Disclaimer: I do not own Inuyasha or Bleach.
Word Count: 2,384
I'd like to send a heapload of thanks to Clemency Lime for beta reading this fic! And thanks to WillItWork for being my demi-muse. More author's notes at the bottom.
She first heard it the day she returned to her time, just after Kikyou's death. It was a hair-raising scream that chilled her very soul. Kagome shot from her bed and ran down the stairs, certain that the creature that emitted the muffled—yet no less terrifying—yowl would be right outside the door.
She found that nothing was there at all.
Her mother, who had gotten up after hearing her daughter stumble to the door, hadn't heard anything except Kagome's frantic stampede down the stairs. Kagome chalked it up to a nightmare and eventually got back to sleep. That particular nightmare would later plague her frequently while she was at home, and even occasionally when she was traveling in the Feudal Era.
It wasn't until the day Inuyasha made his wish upon the Shikon no Tama, trapping her in her own time, that Kagome learned her nightmares were all too real.
Since the day she was born the jewel had been hindering her powers, and she at first thought that by dispatching Magatsuhi she had gotten rid of the seal that kept her from reaching her full potential. She found she was mistaken when the jewel vanished for good. It was if a veil had been lifted, allowing her to see more oddities than ever before.
Sometimes she wished she was still blind to the dead. Although it was nice to be able to see spirits and help them pass on properly as a miko ought to do, the creatures that the screams came from were nightmarish. They had gaping holes in their chests where normal spirits would have chains. They were definitely not easy on the eyes. And, apparently, they possessed no positive feelings to speak of.
Kagome realized the hard way that those fallen spirits were attracted to other souls; they hungered for spiritual power to try to fill up their empty existences. She felt nauseous when she realized that she had been unwittingly luring them to her shrine, and wondered how many times her family had been in danger because of her. Often, Kagome would wonder why they had never attempted to attack her until now. That, at least, she could be thankful for. Now she could defend herself, which was just as well, for all her friends were on the other side of the now-sealed well, living their lives in the Feudal Era.
She no longer had to struggle with her miko powers. They were putty in her hands, so to speak. She wasn't trained and couldn't manage complicated feats like making shikigami, but her power still attacked and protected as she willed it to, which seemed to be enough. She'd managed to save money and pick up a collapsible crossbow that could be tucked away into her obscene yellow backpack, along with some small crossbow bolts that were much easier to hide than traditional arrows. With a bit of practice, Kagome could fire purified bolts just as easily as purified arrows, and set about the business of protecting her district from the creatures she had dubbed "the Fallen".
She just wished she didn't have to do it alone.
There was a particular area just outside of Karakura Town that had always suffered from sudden influxes of hollows, and for the past few years Ishida made sure he patrolled near it so he could take care of any stragglers that the painfully inefficient shinigami were too slow to get to. He never knew when they would show up; they weren't following any sort of pattern that he could discern, but they always came back eventually.
Lately though, someone else had been taking care of the hollows. They'd turn up as blips on his internal hollow radar, and would be long gone before he reached them. He wondered whether a new shinigami was assigned to the area, or if whoever they were being attracted to had wizened up and started dispatching them. Either way, Ishida figured he should find out what was going on, because it was important to know who was a friend and who was an enemy.
It had taken a few months of inactivity before he picked up the huge number of hollows in the park one fateful evening. It was as if the beasts were trying to make up for all the patrols that yielded no results. He'd hastened to the scene, hoping to take care of them before a menos grande could follow in their wake. That was when he saw her.
Rather, he felt her and saw her at the same time. When he first glimpsed her crossbow, his initial thought was that she was a Quincy, like him. That thought lasted for mere nanoseconds before her aura washed over him, almost sending him reeling backwards with shock.
