The white haired boy paused in his saunter. He looked over her shoulder, lazily chewing on a piece of bread, unconcerned by the mob if thugs that confronted him.
"Hey brat we're talking to you!" Their leader stood out before them, a towering figure with a bulging belly and fat fists. "Give us that bread and you won't get hurt."
The boy slowly swallowed the piece of bread in his mouth and turned around, revealing the armful of loaves he held against his chest. He smiled.
"Trust me, you don't need it." He scoffed, eyeing the leader's belly.
"Little brat!" he screamed, running forward. The boy dodged with ease, tripping up the thug on his way by. He crashed into the dirt face first.
"Bastard!" cried another thug and the whole mob came charging. The boy calmly set down the pile of loaves and took his stance. The mob was charging, screaming. The boy's smile grew.
"Need some help?" The mob stopped in its tracks. The boy dropped his fists and turned around to face the monstrously oversized man behind him. He glared.
"What are you doing here, Kenpachi? This is my fight."
"Hmm...twenty guys, that's quite a bit, even for you, Toshiro."
"I can handle it."
"Maybe, but I was bored."
"Fine." The boy sighed and turned back to the mob. While they'd been arguing, the leader had gotten back to his feet and the men had formed a circle around the two. Toshiro moved behind Kenpachi and stood back to back, raising his fists again. The men charged.
The brawl drew a few brave spectators to the edge of the woods where the mob attacked the two dramatically opposed figures. Both were dressed in plain black robes but that was where the similarities ended. The small one had brilliant white hair, short and spiky. He moved at a wicked speed, jumping here and there, blocking every attack and knocking back foes despite his size. At his back was a towering man of muscles, his hair hung long and black. His blows were immensely powerful and he never broke stance. In a matter of minutes it was over, the two completely uninjured at the centre of a sea of unconscious bodies. The small one picked up the loaves and they disappeared into the forest.
"I could have handled it." Toshiro repeated, handing his partner a loaf of bread as they walked through the trees.
"Shut up." They walked in contented silence. Eventually the trees gave way to a small glade, practically untouched and far from any village. Toshiro threw himself down on the bank next to the current of water that streamed out of a low cave.
"You're tired aren't you?" Kenpachi said sitting down as well.
"No. I'm just hungry. You are too." he protested, eating more bread.
"Its getting worse. You nearly froze the whole cave last night."
"What do you want me to do?"
"Easy kid, I'm not trying to pick a fight."
"Whatever." They returned to their meal. "But, the hunger, its been getting worse." Toshiro said after a bit.
"Hmmm." Kenpachi consented.
"What does it mean?"
"I have no idea."
They both sighed.
"Where to next, Ken?"
The big man scratched his neck and stared at the fading sun.
"That way. We've been going in too much of a straight line lately, could be missing some interesting fights in the West."
The boy smiled that blood lust smile the two shared. He finished the bread he had in his hands and stretched out.
"Sleeping out here tonight?"
"Don't want you catching a cold now do I?"
"Pft, as if." the sun disappeared, Kenpachi stretched and strolled into the cave. He plunked himself in the corner where he and Toshiro kept their few belongings. Alone, he picked up the white bundle he used as a pillow and unfolded it. In large black print the number eleven stared back at him. He gazed at it for a long time in the near dark until the obscurity became to deep for him to see it any more. He folded it back up and lay down.
The band of thugs trudged through the black woods, hoping they were moving in the right direction. An easily intimidated spectator had pointed them in the direction of the two warriror and now they would get their revenge. This time, they brought back-up.
They came to the edge of the woods where there was a small clearing. They crouched and took everything in. The banks shone brilliantly in the moonlight, pure white powder covered them and laying among it was the boy, deep asleep as flakes gently drifted all around him.
"Is that snow?"
"No way, not this time of year."
"But its freezing."
"I know but–"
"Shut it." It was the leader. "We move now. That cave there, I'm betting that's where the other one is. First we get the kid, then we all take the other one down." Everyone nodded and they moved out, treading lightly in the snow.
The leader pulled a long, thin dagger from his side and inched his way to the boy. He was deep in sleep, his body twitching with some dream and he faintly whispered a name,.
Then the steel was against his skin. His eyes popped open in the same instant that the massive figure of Kenpachi appeared from the cave entrance.
"Freeze." The leader said, applying pressure to the blade against the boy's neck while he positioned himself astride his small body, pinning the boy's arms under his knees. There was no cry of pain, only pure hatred stared back at him.
