Red Sun Falling, Black Sun Rising.
Hello and welcome to my second fic.
The Winter War has ended with the death of Aizen. The soul reapers and their allies are overjoyed with the exception of two individuals. Ichigo has lost that which made him human and Yamamoto feels his age for the first time. Both have something the other could make use of.
At the moment I'm deciding between Rukia and Sui-Feng for Ichigo, who knows maybe I'll do both. Also a special pairing will be revealed later, well not really special but at least in terms of this fic it will be.
Disclaimer: All characters are property of the respective creators.
Chapter 1: The Sorrow of Two Souls.
It was the dawn of a new age for the soul reapers. The Winter War was over; Aizen was defeated by the substitute soul reaper Ichigo Kurosaki, who had gained tremendous power in order to battle evenly with the man who would be god. The effects of said battle were felt across the dimensions as two titans of unfathomable power fought with the sole intent of destroying one another. When the standing forces of the Gotei 13 and its allies had arrived on the battlefield, it was to find enough blood to paint the town red, mountains had been reduced to dust; the ground itself was filled with numerous smoking craters that resembled dried up lakes. They found the substitute standing tall over his opponent hideous gashes marring his young body. His opponent was less lucky though as Ichigo had unleashed the full fury of his soul on the madman. The Hogyoku's current status was unknown as both the Captain Commander and Ichigo remained tight lipped on its location.
Miraculously the soul reapers had suffered no losses, only grievous injuries to some individuals. In the aftermath though, such horrific wounds were healed by the duo of Captain Retsu Unohana and the spiritually gifted human Orihime Inoue. After a week of clean-up and mourning, the soul reapers at last had time to celebrate their victory. An event organised by the Soul Reaper Women's Association (SWA) had led to an evening of mirth and content for those individuals that attended. The holdouts were Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the Winter War himself and Captain Commander Yamamoto. The Captain Commander watched in frustration as his remaining arm shook uncontrollably and he felt a wave of exhaustion threaten to make him pass out for the first time ever. Standing from his desk he made his way slowly to the main senkaimon, intent on making the trip to Karakura while he could.
Ichigo Kurosaki was currently standing with his mentors Kisuke Urahara and Yoruichi Shihoin in the back room of the Urahara shop, a grim expression on his face as he stood before his body. Recalling how humans could not maintain their form within Aizen's presence, there was a fear as to how his body would react to containing his soul form. As he took a breath to steady himself, Ichigo attempted to phase into his body as he had done countless times before. What hadn't happened before though was the minute that Ichigo came in contact with his body; it had begun to dissipate before his very eyes, turning to dust. He fell to his knees as the realisation struck home that he could no longer interact safely with any human being in the real world. There hadn't seemed to be a problem since he had been able to carry his father with him and not kill the man and his friends did not fade away at his presence. Yet here and now the first human body he came in contact with and it had faded away.
Urahara's expression was grim as he watched the young teenager before him while Yoruichi was saddened at the fate of the boy, who she considered a son and favourite pupil. It was simply not fair that his reward for saving the world was to be forced to abandon the life he sought to protect.
"Ichigo," Yoruichi said as she reached down to grip his shoulder. When he didn't respond, she looked desperately at her lover and friend for any hope that he might be able to help.
Looking her in the eye, Kisuke shook his head as he knew that no gigai he could create would be able to contain Ichigo's wild power if his own body could not. Sighing to himself, he walked up to the boy's other shoulder and clasped it as well, knowing the best they could do now was at least comfort the boy.
"Sorry Urahara-san, Yoruichi-san, but can you leave me alone for a few minutes. I'll be in the underground training area so I won't be far away," Ichigo said as he stood their hands slipping off his shoulders as he did so. He unbuckled Tensa Zangetsu from his hip where it had stayed permanently since the battle, unable to be sealed again and placed it down on the table as he descended the ladder. A minute later they heard the sound of crumbling rock as Ichigo released his rage upon the environment.
"We'll need to tell Isshin about this, we can't afford to tell the rest of them though. Whilst they do have extraordinary powers of their own we don't know how his power will react to their bodies," Yoruichi said as she looked at Kisuke.
