Status: Crossover between Bleach and Final Fantasy VII.
Settings: Pre-Bleach timeline – when Hitsugaya Toushirou was newly promoted to captaincy. This also takes place during the events of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. And when I say during the events, I really mean just that where this is a sort-of rewrite of Advent Children – one that includes Bleach.
Warnings: Any canon errors can be considered as either a) I made them because of ignorance or b) It just couldn't fit with the storyline I had planned. Believe me, I tried to keep them as close to the original facts as possible.
Also, there is profanity. Be warned :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or Final Fantasy VII.
Tendrils of green energy snaked towards him, wantonly flirtatious with every touch, while the white and shadowy foam, a different counterpart, entwined lovingly at his heels before fading – receding – with each step. The warm weight of the key mission object brushed his left hip, a synchronized movement for the methodical pace, and it provided a certain degree of familiarity and reassurance.
The corridor was empty and broken (in fact, several times the path ahead would have pieces breaking off into nothingness) and the air was musty from disuse. Unfazed, the dragon kept striding purposefully towards the direction of the exit even after the entrance behind him slammed shut.
And as the white light ahead danced and the emerald threads, the Lifestream, coaxed him along – indeed a dissimilar but comforting embrace – he couldn't help but think how interesting this mission might be.
…After all, it wasn't every day that Central 46 assigned the shinigami an emergency assignment to another dimension. It certainly came as a shock when he received the missive, and he even took a certain glee, however misplaced it was, in seeing the Twelfth Captain fume. The scientist was clearly displeased, wanting the assignment himself so that he could 'study the locals' – probably with several needles, scalpels, and drugs involved. But it was equally clear that the Commander General would have nothing to do with that and reading his aura alone, his peers could tell that their Commander would not tolerate any other complaints.
But really, he was still stinging from their obvious lack of trust in his abilities. Not that he was willing to admit that. No, definitely not, and besides, that really didn't matter anymore, not when he was the one carrying out this mission with the full approval of Central 46. It was a relatively simple mission objective: to deliver Gaia – a wispy silver orb of compact healing reiatsu – to the Goddess of the Planet and the Cetra. Apparently, they were more than willing to provide a guide who was most likely waiting for him past the final barriers ahead.
And so, with his head held high, the proud dragon exited the inter-dimensional portal, unprepared as to how different this strife-laden world was in comparison to his own.
A low whistle. "So this is our help?"
"Hmmm…I guess so."
Slightly disoriented as the rush of sound, colour, and energy ambushed his senses, Toushirou Hitsugaya swayed on his heels, trying to regain equilibrium. Blinking as relentless light streamed from the sky above, he could make out two ethereal shapes, one who was distinctly gesturing rapidly in his direction.
"Truthfully, I kinda imagined a Death God to be a bit bigger-"
A chime-like laughter resounded from the other, slighter, figure before a reprimand was given, "Zack, that isn't very nice!"
"-Or at least a bit taller. I mean damn even Spike didn't look this tiny when I first met him!" A short pause. "Well, maybe I'll give the kid the benefit of the doubt…"
Taking in a deep breath to clear his head, Hitsugaya gathered himself and snapped back icily, "Excuse me. Might I suggest if you wish to make painfully obvious comments, do it on your own time."
"Sorry about that." Looking not-so-suitably contrite, the noir-haired man grinned and waved, "But yeah, hi there. I'm Zack Fair, ex-SOLDIER First Class and your excellent guide in this world."
Eyes narrowing suspiciously, he noticed that the two spirits lacked a solid corporeal form and immediately prompted, "Password?"
With a knowing smirk firmly in place as he recognized the note of authority in the Death God's voice, Zack coolly recited, "Where the frozen sword pierces the heavens and Gaia weeps comforting tears."
The Captain responded in kind with a semi-approving nod and answered dutifully, "And the grey wolf lies awaiting within a meadow of blossoms." Adding a much more clipped and professional tone, he continued, "Representative of Soul Society, Captain Toushirou Hitsugaya."
