Ichigo: I called it.
Blackout2010: Shut it...
Soifon: Here's a training regimen I came up with, perhaps it will help you with your will power problem.
Blackout2010 (reading): You want me to wrestle a TIGER...BLINDFOLDED!
Soifon: Whatever doesn't kill you...
Blackout2010: But this will!
Shinjiro: Tell you what why don't you maintain a five distance.
Blackout2010: I suppose I could try it.
Ichigo: Or you could do Soifon's training regiment
Blackout2010: I'll go with Shins Idea...
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Well... except for my stuff.
Beta edit: Mbpicke
Ch.3 Good news for you Ichigo!
Several months had passed since Ichigo began to work in the Second division and during his stay he had improved quite a bit. His Hakudo skills had gone from the level of a street brawler to a semi-skilled Martial Artist and his speed both flash step and regular running speed had gone up in leaps and bounds after lots of practice at speed tasks assigned at morning drills, in comparison to when he first arrived with only better than average Zanjutsu-ship and a rough fighting style.
This was due to his new training regimen which blew his training back from the tenth completely out of the water. He could scarcely recall the hardest day back in the tenth not even being close to half the work he had to put into in the Special Forces especially under the vigilant eye of Captain Soifon.
The woman just seemed to take a delight in making sure that his training was much harsher than the others of her squad and then forcing him to spar with her after every drill session was over; though afterward, she'd show a small switch in attitude when she helped assist Ichigo with the suppression and control of his spiritual power. Ichigo however chalked the small increase in pleasantry to the presence of Subaru or Shinjiro, since they were in a similar boat as her.
So far they had made significant progress: His constant energy output had been reduced to about sixty-five percent of his total power, which he was grateful for since he saw his fellow Shinigami were a little less on edge around him over the few months spent during his stay. To further assist his growth Ichigo had been keeping in close contact with his Zanpaktou spirit; the real one not his deranged psychotic one, although his progress with that had led to some-what mixed results.
He had come to learn that Zangetsu would always be in constant release form, no matter how much he would try and suppress his power. The wise spirit also informed him that he also possessed a signature attack that would greatly assist Ichigo in combat thus explaining the reason as to why it preferred to stay in it's constant release state, but also warned him to be patient in learning it; because, as Ichigo was, he didn't have the resolve or the experience to employ the attack without disastrous aftereffects.
Today, Ichigo had been called to Soifon's office apparently to discuss something important concerning Ichigo himself. He knocked on the door leading to her office and waited until she gave her acknowledged "enter". Stepping in, he saw her sitting at her desk facing the paper work, giving only a sparing glance at him at first.
Placing the document down, she turned fully to him. "Sloppy-Kurosaki." she said making Ichigo scowl fiercely at the nickname.
Ichigo had hated that nickname with a passion, ever since the day he first received it from her during one of their training sessions. He constantly asked her why she gave him such a demeaning designation and she would always say, 'it befits your pathetic abilities, and I'll keep calling you it until you can prove yourself competent, Sloppy-Kurosaki.'
Shaking his head, he squared his eyes at her, "Ichigo Kurosaki, reporting Soifon-Taichō."
She arrogantly smirked, "It seems you've learned to control your emotions better. I'm glad to see that you really are actually learning something. Now for the reason as to why I've called you in today: it was simply to inform you that tomorrow is actually your scheduled day off. With the build of work as of late I had forgotten to tell you earlier, consider it rectified now."
Ichigo looked at her suspiciously, he normally wasn't one to look a gift horse in the mouth but this was Captain Soifon, the cold hearted workaholic assassin of squad two.
When did she ever do days off?
"Are you…feeling ok, Soifon-Taichō?"
The woman arched her eye brow in confusion "I am. Why do you ask exactly?"
"It's just…umm…well…" he struggled not sure how to put his words together without coming off as insulting.
Thankfully, it didn't take long for his meaning to suddenly click for Soifon. "Ahh, I see." she said adjusting in her chair to get a better view of whatever reaction he might have, "You must think that I don't give people days off don't you?" his silence was all the answer she needed. "(Sigh) Look sloppy-Kurosaki, despite how I may occasionally come off to people, I do give respite to the deserving. I am not an ogre;" a mean-spirited smirk crossed her face "However…if you truly wish to come in to work I can arrange it as such."
