Summary: Ichigo encounters a mysterious, hollow slaying, woman who knows his name and every intimate detail of his double life as both human and Deputy Soul Reaper. But what does she have to do with Yuzu? Slight AU.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the Black Wrangler herself.
A/N: I've only recently gotten into Bleach so there might be some canon issues along with the possibility of OOC-ness. I would appreciate it if you readers would correct me on these things since I've only seen a few episodes on YouTube and have read up on the characters via fan sites and Wikipedia. I'm also writing this with as much English phrasing as possible for those who don't understand Japanese…like me.
The reason this fic is AU is because of the following: 1 – Uryu still has his powers, 2 – Toshiro, Rangiku, Ikkaku, and Yumichika are present in the real world, 3 – This story takes place a while after Hueco Mundo. The details of what happened will be explained in greater detail in later chapters.
Also the pairings are Toshiro/Karin, Yoruichi/Soi Fon, and Uryu/Nemu. Some Ichigo/Rukia in later chapters. Any others will be mentioned at the end of the chapters.
World of the Living...
Saturday: 9:30 a.m.
Ichigo Kurosaki, high school student, and Deputy Soul Reaper, was sleeping soundly in his bed when he heard a strange sound coming from outside his window.
"What the-?" He asked curiously as he sat up and opened the window only to hear…
"GOOD MORNING ICHIGO!!!" Isshin Kurosaki shouted as he flew feet first through the open window, narrowly missing his son by a few inches.
"Your skills have improved my son! Looks like there's nothing much more to learn from your dear old-GACKT!!!" Isshin grunted as Ichigo delivered a kick to his face.
"GEEZ DAD AT THIS HOUR OF THE MORNING AND ON A SATURDAY?!" Ichigo shouted as Isshin grinned and leapt to his feet.
"YAH! WHAT'S THAT OUTSIDE!" Isshin shouted pointing towards the window. Ichigo knew it was a trick.
"Yeah right like I'm going to fall for YUHHH!!!" Ichigo yelped as a soccer ball flew through the window and slugged him in the back of the head.
"Nice kick Karin! You've made your old man proud!" Isshin shouted down to his daughter who ignored him and counted a small wad of cash in her hands. Yeah she had been bribed.
"HEY JUST WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON ANYWAYS?!" Ichigo shouted down at his sister after quickly plowing his dad into the floor.
"I'll let you get dressed Ichigo but remember that breakfast is in thirty minutes! Don't be late!" Isshin said as he bolted from the room.
"Ugh…I hate it when he does that." Ichigo grumbled as he quickly pulled on a t-shirt and jeans before throwing the closet doors open.
"Come on out Rukia. You want breakfast don't ya?" Ichigo asked as said Soul Reaper emerged from the closet, fully dressed.
"Why does your dad always do that?" Rukia asked as she headed for the window.
"I gave up asking a long time ago. I guess it was a way to teach me to defend myself from the idiots who try to fight me because of my hair." Ichigo replied as Rukia thought for a moment then headed through the open window with her shoes in hand. Ichigo however grabbed the soccer ball that Karin had kicked at him and stuffed it inside the space above his ceiling lamp where Renji, Toshiro, Rangiku, Yumichika, and Ikkaku had appeared a few weeks ago.
Ichigo headed down stairs and saw his younger sister Yuzu fixing breakfast, Isshin sitting on the couch reading the newspaper, and Karin busily counting the money she got for kicking the ball at Ichigo earlier.
"Hey Karin, just so you know I'm holding your soccer ball for ransom." Ichigo said as Karin scoffed.
"That's why I used one of my old balls. You could destroy it for all I care." Karin said as Ichigo grumbled. He then figured he could probably give it to some kid in the Soul Society.
"Maybe I could give it to Yachiru or Toshiro…no Toshiro would probably get ticked…or I could just say it was from Karin." Ichigo pondered. Then the doorbell rang, and Ichigo headed for the front door. Naturally it was Rukia.
