Thank you so much to all the wonderful people who reviewed the previous chapter! I am sorry that this fic took so long to update. I have not forgotten about it, nor will I abandon this fic. In fact, this is my number one favorite storyline and am actually really excited to write it. It is a bit on the long side, but I won't rest until it is completed!
Special thanks to the ever wonderful Panruru for betaing this chapter!
The sun was hidden behind heavy grey clouds that lay scattered across the sky. The forecast had called for rain in the afternoon with chances of hail, and for the ordinary people driving in their cars this was a cause for concern. They raced down the streets, intending to get to their destinations as quickly as possible. None of them knew of the rip that had opened in the sky before the lone figure of Luppi stepped out of the garganta and gazed upon them.
The black haired arrancar placed a hand behind his head and looked down at the city, but he wasn't interested in the worthless humans. Instead, he shielded his reiatsu and searched for any sign of the shinigami that were living in the area.
A small smile formed on his lips as he thought of the expressions on everyone's faces when he brought back a dead shinigami. If he was really lucky he'd be able to find a captain, but he wasn't picky. He knew how much Lord Baraggan despised the shinigami; all the arrancar did. He would be a hero in their eyes and allowed back into Las Noches, maybe even become one of Lord Barragan's generals. That would teach…
"Huh?" Luppi looked off into the distance. He could sense other hollows wandering the streets. It was odd for them to come out in the day, but that was not what was important. There were two shinigami in the area, one obviously more powerful than the other. He could feel the shift as one of them left, leaving the more powerful one behind to move towards the hollows. A small smirk played across his face as he sonido'd in that direction. It would be easier to fight one than two, though if the weaker one came back it wouldn't really be a problem.
This was definitely his lucky day.
Renji huffed and folded his arms. It was just like Rukia to yell at him just for suggesting he help her take out a group of hollows that had appeared downtown. Like usual, she'd protested that she didn't need any help because she wasn't weak. He hadn't been implying that at all, but she'd taken it the wrong way and told him that if she needed help she would call for him. (Of course, she'd hastened to add, it would not be needed).
He sighed and leaned against a grocery store watching as people hurried in and out, unaware of his presence. He didn't care much for this mission. Rukia was more than capable of handling herself. Everyone in her division knew it; her friends knew it; he knew it; but Captain Kuchiki refused to acknowledge it. If he knew he was allowing Rukia to take care of the hollows by herself and was letting her face them alone, the humorless captain would have his hide. Luckily, today was the monthly captain's meeting and his captain would be too busy to notice him slacking off in his duties. The only plus side was that he got to hang out with Rukia, something he hadn't done in years … not since their days in the academy and their years living on the streets of Rukongai. It was nice to see her, and he enjoyed irritating her in the way only he could.
His eyes suddenly narrowed and he pulled away from the building when he felt a strange presence. He searched through the crowd of people, but none of them were radiating that signature. It felt foreign, like a mixture of shinigami and hollow – mostly hollow. His eyes searched the area, and it was sheer luck that allowed him to see a red beam of light directed at him in time to jump out of the way.
The humans screamed as part of the grocery store exploded inward, and they began to panic and run as far away as possible. Renji scanned the crowd in the direction the light – the cero – had come from, and his eyes widened when he finally glanced up at a building and saw an arrancar smirking down at him with his (or her?) sleeve covering his mouth.
"What the hell is an arrancar doing here?" Renji muttered to himself as he pulled Zabimaru out and held it to his side, waiting for the arrancar to make its next move. Arrancar rarely showed their faces outside of Hueco Mundo, mostly because some of them were deformed from the transformation they'd undergone after breaking off their mask and wouldn't survive. Even the stronger ones usually stayed there and fought over territory, though once or twice each century one would come to the human world to make trouble. At least, that was what he'd learned at the academy. He had never encountered one before, nor had anyone he knew. He'd heard they were strong, some even bordering captain class, and so he knew he'd have to take this arrancar very seriously.
"You got lucky there; guess I'll have to work on my aim." Luppi smirked down at the shinigami before pulling out his zanpakutou and holding it in front of him. He smirked one last time before sonidoing in front of the shinigami and slashing at him. Renji was just able to get his sword up in time to block the attack.
"Who the fuck are you?" Renji cursed, pushing the arrancar back before releasing his zanpakutou into its Shikai form.
"My name is Luppi Antenor, but you don't need to know that because you only have a short time left to live," the arrancar mocked, and Renji glared at him. This guy had been fighting him for less than two minutes and he already found him annoying and cocky. On the other hand, he might be able to use it to his advantage...
