Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.
PLEASE READ: I know this chapter is short for the long wait, but I wanted to assure the readers that I AM STILL ALIVE and still writing, so no fear. Furthermore, the APNW Specials will now have their own little story category, and will be updated when inspiration strikes.
"Yo." Kuroji speaking
Chapter 23-Perverted Shopkeeper equals headache. Part 2
The next morning, Ichigo was very tired as his gathered his school things, and started to dress. His dream had been anything but helpful in calming him for future events, and his reiatsu control was a little shakey. His looked at his bedside table clock.
He still had thirty minutes before Yuzu came up to called him down for breakfast. He sighed, and sat on the edge of his bed, glancing around for anything to distract him from thinking about his dream. He didn't want to relive the pain anymore, he was tired of feeling frustrated with his inability to do anything, and he was passed that. But the dreams...they still brought forth emotions he knew he did not have time for.
He had a chance for a new life, and although he knew it was real, he had to keep reminding himself. He knew he hadn't dealt with all his memories from the war, and even afterwords, he had just shut off himself. There were just too many deaths, and too much regret then to allow him to grieve, and now... everything was beginning to push though reminding him of everything he'd once lost.
Yet, being around all his old friends and returning to the past, was a bittersweet experience.
Reacting with an action before he could even think Ichigo knocked an incoming punch away, and throwing his opponent to the ground, Ichigo blinked when he saw the defeated form of his father on the ground, and then glared at his attacker.
"What the hell are you doing, old man?" Ichigo hissed. 'Stupid goat chin was lucky I was in my body...'
"Good, son—now I have nothing left to teach you." Isshin said.
"Whatever," Ichigo interrupted fixing his bed. The impromptu fight they had scattered his books, and his bed was even messier then before. He picked up his textbooks, and his school bag, and tossed them on the bed haphazardly.
Isshin blinked, but didn't say anything after his first sentence, simply taking to stare at Ichigo.
Unlike the moves that Ichigo used previously that were a mixture of Karate, and street brawling, the stance his son had taken and the type of attack Ichigo used were unique to only one style of fighting...Hakudo, the Shinigami fight style.
Isshin knew it was possible for Ichigo to have picked off some of the martial arts from Rukia, but something about Ichigo execution of those moves wasn't sitting right with Isshin. The way Ichigo reacted, was almost like it was instinct...he shook his head. That was impossible; Ichigo had only been a shinigami for three months, not nearly enough time for any moves to become instinctual.
Ichigo noticed his dad's stare, and resisted the urge to sigh.
How could he forget his dad used to be a shinigami?
"Ichi-nii, are you up?" A voice said breaking through Isshin's and Ichigo's thoughts. It was Yuzu.
"Yes, I'll be down in a moment!" Ichigo yelled. He glanced at his dad, and opened his room door to see his little sister's form vanish into the kitchen. The coast was clear. He went back to his dad, and delivered a weak kick making him stumble out of Ichigo's room into the lawn.
"Use the door!" He yelled closing his window.
He did not like the suspicious look his dad graced at him with.
School still didn't seem real after all this time. People continued changing, and once more any hint of Rukia's present was erased from everyone's memories-well except for them. Orihime kept looking at Rukia's desk with a sad expression, and Chad carefully watched Ichigo. As if they expected him to run off any second-but they were wrong.
Ichigo wouldn't run off anywhere without his nakama…at least not yet.
"Kurosaki-kun?" Ichigo turned.
It was Orihime.
Ichigo mentally sighed, he hated this conversation. It only brought up how much he wanted to punch Byakuya. Though he was slightly surprised, last time she followed him after school, and this time she sought him out before school. Out of the corner of his eye he could see Chad and Ishida a few desks away listening in.
"Did you want something?" Ichigo asked staring straight into Orihime's eyes. His expression was serious but his tone neutral.
"Where is Kuchiki-san?"
"She's…gone." Ichigo looked away. He didn't want to see the sadness forming within Orihime's eyes.
"And why has everyone forgotten about her? I know you'd know." Orihime pressed waiting for Ichigo's answer.
"She's gone…but she's coming back."
Orihime blinked, unsure of what Ichigo was referring to. "Didn't Kuchiki-san leaving on her own?"
Ichigo sent Orihime a bone chilling look, but it wasn't meant for her. It was meant for something bigger. "No, she didn't."
Orihime looked confused, but she nodded anyway. "Does that mean you're going after her?" She asked. The emotions in her eyes changed quickly, and in the midst of everything there was a deep sadness reflected within them.
Ichigo nodded." Yes, I need to ask her family something important." He waved to her and walked away, aware of the other set of eyes watching him.
Yuzu placed some dishes on the dinner table. It was already seven-ten and the oldest of the Kurosaki children was nowhere to be seen. She hoped he wasn't in trouble or anything...
"Where is Ichi-nii? The minute summer break starts he runs off somewhere. I wonder what he could be doing." She sighed worriedly. "I hope he isn't in trouble, or lost or…" She trailed off looking concerned.
Karin glanced at her, before flipping a page on the newspaper she was scanning though. "Who knows…? He'll come back when he can."
