A/N: Okay, this chapter was originally "Chapter Six" but due to the merging of chapters one and two, this is now the most recent chapter. Chapter six (which previously would have been chapter seven) is about half way written, but nowhere near finished. In all honesty, it seems like Tenma was just thinking of everything as she went on, and so for the next couple of days we are going to outline the next five or so chapters. Please be patient, this story is well on it's way to being continued. Also, as it turned out, several things that are crucial to this story's plot has turned out to be incorrect and contradicted by the actual canon. Now there are two things we can do at this point: we can completely revamp the entire story, which would naturally take us longer to finish, or we could just slap an "AU" sticker on this story and call it a day. I leave that to you guys. So with out further ado, we give you. . .
Masaki signed in exasperation as she stood in front of the kitchen sink, rubbing a soapy sponge over a dirty plate. This awkward tension that seemed to form whenever she and her son were in the same room was driving her crazy! In her mind she knew that inside he was no different, that he was still Ichigo, her Ichigo. But the very thought of the hollow attack last week or the outburst of that thing just yesterday made her doubt. . .she wasn't sure exactly, but she just felt uneasy. It almost made her cry the longer she thought on it. How could she be afraid of her own son? Her own flesh and blood. Her little Ichigo! 'I'm a terrible person aren't I?' She thought to herself.
She began to run water over the plate to wash off the suds before placing it on the drying rack. She picked up another dish, to wash, but immediately set it back down, as she broke out into tears. It wasn't that she didn't love him, God how she loved him, but he was one of them now wasn't he? Despite all of the things that that man, Urahara, and her husband explained to her, she still found it all but impossible to believe. She had put up an understanding facade, like she had completely wrapped her head around the situation, but really she didn't get it at all! It was like she was in an all new world, not her own, not her comfy world where there were no hollows, no shinigami. . .no out-of-the-ordinary. She found herself missing that ignorance. Wishing she could take back that night; make it so it never happened. She closed her eyes tightly and clasped her hands together as she pressed them to her forehead. Praying to what ever God would listen, she pleaded for them to take it all back. To let her be free of this entire nightmare.
She of course knew it was futile, but still she persisted. Though she had to admit she felt strange, cold, and for a second she couldn't breathe. Panic set in and she snapped her eyes open. What was that? She asked herself silently. She began to run water over the plate to wash off the suds before placing it on the drying rack. ". . ." Suddenly her eyes widened. Did she soap up another plate? No, the plate she had picked up second was still in the sink and there was only one in the drying rack. Her eyebrows furrowed slightly. Had she washed it again without even realizing? That couldn't be it. She stood there puzzling over it for a moment before the voice of Isshin tore her from her thoughts. "Masaki-chan! Where is-"
"The middle draw in the hall." She said as she slowly turned around. Her brow furrowed even deeper. Her husband was indeed a forgetful person, but he was sporadic, never, at least not usually, losing the same thing multiple times. So there was no possible way that she could have guessed what it was he was looking for, right? Isshin had went to said drawer in the hallway, and retrieved the item in question. "Thanks hun." he called back before stepping into the kitchen. "Oh! Hey, have you seen-"
Masaki immediately cut him off. "Your keys are in your back pocket, no you don't have any appointments, your stethoscope is around your neck, Yuzu isn't allergic to strawberries, Karin does have soccer practice and no it's not going to rain today." Isshin stared at her with his mouth slightly ajar.
"Well, how about the winning lotto numbers while your at it?" He said with a slight chuckle. He watched Masaki's face distort in confusion before she spoke. "04, 12, 15, 28, 56." She said it so low he almost didn't hear it. Now it was Isshin that wore a clueless face. "Masaki," He said slowly "Are you okay?"
She was taking in quick shallow breaths now, the feeling of panic rising in her once again. "I. . ." She swallowed trying to calm her heart which was beating a mile a minute. "I. . .I don't. . .Isshin!" She said as her world became dim. The last thing she heard was her husband call out her name before it all went black.
