I don't own Bleach or its characters. This is just a fanfic, like everything else on this site. Bleach belongs to Tite Kubo, that lucky, lucky man.
The only things I own are my OCs Linnette, Victor, Cedric and whoever else pops up that never appears in fillers or chapters, and my imagination. Cue the rainbow. ^-^
Oh, and in case you're wondering, I put down that this story has Ichigo and Hichigo in the description, NOT because they're being paired together. It's just because it mostly involves them. I've gotten reviews on that so I figured I'd mention it just in case people are wondering. I would have also put down Rukia, but I figured it's a given, the thing only gives you two spaces and Hichigo is involved. So yeah. Whatever. Just thought I'd bring it up.
Please read and enjoy. Leave nice reviews, nothing mean or hurtful. Don't be a bully T^T
Schooldays were a pain. Any student could tell you that. But for a substitute Soul Reaper, it was extremely difficult. Living a double life was hard work for Ichigo Kurosaki. He didn't hate his life, he just found it hard at times. It was difficult to balance school with home and Soul Reaper duties, a social life and everything in-between, fights included. Even so, he rarely if ever complained about it to anyone.
Today was a particularly slow morning. This morning he had woken up before his alarm, which he found a real pain, and ended up getting kicked in the face anyway by his father. He settled the score by kicking him back, his flexibility improving everyday. After that, he enjoyed a nice leisurely breakfast with his sisters. He didn't have to put up with his father at the table on account of him having to take a late shower. As always, his father put a little too much effort into his sneak attacks and had neglected to take a shower that morning, spending that time instead on a morning attack. Breakfast was good and he finished in good time. He didn't have to dash to school like he normally did and had a full ten minutes to kill before having to leave. However, he decided to leave anyway, having nothing better to do. Yuzu handed him his lunch and bid him farewell. Karin did the same while getting her things together for school. He arrived early and sat in his seat without a word to anyone. Very few people were there anyway.
As time passed, more people began to flow into the classroom. Tatsuki and Orihime showed up at the same time and stopped their chatter long enough to greet him. Then came Michiru Ogawa and Chizuru Honsho. Chad came in next and sat behind Ichigo with a quiet hello. It wasn't his seat, but until that student showed up, it was his. Uryu came in, looked at Ichigo, adjusted his glasses and walked to the front of the room sitting down in his seat without a word to anyone. That was his way of saying 'good morning'. Then came Mizuiro, texting as usual. But the strange thing was the fact that there was no shouting this morning. No loud 'Ichigooooo!' like he usually heard early in the morning. Looking around, Ichigo realized that Keigo wasn't with Mizuiro. Strange. Was he running late this morning?
A few minutes later their teacher, Misato Ochi, came in. Everyone went to their seats and she read off the students names one by one. When she got to Keigo's name, there was no answer. She called a second time and got no response. Students looked around in confusion. Mizuiro looked worried. Keigo usually didn't miss class, as much as he hated school. Ichigo was curious, too, but thought little of it. He might have been sick this morning. No big deal. It didn't strike him as anything that needed looking into.
Class started nonetheless. At 9:20, the door opened. There were footsteps getting closer to his seat. Ichigo looked up from his notes. Keigo was standing beside him. "Hm?"
Keigo said nothing.
"Ah, good, you're here," the teacher said happily. "Please take your seat and copy the notes. You're late, as I'm sure you're aware."
He paid her no attention and simply stared down at Ichigo. He wasn't moving.
Ichigo lowered his pencil. This was strange. Was something wrong? He turned in his seat to look at him better. Keigo was looking down at him, his arms at his side. His usual smile wasn't there. His normally expressive face was now dull and blank, vacant of all expression. All he did was stare into Ichigo's brown eyes. Now concerned, Ichigo gave Keigo his full attention.
"Keigo?" the teacher called his name, now a bit worried herself.
Still, he paid her no attention.
Ichigo didn't like how blank Keigo was being. Something was wrong. "Keigo?"
Hearing his name spoken by the student he was staring at resulted in something totally unexpected. Keigo's face twisted into a look of unshakable rage and lashed out, punching Ichigo hard across the face with his right fist. Ichigo cried out in surprise, tumbling out of his seat. Their teacher called out Kiego's name in shock. Once again, he was deaf to her voice. Ichigo shakily got to his feet and turned. Keigo let out a roar and wrapped his hands tightly around Ichigo's neck, slamming him into the window, cracking the glass.