"Hey Rukia what brings you here so soon?" Ichigo asked, feigning ignorance.
"Oh just thought I would see if you would be willing to come meet a few friends for brunch?" Rukia said innocently as she motioned to her phone, which was beeping slightly. Ichigo knew what she really meant and they were no friends…they were Hollows.
"Gladly. I'M HEADING OUT DAD!" Ichigo shouted as Isshin nodded.
"Have fun Ichigo! Don't do anything I wouldn't do!" Isshin shouted with an implying tone, causing Ichigo freeze and turn back with a mortified yet outraged expression. He was about to say something but Rukia yanked him away.
At the Urahara Shop…
Kisuke "Hat-n-clogs" Urahara was sitting in his usual spot at the back of his shop watching Renji Abarai sweeping up the floor. Renji then heard his cell phone ring which usually meant a hollow was on the loose.
"If you want to beat Ichigo and Rukia to the hollow then you better get going." Urahara said with a tip of his hat. Without missing a beat, Renji had shed his Gigai and was running out the door with his Zanpakuto named Zabimaru in hand.
"That moocher sure knows how to escape the chores." Tessai said as he entered with a large box casually slung over his shoulder.
"Yeah but he does have a job to do." Urahara said as Ururu opened the front door.
"Mr. Urahara sir? Miss Yoruichi is here." Ururu said as the small black cat form of said former Soul Reaper entered.
"Hey what's new in the Soul Society Yoruichi?" Urahara asked as the small black cat leapt up onto the small platform where Urahara usually sat and plopped down next to him.
"Nothing much really. But I have been feeling a very familiar spiritual pressure around here lately." Yoruichi replied.
"Oh yeah? Anyone I know?" Urahara asked as Yoruichi gave a clearly distinguishable smile.
"Oh yes. An old friend of ours from back during my days as a Soul Reaper, and yours as well if I'm not mistaken." Yoruichi said as Urahara checked his watch.
"It's been a hundred years…so I guess it would be time for her to come back about now." Urahara said as Yoruichi nodded in agreement.
"Yes and she's probably going to take advantage of the growing number of Hollows in town and probably give Ichigo and the others some time off. However I doubt that any of them will even notice her unless she chooses to reveal herself." Yoruichi said as Urahara chuckled.
"She always has been a master at concealing her spiritual pressure. Isn't her Zanpakuto named-?" Urahara asked but Yoruichi interrupted.
"Yes that is her Zanpakuto's Bankai name. I don't remember what it's called in its other forms however." Yoruichi said as Urahara smiled.
"Why don't we just ask her ourselves when she gets here?" Urahara asked as Yoruichi chuckled.
"My thoughts exactly." Yoruichi said as Tessai emerged with a small bowl of milk for the feline.
Ichigo had slain the hollow before Renji could arrive, much to the latter's chagrin, and so the three decided to get back into their bodies in order to go have brunch and actually follow through with the excuse they had given Isshin earlier.
"Ichigo I want to know something. Why does that cute chick with the glasses and red hair not pay me any attention?!?!" Renji asked/whined.
"Who Chizuru? You really don't get why she doesn't pay you any attention do you?" Ichigo asked with a bemused expression.
"I've been wondering that myself. She pays a lot of attention to myself and Orihime but never to either of you. Why is that Ichigo?" Rukia asked as Ichigo froze with a disbelieving look on his face.
"Neither of you know why?! Do you have any idea what a lesbian is?!" Ichigo asked as the two Soul Reapers looked at each other and shook their heads. Ichigo's eye and the corner of his mouth twitched a couple times before bursting out laughing.
"What? What's so funny Ichigo?" Rukia asked, genuinely not having a clue what Ichigo found so amusing.
"Yes what is so funny?" a familiar voice asked curiously, causing all three of the Soul Reapers to freeze. They turned to see a curious looking Captain Toshiro Hitsugaya, an amused looking Lieutenant Rangiku Matsumoto, a stern looking Ikkaku Madarame, and the typically flamboyant looking Yumichika Ayasegawa, all in their Gigai and standing behind them.
