The End Of The Innocence- Part 2
Faye and Ed walked into the main room where Spike and Jet were. Ed ran to her computer and pulled down her goggles. "Searching…searching…where aaaaaaare you…
"What are ya looking on there for, Ed?" Jet asked, amuzed.
'Something for Aunt Faye-Faye," she answered.
"Oh?' Jet asked.
"What's going on, Faye?" Spike asked.
"I've finally figured out what that military place Rangiku is from is called. Some place called the Soul Society."
"Soul Society? That's a weird name for a military branch," Spike mused.
"Yeah, well, I thought maybe I could find out about it."
"Why do you care Faye? None of our business, she's from Soul Society, she's from Soul Society!"
"Will you be quiet, Spike, I just wanna know a few things!"
"Found it!" Ed cried out. Faye rushed over. "Soul Society, Society of Souls….here it is! The Soul Society, otherwise known as Purgatory."
"What?" Faye said with surprise.
"Purgatory. The place where souls go if they still have sins when they die," Jet and Spike then turned toward Ed when they heard this. "The Souls stay in Soul Society watched over by Soul Reapers until all their sins are forgiven, then they may enter Ultimate Heaven."
"Yep. Soul Reapers! It says here that Soul Reapers are special angels who guard the souls in Soul Society from evil spirits like Arroncars and Hallows who seek to bring them to the dark side before they can get to Ultimate Heaven! Also known as Angels of Death.. "
"Angels?" Jet said.
"THAT explains a lot…"Spike mumbled.
"Uh huh, angels! The Soul Reapers are divided into Squads.."
"Are there 13 of them?" Faye asked.
"Uh huh. 13 Squads, presided over by a Captain and Lieutenant…"
"Is one of them named Toshiro Hitsugaya, Ed?"
"Wait…wait..uh huh, here he is! Toshiro Hitsugaya, Captain of the 10th Squad!" Faye stared at the face on the monitor, the same face of the man that was in Rangiku's locket! Jet and Spike moved over to see it too.
"That's Toshiro?" Jet asked, surprised.
"He's rather young, isn't he?" Spike asked.
"It says here he's the youngest captain to ever hold the position all of Soul Society. He's about 119 years old."
"119?!" Spike asked, surprised.
"Uh huh. Says here Soul Reapers age very slowly. So, in our terms he would be about 18 or 19."
"Ed…does it say anything in there about Rangiku?" Faye asked.
"Hmm…THERE! Look, it's Aunt Rangiku! Says here she's 1st Lieutenant of Squad 10 under Toshiro Hitsugaya!"
Spike peered at Rangiku's picture. "That uniform don't look like it's a one-size-fits-all deal," he remarked.
"Soul Reaper.." Faye mumbled, turning pale. "Angels..of death…I have an Angel of death in my bedroom, I have an Angel of death in my bedroom, I have an Angel of death in my bedroom…" Faye mumbled, walking around and around. Finally she stopped and leaned against the railings. "No…" she cried out. "NO! No, no please, not me!"
"What are you talking about, Faye?" Spike asked.
Faye leaned on the railing and wailed. "No, no, please not me! Oh, why did it have to be me?! I'm young..I'm healthy..I haven't committed a crime…not a major one anyway…OH LIFE IS SO UNFAIR!"
"FAYE!" Spike yelled out, recognizing this all too familiar outburst. "will you cut it out and stop being so overdramatic! If she was GOING to take one of us, don't ya think she would have DONE it by now?!"
"What if..she already did…and none of us knew it..and we're on our way to Heaven.."
"It takes 8 months to get to Heaven?!" Jet asked.
"Faye knock it off, she didn't come for any of us!"
"No," Ed broke in. "She's been missing from Soul Society since 8 months ago!"
"There, Faye! If she was supposed to take us they wouldn't have reported her missing!"
"Faye? Just what IS this all about anyway?" Jet asked.
"Do you have any idea what tomorrow is?"
"Friday, Faye, glad I could be of assistance," Spike said, heading back to the couch.
"NO, Spike. It's September 29th tomorrow, Spike. It's her birthday!'
Jet looked up. "It is?"
"Oh, Papa!" Ed cried out, running over to Jet. "Can we give Aunt Rangiku a birthday party? Can we? Please?"
"Well…don't see why not.." Jet said. "After all, after all she's done for us, we should do something for her."
"YAY! Thank you, papa!" Ed said.
"Shhh, Ed not so loud, she might hear us," Jet said.
"No, she's asleep, Jet," Faye said.
"So, how old is she anyway?" Spike asked.
Ed went to the computer. "This says that in Soul Society years…about 227.."
"Gee…she don't look a day over 25!" Spike said.
"Spike, be serious! And actually her birthday IS why I asked Ed to find all that stuff out."
"Huh?" both men said.
"Use your brains, assuming either one of you have any! Rangiku's been missing Toshiro like crazy, you know how she always talks about him! What a great Captain he is, how it was on honor working with him…and you're not aware of this, but she cries at night."
"She does?!" Jet asked.
"I thought she liked it here," Spike said.
"Yes, she does like it here, Spike. It's not that she doesn't…it's that she misses her home, up in Soul Society…and she especially misses Toshiro. I want to reunite them. I want to go to Soul Society, find him, tell him how Rangiku's feeling and bring him back to her. It can be my birthday present to her."
Spike nudged Jet. "Quick, Jet, take a picture. Faye is actually thinking of someone BESIDES herself for a change."
"Very funny, Spike. Excuse me for trying to be a good friend."
"Faye," Jet began. "Forgive me for bursting your bubble, but just how do you intend to go up to Soul Society? You're not dead yet!"
"Well, I'm sure there's a way. I mean if she can make it down, I can make it up!"
"How, you gonna shoot yourself?!"
"No!" She turned to Ed. "Ed, is it possible to get to Soul Society if you aren't dead?"
"Searching…searching…ah ha, three people did!"
"They did? How, Ed?"
"By having great spiritual pressure in their bodies, that enabled them to travel through a Golden Gate opened by Kisuke Urahara."
"Kisuke Urahara…Ed, look him up."
"Right-o, yes Ma'am!" Ed typed like crazy on her keyboard. "Searching…here he is! Kisuke Urahara…former Captain of Squad 12 of Soul Society…now owns Kisuke's Magic Shop of Wonders in Kurakawa Town in Tokyo, Japan!"
"Wait, wait…ya mean Rangiku isn't the only wandering angel around here?"
