Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach
Everyone had fallen silent as Uuryu approached with a mystery man just a step behind him. He wasn't much taller than Uuryu, dressed in a lavender suit. He had similar hair and glasses, and carried a long black case under his right arm. His outward expression was calm and collected but his aura told the group that he was displeased with the situation.
"Everyone, I would like to introduce my father," Uuryu announced. "Father…"
"Where are they?" he demanded, cutting Uuryu short leaving him to falter a bit.
"They are over here," Orihime told him leading him by the arm hoping to save Uuryu a bit of embarrassment.
"Orihime?" he wondered looking down at her. "Please don't tell me that you have followed my son's poor example and gotten involved in Shinigami affairs."
"I'm afraid so sir," she replied gazing toward the ground.
He sighed, obviously disappointed, "I guess it can't be helped, that my son would choose someone with his same foolish sense of duty."
"May I ask," Orihime inquired seeming a touch confused. "If you are against the soul reapers then why help us?"
"If this opponent is as fearsome as I was led to believe then I believe that you will be needing all the help you can get." He told her as they stepped before Ichigo and Kai.
"Well we give you our thanks," she told him presenting him to the twins. "The man in black is Ichigo and the man in white is his brother Kai."
"I'll take it from here," he replied motioning her to leave. He then took a seat in front of the boys and began to look them over. "So the two of you are the ones that everyone is depending on," Ryugen muttered continuing his analysis. After a couple of minutes he opened the long black case and brought out a tall extendable gold spear marked with the quincy cross. "Here's what I can do for the two of you. You have damage to your soul sleeps and your zanpactou are almost nonexistent. With this spear I can restore your soul sleeps but as for your zanpactou, that I will have to leave up to you."
"But what are we…?" began Kai as Ryugen cut him short.
"Like I just said, I can't help you. Your weapons are a part of you, therefore you have to figure it out for yourselves," he told the two of them passing the spear to Ichigo.
"Well then, how does it work?" asked Ichigo.
"This spear works like a siphon, it draws reishi from all around the user and forces it into the user's body," he told them. "It should be enough to repair the damage done to your soul sleeps and restore your powers back to their original level."
"Alright, how do we use it?" wondered Kai.
"Run the spear into the ground and begin to take in spirit energy, that will start the process. To stop all you have to do is break the connection with the spear." He told them closing the case and rising to his feet. "I should warn you however, if you take in too much energy, your soul sleep could burst. If that were to happen you would either die or end up completely powerless."
"Good to know… I guess," Ichigo muttered taking the spear to an open area away from the group, it was then that Rukia stepped forward and stopped him.
"Ichigo… I need you to be careful, there's no telling what this could do to you. I mean you heard him, this could kill you," she told him quickly beginning to stammer.
"Rukia, what's gotten into you?" he asked looking down into her eyes. "You've been like this since I faced off against my hollow."
"Well I…we… we need you to stay safe," she tried, really unsure if she was saying the right thing.
Ichigo looked over the group before returning to Rukia, "Ok I know that you guys are depending on me and all butt…"
"No… it's just… it's … here," she told him taking his hand and placing it on her stomach. "WE need you to stay safe."
Ichigo couldn't believe what he was hearing, his mind had simply gone blank. Minutes seemed to pass as he looked on in a subtle state of shock. His hand hadn't moved and he hadn't even so much as flinched. Rukia was beginning to wonder if it might be too much for him right now. It was then, seemingly out of the blue, he snapped back to his senses.
"You're…" Ichigo began.
"Yes," she told him.
"A couple weeks," she told him slightly forcing a smile while he remained expressionless.
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" he asked finding her a little hesitant.
"Well, with everything going on I didn't want to add to your stress load you know. You've had a lot on your mind recently, and I thought this one more thing might be too much right now." Rukia replied while Ichigo's expression softened as he brought her into a hug.
"We can talk about this later, just let me finish up with this ok," he told her smiling as she found herself not really knowing what to say.
"Alright," she said as he turned to face his brother with the spear in hand.
"Let's do this," said Ichigo making his way out into the open with his brother at his side.