Nodding his head Kisuke turned to head to the phone, but was interrupted by the presence of a senkaimon materialising in front of his shop. Sighing to himself he put the call on hold, knowing it was more important now to delay whoever had come from Soul Society to see Ichigo, considering the state he was in right now. Yoruichi joined him as they awaited their visitor. Hearing a knock on the door of the shop was a surprise to Kisuke, for most soul reapers would just enter the shop. Walking forward he realised why now as he opened the door to find the Captain Commander stood before him.
"Good Evening Kisuke, I require an audience with young Kurosaki, who I was told was here," Yamamoto said as he cracked a single eye open to look at the former captain.
Kisuke fidgeted now, while he could easily waylay any of the other captains or soul reapers, withholding the truth from the Captain Commander was hardly a smart decision. He just nodded and led the way to the dining area where he found Yoruichi waiting with three cups of tea already set out as a distraction. She too was floored at who had come to visit, but hid her shock behind a mask of indifference.
Seating himself slowly, Yamamoto placed his cane next to him as he reached for the tea to soothe his dry throat. After taking a sip and finding it agreeable, he savoured it slowly. Setting the cup down he turned to the two in front of him, "As appreciative as I am of your hospitality, I must insist that I see the young Kurosaki now," he said in a tone that allowed for no refusal.
Shooting a look of unease at Yoruichi, Kisuke spoke hoping to at least delay Yamamoto as much as possible, "Ah we'll get him as soon as possible, just you must understand that he is currently in a unstable state at the moment and isn't the best conversationalist."
Peering at Urahara under bushy eyebrows, Yamamoto could discern that there was something bothering the young substitute that warranted the former captain to risk his neck with delaying tactics. Feeling the tremors return, Yamamoto placed his hand under the table content to wait for now. "Very well Kisuke, but I must stress that I require the audience with him as it is of dire importance."
Yoruichi narrowed her eyes as he said this. This entire situation screamed urgent and demanded care. Why else would the Captain Commander come alone just after a victory, while the rest of the soul reapers from what she heard were celebrating? Rising she made her way to the underground training area to see if Ichigo could handle one visitor.
Watching as Yoruichi walked off, Kisuke turned to the aged captain saying, "It seems she's gone to try and coax him up here, more tea perhaps?" Urahara offered as he gestured to the teapot.
Meanwhile in the underground training area Ichigo was tearing apart anything that he could get his hands on. A punch here, a kick there and the landscape was blown away by his power. As he knelt on his haunches he began to weep, cursing the whims of fate.
"There is always a price to pay for such power Ichigo," Tensa Zangetsu spoke materialising before Ichigo. He was still in his merged form that Ichigo had fought while in the Precipice world, now though it seemed that while still saddened at the fate of his wielder, he was in joy at still being able to exist to protect him.
Looking into his zanpakuto spirit's eyes he continued to weep before saying, "I do not regret gaining this power Zangetsu, but why must I always be the one to bear the weight of the world on my shoulders."
Sitting next to him Tensa Zangetsu thought for a moment before saying, "Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing Ichigo."
Ichigo laughed at that, "You just quoted Optimus Prime, should I be getting worried now?"
Tensa Zangetsu just smiled, "Maybe, you can't deny that it was a good line though."
Sighing Ichigo just knelt in quiet contemplation, "Thanks Zangetsu, I think it should have stopped raining by now."
Nodding his zanpakuto spirit disappeared back into his inner world.
As Yoruichi descended the ladder she was met with the sounds of earth cracking in the distance. Following the trail of destruction she beheld the ground cracked and splintered while what clearly were small mountains were now just piles of rubble littered across the area. She found the substitute on his knees once again.
"Ichigo," she called as she approached him.
Standing back up he rubbed the evidence of tears away with the back of his hand as he faced Yoruichi. "What is it Yoruichi? I thought I asked you for a few minutes alone," Ichigo said as he looked at her.
"Sorry Ichigo, but there's someone here, who won't take no for an answer," Yoruichi said as she turned to head back up.