Two buildings away, Ichigo narrowed his eyes at the pair. He'd been following the shinigami all day. He'd watched as they'd walked around town and done nothing remotely interesting, though his main focus was the redhead. He interested him in a way no other had before, and he wanted to learn more about him without actually approaching him. He wasn't stupid; he knew the shinigami would probably attack him on sight. Besides, the last thing he needed was to draw attention to himself and for him to be alerted to his location.
He watched as the smaller shinigami pulled out her phone and argued with the redhead for a few minutes before leaving him alone. Now he could finally devote all his attention to the shinigami that interested him and had been calling out to him without realizing it. There was something strange about his scent. It filled Ichigo's senses to the max and made him crave to be near the lieutenant.
The moment of peace was disturbed when someone fired a cero at his shinigami. Ichigo narrowed his eyes angrily and located an arrancar that had invaded the town and dared to attack the redhead. His eyes narrowed further when he recognized Luppi standing smugly on a building across the way. The idiot was nothing but a coward who manipulated people to get ahead despite being weak.
Bet I could get a lot of points for taking him out. Heck, it might even settle my debt. He smirked and leaned off the edge of the building and away from the shadows, careful to keep his reiatsu in check so no one could detect him. He watched as the arrancar attacked his shinigami, but the redhead defended himself with ease so Ichigo sat back.
Luppi wasn't much of a threat; he was more talk than show. It was surprising that Baraggan had allowed him to serve him, and he wondered if the King of Hueco Mundo had sent Luppi out on a mission to kill the shinigami. Most arrancar hated them, but none had dared to attack one in years. No, it had to be Luppi's own doing. Baraggan may have been arrogant, but he wasn't stupid enough to start a war with the shinigami.
Ichigo sat back in the shadows and watched as the redheaded shinigami fought against Luppi. He was impressed that the shinigami was able to hold his own, but then again, it would be a sad day indeed when Luppi got the upper hand. He decided to continue watching the fight for now. It wasn't like there was anything for him to do but hide anyway, and the thought of doing that annoyed him more than anything. Though it was better than the alternative.
"I think you might have had enough, Rangiku-san," Momo whispered to her friend, but Rangiku merrily waved her off and took another shot of sake along with Izuru and Shuuhei. The younger girl simply sighed and placed her elbow on the table as she watched her friends take their third, fifth, or maybe it was their eighth shot of the night. With them, it was impossible to keep count and better to just drag them out when they finally gave up and passed out.
"Nonsense, as long as there is sake in this bar, we will keep drinking," Rangiku cheered before hiccuping and covering her mouth. Izuru and Shuuhei wholeheartedly agreed, and sluggishly raised their cups in the air before downing another glass. "Besides, we got to keep our little friend here happy since his little crush is out of town," she teased, and delightedly noticed a slight blush spread across Shuuhei's face as he narrowed his eyes at her.
"Huh? who?" Momo asked innocently, looking between the two men. It was hard to decipher who the woman was talking about since both of their faces were flushed from the booze and they were both swaying in their seats. However, when she saw Shuuhei glare at Rangiku – maybe he had something in his eye? – she figured it was him. Besides, Izuru would be too shy to reveal his crush to anyone out of embarrassment.
"Who didn't know?" Rangiku gasped, and turned to look down at the girl sitting next to her. She covered her mouth and chuckled drunkenly, and Momo simply shook her head. Leave it to Rangiku to spill the beans on other people's business. Of course, Shuuhei could have stopped her at any time. Everyone knew the best way to shut the woman up was to throw a bottle of sake and watch her chase after it.
"Shut up," Shuuhei muttered. He took his cup in his hands and finally began sipping the sake instead of downing it in one gulp. He watched as Momo turned to look at him in surprise, and her eyes widened before she folded her hands under her chin excitedly.
"Oh my god, who do you have a crush on? Is it your captain? Captain Muguruma is kind of good looking and I heard a rumor you had a crush on him, but lieutenant Mashiro went into a hissy fit and wouldn't allow you near him," Momo revealed, making Shuuhei scowl and blush at the same time. He finally lowered his cup and shot one last glare at Rangiku, who was snickering at the scene.
"No," Shuuhei sighed and stared down at his cup. It was true that he adored his captain, but he knew his captain didn't feel that way towards him or anyone else in his division. He also knew that if he told Kensei he was in love with him, he'd probably get a kick in the face for his effort before getting tackled by Mashiro just for talking to him. It was just better to move on and forget those feelings. Besides, he didn't need Mashiro pouncing on him in the morning with wake up calls and trying to take naked photos of him again. "It's someone else," he whispered. He turned his head away and noticed that Izuru had stopped drinking and was now staring at his friend.