"Wait, wait…you mean to tell us that you're gonna try to talk this Kisuke guy into getting you into Soul Society, when as far as any of us know you don't have any Spiritual powers?!"
"I might, Spike, you never know. Remember, I'm a lot older than you…"
"There she starts again," Jet mumbled.
"All I'm saying, Jet, is that maybe I HAVE spiritual energy in me that none of us know about. After all, I've been frozen most of my life, I'm just starting to remember my old life. Maybe I WAS a destined one a long time ago! Maybe I have spiritual energy in me and I was never made aware of it."
"Feel sorry for the afterlife if that's true," Spike mumbled.
"I heard that."
"Oooohhh…Aunt Faye-Faye, come see this!"
"What, Ed?" She, Spike, and Jet gathered around the computer monitor to see what Ed found…Orihime's video! Faye's eyebrows went up when Orihime introduced herself. "Orihime?" she mumbled, remembering how Rangku talked about her. She didn't SEEM mad…she didn't LOOK as if she was angry at Rangiku…in fact Faye gasped when Orihime held up Rangiku's picture, pleading for her return. Orihime WASN'T mad at Rangiku! Faye stood up and walked a bit away from the video. Now she KNEW the whole thing was a misunderstanding. She added Orihime to the list of people she wanted to bring to Rangiku. "Ed, can you find out the address of the girl in that video?"
"What's on your mind, Faye?"
"Plenty of things..but mainly to set right what's gone wrong."
"OK, that's it, just who the hell are you and where's the real Faye?"
"Here's the address, Aunt Faye-Faye!" Ed said, handing her the sheet she printed out.
"Thanks, Ed…now can you look up information on this Ichigo kid and find out all about his visit to Soul Society?"
"OK!" Ed typed like mad on her computer. "Ooooohhh…found it!" Faye Jet, and Spike all crowded around to have a look. Jet whistled after a few minutes.
"Boy, oh boy, oh boy….and I thought the afterlife would be a friendly place.."
"Technically, Jet, this is Purgatory. It's one step below the actual afterlife. But..geez..didn't know they were THAT territorial!"
"Boy, that kid was lucky to make it out alive!"
"Yeah no kidding Jet."
"Mmm…looks like I'm gonna have to get this Ichigo kid to escort me up there…looks like he managed to earn their respect..if I can earn HIS, he can maybe help sneak me in.."
Jet and Spike both gaped at her. "You can't be serious, Faye."
"I am serious, Spike. I'm TOTALLY serious! I'm going up there, Spike. I'm gonna find Toshiro and bring him to her."
"Faye, it's too risky! Didn't you read what Ed found?! This Ichigo kid and his friends almost got a one-way ticket to Ultimate Heaven themselves just for stepping in there without an invitation!"
"But he SURVIVED, Jet! And if HE can do it, he can show me how to do it!"
"Faye, you've lost it! It says so right there that this kid has Soul Reaper powers and THAT'S how he was able to do this! You tried to go up there yourself you wouldn't be able to see anything, you wouldn't be able to do anything..and why put this kid through another long battle!"
"It's not worth it, Faye!" Jet said. "You even try to infilitrate Sacred Grounds, you go to die."
"Don't push yourself into it, Faye!"
Faye stared at the men. "I can't BELIEVE both of you! Why would I want to do this? Look AROUND you, both of you. Open your eyes. Would we be as well-off as we are if not for her? Would the Bebop be all cleaned up and nicely repaired of not for her? Would we have all this food in that fridge if not for her? Would we have that money in the safe if not for her? We owe her everything! Shouldn't we do something for her?"
"We ARE, Faye! We're giving her this birthday party! Look, Faye, I know what you're saying, but actually going up there to find this guy is way too risky!"
Faye angrily walked over to Spike. "Ok, Spike..I really didn't wanna have to do this, but you leave me no choice…do you remember Julia?" Jet tensed up at that while Spike stood up angrily, staring coldly into Faye's eyes as she continued. "Yeah, Spike, I said it. Remember her? Remember how the two of you loved each other, but Vicious kept you apart? Yeah, I know all about it, Jet told me. How you both were gonna finally escape from Vicious and take her on the Bebop, and you were gonna marry her...but then Vicious sent his goons to gun her down?" With every word she said Jet tensed up more and more. "I know you had a lot of things you wanted to say to her, Spike. A WHOLE lot, that you probably never got a chance too. Spike, think about it. Rangiku is Julia, Toshiro is you, and this Baykuya jerk is Vicious who's keeping them apart! Wouldn't you want them to have the chance to say things to each other you never got to say to Julia?! After all Rangiku's done for all of us?! How can you honestly stand there and not want the two of them to have the chance you and Julia never got! Do you want to deny them the very things you were denied? Rangiku's given us so much…don't you want to give something back to her? Like MAYBE giving her the happiness that Vicious took from YOU? "
After a deafening silence that to Jet lasted forever, Spike slowly stuck his hands into his pockets and walked to the other side of the room. He took out a cigarette, lit it, and slowly inhaled, then breathed out a cloud of smoke. Finally he turned around. "Faye?" he began. "Let's go find that Captain!"
Faye smiled and turned to Ed. "Ed? Print out the address of Kiskue Urahara's Shop…and Orihime Inoue's too."
As soon as the directions were in their hands, Spike headed for the exit. "Come on, we'll take the Swordfish."
"No, Spike, you take the Swordfish, I'll take the RedTail…and you follow my lead!"
"Why should I follow YOUR lead?"
She held up the paper. "Cause I have the directions!" She scampered out the door before Spike could say anything. Spike rolled his eyes and followed her. Ed turned to Jet.
"What are we gonna do, Papa?"
"Well, Ed, it looks like we may be blessed with the company of a Captain tomorrow…let's go get this place prettied up!"
"Oh boy!" Ed raced to her computer. "Pretty, pretty, yes Sir! Papa, I found lots of pretty streamers and balloons online!"
"Order them up special for tomorrow, Ed! I'll bake a cake in the meantime…and I think we still have some parsimmons we can have too.." he headed for the refridgerator.
Meanwhile Spike and Faye were traveling deep space headed for Earth, Spike trudging along reluctantly following Faye's instructions. "Faye, you sure you know where you're going?"
'Oh, you doubt me, Spike?"
'In a word…"
"Now, Spike, when have I ever steered you wrong?"
"Well, if you MUST know..."
