Well, here it is. Chapter 2. The same warnings as before still apply.
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach. Sad, I know.
AN: Edited version.
Her hands worked with graceful precision that always amazed him as they fastened his new obi.
Even before becoming intimate, or even knowing her better, he had always thought of Soi Fong's hands as most expressive parts of her. After... Well, that was another matter entirely.
She tied the knot with precise elegance, but without the usual speed. Ever since they started the day she had been oddly ceremonial. Even the act of dressing, something he wanted to do himself, somehow fell into her hands.
Gently but firmly, she straightened out his gi and grabbed his forearm. Without a word, she took one of the strange arm bracers/gloves/whatever-the-hell it was and slipped them on his wrist, fastening it securely before doing the same with his other arm.
The bracers were identical to the ones worn by Byakuya - indeed, they were a gift from the 6th Division captain. The only difference was that they were in a shade of rusty red. Red that was displayed prominently on Shihouin family crest.
They looked stupid, in his opinion, but they were still Byakuya's gift. And Soi Fong insisted, in that wordless, forceful manner of hers. He knew better than to argue with her when she had that solemn, formal look on her face.
And her light touches she made as she dressed him with wordless familiarity and ethereal grace were strangely intimate in a manner he would have never suspected possible.
Each time her lithe form moved gracefully with the new article of clothing, he felt an odd mix of peace, arousal and casual intimacy.
He closed his eyes, drawing in the elusive jasmine scent mixed with a lightest touch of spice, grass and power that was uniquely hers before opening them again.
She finished with the bracers but let her touch linger, and for a briefest of moments she had a strange, mysterious smile that vanished as she put on the formal mask again.
Carefully, she opened the chest that he had been given yesterday, one with the symbol of 5th division on it, and took the long, white cloth from it, unraveling it gently until it had shown itself to be a familiar white haori.
Like every one of them, it had been meticiously tailored for him. From the overall size down to the alterations neccesary for his fighting style. Indeed, the garment had been shaped as to not hamper him in any way should he fight, resembling more a cross between Hitsugaya's jacket and Yoruichi's official Onmitsukido haori than the standard robe, what with reinforced shoulder pads and the lack of the billowing sleeves.
It even had a doubly reinforced, padded layer on his right shoulder where the harness for Zangetsu was usually resting.
Her own meddling, no doubt. Or Yoruichi's.
She slid his arms in with gentle firmness, fussing with the garment for a moment before taking a step back nodding to herself in satisfaction.
Her eyes turned thoughtful for a second before she reached to the desk - HIS desk now, as Yoruichi, in her typical manner, just up and decided he was going to live in the compound now - and took out the Ginsen. He didn't name it yet, but he would have to, sooner or later. It was the tradition and Soi Fong wouldn't let him break it.
She snapped the fan open in a well practiced manner, twisting it in a sinous, slow arc that showed the unobtrusive beauty of the weapon before slamming it shut and sliding it behind his obi in such a way the ornate handle with the small Shihouin crest was clearly visible.
With one, swift move she draped the white scarf neatly around his neck. Though his and Byakuya's had been near identical, he carried it in slightly different way that she took care to replicate.
She reached to the ornate stand where Zangetsu rested, taking the crimson harness and fastening it on his shoulder. Then, with no hesitation, she reached for the zanpakuto, tugging on the cloth that served as it's sheath.
Ichigo hissed, only to blink in surprise as the soul slayer emerged from the cloth.
Ever since he had confronted his inner Hollow, Zangetsu had shown a distinctive... displeasure to being so much as touched by anyone save Ichigo.
Last time some foolish Shinigami had tried it, the sword reacted. With vengeance.
The man spent a week in 4th Division infirmary and his arm had been nearly blown off from his torso.
But this time, Zangetsu was utterly silent and... compliant?
Ichigo nearly bit his lip when Soi Fong, with thoughtful look on her face, slid her hand down monstrous edge, but stayed silent.
He blinked when he felt her reiatsu flare briefly as the zanpakuto's edge glittered briefly like the moon it was named after. He felt... odd for a moment. As if he stood inside the bell that rang with her reiatsu. The feeling passed quickly, but the strange resonance lingered for a few seconds.
He was sure something had happened. Something very important. But he had no idea what and he doubted Soi Fong would tell him if he asked.
Unphased, she took Zangetsu's handle and allowed the weapon to sheathe itself again before fastening it on his back.
She circled him slowly until she was in front of him again, before taking a deliberate step, closing the distance between them.
She darted her head up. He always marveled how someone so small could be so powerful, both physically and in terms of sheer presence. Despite being shorter, she somehow seemed to be the same height as him, her presence dwarfing the room. She took his face into her hands with warm gentleness most would find astonishing given her usual severe manner.