Puzzled as to who would be here to see him, that Kisuke and Yoruichi could not turn away; Ichigo followed her up the ladder and into the dining area. Seated at the table he found Yamamoto sipping on a cup of tea. He was unable to mask his shock as the Captain Commander himself was here to see him.
As Ichigo entered the room, Yamamoto carefully examined him to discern what he could of the youth's mood. He saw that Ichigo's hands were covered in dust and that there was a layer of sweat beading his body. The look in his eyes though, told the aged captain so much more. They were not the eyes of someone coming home to rest, but rather one who had their entire world torn from them.
"Not to be rude Jii-san, but why are you here and what do you want with me?" Ichigo said as he took a seat at the table.
Ignoring the lack of formalities from the young substitute Yamamoto spoke, "I fear that I bring only more bad news to you Kurosaki, for correct me if I am wrong, but you were taking out your frustrations out on the landscape below us?" Yamamoto kept a single eye open as he watched Ichigo.
Feeling like a child that had just been told off for throwing a tantrum and destroying other people's property Ichigo shifted uncomfortably. "I'm sorry Jii-san, it's just been a rough day that's all," Ichigo said as he rubbed the back of his neck.
"I see, please tell me about it, for the news I bring might need to wait depending on your tale," Yamamoto said as he stroked his beard.
Sighing, Ichigo began his tale, "About 10 minutes ago I tried to return to my body, I say try because on coming into contact with my soul form it turned to dust. While we knew that Aizen had turned people to dust by coming in contact with them, we assumed that there would be no problem with me since I was able to carry my father without harming him and my friends could stand in my presence. Needless to say our thoughts were wrong and unless I am very much mistaken Urahara-san cannot make a gigai that would be able to contain such chaotic energy. In short as of 10 minutes ago I found out that I became a danger to all those here in the Living World I wished to protect."
Yamamoto bowed his head as he heard this news. While the brash young man was indeed a loose cannon and a headache for him at times, the price that the young man had paid for his participation in the war was too high. Another sign that times needed to change to prevent such things from occurring again.
Yamamoto spoke his head still bowed down, "My apologies to you then Ichigo Kurosaki for the pain you are going through now, of which we the Gotei 13, are partially responsible for. I am afraid though that you and Kisuke and Yoruichi are going to be the first to hear even more bad news, it seems that we may suffer one casualty from Winter War after all."
Ichigo was shocked at this news, he had heard that everyone was healed from their injuries and that no one was impaired from the war. To hear now that there was someone that was affected struck him like a freight train. Looking at Yoruichi and Kisuke, he saw similar looks of shock on their faces. Gathering his resolve Ichigo asked the question on their minds, "Who is it?"
Turning to look at the young substitute, Yamamoto opened both his eyes as he spoke, "I speak of myself young Kurosaki."
If possible Ichigo felt even more shocked now, to hear that the strongest soul reaper he knew other than himself was going to be a casualty of a war that was over. Kisuke had taken off his hat as he heard the news of the aged captain's fate, the pinnacle of the current roster of soul reapers. Yoruichi had her mouth open agape as she continued to stare at the old man, words and thoughts failed her.
"What do you mean Jii-san," Ichigo asked hoping and praying that he was indeed dreaming right now and that this was a nightmare, his body fading away and the Captain Commander telling them of his impairment.
"I mean that my powers are slipping young Kurosaki," Yamamoto said as he brought up his quivering limb. The effects of the sacrificial kido as well as the toll on my body from my own attack, has left me frail and allowed my age to catch up with me. I fear that the time for me to retire has arrived at a time no one could have foreseen." Reaching for his tea once more, Yamamoto took a sip relishing the simple pleasure it provided.
"I am sorry as well Jii-san, but why are you telling me all this?" Ichigo asked as he was confused why the Captain Commander had wanted to tell him of all people.