Running the spear into the ground, both he and Kai took hold of it and began to draw on their power. Just like Ryugen had told them it acted like a siphon, pulling in reishi from all around them. A large circle of death began to spread outward from the two of them as they began to take more and more in from the world of the living, the plants and smaller creatures were giving up the majority of the energy that they were taking in leaving nothing behind, concrete and asphalt began to age and decay showing that it too had something to give for the cause. Ichigo could feel the power coming to him, it was intoxicating. Every cell of his being was vibrating with pure energy, it was indescribable, he wanted more. But there was a voice, calling to him to quit, at first it was quiet but it grew much louder, till Ichigo couldn't ignore it no longer and he finally let go of the spear stopping the process. Snapping to his senses he found that there were three figures that stood before him and his brother. The others around them were shocked by their sudden appearance. Ichigo found two that he knew quite well while the third was a bit of a mystery. She was tall and slender with white hair that reached the mid of her back. She wore a red shohakshou, with a black sash, styled after the punishment squad but the bottoms of the legs were tattered and torn like Zangetsu's jacket, while her piercing yellow and black eyes were rimmed with blue eyeliner.
"Who's that?" asked Ichgio while Kai simply smiled.
"That… is the REAL Shiragetsu," smiled Kai looking at the other two beings standing there with his zanpactou. "I take it that's Zangetsu."
"Yeah, and my hollow," Ichigo told him smiling.
High above them the battle was becoming fruitless, Byakuya and Kenpachi were out of the fight and Renji and Ikkaku were on the defensive, but there was no way for them to hold out too much longer. Then, with just a handful of strikes it was over. Both Renji and Ikkaku fell from the sky to the rubble below, battered and beaten. Slowly turning, the demon Shiragetsu looked down to where Ichigo and the others were standing, not moving, just waiting. She knew they were up to something but as to what she was eager to find out. Below, Ichigo looked troubled, he was worried about the others, that was until his father approached him from behind placing his hand on Ichigo's shoulder.
"We'll go get them Ichigo, you just focus on her, got it."
"Thanks Dad," was all he said before Isshin, Halibel, Unohana, and Isane disappeared to go and retrieve the fallen fighters.
Stepping forward Kai seemed unsure, "Why have you come to our world? I didn't call you," he questioned as the lady in red simply smiled.
"We came to return what you lost," Shiragetsu told him producing her large and imposing shikai blade in her hands before handing it to him. She then moved in real close and kissed him on the cheek, "wield me well Kai, let the world tremble before our might, "Shiragetsu told him before disappearing back within his inner world.
As Kai looked over his blade Ichigo simply looked on at Zangetsu, the tall man slowly nodded, "If you call me, I will come, Ichigo," was all that he said.
Ichigo's hollow, looked up at the Shiragetsu in the sky before looking back at Ichigo, "I told you, what happens to you, happens to us. She might have thought that she had taken us but we will always be a part of you, whether you like it or not. So go show her what a hollow resurrection really looks like," he told him stepping back to Zangetu's side.
Ichigo and Kai took their stances and with a single call their power erupted fourth in a flash of light, clearing away to reveal them in their bankais. Ichigo then held out his hand, the earth began to tremble and the sky began to blacken as he slowly pulled his mask over his face. The air thickened with spiritual energy as lashes of red and black began to dance around him forming the white pieces that were to become the horns of his mask. A flash of lightning crashed down as most of his shohakshou slowly stripped away to reveal the hollow's hole in his chest and leave him wearing a tattered black and red vest. The stripped material from his back began to collect and form two large black leathery wings very much reminiscent of Ulquiorra's resurrection.
"Tensa Zangetsu Demonica," spoke his twisted hollow voice while his black blade seeped with pure spiritual energy.
As Ichigo had changed so too had the image of Zangetsu and his hollow. Before there was two and now there stood one, wearing a white cloak trimmed with back fur there was a young man in place of the old Zangetsu. Perched atop his head there was a mask fragment with a single horn, as he slowly opened his eyes everyone found that he had one that was normal and the other was back and yellow like that of a hollow.
"So this is your true form, Tensa Zangetsu," commented Ichigo.
"It has been a long time since I have been able to take this form. You know what you must do, wield me well," he told Ichigo before returning to the blade from which he came.
It was Kai's turn next, after putting on his mask he grabbed his white serrated blade and pointed it at his chest. Driving it through his chest, two white feathered wings burst from his back as a hollow's hole formed around the blade. Slowly pulling it out the top half of his mask began to crack and fracture only to burst away leaving the bottom half intact, similar to his mothers, uncovering his black and yellow eyes. All that was left of the top of his mask were long and slender horns that protruded from his forehead, curving and pointing straight upward above his head.