Her black eyes looked at him, the gaze intense, searching for something that only she knew. Apparently finding it, she relaxed and nodded slowly.
"Shihouin Kurosaki Ichigo-Taicho...Now, you are ready." She whispered, giving him a slow, lingering kiss that took his breath away, before she stepped away.
She turned gracefully, giving him a full view of her uncovered back, before she slipped on her own haori. She reached to the desk... desk that looked suspiciously like the one she had at her home, come to think of it, and took out her own Ginsen, named - of course! - Kuroneko. She looked at it speculatively, before sliding it behind her obi in much the same manner she did with his.
She did the same with Suzumebachi, fastening the zanpakuto in it's usual place, before turning to him with a raised eyebrow.
She had been chosen to 'guide' him in his new duties until he was deemed proficient.
Yoruichi's meddling, no doubt. His mentor gleefully delighted in arranging those kind of 'coincidences' for them ever since she connected the dots. For once he didn't complain about her playful nature though.
Wordlessly, he extended his reiatsu, until the window swarmed with black forms of Hell Butterflies.
He took his breath and started to speak.
'Wretched hive of scum and villainy... Kenobi really must have seen this place when he said it.' he thought with amusement 'Though the attractions are... certainly worth it'
He grinned, winking to a skimpily dressed barmaid who giggled and blushed as he leered, before glaring daggers at the cute blonde thing on his arm. He reluctantly brought his eyes back to the table, fanning out his cards. He smiled inwardly seeing the spread, just like he did when he got it.
"All right, boy... Let's see the shit you have there!" Rasped the one-eyed thug in a ripped kimono, stained with cheap sake and occasional ash. Not that his street clothes were any better, but at least HE made them look good.
"Now, now... Patience is a virtue," He drawled lazily, shaking off the ash from his pipe "Though if you insist..." He laid down the cards and he smiled beatifically as the other occupants of the table exploded in a string of curses. The blonde squealed, melding into him, her eyes alight with laughter and a touch of greed.
"Another!" Growled the lead thug, slamming several coins to the table "Your luck won't hold forever, boyo!"
"If you insis-" He blinked, spying a small, black silhouette by the window.
'Well... It seems like my fun's over,' He thought, sending a remorseful glance at the stacked barmaid and the lithe girl whose yukata was rather loose and skin flushed after nearly an hour of his... gentle ministrations. With what he could win off of the small time thugs he was sure he would be able to persuade the girls to... get along. He did it before, after all.
'Oh well,' He thought philosophically, before pocketing the coins
"Sorry man, it looks like it's time for me to go. Maybe some other time." He said to the thug
The man's eyes narrowed, and he could feel the hostility from other gamblers almost suffocate the room.
"Yer not going anywhere till I get my money back, brat!" He spat, slamming the long, rusty knife into the table "Not unless you want to have several new assholes!"
He stared at the knife thoughtfully fro a few seconds, before slumping.
"Oh my. Look. A knife. How nice." He said flatly, suddenly grabbing his head in most theatrical manner "Oh WOE IS ME! Whatever SHALL I DO?!" He howled, tears in his eyes clearly visible then suddenly vanishing without a trace, as his face returned to the bored, lazy look. "Now that we have that out of the way, I think I'll be going, if you don't mind."
"Sorry sweetheart." He caressed the blonde's face tenderly with a rueful smile "It would have been fun... I'll look you up some time, okay?" He said with a wink, slipping a generous pile of coins into her hand.
With a coy smile, the girl dropped the coins to her bra and kissed him fiercely.
'Oh HELL yeah I'll be looking her up!' He thought with glee when they parted with a wet sound.
He gave a wink to the stacked barmaid who looked oddly dissapointed until she noticed the small fortune that seemingly appeared on it's own on her tray. She winked back, loosing her yukata with a deliberate move that showed off her impressive cleavage.
'I love this town.' He thought with blissful smile, turning to leave, before a meaty hand grabbed his arm.
"I SAID yer NOT leavin' till I get MY MONEY!" snarled the thug, his breath reeking of booze.
The young man rolled his eyes.
'Yare yare.' He thought with a sigh
"Five seconds." He said pleasantly
"Until you lose that arm." The young gambler explained cheerfully "Two now, by the way."
The thug reddened, reaching for his knife.
"Why you...!" he roared.
He swung, straight at the insolent asshole's throat.
The youth stood there with a bored expression.
The thug stared at his knife. His knife on the floor. Along with his arm.
"Zero." stated the youth calmly. The gangsters froze as an unseen force started to press on them with a palpable dread.
"Any other takers wishing to get acquainted with my beautiful Ketsurui?" he said with half lidded eyes "None? That's what I thought."