"To understand young Kurosaki, I need to tell you a little bit more about myself," Yamamoto said as his voice dropped low. "As you know I founded both the Soul Reaper Academy, where I served as a teacher for several decades, and the Gotei 13, of which I have been the Captain Commander of for the last thousand years. What is less known is that I am also the current head of the Yamamoto clan, one of the Four Great Noble families. My impairment thus means that I need to find a replacement both for the rank of Captain Commander and as Head of the Yamamoto clan. While many would argue that of the current captains, Jushiro Ukitake, Shunsui Kyoraku and Retsu Unohana replace me as Captain Commander, none of them are viable options. Unohana has never wanted to be more than captain of the medical division and I cannot bring it upon myself to force her into that role. Ukitake's health has always been poor and the stress of the position would complicate his illness. Kyoraku would not be suitable purely because while he is a great fighter and leader, he has no ambition or discipline for the rank. And of them, none of them would be able to replace me as Head of the Yamamoto clan, nor do I have any sons or daughters to fulfil that role."
"I see, what is it then you came here to talk to me about?" Ichigo asked as he tried to see the old man's plan.
Placing his cane across his lap, Yamamoto took a deep slow breath before he continued, "I have come to ask you the greatest favour I could ever ask Ichigo Kurosaki. I would like to adopt you into the Yamamoto clan as my grandson and also to name you as my replacement as Captain Commander of the Gotei 13 and Head of the Yamamoto clan.
Kisuke's jaw dropped and Yoruichi felt faint at Yamamoto's declaration. Strangely though Ichigo did not freak out or start shouting at the old man. Instead he seemed to be quietly pondering the situation before him. As he weighed the pros and cons from his side he voiced the one question nagging his mind about the whole situation, "Why me Jii-san?"
Clearly expecting this question Yamamoto began, "For one you possess the strength necessary to hold the position. While the other captains are indeed strong, none of them have the sheer power that can make other captains sweat in fear or lieutenants pass out from their presence alone. I am not saying that you need to make others fear you, but the position demands that a certain level of respect enter people's minds at the sight of you. Another reason is that you have proven yourself loyal to the Soul Society several times; you are also popular in the Rukongai as well as Seireitei which would help the Gotei 13 greatly to restore some of its image. The main reason though is that I feel that we have fallen behind the times with the Living World, the rigid rules have hampered our ability to grow and adapt to the changing world and allowed a monster like Aizen to be born from it."
"What about my lack of skill in areas such as leadership, kido, hakuda and even hoho?" Ichigo asked hoping to get everything out of the way.
"Yes despite that, you would still be the best candidate. I do not plan to promote within the week Kurosaki, nor do I plan on throwing you into the leadership role of the Gotei 13 without help. It is for that reason that should you accept my offer, then I will be your teacher before you are promoted and your advisor once you are. I will admit the prospect of no longer having to bear the mantle of both positions is a great joy to my heart, diminished only by the fact that I am laying it on your shoulders."
Ichigo slipped into a peaceful silence as he considered everything he had been told. It could not be denied that with his human life over and in fact his being here now was a danger to all those he cared for in the Living World, the only logical step was to leave for Soul Society. And despite his grumbling about it, he was fond of the life of a soul reaper at least the bits he had experienced of it. Then there was the fact that Yamamoto was basically asking him to reform the Soul Society a task that was long overdue in his mind. The idea of him being Captain Commander though, more so the Head of a noble family was disconcerting, he knew of the lives of nobles being friends with several, most notably Rukia.
Sighing to himself one last time, Ichigo looked at Kisuke, "Urahara-san, could you please contact my father and ask him to come here. Do not tell him what it is about and make sure he comes alone," Ichigo said.
Nodding his understanding Kisuke stood and walked to the phone, leaving Ichigo in his thoughts, Yamamoto with his eyes closed as if sleeping and Yoruichi gaping like a fish as she looked from Yamamoto to Ichigo and back.
Ringing the Kurosaki home, he didn't have to wait long for it to be answered by Isshin. "Kurosaki household, Isshin speaking, how can I help you?" Isshin spoke over the line.
"Isshin its Kisuke, I need you to come over to the shop as quickly as possible. And do not bring the girls, it's urgent," Kisuke said.
"What's going on Kisuke?" Isshin asked slightly worried at the tone of Kisuke's voice.
"I'll explain it once you get here," Kisuke said as he said goodbye and hung up the phone.
