Title: Blue Thread of Fate
Genre: Romance, drama, supernatural, shonen-ai, angst
Disclaimer: Do not own BLEACH nor am I profiting from this fic in any way.
Synopsis: Semi-AU. Ichigo is a shinigami sent out for patrol. Bored of work, he seeks out interesting reiraku (spirit threads) and discovers a blue colored one, which leads him to an interesting human with blue hair.
Kurosaki Ichigo was a young man who liked to do what he wanted. He listens to orders most of the time, but sometimes, young men just want to have a little bit of fun while at work. And that was what he did. Only thing is, Kurosaki Ichigo is a shinigami - a death god, a soul reaper – of an otherworld where spirits rest called Soul Society.
He was a talented shinigami – the only one to have so much spiritual power that his shikai remained at its non-sealed state. He was young and new to the shinigami world however, and had much to learn. He was one of the well-known shinigami in the squad, best known for his appearance of bright orange hair and a cleaver-like shikai wrapped in bandages strapped to his back. After graduating from the Shinigami Academy, he had gone almost straight to the 5th seat of the 11th division. And it was a division that was under a violence-obsessed captain who seemed to have a strange liking for him and his strength. Captain Kenpachi was a large, eye-patched man who had his hair in spikes, and had great love for fighting, and with fighting as Ichigo's main specialty, it wasn't much surprise that the captain wanted him in his division. Other captains were interested in him as well, from Captain Kurostuchi of the 12th division wanting to use him as an experiment specimen, nobleman Captain Kuchiki of the 6th who seemed to loathe him for befriending his sister-in-law Rukia, to Captain Aizen of the 5th who was always smiling sweetly to everyone but smiling a little bit wider at him than to everyone else.
Anyway, he was sent to the human world for patrol to dispose of any Hollows that would be wandering around and harming innocent souls. But Ichigo was tired of it. It was almost daily for him to take up this post, and hunting Hollows had gotten boring to him, especially since they were so easy to defeat.
And thus one fine day, the young shinigami decided to do a little more than his usual slacking off. Ichigo closed his eyes and visualized the reiraku, spirit threads of the spiritually-aware beings around him. He spotted a red reiraku, probably from another patrolling shinigami, but another reiraku immediately stood out among the white threads. It was a light blue thread. Without thinking, Ichigo reached his hand out and grabbed it. He felt it in his hand, and just stared at it in awe.
"It really is blue... That's not possible, there's no such thing," Ichigo muttered to himself. The only known colours for spirit threads were white, for anything other than that was red for the shinigami. But blue? Ichigo's feet took action out of impulse. He flash stepped towards the direction of where the blue spirit thread led him. It was very far from where he was, but Ichigo noticed, that as he was moving, whatever it was on the end of the thread was moving as well, as if it was running. As if it knew Ichigo had its spirit thread in his hand and chasing after it. Curious, Ichigo flash stepped even faster towards whatever being that owned this blue thread.
Ichigo continued to chase whatever this thing was, and it can run fast. He expected an animal; after all they are more sensitive to spiritual beings than humans. Ichigo took the last few steps he anticipated that would reach this unique being and his eyes widened with a mix of shock and awe when he stepped past the last building and locked eyes on the target.
At the end of the spirit thread was a man with bright blue hair and cobalt eyes. He had a great physique, and Ichigo watched the man in action as he ran. And that was when Ichigo realized the man was running... running away from him!
"Hey, wait!" Ichigo called after the man. The man didn't listen. Could he hear or cannot hear him? He should have, since the spirit thread is proof of his spiritual awareness. Well, unless he's deaf. Ichigo frowned slightly but continued to give chase. With his flash steps, there was no way a human can outrun a shinigami, and he easily appeared before the blue-haired man, stopping him dead in his tracks.
Ichigo finally saw his face and his hard expression softened into a curious one as he took in the handsome features of the man. He was clad in a blue jumpsuit and carried a bag, and was sweating from the running. He also had the deepest scowl Ichigo had ever seen on anyone. But yet, the man remained beautiful in an odd way. Ichigo just stared at him, still with the man's spirit thread in his hand.
"Oi," the man spoke. His voice was low and rough. Ichigo's eyes snapped to his. They were cold, angry and suspicious. But there was no fear in them. "Who or what the hell are you?"
