Orichimaru watched as Yamato Tenzou wrapped Uzumaki Naruto in his wood element. This was his chance and he would take it. Too many times the boy, Naruto, got in his way. Seeing the foolish battle before him, he laughed. His own sensei was giving him, Orichimaru, the opportunity to settle his score with the deadly, if slightly naïve, ninja.
The problem was he couldn't immediately attack, he wanted to, but that wasn't smart. The smart thing would be to wait for the boy to be wrapped up in the wood jutsu to the point where he would not be able to retaliate.
Fortunately for Orichimaru, he didn't have to wait long. The Snake Senin closed his eyes and gathered as many Adenine Tri-phosphates as he could, breaking the molecules up to use as energy for his final attack. After losing all of his Ninjutsu skills to the Third Hokage he had become even more scientific in the way he used his attacks. He couldn't afford to make a mistake, and channeling chakra outside of his body was no longer an option.
Gathering all the co-enzymes and metallic ions in the pit of his stomach the Snake synthesized a long blade made of iron and poison, then slowly pushed it out of his belly and up his digestive tract, where he was careful not to let the blade pierce a segment of his throat. One wrong tremor and he blade would slice through his own windpipe and kill him where he stood.
No, Orichimaru would have to do this very carefully.
Once the sword was out of his mouth, he looked at it carefully, checking for any signs of fractures. Seeing no issues on that front, he put his fingers on the blade to see if the poisonous enzymes that would inhibit the regeneration of skin was active, and smiled when he noticed that the catalysts were working.
"Perfect. This is absolutely perfect. My opponents are such idiots," the Serpent sneered. "My experiment is disabling the Kyubi boy while I am still here. It is almost as if he wants me to just walk up there and slit the boy's throat."
Using substrate-level phosphorlation he charged his sword with energy, making it sharper. Sharp enough to pierce through metal. "To think that I almost lost out of sheer carelessness. No matter, I'll bid my time, I'll hide when the boy least expects it, and I'll kill him right then and there."
"Sakura, what are you doing?" Yamato screamed. "Are you trying to get killed! Get back here, or, so help me, I'll break a tree over your skull."
Sakura stopped in mid-step and looked back at her part-time teacher. She didn't think the man would go through with the threat, but she didn't want to push him. Sakura only met the man yesterday and assuming anything about his personality at face value was a folly that she would not commit. "Um, okay." She stepped back and watched as her teacher wrapped more layers of wood around a four-tailed Naruto. "Sensei, is he going to be okay?"
"Please, don't talk. You have no idea how angry I am right now." Yamato looked to be at his limits, his eyes were so bloodshot that she was sure a vessel would pop. "I am trying to concentrate, watch out for Orichimaru or that Sasuke boy you are looking for. I swear none of this would have happened if you all just followed by plans."
Yamato had never been so furious in his life.
He prided himself on staying cool and calm, but these two students were seriously pushing his limits. Why couldn't they see that they were completely out matched? Did they honestly think they could just walk into Orichimaru's base and demand Uchiha Sasuke from him? The man who took Konoha by surprise? The former second most wanted Ninja of the Hidden Leaf?
For a girl who boasted intelligence, Yamato considered Haruno Sakura to be rather moronic, to say the least.
"Sakura, are you listening to me? I said look out for Orichimaru -and where is Sai?" Yamato screamed as more hydrogen and carbon ions mixed with Chakra were used up to create the wood. His coils felt like they were on fire using this much energy for such a long amount of time. The Captain didn't have the kind of reserves as Naruto, and using this jutsu has sever e limits. Despite popular opinion, he had about as much Chakra as the regular Ninja, and nowhere near the level of power of Kakashi or Jiraya.
Same level of reserves as Naruto? Out of the question.
Then he saw something in the corner of his eye. Something that made the bile in his stomach creep up his throat.
Orichimaru was flying through the air with a giant sword coming out of his mouth.
Naruto was helpless to do anything about it.
Sakura was screaming.
Urahara Kisuke woke up roaring in terror while reeking of sweat. Someone, or something, was outside screaming for help. He got off his dirty floor, pulled off his sleeping robes and got changed to do battle. He took his Shinigami sword off the wall and ran out of his room. He looked behind him to see if he was being followed and was relieved to see that he wasn't.