"Don't answer that! Now come on!" Soon the planet Earth became visible to them. Narrowing in they finally became aware of Kurakawa Town, Japan. The traveled around until they caught sight of the airport and Faye immediately turned on her radio. "Hello? Hello? Hi, My name is Faye Valentine and I'm calling from the RedTail. With me is Spike Spegal, and he's following me in the Swordfish. We request permission to land."
"Where are ya flying in from, RedTail?"
"We're actually flying in from out spaceship, the Bebop. We're intergalactic bounty hunters and we'd like to stop here for a while."
"We'll clear a spot for ya but we're gonna have to see a passport." As soon as Faye and Spike had landed safely and showed their passports to the guard, they were free to go.
They walked over to a highway, looking out for cabs. "Yo, taxi!" he called out, waving his arms. "Taxi! Taxi!" He turned to Faye. "I dunno why the cabs won't stop."
Faye scooted ahead of him. "Just leave it to me." With that she stuck her leg out and hitched up her shorts a bit, twisting her heel. Immidiately a cab stopped right in front of them. She grinned at him mischeviously. "Some of us got it, some of us don't!" She quickly jumped into the cab before Spike could protest and gave the driver the address to the Urahara Shop.
Once they got there Spike immidiately noticed the poster hanging on the window. "Hey, Faye? Looks like quite a LOT of people are trying to find her." Quickly he took it off before he and Faye went in. "Hello?" Faye asked hesitantly before she walked further in. "Um…hello?" She and Spike walked carefully through the shop, their eyes taking in all the mysterious and strange items all around them on the shelves and hanging on the walk. Suddenly a weird looking man with a pale white face and dressed in a striped suit with a straw hat popped up.
"Ahh.."Faye cried, backing up a bit. Kiskue immediately laughed. Faye joined in in a second "Oh…you got me."
Kiskue walked over behind the counter. "Welcome to Kiskue's Shop of Mystical Wonders. If we can't put a smile on your face, your skin's too tight." He chuckled. "Made that up."
"How do you do, I'm Faye Valentine, and this is Spike Spegal."
Kiskue nodded. "What can I do ya for?"
"Actually, it's what WE can do for YOU," Spike said, stepping forward. "Or what you can do for us."
"What do you mean?"
"We got some information about a certain missing person. Say, a missing Soul Reaper?" He showed him the poster that was on the window.
Kiskue's head snapped up. "Ya mean Rangiku? You know where Rangku is?" When Spike showed him the poster, he immediately came out from behind the counter. "I see. Come into the parlor," he motioned to Faye, "Come into the parlor."
As they all gathered in the parlor, he stuck his head not another room. "Yo, Yoruichi! Are ya here?"
"Yeah?" came a voice.
"We got some visitors here, they got some news for us," Yoruichi then entered the room.
"Hi, welcome to the shop," she said, sticking out her hand. "I'm Yoruichi Shihoen, Kiskue's partner."
"Hi," Faye said, shaking her hand. "I'm Faye Valentine, and this is Spike Spegal."
"Hi, what can we do for you?"
"Actually, we're here about someone that you know well.."
"They've found Rangiku," Kischue said.
"Rangiku? You mean…you know where Rangiku is?"
"Oh yes," Faye said. "In fact…she's living with us."
"Yeah," Spike said. "ya see, we're intergalactic bounty hunters. We travel around the galaxy in our spaceship, the Bebop, stopping criminals and drug dealers. She's been with us for the past 8 months and let me tell ya, she's been a godsend."
"Oh…oh well.." Yoruichi lept up from where she was sitting. "Can I offer you some tea?" She went into the kitchen where she quickly prepared some and brought it out to them. "Tell me, she's been with you all this time? Thank God she's OK, we've all been going crazy looking for her!"
"Hang on a moment.." Kiskue ran to the back room of the store. "Yo, Renji! Are ya back?"
"Can ya come in here for a minute?" Renji than came from the back room. "This is our stockperson and deliveryman, Renji Abari. Renji, you'll be pleased to meet Mr. Spike Spegal and Ms. Faye Valentine," he turned to Renji. "They've found Rangiku."
"Rangiku?" he turned sharply to them. "You've found her?"
"She's been with them for the past 8 months," Kische explained. "They're intergalactic bounty hunters, and Rangiku's been helping them out."
"Wait..you're Renji. You're the 6th Squad Lieutenant!" Faye cried out. " What are you doing here as a stockperson?"
"Actually, I'm the ex-Lieutenant," Renji explained. "I quit the 6th Squad when Rangiku left."
"He's been working down here with us ever since," Kische explained. "One of the best helpers we've had."
"Well, from what we've heard about that jerk Bayakya, we can't say we blame ya," Spike said.
"Well, we're glad we ran into you, Renji. We actually need your help."
"Yeah, ya see, we just found out tomorrow is her birthday.."
'It is?" Renji stood up and looked at the calander. "Wow, it's September 29th tomorrow already!"
"Yeah…and she's done so much for us, we wanna do something special for her, and what could be more special than bringing Toshiro back to her?"
"That would be a great thing to do for her..and for all of us. We've been missing her a ton. I mean...I know Captain Hitsugaya really does."
"Yeah, he's been looking for her all over the place! He's miserable without her."
"Yeah, well that's a problem," Spike pointed out. "See…I'm not dead, and neither is Faye, and we read that you have to be either dead or have great spiritual energy in order to enter into the Soul Socety. So, maybe you could give us a hand in getting up there? Just so we can find this Toshiro guy and bring him here to Rangiku?"
"Ha, I can do more than that," Renji said. "In fact, I'll take ya to my girlfriend Rukia.."
"Oh, Rukia...yeah we read about her too. Isn't she staying down here with this Ichigo guy?"
"Yeah. I dunno how much ya know about it.."
"Not much," Faye admitted.
"Well, she used to be Byakuya's adopted sister, but when he pulled this wonderful stunt even Rukia got disgusted with him. And SHE used to be one of the first ones to defend him! So she basically told him off, left him for good, and Ichigo took her into his home and adopted her. Come on, I'll take ya to both of them. They can help ya get into Soul Society. We can tell Orihime too, she'll be so happy with this news."
"Orihime," Faye said. "Yeah, Rangiku's mentioned her a few times, and we saw her video that she posted. So..she's really NOT mad at Rangiku?"
"Mad? Because of what? No way is she mad, she's been one of our biggest helpers in trying to find her! She's been going out of her mind with worry."