"No, thank-you Soifon-Taichō!" he said rapidly, not eager to lose his first ever day off since joining the squad.
"Good, now get out of my sight. I have to train some of the Trackers."
He quickly bowed and exited the office, while she flash stepped away to other duties. As soon as he exited, he ran into the gelatinous form of the Fukutaichō of the stealth forces: Marechiyo Omaeda. When Ichigo's eyes told him who he was seeing, his expression contorted into disgust as he grit his teeth for the impending squabble between the two of them.
This intense dislike started shortly after Ichigo got the formal introduction to him, since he had assumed the large man was sort of like Hanataro Yamada, with his whole clumsy but determined thing. Oh, how wrong he was! After spending a good two minutes with the guy both sides of Zangetsu were calling for the man's death.
He was a bully: arrogant, weak and only received his position of power because of his family's connection, not his own self-worth. He sooner shirked off his duties on other unseated officers or new faces, before accomplishing them himself; something he had tried to do to Ichigo which only further the divide between them.
Ichigo had decided to bide his time. He knew that directly attacking a fellow officer, especially a senior, outside of very specific circumstances would have a backlash against him and, if big enough, towards Soifon as well, who would be none too happy with him. So instead he met him verbally, never getting into the physicality of things, but soon. Soon he'd challenge Omaeda for his 'prestigious' Fukutaichō position, all he needed to do was have be with the squad for a year and have approval of the match from the acting Taichō in charge aka Soifon. He wasn't too worried about getting the Taichō approval; especially, if some of the rumors he had heard about the woman's displeasure with the man. He just needed to wait till the year stint was up.
And then the blood would fly.
When Omaeda realized he was bumped into, he looked down at his assailant. He practically became livid when he saw the spiky orange hair of Ichigo, "Watch where you're going commoner!"
Ichigo rolled his eyes, "Then maybe you shouldn't be standing right outside the only entrance and exit of a room, Dumbass!"
"Shut it, fourth seat! I'm still your superior and you know it." Omaeda snarled, his short temper kicking in.
"Tch, yeah I know. You never seem to forget to flaunt that fact; even though, you seem to forget that I could, no, I can kick your ass on and off the battlefield!" Ichigo boasted, feeling the ever returning itch to use his blade; an itch that wanted to desperately be scratched.
"I think you two should stop your arguing before I will be forced to intervene, for the peace of the squad and Soifon-Taichō." a familiar peaceful sounding voice threatened the men.
They both looked down the hallway and saw the approaching form of Shinjiro Taiga. Both men paled for different reasons. Ichigo: because he was not only higher up in rank, but was also stronger and a more experienced warrior then himself. Omaeda: because while he did have 'seniority' over Shinjiro, it didn't take a person very long to see that the samurai was not only very good friends with the Taichō in charge, but also seemed to be her close confidant; who again outranked everyone in the escalating situation…and while he never publicly admitted it, the second division lieutenant's crush on his captain would never be realized, if he got on the bad side of those who knew Soifon's emotional weaknesses and things that could win her affection.
An Omaeda always tried to keep the odds in their favor after all.
"No, that's perfectly alright Taiga-san/Shinjiro-sempai." They said as one, both not wanting to ruin the eternally cheery mood, the third seat was in.
"Good." He smiled childishly, "Oh yeah, Ichigo-san. Your mother sent a letter saying she would like to see you soon and know how things are going. So you should probably hop to it, after all a mother will always worry."
"Yeah, you're right thanks, Shinjiro-san!" and flashed stepped out of the complex, determined to have a home visit.
Shinjiro turned back to Omaeda who looked warily at him
"W-what? What are ya starin' at?" the giant asked, trying to avoid saying something he might regret.
Shinjiro tilted his head at the question still smiling "Well…It's just that Soifon-Taichō is currently unavailable and there is paperwork still left over…" his voice trailed as he got a bit closer to Omaeda "I'm wondering if she'd be happy to return to no paperwork since you're the only one allowed in there during this hour?"