Suddenly his face shifted, returning to goofy, lazy grin he spouted most the night.
"Well then, I shall bid you farewell for the night. It's been real fun. Let's do it again some time. Bai-bai!" He sang cheerfully, before walking out the establishment.
He breathed deeply, the air like a balsam to his lungs after hours spent in the crowded, seedy hole.
'You really should have killed that wretched creature.' Groused the cultured feminine voice.
He chuckled, caressing the crimson hilt fondly.
'My beautiful Ketsurui... Always so bloodthirsty.' He thought with amusement 'But If I killed him, you'd have even more of his disgusting blood on your beautiful blade.'
'Ah. I knew there was a reason.' She said thoughtfully 'Very well, you may carry on.'
He chuckled again. Bossy, overbearing, snobbish, bloodthirsty... And to him she was the most beautiful woman he had ever met.
Was it a crime to be in love with his own zanpakuto?
He stretched out his arm, allowing the black butterfly to land.
"Keigo Asano, Substitute Shinigami, Representative of the Eighth Division. You have been called to serve Seireitei..."
Duck. Block. Counter.
And explode into movement.
She smirked as the burly Onmitsukido soldier went flying, stopping abruptly several meters away and denting the wall.
Well, here was one less idiot that tried to rush her thinking his mass and power would carry the day.
The remaining six circled her warily.
They were the best of their unit, well versed in Hakuda, each at least century old and with more than a few battles under their belt for experience.
And the experience was only thing they had on her.
They were so outclassed that it wasn't even funny.
'Well,' she thought twisting under the powerful kick and closing the distance as she hit the nerve cluster while backhanding another attacker with casual ease 'Not everybody has the former Onmitsukido leader for a teacher, even if part-time.'
She took to the air, using the closest attacker's head as a spring board.
She almost laughed at the outraged growl as she did the head stand and kicked out with both legs.
'And not everybody has enough juice to fight even a low level arrancar barehanded one on one.' She thought with a smirk as she bounced lightly at the balls of her feet. 'Or spar with Kurosaki-freaking-powerhouse-Ichigo on weekends.'
"Come on, guys. Don't tell me it's all the famed Fourth Onmitsukido Battalion has?" she taunted with a mock outrage "I thought you guys were supposed to be all elite, tough, deadly and all that shit. Come on... COME ON!" She made a 'come hither gesture lazily "Give it some freaking heart! There is five of you! Use your head! Hell, grab your zanpakuto if you have to!"
The remaining warriors looked at themselves briefly before reaching for their respective weapons and suddenly the air was thick with killer intent.
"Oh yeah." She grinned "That's what I'm talking about! Time to slice, dice and GO FUCKING WILD!" She howled with glee, lunging at the closest black garbed warrior.
He stabbed out his weapon like an attacking cobra... Only to hit air and almost fold in half when her fist found it's way to his solar plexus.
"That was supposed to be a stab?!" She sneered "Go and practice for the next hundred years and maybe you'll learn how a REAL stab looks like!
Next one came in a flurry of blows that would turn any ordinary opponent into mince meat... Only she wasn't a normal opponent.
"TOO. FUCKING. SLOW!" She punctuated each word with series of lightning fast kicks only to halt for a moment, spying the black wings.
"And what do we have here?" she muttered curiously.
She grabbed the two attacking by their heads absently.
"Close, but no cigar. Good try, though." She said cheerfully. twisting her arms and throwing them aside like rag dolls.
"Well, it looks like I'll need to wrap it up quickly." She muttered with a sigh and the last Onmitsukido felt a bile in his stomach grow at her grin.
"Come here, you." She gestured at him lazily.
The Onmitsukido elite sweated, said a short prayer and winced thinking of the future bruises, but came anyway.
He liked his temporary commander. The girl was friendly, competent, cheerful and had the 'never say die' attitude that was endearing. And she was a challenging opponent to test his skills against.
She was also a fight junkie that equaled Yoruichi-sama or Soi Fong-sama at their worst and preferred live bouts as a primary form of training. Which wouldn't be so bad if she didn't have enough power to fight an arrancar with her bare hands and had a fighting temper of a demon.
He almost whimpered
The things he did for his commander...
A second later he was seeing stars and galaxies en masse.
She looked at her soldiers with pride.
"Good bout, guys!" She congratulated them "You're getting better, you almost had be there one time!" she said with a grin "Go get yourself patched up, we're done for today."
Sighs of relief met her proclamation as the operatives saluted before vanishing.
She shook her head with a chuckle, before she stretched out her arm, allowing the inky-winged creature to land.
"Arisawa Tatsuki, Special Operative of the Onmitsukido Fourth Interception Battalion. You have been called to serve Seireitei..."
