Bleach Family ties
A/N: Well here goes my first foray into attempting a fanfic in the world of one of my all time favorite anime series Bleach. I decided to try my AU spin on things this time focusing on the relationship between father and son. Ichigo is dealing with finding out of the truth about his father's Shinigami lineage and he isn't handling the news very well. I liked Amagai, so I kind of changed the outcome of what looks like his demise into somewhat of a 'why didn't you tell me that Isshin wasn't dead' kind of situation. Instead of him being out for blood about his father, he was out for blood because Yamamoto killed his big brother. In my AU world Amagai's Isshin's kid brother and Yamamoto's their father. Ichigo has overheard a conversation between the three of them where Isshin has come to have a long overdo chat with his father. Ichigo returns back home in, to coin a Buffy the vampire slayer phrase, 'fire bad tree pretty' mode. Total mental overload and the following are the repercussions of that.
One last note: Thanks Yemi Hikari for your suggestions they really helped.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach and this story is just for fun.
Ichigo lay pensively on his bed staring broodingly up at his new skylight. It seemed that his father had given up having the roof patched over and over again and had opted to have a skylight installed to give his son a discrete means of exiting his room.
He had just gotten back from assuring the safety of Princess Rurichiyo, as well as saving the Soul Society again. This time the cause was Captain-Commander Gramp's family problems, involving his estranged son wanting revenge for his brother's death, because as usual that old fart didn't give a shit, and innocents were once again put in the crossfire.
But that however, wasn't what was eating him up inside. It had become routine for him to bail them out of mess after mess. Hell, he didn't mind. It kept life interesting.
No…not interesting that wasn't the word he would use to describe his feelings about the Soul Society. Belonging…Yeah, that was the right word. The more that he spent time in the Seireitei the less he wanted to come back to the world of the living.
The joke was on him…He sneered bitterly.
No he wasn't human…not by a long shot. A person had to have two human parents to be classified as human and his were far from that. No. Everything that he knew about them was a lie. Now if that wasn't a bad enough bombshell it turned out that he himself was walking around in a gigai!
Shit! He felt like a complete idiot! God! Could he have been anymore of a fool! They must have gotten one hell of a laugh out of letting him believe that he was just a human with Shinigami powers and was very much alive.
Then again they were probably as snowed as he had been, seeing as his father had completely changed his identity, not to mention occupation. Healer my ass! More like his royal highness 'High King' of all he surveyed! His father had fled by faking his own death hours after being officially crowned High King of the Soul Society and used his best friends' dramatic departure as the ultimate distraction. The Soul Society of course covered that up by declaring that the King was now residing in another dimension somewhere in the Seireitei.
The kicker was that his kid brother Amagai had been under the assumption that their dad had killed Isshin by forcing him to make a choice, and then covered it all up by making it look like the King was safe in another dimension somewhere in the Soul Society. This had been the catalyst that had launched the whole Assassin's guild debacle in the first place and thanks to Ichigo their falling out had been rectified and no one got dead. He hadn't a clue that the brother was Isshin, until his dad had showed up to check on his baby brother, and by doing so had started up a tentative relationship with his father again.
Free of his ties with the Soul Society Isshin was free to start life anew with a new face and identity courtesy of months of careful planning and one of Kisuke's special order gigai's. He was free to marry Ichigo's mother and never have to worry about the repercussions of falling in love and marrying a Quincy. Not just that, but the sister of Ryūken Ishida, one of his closest human friends.
That tight ass was his Uncle, making Uryū his cousin! Uryū's father blamed Isshin for his sister's death and had cut off all ties with him. Going as far as denying his own Quincy heritage, this was until he'd had to help his son regain his Quincy powers during the Aizen/Arrancar war.
Aizen, the bastard had died at his hands, and any influence that Kyōka had over Gin had dispersed. Influence or not Gramps didn't pardon him and he was exiled from the Sereitei. Lt. Rangiku Matsumoto had him comfortably set up in the Rukongai's first district, but he was always under constant surveillance by the Special Forces.
Love… Who could explain it, but that was a whole other migraine. Why anyone would fall for Gin defied the imagination.
One of Aizen's tactics had been to taunt him…saying that everyone that he knew was deceiving him and that everything he knew was a lie. Hell, it was a tactic that all the badies tried to use on him, so he'd brushed it off.
Yeah, right. Urahara and his father, who was also a Shinigami, had schemed to create the ultimate spiritual warrior. His mother's death, at the hands of Grand Fisher, had been the catalyst and his father had used that to mold him into who or what he was today. He'd thought that all of that was a load of horse shit, when in fact he'd been telling him the truth.
The truth was eating him alive. His dad was Gramp's son.
Yamamoto the former high ruler of the Soul Society, after losing his Queen during an attack on the Soul Society, had chosen to create the Gotei 13 as a means of presiding over and protecting his subjects. Isshin, his oldest son, determined to avenge his mother's death had been his first success.
For many millennia, the two of them had a tense father son relationship. Yamamoto choosing to let his son 'beat to his own drum' and the status of 'High King' was far from either of their minds.
Isshin had taken on the highest rank as 'Head of the royal guards or Zero Unit' allowing him the freedom to come and go as he pleased. Freeing him to explore the living world where he spent months learning their strange ways and fell in love with Ichigo's mother. The two of them were to marry that was until he was summoned back home by his father to take his rightful place on the throne. After all, his best friend had caused chaos to wreak havoc in the Soul Society and stability was needed once more. He reluctantly left his soul mate, vowing to return to her no matter what the cost.
Ichigo knew all of this because upon overhearing his father, Amagai, and the old man talking back at the Sereitei. He had needed even more answers and who better to get the answers from than Urahara himself.
Captain Hitsugaya had had no problem arranging a Senkai Gate for him so that it opened up in front of his shop. In the Captain's eyes the sooner Ichigo returned home the faster the Sereitei would return to its calm state of being.