Whatever it was that made him wake up, it couldn't be friendly. Nothing friendly ever appeared in this city, nothing that didn't require immediate execution at the very least. This time he as certain that it would be bad, but at the same time not bad. At least, he didn't feel a pure Hollow. He didn't feel the same amount of hatred or misery. In fact, it felt somewhat human. It almost felt alive.
That is why he was running so quickly.
Because he knew what this was. He knew this was a hollow-fication, he had sensed this before all those years ago when he left soul society. He would be damned if he let another person become part hollow, not when he could stop it.
He jumped from building to building trying to sense out where the screaming beast had appeared and looked towards the horizon to see a red swirling spire in a nearby forest. He ran towards the location and held his breath when he saw the carcasses of wild animals littering the area. He was glad that there hadn't been any humans in the forest, since he was certain the half-hollow would tear them apart for just being there.
He dropped down to the ground level to where the hollow-man was and got out of the way as the hollow's long black arms reached out to crush his body.
"Close one." He flipped over, and unto a tree as a beam of black glycolitic energy shot past him and turned the very earth into subatomic ions. "Yeah, a real close one."
Urahara Kisuke took off his hat and pulled out his sword. He was ready to stop this four tailed, fox like creature. His blue eyes trailed up and down the four legged abomination and looked at it sadly when he realized that the person that was underneath the mask of black energy was no older than fifteen, sixteen at best.
The spiritual energy didn't look that old, maybe it just died recently? It didn't even have a hollow mask. it looked hungry..and afraid.
Kisuke saw another black arm reach out to slash him, but decided that enough was enough. He pulled out his sword and slashed off the arm that came to get him. The hollow looked at its severed arm and screamed, holding onto the stump. It looked back at Kisuke with something like surprise and then glared at him.
It was such a human gesture.
"Now, now. Young man don't be hasty," Kisuke said, gesturing with his hands. "There is no need for violence. I don't know who or what you are, but it seems like you are transforming into a hollow. Calm down, and let me have a look at you."
The Hollow-fox seemed to consider this because its eyes looked at him for a moment with something akin to hope, but then turned the same shade of black crimson, as its body and charged.
"I see, diplomacy fails." Kisuke charged at the beast with his sword. "It always does." He released his Bankai. "That is why I always carry a sword with me, kid."
Black skin and muscle were constantly being created on the surface of his body.
Naruto felt new DNA form from nothing, slowing being opened up by the helicase enzymes in his body, replicated by the primers, and carried through to different parts of the circulatory system as the cells in his flesh continued to replicate more demonic parts.
He wasn't sure how this was possible, how could he feel every part of his body be created out of nothing?
All he really understood was that his lungs, heart, liver, intestines, and anything that made him human slowly came into being the longer he fought this man who stood in front of him. This man who had yet to deal a killing blow.
Naruto understood that he wasn't human anymore, he had felt the sword of Orichimaru minutes ago.
He had felt his lungs release the oxygen it had been holding, and he had felt his heart stop. He had felt his body turn to ash, and his soul twist into a being of such immense hatred that he wanted to die. But he couldn't, that was the problem. The will of the Kyubi would not let him just die. The soul of the Biju refused to end its life, it refused to stop existing and as a result had dragged him out of the purgatory and into the human realm.
Now Naruto could do nothing but watch in horror as a blond haired man, who looked a lot like himself, tried to stop him. He wanted to tell the man to run, run as fast as possible, but he couldn't. Naruto couldn't even talk. He couldn't even think at this time, all he could really do was hold back while he became some kind of evil spirit.
Slowly he felt a mask reform on the front of his skull, and tried not to cry as more of his telomeres twisted and pulled his DNA strands into those of a horrific beast, that would quickly code for amino acids and proteins, improve his body, and become the new him.
Thinking quickly to make the man run away, he sent another beam of photoelectric black energy at the blond haired man, who tried to help him. Naruto regretted slashing the man's left eye, but that was all he could do to no kill him. The beast in him wanted blood, and, more than that, he wanted the man's soul.
He and the Kyubi were quickly merging and all that was left was for him to either accept it and die.
Naruto wanted to die, but that wasn't an option since he couldn't die.
"Okay, I've got you, boy." Naruto felt the sword slice off both his Hollow legs and looked down to see that is what happened. Naruto's ugly face smiled. He was happy. The man was going to kill him. Good.
"Just stay still," the man said. " I'll turn you back to a human in a second."