Isshin had been trying his best to keep everything as close to normal, where it concerned him and his wife, as possible. For her sake he continued to be the laid back, carefree, somewhat idiotic man he had always projected himself to be. He knew that the situation was putting undue stress on his wife, and this was the absolute least he could do. So as he came out of his office and called to his wife, in search for his ever elusive appointment book, he didn't find it particularly odd that she answered him before he could even finish his question. Not really anyway. Moving to the indicated drawer in the hall and checking the middle draw as specified, he pulled out the small yellow folder and proceeded back to his office before realizing that he also had misplaced his keys somehow, and he couldn't quite remember whether or not he had a conference meetings, and the last thing he wanted was to have to go on a mad search at the last minute.
However, much like the first time she cut him off before he could even finish his inquiry. She started to rapidly list off various things, all of which he suddenly realized, he did indeed forget. It was almost like she had read his mind. He raised an eyebrow as he let his mouth fall open slightly. 'Wow,' Isshin thought to himself. 'She's good.' With a chuckle he asked "Well, how about the winning lotto numbers while your at it?" He watched in silence as her face wrinkled in confusion before she spoke. "04, 12, 15, 28, 56." He was sure that he didn't know what the hell the winning numbers were, so he was fairly certain that she was not reading his mind. But the oddity of the whole affair was something to wonder about.
He watched her begin to take in small breaths rapidly as her eyes glazed over, out of focus. "I. . ." She was hyperventilating "I. . .I don't. . .Isshin!" she shouted as she passed out. He ran over to her and caught her before she could fall to the floor. "Masaki? Masaki?!" He shook her slightly. Slowly her breathing evened out but she didn't stir. Picking her up bridal style, he carried her to one of the patient beds. He opened the window slightly to allow a slight breeze to enter. Taking a step back he looked down at her with his eyebrows furrowed deeply. Just what exactly was going on? His first thought was to contact Urahara, perhaps he would have a better understanding of what was going on, because he was fresh out of ideas. After brief deliberation he went to the phone, and punched in a few digits.
Ichigo's eyes trailed the arm until he saw the body. It was massive; the biggest, living thing, he had ever seen in real life. It's was almost like a cross between a Woolly Mammoth and a Gorilla. A foreign weight appeared in his hand and when he looked to see what it was his eyes widened somewhat. It was the sword that the thing had taken from him. He spun around but it was gone. He quickly spun around back to the much bigger thing in front of him.
"HAVE FUN KING!!" And that's when he knew that he was screwed. Without thinking he clumsily brought the sword up in front of him in a sloppy defense. He blindly backpedaled until he couldn't any more, his back against a tree. He watched in stunned fear as it brought it's overly large fist up for a second attack. Ichigo willed his legs to move, but they refused to listen to him, preferring to shake in fear than flee. The thing that he knew to be a hollow, roared as it lunged forward. Ichigo closed his eyes and tried his best to brace for the attack. He felt his body explode in pain as the fist drove into him knocking him clean through the tree he was propped against. He couldn't summon the strength to cry out in pain, so he instead just panted heavily as his head became light. He watched, for the second time that day, as blood spilled freely from open wounds.
He slowly made his way back to his feet, fighting against the earth that seemed to shake violently beneath him, daring him to fall. No matter how he looked at it, this wasn't a battle he could win, but his legs still refused to listen to reason. No matter how strongly he tried to convince himself to move, all he could do was stare in unbelievable fear.
'What are you afraid of?' He heard the voice of the old man. 'There is no reason to fall victim to fear.' As he said this Ichigo felt something grow inside of him, what that 'something' was, he wasn't quite sure. 'You are one, your enemy is one. There is nothing to be afraid of.' Ichigo felt his breathing steady as his wounds stopped bleeding.
". . .power. . ." The word slipped out of Ichigo's mouth. That was the sensation that he was feeling. That incredible feeling that swelled up inside of him; this feeling that threated to explode. . .and so he let it. The explosion of reiatsu caused hurricane type winds that uprooted trees. It shone so bright, the sun seemed to fade to nothing in comparison. 'Don't forget, Ichigo, as long as I am with you, you will never have to be afraid!' Ichigo felt a hand fall on his shoulder. He glanced back to see the old man there behind him. 'Take my strength as your own, raise this blade and strike down your foe!' Ichigo nodded firmly.
"Yeah." He turned back to the hollow that seemed. . .surprised by Ichigo's newly established power. With both hands, Ichigo rose his zanpakutou above his head as his eyes took on an eerie blue glow. As if sensing it's inevitable downfall, the hollow roared as it rushed as quickly as it could to stop Ichigo from doing what ever it was that he was planning on doing. But it was already too late, with a shout Ichigo brought down the blade and in a blue crescent shaped exposition that reached as far as the eye could see and beyond there was nothing left but charred earth.