His darker side came in handy when it came to getting someone to talk and Urahara had been no exception. Although, force hadn't been necessary the man had bowed before him pleading for him to understand. Ichigo had been in information overload after that so he flash stepped his way home and then barricaded himself in his room.
Karin and Yuzu had tried to get him to come out for two days. He'd ignored Yuzu's frantic pleas or Karin's threats to call their dad and get him to cut his mercy mission in China short so that he could come home and deal with his son.
Yeah, right, little sis... Go ahead and try to all that ya like. Dad's nowhere near China, let alone this demission. No. He's too busy spying on me and making nice with Gramps.
Kurosaki wasn't Isshin's given surname so none of them even clued in that he was Isshin's son, seeing as the King was currently residing in a secure demission somewhere in the Soul Society. It hadn't been until the Aizen debacle that Isshin had even donned the uniform again alerting his father of his existence. Urahara must have provided him with one of his special order untraceable gigai's, because his dad looked nothing like he did walking around on earth. Hell, he looked like he was in his late twenties in his natural form and his spiritual pressure was off the charts.
How the hell had he been able to hide it like that?
He'd felt a taste of it once before during his sparing match with Shinji, but his father had vanished before he could check it out.
His old man wasn't near the crazy maniac that he portrayed himself to be. Yeah, so what if he'd had his reasons that was no excuse to lie to him all the time! He should have come clean with him after the Aizen mess had been finished.
"Aw what's the matter," A voice sneered in his mind. "Did the 'ittle kingie get his 'ittle feelings hurt." It sneered.
"Cut it out! I'm so not in the mood!" Ichigo snarled aloud, his voice cutting through the silence.
"Yeah, well, neither am I! You pansy ass weakling! So what if they lied to you! Get over it already or I'll make you the horse for a while!" Hichigo, his 'Inner-Hollow' snarled back.
"SHUT THE HELL UP! I'M HAVING A CRISIS HERE!" Ichigo roared in frustration.
"YOU'RE THE ULTIMATE SHINIGAMI! THE PERFECT BLENDING OF QUINCY, SHINIGAMI, AND HOLLOW... WE'RE GLORIOUS! YOU SHOULD BE PROUD NOT FUCKING DEPRESSED! ZANGETSU IS GETTING PISSED BECAUSE OF ALL THE RAIN POURING DOWN ON HIM! WHEN HE'S PISSED I GET GRIEF! NOW SNAP THE HELL OUT OF IT OR WE'LL CHANGE PLACES AND YOU CAN BE THE HORSE FOR A WHILE!" Hichigo roared back.
"You are me! Now shut the hell up!" Ichigo prowled the floor of his room, barely resisting the urge to slam his fist through his bedroom wall. "Zangetsu only gets pissed when I lose my resolve!"
"Wrong! Your rollercoaster moods affect us all! Look wise ass! Oh clueless one! If it hadn't been for your old man and Old Fart' n Clogs, you wouldn't be here right now! You'd have been Hollow chow, so get over it! You're not a kid, so quit acting like you're a toddler that's lost his favorite toy! Grow the hell up! People lie! You lie on a daily basis to everyone in order to keep your identity as a Soul Reaper a secret!"
"It's not the same thing! I'm trying to keep them all safe!"
"Bull shit! Kingie! It's exactly the same thing! Your old man made certain that you would be strong enough to handle what was to come! He took a sniveling scared little scrawny pansy ass brat and made him into a man! Like it or not, Ichigo, you owe him everything! Now get over it!" Hichigo relentlessly snarled back.
"SHUT UP! I DON'T GIVE A SHIT WHAT YOU WANT OR THINK! JUST LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE! ALL OF MY LIFE, EVERYTHING ALL LIES!!" Ichigo punched his fist through his bedroom window, sending shards of glass flying everywhere.
"The hell with this, I'm gone! I can't be here!" He kicked the rest of the glass out of his way, jumped through the opening, and took off.
Yuzu worriedly paced outside of her big brother's room. "We have to do something, Karin! He's delusional! Two days without food is causing him to short circuit!"
Karin didn't need her sister to tell them that Ichigo was in extremes. She could feel the waves of emotions radiating from him. She'd had a throbbing migraine for days. He was beyond hurt and miserable and it was killing her inside to see him this way. It had to be because of his being a Soul Reaper. Yes, something major must have happened to devastate him like this. "Yuzu, go call dad. Tell him that Ichigo needs him. I'll try and get the door open."
"Dad's in China, Karin! He'll take forever getting here!" Yuzu wailed.
"Yeah, you're right. He even forgot that tomorrow's Ichigo's sixteenth birthday. This is so messed up! Oooo…I wanna pound those robed yahoo's ta bits for screwing him up like this!" Karim fumed.
"Karin! What on earth are you talking about?! What black robed yahoos?!" Yuzu stared at her as if she were going mental too.
"Look, Yuzu, it's complicated alright!"
"No. Karin! Start talking! What's going on! Does this have anything to do with seeing spirits, creepy monsters, or things like that!?"
"Yuzu, not now!"
"Yes, now! Does it or not!"
"Yeah, Yuzu, it does! Ichigo fights badies called Hollows. He leaves his body. How I don't have a clue, but he does. Then he changes into what's called a Soul Reaper. They wear long black kimonos and carry swords. Their purpose is to safely guide spirits to the Soul Society and to defend the earthly plain from evil spirits. That's what Ichigo has been doing since that time when a truck crashed into our clinic. It's fuzzy, but Rukia has something to do with it too. The weirdo with the funky red hairdo, Mr. Urahara, Chad, Orihime, and Uryū are all in on it too!" Karin blinked back the tears of frustration shining in her eyes.
"The truth! Just because you're afraid to embrace the side of you that can sense the Spirit World doesn't make it all go away! We've been attacked countless times! We've fought them ourselves, only you refuse to believe what's right in front of your nose! Well, open your eyes, little sister! It's all real and it's tearing our big brother apart!" Karin slammed kicks into Ichigo's door until it was in splinters.
