On the Run
A fanfiction by Velkyn Karma
Note: Written because Kon still doesn't get enough love in the serious sense. Partly inspired by zara2148 generously donating me a list of serious Kon-fics, but then I realized..most of them are one-shots. The poor guy doesn't have his own real adventure! So here's one, just for him.
Setting: Takes place in manga-verse, after Kon's introduction but before the Soul Society arc.
Summary: While Ichigo is out fighting hollows, Kon stays home and takes command of his body. But when an unexpected pair of bounty-hunters show up at the Kurosaki clinic, Kon is forced into a race to see if he can outrun his own execution.
Warnings: Gets a little gritty at the end. Rated for said grittiness and some swearing.
Disclaimer: I do not own, or pretend to own, Bleach and any related characters or concepts. That right belongs to Tite Kubo alone. All that belongs to me here is the concept for the story.
"If you wanna get out alive...run for your life!"
~Get Out Alive, 3 Days Grace
Another boring day, another boring hollow fight, and another couple of hours that Kon was left alone in a body that wasn't his, in a house that wasn't his, completely without permission to leave. Some days, the Mod-soul decided irritably, his life was absolutely miserable.
It was a Saturday mid-afternoon on an early spring day. Japan had been undergoing an unusual heat wave, and the temperature in Ichigo's room was positively unbearable. Kon could have dealt with it easily enough if allowed to remain in his cotton lion body. There, he had no nerves to feel heat, and couldn't feel sticky from uncomfortable sweat that his body wasn't even capable of producing. So normally, Kon wouldn't have minded today at all.
Unfortunately, today was anything but normal. An hour ago Rukia had burst out of her tiny closet (really, she deserved more than that, Kon reflected absently) and held up her Soul-pager, claiming that a hollow was due to appear. She had forced Kon out of his comfortable lion body and into Ichigo's smelly, disgusting one, and within seconds they had gone haring off into the town with only a moment's hesitation to expressly forbid Kon from leaving the house.
Really, he was getting tired of living here. He was tempted to take a joyride around the town just to spite Ichigo. After all, while the rooms were boiling, there had to be a nice breeze outside. And it was spring after all; Kon's first spring, the season when everything came to life and was born anew, something he appreciated far more than he let on. Not to mention, naturally, that all the lovely women in the wide world outside would be casting off their bulky winter clothing in favor of lighter, cooler garments, revealing quite a good deal of special...endowments. But he was terrified of Rukia-neesan's wrath if they returned before he did. So here he was, stuck in a broiling room, in a body that was already damp and uncomfortable from the heat.
Think positively, he suggested to himself. Well, he supposed there were positives. Since it was the weekend, the clinic was closed and Ichigo's father and sisters were all out. That meant he had free reign of the house, at least; neither Ichigo nor Rukia had forbidden him from that. It would probably be a little cooler downstairs, and maybe he could find something cool to drink as well. Ichigo's throat was getting a little dry. While he hated helping the bastard out, Ichigo's body's comfort was currently his own, and he hated being more uncomfortable than he already was.
It was decided. Kon rolled off the bed he had been laying spread-eagled on, hoping to gain a cool breeze from the window (he hadn't) and stepped towards the door, inwardly delighted at being so tall. One of the (admittedly few) positives about being stuck in Ichigo's body was that he wasn't dwarfed by anything in the house, meaning he could open the door with a simple flick of the wrist instead of jumping and writhing his whole body around to get enough leverage for it. No one really appreciated height or thumbs until they never had them.
Just as he reached the door, however, he heard an unexpected thud from the roof.
Puzzled, Kon looked up. That couldn't be Ichigo, or Rukia-neesan. They both always came to the window when they returned, and besides, they could take the clinic door if they had to. Maybe a hollow? But no, he would've sensed it. He was built for that, after all (the thought left a bad taste, but he ignored it quickly). Ichigo's father and sisters had all left, for certain, as he had watched them walk away from the clinic in a fit of boredom. That didn't leave very many options, but maybe it was that guy that had originally sold him to Rukia-neesan in the first place?
Kon turned around towards the window, wondering if maybe the visitor (he was sure it was hat-and-clogs now) would announce himself. That was when he felt the strange, invasive energy and a strong spiritual pressure.