Ichigo was left looking wide eyed at what he had done. He was capable of such devastating power? This. . .this was his doing? In a rush his wounds began to bleed and his breathing became labored once again. The world around him had gotten dark and he was having trouble staying on his feet. He felt like someone had been spinning him around in a room completely devoid of light. Exhaustion finally reaching it's max, Ichigo collapsed onto the cold ground until everything faded to nothing.
Hanging up the phone, Urahara tapped his chin in thought. From what Isshin had just explained the situation with Masaki was more or less chalked up to stress. All she needed was rest. But he had to admit, her preemptive behavior that he had annotated was quite bizarre. Even Urahara had difficulty understanding this one. But of course he naturally assumed it had something to do with the young Kurosaki Ichigo, and the way he haphazardly oozed reiatsu everywhere. She more than likely absorbed quite a bit, and was now experiencing side effects. He didn't actually tell Isshin any of this, but he would have to eventually. However, it would prove too inconvenient for the moment. But on the plus side, if Isshin himself absorbed enough of his son's reiatsu, or rather, if Isshin's Gigai absorbed enough of his son's reiatsu then it would undoubtedly weaken the seal placed upon him. That would be interesting.
"My, my. I might as well look in to it further." He said with a sigh as he rose to his feet from his small table in his sitting area. He stretched his arms above his head and yawned loudly. Out of habit he took his fan from his inner sleeve pocket and waved it in front of his face before picking up his cane and tapping it against his shoulder. "Tessai! Oh, Tessai!" He sang the name in his usual jovial manner. Almost instantly the overly large store assistant came out of the stock room.
"Yes, Owner!" He said as he bowed deeply.
Urahara waved his hand at him as he spoke. "I'm going to the Kurosaki Residence for a quick visit, please look after things while I'm gone, hm?"
Tessai's answer was instantaneous. "Of course Owner!" He all but shouted as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, which it probably was, seeing how he was the store assistant manager after all. He opened his mouth as if to say something else, but was immediately cut off by an enormous spiritual pressure pushing down on him. Urahara's eyes widened substantially as he looked in the general direction of the incoming reiatsu. There was no mistaking who it belonged to. "Kurosaki?" Urahara whispered to himself. This was a problem. There would be no way that this could go unnoticed by the Soul Society, and they would undoubtedly send someone to investigate the matter, an event he had long since foresaw, but not anticipated, at least not yet. This would definitely set his plans back some.
With out speaking Urahara quickly left through the front entrance of his shop. No longer in any specific mood to banter any longer with Tessai. The only thing he could think at the moment was 'Damage Control' He had to try and salvage the situation as best he could. He would deal with Isshin and his wife later. His plans for Ichigo were top priority, in his eyes anyway. There would no doubt be a search party arriving in a few minutes, if not seconds. No, he had absolutely no time to waste. Utilizing Shunpo he made his way to the general direction of where he had last felt that terrible force.
With a groan Masaki sat up. She covered her eyes with her hand to shield it from the incoming light that spilled in threw the open window. What happened? She vaguely remembered the events that had just transpired. Her head throbbed in dull pain as she thought more on it. How? That was all she could think of at the moment. How did she do those things? It was like she had knew exactly what was going to happen before her husband did. Everything just felt like deja-vu. Like she had just experienced everything a million time, until she had knew it by heart. What. . .what was happening to her?
With a sigh she pushed herself off of the bed and walked out of the room. She walked by the kitchen and noted, with a little relief, that Isshin had tidied it up in her stead. Where was Isshin anyway? She had just found a million additional questions she wanted to ask. The house was quite and it took her a moment to realize that she was indeed, home alone. Her headache hadn't really ebbed completely but she was sure that the worst was behind her. Her eyes was no longer sensitive to the bright mid morning light and she was thankful for that, as she moved to open up a few curtains in the TV area before taking a seat the couch.