Shinjiro was about to go on but Omaeda turned around and ran into the Taichō's office at full speed, spouting something about impressions. Shinjiro shrugged before turning back towards the training field, eager to get a bit more sword practice in before going on a date with Subaru later.
(Rukongai district 24: on the path to the Kurosaki residence)
Ichigo raced home through the streets of Rukongai as quickly as possible. The public's opinion on Shinigami presence in this particular district was mostly mixed. The area was made up of mostly common class nobles and high ranking 'citizens' unlike the first ten districts with people such as the four great clans of soul society and the last ten with murderers and hollow attacks. Ichigo was one of the few Shinigami that were accepted, though it might have been because of his relationship with his mother and her current marital status.
Ichigo's face broke into a sweet smile as he thought about his mother. Oh, he missed her dearly, her long vibrant locks of blondish-orange hair, her smooth skin, beautiful blue eyes and that eternally kind smile. She was an impressive woman, constantly hounded by higher nobles for her grace, beauty, and poise but what made her accepted and by extension Ichigo was the woman underneath. She was a very kind soul with a heart almost if not bigger than the fourth division's smiling angel Retsu Unohana; to him she was the goddess of his world.
Before Ichigo knew it he was standing in front of the apartment that his mother resided in, he flashed up to the door, ignoring the stairs that he used to take before becoming a Shinigami, and gave two gentle knocks on the door.
"Who is it?" his mother called with her soothing voice.
"Mom! It's me! Your son, I've come home!" Ichigo replied.
A sudden crashing of noises was heard and the shuffling of feet, and the door swung open and standing there was his disheveled looking mother happily surprised to see him.
"My strawberry, you're back!" she yelled throwing her arms around him and pulling him in for a tight hug, causing Ichigo to blush, "M-mother not in public, and didn't we agree that my name meant 'number one guardian' not 'strawberry'?
Masaki laughed "Ohohoho! Strawberry-chan, don't you know mother is always right? Now come inside and tell me how you've been." Ichigo nodded his head as he couldn't agree more to the request, lest his hard earned reputation go down the drain because Subaru's spies, where ever they were, happened to hear this little gem of blackmail material.
He walked inside the apartment following his mother to the small table in the center of the kitchen, where various memories of the many conversation they had occurred from a simple 'How was your day?' to the important 'I wanna go to the Shino Shinigami academy!' he sat down in the wooden chair, while his mother sat across from him with her joyful smile.
"It's good to see you again, son. How have you been these past few months?"
"I've been doing pretty well recently. I don't know if you got the letter I sent you, but if not then I'll just tell you myself. I just recently got a transfer and a promotion."
"What? Really! I'm so proud of you, so which division was fortunate enough to get you're helping hand?" she asked starry eyed, causing him to smile.
"I was transferred over to the second division's SPECIAL FORCES unit and was promoted to the rank of fourth seat from my old position of sixth!" he said his tone proud of his accomplishment's even though technically they weren't accomplishments.
But hey it's his mom, what son doesn't want to make her proud?
She leaned in closer and started to clap her hands rapidly, like a child who was getting their way, "Oooh! So you're the fourth seat, now! Congratulations! So who are your superiors?"
"Well, the third seat is a strange woman named Subaru Kujo," He said a mental image of the enigmatic third seat popping into his head, "I say strange because she has this weird habit of knowing everything about people and using it against them, but otherwise she's a nice person to be around and…umm oh!" remembering Shinjiro, who also appeared, now standing beside the mental Subaru, "She's also married to a friend of mine, third seat of the ninth, Shinjiro Taiga. Speaking of Shinjiro, he's kind of like his captain Tosen in that he wants to eventually bring peace to the afterlife which is kind of awesome. He and I occasionally spar with each other in Zanjutsu matches non-release of course, and he occasionally gives me advice on things." Ichigo did not feel quite ready to reveal that he'd secretly been getting dating advice from the man, lest he figure out his angle and tell Subaru or god forbid Soifon.
"They sound like wonderful people, who else is there in the second division?"