The ex-SOLDIER was silently – and inappropriately – amused by the sheer 'obey me!' aura Hitsugaya had and wondered about the katana strapped onto the kid's back. But of course, he obediently bit his tongue, if only to save himself from another reprimand.
Zack's companion though, a woman with a fair complexion, finally took this opportunity to speak up in greeting, smiling gently, "Hello, it's nice to meet you too. My name is Aerith Gainsborough." She then added thoughtfully, "You must excuse Zack's previous behaviour. Neither of us ever had a chance to entertain someone from another world before."
There was a quiet 'hmm' before Zack shook his head, snorting, "Except I think Jenova sort of counts, Aerith. She is kinda from another world in a space-y extra-terrestrial and I-have-an-alien-home-planet sense."
"Jenova. The 'Heaven's Dark Harbinger'," quoted Hitsugaya. He read that bit from his extensive mission file that described the current worldly situation.
Sobering quickly, Zack nodded morosely, "This is what happened to Midgar two years ago when Jenova decided to drop Meteor onto the city." He waved at the immediate area around them.
Aerith's voice came as a whisper. "The Planet is still trying to recover from the attack so to have Jenova interfere at this critical moment using the Remnants…It is becoming an exceedingly dangerous situation."
"Which is why your Lifestream, your Goddess, requested help from outerworldly organizations, specifically, from my dimension – the Court of Pure Souls." Cool green eyes observed the noncommittal stances of his new acquaintances.
Perturbed, Aerith responded first, "I think that could be part of the reason." The brunette shrugged helplessly. "The Lifestream is too unpredictable at times."
A pause. "It's interesting though, how it took until after the Meteor crisis that your Goddess searched for help."
The trio fell silent; Aerith and Zack exchanged looks and contemplated the implications of the statement.
Ignoring the pair, the shinigami Captain gazed at the ruin before him, analyzing the situation and environment carefully. It was clear that it once used to be a city and the twisted metal spires and debris attest to its previous technological splendour. Now though, Midgar resembled nothing more than a junk yard with past ghosts haunting the shadows and a stifling imprint of sickly disease hanging in the air. Geostigma.
The wind ruffling his snow-white hair briskly, carrying dry sand and dust into the endless blue sky, revealed and justified his fleeting thoughts, "Great. Of all the places…a desert." – when he was suddenly caught in a web of unease.
There was a presence…almost foreign-like but too carefully ingrained into the life force – the spirit force – for it to be a coincidence…
Zack stared unerringly into the alcove a dozen meters away. "Something's coming."
Hitsugaya looked up sharply, eyes narrowed, and commented almost off-handed, "Feels dark." The dragon within curled and waited.
And swiftly the sensations intensified and the taste of killing intent lingered in the air.
Slinking from the shadows of broken support beams, three lanky four-legged predators padded into the open sunlight, watching Hitsugaya tensely. The spirits beside him shifted and Zack frowned, "Sorry. We can't really help you with this since we're handicapped, being kinda dead and everything."
Hands clasped serenely, Aerith tilted her head in agreement but otherwise remained silent; her gaze was appraising the young-but-not Captain.
Hitsugaya's left eyebrow crooked upwards in response to the scrutiny and an almost amused smirk lifted the corners of his mouth, "Death. That hasn't really stopped me before." And with that, he dodged the paw slashing into the place where he previously occupied.
Spinning quickly on his heels, he unsheathed his sword and analyzed the battle. Two of the monsters were circling nearby while the third that initiated the attack looked ready to pounce again. Both Zack (Hitsugaya ignored the enthusiastic cheer from him) and Aerith stood relatively at ease behind the monsters and it was obvious then that they couldn't be seen by living creatures.
…Which rang warning bells.
Emerald eyes thoughtful, Hitsugaya levelled his blade towards the rapidly approaching beasts, and he parried a strong downward swipe before countering with a swift slash of Hyourinmaru. A ferocious cry came from the animal as the metal bit into its shoulder, blood spraying, but otherwise, the animal recuperated almost immediately and aimed its claws at his throat.