"KARIN! That's only gonna make him worse!" Yuzu cried out, bracing for their big brother to come out and roar at them, but there was a gaping hole in his window, and no sign of him.
"Call dad, Yuzu!! Ichigo's gone!! He's really gone this time!!" Karin ignored the tears streaming down her face.
"Karin…you're…you're…crying." Yuzu whimpered. "You never cry…"
"Yeah, well, it's killing me inside seeing him this way. I'm helpless and I hate it!" Karin raced down the hallway and then dashed down the stairs. "Call dad! I'm gonna see if he went to crash with one of his friends!" Karin raced out the front door slamming it behind her.
Yuzu raced for the phone and shakily punched out the number of their dad's cellphone. "Please Daddy…pick up…answer the phone. We need you…" Bursting into tears when he finally answered his phone.
Rukia and Renji exited the Senkai Gate and were immediately confronted by Karin.
"What the hell did you creeps do to my big brother!?" Karin glared murderously at the two of them.
"Holly hell! She can see us!" Renji's gaped open mouthed at her in shock.
"Of course she can see us you idiot! That's Ichigo's little sister! Don't you pay attention to anything!?" Rukia bopped him in the head.
"Ow! Damn it, Rukia that hurt!" He rubbed the lump forming on his head.
"What did you do to him!?" Karin looked ready to rumble with the two of them.
"Karin, calm down. What's happened to Ichigo?" Rukia asked calmly.
"Yeah, squirt, what's he gotten into now?" Renji smirked.
"He's beyond going mental and it's all your fault!" She snarled at them.
"Our fault?!" Renji scowled down at the little girl. "How the hell is it our fault? We've been…"
Karin slammed a kick into his right shin.
"DAMN IT TO HELL YOU LITTLE BRAT THAT HURT!" He howled in pain.
The blow had been channeled with her own spiritual pressure, so it had been quite effective in downing one of her opponents. "TALK! WHAT DID YOU DO TO MAKE HIM BAR HIMSELF IN HIS ROOM FOR OVER TWO DAYS AND THEN RANT TO HIMSELF THAT EVERYTHING…HIS WHOLE LIFE HAS BEEN A LIE!?" Karin screamed at them.
Renji and Rukia were at a loss. Neither had a clue about what was going on.
"HE'S GONE! HE'S HURTING AND I CAN'T HELP HIM! PLEASE TELL ME WHAT YOU DID SO THAT I CAN HELP HIM!" She fell to her knees in tears.
"Karin, it's going to be okay." Rukia had changed into her gigai and was kneeling beside her.
"No it's not! He's so upset that he smashed the window in his room to bits and then…"
"Easy kiddo." Renji, now also in his gigai, carefully scooped the little girl into his arms. "We're the good guys. Ichigo is our best friend. Hell, he's like a kid brother to me. We would never intentionally hurt him like that."
"Someone did…" Karin sniffled miserably.
"Well then we'll just have to find out who and then deal with them accordingly." Rukia scanned the area for Ichigo's spiritual pressure and knew in moments exactly where he was. "He's at Urahara's shop."
"Fine. We'll take squirt here back home then go see about Ichigo." Renji had used a Kidō spell to put the girl to sleep.
"You okay, Renji?" Rukia smirked as Renji gimped along beside her.
"Yeah, I'll live." Renji couldn't help but chuckle. "This little spitfire really packs a punch. It's a good thing that she has some control over her spiritual pressure or I would have ended up with a broken leg."
"Yes, it runs in the family." Rukia sighed, wincing as the force of Ichigo's misery hit her like a brick wall.
"Rukia? You alright?" Renji frowned.
"I'm alright, Renji. Ichigo's just projecting his misery enough for me to hone in on it." Rukia massaged her temples with her fingertips.
"He's all gloomy alright. The question is who caused it and why."
"Something must have happened while he was in the Sereitei. He left without telling me where he was going." Rukia frowned.
"He was fine." Renji shrugged. "Last I saw him he was heading for Old Man Yamamoto's office. It's still mindboggling that the Captain Commander has kids. Hey, you don't think he had words with the old man do you. Hell, that old timer lies all the time to get his own way and half the time he tricks Ichigo into doing all the grunt work for him…"
"Renji, none of this makes any sense."
"Yeah, well, since when does anything Ichigo does make sense…" Renji gaped at the Senkai Gate that had appeared in front of the Kurosaki homestead. "What the hell…"
Someone, nearly the spitting image of Amagai, robed in the uniform of his rank, stepped out of the gate. The spiritual pressure that he exuded, although reined in, was clearly out of even Kenpachi's league. The Shinigami then popped a Soul Candy into his mouth revealing his gigai as Isshin Kurosaki.
"No way…that's his father…" Rukia gasped.
Well, well, well, now it's all starting to make sense. Ichigo is a full blooded Shinigami…not only that but from THE royal line…that haori…had the symbol of the High King. Renji thought in disbelief.
"Well, now what genius?" He shot her a look.
Isshin had Arrancar skulls on his robes holding up his haori.
"Obviously, Ichigo must have discovered the truth. Yes, that has to be it." Rukia nodded, giving no sign that she was startled down to her toes.
"Yeah, well, I'm holding his kid, who looks like she's bawled her eyes out, and that man is scary beyond words power wise. He ranks up there with the old man…shit he must be his number one son…Rukia, it's no wonder that Ichigo can touch all the artifacts! He's the bloody heir to the frickin throne!" Renji hissed. "Other dimension my ass, he's living the carefree life down here in the world of the living. Shit no wonder Karakura town is so important. Your big brother is going to go off the deep end when he hears this…all this time he's turned his nose down at Ichigo as if he were street trash and all along he's been one of the highest ranking royals in the Soul Society. God, I wanna be there when he finds out. He'll be downing sake with Captain Kyōraku and Captain Ukitake like there's no tomorrow."
"Relax, just let me handle it." Rukia walked up the walkway and up to the front door.