She stalked the 11th division halls grumbling under her breath, giving a pause in the muttering to glare at the offending... item in her hands.
Honestly, Shingetsu Hamon could such a BITCH at times.
'I heard that!' growled the zanpakuto
'Oh DO shut up, you bloody overgrown paper clip on a stick!' She spat mentally
The zanpakuto had been even more troublesome than ever since the morning, simply refusing to seal herself back to the basic form. Leaving HER to carry her in her Kwan Dao shikai form. All nearly two meters of fucking wide, heavy, curved broadsword on the short staff of it.
'Well I wouldn't if you just got us some fun.' pointed out the weapon 'Come on, let's go wild and do some damage! Im booooored! We haven't fought in WEEKS! ' she whined
'Not WEEKS but A WEEK, you blasted junkie!' She glared at her weapon 'And we haven't fought because I had been in the bloody 4th division infirmary after being fucking seriously INJURED!'
'Well you aren't NOW.' Said the weapon petulantly ' I'm starting to rust here, you know. Just one, small, tiny fight? PLEEEEASE? With double cherry on top?'
She could almost see the puppy eyes. She could also feel the migraine forming.
Why oh WHY had she to get such a bloody annoying, frustratingly infuriating, disobedient zanpakuto? Ichigo didn't have any problems with his that she knew of. He even said Zangetsu was supportive! Dad didn't seem to have any problems either and he haven't used his for nearly thirty years!
Hell, even YUZU had a nice, well behaved one. She described Kahei Tensa as sweet, supportive and charming! Though how a seven section chain whip with wicked looking spikes at the ends could be describes as 'sweet' she had no idea.
'Because that flowery idiot is bloody GAY, that's why.' Groused Shingetsu Hamon
She closed her eyes, gritting her teeth and counting backwards.
'He-LOOO! Time's a wasting here!' snapped the zanpakuto 'Chop chop!'
She palmed her face, trying not to scream.
'You win... But ONE fight. Then you get yourself sealed nice and tight and stop bugging me unless you're needed.' She thought with resignation
'ALL RIGHT!' Crowed the zanpakuto 'Just make sure it's a good one. No half assed beating on the weaklings, I want to really cut loose here!' Said the zanpakuto suspiciously
'Yeah, yeah. Don't get your panties in a twist, you junkie bitch.' she Groused balancing her zanpakuto on her arm, something she had borrowed from her brother and that oversized cleaver of his.
'Carnage, chaos, destruction, property damage galore... Here I come! Bwahahaha!' She rolled her eyes as she could feel the zanpakuto rubbing her figurative hands in glee as she cackled madly until halting for a second.
'Well, well, well...' Shingetsu Hamon drawled 'Look who's here... The moron and his stick!'
She blinked, before noticing one Madarame Ikkaku by the gate.
'Let's go and re-introduce ourselves, shall we?' Shingetsu Hamon purred 'Beating that overgrown toothpick is just what the doctor ordered. Hozukimaru, you dumb fuck... Get ready to become fucking SAWDUST.'
Against her better judgment, she could feel a nasty smirk forming on her face, one that rivaled her bloodthirsty zanpakuto's spirit.
She liked Ikkaku just fine, but since he was one of the few shinigami having a spear-like shikai release, he had ended up as her teacher and tended to put her through the world of hurt in the name of 'training'. And his snide remarks about her skill, coupled with his gloating and comparing her to her freakishly powerful brother always annoyed her when they fought side by side.
An duping her to fight that fucking madman of her captain and - even WORSE - the pink haired menace of her fukutaicho known as Yachiru...
She didn't even notice when she started to chuckle darkly, mirroring Shingetsu Hamon.
Chuckle that was interrupted by a familiar black form making a beeline for her.
'Huh?' She frowned 'Wasn't I on the medical leave to the end of the week?'
'Hey, he's getting away!' shouted Shingetsu Hamon 'Catch him before he gives us a slip!'
She looked at the black butterfly before shrugging.
Whatever it was, it could wait.
She had bigger fish to fry and certain bald morons to put in the worlds of hurt.
"Oh Ma-da-ra-me-sem-pai!" She sing songed sweetly with a nasty smirk that sent most of the lower ranked 11th division shinigami dodging for cover and praying they wouldn't be caught in the approaching mayhem.
Ikkaku turned to the sound of the voice and cursed, paling considerably.
He never minded a good fight but he was so goddamn hungover after than sake-fest with Ichigo, Yoruichi and rest of the crew at the compound and she had THAT grin on her face. And that freaking menace of a weapon of hers...
Was it actually GLOWING and radiating killer intent ON IT'S FUCKING OWN?!
Staring into the madly glinting eyes of Kurosaki Karin, Madarame Ikkaku had just one thought.
