SilverMT: OMG! Another story? For those who have been reading my other story, I am really sorry (deep bow) for not updating. Anyway, For Kishi Kaisei I am currently getting into mood of writing it again. For sure I will be updating it soon. Continuing to this new story, I hope that you find this interesting somehow… Anyway please read and review! Constructive criticism is welcomed. I wish for you to support my story.
Disclaimer: Bleach is created by Noriaki Kubo-sama
Kokugen: The Beginning
Chapter Two: Arrival
The coming of change is inevitable,
He embodies change,
And he has come
Ichigo always know that one day he will eventually die just like any normal human. Thought he knows that fact, he never expected that he would die so young. Just like any normal teenager he has a lot of dream that he would like to at least achieve before the inevitable happen. So his sudden death was something he has mixed feelings about.
On one side, Ichigo was relived that he doesn't have to study and think constantly about his grades and whatnot. On the other, he was sad that he was not able to achieve his dream of being a doctor and help his father. Thought these two emotions dominated him, another emotion was in the mix which was frustration for the years of study that only end on him dying.
Somewhere in Seireitei
A midnight dark haired man with deep sapphire blue eyes, blinked up at the sudden change of atmosphere in the air as he was walking to his office. His hurried pace slowed and went to a halt as he looked up at the clear sky. His sudden stopped caused the other person following him bump in his back and yelp at the sudden impact.
Rubbing his nose, the younger man who had a dull shade of emerald green eyes and long hair tied in a high ponytail looked at the other man with question. "Taicho? Is there something wrong?"
The sharp eyes that were looking at the sky shifted to his companion at the question. "No… Nothing" The man said, as he resumed at his pace towards the division office.
With gasp Ichigo opened his eyes but closed it again as his eyes was greeted by the midday sun that was strong. Putting his right hand in his eyes he sat and noticed that he lay in the ground at the middle of a forest. He knew immediately that he was not in the human world. The feeling of spiritual energy thick in the air unlike the one he was so used to in the human world. Despite not being in soul society since the end of war against the quincy, which was three years ago, Ichigo knew without a doubt that the place he currently was is not the human world.
"Am I dreaming?" Ichigo said as he tried to clear his thoughts to understand his current situation. 'I am sure that I am in soul society… but why am here' he thought. Ichigo groan, closing his eyes tightly, his head felt like it was split in half as memories come crushing to him.
"Am I dead?" Ichigo rubbed his eyes blinking a couple of times to try to sort his memories before he woke up in his current predicament. "No… no… this is definitely a dream! That's right!" Laughing nervously he inspected himself as if to see proof that he was still alive.
It was then that he noticed that his outfit was that of his school uniform and not his shinigami one. If he was using his shihakushō then he might even think of a way of explaining his being in soul society. He might think that somehow Rukia had taken him away from his body when he was sleeping and dump him here in soul society. But all of these thoughts flew the moment that he saw that he was dressed the way he did when he was hit by the car in his memory.
"I am dead…" Ichigo said to himself as if answering his question just awhile ago. The teen decided to sit for a while more as he let all this information settle in his head before doing anything.
"Aghhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaa!" The sudden shout had the peacefully sleeping birds fly from their respective trees. Somewhere in the forest a person who was currently sleeping in one of the branches in the forest fell down because of the very loud shout.
Meanwhile the person who shouted at the top of his lungs stood up from where he was seating at the ground. "That felt better!" Ichigo said as he stretched his stiff muscles. 'Staying here all day will not change what had happen…' he thought as he decided what to do. 'Let see… I am dead… so basically… wait…' his thoughts were interrupted by the sudden realization of him not in his shinigami robes when he woke up after dying.
'Old man Zangetsu!' Ichigo mentally called out as he desperately need to know that he did not lost his power when he departed and went to soul society. 'Old man Zangetsu… please answer me if you're there!' he called again as he started to feel frustrated and scared at the same time.
"I am here Ichigo… do not worry…" The voice caught Ichigo's attention. Tilting his head to the side he saw the spirit of his zanpakutō looking at him with amusement evident in his face.
"You should have at least answered me when I called to you…"
"It is really entertaining to watch you… as you desperately call to me…" He said that made Ichigo realized that the other had been watching him as he was mentally calling the other. His eyes where shot closed as he was concentrating on feeling the other that he did not realize that Zangetsu had materialized besides him and watched as he called to the old man with desperation and fear.
"It's good to know that you are here… I thought I lost you when I died and came here in soul society." He said with a sigh and looking away from the other as he push away the sudden feeling of heat coming to his face because of the meaningful smile that crossed the face of the other.