Naruto stayed still. He held on. He tried not to let the madness of the Kyubi take control . He tried not to let the fact that the polymerase in his body were quickly turning his internal organs into that of a creature of monstrous proportions. He tried not to scream as he felt large segments of the phospodiester bonds, that kept him human, become torn apart and replaced with nucleic bases from the outer realms of hell.
No. He wouldn't think about that. He would just stay still and let this man kill him.
"That's right, kid. Just stay still and no one needs to get hurt." The blond haired man in the beach hat put his hand on the boy's face and tried to pull on it. "What the hell? What is this? You can't be serious! This isn't even a partial mask? This is seriously your face?"
The man pulled his sword over his head. "This might hurt, kid. I am going to have to slice off the top surface of your face." The man looked disgusted. " It looks like your hollow mask is glued on tight."
Naruto wanted to tell him it was not a mask. That was what his four tailed form's face looked like. That is what the nine tailed beast had changed him into.
"Bear with me, here goes." The sword came down.
At about the same time a stray tail came around behind Kisuke and went through the tall man's chest.
Kisuke felt the very life in him get sucked out from the tail. Everything that he was, everything that he could have been was slowly pulled out from his very being. He tried to fight it, fought so hard that the very air around him exploded. Inert gases were no longer inert, and combustion reactions of such furious magnitude exploded out around him.
He was roasting the creature whose tail was sucking out his soul like a straw, he was making the beast-boy roll on the ground as fire consumed him, the fire of his Bankai. Even so the tail would not let go. The tail was going to win, no matter how he looked at it the tail was going to be his doom.
"No, it can't end like this," Kisuke cried. "There is still so much to do!"
He still had to save his friends. He had to live to see the birth of his best friend's child, they were going to name his Ichigo. He had to save his old comrades, those poor souls who were lost. He had to tell Yoruichi how he truly felt about her, he had to tell Tessai that he cared. He couldn't just leave the shop. People needed him. People who were on the run, people who were lost, and people who were going to be lost would need his assistance sometime in the future.
If he died today everyone would suffer. Aizen would win. Soul Society would fall. His very life was fundamental to the existence of this reality. He couldn't die! Just like the fox hollow-boy he couldn't die! He reached into his very soul and found all of his memories. If he was going to taken over by a hollow, then he would fight the hollow to the very end.
But he had to stop the boy from being a monster. The boy as only part hollow. There was still humanity left in him, enough for a possession. Urahara Kisuke reached into himself and forced his Shinigami powers into the tail, letting the halidic spiritual energy travel down the synaptic nerves and into the fox's body, where he saw the boy twitch uncontrollably as Urahara's very existence tore into him like a jagged sword.
"Become me," he whispered. He put his hands over his heart, letting his entire future go into the Hollowed boy. If he could save him, that would be enough. If he could give this boy his will maybe, just maybe he could salvage something. "I'll save you by giving you everything that I am, but if I might make a request…please help those who need help in this city."
Kisuke saw the boy's grotesque body slowly stop warping, and saw his body change back to a human. It resembled a boy that looked exactly like him. He had the same blond hair, the same blue eyes, and was roughly the same size. He was thin, he looked hungry and beaten. Those dark blue eyes looked at him in horror, and sadness, as if it knew what Urahara had just sacrificed in order to save him.
"I don't know your name," he laughed darkly. "But you are strong." He fell to his knees and the boy rushed beside him. "Please, I've given you my everything. Everything but my power. Please, I know you aren't a Shinigami. I know you just died, but I've given you all that I am and could be. I've given you my memories. Isn't that enough?"
He reached out and touched the boy's shaking hand. "Help the people here." His hands started to disappear as the covalent bonds that held his very existence together started to fade. "They need me." He looked at the boy's crying blue eyes, eyes that were e so full of guilt, and smiled. "But, I guess now they'll need you."
Naruto hugged the man close to his chest, trying to force the tall shopkeeper's essence back into his vessel. It wasn't working. He was dying. The man who had just sacrificed himself to save him was dying. The last Uzumaki called out for help, and no one came. They were in the middle of a forest with no one for miles and miles.
He looked at the blond haired man in his arms and watched blood seep out from his chest. There was so much of it. It was like a pool of endless crimson and it was his fault. Naruto picked up the man, slung him over his shoulder and ran towards the city. He didn't stop to look back at the gaping vortex behind him, he didn't even check to see whether or not he was dressed.
"Sir, don't die on me!" he begged. "Not like this. Not when you saved me. I am supposed to be the hero."
He didn't feel like a hero at the moment.