"I definitely want to meet her," Faye said, standing up.
"But be warned if you go that way, "Yoruichi warned. "There's this girl there, Chizuru…well just steer clear of her"
"Well, she's a lesbian."
"So?" Spike asked. "We have no problem with that, we're both open-minded enough.."
"Well, let's just say it might not be safe to wear THAT outfit around her," Yoruichi said, pointing to Faye's outfit. Faye just waved it off.
'Oh, believe me, if she DARES to try anything.." she pulled out her gun. 'I can scare her into submission. Come on let's go."
"Actually, I better go with you," Yoruichi said. "That way you both won't hhave to come back here."
"Why would we need to?"
"Because in order to enter the Soul Society, because you're not Soul Reapers and have no powers, so I'll have to operate the Senkaimon."
"That's the gate to the Soul Society. That's how we can let people into the Soul Society who aren't dead or have no powers. " She took the golden cane leaning against the wall. "Let's get going."
Following Renji's lead they made it to the block that Ichigo's house was on…only to be greeted with a huge bellow of, "YOU BETTER NOT EVEN THINK OF COMING OVER HERE!" followed by a crash. Hurrying over to see what's wrong, they spotted a short redheaded girl with glasses sprawled on the ground and a short haired brunette standing over her glaring.
"Chizuru?" Spike asked their escort. Renji just nodded. She shook her head and lifted herself up just then…her eyes growing wide at what was in front of her.
"Oooohhhh….hello…" she said, gazing at Faye and Yoruichi. Rather…at their breasts. "Ooooh…are you new here…"
"Yes," Faye said…immediately pulling out her gun and pointing it at her head. "My name is Faye…and I'm STRAIGHT, sweetie…and I don't take well to THOSE kinda games. So if I were you, I'd back up…slowly…and go right home where you belong, hmm?" To further emphasize what she was saying she fired a shot into the air, then pointing the gun at her head…scaring Chizuru away faster then anyone had ever seen her move. The dark hair girl whistled, clearly impressed.
"That's very effective…ought to get myself a toy gun and try that out myself."
"And you are?" Spike asked.
"Tatsuki Arisawa. Are you new here?"
"Not really. Actually we're here to see Ichigo Kurasaki. Do you know where he lives?"
"Sure. He's one of my oldest friends. He lives right down the block."
"Can you take us to him? We have an important message for him."
"You from the Soul Society?"
"No…but this concerns it."
"Ok, you did for me, I'll do for you. Come on, the Kurasaki house is just down this block. " With Tatsuki leading they came to the cozy yellow house at the end of the block. "There it is."
When they came to the front door Tatsuki knocked on the door. Karin answered it. "Oh, hey Tatsuki. Orihime's not here right now."
"That's OK, Karin, we're not here to see her."
"Actually we kinda are," Faye admitted. "This concerns both of them."
"Want me to call her?"
"Well, we wanna see Ichigo first."
Karin looked at Faye curiously. "And you are?"
"I like this kid," Spike admitted.
"I'm Faye Valentine, and this is Spike Spegal, " Faye said. "We wanna talk to Ichigo. Is he here?"
"I'm Karin Kurasaki, his sister. Come in, I'll get him. Hey, Renji, Yoruichi. I'll tell Rukia you're here too, Renji," they stepped into the house as Karin stood at the foot of the stairs. "Yo, Ichigo!" she called. "Come on down, someone's here to see ya. Rukia, Renji's here too," she gave a quick nod to everyone and then left out the front door.
Both Ichigo and Rukia then came down the stairs. Rukia's face broke into a grin. "Renji!" she called out, throwing herself at her boyfriend, who picked her up and kissed her. "How are you?"
"Fine now that you're here," he smiled. He turned to Faye and Spike. "Faye Valentine, Spike Spegal, this is my girlfriend Rukia Kurasaki and her brother Ichigo."
"Hey, Ichigo," Spike smiled and put his hand out. "We've heard a lot about you. Nice to be able to place the face, finally."
"Uh…thanks," Ichigo said uncertainly. "Uh..have a seat," he gestured to the couches in the living room.
"Thanks," he and Faye settled on the biggest couch, Tatsuki, Ranji and Rukia sat on the chairs, Ichigo stood up.
"I know you're wondering why we're here," Spike began. "Actually we need to talk with you about something…or about someone.."
"Yeah…see…we've found Rangiku."
Rukia sat up in her chair. "Rangiku? You've found her? You know where she is?!"
"Yeah, you could say that."
Suddenly a voice popped up. "Rangiku? You've found Rangiku?!' and little Kon came up from the back of the couch. Spike and aye stared incrediously.
"Oh yeah…that's Kon. He's my Mod Soul.." Ichigo said hesitantly. He then tried to explain all about him.
"I know it's unbelieveable…but Kon is perfectly harmless. Annoying as hell sometimes, but harmless," Ichigo said.
'But you've found Rangiku?! You know where she is?!"
"Where…where's she been for these past 8 months? Is she OK? Is she alright?"
"She's OK. Actually she's been with us. She's joined our bounty hunter business…and she's been nothing short of a godsend."
Ichigo turned to Tatsuki. "Tatsuki, quick, get Orihime! She needs to know this, quick!" Tatsuki ran out the door and came back a little later with a lovely red headed girl tha Faye immediately recognized from the video she had seen.
"Yes," she said shyly and a bit out of breath. "Tatsuki told me you found Rangiku? Did you honestly find her? Oh she's alright? She's OK? Oh where is she? Where has she been? Oh I've been so worried!"
"Orihime, this is Spike Spegal and this is Faye Valentine," Ichigo said after kissing his girlfriend. Spike and Faye stood up to shake her hand.
"I have to say that that's a beautiful video you made there," Faye commented.
Orihie blushed. "Youu saw it?"
"Yeah," Spike said. "I have to say it didn't look like you were mad at her."
"But, I'm not!" Orihime said. 'I could never be mad at her! Never!"
"For some reason she got the idea that you were mad at her. Over something she didn't wanna talk about. But whenever she brought you up she looked sad..kinda ashamed."
"Sad? Ashamed? But…why? She never did anything to be ashamed of. She was like a big sister to me. I loved her so much! Is that why she didn't come here? Because she thought I was mad at her? I could never be mad at her, ever!"
"Well, maybe you could come with us back to the Bebop and tell her that?"
