This chapter is a little shorter than usual, I kept getting writers block with it and it took me this long to be satisfied with it before it became too forced. Life keeps me busy with other things, but I am still actively writing ideas for the story. we get a glimpse of the main plot in this chapter, so hopefully the rest will be easier to write and publish. As always, review if ya like it or not. Onto the story!
Chapter 6: Mission Accepted
As far as Sui Feng's monthly reports on Ichigo's progress, she found herself rewriting the reports twice at the very least, and five times at most before being satisfied with her report. One of the successful reports read as such:
Monthly Progress Report
Subject: Kurosaki Ichigo
Subject's Current Rank: Fukutaicho of squad two
Kurosaki Ichigo's progress in his training is going relatively smoothly, While his stealth capabilities are steadily increasing due both to practice and the limiters that have been placed on his person, his kido training is a different story: He is making progress, however it is at a very slow rate. Otherwise he has shown promise in his studies of the rules of Seretei, my squad and the Onmitsukido. While I was originally against his placement, I see he is a valuable asset to my squad. No negative outbursts have been observed from Ichigo's person, and any negative conjecture against him has been met with via Kurosaki either ignoring them, or having them back their words up in sparring sessions. Needless to say his placement has been reaffirmed each time he has done either of these, as he shows both maturity and the skill required of his station. Any change in this will be reported upon as soon as possible.
The more, unsuccessful attempts at these reports were the result of her becoming distracted by Suzumebachi and her thoughts of the orange haired shinigami. When Sui Feng realized what she was writing, she immediately blushed and tore the paper to shreds, not wanting anyone to ever know what she wrote about.
Over the last few months, she found herself growing increasingly frustrated, due at the fact that her feelings, which were usually kept in check, were growing ever out of control, particularly because of her new Fukutaicho. Not that he did anything wrong of course, quite the opposite. He was doing everything to the best of his ability, and succeeding. This caused the paperwork on her part to become easier to do. Also, seeing as she didn't have to go searching for him, she was left with more free time. While she used most of this time training, she found her thoughts always came back to the cause of the extra time, and the more she thought of him, the more her feelings grew. The only other person she ever thought this much about was her former captain.
Yet she finds herself thinking less often of Yoruichi, and more of Kurosaki Ichigo. Her thoughts often turned to the questions: Why did she even like him? What made her go from thinking of him as a brute who didn't know his head from a hole in the ground, to someone she was growing attached to? Of course she knew the answers, but it didn't help her to understand them. Each time she saw him fight, both from memory and the recordings that Kurostichi had made for research purposes, she saw that Ichigo always put his entire being into the fight. She recalled her thoughts on these fights; she saw someone who fought against the odds with his heart set on his decision and never backing down, not even a little. This is what started her admiration. A young man with unshakeable beliefs in whatever he did, somehow managed to break down walls he was unaware of in Sui Feng's heart. In doing so, her opinion of him changed without her even knowing about it until recent events.
With her current train of thought on Ichigo, her eyes wandered from the last bit of paperwork she had left to do, to the cabinet where she had placed Ichigo's lion. He had yet to come for it, despite the fact that he knew it was there. Sui Feng had multiple opportunities to ask him why he left the item with her, though she never took the chance, thinking that Ichigo had his own reasons for leaving it with her. To this, Suzumebachi added her own thoughts of why he left it there.
"I think he leaves it with you 'cause he wants you to have it or maybe he-" she was very quickly cut off by Sui Feng
"If that were the case, he would at least acknowledge he has left it here with me. If you recall, each time he was called here when he looked at the cabinet that it is in, yet he never made any expression about it one way or the other. His eyes don't even betray his thoughts anymore… But until he brings it up, I don't want to speculate what it is." Sui Feng sighed, thinking that the first time it happened Ichigo would have brought it up, and in all honesty each time he didn't talk about it, the more curious Sui Feng got.
"Maybe he is waiting for you to bring the subject up instead. Contrary to popular belief, some guys want the girl to make the first move." Suzumebachi grinned at her own statement, seeing it as something that could apply to more than one aspect of her owner's life.
As Sui Feng was about to respond, a hell butterfly floated into her office and landed on her finger. Sui Feng put her conversation with Suzumebachi on hold as she listened to the message from the Hell butterfly.
"Sui Feng Taicho, Kurosaki Ichigo and you are to report to Yamamoto Sotaicho as soon as possible for an urgent matter." The butterfly floated away, after the message was delivered. Sui Feng stood from her desk and made sure everything was in place before leaving her office. She did not have to go far to find Ichigo, as he was at his own desk reading over his portion of the paperwork. Ichigo looked up from the paper he was currently reading, to see his Capitan looking at him.