"Captain Hitsugaya!" Rukia and Renji said in unison and at attention.
"What was it that was so funny Ichigo?" Toshiro asked curiously. Ichigo glared directly at a now confused Yumichika and pointed straight at him.
"Think of Chizuru as the female equivalent of him." Ichigo said as Renji and Rukia pondered for a moment before realization hit simultaneously and Renji doubled over in laughter while Rukia looked horrified and shuddered.
"She likes girls?!" Rukia asked confused as Ichigo nodded.
"I don't think I quite understand this conversation but at the same time I doubt that I wish to know anymore." Toshiro said as Ichigo nodded.
"Trust me, you don't." Ichigo mumbled.
"On to more official business, I can assume the Hollow we all sensed earlier was dispatched by one of you?" Hitsugaya asked.
"Ichigo killed the hollow before I could even get there." Renji said with a shrug.
"As was expected considering that Ichigo's residence is closer to where the Hollow was detected than to the Urahara shop." Toshiro said as Renji glared at Ichigo.
"Yeah well you never know if Ichigo's awake or even there at this time of day on a Saturday." Renji said as Toshiro gave a brief glance towards Rangiku.
"Like other people I know." He mumbled.
"Hey, why are you guys all together right now anyway?" Ichigo asked as Ikkaku arched an eyebrow.
"Don't you remember Ichigo? We all agreed on Monday that we were going to hold a meeting today. The other three are on their way to the park right now to meet us." Ikkaku said as Ichigo nearly fainted from the horrific revelation of having to work on the weekend.
"Aww man I forgot!" Ichigo moaned. He then heard his stomach growl.
"Ichigo and I didn't eat breakfast before we left." Rukia said as her stomach also growled which caused Toshiro to give a semi-annoyed sigh.
"Very well. We'll meet in the park in one hour. That should be plenty of time for the two of you to eat and get there. I made it an hour to allow for any sudden Hollow appearances. Now go!" Toshiro ordered as Ichigo and Rukia ran towards the nearest diner. Renji was about to chase after them but Toshiro stopped him.
"Lieutenant Abarai! Unless you haven't eaten yet either, than you are not excused!" Toshiro said as Renji sighed in defeat and joined the group of Soul Reapers to the park.
"Come on Rukia! How long does it take for a girl to use the bathroom?! Sheesh!!!" Ichigo shouted in at Rukia, who had apparently gotten a case of indigestion from their breakfast and was currently in the restroom at the diner they had stopped at.
"Shut up Ichigo! It's going to be a while!" Rukia shouted back from inside the restroom.
"Ugh…why on a Saturday? Why on the weekend?" Ichigo grumbled. His Deputy badge then started beeping and he knew what was going on.
"Oh great, another one!" Ichigo grumbled as he quickly sat down at a chair by the door and used the deputy badge to become a Soul Reaper.
"Rukia I'm stepping out to deal with a Hollow! I'll be back!" Ichigo shouted as he ran out the door.
"Huh?! What?!" Rukia asked confused but Ichigo had already fled.
Ichigo was racing down the road as he heard the familiar sound of a Hollow's roar. He quickly grabbed his trusty Zanpakuto, Zangetsu, from his back but as he rounded the corner he saw the Hollow was split in two and fading away like usual.
"Huh? Who did that?" Ichigo asked.
"You want to know?" a feminine voice asked from behind him. He quickly whirled around to see, a woman dressed in strange garb. She wore a black Stetson stallion cowboy hat, black jeans, black cowboy boots with white paisley decals on the sides and spurs on the back, and a black tee-shirt underneath a black jean jacket. On her face was a pair of sunglasses, the frames were a pair of perfect circles made of a thin lightweight wire that gave her eyes a hollowed image. A black bandana with white paisley decorations covered her nose and mouth. Attached to the hips, on a brown leather belt with a polished silver belt buckle with a silver crown decal, was a pair of fully loaded Smith and Wesson model 500 revolvers in their holsters.