"Yeah. See, Faye and I are intergalactic bounty hunters. We travel in our space ship, the Bebop, with my best friend Jet and our adopted neice Ed. For the past 8 months Rangiku's been helping us catch bounties, and she's been doing a hell of a job."
"Now we wanna do something nice for her birthday tomorrow," Faye added. "So, we wanted to throw her a surprise party…and we were hoping you guys could help us bring Toshiro to her!"
"That would be terrific," Ichiigo said. "Boy is Toshiro sure gonna be glad to hear this news!"
"You bet, he's been looking for her for months!" Rukia said.
"Oh, Ichigo, let's go now!" Orihime said. "Let's tell him now, and let's go see her, quick!"
"Wait a second, we need Ichigo and Rukia's help, though," Spike said. "Faye and I aren't dead. We need his help to get to Soul Society in the first place so we can talk to this Captain."
"Glad to help," Ichigo said.
"Count me in," Renji added, standing up. "It'll give me a chance to give Byakuya the remainder of my mind I haven't already given to him!"
"Ok, guys? Rukia, you have your.."
"Of course," she said, taking her PEZ dispenser out of her pocket.
"What's that you got there?" Spike asked curiously.
"This is our Soul Candy," Ichigo explained. "It unleashes our spiritual powers and enables us to enter Soul Society."
"But if we go into our Soul Reaper phases we can't be seen, though," Renji explained. "That's why we're gonna have to stay with you. As long as you're close to us, then you'll be able to see everything. Our Soul Reaper Powers will be picked up a bit by your own souls, as long as we're close to you."
"I'll go too," Kon said.
"NO, you won't. You're staying right here," Ichigo said. "I don't need you causing trouble while we're up there."
"NO, you stay right here!"
Tatsuki stepped backward carefully, prepared to stay behind as usual when Ichigo astared at her. "Hey, Tatsuki…why don't you join us?"
She lifted her head quickly. "Me? Really? You mean it?"
"Yeah," He smiled. "I don't think we're in any kind of danger anymore, so you'll be safe. Besides..I think it's about time you saw this place for yourself!"
"Sure. Come on, we can all go. Like to give Byakuya a piece of my mind myself."
"Oh, believe me…so do I."
"Uh..Tatsuuki? dunno if YOU should confront him. He's a Soul Reaper Captain…and as much of a jerk as he is, he still has a lot of powers and is exteremely dangerous."
"Ichigo, I'm a martial artist, as well as you are! This guy needs to have someone cut him down to size and I know that you and I can both do it"
"Let her give him a pecie of her mind, ichigo. I'll be right beside her in case he trys anything. Like to say a few things to him myself."
'Ok, you guys," Yoruichi said, leading the way outside. "Let's get out Soul Candy and hit the road. Next stop, Soul Society."
IN SOUL SOCIETY….
Once they all reached the Soul Society, Tatsuki had to gasp at what she saw around her. She turned around and around slowly, taking in all the many things around her. "Whoa…so…THIS is Soul Society…unbelieveable! This is a whole new world here!"
"Yeah it is," Ichigo explained "But keep in mind, Tatsuki, this is only part of Soul Society, where the Soul Reapers live and work. These big fancy buildings are where the Captains work, and the other bigger buldings are where they live." He pointed to a huge intricate building. "That building is where Captain Yamamoto lives."
"Looks like a Mauselium," Tatsuki observed.
"Oh, that's nothing. Look at his HOUSE!"
"Whoa!" Tatsuki said, while Spike whistled, clearly impressed.
"And over there is the 2nd Squad Office, where Captain Sio Fon is, and behind that, that huge building is HER house! There's Captain Kenpachi's house..and in front of that is the 11th Squad Office."
"Those guys are NOT hurting up here."
"Well, keep in mind, these homes belong to the higher ups of Purgatory. The ones in charge of watching the souls that come up here. The ones who aren't soul reapers live in a place called rakungai and they have to work off their sins in the fields and toil like farmers."
"Is that right?"
"Yeah, that's right. If you can yourself become a Soul Reaper you have a chance to work off your sins by defending the rest of them. But it takes a lot of training and a special calling. Not everyone can do it." Just then they were distracted by the sounds of loud noises.
"NO RANGIKU, NO TENTH SQUAD! NO RANGIKU NO TENTH SQUAD! NO RANGIKU, NO TENTH SQUAD!"
Spike looked up, curious, and saw the 10th squad marching up and down the front of Yamamoto's office, waving their signs. "I take it THAT'S the 10th squad?"
"Yep," Rukia agreed. "Been on strike ever since Rangiku disappeared. From what I've heard they've been on this all day and all night."
"Yeah…to the HEADACHE of the rest of us," came a familiar voice. Spike, Faye, and Tatsuki all turned around and gaped at what they all saw. There, standing over them was one of the biggest most muscular guys any of them had ever seen. His black hair was long and spiky and an eyepatch was over his left eye. But neither Rukia, Ichigo, or Renji was at all fazed.
"Hi, Kenpachi," Ichigo greeted.
"Hey, Ichigo," he said. "Nice to see ya. Hey, Rukia, welcome back! Orihime!" she waved shyly. "Boy are YOU guys a sight for sore eyes! What brings ya back up here after all this time! Escorting some new recruits?" His eyes fell on Faye and Spike. "Hey, there. Kanpachi Zuraki, Captain of the 11th Squad! Welcome aboard!"
"Uh…actually Kenpachi," Yoruichi said, "They're not dead.."
"They're not?" he paused. "Oh yeah...you're right. Can't detect strong spiritual presence among them.." his eyes feel on Tatsuki. "But I sense a bit around you. Are YOU the new recruit?"
"No, Kenpachi, she's not dead either. This is my friend Tatsuki. And these are Spike and Faye." Suddenly they heard a loud voice coming from the 11th Squad Office.
"I told you before, that way of thinking is rediculous. I don't care WHO she was kissing, you had no right to do it! Now you better hope they find Rangiku soon, or you might have another slap to match the one that Momo gave you!" Quickly the door opened and a small pink haired girl stormed out. Spike raised his eyebrows.
"Who's that fun little thing?"
"That's my Lieutenant, Yachiru."
"THAT'S your Lieutenant?"
"And the President of the Shinigami Women's Society."
"Hey, ya don't think it's possible?"
"No, no…just that she's so young!"
"Hey, don't be fooled. He may be young, but she's got a bite to her! Hehe,heh… so anyway, what brings you here?"
