Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach. If I did, I'd have a publisher that would never stop nagging me for the next chapter (and I'd be getting paid, which would also motivate me).
"Eternal Dragon! Arise and grant the wish of he who summons you! Restore life to the fanfic known as "Still Not Going as Planned"!
Shenron: YOUR WISH IS GRANTED!
Hello, Internet! Guess who's back? Did you miss me? *pelted by thrown lumps of coal* I guess not…
Yes, Chapter 12 is finally here, and Chapter 11 is back up after some edits that I finally got around to. Sorry, everybody. Can't promise you won't have to wait for Chapter 13, but it won't be a year and a half. I refuse to be one of those authors that leave and never come back!
Okay…Review Milestones…(oh dear God, the counting…)
#680: Yandere Shoujo
#690: Cute Kirby
#730: The Dark Eccentric
#740: The Dark Eccentric
#760: The Anguished One
Shinji dug his pinky into his ear. Withdrawing and inspecting the digit, he nodded in satisfaction. "Alright. Could you repeat what you just said?"
"I need you guys to keep an eye on a bunch of Arrancar," Ichigo repeated.
Shinji nodded. "That's what I thought you said." He tapped his chin in thought. "How shall I put this…?"
"How about 'No'?" Lisa offered.
"Hell no?" Kensei suggested.
"Not in a million years?" Love contributed.
"Up yours," Hiyori responded, and threw in a gesture to make sure she got her point across.
Ichigo folded his arms. "Like you guys have anything better to do?"
"We've got lots of stuff we'd rather be doing," Shinji defended. "Reading manga, playing board games, sleeping, watching paint dry…"
"And the chance to grill someone about Aizen's activities has no appeal to you?"
Some of the Vizard looked a little less resolute in their denial.
"You guys are really going to let a chance like this slip away? Just going to sit in your basement with nothing but your hobbies? A bunch of shut-ins? Hiding away from the world?"
"We're not shut-ins…" Rose defended.
Ichigo quirked an eyebrow. "Before we showed up, when was the last time you all actually left for something other than a run to the supermarket or bookstore?"
The Vizard wracked their brains.
"I think it was when we went to see Evangelion 2.0?" Mashiro asked, looking at the others for confirmation.
"That was five and a half years ago," Ichigo stated. "3.0 has been out for a couple of years now."
Hiyori stamped her foot. "That just means we need to get out more! Like hell we're going to spend that time outside babysitting Arrancar!"
"Not without some incentive anyway…" Shinji's lips spread into a gleeful grin. "After all, you are asking us for a favor, Ichigo."
All of the Vizard started to grin as well.
Ichigo suddenly felt very, very nervous.
Ryuuken Ishida did not let his emotions show very often. In his opinion, there was no point in overreacting like a certain ridiculous Shinigami he could mention often did.
Still, one does not often arrive home to find a gaping hole in the front wall of one's house, the garden trashed, and large quantities of water everywhere.
"Explain. Now." Ryuuken struggled to keep his tone and the volume of his voice level. Judging by his son's audible gulp, and the maids busying themselves with cleaning up portions of the mess outside his immediate field of vision, he wasn't succeeding very well.
The visible haze of reishi rising from his body probably didn't help matters.
Several days later, with work on the repairs finally underway, Ryuuken sat in his study, stiff drink in hand, flipping through some medical files, but not really reading them.
He remembered the name from one of his father's stories. One of the one's about how Shinigami and Quincy could work together for the greater good.
Ryuuken still got a bit confused on the moral of that one. Genocide is okay as long as you're working together with someone else you would like to wipe off the map?
The attackers Uryuu had described were definitely Bount though, so clearly they hadn't all been wiped out. Given that they had revealed this fact by breaking his house, he wasn't as relieved that the genocide had failed as he might have been otherwise.
He didn't acknowledge Uryuu's presence immediately. The boy had entered without knocking or even asking permission to come in; he could stand to wait a bit. It might teach him some patience.