The entire class had spun around to gawk. Orihime and Tatsuki were on their feet. "Keigo, what are you doing?"
He tightened his hold on Ichigo's neck and snarled viciously.
Chad was on his feet and came to Ichigo's side. He wrapped his hands around Keigo's trying to pull him off. "Stop it! You'll kill him."
Keigo's eyes were focused on Ichigo's. "That's the idea." His grip tightened, cutting off what little air Ichigo was getting. "Die!"
"Keigo, stop it!"
"Stop! What are you doing to Ichigo?"
"Knock it off!"
Students were shouting for him to end it, but he wouldn't listen to any of them. He let out a roar and smashed Ichigo's skull into the glass breaking it. He pushed himself into Ichigo causing Ichigo's upper body to fall backwards, leaning out the third story window. Students were now screaming and begging for mercy.
Uryu couldn't stay in his seat any longer and marched to the back of the room, grabbing Keigo's arm while Chad grabbed Ichigo to keep him from falling out the broken window. "That is enough! What's gotten into you?"
"I want him dead! I'll kill him! I hate him!" Keigo tried to force Ichigo out the window, but Chad had a solid hold him his friend. "Die! Die! Die!"
Uryu pulled on Keigo's arm. Normally he wasn't this strong, but blind rage was fueling this unprovoked attack. "Get off him right now! I said stop it! Let him go right now!"
Keigo took one hand off Ichigo's neck to swat at Uryu. "Get away from me! I don't take orders from a damn Quincy!"
That made Uryu loosen his grip in shock. How did Keigo know about Quincies? Moreover, how did he know that Uryu was one?
This moment of stunned shock gave Keigo enough time to return his rage on Ichigo. Chad grabbed Keigo around the neck and pulled him away while he thrashed around. "Let me go! I'll kill him! Let me kill him!" Chad pulled Keigo out into the hallway, Uryu following after them.
Ichigo slumped where he stood, rubbing his neck. He tried to figure out what happened. It all went down so fast with no warning. And since when was Keigo so strong? Ichigo never knew Keigo to have such power. Not that wuss. Ichigo beat him up without even trying on a regular basis; now he needed a team of three well-built teens to hold him back? He gave a quick look around at all the stunned, frightened faces around the room. He took note of Orihime who had her hand up on one of her hairpins, ready to use her power. It almost came to that.
What the hell was that about? What happened? It was all so sudden.
The teacher resumed control of the class and gave them instructions to follow. "Everyone stay here. I'll getting the principal." She ran out of the room as quickly as she could.
Ichigo ran out into the hall, Orihime following him to where the others had Keigo pinned. He was still thrashing around and trying to attack anyone who got close. The moment he saw Ichigo, he pushed Chad's arm aside and leapt to his feet, charging. Orhime's shield stretched across the hall, blocking his pointless attack. Keigo smashed head-first into the sheild, hard, and toppled over. Her shield vanished and she crouched on the ground beside him.
"I didn't hurt him too bad, did I?"
Uryu took Keigo's pulse. "Nah. Just knocked out. His heart rate is up a little, though. Probably from exerting so much rage." He adjusted his glasses and looked up at Ichigo. "What did you do to make him so mad at you?"
"I didn't do anything!" He really didn't. Nothing negative came to mind that would provoke an attack. "He just attacked me for no reason!"
"He picked you alone out of a crowd, Ichigo. That must mean something."
"But he said 'Quincy'," Chad pointed out. "How does he know about that?"
"Good point." Ichigo tried to think of a reason for that but nothing came to mind.
Orihime raised her hand in the air. "Oh! What if he was replaced by an alien doppelganger?"
Everyone gave her strange looks. "I doubt it…"
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's the real Keigo. I would have sensed something otherwise," Uryu said confidently.
There was a moan from the floor where Keigo lay. Everyone jumped back ready for round two. He turned his head from left to right slowly. "… Is this… the school..?" He put a hand to his head, as if in great pain. "Ow..! It hurts..! What happened?"
Orihime approached him, Uryu sticking close behind her, ready to protect her if things took a turn for the worst. "Are you ok?"
He tried to sit up but couldn't find the strength to do so. "I… Guess so. I don't understand what's going on. Why am I on the floor?"
Still expecting to be attacked in the back of his mind, Ichigo approached, peering down at Keigo. "You hit your head." Which was true.