'Oh hell... This is going to suck, won't it?'
Then he heard the cackle. And the ominous whine of reiatsu vibrating through Shingetsu Hamon. And he had a second thought.
'Oh yeah. That's SO going to suck. And hurt. Lots.'
Then he remembered that his awesome, if fucking scary and psychotic captain issued the warning that if anybody, ANYBODY, got an injury that would interrupt his... outing (it was NOT a date - Zaraki Kenpachi DIDN'T date, since the notion was bloody ridiculous - they were outings) with Unohana-Taicho because it needed her expert hand would have a REAL fear of Kenpachi put in them.
Along with several one-one-one sparring sessions with himself and babysitting duty with Yachiru-fukutaicho. And Retsu herself had... suggested, in that serene, smiling and utterly CREEPY manner of hers, to keep the injuries down.
Or she would be most... displeased.
It was the first time in Seireitei's history that the 11th and 4th divisions worked together without a word of complaint, slightest hint of misbehavior, bullying or a brawl breaking out.
Hell, they worked together like well oiled, perfectly organized machine.
And nearly whimpered.
Sometimes it really sucked to be him.
Isane opened her eyes sleepily, turning to the left side.
She shivered, drawing blankets over herself, but as always, it didn't help.
She smiled sleepily and extended her arm, only to frown as she found nothing.
Shaking off the last vestiges of sleep she finally allowed herself to open her eyes fully.
True to form, the left side of the bed was empty, though still faintly warm.
'Where could he...?'
She looked around, only to relax as she noticed dusky skinned man standing by the window.
He was clad only in a loose shinigami pants, his wide, muscular back bare, the large blue cross tattoo clearly visible. On one of his large, muscled hands fluttered a Jigoku Cho, obviously just finishing the message it had been given.
Isane looked on curiously, and her eyes widened as she caught the last few bits of the message.
"Understood." Chad nodded simply.
Isane smiled fondly.
'Of course. How else.' She thought with amused exasperation. 'If he asked Chad to storm the Los Noches with his arms tied up, the reaction propably would be the same. Honestly, those two...' She sighed fondly. 'Well, it was just a matter of time.'
"I woke you. Sorry." He said, and Isane felt a pleasant shiver at the base of her spine as his low, calm voice washed over her. She liked hearing him speak. Especially like that. Warm. She felt warm whenever he spoke to her in that smooth voice of his.
To her it didn't matter that he spoke so rarely. When he did, it was worth it.
"Don't worry. I was about to get up anyway." She smiled, getting out of bed lazily.
She felt like smirking as Chad's eyes roved her form, something akin to barely restrained greed flashing in them. She might have lacked Rangiku's outrageous curves or her Taicho's classical beauty but her body was lithe and taut and more than enough to show that she was a beauty in her own right.
Besides, Soi Fong's figure was nearly boyish and nobody ever seen Ichigo looking at other women like he did at her ever since Rukia died.
'And Chad certainly doesn't complain.' She giggled at her fiance's eyes, tracing each and every move she made as she walked to him with deliberate slowness, allowing him to look at every inch of her.
She wrapped her arms around him
"Good Morning, Chad." She smiled. "Or should it be Sado-fukutaicho now?"
Chad just smiled.
T-MINUS 60 SECONDS AND COUNTING.
"The reiryoku flow is within 78. All systems nominal."
"Increase to 80 percent and initiate the drain as soon as the gauge reaches the end."
"80 percent? Yuzu-sama that's...!"
"Don't worry. Just do it slowly."
"...Understood. Re-calibration in progress."
"Yuzu-sama... Isn't it too early? I mean..."
"No. His reserves can take it."
"But his body...!"
"Is perfectly all right. And I doubt he'd like to spend another week here."
"...As you wish."
T-MINUS 45 SECONDS AND COUNTING.
WARNING. REIRYOKU RECALIBRATION PROCESS HAD BEEN INITIATED. ENTRY VALUES HAD BEEN CHANGED BEYOND CALCULATED PARAMETERS. AUTOMATIC SAFETIES NOT ENGAGED.
"What are our readouts, Ryoko?"
"The pulse converter holds steady, the Mass within calculated margin. The inversion matrix runs a little hot, but within acceptable parameters. All systems green, Kurosaki-fukutaicho. We are go."
"We should be getting report any..."
SYSTEMS HAD BEEN RECALIBRATED SUCCESFULLY. ENTRY VALUES CHANGED. EXIT VALUES CHANGED.
REIRYOKU PULSE CONVERTER: 90
INVERSION MATRIX: 93
REIATSU DENSITY: 78
REIATSU IMAGINE MASS: 90
REIRYOKU FLOW: 83
INSTABILITY HAD BEEN REGISTERED WITHIN THE CORE COMPONENT!