"Rukia, I'm telling you this isn't a good idea…"
"Trust me. I'm like a daughter to him. It'll be fine." Rukia rang the bell.
Isshin opened the door, his eyes narrowing at Renji. "What happened to Karin?" He growled softly in the same tone that Ichigo used when he was on the verge of tearing something in two.
"She's fine. Just sleeping." Rukia reassured him.
"She was upset, sir. Uh…worried about her big brother…"
Isshin stepped back to let them inside, then took his little girl out of Renji's arms. "She was crying…" Fire now blazed in his golden amber brown eyes.
"Uh, like I said, sir. She was very upset." Renji gulped.
"Karin never cries."
"Karin shares a bond with Ichigo. When he's upset she feels it. She's an empath and a strong one at that. But then you already know that don't you." Rukia folded her arms across her chest, not the least bit intimidated by him. Her eyes blazed with temper and she was scowling up at him. "How could you. It's no wonder that he's off the scales furious with you!"
"Rukia…now is not the time." Renji hissed.
"No. She's right. Let me get Karin settled upstairs with her sister then we'll talk." Isshin let out a deep heavy sigh resigning himself to his fate.
"Fine. We'll be waiting down here waiting to hear your explanation." Rukia growled.
"Look. Rukia, I didn't want him to find out this way…"
"Well he did. Now go see to Karin and check on Yuzu and then we'll talk." Rukia continued to give him the evil eye.
"Fine. I'll be down in a few. Feel free to help yourselves to whatever we have in the kitchen. I'm sure that Lieutenant Abarai and yourself have both earned a snack. Anyone Ichigo calls friend is welcome here and that includes you Lieutenant, no one will treat you like a 'freeloader' in this house." Isshin headed up the stairs.
Renji headed for the kitchen. "Who am I to disobey a royal decree? I'm gonna go raid the fridge. Wait till Ichigo finds out that he's got a new roommate."
"Honestly. Men can be so hopeless sometimes." Rukia picked up the phone and dialed Urahara's number.
"Uh, Ichigo. Those wounds on your hand and arm look bad. Come down from there and we'll get it seen to." Urahara called up to where Ichigo was sitting on the roof.
"Yeah, so what. I'm dead aren't I?" Ichigo snarled back.
"Well, not exactly…" Urahara frowned worriedly up at him.
"What do ya mean by that?" He scowled down at the fuzzy image looking up at him.
"While, it's true that you're in a gigai, but that doesn't mean that you're not alive. You can still be harmed or in this case bleed to death if not treated properly."
"Huh…" Ichigo blinked to clear his blurring vision.
Urahara easily leaped up onto the roof. "You can still die unless we treat those wounds."
"Zangetsu…" Ichigo collapsed in his arms. "He's really gonna kill me this time…"
"Nah. You're just having one hell of a week." Urahara opened a trap door on the roof and jumped down into it with Ichigo in his arms.
"Manager. What happened to Ichigo?" Ururu blinked worriedly at him.
"Boss. Does young Kurosaki need medical assistance?" Tessai eyed the blood dripping down Ichigo's fingers with a worried frown.
"Yeah, the kid had a battle with a window and lost. No matter. We'll fix him up good as new."
"Boss. You'd better call Isshin. He's lost a lot of blood." Tessai took his measure, not liking what he was getting from the teen.
"Yeah, I know." Urahara sighed in defeat. The guilt he was feeling was eating him up inside. "I'm afraid that we're really up to our necks this time and he isn't gonna believe a word of it."
Isshin eyed the two young people sitting in his office, their concern about Ichigo made it easier to say what he had to say. "I left home twenty Earth years ago, over a hundred years ago our time, to be with Masaki Ishida. I never intended to return. I didn't think I could, seeing as I had taken a Quincy for my bride. Dad never forgives anyone who defies the laws of the Soul Society. Besides that he still had Amagai to lord over. I felt like I was in a cage half the time. Being the first born son, my fate was sealed at birth. I rebelled against my old man every chance I got…"
"Sounds familiar…" Renji snorted under his breath.
Rukia kicked him. "Shut up and let him talk."
"Well it does…"
"Anyway, on one of my escapes down to Earth I met my Masaki." Isshin eyed the poster on the wall of his beloved and sighed deeply. "I sent word to dad that I needed some space and he agreed on the condition that I would return if I was needed. It wasn't until he called me back that I realized that I had to sever all ties with the Soul Society. I had found that I had a natural talent for healing others and during my time here on Earth had spent the time to train to become a doctor."
"Years and years on Earth were like months back home. I married my soul mate and the two of us set up a Clinic and started our family. I was happy until my past once again reared up its ugly head in my life, when Ichigo was born. He was such a special little guy, always curious, and a beacon for anything spirit oriented. I went to any means to protect all of them from harm. It was obvious that I hadn't done nearly enough."
"Masaki died at the hands of Grand Fisher
and Ichigo went from a happy
curious little boy to the angry teen that you see today. I couldn't reach
him, but I could focus on making him strong enough to handle anything and anyone he came across. He embraced being able to see spirits, but then he was a hard on anyone that annoyed him or who he saw trying to bully the underdogs. Kisuke and I kept careful watch on him for any signs that his Shinigami heritage was starting to emerge, but nothing happened until the night Rukia arrived. The rest is history."
and I realized the repercussions of Rukia's actions and knew
it was a matter of time before my old man sent someone to collect her and bring her back home. We also realized that Ichigo might try to play hero and end up getting himself killed, so when that event did finally come to pass Kisuke put the plan into motion. For the first time in forever Ichigo was thriving and it was clear that the key to keeping him that way was to awaken his Shinigami spirit within. "
Renji stared at the Soul Society artifact on Isshin's shelf. Its meaning was clear. Karakura Town was the residence of the High King and his family. No wonder everything went down here. Aizen had to have known as well. "Well, congratulations. Job above and beyond well-done. Tell me something, your majesty, was it really necessary to make him one third Hollow as well or was that just a bonus?"
