I am finally back! After my stories being deleted by the administrators I have made the necessary edits to ensure they have no grounds to do the same thing again.
As such there will be no out right smut but there will be adult themes. Hopefully the plot will make up for this.
Chapter One:A Storm Is Rising:
~ Blazing sunset coloured hair billowed in the cool breeze of the afternoon. The battle had worn on for hours and hours yet he showed hardly an ounce of weariness, only the sheer determination to do what he had to do. The one of protects must do his duty and protect those in his care. Even at the expense of his life. This is his Duty. This is his Honour. This is his Pride. Warm brown eyes sweep the vast sands of Hueco Mundo, observing Las Noches in the distance. This was the world he had chosen. But he had no idea that this was where his decision would take him back to. ~
Ichigo stretched and yawned widely, spinning around in his office chair, bringing himself to a stop by dragging his feet on the floor, he looked out of the window and ran a hand through his messy, long-ish orange hair. With a groan and stood up and walked over to the window and threw it open, he leaned against the frame and rested his chin in his hand as he stared out at the setting sun; watching several birds fly over head.
"What is wrong Ichigo? You have been restless for weeks…" Tensa murmured inside his mind.
The young Fifth Division Captain sighed and scowled faintly, "I don't know… I just feel different."
"Different 'ow?" Shiro asked.
"I don't know…" he repeated, "It's like I know something is about to happen… But I don't know how, or what, or if I am even right or simply paranoid."
"Judging by your record I would suggest it is not paranoia. What are you linking this sense to?"
Ichigo looked down uncomfortably, Tensa was right. Over the past year Ichigo had shown in more ways than one that he was fit to be the Fifth Division's Taichou, he had shown strength, stamina, rapid improvement in all areas of combat, wisdom and most of all… The one which worried everyone was his sixth sense. There had been over three hundred occasions in the past first twelve months of his leadership in which he had sensed a problem coming before it had happened, warned the appropriate people and averted catastrophe.
Everyone was slightly uncomfortable with the knowledge that Ichigo was starting to pick things up that even the most world weary and trained Taichou couldn't sense.
The berry sighed and rubbed his forehead, "I think… It's to do with Aizen." He told them in his mind, he was still reluctant to mention that man's name, the memories still hurt even if they weren't as bad as they used to be.
Silence followed his declaration for several moments before Tensa finally piped up, "Are you sure?"
"It's the only thing I can think to link it to." He replied unwillingly, "Usually I can tell straight away whether it's a weather warning, Division related, hollow related… But I'm not getting it this time… All I can think about is him… And I think… No I know… I know this is to do with him." He said with a sudden certainty.
"Ya gotta tell someone Ichi." Shiro whispered anxiously, "They need ta know… 'Nd they need ta know now… Before it's too late!"
"I know that… But what if it's nothing? What if I'm just… What if it's because of those dreams?"
Ah… The dreams. Ichigo now dreaded going to sleep at night because every single night he would have dreams. Or nightmares. About Aizen, Las Noches, Hueco Mundo… The first time it had happened it had taken Stark, Unohana and several healers to calm him down, his reiatsu had spiralled so out of control that it had been sensed over the other side of Seireitei.
In his dreams he was always with Aizen, sometimes they were inside Las Noches, sometimes they were outside in Hueco Mundo and sometimes they were alone in a black space with no name. Ichigo could never hear what Aizen said to him, he could just see his mouth moving and his expression changing.
Aizen was always in pain.
They had started the night after Ichigo had become Taichou.
It made his gut twist just to think about it and he felt sickened by the idea that he was actually worried about the man.
Ichigo shook his head suddenly and stood up, "No. It's just stress." He decided, "I'm calling it a night…" he added with a grumble, picking his haori off the back of his chair and pulling it on. He picked up Zangetsu from the side and left his office, locking up before he shunpo-ed back to his room, he was glad to sense Stark already inside, but frowned as he also sensed the reiatsu of Yamamoto Genryusai inside his room with the former Espada.
He picked up pace and opened the door, heading inside, "Yamamoto-Taichou?" he asked as he saw his assumption had been correct.
The old Taichou turned around to look at him as his name was announced, "Ichigo." He greeted.
The berry shut the door behind him and glanced between Stark and Yamamoto with a growing unease in his stomach, "What is it? What's happened?"
"Ichigo…" Stark murmured, walking over and taking his partner's hand, linking their fingers and trying to sooth his nerves with his reiatsu.