REIRYOKU FLOW: 85 AND RISING!
"85! Good god! Yuzu-sama! It is rising too...!"
"It is rising exactly as it should be."
"Yuzu-sama is right, Junko. Or are you forgetting just who we are dealing with?"
"But still... Five percent in less than thirty seconds... Unbelievable."
T-MINUS 30 SECONDS AND COUNTING.
TRESHOLD PARAMETERS REACHED. RECOVERY OF THE CORE ADVISED.
"All right. Initiate the drain."
"Core accessed. Connections online. Systems green."
"Ryoko? The flow, please?
"It... It is... 93 and... and rising, Yuzu-sama."
"And the connection?"
"Normal and within the parameters, Yuzu-sama. How did you know...?"
"It's all about will and control, Ryoko. He has both. Disengage the stasis. Initiate the recovery."
"Stasis locks disengaged. Recovery system online. Values are... nominal."
"And our patient?"
"Responding well within... Oh. Sorry. Above parameters."
T-MINUS 10 SECONDS. RECOVERY INITIATED. CORE ACESSED.
REIRYOKU FLOW: 100
"Yuzu-sama! The matrix...!"
"Let it be."
"But at this rate...!"
"Let it be. We can afford to lose it now and it will do what it is supposed to."
"...Kurotsuchi-taicho won't be happy, Yuzu-sama."
"I will deal with Nemu, you worry about the recovery. And losing one matrix, or even the whole device is worth it."
"As you wish. Safeties off."
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING!
REIRYOKU PULSE CONVERTER STATUS: CRITICAL!
INVERSION MATRIX STATUS: CRITICAL!
"Smells kind of like my kitchen after I make steaks."
"Ryoko... You burn steaks."
"That's what I said."
"Whooo... Well, there goes our matrix."
"And the pulse converter."
"Damn. Kurotsuchi-taicho is going to be SO pissed!"
"Don't worry, don't worry. Everything will be all right."
"Easy for you to say, Yuzu-sama. She adores you."
"People, can we concentrate on what we are doing here?"
T-MINUS ZERO. RECOVERY PROCESS FINISHED. LOCKS DISENGAGED. DRAIN COMPLETE.
"Just a second. We should be... Ah, here it is!"
"Yuzu-sama... That is..."
"Oh just give it to me."
"Well... that's one way to say it. Shit!"
"Don't speak to Yuzu-sama so disrespectfully, idiot!"
"Ow! I'm not! It' just...!"
REIATSU SPIKE DETECTED.
SEAL: FIRST LEVEL, ACTIVE.
SUBJECT: UKITAKE JYUUSHIRO
ZANPAKUTO: SOGYO NO KOTOWARI... MATERALISIED.
RANK: 13TH DIVISION CAPTAIN
REIATSU SPIKE DETECTED.
ZANPAKUTO: ACESSED, MATERIALISATION COMPLETE.
SUBJECT UKITAKE JYUUSHIRO... ACTIVE.
Ukitake opened his eyes slowly, wincing slightly as the light of the laboratory, even muted, hit them.
He winced, but allowed them to get used to illumination again.
He shook his head, shaking off the greenish liquid that he had been resting in for the past several months.
'Well... it doesn't seem to smell any better than before. At last it's not worse.'
Damn but he was cold!
He instinctively drew on his reiatsu to warm his body.
He shivered for a second before some helpful soul covered him with a long blanket.
"How are you feeling, Ukitake-taicho?"
Jyuushiro blinked and turned to the source of the gentle voice.
"Oh! Yuzu-chan!" He smiled, looking at the young 12th division vice captain. "Nice to see you!"
"I would say the same, but I've been seeing you for the past seven months every day." She grinned. "How are you feeling?"
"Not bad." He said, tightening the blanket around himself. "I can..."
He trailed off, his eyes widening.
He was cold.
He drew on reiatsu at a rapid rate.
And he hadn't coughed.
For that matter...
There was something... strange.
Not bad but... It made him feel of balance.
There was something missing.
"Oh." His eyes became very wide.
Even when he was up and not bothered by the attacks of his disease, he always felt it. That strange not-pain in his chest, the feeling of some weight on his lungs.
'It is... gone? Gone?"
He had been living with his sickness for as long as he could remember. But now...
He dug into his reiatsu reserves like never before. He called his reiatsu and it answered the call, swiftly and without the resistance that his body usually presented.
For once he didn't care that the power was nearly suffocating most of the shinigami in the room.
He reveled in it, feeling his body, his healthy, strong body, working like a perfect machine. Like it should. Like it was doing now.
Hundreds of years of research, the best minds of Seireitei, the best medics the 4th division had in their ranks... And all they could do was slow it down a little and ease his pain.