"Kurosaki Ichigo," the young orange haired man said. He was covered in black funeral robes, and the only thing that stood out from the deep blackness was his vibrant, orange hair. And it was in a shade that Grimmjow liked. It was... refreshing. But that didn't mean whoever this boy was posed no threat to him, especially with that large thing strapped to his back that was most likely a sword. Furthermore, Grimmjow had learned in his life that one shouldn't judge things by their looks. He gripped the handle of his bag tighter; his tools were inside, he can use them for protection.
"As I said, what are you," Grimmjow repeated.
"A shinigami," the kid replied. Grimmjow felt his features scrunch up further. His forehead was tired from how deep his brows were furrowed.
"A shinigami, soul reaper? Death god?" the kid said, like it was the most normal thing to say.
"You're... the ones who send the wandering spirits away," Grimmjow said slowly. He had just realized that this wasn't the first time he'd seen these... things. He had been seeing glimpses of them throughout his life, and once or twice even seen them perform some sort of ritual to wandering spirits. But he had never seen them make contact with any of the living before.
"You can see us, huh..." the shinigami named Ichigo said."Maybe it's because you're that strong that the colour of your soul stood out?" Grimmjow gave him a puzzled look but the kid was looking at that thread in his hand again. Grimmjow felt weird when the kid's hand moved along the thread. Like as if someone was stroking the back of his neck.
"Stop touching that," Grimmjow just said. Ichigo looked up and stared at him. He let go of the thread and it vanished into thin air.
"Why did you run?" he asked suddenly.
"Who wouldn't run if something invisible suddenly strokes your neck, and then it feels like something is pulling at your soul?" Grimmjow growled out. The kid was so naive looking, but aside from that attitude scowl he was putting on. Is he really a shinigami?
"Sorry about that," Ichigo said. He walked towards Grimmjow and the man snarled as he took a step back. Ichigo stopped in his tracks and looked confused at Grimmjow's expression.
"Why are you the only one talking to me? Is it my time to die or something?" Grimmjow asked in a mix of nervousness and anger. He never really liked death; it was almost always around him, and yet now it was right in front of him in the form of an orange haired teenager. It was so surreal. Ichigo stared at him for a moment before he broke into a smirk and snorted to suppress his laughter. The change of expression made Grimmjow blink in surprise, and found himself slipping into what felt like ease at the young man's awkward smile.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you. I was just curious about the thread that's all. You're..." Ichigo looked at him and his smile grew. "Interesting."
Grimmjow cocked his head to the side and shot Ichigo another look. "What the fuck?"
"Hey, you haven't told me your name yet," the soul reaper said, going past Grimmjow's surprise as if he didn't hear it.
"Why the hell should I tell a kid like you?" Grimmjow said and he scooted back. Like hell he was going to let this entity go anywhere near him. Sure the kid appeared to be trying to be friendly, but Grimmjow had grown up to have great distrust in strangers and was getting snappy for some reason.
"I'm not a kid, I'm at least a couple decades older than you," the young shinigami replied. A frown began to tug at the young man's features and Grimmjow thought it fit him nicely.
"As long as you don't look like it, I won't treat you that way," Grimmjow growled and felt the tension rise between them. The shinigami looked like he was ready to hit him, and it had Grimmjow moving into a defensive stance automatically. He'd had some martial arts training when he was younger, so defending himself was really no big deal. Just that at the moment, his opponent wasn't exactly tangible or living. The orange-haired shinigami however seemed to notice his movement and stepped back. The frown didn't leave his face though.
"Tsk, what's your problem," Grimmjow heard him say.
"You are," Grimmjow admitted without thinking, and he almost regretted it.
"I only approached you and you're freaking out like this?"
"Who in their right mind wouldn't freak the fuck out when what they see as death is standing right in front of them and talking to them?!" Grimmjow told him, not really holding himself back. He felt agitated and confused. The situation was just too surreal. And when Grimmjow gets confused, his first instinct was to get defensive and suspicious. The shinigami didn't speak but seemed to consider what he said.
"...Right," the shinigami finally said. "I seemed to have forgotten myself. Sorry about that." He watched Grimmjow for a moment before continuing. "...I just wanted to know why your reiraku is blue."
"My what?" Grimmjow asked.
"The thing I was holding on to when I got here," he replied.