"The paperwork can wait Kurosaki; Yamamoto Sotaicho wants to see us for an urgent matter. Let's not keep him waiting." Not waiting for any sound of acknowledgement from Ichigo, she turned on her heel and walked out of the building complex. No sooner had she started using shunpo, she found that Ichigo was already next to her, easily matching her pace.
"Did he make any mention of what he needs to talk to us about aside from its apparent urgency?" Ichigo kept his line of sight towards their destination.
"No, but I think it may have something to do with the reports we have been getting from Omnitsukido's Recon division." Ichigo knew which reports she meant, and muttered "Even if it is not... This doesn't sit well with me." He focused his attention on their destination and didn't notice Sui Feng's nod of agreement.
The second division started getting these reports about a month ago, and Ichigo, wondering why nothing was being done, took his copy of the report to Sui Feng, who told him that everything was being handled, and they had to wait until they got orders from the first division, who were also looking into the matter at hand. Still, it left an uneasy feeling in his stomach knowing nothing had been done. He hoped that this meeting would put an end to that.
From what Ichigo had read in the reports, there were disappearances all throughout the Rukongai, and the only thing left of the people who were recovered, were dried husks of what was left of their bodies, each in various states, some frozen solid, others burned, some bloated from water, among other states of decay. Death was common in the higher number districts' Ichigo knew this from the lessons he was getting from Sui Feng and information he had gained from his nights of conversing and light drinking with the other captains and lieutenants who knew him. But these deaths were far from the ordinary, and they were occurring in all of the districts, and thus, Ichigo felt, demanded their immediate attention. Unfortunately, as Sui Feng told him, he was forced to wait to do anything. This didn't mean he didn't seek answers and information from others, but they were just as clueless as he was, with little information to offer aside from the varied states of death that the citizens were found in.
As soon as the duo landed, they were ushered into the council room; Ichigo took note that it was the same one that he was in when he was voted into Seretei. However there was no one in the large room this time except for Yamamoto Sotaicho, Sui Feng and himself. He raised his eyebrow a little but didn't say anything, silently wondering what the old captain-commander was up to. He and Sui Feng bowed lightly, while Yamamoto nodded slightly towards them and began their meeting.
"I felt it appropriate to bring a certain matter into light and take action." He motions to Chōjirō Sasakibe, to hand him the compiled reports and discussed action. "I understand, young Kurosaki; that you have been trying to gather information about the untimely deaths of the denizens of the Rukongai. Trust me when I say you are not the only one concerned about these unfortunate circumstances, and all information on this case shall be handled only by those investigating it. I know how upset you are that a decision has not been made sooner, and I am glad you did not act on your own. You realize now that Central 46 needs to review all angles and options before allowing us to make any movement." Yamamoto opens his eyes slightly and sees the determination set in Ichigos face and stance, and also notices the slight movement of Sui Feng's eyes from Kurosaki to himself, and assumes she is making sure that Kurosaki stays in line while in the meeting.
"Speaking of those involved, I have selected you, Sui Feng, and Kurosaki Ichigo, to be the individuals to investigate these deaths. You will be starting from the innermost districts and working your way out, seeking any and all sources of information that have any credibility. While you two will be the only shinigami in the field, you will have backup from several others who will only assist you if the situation becomes dire. I also suggest you make yourselves as inconspicuous as possible; we don't need any more unrest in the Rukongai than there already is. Find the source of these deaths and neutralize any threat immediately."
"We won't fail you Yamamoto Sotaicho." A unified response from Ichigo and Sui Feng, both of them determined to see this mission to completion.
"I expect that you won't. However, I must remind you both to keep low profiles while in the Rukongai. We don't need any more chaos than there already is, that and we cannot afford to give our position away before we even find the source of these atrocities. Sui Feng, I expect you to show young Kurosaki how to properly blend in with his surroundings."
"It will be done" Sui Feng bowed, and an affirmative grunt was heard from Ichigo.
"Then I release you both to do your duty. You may go." Yamamoto began walking away, muttering something along the lines of enjoying a cup of tea in the gardens.
The smell of burning flesh and hair filled the air of the small grassy meadow, with a hint of the smell of sex. Several corpses still alight littered the field, while there were a few others who looked as if they had been frozen, their skin blackened and brittle from frostbite.
"Must you be so brazen and play with your prey before killing them Tirfni? The smell alone is enough to gag me…" A young man in his early twenties with an athletic body build and short curly black hair waved his hand in front of his face, in attempt to remove the foul odor from his senses as he sat upon one of the frozen corpses He was dressed in a light blue loose shirt and equally light blue pants that were tucked inside black boots. His lavender eyes opened, and were looking at his partner in crime with distaste.
