Promise

A/N: So... I've been working on this for aaaages. It's nowhere near done. I haven't even made a sizeable dent in the whole thing yet... but if it does get finished, it will be Epic. With a capital E. It's something I promised to myself I would get finished, ironically... even if it takes me a while. All Bleach characters have featured at some point in either the manga or the anime... well... all Bleach characters at the beginning of the story, anyway. (I've just started watching the Bount arc. Should they be included or not? Please let me know what you think!)

It has a lot of explanation and filling out of characters. Isshin and Ryuuken will be more major characters! Uryuu's mother actually features! Aizen gets more of a backstory! So do Kisuke, Isshin, Yoruichi and Ichigo!... along with practically everyone else. Wonderweiss has a way less crappy resurrecion! Shiro features in real life, not just Ichigo's head! Also, Uryuu and Ichigo awesomeness! Not slash, or any kind of yaoi relationship. (I have nothing against yaoi or slash, but in this case that I'm writing about, it would be pretty inappropriate.)

Also, I need your help with the name of a zanpakuto. It should, roughly, equivalate to something along the lines of 'Lone Sky Guardian' , but I don't know all that much about Japanese so I wouldn't be able to do a very good translation of the English into Romanji. Please let me know if you can help with this, or give me the name of a decent translator, since I need the name before I can actually post up the story much further.

Story Concepts: Uh... time-travel and reincarnation. I think that's about as much as I can say without ruining it.

Disclaimer: If wishes were money, I would be rich enough to own... uh... probably a laptop. Definitely not Shonen Jump. Or Tite Kubo. They will both belong to Aizen-sama after his plans for world domination succeed. Most characters belong to Tite Kubo. The story concept is mine. *growls* As are the OCs whose number I can count on one hand (two of 'em, excluding zanpakuto). Raito Yagami also features! He belongs to those wonderful guys named Ohba and Obata or some variation thereof. The Crimson Guard is a personal concept.


And without further ado...


I made a promise a while ago.


A single pebble
fall on snow, bounce once, twice
let fall avalanche.

(That same pebble falls once more
let stop avalanche.)


"Deem de de deem de de deem de de deem da de deem da de deem dem deem deem deem…" (Tetris theme tune)


Twelve hummed to himself, spinning around on his swivel chair with his eyes shut as his fingers danced across the keyboard. It was an entirely pointless exercise, which achieved nothing whatsoever apart from passing the time for the defensive systems to regenerate. One of his screens was displaying vital radar; two through four were vidcams, six registered vitals. Seven and eight kept an eye on what were laughingly still called the Living World, Soul Society and Hueco Mundo. Nine was the building's systems. And five, of course, was purely for experimental purposes.

His thumbs flicked across the keyboard as he tapped the arrow keys on it quickly, arranging the colourful world rapidly to his liking. It was an experiment.

Of course it was an experiment. No scientist of his calibre would possibly be playing Tetris for any other reason.

"Intruders detected. Hostiles, count 5 reiatsu signatures, no power sources detected or electrical devices, yadda yadda yadda, nothing special as far as I can tell. Signatures identified as minor demon, class: 17. Location: approaching Gate 5 at a speed of 9 ms-1, e.t.a. 90 seconds."

He opened his eyes, pressed pause, and wheeled himself over to the first computer screen.

"Any action you want me to take?"

"Standard."

He watched the reiatsu signatures of the imps approach the entrance, and slow down just before the gate. He smirked evilly, although his heart wasn't entirely in it. There just wasn't the point any more.

"Aaand… shuffle," he murmured, as two reiatsu signatures – Eleven and Three – moved rapidly towards the point of entry. He gestured in midair, snapping his fingers. "Execute."

The five signatures shifted into a different location, before winking out and disappearing completely.

"And he shoots, and… He scores!… Again." There was a light cough. "Anyway, Aizen, 100245; Crimson Guard, 94742 and counting."

The two familiar signatures stopped completely, before retreating.

Twelve smiled, before moving back to the video game.

"Very retro."

Twelve's's hand was on his sword and half-drawn before he registered the pale-haired arrancar in front of him as One.

He let out a breath, slipping the zanpakuto back into her sheath. "Instinct," he said carelessly, waving a hand.

"I'd be more worried if you didn't react to my prescence," One muttered. "Was it really necessary to get the systems to deal with it?"

Twelve turned back round to face his computer screens once more. "To answer your question, yes, that was necessary, as you well know. You yourself were the one to declare that we shouldn't waste our abilities on small fry." He paused for a fraction of a second. "King."

"I thought I asked you not to call me that," One replied, annoyed.

He raised an eyebrow. "It's your correct title. Even if you refuse to accept it." Even if Las Noches as I remember it has been destroyed completely, he added silently.

"I know it's my damn title. That doesn't mean I need reminding every day. I get that enough with him as it is…" he muttered darkly.