As a rule, Kon wasn't especially adept at sensing spiritual energies. His talents were mostly geared towards sensing hollows a few minutes before their arrival, a natural version of Rukia's cellphone-like machine given to all combative souls. A soul, even a powerful one with an immense pressure, needed to be fairly close for him to accurately sense it: within ten yards at least. So the fact that he could sense not one, but two pressures on par with a shinigami was more than a little frightening. They could be allies, but Kon knew better than to hope for that. He crouched, reached out his hand, and nervously but quietly began sliding the door open.
Then he heard them. "This feel like the place?"
A laugh. "You can't feel it?" the second voice asked, a little mockingly. "Right below us, you idiot. Seems pretty inactive, but it won't stay that way for long."
It. It. Kon hadn't been referred to as an it for months, not since Ichigo had protested his destruction and he and Rukia had taken responsibility for him. It didn't mean a person, it just meant a mod-soul. Mod souls were never considered people, living beings, not ever; he'd learned that the day he was both born and slated for execution. It was not a good sign.
"Yah, you're right. Shall we get started then?"
No time to think. Kon whipped the door open fully and spun as though to run through it, but screeched to a halt when a pair of figures hurtled through the open window directly at him. One, taller and broader of shoulder with tanned skin and narrow, dark eyes, leapt directly at him. The second, thinner and paler than his companion, ran into the doorway and blocked it, grinning wildly. Both were dressed like shinigami, and each had an unusual, triangle-shaped badge with a strange bug-like skull on it dangling from their belts.
Shinigami. Oh, damn.
"Where you off to in a hurry?" The first said tauntingly. Kon didn't respond, instead backing up a few paces, now trying to inch toward the window. The second laughed, and the first added, "Now now, no runnin'. Y'know, the Society insisted you pests be erased ages ago. I don't know how you escaped--probably dumb luck. But now you're out in stolen goods, so we're gonna have to put an end to that, y'hear?"
Kon wanted to yell a million things, like not stolen--freely given! or what right do you have to choose? but he still remained silent, eyeing the window anxiously. Not so much to escape--they already knew he wanted to make a break for the window, and would be prepared. No, he was hoping that Rukia-neesan, or even that punk Ichigo, would show up any minute to diffuse the situation.
"It ain't respondin', Shichi," the one in the doorway said, still smirking.
"You really expect it to?" the larger man, apparently Shichi, responded. "It's an artificial soul. A machine-soul. It don't got a mind, you idiot, just power and a body."
Kon narrowed his eyes. The man at the door laughed. "Maybe, but look, y'pissed it off."
"Just pretendin', I bet. Prolly picked it up from whoever it stole the body from."
"Well, we're outta time here, so, we're just gonna erase ya now, alright?" Shichi grinned and brought his weapon to bear. Kon's eyes dropped to it, and he could practically feel Ichigo's face going pale at the sight of it. It was almost like a sword, almost like the zanpaku-to the soul-reapers used. Only it lacked a form, and existed more or less as red-tinted energy; a mere suggestion of a katana. Kon could feel an almost burning heat radiating from it, and instinctively knew he did not want to be touched with that weapon.
So as the man leapt forward, swinging his odd energy-katana with vicious speed, Kon leapt as well. Not straight up, Ichigo's ceiling certainly wouldn't allow for that; but straight forward, halving the strength he sent to Ichigo's legs to make sure he didn't crash into the wall. He shot past the surprised Shichi and out of sword range, hit the floorboards, rolled, and launched himself to his feet again with his powerful legs. Then, without hesitating, almost faster than the shinigami could react, he jumped forward again and kicked out, sending one heel flying at the man in the door.
Kon knew he would dodge, and dodge he did, yelping and throwing himself hastily to the floor in surprise. That was the only reason he sent such a destructive kick straight at the man's face. Even with them clearly hunting him, he couldn't bring himself to murder either man. The foot instead connected with the wooden doorframe, shattering it and spending splinters everywhere, causing another pair of surprised yelps from his attackers.