After several minutes of silence, broken only by the turning of a page or Ryuuken taking a swig of his drink, Uryuu's patience ran out.
"You still have your powers."
Ryuuken snorted and closed the file folder.
"And? Did you think they had vanished into thin air? Our powers are not so easily lost, much to my dismay."
"You never indicated that you still had them. I assumed they had been lost when Wilhelmina, Sayoko, and the rest lost theirs."
"There was no need for you to know. I abandoned the path of a Quincy long before that event." And he did not want to talk about that at all. Ryuuken met his son's eyes. "We've had this conversation before, Uryuu. Let the dead deal with the dead, and the living with the living. Remember?" Not that his foolish son had taken any of that conversation to heart.
Uryuu pushed his glasses up his nose. "And the two that tore open our front wall? Which do they qualify as? Living or dead?"
Ryuuken sighed. "If I told you not to concern yourself, would you listen?"
Uryuu's glasses flashed. "I'd sooner remove the Sanrei glove."
And they really needed to have a talk about Uryuu's use of that particular tool. What was his father thinking, leaving something like that to a hot-headed young man?
Still, if Uryuu was set on hunting the Bount, it was best he be forewarned.
"The Bount are living. Technically. So I suppose you could make the argument that they are our responsibility." He stood and walked to his bookcase. "Like the Quincy, Bount are humans with spiritual powers." He pulled a thin, worn, leather-bound journal from the shelf. "I am unsure of their origins. The Quincy who encountered them never passed that down, if they ever found out themselves." He passed the journal to Uryuu. "What they did learn is written here."
Uryuu took the book and briefly flipped through it. In it were anecdotes of encounters with the Bount, what was known about their biology, the abilities they possessed, explanations on the nature of their Dolls, and even a short list of notable individuals (some of which were crossed off, which Ryuuken surmised were because they had been killed). He closed the book, likely planning to study it in depth later. "And you won't help me hunt them, I assume?"
"I have responsibilities that require too much of my attention to put them on hold to deal with an issue that will eventually resolve itself," Ryuuken said. "If the Bount are moving, they will draw the attention of Karakura's more dangerous residents. It is not necessary for us to get involved. Assist them or simply give them that information. It is your choice."
Uryuu looked down at the book in his hand then gave a short bow before turning back towards the door. "Thank you... Father."
Ryuuken couldn't help a short chuckle. "At least his exit was more polite than his entrance." He turned back to the bookcase. Something seemed to be missing. Had he taken a book down and forgotten to put it back?
"More soul eaters… Spectacular," Uryuu grumbled as he looked through the old journal. "As if Hollows were not bad enough…" And these ones apparently lacked the distinctive reiatsu the made tracking Hollows so easy. Which explained how they got the drop on him earlier. That was going to make things tricky. But not impossible.
"Check the storeroom tomorrow morning," he mumbled to himself. "There may be something in there I can use. Or maybe Urahara could come up with…" He stopped and slapped himself in the face. "You're thinking of asking the crazy Shinigami scientist for help…" Obviously he needed to get some more sleep. He could plan his hunt in the morning after a good night's sleep.
Maybe this wasn't such a good idea…
Shusuke Amagai gulped audibly as he stared at his possible opponents.
It had all seemed to be going well. He had proven his aptitude in Hakuda, Zanjutsu, Hoho, and Kido. He took an exhausting written exam that tested his knowledge of Soul Society's laws. He even demonstrated his Bankai (only the barebones basics, no need to show off everything it could do). Captains Kyoraku and Unohana had nodded approvingly, while Yamamoto (the murdering son of a bitch!) watched stoically.
Then came the combat proficiency test.
Captain Soifon had been the one to recommend him. Kenpachi was being punished for his unsanctioned battle with the Arrancar, Ichigo Kurosaki. Komamura had been released from the Fourth, but was only cleared for light duty for the immediate future. Ukitake was in much the same boat. Kuchiki and Hitsugaya were tasked with overseeing various rebuilding efforts.