"You dropped your guard, kid." the big man said nonchalantly.
"Shut up, Ken."
The thug dug the blade deeper, silencing the child and soaking his neck with blood.
"I'll give ya one chance to leave." The unarmed man said, leaning into the rock wall of the cave.
"No way. I've got a score to settle with you."
The leader nodded and his men attacked. The man laughed as he dove into their midst, fists swinging wildly. Many of the men fell almost immediately. But one held his ground, a long sword raised. He drove it forward with all his strength and struck the beast. The leader laughed where he sat astride the boy, who's body tensed beneath him.
"Its all over now." he drawled. But as they watched the man who struck stepped back in terror. His sword was dry, and Kenpachi uninjured. He looked just as perplexed as his attacker, but a wicked grin spread across his face and he laughed manically. He dispensed with the rest of the men then made his way to the leader who was now trembling with fear. The blade in his hand shook violently against the boy's throat, causing more blood to flow.
"Should have taken your chance when you had it." Kenpachi said.
"I'll do it." said the leader, yanking Toshiro off the ground and using him as a shield as he backed up to the woods. Kenpachi saw how much blood soaked the boy's robes, his eyes were only half open now. He paused.
"Very good. Now don't follow us and I'll let him go when I'm safe." The man said, backing into the shadow of the woods. His face disappeared in darkness, but Toshiro's was still lit up by the moonlight. His eyes went wide and he screamed,
"Kenpachi, look out!" There had been more men waiting in the woods. The second wave struck and this time some of their blades succeeded in making deep wounds in the huge man. His movements were slower– whatever had happened before that had protected him from the swords seemed to have tired him out and worn off.
"Damn you." Toshiro stomped down on the leader's foot. He yelled and his grasp faltered just long enough for the boy to wriggled away. Toshiro turned and kicked the leader hard in the stomach, then again in the head. Not waiting to check that he was definitely out, he turned to the group attacking Kenpachi. Raw anger welled up inside him and he felt a strange tingling in all of his body. A moment ago he could hardly see for loss of blood but now the world was clear, the movements of the enemy slow. He felt heat in his palms, a blue ball of energy was forming. He didn't understand– couldn't– but in that moment he didn't care. He raised his hands before him and bellowed,
"Kenpachi! Get down!!!" The man dropped without question. Toshiro released the energy inside him and watched it envelop the thugs. They screamed for but a second before there was silence.
Kenpachi rose and stepped over the corpses to the boy.
"Kid?" Toshiro swayed on his feet, tried to look up at the giant but dizziness overtook him and he was on the ground, the moon spinning in the sky before it was blocked out by that scarred face. Then it faded to nothing.
"Renji!" The red haired captain looked up to see his leuitenant out of breath in the door way, her chest heaving.
"Rangiku, what is it?" He was used to her not calling him captain, out of respect for the one she'd lost. He couldn't even bring himself to say that it was Captain Abarai, remembering how often Hitsugaya had had to say the same thing to Ichigo and Momo.
"Its him, I felt it."
His pen froze over his paperwork. He stood.
"You felt it too, didn't you?" She nearly begged.
"There was a disturbance, but Rangiku, after all this time– "
"They found Captain Kurotsuchi!" She argued.
"Yeah, after a few months. Is been ten years Rangiku, I thought we'd put him to rest."
"It was him, I know that spiritual pressure anywhere."
"She's right." The voice came from the window causing both Rangiku and Renji to jump.
"Yachiru." the small girl gazed at them sombrely. In the past ten years she'd aged only slightly, just an inch or two taller. But her hair had grown long, her eyes were sad and serious and she looked much older than she was.
"I felt Kenny too. They're together. I will find them."
"Yachiru, you looked for so long..." Renji began.
"It was him. It was my Kenny, I know it, and I'll find him. Then the two of us will kill Aizen together." Her hand was on her sword hilt and she crouched, ready to flash step away.
"Wait!" Rangiku cried.
"I'm coming with you." She grabbed her zampakuto and strapped it around her waist.
"Sorry captain, but I won't abandon him."
Ragiku went to the window and the two girls looked about to leap but then both stopped.
"What is it?" Renji asked. Both women turned to him with shock in their eyes. "Its gone." Rangiku said, barely above a whisper. "Captain Hitsugaya and Capatain Zaraki's spiritual pressure is completely gone."