"It was a side effect to reawakening his pure Shinigami spirit within him. That tight ass prat Byakuya damn nearly killed him and it was the only means to save his life and rekindle his birthright. Ichigo is a pure blood Shinigami, where as my other two are…Excuse me for a sec." The phone rang next to his arm.
He saw who was calling and he answered it on the second ring. "Hey Kisuke… What's up? Are your three charges fairing well?" He listened intently to the other end of the line, while absently rubbing the bridge of his nose as if to ward off an oncoming migraine.
"Yeah, well, he's as stubborn as his old man. How bad did he? I see…No. No. I agree. It's not like this is the first time…See ya in a few…bye." Isshin hung up the receiver, and then got up to grab his medical bag. "Well, kids, duty calls, but you can tag along if you want to. You see I have to patch up my son again. You two can check in on the other three while you're there."
"Other three," Renji frowned.
"Yeah, his two men and lady-at-arms, you know them as Uryū, Chad, and Orihime. The three of them are recuperating over at Kisuke's place under Tessai's watchful care. They tangled with the Assassins league and didn't come out unscathed." Isshin filled them in as he loaded his bag with everything he would need to treat his son.
"Never mind that, tell me what's wrong with Ichigo!" Rukia demanded.
"He fought with his bedroom window and the window left one hell of calling card on him." Isshin opened up a bottle of aspirin and shook two of the pills into his palm. He swallowed the two pills without any water. "I really do love my son."
"Well, you should tell him that, even Ichigo needs reassurance and stability." Rukia told him icily and then stalked from his office.
"I know that I've screwed everything up with him by handling things like I did. But, I was lost without Masaki and desperate to protect him any way I could."
Renji shrugged his shoulders, "Ichigo is lucky to have a father who cares for him. Then again what's done can't be undone. You just have to get through it."
"Yeah, well, his grandfather has decreed to me that it's time for Ichigo to complete his training…" Isshin muttered under his breath, as they left his office.
"The Academy!?" Renji exclaimed gaping at him in stunned shock.
"Yeah. He feels that it's what Ichigo needs to rein in his Inner-Hollow." Isshin paused near the front door to scrawl a note on the whiteboard. Telling his daughters that he had to go collect their brother at Kisuke's and that he'd be back with him as soon as he could.
"You can't just ignore his wishes. He'll just send someone to carry them out. Who I haven't gotta clue. Not even Captain Kenpachi wants to spar with him these days." Renji confided in him, as they paused beside his car. He'd never been in a car so of course Renji wasn't keen on getting in what looked to him like a metal deathtrap on wheels.
"Get in, Renji. Ichigo needs a blood transfusion and driving over there is the fastest means possible." Isshin ordered the reluctant young man.
"Uh, no offence, sir, but I'm gonna Flash step to the shop…" Renji tried to step around the car.
"Get in, Chicken. I promise not to crash us on the way there." Isshin smirked then was all business again. "Look, I would rather not alert my father as to the current condition of my kid. Either of you ditching your gigais will do that. Now get in the car."
"Stop bickering at each other and let's go! Ichigo needs us!" Rukia snarled at them from the front passenger seat of the car.
The two men jumped into the van and in moments they were speeding down the rode.
"Orihime, getting upset isn't going to help matters any. You aren't even close to being able to use your powers yet." Uryū gingerly sat up on his sleep mat and frowned at her.
"Uryū's right. Orihime, you'll just have to trust Master Tessai to heal him." Chad calmly sat up to drink the healing herbal brew that Jinta had brought the three of them to drink. He was the only one of the three of them that was nearly completely healed and had just come back from checking on Ichigo.
"What happened, Chad?" Orihime blinked back tears of frustration at being helpless to do anything.
"It's obvious that he lost his temper again, Orihime." Uryū surmised. "He's been on slow boil for days about something and as usual he chose to stew about it instead of confiding to one of us."
"Uryū. He doesn't mean to close himself off it's just how he handles things that bother him." Orihime whimpered miserably.
"I know that, Orihime. But, even Ichigo needs to rely on his friends to help him see things clearly, especially, when his emotions are off the scales like this." Uryū grumbled darkly, laid back down, and closed his eyes.
"Chad, did Mr. Urahara say what happened to him?" She chose to ignore him completely.
"No not really. Ichigo's arm looked really bad though, like he'd punched his fist through a window or something." Chad shrugged.
"Yeah, well, knowing Ichigo he probably ignored any sign that he was nearly bleeding to death." Uryū grumbled.
"Uryū, don't say something like that! Maybe the Assassins Guild got him!" Orihime snapped.
"That situation has been rectified for days. No. Ichigo most likely took his temper out on his window…" Uryū opened on eye to look over at her.
"Whatever happened involves Urahara." Chad laid back down on his sleep mat. "And Ichigo's dad as well…"
"Well, that figures. Urahara is always up to something and Ichigo's father, well, he's not anywhere near the clown that he portrays himself to be." Uryū closed his eyes and attempted to go back to sleep.
"Chad? How is that even possible when Mr. Kurosaki has been off on a mercy mission to China this whole time?" Orihime was completely confused.
"That's most likely the problem, seeing as my father happens to be on the same mission and Ichigo's father isn't anywhere near China…" Uryū informed her of the facts.
"He helped load up the supplies on the plane with him, but then an emergency came up so he couldn't go." Uryū finished his explanation and added. "My father lied to me about never being a Quincy again, so odds are that more than likely his father has been lying to him too. Ichigo is a pure blood Shinigami, meaning that one or both of his parents had to be one as well."
"Yeah, that would explain some things." Chad nodded.
"But…everyone said that he was a Substitute Shinigami…"
"Go back to sleep, Orihime. He's going to be fine and as for the other, well, Ichigo needed a title of some kind, and that was the best one they could come up with seeing as he's one of kind." Uryū yawned sleepily.
"I guess you're right, Uryū that does make sense…" Orihime was able to settle down and fall back to sleep.