"I will not coat my words with cotton wool for your sake Ichigo; you need to know the facts. I will be calling an emergency Captain's Meeting in one hour as a matter of urgency."
Ichigo swallowed and he felt his blood chill in his veins, "What has happened to Aizen?" he asked in a whisper.
The older man looked shocked, as did Stark, "Ichigo! How did you know it was concerning Aizen?!" the brunette exclaimed.
"The dreams I've been having… And the feeling I've been having lately… I thought I was just stressed…" he swallowed and looked at Yamamoto, "What is it?"
The Head Captain hesitated now, "Ichigo you need to tell me if you have these… Feelings. You know that they are important!"
"I know… I'm sorry… I just… I didn't want to admit it… I didn't want to admit I was thinking about him… That man…" he gritted his teeth and closed his eyes, "Please tell me! What has occurred?!"
Stark wanted badly to reverse the last twenty minutes, Yamamoto taking him from his office to talk to him, Ichigo coming in and asking these questions… He didn't want him to have to go through this… He wanted to tell Yamamoto not to tell him. But Ichigo already knew something was wrong…
"I received a message from Aizen Sousuke at mid-day today." Yamamoto stated boldly, "A message in the form of a blood stained letter."
Ichigo's heart stopped, 'Blood stained?'
"The letter asks for help. It asks for mercy." Yamamoto continued, "From what it said, one unnamed man entered Las Noches just over a week ago-"
Ichigo's eyes widened, 'A week ago? That's when this weird feeling started up… It can't be…'
"This unnamed man has the power to… I find this difficult to believe but I must take it seriously… Has the power to overwhelm Aizen and injure him. This man has taken the Hoguyku and Las Noches."
Ichigo's face paled, 'Aizen… Was in pain in my dreams… In Las Noches… In Hueco Mundo… In that strange room…'
"Aizen was able to smuggle out this one letter which arrived this afternoon as I have already said." Yamamoto paused and looked at Ichigo straight into his eyes, "He asks for help from Soul Society. He asks specifically… For help from you, Kurosaki Ichigo."
Ichigo's mouth fell open and he swallowed, feeling briefly like he was going to be sick. He felt his hands shaking and he turned away, covering his mouth with a hand and his head spun from lack of oxygen. He gritted his teeth as his head turned into a jumbled mess of confusion and panic.
Stark saw it coming from the moment Yamamoto mentioned the 'blood stained letter', he knew Ichigo better than anyone, except Tensa and Shirosaki. He could see the panic steadily creeping over his face. When Ichigo turned away, the former Espada knew the panic had taken over, he could feel it in special emotional bond that they shared.
He was drawn from his thoughts as Ichigo collapsed before his eyes, he shot forwards and caught him before he hit the floor, seeing he was spark out.
"Shit… He's fainted…" he swore, picking the young berry head up and laying him on the sofa, "Panic attack…"
"I apologise Stark-san… Perhaps you were correct and telling him this was not such a good idea. Would you like me to send for Retsu?"
Stark sighed heavily and brushed his lover's fringe from his closed eyes, "He would have found out regardless… And it would have been worse that way." He murmured, "No Unohana already knows Ichigo has been suffering mild anxiety and panic attacks. I can treat him when he wakes up."
"Very well. I will leave you both alone now. If he is well enough I would still like him to attend the meeting, it will be in an hour and a half. Once there we can discuss what to do and how to act upon Aizen's letter. Please make sure to summon your comrades, the other former Espada. They too should be present."
Stark glanced around and nodded once, "Of course."
With that, Yamamoto departed, leaving the two alone. Stark sighed and sat by Ichigo's legs, gently stroking his hand as he waited for him to wake.
Tensa paced around in their inner world as they watched Ichigo's soul form laying on the side of the building before them.
"Maybeh we should just tip water over 'im?" Shiro offered as he looked up at the very threatening rainclouds over head.
"Only if you wish to be drowned along with him." Tensa sighed before sitting down beside the albino, "This is bad news Shirosaki… Ichigo has been doing so well and this could just about shatter him."
"I know… We gotta support 'im ta the best of our ability."
"Yes of course… But I worry. What if he decides to go and help Aizen?"
"Then we 'ave ta go along wit' 'im 'nd give it our all." The albino shrugged, "At tha' end of tha' day… Aizen's left 'im alone fer eighteen months… I doubt 'e'd contact 'im now unless it's tha' truth…"
"You think that there is really someone who can overpower Aizen?"
"I think it's a strong possibility."