As he ran down the street memories of a life that wasn't his started to transfer through his neurons. His brain slowly absorbed the information and it was as if he had lived every day of those lives himself. He turned back to face the man over his back and noticed that he was quickly turning to nothing. Literally. As if his body was no longer existed in this time and place.
"Mister," Naruto asked.," are you okay?"
He stopped running and flipped the man over to him. He looked the man in the eyes, noticing the strange smile on his face. He put a hand over his bleeding chest to stop the blood flow, but the man pushed him away.
"Did you feel it?" the man asked. "Did you see it?"
"See what?" Naruto asked. "Mister, you're not acting right. Can you tell me where the nearest hospital is?"
Naruto looked around the city, seeing that it was empty. It was so early in the morning that the sun wasn't even up yet. "I don't know where I am." He tried to move the man's head to face him, but the man pushed him away. "Mister?"
The man took off his hat and with a shaking hand placed the hat over Naruto's head. The hat bent his shaggy blond hair back to look like his own, and Naruto was even more afraid for this person's life. "This isn't funny." The man started to laugh. "Mister, you're dying." Naruto started to cry. "I am so sorry."
More memories started to flash through his minds. Hundreds of RNA Polymerase started to elongate the neuronic DNA, which wouldn't normally be possibly, for memories that were not his own. Promoter regions went haywire as a build-up of memory units started to force themselves through the mind of Uzumaki Naruto. It twisted and snaked around the existing memories of the boy's and created hemorrhages in his head as more brain cells started to replicate in a bid to house those memories.
"It's going to hurt," the man said. "But soon you'll have all my memories."
Naruto screamed as more memories started to ingrain themselves into his mind. "I don't want your memories." Then something happened. He realized what the man was trying to do. "No. No, you're going to survive this." The man knew his life was over. He was vicariously passing over his mind to him. In some vain attempt to do..something. "Just tell me where the hospital is!"
"There is only one place that can save me, kid," the man said, grinning sadly. "Kurasaki's clinic is the only , and that's far, far away." The man put his fading hand over his eye. "You're starting to get my memories, Hollow-boy, so you must know why I did this."
Naruto screamed as more cells were built around his pre-existing ones, causing more memories to drill into his hippocampus. "I don't understand." Naruto started to shake. "This all seems unreal. I…your memories can't be real. Soul Society. Hollows. Shinigami." Naruto's sad eyes looked at the man. "You can't be real. None of these memories make sense."
The man laughed. "It is real. And I am sorry." The man's blue eyes started to turn hollow. "Oh, I think..I..am..going to.."
The light in the man's eyes disappeared and so did his body.
Naruto tried to hold onto the particles of energy that disappeared as the man died, but couldn't catch them in his cold, calloused hands. The small photons, ions, isotopes, whatever they were, floated up into the sky in a shower of such profound beauty that Naruto couldn't help but fall on his hands and knees in great remorse.
He looked down to see the man's clothes in his arms. He looked to his right to see the man's sword but noticed that it was gone. This wasn't possible. When people died they didn't just fade away. This man, Urahara Kisuke, should have had a body. He should have had solid flesh, not this artificial one. He should have…
The memories in Naruto's head started to make sense.
Urahara Kisuke wasn't human.
He was a Shinigami.
Naruto started to realize that he was no longer in his universe.
Holding onto the man's clothes in his arms, looking at the rising sun, everything started to click. Naruto could see it all. He could see the man's birth in the real world. He saw the man's death. He saw the man grow up in the House of Shihoin. He saw the man train hard day in and day out. He saw him enter the Shinigami Academy.
He saw his friends, he saw the woman he loved, a girl named Yoruichi, and his crew. He saw a man named Aizen who betrayed him. He saw a laboratory where he tried to save people. He saw his trial, and he saw his escape from Soul Society.
The more memories Uzumaki Naruto saw in his head, the more he as filled with remorse and dread.
This man had accomplished so much in his life, and because the man had such a kind heart he went out of his way to save him. As a result he was killed. Now the people this man, Urahara Kisuke, would help could no longer seek his assistance. His great knowledge and strength, that others needed, would no longer be available to the people here.
"What do I do?" Naruto stood up and held the man's clothes in his arms. He was still crying over the man's death. "There are people who need him. The Vizards need him. Anyone on the run from Soul Society need him. If they find out he's dead, there would be a lot of trouble."
The very existence of this city depended on his being alive. Kisuke was the pillar of light in this dark city.