"Oh." He struggled up with Orhime's help. "I don't remember much… I sort of remember coming to school but… I must have been in a daze. My head's still spinning. How'd I hit my head again?"
"Keigo." Uryu came closer. "Do you remember going into the classroom at all?"
He shook his head. "No. I- I really don't. I mean, I thought I did… I mean, I thought that… but I…" He shook his head even harder. "I don't know! I really don't. I'm so confused. I don't understand what happened or what's going on."
Ichigo exchanged looks with the others. Keigo had no idea what he was doing at the time. He must not have been in control of his actions.
At that time, their teacher had arrived with the principal and another teacher. "There he is. I don't know what happened. He just went crazy and attacked…"
Orihime got up and tried to explain. "No, no, it's ok now. Everything's fine! It's all under control. Keigo's ok. Really!"
"Please step aside. According to what your teacher said, he attacked another student and even attempted to murder them. We've already called the police."
"What? No! You can't! He-"
Uryu tried his luck. "You see, sir… Um, Keigo here, he just, uh… He's actions were not his own. He was… hallucinating. He had no idea where he was. He's calmed down now. He doesn't even remember what he did."
"He could be lying to escape punishment. He's looking at expulsion for this."
"You're going to expel him?"
This wasn't good. Keigo truly had no idea what was happening. They still had so much more to find out. Knowing what Quincies were alone and that Uryu was one was enough of a reason to look further into this. Clearly Keigo was not at fault. Was someone pulling the strings? What was going on? They needed answers.
"Please reconsider, sir. He didn't mean it. Honestly!"
Keigo looked around confused. "What's going on? What are they talking about?"
Keigo tried to stand up. The moment he was on his feet and tried straightening his legs, they gave out. He tried to remain standing but ended up staggering sideways into the wall and slumping down.
Seeing this, the third teacher who was with them came over. She put a hand to his forehead. "He feels a little warm and his pulse is pretty fast. You mentioned hallucinations?"
"Maybe someone slipped him something..?"
The principal looked from Keigo to the floor, thinking. "Hmm… I suppose if that's the case…" He made a decision. "Very well. I will hold off on expelling him until we know for sure. Until then, we'll have him checked out. Bring him to the nurse and we'll call his parents."
"What about the police?"
"We'll deal with that matter when they come." The principal pointed at Chad. "You, please help him down stairs seeing how he can't walk a straight line."
Chad nodded and carried Keigo over his shoulder, following the teachers. Keigo looked around nervously. He still didn't seem aware of what was happening. He looked back at Ichigo and reached out for him. "W- wait… Ichigo…"
He trotted over. "Yeah?" Chad didn't stop walking, forcing Ichigo to follow.
Keigo pointed. "Over there. What are they looking at?"
Ichigo turned. The students were all looking out into the hall, curious. "Oh. Um…"
Keigo didn't wait for an answer before asking him something else. "Ichigo… Did the science teacher come in today? He asked me to deliver something to his room yesterday."
"I don't know anything about that." He had no idea what Keigo was talking about.
"Oh. I see." He looked away. "Hey… how did I get here anyway?"
His mind really was jumbled up.
Something must have really been wrong with him.
He watched as Chad went down the stairs, following the others to the nurse's office. Ichigo turned back to his friends.
"What did he say, Ichigo?" Orihime asked.
"Some weird stuff." He scratched the back of his head. "He asked about the science teacher. Said something about a delivery…"
"Oh, that." Uryu knew the answer to that. "He was asked to do one of the teachers a favor. He went on a trip last week and brought back some things for his collection. One of them was a rock he had never seen before and had something to do at the moment so he asked Keigo to put it in his classroom for him."
"How do you know all this?"
"I saw it happen. I was there. I saw Keigo take the rock out of the box and carry it to the classroom. The teacher was busy, distracted by something and couldn't do it. It was at the end of the day yesterday." He adjusted his glasses again. "Why would he bring that up?"
"Who knows? He asked me how he got here in the next sentence."
Orihime looked worried. "I hope I didn't hit him that hard."
"Nah. Something might be really wrong with him." He looked at Ichigo. "Well."
"Usually when things start to get weird, we go visit the Urahara shop and get answers."
Ichigo sighed. "Is this really worth bothering him about? You sure he'll have the answer?"
He shrugged. "Well, he knew what a Quincy was and used the term properly. He also picked you out in a large group and wanted you dead. I think this might fall into something he'd know about. After school we should really go and bring it up to him."