"You're crazy." Tensa sighed, "This is Aizen we're talking about! I mean… the idea of one man walking into Las Noches and taking him down is… It's ridiculous!"
"Ichigo took 'im down single 'anded remember?"
Tensa faltered for a moment, "That was different! That was Ichigo! He was born incredibly strong!"
Shiro sighed and huffed, "Wha'eva…"
They both looked around as Ichigo faded from their sight, realising he must have woken up on Stark's end.
Ichigo's eyes shot open and he swore, "WHAT THE FUCK?!" he exclaimed and sat bolt upright.
Stark jumped out of his skin and cupped his cheek, "Ichigo? It's alright, please try not to panic. Just calm down…"
"W… What?" Ichigo stammered, swallowing heavily before his thoughts returned to him and he faltered, "Oh… Oh man… Shit…" he murmured.
"It's alright… Ichigo…"
"But Aizen… He asked for me to help him… I mean… Come on! This is… Insane… It's impossible… It… I feel sick…"
Stark clasped Ichigo's face in his hands and forced him to look at him, "Ichigo." He said calmly and softly, "Listen to me. Everything is going to be alright. I am here for you. I am not going anywhere. You can trust me and hold onto me. Nothing's changed. Just stay calm… Breathe slowly and deeply. Nice and calm. Okay?"
Ichigo looked at him and did as he said, resting his hands over his after a moment and nodded, "I… I'm okay… Thanks…" he murmured, leaning in and hugging him tightly, "I love you."
Stark smiled weakly and put his arms around Ichigo in return, gently rubbing his back, "I love you too, Ai."
Ichigo relaxed greatly in his embrace before slowly pushing him back and standing up, he stretched and cracked his neck, followed by his knuckles, "Alright… Didn't Yama-Jii say something about a Captains' meeting?"
"Yeah… You've got about forty minutes to go before you have to attend."
The berry sighed and nodded, "Okay… That figures."
Stark stood up slowly and rested a hand on the smaller man's shoulder, "Ichigo?"
"Are you… Alright now?"
"No. But I have to be before long. If Soul Society decides to take Aizen's letter seriously it is likely that as he requested I will be sent to find him. It's my duty as a Captain to follow the orders set to me even if I don't like them."
His words didn't rest well with Stark, who frowned heavily and dropped his hand to his side, "Those are not the words of the man who battled Aizen face to face and emerged triumphant. You are letting your fear override your senses Ichigo."
"I know!" he snapped, looking around angrily, "I don't need you to tell me that!"
The brunette faltered and swallowed, they hadn't had an argument yet; they naturally seemed to agree with what the other said. He didn't want to fall out, least of all over Aizen of all people. That man had caused them both enough trouble for a lifetime.
Ichigo seemed to be on the same wave length, his shoulder slumped slightly, "I… I'm sorry… Stark I didn't mean to bite your head off… Forgive me?"
With a weak smile the brunette put his arms softly around his lover's waist and pulled him into his warm embrace, he pressed a sweet, chaste kiss to his forehead, "I will keep you safe." He whispered quietly.
The young Taichou sighed and slumped slightly in his arms, leaning up and kissing him softly, "Thank you."
Ichigo smiled and chuckled, hugging him gently before slipping from his grasp and unknotting his orange, black and white braid which was nestled neatly under the hair behind his ear, his biggest reminder of his battle with Aizen, his power surge and the power he had yet to grow into.
Stark watched and tilted his head gently, letting his eyes roam over Ichigo's loose fitting Shinigami uniform with a growing lust in his eyes. He cleared his throat and shuffled slightly, tearing his eyes away hastily and settled for looking out of the window instead. The view was pretty… But not as desirable as the view he'd had before.
Ichigo signed a few random papers, putting them in the top of his filing tray for Hinamori to come and pick up later. He swore suddenly, did his fukutaichou yet know of the bloodied letter Aizen had supposedly sent? If she did she would be depressed, upset maybe even heartbroken. Time had done nothing to diminish herself proclaimed shameful feelings.
Ichigo stood up suddenly, "I need to find Hinamori." He told Stark, "It would be better that she heard this news from me than in passing from anyone else."
The brunette looked around and nodded, "You're right of course. I saw her heading to the training arena."
"Alright cheers. I'll be back in five." He smiled and headed out of the office door.