And of course, Kurotsuchi was dead, data from the Twelfth indicated that Ichimaru was as well, and Aizen and Tosen were traitors.
In other words, the only Captains available for the test were the ones standing before him. The three longest serving and most powerful Captains in Soul Society.
Shusuke nearly heaved a sigh of relief when Kyoraku stepped forward. This was good. He could handle fighting him. Kyoraku wouldn't take this seriously enough to make him show his whole hand. He'd probably have ended up trying to kill Yamamoto, and there were rumors that Unohana had… issues with restraint when she had a sword in her hand.
It's just a spar… He won't be trying to kill me. Just show that I'm capable of fighting a Captain-class opponent and everything will be fine. Think happy thoughts, like how great it will be to stab Yamamoto through the heart.
Firmly in his happy place, Shusuke drew his Zanpakuto and prepared for his last test.
"You look like hell, Jushiro."
Jushiro Ukitake tried not to chuckle. It hurt too much. "Believe me, Shunsui, I feel worse than I look."
Kyoraku scowled at his best friend. "Then you should be resting. Not down here with your nose buried in the books." He looked around the Great Spirit Library, which was completely devoid of printed materials. "Figuratively speaking."
"I am resting," Jushiro said defensively. "I'm sitting down and everything, see?"
The Captain of the Eighth rolled his eyes. "I meant lying down, possibly sleeping, and you know it."
Jushiro waved him off. "How did the exam go? Did Amagai make the cut?" He tapped at the display in front of him, opening another file.
Shunsui nodded. "Captain of the Third. The Old Man will make the official announcement tomorrow. Now we just need to find three more Captain-class Shinigami to fill the other seats. Shouldn't be too hard, right?"
"Three…Right," Jushiro mumbled.
Shunsui blinked at the lack of joking rebuttal. "Jushiro?"
Jushiro shook his head. "Nothing. Mind giving me a hand?" He gestured at another console.
"With what?" Shunsui moved over and looked at the screen. "What is it you're looking for?"
"Aizen apparently had unrestricted access in here for who knows how long. I'm trying to track down the files he looked at."
Shunsui scratched his head sheepishly. "You know I'm not the best with these things, Jushiro…" Honestly, why couldn't they have real books in here?
Jushiro let out a short laugh that turned into a wince. "Ugh…Just for a bit, Shunsui. Kiyone and Sentaro are out getting some more tea. It tends to take a while for them to stop fighting and actually make it, so I could use the company until then. Ow…" Another wince and Jushiro rubbed at his chest.
Shunsui looked over at his friend in concern. "Are you sure you're good to be out of the Fourth? What did Unohana say?"
"I'm fine, Shunsui. Unohana let me out. Told me to come back for a check up in a few days and prescribed lots of rest."
Shunsui groaned. "Which you're not doing." He walked over and took hold of Jushiro's upper arm, tugging him up and out of his chair, away from the console. The white-haired Captain almost immediately sagged and leaned against Shunsui for support. "Yeah. You're in no shape to be out of bed yet. Come on. I'm taking you home. I'll get Nanao to take over down here. Once you're a bit more recovered, you can come search through all the files you want."
Jushiro wanted to protest as Shunsui helped him along, but once they started climbing the stairs out of the library, he really didn't have the energy to do much more than put one foot in front of the other.
He wanted to tell Shunsui that all the rest in the world wouldn't do a whole lot of good.
He wanted to tell him what Unohana's actual prognosis was.
He wanted to tell him that he'd soon be getting more rest than he'd ever gotten in his life.
But all of that would take too much energy. So he let his best friend lead him back to his house and bed.
Done! Finite! Cut! End Scene!
Please review, tell me what you think (especially about Uryuu and Ryuuken's interaction because I'm not really satisfied with that scene, but I rewrote it so many times), update the TvTropes page, all that jazz. I'm going to bed now. Sorry for the wait again.
Next chapter we'll see Harribel and her lovely assistants again, find out a bit about what the Bount are up to, and maybe check in with Senna and a few other people.