Said partner scoffed and tossed aside the body that was in her hand. "Like I care what you think Avish. You know as well as I that we were told to kill them and leave a trail to be followed. Nothing was said about having a bit of fun before that. Our prey deserves a bit of pleasure before we kill them." She was a stunningly beautiful woman, her hair went down to the small of her back, and was the color of flames, mostly red with bits of blonde mixed in. Her body had curves that could easily rival those of Rangiku Matsumoto, her voice was like velvet on scarlet colored lips. Her clothing left little to the imagination too, as she wore clothing resembling those of an Arabian princess, where her red pants dipped well below her navel which was pierced and had a small fire shaped pendant hanging from it. Her considerable bust was hidden only by an almost too tight tube top, also red in color, with straps that drooped slightly on her arms. Her skin was slightly tanned, and her emerald eyes showed that she enjoyed all parts of what she did.
Avish sighed and ran a hand through his hair "While killing them is fun, can't we go after some bigger prey? I want a proper challenge." He stood from the body he sat on and kicked it away, watching it crumble to pieces as it hit a tree.
Tirfni looked at Avish and shook her head. "Not until we are told otherwise. We don't need that kind of attention yet. We are lucky we weren't set upon by the Shinigami already. As much as I want to stay and have some more fun, we need to get going, before the trail gets too hot for us and we are caught." With that Avish sighed again and nodded his head, after which both of them disappeared from sight and the area in search of more prey, as well as to keep on the move.
Ichigo frowned as he packed some plain robes into a satchel as Sui Feng watched him, her pack already prepared. "So let me get this straight…we can't wear our Shinigami uniforms while in the Rukongai, and for the sake of making it more believable to the people there, have to act like a traveling couple?" He tied the satchel rope around its opening and slung it over his shoulder.
At the mention of being a couple, both Ichigo and Sui Feng blushed lightly at the idea. "You heard what the Captain- Commander said. We need to be inconspicuous, so the best thing to do is blend in. this assists with your stealth training, to see how well you do at hiding from the enemy. Same thing goes for the couple bit." Her voice hardens at her next statement "Do you find it that distasteful to act that way with me for the sake of a mission?" Her eyes were hardened, but underneath her heart felt a small tug, hoping that he wouldn't say yes.
Ichigo shook his head "NO, that's not it at all…It's just that I didn't expect that to be the method we would be using." Ichigo looked away from her at that moment, so he didn't see her blush increase.
Sui Feng forced her blush down, and kept her voice cold, despite the relief that she felt upon hearing his words. "And what were you expecting Kurosaki?"
"I dunno, I just wasn't expecting that." He scratched the back of his head. He really wasn't expecting much of anything when it came to how they would execute the mission, but to pose as a couple was something unexpected for him. "I'm not sure I can pull it off to tell the truth."
Sui Feng looked at him incredulously. "You will have to. It is so we can successfully do our duty and bring whatever is harming the people to justice, by force if necessary."
"I understand that much…but from what I remember, the further out we go, the more uncivilized and unruly it gets. How will we explain ourselves to someone who asks?" Ichigo looked to Sui Feng expecting an answer.
"We don't have to answer to anyone. Our business is our own. That's all they need to hear." Sui Feng didn't expect him to question her this much, and felt that her reasoning should be enough.
"That defeats the purpose of hiding who we are then!"
"Then what do you suggest if you feel so confident about that failing?"
"Something better than that poor excuse!"
"Then spit it out!"
At this point Sui Feng and Ichigo were forehead to forehead glaring at each other. At Sui Feng's last statement, Ichigo takes a step back and sighs, "The best thing I can come up with is this; you had a child in the previous life. You want to look for them and only know they are somewhere in the Rukongai. You and I met during your searches and we eventually…became a couple… and have been on the search for your child ever since." He looked down as he finished his explanation, hoping that he didn't just embarrass himself.
Suzumebachi took this opportunity to speak her mind to Sui Feng "Ooh, he is using his head! I like his idea. Especially the part of you two becoming a couple." She giggled as Sui Feng mentally sighed.
"Then we will use that as our excuse if we need to. And to not draw any other suspicions towards us, we should decide on a name at least for the child. As well as remember to be as social as possible without giving any information about who we really are." Sui Feng slung her pack over her shoulder and looked to Ichigo, "We may as well just walk to the districts, and we can discuss the names along the way."
Ichigo nodded and walked next to her, both of them heading towards the nearest exit from Seretei to the Rukongai.. "Do you have any ideas for a name?"