Most reitasu felt…well, neutral. The power was just there to be used as its wielder wished. It could be massive, heavy, threatening, frightening; none of those words are good or evil, and neither was reitasu. Reitasu simply was. Of course, the power of each individual had a unique feeling, making it a simple matter to tell people apart. It was even easier to discern who was a Quincy and who was a Shinigami even without looking at spirit threads. What you couldn't do was use reitasu to discern a person's personality. If that were possible, Aizen would have been discovered long before he put his plan into action.
Even Orihime, the kindest, most gentle person he knew, had a neutral reitasu. It had a comforting sensation to it despite how large and powerful it really was, but it didn't feel anything like the aura emanating from the girl before him.
If he had to place it without using any definite terms, he would say she felt like the opposite of a hollow. Hollows had a dirty, tainted reitasu that made his skin crawl. Everything about them felt wrong and unnatural. The girl's reitasu, though, was pure and clean; like a breath of fresh hair amidst an atmosphere thick with pollution. Even her spirit thread radiated with brilliant, pink light, the like of which he had never seen before. There was no doubt in his mind that this girl was good.
That frightened him. She was an unknown, and unknowns were not to be trusted. This was why—when he manifested his bow and cleared a path through the hollows so he could be closer to her, instead of simply doing his job from outside the mob—he decided he was going crazy.
Kagome tensed briefly when some of the Fallen to her left were engulfed and disintegrated by a bright blue light, but quickly returned her concentration back to her fight. She released a shining, purified bolt, and watched as it drove straight through three of the creatures. She let her aura wrap around the newcomer as he dashed through the path he had made, remaining tense even as he took up a fighting stance behind her. She was used to feeling beings with power like hers and power opposite hers, but his was neither. She had no idea what to make of it.
Still, he was standing at her back and helping her battle these things. She didn't suppose there were many others who would do that. Even if Inuyasha could still come through the well, she didn't think he'd even be able to see the Fallen.
"Kagome," she said to her temporary battle partner as she fired another bolt. She heard the angered roars of the Fallen he was attacking, and after a moment's pause he answered, his voice deep and rich and smooth.
She couldn't see him very well since he had been behind her, covering her vulnerable back and saving her a lot of energy that she was previously using for barriers. She could feel his power crackling all around her though, like a wild animal barely tamed, and she wondered again just exactly what this guy was.
"How long have you had to fight them?" Uryuu asked her, and she mentally counted back the months to that day when she handed Inuyasha the jewel, remembering his resigned, saddened, but not surprised expression when she started to fade away to her proper time. He'd broken her heart that day, and she'd probably never know what he'd wished for. Stupid Inuyasha.
"Almost a year," Kagome replied, her tone sounding more mournful than she had intended, much to her dismay. She deftly dodged an incoming attack and managed to push out a burst of energy from her palm, blasting the Fallen back and purifying them. She'd been working on close range lately, and she was glad that she could now replicate the attack that had briefly saved her from a centipede youkai on her fifteenth birthday. She wished she had more control over it so she could put it to better use.
"Ah," he said, and she heard a few more creatures meet their end. "This isn't your job, you know. You could wait for them come; let them take care of it."
Kagome frowned. "You're wrong," she replied, her disapproval coloring her voice. "The dead are my business." She had never taken her duty as a miko seriously in the Feudal Era, but she would always wonder if she would have been allowed to stay there if she had. Now that she could control her powers and see the dead, she felt the weight of responsibility fall on her shoulders. She did what she could to help out at the shrine and protect spirits from the Fallen, but her searches for a miko to train her had all been in vain. None of the others had any power. Not like she did. Uryuu was the first person she had met in her time that had any spiritual energy at all.
"Besides," she said as she quickly loaded another bolt, "if this is supposed to be someone's job, why aren't they here now?"
"I don't know," he answered, and his voice sounded grim.
Shinigami were irresponsible, but they usually weren't quite this irresponsible...except for one division. Except for him. The captain of the 12th Division, the heartless, pompous asshole who would let people fall to their deaths so he could capture and study their souls. Part of Ishida hoped that this wasn't the case—that this girl beside him had not yet been discovered by Mayuri—and part of him hoped she had been so he would have a reason to hunt down and kill the bastard.