"Dominus Shiragetsu Angelis," he spoke letting his serrated blade rest at his side.
The aura of power that surrounded them was too much for most to take causing Rukia, Orihime, and Uuryu to take a knee. Ryugen, Urahara, and Tessai were fighting their senses and were finding difficult to stand as well. As the others returned with the fallen four, they found themselves speechless before the unleashed potential that had, for so long, lay hidden within the brothers Kurosaki. Ichigo simply looked over at his brother, who simply looked back at him.
"Should we go?" asked Kai.
"Let's finish this," stated Ichigo as they spread their wings and leapt into the air towards their target.
On the ground, the others had regrouped, bringing the fallen in from the battlefield. As Lady Unohana and Isane began their work Halibel and Isshin gazed skyward at their children. Their power was overwhelming, Isshin placed his hand on his Engetsu and found it to be quivering, Halibel too, her Tiburon realized what was taking place before them and was behaving like it wanted no part of it. As the two of them rose up to face their opponent Shiragetsu simply waited for them blades drawn. As the two of them neared, a scowl could be seen to form across her face. Sheathing one of her blades she held her palm forward and called out 'Grand ray Cero'. The blue blast erupted from her palm in a flash almost engulfing the sky. Kai used sonido to evade it but Ichigo took it head on. Kai stepped in behind her and slashed down to find her quickly block it. Then to Shiragetsu's surprise a beastly roar could be heard from behind the blue beam as all of a sudden a red cero pierced through the center of it causing it to disspate. The two of them had to break their engagement as the cero ripped through the sky towards them. Kai appeared some distance away from her but Ichigo appeared right behind her. Looking to attack, Ichigo swung down but missed as she knew that he was already there. Shiragetsu simply moved forward and cast one of her blades in a downward swing. Ichigo was too late to counter but managed to move back just enough to evade most of the blade, as it came up and left a long cut up the right side of his mask and through his eye, causing it to bleed profusely.
"There now the two of you match," she gloated as Kai moved in for another attack.
Ichigo simply shook most of the blood off and then moved in to attack. Shiragetsu blocked Kai's attack before slashing him across the chest. Sensing Ichigo, she cast her blade out again but this time he was ready for it. Side stepping he missed the attack and grabbed hold of the chain linking her to her blade. Sheathing Zangetsu he swung her around and down through a building below. The shock burst all the windows of each floor she passed through as the building then gave way to crumble on top of her. Ichigo and Kai looked at each other satisfied but knew that it wasn't over, then from below the earth began to rumble… then a faint 'Getsuga Tensho' could be heard as a red and blade wave erupted from the rubble below. Slowly Shiragetsu rose from the mound to face the brothers once again, she was scratched and cut but there was no serious damage inflicted by Ichigo's attack. Ever calmly she cracked her neck and took hold of her blades, leaping forward she dashed at the brothers. Ichigo and Kai both went on the attack as well. As they neared she veered and moved to attack Ichigo first, casting her left blade out at Kai. Kai blocked the attack and fired off a celestial star in their direction as the two of the locked swords. Seeing the attack coming, Ichigo stalled as long as possible before jumping back and firing off a getsuga tensho. Shiragetsu had no time to react as both attacks struck her front and back. The blast ripped through the sky, parting the clouds and knocking the dust loose from the surrounding buildings, both Kai and Ichigo both moved back to evade its touch. As the blast cleared a figure could be seen hunched over within. Shiragetsu was still standing there, the coverings on her arms and legs were broken and mostly missing, as was the tiara like covering on her head. Half of her tail was left, leaving a bloody stump as her shohauksho was tattered and torn. A trail of blood could be seen running down the side of her face as her right arm was drenched from the shoulder down.
"This is impossible," she spat, using her good hand to wipe the blood from her lips. "I took your power!"
"You thought you took our power," spoke Kai appearing behind her.
"But all it needed was a jump start," spoke Ichigo appearing in front of her.
"What!"she roared as the two of them pierced her chest from either side to deal the final blow.
As Ichigo and Kai removed their blades Shiragetsu's lifeless form simply fell from the sky, the hollow menace had finally been silenced.
. . .