She put her head in between her hands and placed her elbows on her knees in a very un-ladylike fashion before she let out a ragged breath. She was definitely growing tired of all of this. She wanted more that anything to return to her normal life, back when all she had was creeping suspicions about the existence of hollows and shinigami. She even wished she could take back her ill-favored curiosity in the matter. Even now, after falling deep into the rabbit hole with absolutely no possibility of returning, she found herself doubting that it was all real. It was just too crazy, too far fetched. From her point of view, or from any sane person's point of view for that matter, it all just seemed impossible.
She leaned her head back and stared at a particularly strange stain on the ceiling that she was sure had not been there yesterday. She tried to focus her mind, to clear all thought of shinigami, of hollow. . .even of her son for the moment. Right now, she just wanted to be alone, she didn't want to be bothered with the unrealistic and supernatural. Not right now, not when she was more frightened and confused than ever. No, instead, she stared nonchalantly at the stain on her living room ceiling, not moving to clean it up, not caring if it stayed there for all eternity. She just stared. This. . .this was her moment. . .her few rare moments to just be normal, to just be human.
But even that was brutally shattered as she was washed with sudden feeling of dread. She couldn't quite explain it. It felt like she was being strangled, no not really strangled, more like smothered by an unseen force that seemed dangerously familiar. She had felt it twice before, most recently being yesterday, in her son's bedroom. She swallowed hard and wondered what she was going to do. What could she do? So was pretty much useless anyway, right? A lowly human, who couldn't even comprehend the full weight of the entire situation around, even though it had been explained using small enough words to satisfy a small child.
Masaki Kurosaki felt strangely disappointed in herself. Had she given up? Was she throwing in the towel? Her brows furrowed deeply. 'No!' She thought angrily at herself. 'No, I'm not just going to standby and watch! This is my family! My Ichigo! I'll be damned if I'll let anything happen to him, to any of them, not while I'm still around!' She pushed herself off of the couch and strode purposefully to the front door, grabbing a sweater from the coat rack and throwing it over her shoulder she walked out of the door, and to the only place she knew the answers she was looking for could be found. "I think 'Urahara's Shoten' was this way. . ."
It wasn't routine, they had only really been doing it out of habit by now, but still she waited for him. Tatsuki glanced down at the watch she had strapped around her wrist. At this rate she was going to be late. They would be lucky if they made it in time to just barely catch the late bell. 'Stupid Ichigo,' she thought to herself 'I guess that beating I gave him yesterday didn't settle into his head. This is the last time he's gonna ditch me. . .' She was just about to turn around and walk on her own when she just made out a tuft of bright orange. Searching in the direction she thought she saw it, she just made out the form of Ichigo rounding a corner, oddly enough he was heading in the exact opposite direction of their school.
She didn't want to be late but her curiosity peeked. What was he up to? She let a small sigh escape her as she followed him, jogging slightly to catch up. She shouted his name but he didn't respond. He was moving fast, ridiculously fast, yet it seemed as if he was only walking at a leisure pace. As he rounded another corner she pumped her muscles until she was out right sprinting at full speed. Something was throwing her off about this whole situation. In fact she had noticed that for the past week or so, Ichigo had been acting extremely out of character. Almost like he was a completely different person.
As soon as she turned the corner she spotted Ichigo. She opened her mouth to call out to him again but stopped as she got a clear look at his face. He looked terrified, but she couldn't see what it was that made him that way. He stared pointedly at his own reflection in one of the shop windows as he quickly backed away. "Ichigo, watch-" she shouted as she sprinted towards him, but before she could even finish her sentence she watched in horror as Ichigo fell over the guardrail down to the wooded area below. She looked over the rail, it was at least a twenty foot fall, easy. She could just barely make out his crumpled form below. . .his non-moving crumpled form.
She felt her heart pound against her chest as she quickly looked for a way to get down to him. She spotted a tall tree that overlooked the spot she was standing with a large branch protruding just close enough for her to reach. Although Tatsuki was a girl, she was absolutely not what most people would depict as a girly-girl. So she had no trouble making it onto the branch and climbing down the tree with surprising haste and competence. As soon as she made it to the bottom she rushed to his side. Crouching down she moved to try and shake him but stopped shortly when she noticed his torn and battered body.