Stark nodded and watched him leave, sighing softly as he remained deeply concerned about his partner, not wanting him to suffer and go through all the problems he had had all over again. He was still getting over the last time bless him. He shook his head knowing Ichigo would blow a gasket if he knew Stark was worrying about him. He shook his head again and ran a hand down his face, watching as Ichigo took off in a burst of shunpo towards the training area.
Meanwhile, Ichigo located Hinamori exactly where Stark had suggested. He stopped his flash-step and approached her slowly, "Hinamori?"
She spun around, looking slightly started seeing as she hadn't heard his approach, "T-Taichou?!"
He lifted a hand to calm her, "Can I talk to you for a moment? It is very important."
"Oh of course." She smiled and followed him to one of the benches around the sides of the arena.
Ichigo took a seat; he was quiet for several long minutes while he contemplated how to break the new to her. Everyone was surprised that since his employment as a Captain he had learned to be tactful.
"Taichou… You're worrying me… Please what is it that you wanted to talk to me about?" Hinamori asked suddenly, she was frowning slightly and looked concerned.
"Oh right… Sorry… I was getting carried away with my thoughts then." He sighed and ran a hand through his hair, "Okay… I wanted you to hear this from me rather than from anyone else. Yamamoto received a letter from Aizen. The letter was bloody and asks for help from Soul Society, something about a stranger… Taking over… Aizen suggests that he's injured. Okay? Now we don't know if it's authentic yet… We don't even know if it's really from Aizen. I don't want you to worry about it, I'm going to be going to a Captain's meeting in about half an hour and everything will be explained then and I will tell you the truth once I know what it is. So stay calm, try not to worry… I will tell you everything I swear."
She stared at him for several moments, her expression went through confusion and anger before settling on anxiety, "You promise you'll tell me?"
"I would never lie to you Hinamori." He murmured, gently resting a hand on her back.
She nodded, "I believe you." She smiled gently.
He stood up slowly, "Alright, I'm gonna head back now. If you need anything you come and find me okay? Promise me?"
"I will Taichou." She smile weakly, "Thank you for something and telling me… I appreciate it."
He shook his head, "It was nothing." He murmured before shunpo-ing away again.
Half an hour later, Ichigo took his place beside Byakuya in the Head Captain's meeting room. The other Taichou's and their Fukutaichous filed in shortly after and stood to attention as the Yamamoto joined them and took his place at the head of the room.
Ichigo swallowed as the Espada filed in and took their places beside their Captain's and silence fell across the room. Yamamoto pulled out the letter he had told Ichigo and Stark about and held it up, "At mid-day I received this letter, it is supposedly from Aizen Sousuke."
There was a chill in the air which could freeze a fire.
"Is there any way to validate it?" Byakuya spoke up, "How do we know it is truly from Aizen?"
"The only thing we have to go on is the blood smeared over the pages… I have had it checked and it is definitely Aizen's blood. The handwriting is also a certain match." Yamamoto sighed, "However the contents of the letter are impossible to verify." He added.
"What are the contents Yama-Jii?" Kyoraku asked, pulling his straw hat further down over his face.
There was a pause, in which Yamamoto slid the letter into his kosode for safe keeping, "The letter requests help and mercy, it is said that one unnamed male entered Las Noches roughly speaking the day after Ichigo took the position of Taichou and, although it is almost impossible to believe, this unnamed man has overwhelmed Aizen, injured him and has stolen the Hoguyku, taken over Las Noches."
"Wait? Aizen wants help?!" Toshiro exclaimed, "From us?! Is he out of his mind?!"
"Silence." Yamamoto growled and closed his eyes in thought.
The silence was suddenly interrupted by Szayel, "What are we supposed to do? Technically speaking the Espada is still directly contracted to Aizen… And although I doubt anyone here wants to return to his side he is still a threatening man who knows what buttons to press to get what he wants."
The other Espada nodded in agreement, "Regardless of whether he is 'injured' or not it could still be a ploy to reinstate his former hold over us." Harribel agreed, looking a little agitated.
"If it is a trick and Soul Society agrees to help him then he could snap his fingers and force us back into submission or kill us?" Ulquiorra added, "He has never accepted betrayal lying down."
Ichigo looked at the Espada one by one, he felt sad. They had been able to turn their backs on Aizen because of what Soul Society had managed to do and yet now there was a possibility Soul Society was going to put them right back in Aizen's trap. Ichigo glanced around at Stark; the brunette he had come to love with all his heart looked a ghost of himself. He looked like he was deep in thought but Ichigo could see panic deep within his crystal blue eyes.