"They actually have some news."
"Yeah, see they've found Rangiku."
"They HAVE?! Wow, that's great news! Man I know a LOT of people up here are gonna be SO happy to hear this!" he jerked his thumb in the direction of the 10th Squad's protesting. "All of them for one!"
"Boy…they must REALLY love her," Spike said.
"You have NO idea. Also the 5th Squad.." just then sounds began to be heard and Kenpachi turned to the right. "Oh man, here they come again." Sure enough the 5th Squad was coming up the way carrying their drums.
"What's going on there?" Spike asked.
"Oh every day around 3 the 5th Squad says a prayer for Rangiku and then starts singing while playing the drums. Gets rather annoying after a while, believe me."
"Well, hopefully ya won't have to listen to that for very much longer."
"So, what else has been going on up here since we've been gone?" Renji asked.
"Well, you asked that at JUST the right time!" Kenpachi said. "Byakuya got his damn ass fired!"
"He what?" Renji asked.
'Yeah, Byakuya's been sacked. The 6th Squad is short of a Captain…and in fact Captain Yamamoto's been asking about you!"
Just then the drums began in earnest. "Dear Heavenly God, please watch over our Dear Sister, Rangiku…"
In the second Squad Office Sio Fon was attempting to do work with Omaeda. Finally she threw down her pen and picked up some posterboard, writing on it. She showed it to Omaeda. "Tea?" was written on it.
He grabbed some paper and wrote back. "Pardon?"
She frowned, and wrote some on another piece. But the writing was so small that Omaeda had to lean forward to see it…and Sio Fon proceeded to slap him in the face with the posterboard.
The 4th Squad captain, Retsu, was walking toward her office with her hands over her ears. Spike was almost tempted to do the same.
"Is there any way you could make them stop?!" He almost yelled.
"I think we can now!" Rukia cried out. "As soon as I tell Momo- Captain Hotsugaya's sister, who's leading this riot, I think they can quiet down."
"Well, will ya do it then?" Faye yelled
"I said will you do it?!"
"I SAID WILL YOU PLEASE DO IT THEN?!"
"OH, OK!" Rukia ran over to the Office and waved her hands frantically to get Momo's attention. As soon as she saw Rukia she smiled and waved, looking surprised. She ran down the steps and hugged Rukia happily. Rukia pulled her aside to talk to her. In the meantime, Renji saw someone familiar in the crowd.
Ikkaku stopped where he was marching and looked up. "Hey…Ichigo? Orihime? Renji, you old son of a gun! How in the world are you?"
"I'm fine…what are you doing here on this line? I mean…I didn't think you got along that great with Rangiku…"
"Renji…look…having Rangiku be gone all this time really made me realize what a jerk I was being to her. I mean…she really wasn't so bad..I should have never called her fruitcake and all that. That was wrong. I mean..she means a lot to Captain Hitsygaya, and if she's special to him she should be special to me too. …and I've decided that if she comes back..I'll stop being an ass to her," he looked at Spike, Faye, and Tatsuki. "Hey, who we got here? New recruits."
"No, no new recruits. This is Spike, Faye, and Tatsuki. And they have good news, Rangiku's been found!"
"She HAS?!" He turned to the rest of the group. "Hey, guys! Guys! GUUUUUUYYYSS! Great news! Rangiku's been found!" The place was then filled with cheers and applause while Momo hugged Rukia happily. "Thank God for this news! Captain Yamamoto's been so upset since she left he's issued a reward for her return!"
Spike's head perked up. "Reward?"
"Oh yeah. 80,000 in gold pieces for her safe return.
Spike turned to Faye. "Excuse me!" he began to run to the office.
"Hey, wait, wait.." Ikkaku said. "Ya can't just barge in there. Someone's gotta go in with ya. Wait up, I'll go, and you," he pointed to Faye, "Can I go in and talk to Captain Hitsygaya?"
"That sounds good," Rukia said. "Come on, I'll go in with you."
"And I'll join you, Spike," Renji said.
"You should, he's been asking about you," Ikkaku said.
"What's all this noise going on around here?" Came a most unwelcome voice. Ichigo stifled a groan as he turned around to see one of the most unwelcome sights coming his way.
"What do you want, Byakuya?"
"Ahh, Ichigo. So you have finally decided to join us at last."
Orihime trembled with fear, but Tatsuki came forward. "Oh, so THIS is Byakuya Kuchi…"
"Be careful, he's dangerous!" Orihime said.
'Oh, I'm scared. Believe me, Orihime, I can handle it.."
"Who may you be?"
"I be Tatsuki..and I be disgusted with YOU!"
Meanwhile Faye and Rukia walked up the marble steps to Captain Hitsygaya's office. When they opened the doors Faye has to gasp out loud at the rich carpeted hallways and the bright tapestries that lined the walls. The windows were high and had fancy pointed frames surrounding them. Rukia noticed her stares and smiled. "This way, Faye!" They reached another tall white door. Rukia knocked on it. "Captain Hitsygaya?"
"Yes?" Came a soft voice from inside.
"Sir..it's me, Rukia. May I come in?"
"Oh, Rukia! Of course you may come in."
Rukia pushed open the heavy white doors and she and Faye entered. The carpet was so soft and think Faye felt she was walking on a cloud. The small form of Toshiro was sitting at his impressive desk with piles of papers in front of him. He looked up. "Rukia. Well, welcome back What brings you here?"
"Well, Sir, first I need you to meet Miss Faye Valentine." Faye bowed to Toshiro who nodded back.
"Nice to meet you, Faye. Is she a new recruit?"
"Well no, Sir. In fact, Faye is here with some news."
Toshiro nodded to the velvet seats in front of him. "Have a seat."
"Uh…thank you, Sir," Faye sat down gingerly upon the seat and studied Toshiro. He WAS small and rather young, but he was JUST as handsome as Rangiku described him.
"You have some news?"
"Well, yes. It concerns Rangiku."
His head snapped up. "R…Rangiku?"
"Yes…you see…I know where Rangiku is."
Toshiro almost humped up from his seat. "Rangiku? You know where she is? Is she alright?"
"She's just fine, Sir. In fact..she's with us."
"Yes. You see, captain, me and my associates, Spike, Jet, and Ed..we're all intergalactic bounty hunters. We travel around in the spaceship Bebop and we catch otherworldly criminals. Rangiku has been part of our group for the past 8 months. She's been such a big help to all of us. She's perfectly all right. We've been so blessed to have her here. But honestly..she misses you terribly. In fact, all she's been doing is talking about you!"