"Uryū?" Chad growled softly.
"Ichigo's gonna be beyond messed up if what you're saying is right."
"Yeah, Chad. I know." He sighed deeply. "It's his Achilles' heel. Ichigo cares deeply for those he sees as his family and if one of them were to lie like that…Well, let's just say that it could very well destroy him…"
Soifon frowned down at Ichigo's still form. "I'll have to report this to the Captain-Commander."
Kisuke shot Yoruichi a look as did Tessai.
"Now, Soifon, what he doesn't know won't hurt him." Yoruichi quietly led her out of the room and slid the door shut behind her.
"Lady Yoruichi, I was ordered to bring Kurosaki to him."
"Soifon, trust me we've got this handled."
"I can't…Lady Yoruichi…"
"Soifon, I know that he finally clued in about Ichigo's Inner-Hollow and after the whole Assassin situation I can well understand his wanting to see him. However, Ichigo is going through his own emotional trauma right now, so now is not the time for Yamamoto to try to rein him in. Ichigo is the savior of the Sereitei and would never turn on any of us." Yoruichi was beginning to lose her patience with her former charge.
"I know that you're fond of the boy, but my orders are clear…"
"The hell with your orders! No one touches my kid! Ya got me, little lady." Isshin stalked down the hallway. "I'm here, Yoruichi. Is he in there?"
Yoruichi narrowed her golden eyes up at him. "Fix this, Isshin. He's hurting because of you and Kisuke not coming clean with him about everything. He's not a little kid anymore and hasn't been since Masaki's death."
"Bitch at me later. My kid needs me." Isshin muttered darkly.
Rukia and Renji, having checked on their sleeping friends, had come to check on Ichigo. They passed the three of them and quietly slipped into the other room. Neither of them wanted to stand around while the Captain, the former Captain, and the King squared off with each other.
"Soifon, meet Isshin Kurosaki. Isshin, this is Soifon 2nd division Captain. Soifon has come here for Ichigo."
"Well, she can tell my old man to go to hell. My kid is staying put. He'll have to find some other savoir for his precious Soul Society. He's been through enough. It's high time that all of you got off your lazy asses and did your job for a change." Isshin sneered, his eyes blazing with temper.
"Old man," Soifon's eyes widened in shock.
"Yeah, Yamamoto is my father and Amagai is my baby brother. Ya got a problem with that, little girl." Isshin dared her to defy him with his eyes.
"Go see to Ichigo, Isshin. Tessai feels that he is in need of a blood transfusion."
"Yeah, I heard what he did to himself." Isshin grumbled. "I thought Shinji had taught him to control his Inner-Hollow."
"He can control him. It's only when he suffers severe mental trauma that he allows him to aggravate him like he did tonight." Urahara stood in the open doorway.
"Get in here and help Ichigo!" Rukia snarled sharply.
"Rukia! Stop snarling at the High King like that! Ichigo is just sleeping not comatose!" Renji hissed.
"King!?" Soifon gasped, as yet another bombshell exploded around her.
"Yeah, that's right. Ya got a problem with that?!"
"Not my problem." Isshin pushed them out of his way stalking passed Urahara to see to his son.
"It's a long story, Soifon. C'mon, I'll tell it to you over some tea." Yoruichi led the dazed captain down the hallway.
Ichigo found himself sitting sideways on a skyscraper again, while Zangetsu stood staring down at him from his perch on a steel flag pole.
"Go ahead let me have it…" He sighed in defeat.
"Ichigo, why is it that you give others sound advice, but never follow it?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"You advised the young captain that he didn't have to suffer alone, to let his friends take some of his pain, and problems that goes with it. That he was hurting all of those around him by carrying everything on his own?"
"This isn't the same thing…I haven't lost my resolve...and everyone is healing from tangling with our last enemies…"
"Ichigo, are you ashamed of who and what you are?" Zangetsu tried a different tactic.
"No…this has nothing to do with being ashamed of anything. He lied to me…" Ichigo grumbled darkly.
"Yes, this is true, but did you ever think to ask the reason?"
"Why ask. It's obvious that he still blames me about Mom's death. It's not like the two of us have father and son talks or anything. Hell, he gets his kicks out of knocking me around all the time. I wasn't strong enough to save mom…" Ichigo glared up at his sensei.
"Have you ever tried to sit down and talk with your father?"
Ichigo laughed bitterly. "Yeah, right, Dad's not one for heart-to-heart chats."
"Like father like son it would seem." Zangetsu arched a brow at him.
"Look, he lied to me about being a Shinigami. Not just any Shinigami, but the son of the Captain-Commander, and here's the real eye opener he's the High King!"
"You've recently gotten a taste of the life of a royal…"
"Yeah, and I have no intention of being sucked into that insanity."
"Ichigo, talk to your father and you might find the answers that your mind is so desperately seeking." Zangetsu jumped down from his perch to stand before him. "You won't be able to carry on with the next phase of your training until you resolve this situation with your father."
"Next phase of my training…" Ichigo frowned up at him.
"Talk to your father…" Zangetsu faded away.
"Wait! What's left for me to learn?!" Ichigo sprang to his feet.
Forty-eight hours later…
Ichigo awoke finding himself in one of Urahara's guest rooms surrounded by concerned sleeping family members and two of his closest friends, all sound asleep on sleep mats that had been laid out on the floor. His right hand and arm were bandaged clear up to just above his elbow and if that wasn't bad enough he felt as weak as a newborn kitten.
Aw man…I must have been dying or something for all of them to be here like this. Rukia, Renji, Karin, Yuzu…Dad?!
Man he looks like hell, not that I care. Mental note never do that again. My baby sisters must be worried out of their minds…Has Karin been crying…?
"Well, it's about time you finally decided to rejoin the land of the living. Leave it to you to sleep through your sixteenth birthday after trying to kill yourself by bleeding to death by taking out the window in your bedroom." Isshin sat up to check his son's vitals.