"You're not lonely are you?" Isshin popped out of the woodwork. "Then shall we sleep together in Dad's bed?"
Karin pulled a face, and attentively stood up slamming a kick into Isshin's face. "Save the sleep talk for after you go to sleep, Goat face! We'd rather not have nightmares! Or smell your disgusting socks!
Isshin sniffed, and hulled into a corner. "I didn't think it was such a bad idea…" He drew some circles on the floor with his finger, and then he got up and started wailing at the picture of his wife hanging on the wall. "And my socks don't smell."
Karin rolled her eyes. "Whatever old man., just leave us out of it."
At times like this, she really missed her big brother…
Ichigo's eyebrow twitched.
"Wow, who would have imagined such a big place was right under my store? The person who built this must be a genius!"
Ichigo's arm twitched. Urahara was really laying it on thick. It was so stupidly obvious that Urahara had known, and built this place, that it wasn't even funny. Urahara hid his face behind his fan, clearly concealing a smile.
A huge tick mark appeared on Ichigo's forehead. If only he didn't have to keep his cover, Ichigo would have slugged the stupid pervert one. Who cared if the shopkeeper hadn't experimented on him yet-he was going to anyway, Ichigo assured himself. He pushed his thoughts away deciding to knock the ex-captain down a peg.
"Oh shut up. You knew this place was down here…you don't have to pretend. I'm annoyed enough-."
"Yeah, right," Rena whispered from his mind.
Ichigo didn't break sentence. "—as it is… You're perverted, not a genius, so let's just start."
"Okie dokie, then," Urahara pocketed his fan, and drew his cane, slamming the tip into Ichigo's forehead, releasing his spirit from his body.
Ichigo slid from the force, coming to a stop. "Give me some warning next time." He yelled thoroughly put out with the shopkeeper. He stood up straight, and glared at the shopkeeper, trying to figure out why he had such a strange look on his face. He looked down making sure that he was still wearing his regular clothes and not a shinigami outfit.
Urahara blinked, and his expression changed as he leveled his eyes on Ichigo.
Ichigo was so tempted to flinch under Urahara calculating gaze. That blank emotionless look was one Ichigo was far too familiar with...It was a look of suspicion and excitement. But for what Ichigo wasn't quite sure.
"Mmmm... you certainly are an interesting one, aren't you Kurosaki-san?" Urahara said evenly.
Ichigo became more nervous, but worked hard not to show any of this on his face.
"Normally, when a human in spirit form is put into a highly dense field it is difficult to breath." Urahara smiled, but there was the underlining question.
'But why aren't you?'
Ichigo mentally gulped, and cursed his luck. He was hoping not to be put on Urahara's unusual radar, but apparently that wasn't possible.
He had forgotten that an ordinary soul shouldn't be able to do this-.
Urahara looked Ichigo in the eyes.
"What secrets are you hiding?"
Seconds pasted, and neither looked away from the gaze. Urahara, himself had varies theories as to why Ichigo was immune to the spirit density, but the one that seemed mostly was very troubling. Ichigo's immunity was very likely a result of the growing hollow's powers starting to evolve...a very dangerous combination, especially with Ichigo trying to regain his shinigami powers.
The former captain was the first to look away.
"Now, because your energy wasn't completely destroyed, we can ship lesson one and go directly to lesson two." He said evilly.
"Still upset, Captain?" Rangiku said smiling at the sight of her captain glaring at the pile of paper work on his desk.
Toshiro aimed his glare at her. "I am not upset."
"So you're sulking." Her grins widen, and an angry tick appeared on the small captain's head.
"I am not sulking." He replied, not his brush breaking as while he glared down his subordinate. He wasn't succeeding.
"If you say so, Captain… But you know the Captain Commander is planning to resend you back to the real world after this assignment."
Toshiro raised a confused eyebrow at her. How did she figure out that? And who told her? This was new information to him. "Who told you this information?" His face was clear of any outward curiosity, and he maintained a look of professionalism as he waited for an answer.
She stood and walked over to the office door, and took one last look at her captain. Her eyes were mysterious and in their depths was a strange emotion, the tenth division captain couldn't quite identify. "It a secret, captain." She said and walked out, leaving Toshiro to continuing glaring at his paperwork with a slightly less intense look.
Slowly the light dimmed from the training grounds, and a few seconds passed before the dots in front of their eyes vanished, leaving only suspicion in place. There were so many questions, and few answers as Urahara repositioned his fan in front of his face hiding his emotions. He was up against another mystery for the enigma called Kurosaki Ichigo, and he was more than slightly intrigued by this new development.
He took a moment to memorize the all the information about the strange phenomenon as he could before coming up with several theories stemming from Ichigo's unusual spirit composition to his unique circumstance surrounding his continued survival from absorbing Rukia's powers but he was at a dead end, and snapped his fan shut once more, and returning the favored object to his coat pocket. He would have more time to ponder and gather information while Kurosaki-kun was completing lesson two.
The shopkeeper smirked, and snapped his fingers making the ground underneath Ichigo disappear.
A/N; Finally re-edited, hopeful a better quality for the readers...