Toshiro managed a small smile. "Tell me." He said. "Tell me everything she's said. And I warn you…I'll know the words are hers."
Faye looked at him. "Even though she likes it here…she becomes sad when she mentions what cause her to leave. She spoke about Byakuya…and she cursed him. But then she mentioned all the times you've spent together. Weather it was fighting Arrancars and Hallows..or spending time together on secret dates..and her face glowed. No SHE glowed. She can't stop talking about what a wonderful man you are. How brave a Captain you are, and how truly handsome and sweet you are. She keeps mentioning your bravery, and your courage, and how proud she is to serve with you. How wonderful a man you really are and how much you've helped her and been there for her. She loves you more than anything, Captain. She'd had to..with all she's been through.
Toshiro rose from his seat. "That truly IS Rangiku! Tell me, is she still with you on this Bebop?"
"Yes, she is..Sir..and that's mainly why I've come. Her birthday is tomorrow..and I want to bring you back to her. For her birthday present. I know that's what she wants more than anything. To be reunited with the one she loves!"
"I know it's what I want more than anything!" He pulled open his topmost drawer. "I even have a present for her!" he opened it and showed Faye the ring that was in there. "I was going to give this to her as soon as Captain Yamamoto said we could be together. But, this can work as her birthday present."
She whistled. "You have to get that nice and wrapped. If we make a pit stop at Yoruichi's shop, bet she can do it for you. ."
"But first," he went to the door and called out, "Ikkaku? Could you come in here for a moment, Please?"
Ikkaku came in. "Yes, Sir?" Toshiro then pulled out his sword. Ikkaku gasped. "Huh…but…oh..Ok," he knelt down. "Do it, Captain. After how I treated Rangiku I deserve to be punished."
"No," he put the sword into Ikkaku's hand. "I hereby put you in charge of Squad 10, until I return. Watch over this office for me. I will return..and I promise it will be with Rangiku."
'Yes, Sir!" Ikkaku said quickly.
"What did you just say to me?!" Baykuya glowered.
'What did you THINK I said?" Tatsuki said. "You, Sir, are disgusting. You're rude, nasty, self-centered, uncouth, and as far as I'm concerned you don't deserve to be a Captain! You just can't mind your own business about anything, can you from what I heard?"
"You listen to me young lady.."
"No, YOU listen! After going through that terrible war you should be GLAD Rangiiku found some happiness! So what if it was with her captain, the point is she was happy, she found love again, and you took that away from her! That without a doubt was one of the most terrible, cruelest things I've ever heard, and as far as I'm concerned you deserved to lose everything you had! You hear me? You deserved it!"
"Young lady, you are out of line.."
'I'M OUT OF LINE?!" Tatsuki. "I am?! Where the heck do you get your nerve? YOU from what I've heard, are stripped of your title. You ain't even a captain anymore. You don't have any RIGHTS now to tell me I'm out of line! In fact you've been out of line since the moment they made you a captain. You're one of the nastiest people I have ever met and one of the rudest.."
Byakuya clenched his fists together. "Young lady, I'm warning you, you had best remove yourself from my presence.."
"Or you'll do what? You can't do ANYTHING but stare down like the huge stick in the mud that you are, and furthermore.."
"That will be ENOUGH out of you!" he put his hand on his sword, but Ichigo stepped between
"You do so much as lay a HAND on her, Byakuya, and you answer to me. You remember what I did to Aizen...think of what I can do to you!'
'Remove yourself Ichigo Kurasaki.."
"Or you'll do what? In case you've forgotten ya jerk, I'M now above YOU! YOU can't say anything to me or do anything to me anymore."
"No…YOU remove YOURSELF!" came Renji's voice. Sure enough there he stood in the doorway…wearing the familiar white Captain's robe. "I order you as the new captain of squad 6!"
"Renji..you made it!" Rukia cried as she came out of the office and lept into his arms. Renji twirled her around in his arms and kissed his girlfriend deeply.
'You bet! Say hi to the brand new captain of Squad 6! And as the new Captain Byakuya, I hereby remove you from this presence…and order you to the mail room. You got letters to sort. NOW!"
Rukia had to stifle a laugh. Spike followed with a huge bag of gold coins. "Hey, we ready to go? Can't wait to show all this to Jet!"
IN THE BEBOP, September 29th…
The Bebop was al; decorated for Ranngiku's birthday party. Jet had sent her to do some grocery shopping while he and Ed set up for the party. There were brightly colored streamers and balloons hung up everywhere. The table had a bright colored tablecloth on it, and a huge chocolate birthday cake on it. With the parsimmons Jet had found he had made a casserole, plus he had tossed a salad and made noodles with cheese to go with it. He also dried some of the parsimmons and laid them on a dish. Ed was jumping up and down.
"Birthday, birthday, birthday! Aunt Rangiku's birthday!"
"Ok.." Jet looked around. "Think we're all ready for this party." The door opened then and Spike entered.
"Heeeey, this place looks great!"
"Hey, so did you guys get what you wanted to get?"
"Faye's getting them all ready right now. Had to stop and get her something," he pulled out a small brightly wrapped package. Also he held out the bag of gold Yamamoto haad given him. "Here ya go, buddy."
Jet stared, surprised. "Where did.."
"I'll tell ya later. Put that in the safe before Faye sees it."
Jet did so, then they heard the sound of high heels on the floor. "She's coming! Quick, Ed, get the lights." Ed turned the lights off and happily grabbed Ein to hide. Rangiku came back in with her arms full of groceries.
"Hello? Jet? Ed?" She put her packages down and turned on the lghts.
"SURPRISE!" Jet, Spike, and Ed all said while Ein barked happily.
"Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday Dear Rangiku,
Happy Birthday to you!"
Rangiku gasped and held her hand to her mouth in shock..finally she smiled and brushed away a tear. Ed jumped around her. "Did we surprise you? Did we surprise you?"
Rangiku laughed. "You did! You did! Oh, you guys!" She reached down and hugged Ed tightly. "How did you know today.."
"Faye spilled it out to us," Spike explained. "And hey, you did so much for us.."
"Yeah, we thought you deserved more than a candle in a cupcake."
"Oh, a party? You DO know me, don't you!" she laughed.