Kon wouldn't kill, but he could escape. And so, as the man dropped his guard in favor of the dodge, Kon tore through the doorway and down the hall at blinding speed, leapt over the stairs, and bolted for the front door. He stopped long enough only to shove his feet into a pair of sneakers. Thankfully, Ichigo had been lazy and just slipped his feet out without bothering to unlace them. Then he unlocked the door, throwing it wide. A vague part of him hoped that the clinic wouldn't be robbed in his absence, but most of him didn't care.
The last thing he heard was the pair of strange shinigami, yelling. "I thought it was an overpod type!" the first shrieked, and "obviously not, it's got lower body enhancement," from the second.
But even as he heard the slap of their sandals against the ground behind him, he reached the open street, and felt a breath of relief. In close quarters, he was in trouble. In the open air, they'd never catch him. Leaning forward, putting every ounce of energy he had into his borrowed legs, Kon ran as fast and as far as he could.
The sun was low in the sky by the time Ichigo and Rukia returned from their latest hollow-fighting venture. Ichigo couldn't exactly say he was exhausted. Spiritual bodies didn't tire in the same way physical ones did, and he hadn't expended much of his energy today. But he certainly was annoyed. They had only left for one hollow, but half a dozen more had appeared in fairly rapid progression, each within thirty to forty-five minutes of each other. In the end they had discovered the hollows were interested in feeding upon an especially elusive ghost, one with a fairly high spiritual pressure of its own. It had taken nearly an hour to convince that soul to pass on, and by the time they had finished their work Ichigo had lost the majority of his day to his unexpected and not wholly wanted job.
He was looking forward to getting back to his body, maybe having a relaxing bath before getting started on the homework he had planned to do that afternoon. Which was why his annoyance went up considerably when they returned back to the clinic to find the front door wide open, his room in a shambles, and Kon--and his body!--completely gone.
"Where the hell is he?" Ichigo growled. "He'd better not be out making the news like he did last time!"
"I wouldn't put it past him," Rukia said frankly. But she didn't appear to be paying Ichigo the slightest bit of attention. Rather, she was staring around the disturbed room with a frown, examining the broken door frame, and considering thoughtfully.
"What are you doing?" Ichigo finally asked, impatient. "Shouldn't we be out looking for him, if he's loose?" Turning, the temporary soul-reaper moved towards the window to do just that, but Rukia held up an unexpected hand.
"Wait? Wait for what?"
"Something isn't right here. There's something else at work besides just Kon..."
"Like what? You just said yourself, it'd be like him to hijack my body again and go out on a spree for attention."
"True, but...I think there was someone else here. It's faint, but I can feel a residual spiritual presence, and it isn't Kon's."
Ichigo froze. Then, very slowly, he asked, "You mean there was somebody else in my room?"
"And it wasn't a ghost?"
"It's too strong a pressure for it to be a ghost. Ghosts are faint and leave only a vague imprint on the world. They're passive. This was an active expenditure of energy, but...it's hard to tell. Can we go up to the roof?"
"I think maybe I could feel it better up there."
Ichigo shrugged. "Fine. If you think it'll help." As usual when faced with feats beyond a gigai's ability, the temporary soul-reaper piggy-backed Rukia and leapt on invisible, solidified points in the air to the roof in a matter of moments. He let her down, and she frowned, trotting forward a few more paces and walking in a circle.
"As I feared," she finally announced. "There was kido used here...a seeking spell, if I'm not mistaken. Its residue is faint, but stronger than it was downstairs, and enough for me to recognize."
"It's..." she hesitated, as though unsure how to explain, but then pushed on. "It's a non-combat kido, usually used in reconnaissance and tracking. The user can identify even low-pressure beings with fair enough accuracy, if used correctly--though, if used inexpertly, a few minor incorrect readings might manifest instead of true ones. Most spiritual presences can be identified with it. Humans, hollows, shinigami...even artificial souls."
Artificial souls. In other words, Mod-souls, like Kon.
"And they used it here?"
"Did they identify Kon?" Ichigo pressed. Both knew the danger if the answer was yes. Kon was an illegal fugitive after all, slated for execution months ago. If the Soul Society discovered he existed, he would be destroyed. No, that wasn't right...that still implied that he was a thing, a pill, not a person. If they found him, they would kill him.
But Rukia only shook her head. "It's impossible to figure out if the spell was successful or not. Especially when it's already faded like this. It must have been used hours ago."