He used shunpo to escape – or at least he tried to.
"Fuck," was his only eloquent thought before the deep nails gouged his collarbone painfully, spots of black clouding his vision. Distantly he could hear someone cursing in the background before he swerved from a killing blow and used his strength to bat off the beast hovering close by. Using the gained time, he recovered from the shock of the wound just in time to narrowly escape the fangs intended for his neck and leapt upwards into the sky to distance himself from the fray.
"No shunpo. I'll have to end this quickly before I blunder with any other newly acquired weaknesses."
Landing in a crouched position on top of a broken infrastructure, he observed the circling beasts below warily and warned his guides loudly, "You might want to back up. I'm not sure what adverse effects releasing damaging reiatsu will have on your physical world."
"Reiatsu?" echoed Aerith before Zack, saluting humorously, led her backwards and away. They both can feel a different quality of energy infused into the surroundings now, the pinnacle being radiated from the Captain. The Lifestream offered what little comfort by circling their heels in reassurance.
Impatient, one of the beasts attempted to jump onto the platform Hitsugaya stood upon. However with a furl of the white Captain's cloak, the skilled shinigami dived to meet the predator head on as a pre-emptive move, and imparted reiatsu into the sword. With a smirk, he cleaved the beast cleanly in half and landed gracefully to face the remaining two animals.
Growling menacingly even after the corpse dropped heavily, loudly, the beasts kept low to the dusty ground as if planning, and in tandem, they struck the shinigami. Hitsugaya, prepared, manifested the reiatsu within his body into his zanpaktou and summoned, his eyes flashing azure.
"Reign over the frosted heavens, Hyourinmaru!"
A misconstrued calm entered the battlefield prior to the billowing ice storm that erupted and tore through the creatures relentlessly. Both Zack and Aerith took cover behind a secure wall of metal as the frost bit and screamed; Hitsugaya's opponents, however, weren't as lucky.
And when the frozen dust subsided, Hitsugaya blinked and murmured absently, "Hmn. Not exactly what I expected…" He gently accessed the wound on his collarbone, now sealed by Hyourinmaru's ice, and sighed, "I was careless."
Sheathing his sword, he gazed at the newly frozen surroundings and at the newly frozen ice beast sculptures before hoping almost fervently that he wouldn't find newly frozen guides as well. Really, he didn't put that much energy into the attack so for his powers to reach such an immense radius was perplexing. It must be this world and the environment tampering with the manifestation of reiatsu; the lack of shunpo skills was also disturbing and hopefully he can accredit that to the different make-up of spiritual presences in the physical plane. Perhaps he should ask Zack and Aerith to see if they knew anything about this. After all, he would be in quite a disadvantageous position to test what works and what doesn't during the heat of battle.
Unfortunately for him, his technical thoughts left him when he heard a rather inappropriate whoop followed by a comment and blinding smile. "Hey, are you Shiva's long lost relative – her son maybe? What with the awesome ice powers and-!"
"…What?" Eyebrows furrowed, he interrupted the excited spirit, "Mr. Fair, I have no idea who this Shiva is." He faced the approaching pair and crossed his arms defensively. The relief he felt when he saw them as whole and healthy echoes of the Lifestream didn't linger in his expression.
"Please, just Zack, Toushirou." The ex-SOLDIER made a face. "Mister makes me sound way too old and a part of me just cringes…And you know what? Mr. Fair sounds like a name you'd find in some corny romance novel."
Ignoring the rambling, Hitsugaya refrained from making a rude comment about manners and instead sniped back, "Please Zack, I prefer Captain Hitsugaya."
Violet-sapphire eyes glinting from the light reflected from the ice, Zack's teasing grin appeared. "Of course, Toushirou."
"And you antagonize me."
"No, I'm not aiming for that. This may be a serious mission but there isn't any reason we should let authority come between friendships!" Avoiding the glare with expertise, he continued, grinning, "Oh, and as for your previous question: Shiva is a summon in the form of an ice goddess."