"Yeah, like you give a damn…" Ichigo glared up at him. "I'm sorry that my nearly bleeding to death messed up your little family reunion with…"
"You're pissed at me. I get that, but it's not…"
"It's not what, Dad?" Ichigo struggled to sit up, but Isshin easily pushed him back down on the mat.
"Calm down, son…"
"No! You've gotten the results that you wanted. I'm the Ultimate Fucking Shinigami one man army, a blending of Soul Reaper and Quincy with a little Hollow mixed in for the hell of it! I'm living, but then again I'm not!" Ichigo used his Substitute Shinigami charm to leave his weakened body and also so that he could snarl at his father all he wanted without disturbing his sisters. "Yeah, I can still bleed to death, but then so can everyone else. No matter if they're from the living or the Soul Society! Add to that my father is a fucking royal! And not just any royal either, you're the high fucking King, and first born son of the head of the whole God Damned Gotei 13!" Ichigo let his feelings fly at his father.
Isshin stood there and let him get it all out of his system.
"I'm sorry that I wasn't strong enough at five fucking years-old or smart enough to know a spiritual entity from an actual living kid! But I became stronger! Hardened my heart and soul, so that I could never feel that kind of mind numbing pain again!! Became stronger than anyone to insure that I could keep my family safe!! I know that I screwed up…that you hate me for mom dying! But for you to lie to me everyday knowing all the hell I was going through the whole time! To stand back and watch me endure all of that shit over and over again!" Ichigo ignored the hot angry tears streaming down his cheeks.
"That father is what I don't understand! After I saved Rukia, then defeated the Bount, and then endured everything that Aizen threw at me to get Orihime back. Did you and Urahara pat yourselves on the back? You and Urahara must have been so proud of your creation, the cure for both of your guilty consciences. It's no wonder that Shinji, Hiyori, and the others despised all of you so much. You turned your backs on anything that you deemed a mistake refusing to acknowledge the repercussions of your actions. If you can't see it or if it can be exiled then it's no longer your problem anymore! I'm sick of paying for and cleaning up all of your mistakes! My friends and I were nothing but pawns in Grandfather's little game of chess…"
Isshin shed his own gigai, so that he stood on equal ground with him. It was killing him inside to see his son this way.
"The only one who screwed up was me. I failed you and Masaki by not being there to protect you. I couldn't get to the two of you in time and it cost me my soul mate and nearly cost me your life. Urahara kept telling me that you were a special little guy. Hell, you glowed like a beacon from the day you were born. Masaki called you her little ray of sunshine. I wouldn't listen to him when he came to me about you spilling out spiritual energy, that it put you in grave danger, and the reason you were always so scared was because you saw Hollows and spirits as clear as day. No. You were just my little guy, a little too sensitive sometimes, but you were five. Then something called me away for a few hours, so I couldn't go with Masaki to pick you up from your karate class. All hell broke loose all over town and I had to fight through hundreds of Hollows to get to you both, but it was too late. Masaki was gone, but no one and nothing was ever going to make me lose you again. I couldn't ignore things any longer. You needed to be able to protect yourself for what might eventually come to pass…" Isshin, like his son, ignored the tears streaming down his face.
"Then Rukia arrived and my worst nightmare had finally become a reality."
"Yeah, well, I handled it didn't I."
"Like you were born to it, so much so that all I did was keep an eye on you. For the first time in forever you were enjoying something and thriving at it. You were channeling all of that pent up anger and energy into something good. You had a purpose. Then I failed you again that night when Renji and Byakuya arrived to take Rukia back with them to the Soul Society. I had just arrived in time to watch Byakuya damn near kill you. Your blood stained my hands as I carried you back to Kisuke's place. I sewed you back up, transfused you with my own blood, bandaged your wounds, and then put your life in the hands of my best friend. Neither of us realized that you possessed unimaginable power, so much so, that you bestowed a sliver of it to two of your friends in order to protect them."
"When did you don the uniform again?"
"When Shinji made his appearance I went to Kisuke and he created another gigai for me so that I could once again tap into my Shinigami form. I was testing it during your chat with Shinji. Kon, Ririn, Kuroud, and Noba were all being stalked by Grand Fisher…"
"Yeah, he was hunting for you, but got me instead." Isshin smirked.
"Felt good did it."
"Yeah, too bad the fight he put up wasn't even remotely interesting. One slice and he was history." Isshin shrugged.
"Yep, I didn't even call on my shikai to awaken my sword."
"What division were you anyway?"
"I was Captain of the Royal guard, which by the way is the highest rank under the old man. Kisuke was the former warden of the Soul Society's version of a prison before becoming Captain, which by the way was a demotion. Soifon replaced Yoruichi's post as Captain of Special forces and all of Shinji's crew were former Captains or Lieutenants. Aizen had once been Shinji's Lieutenant…"
"Yes way, kid. It was Aizen, not Kisuke who caused the Hollowfication to them. Kisuke just got blamed for it and it was Tessai, who at the time was Captain of the Kidō forces, who helped him and Yoruichi, get all of them safely out of the Soul Society." Isshin affectionately reached over and ruffled his son's spiky strawberry blonde hair.
"Dad, lay off the hair or I'll hurt you…" Ichigo growled.
"Now is that anyway to treat your old man when I'm gonna personally see to completing your Shinigami training?" Isshin shot him a hurt look.
"Dad. I can match almost all of the Captains now. Hell, the only thing I can't do is Kidō …" Ichigo now had an idea of what phase of his training that Zangetsu was talking about, but Kidō was so god damned complex and the incantation took frickin forever for someone to say! Yeah, it had helped to finally talk to his dad, but Kidō !
"Exactly. You've put it off long enough, most Soul Reapers master that long before even attempting Bankai."
"I had to learn Bankai in order to save Rukia and be able to face off with Byakuya."
"Yes, I know and you did it in less than three days, so learning Kidō should be easy for you."