His previous enthusiasm hit rock bottom when he remembered the Fukutaichō "Well, the second seat is kind of a jerkass. He's one of the major nobles and he's got an attitude to match. I just can't stand the guy, he's all about posture and image, not what's underneath. We just don't see eye to eye at all…" his voice trailing off and his eyes digging holes into a nearby wall, as he imagined kicking the guy's ass all over Seireitei.
Masaki saw this and put a firm hand on his shoulder and used her other to gentle make her son look at her in the face, "Listen, Ichigo," her voice soft and soothing, "I know you don't like them, since your father and I went our separate ways when you were born. But please don't hold it against all nobles; you never know Ichigo in a moment of crisis he could very well show his hidden character."
"I suppose you right." he conceded since he didn't feel like arguing with her.
'Yeah! The hidden character known as the left side of his ass!' His hollow sneered.
Ichigo frowned at the commentary, which Masaki saw and grew concerned; "Are you ok son?" she asked gingerly "Is it…that voice in your head again?"
"No, Not at all. Just didn't want to accept what you said being true but it is…" he spoke trying to wave off her fears, which worked as she returned to her normal cheery behavior.
"Well, that's good. So now that I've heard about all the other who run's your division?"
Ichigo blushed as a mental image of Soifon appeared "Ummm…my Taichō is new you might not have heard of her and all…"
Masaki tilted her head "Well then tell me and I'll decide."
"…Soifon-Taichō" he muttered almost inaudibly, his blush getting a tint redder.
Masaki looked at her son wondering why he was so quiet and blushing when he said the name 'Soifon'. She slowly started to put two and two together, the mystery about it was starting to make sense to her now and a wide grin started to spread across her face, much to Ichigo's dread, "Now mom listen it's not what you think it's-"
"Oh, Ichigo is it true?" she paused for a second to see his reaction, which said it all to her "Ohh! It is!"
She then ran from the table at speeds that would have impressed any Shinigami and went to her room, locking her door behind her in one quick action. As Ichigo reached the door he heard a few banging noises and the opening and closing of dressers and drawers, before his mother loudly yelled out "OOOHHH, ISSHIN! OUR LITTLE STRAWBERRY HAS FINALLY GROWN AND BEGAN TO BUD. HE NOW HAS THE DESIRE TO GERMINATE WITH OTHERS AND GROW! OH, WHAT A TRULY HAPPY DAY!"
Ichigo dropped his head in defeat, before banging it against the door repeatedly, until it opened and Masaki jumped at him and started to kiss his check rapidly, "So, you've finally felt the tugging of a heart string. I'm so proud of you my son!"
"Look, mother, it's not what you think." he tried to explain only to be cut off by being embraced in a hug.
"You don't have to say a word." Her voice becoming much calmer, "I'm just really, really, happy that you might have found someone and that you've got some friends, honey."
Ichigo didn't say anything. "You've changed a lot since you've gone to this 'second division', before you were never this enthusiastic only giving brief glimmers of smiles on your face whenever we talked about either Hitsugaya-san or Rangiku-chan. I was worried about you and now that your back it makes me want to smile even brighter. So please have your fun and enjoy your time with them, for me ok, son?" she spoke giving a wry smile.
"Alright, I promise." He said, leaning in to give her a kiss on the cheek. "Oh yeah, mother. Tomorrow I've got a day off, would you perhaps like to see the second division with me?" He invited, since what better way to spend his day off, then with his mom and new friends?
"I would love to son." She said happily before adding, "I'll also be able to visit my future daughter-in-law!"
Ichigo just buried his head into her shoulder and left out a muffled groan while his mother laughed at her son's misfortune.
Ichigo: So that Chapter 3 huh?
Masaki: Thank-you for allowing me the chance to be with strawberry-chan for a while longer, I usually don't get to show up at all.
Blackout2010: That's alright, there's a reason. As I said some characters will show up while others may not.
Masaki: True. But I'll be able to see my beloved Isshin right?
Blackout2010 (turning away):...
Masaki (bawling): OH MY GOD, MY ISSHIN-CHAN!
Ichigo (sweatdrop): ahh...see ya next chapter.