Ichigo looked around at Yamamoto slowly, "We have to do something but we can't risk putting the former Espada in danger. But on the same time we can't go barging into Las Noches without our key Hollow advisors." He sighed, "You are of course correct." Yamamoto nodded, "Which raises the question of what we will do."
Silence fell once more and Ichigo swallowed, staring at the Head Captain.
"Regardless of the situation with Aizen Sousuke… We must clarify whether or not the other threat… This unnamed man he mentioned in the letter is at large. If he is then I fear for Soul Society… People capable of making Aizen write this letter is capable of anything." Yamamoto declared, scratching his beard thoughtfully.
Ichigo saw that the Espada were starting to share looks, he glanced down the queue at Aaroniero before he tugged Stark's sleeve and brought him down to his level, "Are you guys exchanging thoughts via Aaroniero's ability?"
Stark glanced at him and nodded, "Yeah… Right now Ulquiorra, Grimmjow, Aaroniero and myself are in favour of offering our assistance to Soul Society once again."
He frowned, "I don't get it… You were the Primera Espada can't you take charge and order their cooperation?"
He shook his head, "No. While I outrank the other former Espada this is their lives we are discussing. I cannot order them to put themselves at risk for something that may or not be a lie." His voice was calm and soft.
"Okay… I guess that makes sense." He nodded.
Stark smiled weakly, "Coercing them however, is not beyond my jurisdiction."
Ichigo smiled slightly and nodded, letting Stark stand straight again and rejoin the mind battle that was ensuing, however the berry soon discovered that he had exited one battle to encounter another, the Captains were having a disagreement over what to do as well and it didn't seem to be letting up, if anything it seemed to be getting more and more heated by the minute.
Ichigo sighed and rested a hand on his hip, half considering leaving them to it before regretfully remembering that as a Captain he could no longer leave the politics to them. He'd known where this was heading the moment that Yamamoto had told him of the situation. He rubbed his forehead and sighed heavily, dropping his hand from his hip before drawing his Zanpakto and slamming into the ground so hard the room shook and everyone fell silent, even the former Espada looked around as they were shocked out of their mind battle.
"Arguing… Is not going to solve the problem." He snapped, he wasn't sure where his temper was coming from but it was there and he was pissed, "… Yamamoto-Taichou, I put myself forwards as a candidate to go to Hueco Mundo and investigate the information the letter has provided. I will take Stark, Aaroniero, Ulquiorra and Grimmjow with me seeing as they're currently the only hollows who are showing any backbone. And anyone else who decides to pick their backsides up off the floor and do something!"
Yamamoto seemed to be in a daze for a good five minutes before he shook his head to clear his surprise, "Ichigo… You understand what you are saying?"
"Perfectly." He nodded, "I am saying that I will go to Hueco Mundo and Las Noches to see if Aizen Sousuke is telling the truth and at the same time eliminate the problem if it is real."
Stark stared at the young Taichou beside him, his heart longed for Ichigo to change his mind; he didn't want him to put himself in danger. Least of all for Aizen's sake, of all the people Ichigo to try to protect. Why did it have to be Aizen?
Yamamoto sighed slightly, "You cannot just go with four hollows. No offence to you." He added as he glanced at the mentioned Espada.
"None taken." Grimmjow grumbled.
"Surely there are a couple of Captain's willing to put their necks on the line?!" Ichigo exclaimed as he looked around at his fellow Taichous, "For God's Sake! Grimmjow, Aaroniero, Ulquiorra and Stark are at more risk that any of you are! They could be targeted for betraying Aizen if this is a trap! And yet they're willing to do what you won't even consider?! What the hell are you? Men or Mice?!" he yelled.
His words seemed to affect the Captains, some of them seemed angry at the impertinence of the little midget upstart and some like Yamamoto and Byakuya looked as though they expected no less of Ichigo.
Said noble, Byakuya, stepped forwards, resting a hand on Ichigo's shoulder, "I will accompany you on my pride as the Head of the Kuchiki family."
Renji rolled his eyes at this and stepped forwards, "Yeah and me." He sighed, crossing his arms, "Like I could let you go alone."
"I'll come too." Isane squeaked after her Taichou gave her an encouraging nod.
"Are you sure Isane?" Ichigo frowned.
"I am a fukutaichou for a reason Kurosaki-Taichou. I can handle myself in a tight corner. Besides it will be helpful to have someone around to heal your wounds."
He nodded before looking at Yamamoto, "Do we have permission?"
"Yes. You will leave for Hueco Mundo at night fall."