Five minutes later a slightly panting Isshin walked into the Urahara shop to find Kisuke, Yoruichi, Ichigo and Yamamoto still seated around the dining room table.
"Welcome dad, take a seat and I'll tell you why I called for you to come," Ichigo said as he gestured for his father to sit. He then began to tell him of what had happened to his body and the possible repercussions of it and also the state of the Captain Commander. "It is due to all these circumstances that I have decided to accept Commander Yamamoto's offer," Ichigo said as he finished.
It was understandable that Isshin was completely floored by the news of his son and the Captain Commander, when he looked at Kisuke and Yoruichi to see if this was just a cruel joke he found nothing but shock and sadness in their eyes.
Turning to face his son Isshin spoke quietly, "Ichigo are you sure this is what you want? Wouldn't it be best to let Urahara at least try to see what he could do to help you?"
Shaking his head Ichigo said, "We've been over this dad, sure Urahara might make a breakthrough several years from now, but by then it will have been too late. By all means then I can use it to at least visit everyone here in the Living World, but what am I supposed to do till then. No, this is for the best both for me and the Soul Society."
Looking to Urahara for confirmation, Isshin sighed as his friend nodded his head in agreement with Ichigo, looking into his son's eyes he found nothing but the ruthless determination that had allowed him to plough through any and all obstacles placed in his path. "Well if you're sure, then I wish you the best of luck," Isshin said with resignation. "What will I tell everyone about where you've gone?"
Ichigo thought for a moment, "Tell them only that I have left for now, you can tell them about my body being destroyed, but do not tell them of my choice. When the time comes I will speak to them myself. Now that this is all decided, Jii-san what do you need me to do?"
Rising to his feet with support from his cane Yamamoto gestured for Ichigo to do the same, "First we will meet with the other elders of the Yamamoto clan; there are papers to sign and arguments to quash. Then we will call a captains meeting tomorrow to announce my retirement and your succession."
Nodding Ichigo followed the old man out to the front of the shop, Isshin, Kisuke and Yoruichi following behind.
As the old man opened the senkaimon Yoruichi started laughing. Pausing in their departure both Yamamoto and Ichigo looked at her confused. Gathering herself she smiled and said, "Sorry I was just thinking about how Byakuya's going to react to the news of you being higher ranked than him both in rank and nobility."
Ichigo smirked at that. "He'll take it about as well as Yachiru's tunnelling through his estate," Ichigo said as he entered the senkaimon after Yamamoto, waving to them as he walked off.
As the gate closed Kisuke turned to his friends, "The Seireitei is going to have one hell of a wakeup call tomorrow morning don't you think? What's worse is I think a fair few of them will be hung-over from tonight's celebrations." Turning to look at Yoruichi dead in the eye, "I don't suppose you feel up to recording their reactions to the news do you Yoruichi?" he said with a familiar twinkle in his eye.
"Heh, after the night I've had I could use some entertainment to cheer me up," Yoruichi said as she walked back into the shop.
Saying farewell to Kisuke, Isshin began to walk home slowly, wondering how on earth he was supposed to break the news to his daughters.
As the new day began it found many soul reapers clutching their heads in pain or grimacing slightly. The notable exceptions were Captains Unohana, Komamura, Kyoraku and Kenpachi as well as Lieutenant Matsumoto. The captains and lieutenants grimaced even more when they were summoned to the captain's meeting hall at midday.
Rukia Kuchiki fidgeted with the Lieutenant's armband for the Thirteenth Division on her upper arm. During the week of healing she had expected to be punished for her and Renji's involvement in the invasion of Hueco Mundo. She was therefore shocked when she was honoured for her bravery and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Walking now alongside her captain she felt some apprehension return after she hadn't seen Ichigo at the party last night. While Orihime, Chad and Uryu had attended, they too were puzzled to find Ichigo, their unofficial captain, not there. When she had asked Renji and the others they also said that they didn't know where he was at the moment. The problem with his power as it was now was that he couldn't be sensed by his reiatsu thus removing the one sure way of tracking him down. She was struck from her thoughts by her captain speaking to her.
