Hello, and welcome. Now, I know what you're all thinking. Another time travel story? Let me guess, Ichigo goes back, kicks Aizen's ass and that's it?
Not so. Just to let you know, I have big plans for this story, and they are...unorthodox, to say the least. Also, I'm keeping the pairing under wraps for now. You may be in for a surprise! Anyways, onto the formal stuff:
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. If I did, things would be very different...
Summary: When it seems that all is lost, Kisuke plays his ace-in-the-hole to defeat Aizen. But time is not so easily manipulated, and...complications arise. Does Ichigo have what it takes to change the past?
Chapter One: Crimson Rain
Rain sputtered down relentlessly upon the cracked stonework, trickling down through vast valleys of wreckage, stained red as it mixed with the blood of the fallen. The Urahara Shoten had been completely pulverised, as had much of the rest of Karakura, once so bustling with life. Hard to believe that this graveyard was once the most spiritually rich area in the world.
And now it was gone. The crimson rain cascaded down upon the lonely figure surrounded by corpses of both friends and enemies. Rukia, Renji, Ishida, Inoe, Sado, Tatsuki, Yoruichi, Nel…so many dear to Ichigo had fallen in the final, terrible battle.
After a very narrow win over Ulquiora, and healing from Inoue, Ichigo and the others had returned to a bloodbath. Many of the captains and vice-captains were already dead, though they had taken the Espada with them. The survivors and Ichigo's group had all taken on Aizen, and won…but the price had been too high. Nearly everyone had been killed by the time both Aizen and General Yamomoto released their Bankais, resulting in an enormous shockwave of concentrated reitsu.
Ichigo had managed to find cover using his own Bankai, but the sheer force of it was enough to destoy all three of the remaining pillars to bring back the original Karakura, and even then there was enough left to effectively kill over half of its population. If Ichigo listened closely, he could still hear them screaming. But he could focus on little else but the rain.
Something stirred within the rubble. Had someone else found cover? Slowly, the person removed itself from the stone with many grunts of pain and gasps. It was Urahara; Ichigo would know that ridiculous hat anywhere.
Nothing was said as the two stared at each other. What could they say? In but a few moments, they had both lost their whole worlds.
Urahara looked like he had gone through a meat grinder, and Ichigo knew he himself could not look much better. The former captain half looked up, absorbing the carnage, but only truly seeing one body.
"Yoruichi…" he rasped, a bit of blood spraying out of his mouth. Ichigo said nothing.
What could he say?
Urahara tore his gaze from the body of his childhood friend, and gave Ichigo such an intense stare that the young teenager felt as if he were being accused of something.
"Come with me." Said the shopkeeper in a voice that left no room for argument.
Slowly the two made their way through the mesh of broken building and flesh. Every time he saw the face of someone he knew, Ichigo died a little more inside. But even worse were the bodies whose faces were too badly damaged to make out their identity. Did I know this person? He would ask himself, and he was afraid to know the answer.
The roof of the Shoten had fallen in, so they didn't so much go inside as go to the centre of the wreckage. Suddenly Ichigo saw Urahara dart down to grab something on the scarlet earth, and with a great heave, lifted up a trapdoor. He climbed down, beckoning Ichigo to follow.
It had not been what he expected, to say the least. Instead of coming out in a different area of the training grounds, as pyshics required, they were in a large, circular room with metal plating on the walls. In the very centre of the room was the most bizarre construction Ichigo had ever seen. It consisted of seven pillars, and the top and bottom of each pillar had near invisible wires stretched out to meet the tops and bottoms of all the other pillars, creating an extremely confusing tangle.
"Wha-What is this thing?" he asked Urahara, who was currently fiddling with a computer on the other side of the room.
"I had hoped that things would not get this bad, but the situation leaves me no alternative." He looked up from the keyboard. "Ichigo, this is what you would call a time machine."
"…WHAT THE HELL?! You had a time machine the whole time and you never told us?!"
"…I just said that I hoped not to need it." Ichigo took and deep breath, hope beginning to swell within him.
"So…we can use that to go back?"
"Correction!" exclaimed Kisuke, Pulling out his fan. "You can use it to go back! I have experimented with it, and it can only send one being through at a time!"
"Wouldn't you be better? You're a former captain!" Yelled Ichigo at the hat-and-sandals man, his mind still reeling. Said man lowered his fan, face grave.
"…you have proven yourself stronger than I many a time, Ichigo."
Ichigo looked back towards the haphazardly strewn bodies. For now, he was numb to the loss; there was this hope, however small, that this need not be the only way things ended, but still…
"…I wasn't strong enough to save them." He said, his voice strained. "I'm not strong enough for Aizen."
"Correction! You are not strong enough for post-Hōgyoku Aizen!"
"While a worthy opponent even without using the Hōgyoku on himself, Gin and Tōsen to massively increase their powers, you should be able to defeat them as you are now, and who knows how much stronger you will become as you replay the events? Therefore, I will send you back to before Rukia is captured, and before Aizen retrieves the Hōgyoku from her. Of course, the Espada were still under Aizen's employ back then, and will come after you when you defeat Aizen, but without the Hōgyoku their transformation will be incomplete, and they will be weaker."
"Err…one question." Said Ichigo, a sudden thought striking him. "Won't this cause a time paradox? Like, me meeting the old me?"
"No, no, you see, it only sends back your mind and soul, not your body. They will merge with your old mind and soul, granting your past self your current knowledge and powers."
"Well then, what are we waiting for!" Yelled Ichigo, striding forward toward the device. "Send me back already!" Kisuke nodded and flipped a several switches on the terminal. The wires connecting the pillars began to glow a bright blue, and the pillars themselves soon followed suit. Ichigo could practically taste the reitsu pouring of it.
"Now, Ichigo!" Yelled Urahara over the rushing wind created by the reitsu's movements. "Grab onto one of the wires, quickly!" Ichigo did so, and his whole body tensed as the machine's power shot threw him, manipulating his every atom, forcing them to pass through the time-rift it had opened. Somehow, Ichigo managed get out a few last words in this world:
"Kisuke…" he rasped. "When…how far will it take me back?"
"No idea, Kurosaki-kun! Said Urahara in a singsong voice.
"…Bastard…" And with that, Ichigo's vision began to distort, as did the fabric of all reality. Slowly, everything meshed and kaleidoscoped, until all Ichigo could see was white as all the colours joined, erasing the dark, unwelcome future, imprisoning the unforgivable deaths of loved ones into long-forgotten dreams, and washing away the last drops of crimson rain.