Hours ago. Not too long after they had left to go kill the first of those hollows. Damn it. "Do you think they got him? Can you tell if he's still in our world?"
She frowned. "I'm not sure. It's hard to say. But, judging by the state of the house...I would guess not. The room was understandably a mess, but a shinigami would have no reason to leave the front door wide open. We can pass through walls. Only a solid being would need to open a door to leave."
"A solid being." Ichigo grimaced. "Like Kon, in my body."
"Hmph." Part of him was pleased to hear it, in a way. While he and Kon frequently bickered like cats and dogs--or perhaps lions and dogs would be more accurate--he had an (admittedly miniscule) grain of respect for the mod-soul. Kon could be annoying, and many days Ichigo wondered why he put up with the little pest. But at the same time, he had a principle: his respect for life, and his wish to choose how he lived or died as a being that had truly been born. Ichigo respected that, and that was why he had protested when Hat-and-Clogs tried to carry the captured mod-soul away for destruction, why he gave the mod-soul a home.
He had the right to live. And now somebody was trying to take that away. Annoying or no, that didn't sit right with Ichigo, and he would do something about it if he could.
"Alright," the temporary soul-reaper said. "Well, at least he's still alive. He'd better be taking good care of my body at least, or when he gets back I'll kick his ass. So. Kon's on the loose in the city. Should we go track him down?" He gestured to the device in Rukia's hand, the phone-like object she used to receive hollow orders.
"Ah...I can't. Not with this."
"What? Why not?"
"For one thing, this model is designed only to track hollows," Rukia explained, a touch huffily in response to Ichigo's annoyed tone. "And for another, this one is tied specifically to the Soul Society. If I were able to plug in Kon's information to track him, the Society would be able to as well, and you know what they'll do to him if they find him."
"Besides," Rukia added, almost hesitantly, "even if I could, and the information was private, Kon's spiritual pressure is too weak for it to pick up on. I can only assume it's because he's an ambush-class mod-soul..."
"Wait, he's a what?" Now Ichigo wore an expression of confusion mixed in with his perpetual scowl.
"Ah....I told you about Project Spearhead when we first met Kon," Rukia reminded. Ichigo nodded, and she continued. "In addition to giving each mod-soul its own unique enhancement abilities to take advantage of the corpse it was injected into, the designers also modified the spiritual pressure each mod-soul exhibited. Naturally, they needed to make sure that none of these artificial souls displayed exceptionally powerful spiritual pressures...they needed to be controlled."
At Ichigo's frown, she added, "Don't look at me like that! Just think of how much damage Kon managed to cause, and he wasn't even a malicious mod-soul. Artificial souls that were too strong to control could become very dangerous, very fast. So most of them have very weak pressures to begin with, and little ability beyond enhancing a corpse as designed. But these were divided into two categories, as well. 'Ambush' class mod-souls had low, nearly untraceable spiritual pressures and were designed to hide and then take hollows by surprise. 'Tank' class mod-souls also have low pressures naturally, but appeared to have a very high spiritual ability, which would draw hollows directly to them."
"As bait," Ichigo finished with a growl. "You were going to use them as cannon-fodder."
"I didn't say I approved of it!" Rukia said sharply, looking a little hurt. "Besides, it's a moot point. Kon would have to be the former. I can barely sense him, and only if he's within a few feet of us. I couldn't track him if I tried."
Ichigo was still frowning, but slowly the expression shifted to thoughtful. "So what you're saying," he summarized, "is that we've got a shinigami on the loose that's chasing Kon. He's out in the world in my body, we can't track him, and this other guy can, because he has a special seeking-whatever."
"That's about it," Rukia agreed with a grimace.
"And there's no way we can find him before this other guy does?"
"Well..." she hesitated. "There might be a way," she admitted, "but only if we make a quick stop first. I know somebody who might be able to help us out, but it could take a little work, and a little shady dealing."
"You don't mean--"
"That's right. Urahara."
And there's chapter 1.
This fic is about 90% written, so rest assured it will be finished. Hopefully you'll all enjoy it.
And please remember. If you decide to leave a review, please be sure to put something constructive in it! What worked well, and what didn't? What did you like, and what do you think could have been done better? Constructive criticism helps people grow as writers!