But now... Now. This slip of a young woman. A rookie shinigami. She had done the impossible. She had, basically, returned his life to him.
"You've done it... I can't believe it... YOU'VE DONE IT!" Ukitake grinned and laughed, grabbing Yuzu into an exuberant hug, uncaring of her embarrassed squeak "HAHAHA! Yuzu-chan! You're a genius! GENIUS I tell you! Wahooo!"
The 12th division scientists were given a rare treat as, right before their dumbfounded eyes, Ukitake Jyuushiro, one of the most respected captains and one of the strongest shinigami to ever enter Gotei 13, danced around the laboratory with their cute fukutaicho in his embrace.
Danced, let it be added, practically butt naked, sans the blanket that all but slipped of his arms and unminding of the greenish liquid he was covered with.
The scientists just stared, as Yuzu squeaked with indignation, blushing atomic rouge.
'Why is she...?' Isuzu Ryoko, the 3rd Seat officer thought puzzled. 'Oh. OH.' She blushed looking at the 13th division captain.
"...Damn but he's built... Kurosaki-fukutaicho is so lucky, isn't she?" Asami Junko said, drooling. "Kinda makes me wish I was in her place."
"Yeah..." Ryoko said absently
Ukitake danced around the lab, not caring in the slightest as he swung Yuzu around and laughed like a madman.
It was to that scene that the doors to the laboratory opened, letting in Kurotsuchi Nemu and her fellow captain, Kyoraku Shunsui in.
"...the process is running smoothly, Kyoraku-taicho, but we are still not sure if..."
Kyoraku looked at his friend and the young woman and grinned.
"Oh I don't know about that. Looks like a complete success to me. Jyu-chan is certainly... lively enough. And he's in very good company." His grin widened into lecherous as Yuzu's outer kimono loosened and slid of partially from the mad swinging. "Oh yeah. Very good company."
Nemu's eyebrow twitched.
"Please this way, Chad."
Chad nodded following the scientist.
Ran'Tao unlocked the small chamber, revealing the small space filed with numerous Seal lines all over it.
"I must warn you." She fixed her glasses. "Due to the nature of your power, we don't know how... stable it will be. We ran countless simulations, but there is no guarantee. And even then, it is only 47, according to my own calculations."
Chad nodded again.
"There is a possibility of failure here, Sado-kun. You have much power, but power alone might not be enough." Ran'Tao warned him seriously. "And if something goes wrong... Death isn't too much of a stretch."
Chad just looked at her.
"I thought so." She sighed with exasperation. "I swear, you and Ichigo... Well, no reason to wait, then. In you go."
"Ran'Tao-san. Thank you." Chad said to her earnestly, before going in.
She sighed, sealing the chamber.
"Good luck... Chad." She whispered.
It was cold.
That was the first thing he noticed as he sat down.
And it was getting colder.
He sat down in the central seal, as instructed by Ran'Tao.
Still, Sado Yasutora was nothing if not patient.
So he sat.
He looked at the seals.
He didn't notice when his eyes closed and his body slumped, like a puppet with cut strings.
Ran'Tao bit her lip as she watched the readouts.
'I have done all I can. Now, it's up to you.'
The mist was milky white, dense and thick. Almost a living thing as it twisted around him.
It was hot and humid as well, he noticed as he wiped off the sweat off his brow.
'Hot. Even Mexico wasn't this hot.'
He looked around.
There was... something here. Something.
Well, he KNEW what it was supposed to be but...
"Well, well, well... Look what the cat dragged in."
The voice was a low growl, but it didn't sound threatening. More amused. And annoyed.
He turned around quickly and the mist vanished, leaving a jungle.
His eyes widened as he spotted a tiger on the nearby rock, resting in the sun.
A very large, massive tiger.
"Finally feeling like vistin', boy?" The beast bared his teeth. "Well it was about damn time, too."
"You were... waiting?" He asked carefully.
"Well shit, boy." The beast jumped of the rock lazily. "What does it look like, eh?You think I've been lying on this here rock all that time for my health?"
"Cats do." Chad pointed out.
"I am not a cat, boy." The beast snorted. "I am a tiger."
"Tigers do, too." The young man supplied helpfully.
The tiger just gave him a flat look.
"I should bite you, you know." He muttered, shaking his head. "I had all of this scene SO nicely thought out. Riddles, baiting... Fun, I tell you. But no!" The tiger snarled. "You had to go and get that armor of yours. Arm of the giant... my furry ass!"
Chad blinked again.
"What do you mean?"
The tiger looked at him incredosuly for a moment.