One Year later… (Christmas)
A light layer of snow gently covered the roofs and streets of Karakura town. The stars were out as a nearly full moon covered the sky. At the Kurosaki house everyone was busy, Yuzu was cooking, Karin was tending to the gifts, while Isshin was hanging the decorations on the tree. Things were fairly quiet, there was music playing in the background and children could be heard playing outside in the street. Then came a knock at the door.
Lazily Karin put her head up, "There's Ichigo and Rukia," she mumbled as Yuzu ran to the door.
Upon opening the door, there stood Ichigo and Rukia. Both of them were in their gigai, Ichigo was wearing a simple white shirt and jacket. His hair was bound into a ponytail behind his head, while Rukia was wearing the blue and white dress that Uuryu made for her under her winter coat.
"Ichigo!" she cheered jumping up and giving him a hug. "Where is he?" she questioned frantically, looking around.
"He's right here," Rukia chuckled pulling the young child from his stroller.
Upon reaching Yuzu's arms he was instantly wrapped up a tight hug, "Oh my little Kaien, I haven't seen you in sooo long," she mused walking over to the kitchen table.
Karin simply cocked an eyebrow, "Jeezsh Yuzu it's only been two weeks since you seen the kid give him a break already."
Ichigo looked over to find his father putting the last decoration on the tree, "hey dad. Listen did you ask hat and clogs to send the invite out?"
"Yeah," he replied coming down off the stepladder. "But I didn't hear anything back so I don't know if they got it or not."
"I see," replied Ichigo as then another knock came from the door behind them.
Reaching just behind him Ichigo opened the door to reveal a familiar bubbly girl in a green dress with the hair to match. "ICHI!" she squeaked wrapping her arms around his neck and driving him into the floor. Slowly behind her, arms full of gifts, came Kai dressed in a simple white shirt and black pants.
"Oh man Nel, please not in front of the family," Kai pleaded setting the gifts down and picking her off his brother.
"Nice to see you too Nel," winced Ichigo picking himself up off the floor.
"Hiya Rukia!" Nel called running over to give her a hug.
"Hi Nel," was all the she could squeak out before Nel squeezed all the air out of her lungs.
It was then that Nel looked down at what Yuzu was holding in her arms. Pointing down, she looked at Rukia again, "Is that… ?"
"Eeeeeeee," she squeaked jumping up and down. "He's sooo cute".
Back on the other side of the room Kai helped Ichigo dust off, "Besides this how have you been brother?"
"Not bad I guess, now and again the little guy acts up but you get used to it after awhile," replied Ichigo putting on a smile.
"How's he faring in Soul Society?" wondered Kai.
"Good, but the troubling thing is that he's already eating… a lot," mentioned Ichigo as Kai simply laughed.
"Oh he's gonna be a handful," Kai told him as another presence could be felt in the doorway.
Everyone turned to look as Halibel stepped through the door, she was wearing blue blouse with grey slacks, her hair down in loose curls. With her in a gigai it completely hid the mask fragments on her face leaving it exposed and normal. Halibel looked nervous, she almost left the room but Isshin was quick to jump to her side and take her by the hand.
"Karin, Yuzu I would like you to meet…" he began as Karin narrowed her eyes studying her and Yuzu did something unexpected.
Slowly handing Kaien back to Rukia she left her seat and approached Halibel. The room went silent as Halibel knelt before Yuzu and locked her eyes on her daughter's. Yuzu then seemingly tried to peer deeper as she took a light sniff.
"Mom…" she said slowly and quietly, almost under her breath.
Halibel's face then slowly softened as tears began to form in the corner of her eyes. Slowly she gave a light nod as Yuzu jumped into her arms.
"MOM!" she called as Halibel was quick to embrace her.
Karin had witnessed this and had risen from her seat at the table, she was still unsure if she should follow her sister or not. She was looking for somebody to say something but everyone else was quiet. Looking to her father he simply smiled and nodded, she then looked back to Halibel who was looking right at her with an arm out and waiting for her.
"Karin honey it's alright," spoke Halibel as Karin broke down and ran across the room towards her.
"Mom, is it really you?" she asked falling into Halibel's embrace.
"Yes, it's really me, oh I've missed you girls so much!" she told them looking up toward Ichigo who was a little taken back at how fast it had happened. "I told you Ichigo, I told you Yuzu would recognize me."
"I guess you were right." Ichigo told her. "Welcome back… Mom,"
Ichigo breathed a sigh of relief as he took a seat at the table, his family was back together, and he was starting his own, what will the future bring he wondered.
… THE END…