"Seems strange to have a captain's meeting so soon after the war, don't you think Rukia?" Ukitake said as they walked along the passageways of the first division. "More so if the lieutenants are to be briefed at the same time as well, the news must be incredibly important."
"Yes captain," Rukia said in the most formal voice she could manage.
Pausing in his stride Ukitake looked down at her and said, "Come now Rukia, you're my lieutenant now, there's no need for such stiff formalities now. Just relax." He continued off to the meeting hall, Rukia hurrying after him to catch up.
As they entered the meeting hall it was to find that they were the last, apart from Captain Commander Yamamoto and his lieutenant, to arrive. Walking up to their place in line, Rukia watched as Ukitake took his place next to Kenpachi and she stood behind him like the other lieutenants. She could see Momo fidget as she stood behind the empty spot of the Fifth Division while Kira and Hisagi stood behind the Third and Ninth Divisions respectively. She sent Momo what she hoped was a reassuring smile and watched as Momo seemed to calm down slightly.
As the time signalled midday the doors opened once more and in walked Captain Commander Yamamoto, his lieutenant and a tall stranger cloaked in a midnight blue cloak that had a hood to cover the wearers face. There were several gasps as the soul reapers recognised the insignia on the back of the cloak, as the stranger walked in to stand to the right of Yamamoto, for it was the symbol borne by the Scion of House Yamamoto. Rukia like many others felt their breath stolen from them at just the mere presence of the person.
Seating himself, Yamamoto banged his cane into the ground signalling the start of the meeting. There were some groans as the sound echoed inside the heads of the hung-over.
Noting the reaction Yamamoto growled slightly releasing a bit of his reiatsu to silence their protests. Once quiet reigned he began, "I will now begin this meeting of the captains and lieutenants. It is with great regret that I inform you that I will soon be retiring from the role of Captain Commander of the Gotei 13."
All the standing captains and lieutenants were wide eyed and shocked at the news. A feeling of dread ran down the spines of Unohana, Ukitake and Kyoraku as they wondered which of them were being expected to step into his role. A fact reinforced as many of the lieutenants looked to the three.
"Forgive me sensei, but why now so soon after the war?" Ukitake said as he stood out from the line.
Seeing the look of dread on his senior captain's faces, Yamamoto sighed. "It is due to complications arising from the sacrificial kido as well as the consequences of my zanpakuto's ability on my own body."
Those who were present at the battle recalled the toll both abilities had taken on the commander's body leaving it charred and broken.
"It is thus that I must appoint my successor, for the rank of Captain Commander and also the new head of the Yamamoto clan."
The three senior captains felt their backs stiffen while the rest understood now why the cloaked stranger was among them now.
"After great deliberation I have decided that the position of Captain Commander and Head of the Yamamoto go to the man next to me, the new Scion of the Yamamoto clan," Yamamoto said as he gestured at the man.
A feeling of relief spread across Unohana, Ukitake and Kyoraku as they were glad that they were not being called to replace him. Now though everyone's curiosity was placed upon the cloaked stranger who had yet to remove his hood or speak during the meeting.
"Who then is this man Captain Commander Yamamoto," Byakuya spoke, asking the question on everyone's mind.
The hooded figure looked to Yamamoto for confirmation and Yamamoto nodded. Drawing back his hood, all of the soul reapers felt their jaws hit the floor at the person that stood before them, his orange hair falling to cover his eyes slightly, standing tall and his eyes hard as he took in their expressions.
Clearing his throat Yamamoto spoke, "Allow me to introduce our new Captain Commander and Head of the Yamamoto clan, Ichigo Yamamoto."
And that's chapter one finished. This is a project that came to me while I was thinking of ideas for my other fic and I decided to put it on paper before it escaped me. I was looking through other stories and it occurred to me that while some fictions do indeed cover Ichigo as a captain I found about 2 or 3 that dealt with him as the Captain Commander. I plan to take this slow as I do not plan to follow the current manga and as such the story needs to be well thought out. I have the first two arcs in my mind so I have an idea of where this will go for now.
Like, love or hate? Let me know through your reviews please.