"Who are you?" Ichigo asked as the woman cocked her head to one side curiously.
"They call me the Black Wrangler. I am a Soul Reaper like you…only I've not been to the Soul Society in at least one hundred years." The woman said as Ichigo blinked.
"Did you kill that hollow?" Ichigo asked.
"Yep. That there hollow was a simple kill but it doesn't matter to me. Hell it could be anything from your basic Hollow to the Vasto Lordes and I would still hunt it down and kill it." The woman explained as Ichigo noticed something curious about her.
"If you're a Soul Reaper then where's your Zanpakuto? I don't see one." Ichigo said as the woman chuckled.
"Oh so young yet so naïve. You are very much like your namesake. I assure you however, young Ichigo Kurosaki, that we are on the same side and I am not your enemy." The woman said as Ichigo's eyes widened.
"H-How did you know my name?!" Ichigo asked as he tightened his grip on Zangetsu.
"I know a great many things about you Ichigo. You are the son of Isshin Kurosaki and the late Masaki Kurosaki. You have two younger sisters Yuzu and Karin, the latter of the two being able to see spirits. You became a substitute Soul Reaper when you accidently absorbed the powers of Rukia Kuchiki and soon you and your friends led a daring rescue attempt to the Soul Society to rescue Rukia from execution. You succeeded in rescuing her and clearing her name before coming back to the real world as a Deputy Soul Reaper. Then you and your companions successfully defeated the Bounts under the command of Gin Kariya. Then three weeks ago You rescued your friend Orihime Inoue from Hueco Mundo along with the semi-amnesiac Arrancar Neliel Tu Oderschvank. How am I doing so far Ichigo?" the woman asked as Ichigo was taken aback.
"How do you know all that?! Who are you?! An agent of Aizen?!" Ichigo asked holding his Zanpakuto ready for combat.
"Aizen would wish he could have this good thing on his side but he is grossly unfortunate to have me as an enemy." The woman said.
"I grow tired of ASKING!!!" Ichigo shouted as he took a swing but the woman flash-stepped out of the way nearby without even defending herself.
"Attack all you like Ichigo, but I assure you that I am a friend and thus will not raise a weapon to you nor your friends." The woman said with her arms crossed. She had to flash-step again as Ichigo took another swing at her. She reappeared on the edge of a building roof nearby.
"Be sure to tell your friend Yoruichi that the Black Wrangler sends her regards." The woman said with a tip of the hat before vanishing in another flash-step.
Ichigo was astonished. He remained there motionless for a long time before finally turning and running back to the diner and re-entering his body.
Ichigo had reached the park but found none of his fellow Soul Reapers there. Rukia was close behind him.
"What the hell?! Where is everyone?!" Ichigo asked. He then heard someone clear his throat behind him. He turned and saw a familiar stuffed animal standing behind him.
"Lirin? What are you doing here? Where are the others?" Ichigo asked the small stuffed bird.
"They left me here to tell you they moved the meeting place to Orihime's house." Lirin said as she hopped onto Ichigo's shoulder.
"It makes sense. Orihime's home is more private and we can talk more openly about things." Rukia said as Ichigo nodded. Rukia then noticed something.
"Ichigo are you okay? You have this expression as if you're confused." Rukia asked.
"Rukia you've been a Soul Reaper a long time…do you know anything about a Soul Reaper called the Black Wrangler?" Ichigo asked as Rukia looked confused.
"The what?" she asked curiously.
"I guess not then. Oh well maybe the others can shed some light on the situation. Come on let's get to Orihime's." Ichigo said as he and Rukia raced off.
What they didn't realize was that they were being watched from something in the branches of a nearby tree.
"Ichigo Kurosaki…it's been too long since I first laid eyes on you…it's like it was only yesterday…I think it's time we get acquainted." The figure thought as it flew away in the form of a Great Black Hawk.
End Chapter 1.