"Yeah, but dad if I do that then…I'll…be…a…a…"
"A genuine Soul Reaper. Hell, kiddo, you've already surpassed Captaincy level and earned the respect of all the Captains, Lieutenants, and the majority of the Gotei 13 Protection Squads. Dad's beyond proud of you. He just feels that you're not happy living the life of a sixteen-year-old High School student."
"I'm in the top of my class…"
"Yes, but are you happy there?"
"It's school. I'm supposed to be focused, not ready to party." Ichigo rolled his eyes.
"Taking your frustrations out on Keigo when he annoys you is not what I call focused." Isshin arched a brow at him, as he folded his arms across his chest.
"So you have been spying on me!" Ichigo's temper was back up again.
"No. I'm your father and you do hear things during parent teacher one-on-one meetings. She mostly blames your big brother on being a bad influence for you." Isshin scrubbed at the back of his neck.
"Oh yeah, that…" Ichigo groaned.
"Ichigo, you're my only boy, so who the hell. No. How the hell did she get that idea?"
"Renji…He, uh, kinda shows up during school hours. We kinda, well, I guess it does look like…" Ichigo scrubbed his hand across his face in frustration, his face flushing red. "He is…like a big brother to me, but if you tell him that I said that I'll…"
"Son, relax. Renji feels the same way." Isshin grinned, highly amused to see his son so out of his emotional element.
Ichigo decided to change the subject and focused on the people around them. "Dad. How are they all sleeping? I mean, we weren't exactly quiet and the majority of them can easily see us in these forms."
"Kidō does have its perks, especially when you want some privacy. Hakufuku 'white prostration' works every time." Isshin smirked.
"Yeah, but it takes so blasted long to say those never ending incantations." Ichigo scowled.
"Nah. It just seems like it at first, but once you master the basics you can forgo the activation incantation entirely."
"Yeah, Rukia's really good at Kidō . She particularly likes Blue Fire Crash down, Red Flame Cannon, and White Lightning." Ichigo rolled his eyes.
"She got ya a few times, huh." Isshin chuckled.
Ichigo had no comment about that, but wasn't about to get coerced into having to learn Kidō either.
"Why do I need to know Kidō when I already know how to use Cero or something like it anyway?" He shrugged his shoulders as if it wasn't that big of a deal.
Isshin had been well aware of some of his abilities, but to be able to use Cero, now that was news. He wasn't all too sure that it was good news either. If his father found out that Ichigo could use Cero, well, he didn't even wanna think about it.
He cleared his throat in an attempt to find his voice again. "Cero…did you just say that you knew how to wield the Hollow death ray."
"Yeah, I used Cero once before when I was training with Shinji and the others. I look something out of an alien movie as a Hollow. I mean really, freaky with a lizard head, tail, and the works. It only happened the one time. I've really mastered the Hollowfication transformation so much so that I can maintain the mask indefinitely. Instead of at first which was like under a minute. In that form my speed, stamina, and strength are on overdrive. I usually wear it when I'm in over my head and my Bankai isn't even denting my opponent. It increases Getsuga Tenshō ten fold. It's like Cero merges with the attack and can easily best anyone I come up against at least the majority of the time." Ichigo couldn't help but notice that his dad seemed troubled by what he was telling him. "Why is my knowing it a bad thing? I've used that attack countless times in the Soul Society to end their messes, so it's not like it's a secret or anything."
"Well, son, that's kind of hard to say. In some eyes Cero is strictly used by the bad guys and wielding it is blatant law breaking…" Isshin scratched his head, as he tried to wrap his mind around this new revelation about his son.
"Yeah, dad, I know all of that already. Hey, it's not like I wanted to learn it or anything. I just kinda knew how when Shinji and the others were training me to harness my Inner-Hollow." Ichigo grumbled in his defense.
"So you've really mastered your Inner-Hollow, huh?"
"Yeah, that's right. I'm in complete control of him." Ichigo grinned. He was proud of that achievement.
"Oh really?" Isshin arched a brow, shooting him a parental look. "I've got a window back at the house that says otherwise."
"Yeah, well, I was pissed and it's complicated." Ichigo stalked out of the room.
"Then enlighten me." Isshin wasn't about to drop the subject.
"Dad, just let it go."
"No. Your darker side is a problem, if it affects you so much so that you take your temper out on your window and then not give a damn that you're bleeding to death. That, son, is a red flag." He placed a hand on his shoulder.
Ichigo turned around and glared defiantly into eyes identical to his own. "Back off! Stop pushing me! You can't just all of a sudden decide to be a parent who gives a damn! All of the lies got to me and that's why I lost it!"
"Lies are necessary when one can't handle hearing the truth. You proved that two days ago."
"Well, if my father would have been honest with me from the beginning then…"
"You would most likely be dead right now."
"That's a load of crap!"
"No, that's the truth. I stayed out of it because you didn't need me to do anything except patch you up or donate blood when the situation called for it. You were in your element with the idea that you were unique, a one of a kind, which in a way that's exactly what you are. Your focus was on whatever situation had arisen and not one-upping your old man. Which is exactly what you would have done had you known the truth and that would have gotten you and your friends killed."
"I'm not like my darker side and never will be. I won't even let that happen. Kariya tried to use the same strategy, as did Aizen. It doesn't work on me. My friends and family mean everything to me and that will never change. My heart and soul will forever remain pure, regardless of my Inner-Hollow side, which is at times is a real pain in the ass. I have a clear conscience, but that doesn't mean that I won't use any means or break the rules to protect those I love. If that makes me a rebel, then that's just too damn bad, they'll have to live with it." Ichigo stopped in front of a large trap door in the floor and flipped it open with his toe.
"So you wanna go one-on-one with your old man, huh." Isshin knew exactly where the trapdoor led to.
"No. I wanna take my frustrations out, by sparing with Zangetsu. Besides, you're probably too rusty to be much of a challenge for me." He jumped down into the dark hole.
"Rusty is it. I'll show you rusty. You little piss ante." Isshin jumped in after him.
Next Chapter two
The sparring grounds…
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