"Please, tell me what to do." Naruto hugged the man's clothes. "Give me a sign."
It was then that Tessai arrived.
"Kisuke, you okay?" Tesssai said, looking at his best friend. "Why are you crying? Better yet, why are you naked?"
Tessai had woken only moments ago to find Kisuke away from the shop. He'd followed his signature up to here, and now here he was. "Kisuke, there are scars on your cheeks…what happened?" Tessai tried to move towards his friend, but his friend took a step back. "Kisuke, why aren't you answering me?"
From Tessai's point of view it looked like his friend had just been through a horrible ordeal. "It's alright if you don't want to talk about it." Tessai turned around and let his friend change. "Just put your clothes on and we'll see to those scars on your cheeks when we get home."
Something was wrong. Tessai just knew it. The blonde's spiritual essence felt like Kisuke, but it didn't feel entirely right either. He would find out later.
First he'd have to get those whisker shaped scars looked at.
Naruto hide underneath the covers of Urahara's sheets as operons after operons continued to code for proteins that slowly shifted his face to look more like Urahara. The proteins joined together to form skin and soon Naruto could safely say that the scar marks on his cheeks were fading. They were still there, he doubted they would ever go away, but they were barely noticeable unless one looked at them closely.
Taking the sheet off his body Naruto went to the mirror to a look at his change. It was nearing its end and he couldn't help but notice that his face had become more hollow, as if he'd not eaten in a very, very long time. He wondered if this was how Urahara Kisuke always looked.
Thin and on the verge of death.
Naruto figured that was probably the case since the man spent more time aiding people than he did taking care of himself.
Trying to clear his mind of memories that only saddened him, he went to the closet and picked up a set of robes. Careful not to damage them he wore them slowly, and walked out of the room.
Eventually he got to the front of the shop where two children, one boy and one girl, bowed to him and continued on their daily work. Naruto wanted to tell them they were doing a good job , say something that Kisuke would, but he wasn't sure how it would sound with his current voice. Last night Tessai seemed to be too worried about his safety, and didn't do a thorough examination.
Tessai had known Kisuke for most of his life, there was no doubt that the man would find him to be a fraud if he wasn't careful. One wrong move and the older man would have his head. Naruto didn't want that. Tessai was a powerful Shinigami in his own right, not as strong as Kisuke, but formidable nonetheless.
Taking a seat outside of the shop he waited for someone very important to come. Every week that special person would arrive on time to check up on him. If Naruto did not let that person know he was okay he would only bring more suspicion onto himself.
"Hello, Kisuke," a purring voice called. Naruto looked down to see a black cat. "Tessai told me you ran into a strong Hollow yesterday." The cat jumped unto his lap, and Naruto petted it. "Are you okay?
Naruto nodded, his head dizzy from his quickly changing appearance. He didn't want to use his voice. If anyone would think his new child-like speech pattern odd, it would be her, Shihoin Yoruichi.
"Kisuke, why aren't you saying anything?" the cat asked. The cat leapt off his lap and looked up at him with those soulful, yet worried eyes. "Did the monster hurt you that bad? C'mon. It couldn't have."
Naruto wanted to tell her that a monster killed Kisuke, but chose not to.
"Don't worry, Tessai says he's gone hunting for the beast." The cat rubbed its body on the boy's leg. "Cheer up, I've never seen you like this before."
That was true. Kisuke was always so happy, always so alive. He didn't let anything bring him down no matter how bad the situation got. Naruto tried to erect a smile but failed miserably.
The cat looked at him oddly and sighed. "Stop that, don't pretend, " it said. The cat turned away from him. "Anyway, your friend is having his baby today." The cat huffed. "You'd better be there for the kid's birth."
In a flash the cat was out of his sight.
"Yoruichi…" Kisuke was in love with you. "Kisuke died." Naruto stood up and turned back to enter the shop. "I am not him." He sobbed once. "He loved you..so much."
"Kurosaki-san, congratulations! It's a boy." The Doctor handed the man his son. The father tried not to drop the baby. "Still, most babies tend to cry when they are born. This one was just silent all the way through."
"That's my little Ichigo," the mother whispered. "Gentle, just like his mother."
"And just as beautiful," Kurosaki-san said. The tall man with black hair, Kurosaki, turned to face his friend. "Urahara, you okay?"
"Yes. I am fine." Naruto tried to smile, but it only came out as a grimace. "I've never been better."