"And what is a reiraku? What does it do?" Grimmjow didn't know why he was even asking these questions. What did he have to do with any of this anyway?
"It's just a manifestation of your reiryoku – your spirit power. Everything that has a high reiryoku has a reiraku that leads to them. And everyone of them is white, except for the shinigami, whose reiraku are red. Yours though... is blue," the young shinigami explained to him.
"Is that bad?" Grimmjow asked. Bad luck had always haunted him.
"I don't think so, but it's definitely attention grabbing," the shinigami said with a smirk as he glanced at Grimmjow's hair. Grimmjow ran a hand through the blue locks self-consciously with a scowl. He never minded anyone staring at it, but it was just the way the shinigami smirked at it that made him feel a little different.
"And that's why you approached me? Just to see what this 'attention grabbing' reiraku would lead to?" Grimmjow said, his temper building for some reason. "Sorry to disappoint you, shinigami, but I'm just an ordinary guy with an ordinary job and a pretty average, anti-social life. Only thing unordinary about me is my hair colour."
"You can see us," the shinigami said simply and that had Grimmjow stare at him like he was the weirdest thing on the planet. Grimmjow had forgotten all about his own spiritual awareness since he was just too used to it. This sixth sense he had that made him so very often the outcast that he was ever since young, aside from the outstanding natural hair colour that he was born with. For as long as he remembered, Grimmjow had had this ability since birth, but only recalled seeing these black robed beings at the age of six.
"I suppose, but it's brought nothing good into my life," Grimmjow stated, sounding a bit bitterer than he wanted.
The shinigami wanted to reply, but something loud made a screeching noise and it came from the shinigami's pocket. "Ah, a hollow's in the area. I have to take care of it." He turned his back to Grimmjow and began to take a few steps but stopped. He faced Grimmjow again and said, "I'll see ya again. There's lots of things I want to ask." He gave a lopsided grin and disappeared, leaving Grimmjow both speechless and a little shocked at the abrupt stop to their conversation.
"...That's what I was supposed to say," Grimmjow muttered to himself as he stared at the spot where the shinigami had disappeared. The surrealism of what just happened sank in and Grimmjow thought he'd gone crazy. Did that really happen or was he just tripping? Grimmjow tried to clear his head and started to walk.
Ichigo went back to Soul Society after disposing of the Hollow that interrupted his conversation with the blue haired man, and was very pleased and intrigued by the meeting. He went back to his division to report his daily patrol but as usual Captain Kenpachi was hardly interested in such trivial things. So he went off to find a few of his friends with a few questions in mind.
"Oi, Renji!" Ichigo yelled out to the red-haired lieutenant who was just walking along the outer walls of Sereitei. Said man turned and greeted back.
"Yo, Ichigo, what's up? It's 'Vice-captain Abarai', by the way," Renji told him with a smug grin. Ichigo rolled his eyes but smirked anyway.
"Whatever," Ichigo said, though he acknowledged that the man whom he had gone into the academy at the same time had indeed reached lieutenant rank faster than him. But then again, he was with a division that focused on brute strength, and the current lieutenant was a little girl. That must say at least something about his 5th seat rank in comparison to Renji's. He only smiled gleefully to himself.
"Finished your patrol?" Renji asked.
"Yup, just got back from reporting to Captain Kenpachi. Hey, I wanna ask you something," Ichigo immediately began. "There are only two colours for reiraku right?"
"Reiraku?" Renji questioned. "Yeah, red for shinigami, white for everything else. Why are you asking that, did you use it recently?"
"Sorta, yeah," Ichigo replied with a sheepish grin to Renji's questioning look. "I was bored, so I thought I'd just play with some reiraku or something."
"And what, you found something interesting?" Renji asked again.
"Yeah, a blue reiraku," Ichigo told him. Renji looked interested.
"Blue? Are you serious? Did you follow it, see what it led to?"
"He's just a human with high spiritual awareness, surprisingly," Ichigo said. "But his hair and eyes were blue. His reiraku was a paler colour to it. And the thing is, he can see us. Or at least, me."
"He can see shinigami? That isn't common Ichigo. There are very little humans who can see spirits, much less a shinigami. You might want to report about this," Renji advised him with folded arms.
"I did, but you know Kenpachi is hardly interested in patrol reports," Ichigo replied with a slight frown.