"You mean... you didn't know?" He asked with disbelief. "All that time..." He snickered before laughing out loud. "Damn! That's funny! All that time... all that time around that Ichigo kid, soaking up the Pure Blood shinigami power mixed with the Vaizard vibes... And you didn't KNOW! Oh damn...! That's just...!" The animal chuckled. "Man oh man... What a mess!"
The tiger shook it's head.
"Okay. Since I can see you've got no freakin' idea what's what, I have a question for you." He looked at Chad, his golden eyes glinting. "Your powers were awakened because you were in contact with the bleach hair kid, right?"
"Now, you've been in contact with the kid the longest. Save that Tatsuki girl. Right?
Chad nodded again.
"Have you ever thought why that Tatsuki girl got her Zanpakuto right off the bat? No problem, no fuss?" The beast grinned.
"Ichigo..." Chad started.
"Ah! But YOU were in contact with Ichigo as well!" The tiger cut before he could complete the sentence.
"Urahara-san said, that those were our natural..."
The beast snorted, cutting him off again.
"Natural... Yeah! As if!" The tiger sat in front of him. "Listen. There is nothing 'natural' about your powers. The girl... maybe. I ain't sure, but it's possible. You? No chance. If they were so fuckin' natural, why the hell were they awakened fully in Hueco Mundo, eh? Why did Hollow's powers felt so much like ours? Ever thought about that? Why did your Right Arm had teeth? Ever wondered how the hell could you block cero with that shield but physical attacks were harder, eh?" The large animal leaned forward. "I can tell you why, boy. Because your 'Right Arm' doesn't block reiatsu. It devours it."
Chad foze, his mind working furiously.
"Am I like a hollow?" He asked cautiously.
"Hollow? No." The tiger sighed. "You kid, are nearly unique. If there is anything similar to you, it'd be that Ichigo kid. You are both alike. Two powers, one soul."
"Two but..." Chad's eyes widened. "That means... you must have been here before."
"Of course. What are you, deaf?" The tiger growled. "I've been here since the beginning. I've been waiting. Waiting all that damn time for you to come here. To draw me. To accept your own power. But no. You just had to be damn stubborn. Had to 'rely on your fist'. Stupid brat. And now... Now you need me? Now you come here, all cocksure and shit... And not even because you want help. Just because of some... formalities." The tiger's face scrunched up in distaste. "You are a piece of work, kid."
The tiger growled menacingly, before sighing.
"You know, I can say no. I can just leave you to fuckin' fend for yourself. But I ain't spiteful. Much." He looked at Chad. "I'm pissed I didn't' get to fight earlier, sure. But there will be plenty of fights soon. We both know it. So I'll go with you. Under one condition." The tiger got up and started circling him.
"You have a shield, which is your armor." The tiger said. "You have a fist, which is your weapon. Offense. Defense. You can protect those you love. So... What am I needed for? What is my role? Tell me, and I will tell you my name. Tell me, and I will walk by your side and rend your enemies apart. Tell. Me."
'He is right.' Chad frowned thoughtfully. 'My right arm defends, my left attacks... I have plenty of power. I need zanpakuto, yes. But it is, as he said, formality. So what can possibly...' His eyes widened. 'Defend. Defense. I am... defensive. Protect. He said protect those you love but...' An understanding dawned. 'I don't just fight to protect anymore. This is war. And I need to... I need to attack!'
"Heh. I knew I made it too easy." The tiger smirked. "But promise is a promise. Kid, listen well and remember. I am the claw to your fist. I'm the blade that warrior needs to kill his enemies. I don't defend, I don't protect. I cut. I rend apart with my claws until nothing is left. I'm the vanguard, the spearhead of the attack. I'm the warrior's edge. Your edge, now. I am..."
Chad opened his eyes.
He clenched his fist, now covered with black an purple, like his other one. Shield on one arm. Spikes on another.
And a long sword, nearly a nodachi, in his hand.
He looked at the weapon for a long while, before grasping it.
"Tear apart, Sentan."
The steel shrieked, almost roared, and he could swear he heard a growling laugh in his head.
He looked at his left hand, a metal contraption, part glove part bracer with the four long metallic claws extending from it's knuckles.
'I guess I really am the tiger now.' He thought with a small smile.
"Attention all of the active Gotei 13 personell. Attention all of the active Gotei 13 personell. 5th Division is, as of now, entering a reactivation period. After the reactivation is finished, the 5th Division will be entering the active combat duty. All active 5th Division shinigami are to leave their temporary positions they had been rotated to during the suspension and return to the 5th Division immideatly. You are expected on the 5th Division troop assembly in three days.
The presence is mandatory for all of 5th Division staff. No excuses save for those cleared with the 4th Division.
So ordered by Shihouin Kurosaki Ichigo, 5th Division Captain and Sado Yasutora, 5th Division Vice-captain."