"You sure," the other man asked. "I've never seen you so…depressed."
There was a tension in the room as Naruto fumbled to find an explanation, and then settled for the most simple one. "I almost died last night."
Mrs. Kurosaki gasped. "Oh, dear." She took the baby from her husband. "Are you okay? Do you need to see a doctor? Isshin is free all-day."
Naruto tried not to cry at the lady's kindness. These weren't his friends. He couldn't take advantage of them. "No. I am fine, he said." He walked close to the baby in her arms and flinched when the baby touched his nose.
"He is very gentle," the ninja said. Naruto could see the brilliant nature of the boy behind those innocent orbs. "You've named him Ichigo?"
"His hair, it's almost red." The mother shifted the baby so that Naruto could hold him. "Don't be afraid he doesn't bite."
Naruto wondered if he had the right to hold the child. He wasn't Urahara Kisuke. He wasn't a family friend. He didn't know these people. He tried to tell himself that the memories he had of them weren't his own. He wanted to deny them so badly, but the part that was Kisuke, the part inside of him that burned to be close to his memories, told him he couldn't escape.
He owed it to the man, Urahara, to at least reassure his friends.
"Yes." Naruto reached out his shaking hands to the baby. "Let me hold him."
"Kisuke, why aren't you using your bankai?" the black cat shouted, leaping next to him. "You can't defeat this Hollow just by stabbing him with a knife."
The cat-woman leaped out of the way as another beam of exothermic energy sprayed out of the spirit's face. The creature in front of them looked like a cross between a masked spider and a man. "Kisuke, are you even listening to me?"
Naruto wasn't listening to Yoruichi. He knew the feline was correct, but what choice did he have? He wasn't a Shinigami, and he had no bankai. The two of them had run into this creature moments after leaving the hospital, well, more like Kisuke (Naruto) had run into it, and the black cat just happened to follow.
"Urahara, what the hell are you doing? Don't just charge a hollow like that. Were you really a captain?" The cat tried to chase Naruto, but tripped on the slippery streets. It was raining, making the number of people watching this event rather small. It was also fortunate this city didn't' have as many occupants as other cities, such as Tokyo. "Kisuke, watch out for its breath!"
The monster released a wave of toxic gas out of its spider shaped skull. Naruto held his breath. He was still human, at least more human. Kisuke changed him, changed him so that he resembled something anatomically similar to a man. The problem was he had all of a regular person's weakness. He could easily get sick.
He could get a virus that would render his lac-repressors useless, unable to code for genes that could fight off infections. He didn't have the same gene transcriptional abilities he had in his previous form, that much he discovered when he cut himself shaving a few days ago. Normally the high rate of protein synthesis caused by the incredibly quick endonucleus-processing due to the Kyubi chakra, as well as an efficient exon synthesize complex from the Blue chakra, resulted in fast and efficient tissues to develop on the membranes of his cells.
Now he no longer had that ability. Kisuke had done something that didn't allow for Naruto to access the Kyubi's vast power.
"Kisuke, I swear to Kami that I am going to kill you if you don't pay attention to the battle," the Assassin Princess shouted, "Get off that Hollow's head!"
Naruto didn't listen to her. He knew what he had to do. Unlike Kisuke he was physically dexterous. He was nimble and efficient. He put his hands over the spider's mask an began to pull with all his power.
Slowly the mask was coming off.
"Kisuke…how in the world are you doing that…" the cat didn't make this a question, it was just voicing statement. "Have you been working out?"
Naruto smiled sadly at the feline. "A little," he said, using a voice-Henge to make himself sound more like the man. It didn't come out exactly as it should, but it did the job. Naruto felt a buildup of highly fission-istic power build up around the creature's mouth. "No, no, no, no, no!"
"Kisuke, get out of the there, the thing's going to fire!"
"Don't you think I know that?" Naruto yelled. "Yoruichi, if I let go he's going to release his beam unto that building." The rain made it very difficult to see the cat. "I can't fight with you here, I might crush you, or, worse, fire at you!"
The cat scoffed. "You can't do anything without me. I am staying."
"You stupid woman, don't you see I don't want you to get hurt." Kisuke had always wanted to protect her. Naruto knew it. Knew it so badly that he had to carry out that will. If anything were to happen to this girl, no, not girl, this woman, he'd never be able to live with himself. " Please, go."