His ire at the situation fueled the rest of his attacks, and it wasn't long before the last of the hollows were cut down. Ishida squinted and scanned the skies for cracks, but he could see no sign of a menos grande pushing its way through to their world.
"You live near here?" he asked as he shifted his eyes back to Kagome. He hadn't noticed until now, but the souls of the hollows she killed were hovering around the field, and as she touched each one it would disappear with a flash of light.
"I live at the shrine just down the road," she answered with a brief jerk of her head in the appropriate direction, and suddenly everything clicked into place.
She was a miko.
He'd been to shrines before, of course, and met many mikos. But none of them had any power, and he had no reason to believe any of them could have any power. He'd obviously been mistaken; her being a miko was the only thing that made any sense. Her reitasu purified the spirits of the hollows just as a shinigami's power would have, but instead of crossing over to Soul Society right away, the souls hung around, waiting for her blessings.
As she sent the last soul on its way, her brows furrowed and she looked around the park, expecting to see more of them. "Where are the rest?" she asked, confused.
"My powers don't work like yours," he said, holding her gaze until she'd registered the information and her eyes widened with shock.
"I...see," she replied haltingly, running a hand through her hair. After a moment of tense silence, she hesitated a little when she spoke again.
"I think...maybe you should go."
He heard the husky tinge of sadness coloring her voice, and for the first time ever he found himself mourning all those souls he'd destroyed—all those souls that would never have another chance at life because of him. It wasn't something he'd ever done before, because he'd had no reason to be ashamed of it before. The shinigami didn't save his grandfather in time. They didn't even come to help this miko. Why shouldn't he use whatever power was available to him to protect those who needed it?
He was a Quincy. That would never change. Still, he decided, even though she wasn't comfortable with him, the ineptness of the shinigami couldn't be ignored. She couldn't be ignored.
"Kagome," he said, using her given name (even though it felt way too familiar) because it was the only name she had offered. By the time he got his thoughts under control, she had moved away from him to collect what crossbow bolts she could find scattered in the grass. She looked startled by the sound of his voice, dropping some of her bolts in the process. She frowned at him through her messy bangs, and he quickly turned his head to avoid eye contact.
"Something is wrong. You won't see me again, but I'm sending someone to help you."
"Will they be like you?" she asked immediately, and he winced slightly at her bluntness.
"No," he said, trying to keep his voice neutral. "No. They won't be like me." He would send Yoruichi. She was good with handling delicate matters like this, and seemed to know how to go about training those with unusual reitasu. Plus, it would be good for Kagome to be informed about...well, everything. Yoruichi would know what to tell her.
He walked away without saying goodbye, feeling emptier the further he got from her dazzling reitasu. He wondered—briefly—if that was how a hollow felt, then shook the thought from his head. He strode to Uruhara's to make his report.
Before I go on, thanks again, Clemency Lime, for reading this over for me. Your suggestions really helped pull everything together.
Dear readers, I really must implore you all to try this website's beta reading functionality. It can only improve your pieces!
Now then. This was originally going to be a one-shot piece because I'm much better at writing "incidents" than I am with epic plots. However, my friend WillItWork has threatened to hate me for a week if I don't continue it, and I did leave a lot of questions that I do actually have answers to, so I'm going to make the attempt to write more. I've worked out a timeline and everything for it, so if I manage to write more without hating it, you'll get to see some of my research in the notes.
My goal for this piece was to write a crossover that didn't have a cheesy premise and could actually be viable. I wanted to mesh the universes of both series instead of dropping one character into another world (which you must admit, happens to Kagome quite often; stupid well). I also wanted to establish a relationship that wasn't immediately a romantic one, because I'd rather read about how relationships came to be instead of seeing the result. Here's hoping I've met my goals and entertained you in the process.