"I agree with Uryu," said Orihime. "We should at least ask. There's no harm in that, right?"
After school all three went to the Urahara shop and asked the shopkeeper a few questions. They told him what happened and how Keigo was behaving.
Kisuke nodded slowly. "So he just started behaving strangely this morning? Very interesting."
"Do you know what's wrong with him?"
He shook his head. "There's too little to go on. I'll need more information. But you were right to get a hold of me. This sounds like something related to the Soul Society. But you said he wanted Ichigo dead?"
"That's what he said. Why him?"
"Again, I'll need more information. There's no way to know for sure until then." He sat back with a slightly amused smile. "Very interesting, though…"
"Are you enjoying this?" Ichigo asked angrily.
"No, no. Not really."
The door opened and in came Chad. "Thought I'd find you here."
"Oh, Chad!" Orihime moved over so he'd have a place to sit. "How did things go at the school?"
He sighed. "They're not going to expel him yet."
"That's good. How is he doing?"
"That's the bad news. He's mind is very mixed up. He had no idea where he was half the time. They ran a few tests on him. The nurse said it might be drugs, but he would have to get checked at a hospital to know for sure. He has a slight fever and his pulse is still high, even when he's calm. They decided to send him home."
"Did anything weird happen while you were with him?" Kisuke asked.
"Yeah." Chad recalled what happened. "He got hostile toward the end. He grabbed my arm and asked where the Soul Reaper was."
"Soul Reaper, huh?" Kisuke looked at Ichigo. "We may have a problem after all. Go on, Chad."
"He grabbed me and then he tried to start a fight with me. Called me a few names. Then as quickly as it happened, it stopped. He laid back down and couldn't remember a thing."
"Do you think something's controlling his mind?" Orihime asked, worried.
"Eh… Could be." Kisuke fanned himself for a moment, giving it a little thought. "But you mentioned something about a stone he touched?"
"That's nothing. He was just asked to bring something to the classroom for a teacher. I'm sure it has nothing to do with this," Uryu told him.
"Yes, but he didn't start acting up until after he touched it, correct?"
"Well… yes." He looked at the table. "But overnight… from a rock? Is such a thing really possible? It seems a little farfetched to me."
"Maybe it is. Maybe it is nothing to worry about. A rock might just be a rock and nothing more. Still, it's something to go on. Which is better than nothing at all." Kisuke folded his fan and tucked it away. "Tell you what? I'll see if I can keep an eye on Keigo and let you know if anything comes up. Leave it to me. You have nothing to worry about. Ok?"
Ichigo knew he was up to something but wasn't sure what. Still, things had a habit of working out for the best whenever he said to leave it in his care so he wasn't too concerned. Orihime seemed most concerned out of all of them. Uryu reassured her and bid Kisuke farewell. Ichigo did the same and left the shop with his friends.
Once the teenagers were gone, Tessai came in to see his boss. "Sir, what are you thinking?"
"I'm a little concerned." He stood up looking out the window. "This isn't good."
"Do you really think a simple rock is the cause of it?"
"No." Kisuke turned around. "But it's something to blame this on at least."
Tessai wandered further into the room. "They didn't mention the Hollows either, have they? Do you think they noticed?"
He shrugged. "Uryu would be the first out of all of them to notice a change. However, I don't think that's on his mind at the moment." Kisuke crossed the room and opened up a drawer to a small desk in the corner by the phone. He skimmed through a few things before finding what he needed.
"Sir?" Tessai approached him from behind. "What are you doing?"
"We may need some help on this one. I have a bad feeling about this."
"So you're calling them, are you?"
He chuckled in his throat. "You sound like you already know." He opened a small pink book which had a floral bookmark stuck between two pages. Smiling softly, he took the phone off the hook and balanced it between his shoulder and chin. "But my gut's telling me to do it. We're going to need some help on this one."
"And knowing them, they'll make it in record time." He dialed the number.
The big city was nothing more than a concrete jungle. Buildings towered over its inhabitants without a care, providing surprisingly little shade. No matter what day of the week it was, it was nonstop bustle. Everyone had to get where they were going in a hurry. Taxis raced by honking their horns and taking sharp turns. The thick air smelled of exhaust and vender foods. This was normal life for the people who lived here. Things were never normal.