"Kisuke, do you want me to transform and hurt you?" the cat asked, its eye looking up at him through the rain, in fury. "Don't treat me like I need your protection…come to think of it, you've never treated me like this before." The cat jumped up to a nearby building. "What's the matter with you. You're acting strange. You haven't made any jokes, you've been gloomy all week, you scare the customers, and…you don't smile anymore."
How could he smile? He was pretending to be someone important to her.
"I can't hold the Hollow anymore, I am going to crush it's skull." Naruto did just that. He forced his hands on the skull and began to squeeze it. Chakra swirled around his muscles. Glucose, lactose, proteins, minerals, anything, and everything, that could be used as a source of quick energy was immediately used up to power his strength.
The black cat watched in awe as Urahara Kisuke killed a Hollow with his bare hands. This just wasn't possible. She had known this man all her life, shared meals with him, trained with him, studied with him, cried with him, and laughed with him. He had changed so much since that Hollow attack, but now she was wondering if maybe this was for the better.
This was almost like the old Kisuke. Back before he was framed in Soul Society, back when he struggled to become equal in rank as her. There was a deadly fire the man's eyes now. A determination she had never seen before, and it frightened her. She ran down the building as the Hollow collapsed to the ground, shrieking as black blood spilled down its crushed skull.
"Urahara…" The cat walked out of the alley of the building she was standing on and ran towards Kisuke, who was covered in its bile. "Let's go home." She looked up to see a crash of lightening in the sky. "It's going to be a downpour tonight."
"Probably," Kisuke told her. Kisuke bent down and she, Yoruichi, ran up his shoulder. "Let's get that scratch looked at, Shihoin-san."
Kisuke had never called her that.
She felt lonely.
Tessai was suspicious, that Naruto had no doubt. The large man was purposely avoiding him. A part of Naruto was glad that he was doing this, yet a larger part was sad. Kisuke's best friend was Tessai, the only one closer to him was Yoruichi, only he couldn't talk freely to her, not when he had such strong feelings for the Princess.
Feelings that Kisuke knew that she would never return, after all, he was nothing more than a friend.
Naruto coughed violently into his hands and watched as blood dripped down his fingers. He'd been wounded by the creature when he had crushed its skull. Due to the rain and the unsanitary mess caused by the Hollow's carcass he'd gotten an infection and, not surprisingly, gotten sick. This was something else he had to hide from Tessai and Yoruichi.
Shinigami rarely got sick.
"Kisuke, what's the matter?" Naruto turned around to see a girl who looked no more than eight step out of the shadows. Naruto panicked. "You look like you caught a cold?" The girl looked worried. "Do you want me to get an antibiotic?"
Naruto's memories wanted to correct her, tell her that this was mostly likely just a virus. Antibiotics might work, if this was a normal viral infection. However, this was something more advanced . Palindromic segments of poisonous Hollow genes were probably the cause of this sickness . Naruto, from Kisuke's memories, knew he would have to have this problem taken care of with methods a bit stronger.
He'd have to visit a Shinigami Physician.
"No, that's fine." He got up and patted the girl on the head. "I think I'll visit Kurosaki's clinic."
The girl blushed, nodded her head, and walked back to wherever she lived in the shop.
Kisuke turned around to see Tessai, looking at him with apprehension. "Kisuke, do you want me to walk you?" Tessai took another step forward.
Naruto took a step back. "No, that's fine."
Tessai did not look convinced, but chose not to comment. Naruto watched as his large back heaved with worry, worry for him. He felt touched that the big man thought of him, thought of every aspect of his health, but he couldn't return the same feelings. He couldn't allow himself to care for Tessai like Kisuke cared, he didn't have the right.
Because, no matter what he did, no matter how many Hollows he killed, at the end of the day he was still Uzumaki Naruto.
Kurosaki found nothing wrong with Kisuke. He seemed perfectly fine, but his old friend wanted a thorough check up for any abnormalities. He claimed that the Hollow he fought had seriously infected him.
"Let's see now, your DNA seems fine, but I'll run a Northern blot test just to make sure." Kurosaki proceeded to cut up the fragments of Kisuke's DNA, and put them into the gel electrophoresis. The electric field immediately separated the heaviest to lightest fragments, allowing the man to get a reading.
"Hmm, seems about right." The last step was to add the radioactive probes of RNA to get a measure and gradient, and then film it. "We're done."