She let out a rare smirk "I thought I would let you have the first shot at it, seeing as it is your idea."
Ichigo frowned a little as he went into thought. "First I assume we need to figure out a gender…but to decide on a name for each gender would be best I think…"
"Or we could keep it unisex and avoid the problem all together." Sui Feng thought out loud, trying to keep things as minimalist as possible before they had to start acting as a couple.
"Nah, then they would ask what the gender is to help us look for the child. It would be useless to have as little information as possible…"
"Fair enough. How about Sora for a boy, and Yoruichi for a girl?" Sui Feng enjoyed the idea of giving a child, even a fake one at that, her mentor's name.
"Sora is fine for a boy, but no to the girls' name." Ichigo scoffed/shuddered at the thought of a mini Yoruichi running around with the fully grown one.
Sui Feng glared at Ichigo "What's wrong with it?! Yoruichi is a perfectly good name!" She felt appalled that Ichigo wouldn't even consider using such a great name for a little girl.
"I never said it was a bad name!"
"You implied it!"
"I meant that it wouldn't work!"
"How would you know?"
"Oh come on! Who in their right mind would believe that load? That somehow your daughter from the living world mysteriously has the same name as the Goddess of Shunpo? It's got to be a different name!"
Sui Feng furrowed her brow and pouted a little and looked to the side, knowing Ichigo was right. Ichigo took notice of this and couldn't help from thinking how cute she looked when she pouted.
"…do you suggest then?"
"Huh?" Ichigo shook his head from his thoughts and looked at Sui Feng.
"I said, what name do you suggest then?" Sui Feng lost her pout but couldn't hide the disappointment in her eyes.
Ichigo sighed and looked at the well-worn path ahead of them. "I think we could use my mom's name….Masaki. No one here knows her, so that would make it the best name I could think of."
"Your mother…why would we use her name, isn't she still alive?" Sui Feng took notice to Ichigo's immediate reaction to the question.
Ichigo smiled sadly and shook his head, a faraway look took over his eyes as he recalled days gone by with his mother. "No…she died, a long time ago. A hollow by the name of Grand Fisher killed her when she saved me from it…"
Sui Feng nodded and swallowed the sudden lump in her throat that formed during Ichigo's statement. "I...see. Sorry to bring up a painful memory."
Ichigo's expression didn't change, but his voice did, it held a calmer tone than it did when he first answered. "It's okay, no one here except for Rukia knew about it before you asked."
Sui Feng nodded, and made an attempt to change the subject; despite feeling a twinge of jealousy flow through her at the mentioning of Rukia. "If it makes you feel any better. We can use her name. I think that helped me decide on the gender, now we just have to decide her looks. You can decide on her eyes."
"Thanks" Ichigo nodded as he answered, and the two continued their discussion as they walked to the Rukongai to begin their investigations.
Before they entered the Rukongai, the two Shinigami prepared their story for each other, as well as got their proper clothing on. Ichigo wore an outfit similar to his normal Shinigami outfit, except that it was a little smaller and instead of black, it was dark brown in color, and his obi was blue instead of white. Sui Feng wore a red yukata with a yellow obi sash and had her hair done in a bun held by two chop sticks. Her traditional white wraps were around her arms hidden under the yukata. Ichigo, upon first seeing Sui Feng in a simple outfit couldn't help but think about how beautiful she looked. Zangetsu and Suzumebachi were hidden in one separate satchel each, which held a pocket dimension developed by Kurostichi. This helped them to stay armed while keeping themselves from looking out of place. Ichigo held Zangetsu's satchel inside the inner flap of his shirt, while Sui Feng kept Suzumebachi around her wrist, making it look like a small purse, even going so far as to draw a cat on it.
They had also decided on code names to use while undercover, Ichigo took the name Kira, while Sui Feng took the name Li. They would be looking for Sui Feng's daughter Masaki, a little girl who had most of her mother's looks except for her eyes, which were hazel. Their story was that they had met a year ago and Ichigo helped her when she was being attacked, and he joined as a guard for her, but they both developed feelings for one another, and became lovers while on their journey to complete their little family.
Sui Feng secured the strap for Suzumebachi on her wrist and looked to Ichigo. "Are you ready for this, Kira?" they decided to use the code names as soon as possible, so they could get used to them sooner.
He nodded, "As ready as I can be Li." They stood next to each other, closer than they usually do. Ichigo flushed a little, and after struggling with his own thoughts and his hollow's snide remarks, he reached out and took hold of Sui Feng's hand, which made them both blush a little. "Lets get going." He nervously smiled and they both stepped out of the Seretei and into the Rukongai first district.