"True... and it's a little hard to get to the other captains not of your division," Renji muttered and rubbed his chin. "So what are you going to do now?"
"I don't know, if I ever see any of the captains I'll tell them, but for the moment I think I'll look it up in the library or something, and maybe just observe him," Ichigo answered. Renji raised an eyebrow at his last phrase.
"Did you approach him?" Ichigo stopped when Renji asked the question. He had forgotten they weren't really supposed to make contact with any being, whether they can see them or not. Renji's tattooed brows furrowed as he took the answer from Ichigo's expression. "I don't think you should get too involved, Ichigo."
"It was only a talk, and it's not like it'd be much trouble to either side," Ichigo replied defensively. "Furthermore I'm bored from patrol. Just take it as a hobby." Renji just frowned at his words but shrugged.
"If that's what you say, Ichigo," Renji told him. "Well I'll be going now, I need to see Captain Kuchiki."
"Oh, and Renji, don't tell Rukia about this, please?" Ichigo asked of him and Renji nodded. The small woman was a little too nosy for her own good and might do something that he wouldn't like, even if she was one of his close friends.
Ichigo then headed for the library for his personal research, where thousands of ancient books were shelved neatly. It was empty, as usual, with only a few other shinigami reading quietly at the tables. He went straight to the librarian and asked for information, and then immediately went to the aisle as directed and browsed through the books. He picked out some thick books and brought them out to lay them on a nearby table.
He flipped through the frayed pages of the first two books and found nothing, but finally found a term in a page of the third thousand-paged book he had picked out. He underlined the bolded word reiraku with his finger and read out loud softly under his breath.
Reiraku are the representation of spiritual power of beings in the form of threads. Red represents the shinigami, while white represents every other being in the human world. Alright, that was the basic, Ichigo thought, and read on.
Other coloured reiraku exist as well, but are extremely rare. They have been reported every few times over a period of a hundred years. The colour represents their soul and their spiritual power, and are said to be as high as or even higher than a Shinigami. They come in the form of animals or humans, but are more common as the latter. In most societies of the living, those who already have spiritual awareness are thought to bring bad luck, while those who have higher power than that are considered to be harbingers of disasters. No wonder he looked so defensive and threatened, Ichigo thought as he remembered the look on the blue-haired man's face. And there was also the bitterness in the man's voice that Ichigo had noticed when he mentioned about his life.
They are just vessels of large amounts of spiritual power, and do not have much use for the power they possess. If taught, however, they can harness their power and would be able to affect spiritual beings around them, Shinigami and Hollows included. Hollows included? Wait, Ichigo thought. Does that mean he can see Hollows as well? Ichigo stared back at the book and read the continuing sentence. They are often sought out by those who dabble in spiritual studies and practitioners. However, most of these beings do not live long as they are often killed by the pressure of their own power, or fall victim to wandering Hollows who are often attracted to their power.
"Shit!" Ichigo said out loudly and earning glares from the librarian and other users of the library. But Ichigo ignored it, having already run out of the building and heading to the portal gate, the Senkaimon.
Loud, heavy breathing filled the silent chilly night air as Grimmjow ran as fast as he could. He ran into a narrow pathway, where he ran past trashcans and garbage bags, only for them to be thrown off and ripped up by an invisible force a few seconds later. Grimmjow then ran into a sharp turn where it had hidden spots and took cover there. He stopped and held his breath and listened hard for the creature that was chasing him. It was invisible to the naked eye, but Grimmjow could see its hideous form clearly. It had a large bulky humanoid shape but had a grotesque mask over its face. And there was a large gaping hole through its chest.
This was normal. He had been chased by these things ever since he was able to see those black robed beings that were shinigami. And he had seen them fight these monsters. Grimmjow had, since young, been running and hiding from these things, and most of the time he was successful in losing them. Other times, he wasn't so lucky. He'd been injured, almost killed by these monsters, and even had some other people injured too. Nobody could tell why he people get injured around him, or why he got bruises and animal-like scratches from unseen forces. That was why people stayed clear of him, and as a child it was uncommon to hear them muttering 'disaster' and 'bad luck' whenever he was around. Superstitious people were crueller, calling him the devil's child and even his parents gave up on him. In the end, Grimmjow grew up alone, cynical and stone-hearted.
He also grew up fighting and running. Not just from bullies, but from these monsters as well.