Of course Ichigo knew that the other also knows that more than the thought of him losing his shinigami powers, the thought that he was alone in a place he was not really familiar, despite being in soul society more than once. He never really toured the place because every time he came here was not because he wanted to; looking back every time he came here it was because he needs to fight.
"Ichigo… you should know that I will never fade because I am a part of you… as long as you need me I am here and will never disappear…"
"Thanks old man…"
"That's the same for me… thought I know that you rather have me gone…" Another voice made Ichigo look at his back only to see his double sitting at the rock not far from where he stood.
"Whatever…" He answered, tuning his eyes away from the other. The teen knew that he really don't hate the other. He used it in order to overcome his fear of his hollow counterpart. The other was a part of himself regardless of his refusal to accept, it was a part of him that he tried to hide because the knowledge putted him with the realization that one day he may become the other. Love of fighting – fighting without reason but because he enjoy the pain and to hurt others, this he fear because along the way he will lose his sight of why he bleed and fight so hard to have power.
He could not say that he hate the other as well as accept him just yet. He knew that his counter part knew of this as well, but what is important was that they already took the first steep. As what the sayings said, one step at a time.
"Che… whatever…" his double said and settled on looking at the place they where at. "And by the way… you're death sucks!" he added with a smirk the made Ichigo rise a brow.
"In any case," Zangetsu said, with a small smile and amusement in his eyes because of the interaction of the two, "Since we are here in Soul Society… we must find where exactly in soul society you currently are."
Knowing where he is, this is the first thing he has to do before thinking his next step. Honestly, he was really having trouble with his fast acceptance of the situation that he was currently is. He is dead; this alone can make anyone on the edge. 'Maybe being here for numerous times I have unconsciously accepted the fact that when I die I have a place I can belong to?' he thought as he decided to look for the nearest settlement on his location. 'Talking about having reservation after death', it is really weird to know that after death he knew that somehow he has a job waiting for him.
It took Ichigo twenty minuets of walking before he was able to find the end of the forest and see Rukongai from where he stood. "Well, this place looks more deprived than the first district where I first came to save Rukia…" he said as he looked at the condition of the district.
The place was made of woods that were put together to form a settlement. Big rocks putted atop the roofs in order for it not to be removed easily. He can really say that the houses from the first district to the tenth where he had been were far better than this place. He mentally knew that this is a very far off district from Seireitei.
"I wonder what district I am at…"
As Ichigo neared the place, he saw that there were a lot of people despite how rundown the place looks like. 'It's over crowded here!' his hollow said with irritation that made Ichigo think why his hollow being talkative all of a sudden. 'I agree...' Zangetsu said in agreement with a wary sound in his voice.
'Hey… I just realized that somehow the two of you are being too talkative since awhile ago.'
'Well… it seems like when you died the mental barrier that kept us separated from you have been lifted.' Zangetsu answered.
'Lifted? What do you mean?'
'It means… we can see here from you're inner word the things that you see.'
'And we can hear you're thoughts more clearly too…' Zangetsu added with approval in his tone. 'But do not worry because thoughts that you're consciousness deems not be learned by us we cannot hear or see… so you still have privacy.'
'Yeah you can still think of perverted things without us knowing…' His hollow said with a snicker that made Ichigo involuntarily flush.
'Why did this happen…' he thought with a sigh. 'Ichigo… we can think about the changes that happened to you when we have time… but for now you should focus in settling here' Zangetsu said.
'Yeah… old man's right… you should do something because you're attracting a lot of attention…' These words made Ichigo look around just in time to see that people passing by looked at him with curiosity.
"Wait" He was about to run when he was called by one of the onlookers. He looked at the person with suspicion and caution that made the other person smile and raise his arms in the air in order to make the teen see that he meant no harm.
"Well, I see that you're new here…" The man said. He was wearing a normal kimono which was faded and a little torn with straight black hair that reached his shoulders. He appears to be in late twenties since he looked young but Ichigo knows better than be deceived by the looks of those who live in soul society. Mostly because he learned since his first stay in soul society after saving Rukia made him realize that thought most of all the people he came in contact with looked young they were all hundred years older than him.
"How – "
"How did I know?" The other said cutting Ichigo's question. "Well… for one you're clothes is really weird and another you're hair. A hair like yours will surely make others remember you for a long time. If you are from here everyone will know you."
"Um… yeah… I came from another district… actually…" Ichigo said with uncertainty. 'Why the hell did I just lie?' He thought as he continued to look at the other.