She let her mouth hang open as she felt tears well up in her eyes. She felt oddly guilty suddenly, as she clenched her eyes shut tightly and let her head drop. She immediately rose and made to call out to someone, anyone to help her. But before she could even utter a single word she heard a loud cracking sound. She turned to the direction of the noise and stood wide eyed as a second Ichigo came flying in between trees crashing through some of them, breaking them in half as he did. He skidded to a halt about six or seven feet away from where she and the seemingly dead Ichigo were.
She watched him as he slowly made his way to his feet, stumbling slightly but not falling back over. His second body was almost as torn and battered as the body that lie at her feet. But there was something about this. . .this other Ichigo. In an instant his wounds stopped bleeding and his breathing evened out. ". . .power. . ." she just barely heard him utter the word as he closed his eyes. And thats when she noticed it. The monster that she assumed had tossed Ichigo through all those trees in the first place. It was. . .huge. Her eyes widened and she began to blindly backpedal much as she had just witnessed Ichigo do no more then five minutes ago. She stumbled over an overgrown tree root, landing on her rear. She remained there unable to muster the necessary courage to move or even think coherent thoughts.
"Yeah." She heard him say louder, more confidently this time as a bright shockwave exploded from the boy. Instinctively, Tatsuki brought her arms up in front her to shield her eyes from the violent light. The force from the explosion had knocked Ichigo's downed body into her and was blowing them both back with massive vigor. She watched as trees, miraculously, blew past them. She tried her best to look up, to see what exactly was going on, crushing her fear as much as she could. The monster had charged Ichigo but before it even moved two paces Ichigo heaved a giant sword over his head and brought it down, inciting another explosion, this time focused in a singular direction. The monster vanished in the boomerang shaped light that engulfed almost the entire area. There was a loud roar as the light faded but there was nothing left behind.
As the second Ichigo fell to the ground she heard a voice call from behind her. "My, my. Kurosaki-san sure knows how to make a mess of things." She turned her head slowly and saw a man dressed in what looked oddly like green pajamas under a black long coat and a green and white stripped hat. He moved over to where Tatsuki was practically buried under Ichigo's body and a few layers of dirt and debris. "I'll just take that." He said as he grabbed Ichigo's body and placed him down on the ground. He placed his hand over his chest and it began to glow brightly. Tatsuki shut her eyes against the sudden flash of light but when she opened them again she could plainly see that all of Ichigo's wounds were completely healed, the only evidence that they were ever there in the first place was the bloody tears all over his clothes.
"Wh-what-" Tatsuki began before he cut her off.
"It's quite a long story, Arisawa-san, and I don't have much time to explain everything to you. I happened to have left my memory modifier at home so you'll just have to bare with me." He said as he brought Ichigo's body over to his shinigami body. Repeating the same method he had just done to Ichigo's physical body all of his wounds healed in an instant. Tatsuki was left staring wide eyed and slack jawed as she watched him. . .combine was the only word she could think of, both of the two Ichigos be fore scoping him up and begin to walk away. "Well, aren't you coming Arisawa-san?" He said without looking back.
Hesitating somewhat, Tatsuki didn't know whether or not she could trust the man, but what she knew for sure was that if there was another one of those. . .monster things around she didn't want to stick around to find out. Quickly rising to her feet she fell in step with the man and let him lead her to, what she sincerely hoped was, safety.
The blonde haired man had watched the entire scene from his position in a tree a short distance away. A wide grin cracked his features as he watched the Shinigami carry him away. "And everyone thought this town had no potential. . ." He glanced upward towards the sky and stayed there for a moment, voicing his thoughts. "Looks like our happy little family is about to get a new addition." he chuckled to himself before he shunpoed away.
Retribution © Tenma-Chakun
Written and Created by Tenma-Chakun & Archimedes III
Characters based on the characters from Bleach
Excerpts from The Bleach Manga © Viz media
Based on the Manga Bleach
Bleach © Viz Media and Jump Comics
He wasn't entirely sure of the situation. All he knew was that there was some kind of massive influx of reiatsu recently from an unknown source. But the most recent was far greater than the previous reports. It was significantly larger and neatly contained although still rather chaotic. And so after brief consideration a small search team was sent to the living world, courtesy of the special operations force, to investigate the matter. Quickening his pace, he moved to reach Genryusai-SouTaicho's office in time for the emergency meeting that was now being held. He entered as soon as he reached the door.
"Sorry I'm late." Aizen said with a slight smile.