"Where are you...?" the distorted voice of the creature called out, sounding much like a pained moan, and Grimmjow took a sharp intake of breath. He could hear the monster moving, and it was moving closer. He took his chances and darted out of his hiding spot and ducked just as the creature swiped its large, long arm at him.
"Fuck," Grimmjow muttered when he felt the sharp sting of a cut on his arm from the monster's attack. He rolled to the side and managed to evade another attack, but this time Grimmjow stepped forward and threw a hard punch at the creature.
"You think you can – urkk!" The monster wanted to say but was thrown back by the punch that had been thrown at him. The monster rose, and though it had its mask on, Grimmjow could tell it was shocked. A second later, its mask cracked. "Wh-what? How can a human injure me?!"
"Caught ya surprised huh," Grimmjow merely replied and cracked his knuckles. The mask was hard, almost like rock, but Grimmjow's knuckles had been hardened by everyday training and experience with these creatures. Almost every day of his life had been a fight for survival from these things. The creature however, wasn't too swayed by Grimmjow's show of bravery to stand up to it and it roared. The blue-haired man ignored it and ran forward again, blocking an attack and throwing another punch. It hit and the creature was thrown back once again. Its mask cracked once more, but it appeared as if the cracks were spreading. The monster howled in pain.
"My mask! It hurts!" the masked creature wailed. Grimmjow just stepped back as he noticed the rising aggression and stuffed his hand into his back pocket and searched for something. The monster meanwhile stopped clutching its mask and turned its attention back to Grimmjow. "You! I'll eat you and this power of yours will be all mine!"
It moved to pounce onto the human, who had taken a pocket knife and had put on a defensive stance, seemingly ready to strike at the approaching creature. "Getsuga Tenshou!" a familiar voice yelled and a white-blue blast of energy stopped the monster in mid-air, where it shrieked in pain before disintegrating into particles. Grimmjow just stared at it, both mystified and shocked at the sight. He turned to see the orange-haired shinigami from that morning landing on his feet right before him with his large cleaver-like sword unsheathed.
"...What are you doing?" was the first thing Grimmjow asked. The shinigami looked perplexed and blinked at him.
"What do you mean what am I doing? I just saved your ass!" the shinigami said hotly. Grimmjow frowned at him.
"I didn't ask for your help, shinigami," Grimmjow replied, getting annoyed by the unwanted help that he got.
"It's not 'shinigami', dammit, it's Ichigo! Kurosaki Ichigo!" the shinigami said again and he was yelling this time, making Grimmjow a bit more irritated than usual. "And my job is to protect all beings from Hollows!"
"No one protected me when I was being attacked at six years old," Grimmjow said angrily, almost growling. Pent up anger at that fact, his childhood, his ability and this supposed protector who never did protect him began to fill him and all he wanted was to pour it all out. And it had the shinigami named Ichigo immediately clamming up. "No one could tell why the fuck I had bruises and scars when I got attacked by them. No one understood why others got injured or things get destroyed when they're around me. No one wanted to be near me just because I talk or look at things they can't see. No one understood the shit and the horror I saw as a kid when those things fucking ripped up spirits as they ate them. And no one stood by me or even bothered to know me! I've fought alone all my goddamned life and what makes you think I need your fucking help now?"
Grimmjow stopped and had to breathe in deeply. His fists were white from clenching them too tight and he could hear his own teeth as he gritted them so hard to keep himself from talking anymore. He didn't want to remember it again. He gave an ending sigh and covered his face with a hand. "Shit, I need a fucking drink," he muttered more to himself than to the other.
He took his hand off his face and looked at the shinigami who just had a flat scowl on his face which was pretty much an unreadable expression to him. He wasn't sure if it was sympathy or annoyance but he just stared at him, and Grimmjow just didn't want to see the brat's face at the moment. He walked past the shinigami who just stood still at his position until he finally spoke. "And you want to continue being alone?"
Grimmjow turned back to look at him, and saw that the shinigami held a hardened expression. His eyes however, were as naive as how he looked, but kind, compassionate and sympathetic. Something in Grimmjow churned and it made the blue-haired man look away. How can a spirit, especially a soul reaper, look so much more alive than him? He shrugged and turned back to continue walking without answering. Grimmjow just couldn't bring himself to say what he wanted.
- Part 1 end -