"Hmmm… really? I thought for sure that you are a new soul…"
"Hahaha… ummm… no… actually I am on my way to Seireitei …" he said that made the other frown and look at him curiously.
"Seireitei? Well… If you know that place then you are really not a new soul then…" He said thoughtfully. "But why would you go there?"
"Eh… I umm… going to look for some of my friends there…"
"I see… then be careful… I heard there is quite uproar there… thought there is no clear information what's really happening…" he said with a grin and started to leave.
"Wait… Where do you think I can find something to wear that will not make me stand out?" Ichigo called the other before the person can leave. He knew that traveling with less attention was better if he were to go to Seireitei. Having his hair was enough to get unwanted attention so the least he could do is change his cloths to blend with the crowd.
"Well… you asked the right person!" he said still having his grin plastered to his face. If he had his is eyes closed then he will definitely associate him with Ichimaru Gin's creepy smile. "Just follow me lad…"
"That's no problem… and by the way it Jin… my name is Jin…"
"Ah ohh… thanks then Jin…" Ichigo said. 'That's weird… when I was just thinking of Gin it turns out that this person's name is Jin…'
'Yeah… he also feels creepy…' his hollow chided that made Ichigo smile.
"Well… this looks alright?" Ichigo said as he looked at his new garment. He wore deep brown kimono which the sleeves were folded until his elbows paired with hakama. 'Well, I think its better than your uniform since it's looks normal… color your hair black and no one will notice you easily,' his hollow commented with a mild teasing voice.
'No! I have lived for twenty years of my life not bothered by my hair… I will not start now…' Ichigo said flatly as he arranged his uniform neatly and carried it with him as he exited the room where he changed his clothes.
As Ichigo exited the room, he exited in an open area and saw Jin with his friend, who owns the said place. The man was tall and had a very big built that Ichigo thought that maybe this guy was a body builder when he was still alive. He looked like a middle age man with black unruly hair and he gave of a strong aura. It might have come from being in a business that needs him to be strong in order to make sure no one crosses him. As he was introduced to the other when he first came, he learned the person was called Sakaguchi and had been in the trading business for a long time that he was famous in districts 140 to 90. He was told that he would trade anything for rare items that he got mostly from new souls that had arrived. It was in that conversation that he had learned that he was at Southern Rukongai, district hundred and thirty-five.
"Well… looks good on you…" Jin said with a nod and took his uniform from his hand and putted it on the counter in front of his friend. "Here… this is the exchange of the garments that he will be taking…" He said as he patted the cloth and looked at the other. The two looked at each other as if having a mental argument that Ichigo had no idea what it was about.
'It is a good thing that I could use my uniform to exchange for the clothes that I am now wearing'. Ichigo thought. His musings were interrupted when finally the other gave up the eye contact and gave a long sigh.
"Ok… here" Sakaguchi took a small brown cloth pouch form under the counter and toss it to Ichigo that caught it effortlessly.
"Thanks… I know I could count on you…" Jin said with a wide grin and a half lidded eyes that made his eyes slant which made Ichigo associate it with a certain fox smile that Ichimaru Gin had always have.
"Good for you to have someone look after you kid…" Sakaguchi said with a huff and folded his hands and looked irritated at the smiling Jin. "But be aware that he never really give attention to just anyone unless they are interesting enough to get his attention." He added that made the other's smile flutter and settled to a pout.
"Umm… thanks for everything…" Ichigo said as Jin guided him out of the shop.
"No problem kid! Come back if you have anything interesting to trade. I have a lot of items here that you might just like."
"Thanks for the help…Jin"
"It's nothing… I have my own reasons…" Jin said as he waived his hand. With a nod Ichigo took the bag that was given to him by Sakaguchi in his pocket. "What is this anyway?"
"Why don't you open it?"
Opening the bag, Ichigo's frown deepened as he saw what was inside the bag. "Sweets?" he said with confusion as he took one.
"Hahaha… You don't know what that is?" Jin said as he looked at Ichigo with a meaningful smile. "Anyone here in soul society doesn't grow hungry… those who do are the ones who has enough reiryoku. That sweet is something close to food here. Thought even those who doesn't have reiryoku likes it. With that you can trade it with someone to get whatever you will need in your journey."
"I… I know that – "
"It's ok… I have not helped you to prey on your secret. You have secret and I have my own… let's leave it as that… ne?"