No one knew that truth better than one little girl sitting on a newspaper stand on the sidewalk playing with her new bag. It was a gift from a friend who lived on her street. It wasn't her birthday, but was just a friendly gift that had to be given. She adored it. The buckle was anything but ordinary. It was in the playful shape of a flower and stretched across the pink floral printed shoulder bag so perfectly. The girl had saved up all the money she had found on the street and during other outings with her loved ones. The total was just shy of ten dollars. It was all in coins which jingled whimsically in her bag. They were all together in a small baggie rolling loosely inside the bag.
She kicked her legs restlessly and looked around. The hotdog vender was making her hungry. Lunch would be soon. Her family promised to get her something to eat in the city. They were running a few errands today. It was easier to do on a weekday rather than a weekend when all the crowds came out. Their first stop was to the bank to withdraw some money and move some things around. She didn't fully understand the concept, but didn't care. They had to make payments on bills and a few other things. She was given a clean bill of health from her doctor the other day but still needed to go places and file a few different things. It was boring but she didn't mind. At least she got to walk around and look at things when they weren't inside a building, sitting in a waiting room. That she hated. That was really boring.
She tossed her bag into the air, keeping the strap around her arm and caught it on its way down. She tossed it again, catching it in her lap. She liked the feeling and did it again. She spun the bag around like a helicopter. It was light enough, but the coins inside weighted it down a little, tugging at her arm as it swung upward. She looked over at her guardian and smiled. His back was to her, talking with a woman in the window. They were finishing up. It wouldn't be long now. Where should they go to eat? Some place good. She stopped swinging the bag and let it sit in her lap, letting people pass by without having to duck from the handbag. She clicked her heeled shoes together, looking at the dirt lining the bottoms from all her walking and play. They weren't terribly worn, but new ones would look a lot better and shinier.
A man passed her by while she was looking the other way and snatched her bag. Feeling a sharp pull, she tugged back. "Ah!" The strap still around her arm, she was pulled off her perch and fell to the ground. The man pulled hard at her bag, dragging her for a short distance before her hand was freed and took off running the other way, bag in hand. "No! Give that back!"
The man kept running and no one bothered to stop him.
She called out the name of someone who could. "Victor!"
The man at the window turned and saw her on the ground, pointing.
He followed her finger to the man now a block away and still running. She wanted him stopped. Discarding his current business with the woman, he took off in a run, weaving through the crowd and then vanishing. A block away, the thief looked over his shoulder to see if anyone was following. When he looked forward again all he saw was an arm covered in white catching him in the face and sending him into the sidewalk. He clutched his prize to his chest with one hand, the other massaging his nose. The man above him bent down and picked up the bag by its strap. The thief fought back. "No! Get off!"
Victor pulled harder. "Come now. You'll have to let go before it rips. She wouldn't appreciate that. Not her newest gift."
The man was on his feet and pulled something out of his jacket. The tip of a three inch blade cut into Victor's stomach. Even with a knife in his abdomen, he did not flinch. He merely looked down at it and then at the man.
"That wasn't very nice. Or wise."
Frightened, the man pulled back. He saw no blood. Looking back up, he saw the tall man's blue eyes only for a second before he found himself eye to eye with a bird high above the earth. He landed back on the sidewalk at the other man's feet with several broken bones and teeth. The man known as Victor bent down a second time and relieved the man of the shoulder bag belonging to his mistress and walked off.
The young girl felt herself leave the hard ground and into the arms of someone very familiar. A tall muscular man was brushing her off and checking her over for injuries. The dark brown hair on his head fell from their mold as a breeze blew the opposite way, his bowed head still looking her over. Then he set her on the ground and asked her, "Are you hurt?"
"No, I'm ok, Cedric."
A man in a white suit walked up beside her and handed the girl her beloved bag. "There you go, sweetie. Sorry about all that." He looked at the other man. "Cedric. Are you finished with your chores? I thought you would have been halfway across town by now."
"I finished a few minutes ago and came to find you. Have you finished yours?"
"Ah." The man turned around. "In just a moment." He went back to the window and finished his business with the woman behind the window.
Cedric reached down and took the girl's hand. "We'll eat soon. Are you hungry?"
"Yup." She looked back at the tall slender man in the suit. "All done, Victor?"
He patted her head. "I am now, sweetie. Let's get you something to eat, ok?"
She nodded happily and led the way.
"Try to hold onto your purse better and not toss it around so easily, Linnette."
Again! Again! You know what this means, don't ya?
... More Hichigo! Yay! Hollow Ichigo's a-coming!
Please review! ^-^