'Here, sit, sit," Jet gave her a cold glass of saki. 'Happy Birthday, Rangiku. Ya see, we got some nice dried persimmons for you, and a persimmons casserole.
"Oh, my favorite!" He eagerly took one of the dried persimmons and a sip of the saki. "Thanks, everyone…but, where's Faye?" she said, looking around.
'Oh Faye still preparing your birthday present,, speaking of which," jet reached down and pulled out a long rectangle shaped box decorated brightly. "Here ya go, rangiku, this is from me."
"Oh thank you, Jet!" she eagerly unwrapped the gift and pulled out a bright pink sweater. "Jet, this is lovely!"
"Well, it's my way of saying 'thank you for doing all that you did,'" Jet said.
"Oh Jet, come here," she reached over and kissed him on the cheek. Ed bounced over with a huge bouquet of flowers.
"Here, Aunt Rangiku, Happy Birthday from Ed!"
"Thank you, Ed!" Ein then came over with a card in his mouth, which he dropped into Rangiku's lap and barked.
"Why, thank you, Ein," she smiled. 'You had help with this, didn't you?"
"Ed helped…but Ein picked the card."
"I see that. Thank you."
"Here ya go. Happy Birthday," Spike said, giving her her present. Rangiku unwrapped a lovely gold bracelet.
"Spike..thank you! It's so nice1" She stood up and hugged Spike happily.
Just then the door opened and Faye entered just then. "Hey guys. Sorry I'm late."
"Hi, Faye!" Rangiku said.
Faye smiled and ran to her hugging her happily. "Happy Birthday, Rangiku. Sorry I'm late, but I had to make sure your gifts were all ready."
Ichigo then appeard in the doorway. "Hi, Rangiku!"
"Ichigo?" Rangiku's eyes grew wider and wider and more and more people came in. "Rukia? Renji? Chad? Captain Soi Fon? Captain Kenpachi?! Isane?"
"Hey, Rangiku! Where the hell have you been all this time?!"
"Happy birthday, Rangiku!" Rukia said.
"Wha…what's going on what are you all doing here?! How did you…" suddenly Orihime herself appeared in the doorway shyly.
"Hi, Rangiku. Happy Birthday!"
Rangiku's eyes filled with tears. "Orihime!" Quickly Orihime ran over to Rangiku and hugged her tightly. "Oh, Rangiku, I've been sooo worried about you!"
"You…you have?" Quickly she hugged her back. 'Oh Orihime…does that mean I'm forgiven now?"
"Forgiven for what? There's nothing to forgive, Rangiku. I was never mad at you!"
"Are you kidding, she's been look for you like crazy all these months!" Rukia said.
"But…I wasn't there…I wasn't there when you needed me, Orihime!" She looked down. That time when Aizen kidnapped you and took you to Hecho Mundo, and I wasn't there for you. I believed Captain Yamamoto when he said you'd turned traitor and didn't go down there to help you…Orihime how can you ever forgive me for that? You gave me and Toshiro a place to stay when we needed it. You cooked us the most delicious food, you gave us a place to sleep…and we turned our backs on you when you needed us most..Orihime..I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry I wasn;'t there."
"Is THAT what that's all about? Oh Rangiku, I was never mad at you! I understand that Aizen tricked you, the same way he tricked me! I knew why you weren't there..and I was surprised the people who came to find me did come! Rangiku, you'ee like a big sister to me! I was never angry at you. You were tricked, like I was tricked. I could never ever ever be mad at you! Ever. I love you!"
"I love you, too, Orihime!" she hugged her again. "I'm so sorry…"
"It's OK, Rangiku. I forgive you…I always have!"
"Hey," a small voice came from the doorway. "You remember me? Hanataro?"
"And me? Yachiru?"
"You can't forget my face, can you?" Yoruichi said, as she was joined by Kiscke.
Rangiku by now had happy tears in her eyes. "How did…"
Faye smiled. "I did a little research!"
Kon then came bounding in. 'Hey, rangiku! Where have you been? Happy Birthday!"
Ed then jumped up at the sight of him. 'LION!"
"Uh oh!" he cried out, taking off with Ed bounding after him.
"Lion! Lion, Lion, Lion, Lion, Lion, Lion!"
"Uh no..Help…Rukia, Ichigo, anyone. HEEEEEEEELLLLPPPP!" Spike had to stifle a laugh.
Faye smiled. "But that's not all, Rangiku. There's one more special person to see you!" She gestured…and Toshiro then came in the room.
"Hello, Rangiku. Happy Birthday."
Rangiku fell to her knees and stared…unable to believe what she saw. Maybe she was dreaming..life couldn;'t be this fortunate. But…it was! "T…Toshiro?" she whisprred, still unable to believe he was there.
Toshiro broke into a run. 'Rangiku!" he ran to her, holding her in his arms, kissing her with all the love in his heart. Rangiku kissed him back, holding him tightly. Neither of them was unable to believe they were back together, they were holding each other. For a minute Rangiku thought she was dreaming..until the feel of her Toshiro's heart beating against hers told her this was real.
"Rangiku..I can't believe I found you again!"
"She gasped with tears in her eyes. "Toshiro…you came here..for me?"
"Of course I did! I missed you so much!"
"More than you know. Where on Earth WERE you?"
"I've been here.." she sniffed and Spike gave her a tissue. "I've been with 4 of the greatest friends you could ever have!" She smiled at all of them. "But..oh Toshiro..I missed you so much!"
"I have too. I thought about you all the time. I just couldn't stop," he cupped her face in his and gazed into her eyes. 'I can't believe I can see your eyes again. I've loved them for so long and I never knew it.."
"Toshiro..even though we can probably only spend this day together…that's the most wonderful birthday present I could have!"
"Oh, but that's just it, we don't!"
"That day you left..I want to Captain Yamamoto and explained everything. How I was in love…and it was a special love…and he gave us permission to be together!"
"yes…and that day I was also going to give you this..' he gave her the present he wrapped. "Happy Birthday, Rangiku."
Eagerly she unwrapped it…and opened up the box. Everyone gathered to look at the ring.
Spike whistled. "Whoa…look at that rock!"
"Rangiku…I can't spend one more day with you. Will you marry me?"
She looked up with tears in her eyes. "Yes," before he scooped her into his arms and shared a kiss so full of love the whole room was filled with its sweetness..
TO BE CONTINUED…(this chapter is so long I had to split it into 3)