"Then who…" Momo asked curiously before Rangiku pulled the younger girl closer and grinned at the third seat of the ninth division.
"He likes Renji," she whispered, and received another glare for the comment. Momo's eyes widened as she placed a hand over her mouth, and Shuuhei couldn't figure whether she was laughing at him or trying to cough something up. Whichever it was, he felt insulted.
"Sorry," Momo cleared her throat and smiled at her friends. "I think you two would look cute. Are you ever going to ask him out? I know he's single ... or is he dating his captain?" she asked, raising a finger to her chin and turning to Rangiku.
"Nah, that was just a rumor we started up in the Woman's Shinigami Association. We saw them leaving Captain Kuchiki's office together, but we couldn't find any proof that anything happened," she sighed before taking another sip of sake. "Besides, Captain Kuchiki threatened us if we continued to take pictures of him," she added sourly.
"I can't believe you haven't asked him out yet," Izuru stated, and the three looked over to his flush face and could see he must have had too much alcohol. "You've been telling me you love the guy for months; just ask him out already." He swayed back and forth before his head hit the table with a thump.
"I can't, he's on a mission right now and don't know when he'll be back," Shuuhei muttered and leaned back in his seat. He rested his right arm on the back of the chair and stared down at his cup. He'd had the perfect chance to ask the redhead before he left too, but he'd blown it. He'd personally seen Renji to the gates but hadn't been able to work up the nerve to ask him. Maybe it was because Renji was so excited about meeting up with his friend Rukia again and he didn't want to interrupt the lovely redhead's thoughts. Besides, he was going to be gone for a while so it wasn't like they'd be able to go out or anything. It was really much better if he waited until Renji came back.
The four of them heard the door to the bar slam open, and a girl with shoulder length black hair stepped in with an angry scowl on her face. Everyone in the bar immediately averted their eyes as she scanned through the crowd before muttering under her breath and heading for the counter to place her order.
"Sake, now!" she demanded, slamming her hand on the counter hard enough to make the bartender jump and nearly drop the cup he was cleaning. Shaking with nerves, he quickly rushed to fulfill her order in hopes of avoiding her wrath.
"Again?" Momo shook her head as she watched the other girl order, then take the cup into her hand and quickly down the sake. "Excuse me," she told her friends before getting up and going over to the girl who was drinking like a fish. She sat down next to her, but she didn't seem to notice.
"Hey Karin, how are things?" Momo asked quietly, and almost jumped when the glass slammed on the table.
"Horrible. That idiot forgot to do his paperwork and it's all due tomorrow, so I had to spend all of yesterday and today trying to get it done in time. And what does he do? He tries to give me a hug saying 'oh, daddy forgot and he loves you' crap! Its bad enough I have to put up with him at home, but I also have to deal with him at work! And I can't even transfer out of the fucking division!" Karin Kurosaki scowled and downed another shot of sake. Momo frowned and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry. Maybe you could ask…" she tried, but Karin waved her off.
"There is no one I can ask. I'm stuck in this division for life," she sighed, and looked down at her glass sadly. She finally turned her head to look at the other girl and lowered her gaze.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to snap at you, it's just…" Karin sighed before Momo rubbed her shoulder.
"I know, I understand. Maybe we could go out whenever you have a free night or you can escape from your father," Momo suggested, thinking it would be good to get Karin out of her division and associating with other people.
"We'll see. I have assessments to do all this weekend and I have to make reports on the progress of twenty members of our division," she sighed with a shrug.
"Well, you know where to find me if you ever want to go out," Momo smiled at her and finally was able to get Karin to crack a smile.
"Thanks," Karin replied, then turned her attention to the bartender. "Did I say stop? Give me another!" She slammed her fist down on the counter, and he hurriedly poured her another drink.
"Hey Momo, we're going now if you want to come," Rangiku said from behind, holding up a drunken Izuru. Shuuhei was standing beside the pair, swaying on his feet. It would probably be best for her to go with, just in case the men passed out along the way or Rangiku herself turned out to be less steady than she looked.
"Okay, I'll catch up," Momo called before turning back to Karin. "I'll see you around," she promised, then hopped off her stool and followed her friends out the door. For once, she was glad she'd stayed sober as she watched them trot down the road with varying degrees of success. Shuuhei was using the buildings for balance while Rangiku kept taking steps in the wrong direction.