'His definitely creepy…' His hollow said that Ichigo can't help but agree. It was unnerving to know that someone was helping him with a hidden reason. But despite his growing wariness he was really thankful to the man for helping him regardless of his intentions.
They continued to walk in the crowded street settling to a comfortable silence between them when they heard a commotion not far from them. Curiosity and a force of habit in checking things that seems out of place, which originated from being a substitute shinigami in Karakura that has a high level of spiritual activity made him go and investigate the cause of commotion.
Making his way to the growing crowd that decided to watch the commotion he was able to get close enough to see a group of thugs surrounding a form of a child that was crouching on the ground.
"I believe you have something that belongs to me." The man that looks like the leader of the other three thugs said with narrowed eyes.
The boy looked up, but did not speak.
The men kneel down and roughly took the boy's small face that fitted in the man's big hands. "Look here boy… I know you are the one who have taken my bag. Give it back… or are you so eager to die?"
Despite the pain that registered at the face of the young boy to the tightening of the grip of the man, Ichigo can see strong defiance in the eyes of the child.
"Are you sure that he is the one who took your bag?" Ichigo said as he steeped out of the crowed. He dismissed the sarcastic comments of his resident hollow as he looked at the man that had already released his hold at the child.
"Who are you? Are you his accomplice?" He said as he stood with a threatening look.
"I do not know the boy but I surely want you to stop blaming others without knowing if he really is the one that took something from you." Ichigo answered and looked at the child that was now standing just far enough from the group. "Are you the one that took his pouch?"
"No…" The child answered silently.
"See… he said that he is not the one that took it…"
"What? You believe him just like that?" The man looked at him with awe. "You honestly believe that he is saying the truth?"
"Yup… I believe him" Ichigo said as he looked at the child's eyes one more.
"You believe him but we don't! How could – "
"Here…" Ichigo tossed the small bag that was given to him by Sakaguchi just a while ago that made Jin who was besides him looked at Ichigo with astonishment.
"Is that not enough?" He said as the leader opened the bag and his eyes widen with the contents of the bag.
"Are you sure that you will give this in return for what I lost?" The man said uncertainly. "You don't know what I have inside the bag that I lost… It might not have anything really important…"
"I know… but if this will solve the problem, then I don't care if you take that."
"You're not a bright one," he said as he took the bag and slipped it in his pocket.
"Well… this resolves the problem then," Jin said as he went in the middle and looked at the crowed. "That's all for the show!" as he shooed the onlookers.
As the crowed dispersed, the group of thugs left as well leaving Jin and the child with Ichigo who was looking sheepishly at Jin, who looked at the teen and shook his head accompanied with a deep sigh.
"I really never thought that you are the kind of person that will do something – "
"Stupid…" Jin looked at the kid who took the words from him. The kid was standing near Ichigo with eyes that were critically studying the orange head teen.
"Hey! What a way to thank someone who saved your ass there kid!" Ichigo said with mild irritation. "I always do what I want to do… So I don't regret helping."
"How could you trust someone who could have been lying to save himself? I can be very well the thief that they have been looking." The kid said as if he did not hear what Ichigo had said.
"Look here gaki," Ichigo said as he putted a hand at the child's brown hair. "You said that you did not do it… I believed you, it was my choice… so if I have been tricked then it will be my problem. "
The child looked at Ichigo's eyes as if looking for something. It made Ichigo felt that the brat was evaluating him and it made him uncomfortable. In turn, Ichigo also looked at the child.
The child looked like he was in between age ten to thirteen. He wore a kimono which was too plain and faded and was a little bit too big for the child to use. The torn parts of the cloth might have been intended so that it will fit the built of the child.
"I am sure that you are the type of person that is easily deceived by others…"
"Well, sorry for being a nice person!" Ichigo said as he scratched the back of his head. "I don't need to be lectured by a brat..."
"I have a name… and its not brat," the boy said quietly but enough to get Ichigo's full attention back. "Aizen is my name… Aizen Souske"
'Ok! First I dreamed something really disturbing… Aizen as my vice captain… now, I am meeting a boy who looks like him and tells me that he is Aizen Sōsuke … Now I am really convinced that this is a dream!'
It hasn't even been half a day since he came to Soul Society and mysteries keep on piling on him. First, his weird dream about Aizen being his vice captain and him being a division captain himself. Then his situation with his inner persona, the changes that happened because of his death, a person that helped him with a hidden motive and now a child who called himself as Aizen Sōsuke, which if he look really carefully the boy do really look like a young, a very young version of his nightmare.
Now Ichigo felt that somewhere out there someone really hates him.