"…Whatever." Perhaps on an instinctive level, Hitsugaya realized the futility in arguing with Zack, and so he responded with a glower. "I don't know any ice goddesses." An ice dragon, yes.
All but forgotten during the exchange, Aerith decided to step in then while muffling a giggle, and tactfully changed the subject. "So this ice power is a form of damaging reiatsu then?"
Shifting a hand through his hair he answered, "You can say that. It seems though, that reiatsu isn't very agreeable with your Lifestream."
Zack, curious, asked, "What do you mean by that? Seems to be working fine." He circled the radius of ice meaningfully and even tapped at one of the ice beast sculptures.
"Your world works with different parameters, physics, and energies. As I discovered during the battle, our version of high speed translocation, 'shunpo' otherwise known as 'flash step', doesn't work here."
An animated grin appeared on Zack's visage as he turned to meet their gaze. "High speed translocation? Sounds like a pretty handy skill."
"It's especially useful when you're trying to keep your head on your shoulders." Hitsugaya gestured vaguely at his new cut.
"Ah. I know all about that. At times it can be such tricky business."
Frowning lightly, she pinpointed the main problem that the boys did nothing but dance around. "So your powers are volatile at the moment?" Aerith's sweet voice did not sugar coat the statement.
The Death God let out a quiet sigh and muttered, "Unfortunately." He, conversely, will not fault himself when it was clearly the Lifestream tampering with the foreign reiatsu expended into the environment.
Zack paced back towards the pair, optimistic. "Don't worry though – about protection, that is. You won't have to travel alone because we'll need to enlist the help of-"
But he abruptly stopped and stared at Aerith, who looked startled and rested a hand on her forehead. Hitsugaya's eyes flickered between the pair just as Zack exchanged a lengthy glance with her over Hitsugaya's head.
The tension was palpable.
"Aerith…" Concerned, Zack looked ready to reach forward before he was halted by a shake of her lovely head.
"It's alright." Aerith voiced out sadly, "The events are unfurling rapidly…Cloud is just caught in between again." She took a step back and bit her lip. "I'm sorry Captain Hitsugaya, but I have a personal matter to overlook."
Zack harrumphed, "Talk some sense into the kid for me, will you?" Aerith could only offer him a small smile.
Remaining silent, Hitsugaya accepted her apology with a nod and she took off quickly in a swirl of bright green energy, disbursing back into the Lifestream. Eyeing where she used to stand, he muttered candidly, "That was fast."
"Heh. Yeah, we're able to immediately access the Lifestream and translocate to another location on the planet." Zack motioned him to follow as they strode off the icy battlefield. "Unfortunately, we aren't able to offer you that same kind of transportation even with the urgency and the distance we would need to cover to reach the destination."
"It's too risky, isn't it? After seeing how your Planet's life energy reacted with my spirit energy…" The Captain trailed off into thought, absently following after Zack on autopilot. The reaction in mixing two volatile energies would probably be short of a catastrophic explosion.
"Right. But like I said earlier, don't worry about transportation. I think we can convince a couple of people to help out on the Planet's predicament." Zack winked conspiratorially.
"Where are we heading to now?" The pair leapt over the debris blocking the road and hurried along.
Zack offered genially, "Off to Edge, which is the newly reconstructed Midgar, to find Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockhart."
"Cloud Strife and Tifa Lockhart?"Hitsugaya's lips thinned as he thought back through the mission files. "Sounds familiar…Weren't they a part of the group AVALANCHE?"
"Hey Toushirou." Fascinated indigo eyes stared at him.
Scowling, he let a hint of warning fuse into his tone, "What?"
"You sure you're not related to Shiva?"
Hitsugaya, almost stumbling, paused and responded dryly, "Yes. I'm positive Mr. Fair."
Squawking protests ("It's Zack, not Mr. Fair!") ignored (Though Zack would argue that Hitsugaya muttered a "hypocrite" before turning his nose), the two warriors travelled out of the ruins of Midgar, and headed towards the outskirts of Edge.
To Be Continued