He placed the film of Kisuke's genetic reading on the an X-ray board. "See, Kisuke, nothing to worry about." Kurosaki started to laugh. "For a second you had me scared, coming in here coughing blood. Your assuming some crazy theories if you think your body is changing." Kurosaki's patted his friend on the back. "You've been making Tessai and Shihoin-san worried, you know?"
Naruto nodded, relieved that he wasn't turning into any kind of demon. "Can I have some penicillin?"
Kurosaki frowned. "No, I'll need to give you something stronger." The doctor reached out for a needle the size of a hammer. "This might hurt, just a bit."
" I can imagine," Naruto said, looking at the machination grimly. "Say, I found a boy in this clinic outside. Shouldn't he come inside?"
Kurosaki's face frowned. "Sora-chan doesn't want to." He pointed to a hospital bed nearby. A small woman with long orange hair was sleeping on it. She looked bruised. "He's watching out for his father."
"His father is wife-beater."
Naruto's eyes fell to the floor. "Can you do something about it?"
"Do what? Kill him," Kurosaki asked. "This isn't Soul Society, and he isn't a Hallow."
"But some people are just as bad as them," Naruto muttered. He got off the seat and put on his beach hat. "If you find anything wrong, please let me know."
"Will do," the man said cheerfully. "You know, this is the first time I've ever had to run a blot test on a Shinigami." He turned around and walked towards the battered woman, who Naruto now realized was pregnant, based on her bulging belly. "Shinigami usually don't worry about catching virus."
Naruto knew that. But he couldn't tell the man he wasn't a Shinigami.
"I am going to talk to that boy outside, is that okay?" Naruto asked. "Maybe I can do something for him."
The doctor shrugged. "Suit yourself, I've got little Ichigo to worry about and he's already a handful."
"He doesn't seem like a hard to take care of baby," Naruto commented. "At all."
"He's not," the doctor said, "It's his mother. You know how Misaki is."
Naruto didn't, but Kisuke did. He nodded and went outside to talk with Inoue Sora.
What Naruto learned about Sora's home life made him sick to his stomach. His mother was a prostitute and his father was a drunk. The two of them fought until his mother was beaten to an inch of her life. Coming to this clinic was a common occurrence, but since his mother refused to get the law involved the problem only got worse.
"Stay out here, Sora," Naruto said, patting the boy on the head. "I am just going inside to talk to your father.
"Promise not to hurt him?"
Naruto made no such promise.
He opened the door and entered the apartment. Once inside the building he looked around to see where the old drunkard could have gone. Sora said that he was home today, but there didn't seem to be any sign of this. The place was trashed, beer cans littered every segment of their dining room, and the kitchen looked like it hadn't been cleared in a year.
Had he been a neat freak, Naruto would have guessed there were millions of cocchi and Spirli bacteria lining every section of the kitchen. He could smell the scent of food poison from where he stood and backed away from the vile odor of a nearby washroom.
He couldn't believe people could live like this.
Didn't they have any shame? Didn't they want their children to grow up in a better environment? When Sora had told him what the apartment was like he had expected bad, but not gutter trash bad. Allowing himself to relax the boy strolled through the piles of booze and wrappers, and decided to walk into the bed room.
Before he opened the door he heard something. Something familiar. Letting out a stray wave of Chakra he caught it. Bashing through the door, letting the dust scatter, he pulled out a blade from inside his cane and ran at the creature. The beast howled back at Naruto and lunged at him. The two of them collided midway and Naruto smashed the Hollow through the window.
The two of them fell down the seventh story complex, Naruto in mid air, while the creature expanded its wings and took to the sky. Naruto wouldn't have the creature leave like that. Gathering up Chakra inside of his mouth Naruto made the oxygen molecules in the air react with the separated hydrogen ions in his stomach, and blew out a powerful gust of combustion.
The flames roasted the back of the Hollows body, sending it toppling down to the ground level. Naruto coughed as the carbon dioxide produced from the blast threatened to choke him, but brushed it off when he noticed his opponent was getting up. Naruto couldn't have that. He couldn't let this tricky Hollow live to fight again.
It was smart, too smart.
The creatures head started to form a micelle design, as its jaw expanded to form rows of jagged teeth. "Come at me, Shinigami," it smirked and blew a gust of fire at him. "I'll be your doom."
You won't. "Sorry, but I am not allowed to die." Naruto's eyes hardened, and turned to slits. "Not until I defeat Aizen…I made a promise." And I intend to keep it, because Uzumaki Naruto never breaks a promise.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or Naruto.