"Did you just come for a casual visit, or was there a purpose? Not that I mind your wonderful presence, but my Tesla coils aren't charging themselves." He paused. "Well, actually they are, using ambient reiatsu, but that's hardly the point…"

"Actually… there is a reason."

"Oh? Do tell." Twelve reached a hand up to push his spectacles back into their proper position.

"Keigo just came back."

"Number Two of the Crimson Guard," he mused. "What of him?"

"At least use people's names, Szayel."

"If you say so, Ichigo. You were saying?" he prompted.

Ichigo pulled out a bone-white key, a shade paler than his own hands, and dangled it in front of Szayel, whose eyes widened.

"The King's Key," he breathed. "You found it?"

"Keigo stole it from Aizen. Seems he's been getting careless recently."

Szayel noted the slight catch in his voice at the name.

Sentimentality?

"Why are you showing me this?"

Ichigo dropped it into Szayel's hands. "Look closely."

"There's… part of it missing?" he asked, bewildered.

"Yup."

"But… the Hougyoku – Aizen used it. This should be whole."

"He just used the Hougyoku to substitute the part from the Living World… and the part from Hueco Mundo's still missing. He never took Las Noches' crown."

"What do you plan to do with that?"

Ichigo removed the coronet, the tooth-edged remnant of his Hollow mask, and took the key back from Szayel. He held them both in his left hand, before drawing a slender black-and-white zanpakuto. The white was in the majority, a small pale orb set into the blade with a dark sliver down its left edge.

"Heal it." He made a 'turn around' motion with the tip of the blade.

Szayel rolled his eyes, but nonetheless did so as Ichigo shut the door. He also took the extra provision of closing his eyes and covering them with the sleeve of his uniform. Past experience had proven that watching this particular ritual when the moon was over half-full was never a good idea if one wanted to retain one's vision.

"Rise, Getsune."

A faint light shone, penetrating the darkness behind his sleeve. The reiatsu increased from practically nothing to what would have been, for most of the old captain-rank shinigami, bankai level.

"Shine."

"Reiatsu at high takeup rate. Adjusting absorption process. The hell is Ichi doing right now?"

The light flared past Szayel's eyelids, leaving spots in front of his eyes despite the fact he was facing in the opposite direction. However, the light was nothing in comparison to the flare of reiatsu, bringing him to his knees and effectively crippling him temporarily.

"Fine… don't answer me. Reiatsu storage units completely filled; levels are at 100%. Reserve reiatsu storage units completely filled; levels are at 100%."

Light and spiritual pressure both faded, dying back down to normal levels. Szayel dropped his arm, and turned back around just as Ichigo sheathed Getsune.

"Did you have to use full power?" he asked, making a face.

"That was three-quarters. Any less, and it wouldn't have worked." Ichigo lifted up the King's Key. It was now complete, although the coronet had vanished in the process of its making.

"And what were you planning to do with the King's Key, exactly?"

"Use it. I'm going to make a heartfelt request to the current King of Heaven."

"This is because of her, isn't it? The princess."

Ichigo refused to reply, instead slipping the key into his pocket.

"What if he doesn't listen? What if he refuses?"

"Then I'll have to ask nicely. I won't be back."

"You're just leaving?"

"Yup."

"But – " Szayel was flabbergasted. "Why? You can't just – "

"She's not the only person I'm doing this for." Ichigo swallowed. "By the time I'm done… this will never have happened."

His amber gaze locked with the other man's eyes.

"It'll never need to."

And he vanished, with a gentle harmonic note of shindo.

Szayel stared in shock for two seconds, before sprinting back out into the white hallway with shindo, knowing he couldn't catch up but still hoping he could make it to the Heaven Gate in time.

Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle…


Who the hell are these guys?

The Crimson Guard number from 1 to 25. All of them bar two OC's and one outsider from a different manga/anime have featured in the manga arcs at some point. And yes, their numberings have a meaning to them (well... mostly). Six of them are deceased. All of them have unique titles, and we will be seeing all of them properly at some point... hopefully.

One: The King
Two: The Phantom
Three: The Tyrant
Four: The Healer
Five: The Trancer
Six: The Fire Demon
Seven: The Giant
Eight: The Dervish
Nine: The Amythest Knight
Ten: The Ice Dragon
Eleven: The Dragon Knight
Twelve: The Scientist
Thirteen: The Sage
Fourteen: The Balance
Fifteen: The Peacock
Sixteen: The Panther
Seventeen: The Centaur
Eighteen: The Pharaoh
Nineteen: The Archer
Twenty: The Deva
Twenty-one: The Fallen
Twenty-two: The Kitsune
Twenty-three: The Blood Demon
Twenty-four: The Flower
Twenty-five: The Castle

Probably most people won't get some of these. Some of them are really obvious, though, and if you don't get them, I think I'll cry. Quietly. In the corner. The nicknames are mostly references to people's abilities, names or appearences.