"So, what's with her?" Shuuhei asked, catching up with them when they finally chose to take a break. Well, more like when Izuru began throwing up. "She always seems so mean, and all I've heard from Mashiro is that Karin is a 'meanie poo' and I shouldn't talk to her," he said, and Momo sighed and shook her head.
"Yeah, she hasn't been very friendly to me. Sometimes I ask her to come out with us after our lieutenant meetings, but she always turns us down along with your friend," Rangiku stated, resting against a building and turning her head to see that Izuru was finally recovering.
"You guys have to promise not to tell anyone I told you this. Not many know and I only heard it from my captain…" she whispered and looked down at the ground.
"Of course; we're good at keeping secrets," Rangiku cheered while the others looked at her questioningly. "Okay, I promise on all the sake in the world that I will not repeat what you tell us." She crossed her arms over her chest in frustration.
"Well as you guys already know, Karin's captain is her father, Captain Isshin Kurosaki," Momo began when Rangiku smirked along with the others.
"Of course, he's pretty fun. He comes to every party in Seiretei," Rangiku stated. The overly friendly captain who was one of the few who knew how to have a good time.
"Well, they're a noble family, one of the oldest. They've been keeping to the same traditions the Kuchiki's have where every captain of the tenth division has to be a Kurosaki. They're not as stuck up as a lot of nobles are, and they've always been very friendly. Well, except for Karin…" Momo played with the fabric of her hakama as sadness seem to take over her voice.
"She doesn't want to be part of that division. She wants to make something of herself separate from her status as a Kurosaki, right?" Shuuhei guessed, crossing his arms over his chest. It wouldn't be the first time he'd heard a story like that. Many nobles who'd been confined to tradition from a young age had tried to break away from that role, though it usually ended badly. Generally, the person either ended up giving in and conforming to tradition or being kicked out of the family.
"Well, it's kind of like that but it also isn't." Momo bit her lip as the others stared down at her, waiting for her to continue. "You see, over a hundred years ago Karin had an older brother that was supposed to take the position she's in now. He was supposed to eventually take over the position of captain of the tenth division when Captain Kurosaki retired. From what I heard, he had great potential to be one of the strongest captains in the Gotei 13, even at a young age. There wasn't anyone who didn't like him. Then one day, he and his mother were going for a walk when they were attacked by some hollows that had invaded the area. You guys know Masaki Kurosaki, the lieutenant of the fourth division? She's pretty powerful for a member of the fourth division, and she was able to cut the hollows down before they could touch her son. However, she hadn't counted on another huge hollow sneaking up on her and overpowering her. From what I heard, he trapped her against a tree and made her watch as he devoured her son. Afterwards, the hollow opened a garganta and went back to Hueco Mundo, leaving her shattered." Momo wiped her eyes and looked up to see her friend's face serous for the first time that night.
"Lieutenant Kurosaki was devastated and didn't speak to anyone for years. She just sat in her room and cried herself to sleep, thinking she could have done something to save her son. As the years went by, she finally recovered and went back to work, but I guess she isn't really the same anymore. She's still friendly to everyone and a loving mother, but she lost the light that was in her eyes all those years ago. It was the only time Captain Kurosaki had ever taken leave. He didn't care if his position was stripped from him or if he disgraced his family; he just wanted to comfort his wife." Momo sniffled and crossed her arms over her chest.
"Karin was devastated by the loss of her brother. She looked up and adored him. He was always there to protect and play with her when no one else would. They were more alike than her twin sister, Yuzu. I think another reason she despises her position is that she feels like she's his replacement." She finally stopped to wipe her eyes once more, and Rangiku wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"Poor thing, I can't blame her," she whispered, and the two men nodded, finally understanding a little more about the lieutenant of the tenth division.
Like I said, the roles are different in this fic than in the canon for the Gotei 13 (and for the arrancars as well, but they have their own setup) C – Captain L - Lieutenant
1st C. Yamamoto. L. Hitsugaya (had to place him somewhere otherwise ppl would be asking about him). 2nd C Yoruichi L SoiFon 3rd C Gin Ichimaru L Izuru 4th C Unohana L Masaki 3rd Isane 6th seat Yuzu Kurosaki 5th C Shinji L Momo 6th C Byakuya L Renji 7th C Aizen L Unknown 8th C Shunsui L Lisa 9th C Kensei L Mashiro 3rd Hisagi 10th C Isshin L Karin 11th Kenpachi L Yachiru 12thC Urahara L Hiyori 13th C Ukitake L Kaien
Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed, and please review !