemed to be taking everything in stride, the blond feeling relieved that Zoro had decided to stop pursiung his mad plans to return home and letting them find a fresh afterlife here, since the chef was still convinced there was nothing to be done about being dead other than accepting it and making something of it (and flirting with the cute female shinigami that were everywhere). He could say that he was pretty much content with the outcome of everything.
Zoro, for all intents and purposes, seemed to have forgotten his original plan and was making efforts to challenge and defeat all other zanpakutou wielders in the afterlife in order to win the title of world's strongest swordsman on two stages.
Sanji didn't mind that, so long as he got to cook somewhere and there were pretty girls to fawn over.
This was for the best after all, as much as he himself would have liked to be able to return to the living world. Some things just weren't meant to happen after all, and he was a firm believer that the resurrection of the dead was one of them. He'd just make a new life, or afterlife, or whatever, here, and Zoro would too, and they'd let their former existences simply be a fond memory in the backs of their minds.
That was all they could really do anyway.
Or at least, that was what Sanji figured.
It was a few weeks later that Yamamoto-soutaichou called a meeting of the captains (and Sanji) concerning an urgent matter of the utmost importance.
Upon assembling, it was announced that Ukitake's thirteenth division would be taken off of active patrol of the Grand Line, as several members of the team had been lost, not by Hollow attack, but by pirate attack.
However, it was impossible for the Gotei-13, er, 14, to leave any realm without a regular patrol, as ghosts that were unable to cross over existed everywhere, even if Hollows did not.
"So, are there any volunteers?" the first division captain questioned, looking expectantly in the newcomers' direction.
Zoro simply grinned and--very nonchalantly-- raised his hand.
Couldn't believe it. The bastard…
…his idiotic plan had worked.
"Oi…Yama-jii… we'll patrol Grand Line."