Husband to None and Father to One.
Please note, the first chapter has been revised, so do read it again please. Anyway, thanks to everyone that reviewed, favourite and followed the last chapter and well, you asked for an expanded story and that's what I have for you today. Enjoy as always.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.
'Inner Speech / Thoughts'
As his eyelids fluttered and he began to slowly wake up, Ichigo found himself staring at a strange sight. What looked to be a five year old child was crouched down next to him, a finger pressed to his lips as he peered at Ichigo strangely.
Examining the boy closely, he could see that he had shoulder length black hair that was streaked with white highlights and pale white skin. His right eye was piercing blue with white sclera, while his left had a white iris within black sclera. Looking at his garb, the boy wore a simple black t-shirt over black pants. Finally to complete his look, the boy's feet were bare, his right foot crossed over his left. Once the boy noticed that Ichigo was beginning to wake up, his expression brightened considerably, before he launched himself at Ichigo.
"Ichi-nii!" he shouted in joy, wrapping his short arms around Ichigo's neck and surprising said teenager with his strength. Hooking his arms under the boy's arms, he pulled the boy back and held him out at arm's length, his expression curious.
While he continued to ponder who the little boy was in front of him, his mind suddenly jolted awake and he gasped in surprise. "Zangetsu!" he cried in shock, pulling the boy back into the hug, while the zanpakuto spirit laughed loudly. Pulling away again, he couldn't help but smirk at his zanpakuto. "I see you've grown quite a bit since I last saw you," he said sarcastically, watching amusedly as Zangetsu pouted back at him.
"I did grow Ichi-nii, see I grew this much," he whined, holding his index finger and thumb about two inches apart.
"Yes a massive increase," Ichigo chuckled, causing his zanpakuto to scowl, cross his arms and turn away from him. "Aww don't be like that Zan-kun," he said with a smile, remembering the nickname he had for his zanpakuto.
"Nuh uh, you're a Meany," Zangetsu replied back, shaking his head vigorously from side to side.
"I guess I'm going to have to prove to you otherwise," Ichigo replied with a sigh, causing Zangetsu's eyes to widen in fear.
"No. Wait…don't Ichi…" he tried to say, only to burst out into laughter as Ichigo's fingers began tickling him, his shorter frame being enveloped by his master's arms.
"So am I still a Meany?" he asked with a smile on his face, relenting on his assault slightly to allow Zangetsu to breathe and answer.
"N-n…n-no!" Zangetsu gasped out, tears threatening to spill from his eyes as he still continued to laugh. Feeling Ichigo finally stop, he recovered quickly and wrapped his arms around Ichigo's torso again. "I missed you Ichi-nii," he mumbled, rubbing his head against Ichigo's chest.
"Yeah me too Zan-kun, but I'm back now," Ichigo said softly, rubbing his zanpakuto spirit's back soothingly. Looking around his inner world, he remarked at the changes to it. No longer was it made of the horizontal skyscrapers that his reincarnation had possessed, but was now a vertical city lined with immense white pillars and lush green grass. Staring at the closest pillar, he could see a set of blue double doors at the base of it, while row after row of windows, ran unbroken from top to bottom.
"It's big," Zangetsu commented, breaking away from his wielder and staring up at the pillar. As his eyes roamed from the bottom up to the very peak, the child-like spirit fell over backwards as he continued to lean back. Chuckling as he caught the spirit, Ichigo and Zangetsu soon both burst out laughing.
"Come on, I want to go find tou-san," Ichigo said as he stood, holding a hand out to the younger spirit, who eagerly clasped on and Ichigo willed them both out of his inner world.
Opening his eyes to the real world again, Ichigo turned to the side of his bed to see Zangetsu jumping off the bed and rushing over to the door. "Hold up! You don't know your way around yet!" he called after his zanpakuto, rushing after him and grabbing him before he could run too far. Knocking calmly at Aizen's door, he heard a soft voice say enter and strode into the room. What he did not expect was to be swept up into a bone-crushing hug the second he entered, his vision obscured by strands of long silver hair.
"Oh both my little boys are back" a distinctly female voice trilled in joy, her grip tightening around the two of them.
"Kaa-san…can't…breathe!" Zangetsu choked out, while he and Ichigo were still trapped in her embrace.
Feeling her grip slacken greatly, Ichigo gasped and took several deep breaths as he took a step back and examined the woman in front of him. She had shoulder length silver hair that was done up in a high ponytail, with two strands framing her soft face. She was clothed in a green silk robe that was cut off a few inches above her knees, the garment barely hiding the busty, curvaceous figure that many a women would kill to have themselves. Returning his gaze to her face, he saw her staring at the two of them with bright viridian green eyes, her delicate nose and lips scrunched up as she stared down at the pair of them in annoyance.
"The first time I see my sons in over two hundred years and all they can say is 'I can't breathe', humph. Shows how much you missed me," she said with a pout, crossing her arms and turning away from them.
"Sorry kaa-san," Zangetsu said remorsefully, rushing over and latching onto her leg. Seeing her pout falter, Ichigo couldn't help but chuckle as she gave in and smiled again, scooping Zangetsu up into her arms and causing him to laugh loudly again.
"It's good to see you again Kyoka Suigetsu," Ichigo said with a smile, bowing his head to her slightly, but gasping as he was dragged into another bone-crushing hug.
"She was in a terrible state after she cut you yesterday," Sosuke said with a solemn smile on his face, seated behind his desk as he watched the scene play out. "I felt that she deserved the chance to meet you in person again."
"Not…a problem…tou-san," Ichigo gasped out, settling for just accepting his position for now.
"There's a just a few things we need to sort out before we head for breakfast Ichigo," he said, causing Kyoka to let go of Ichigo and allow the teenager to concentrate on his father's words. "Despite our relationship, I do not want the others to know just yet. Until your strength has returned and I'm sure that you'll be able to hold your own, I don't want to put you in any danger of those who would use you against me."
'It wouldn't be the first time I needed to defend myself because of my relationship to you,' Ichigo thought to himself.
"As such your role will be that of my right hand as it were," Sosuke continued. "You will sit in on all matters related to our war effort and will be one of the ones left in charge should I be unavailable. Now as far as the others know, I have converted you using the Hogyoku and convinced you to betray your former friends and allies."
"But technically I haven't betrayed them, I've just been reunited with my family," Ichigo said with a smirk, while Aizen also smiled.
"True, but they don't know that," he said. "And for that reason many of them will seek to convince you that you have been brain-washed to believe what I have told you. Of course in the eyes of the Captain Commander and Central 46, I am the 'bad guy'."
"You know, this is why I liked the forest," his son groaned. "Peace, quiet and very few people that hold such idealistic views on right and wrong and formed their own opinions on things. Honestly they're just a bunch of sheep repeating the same thing in the end!"
"You were one of those sheep not too long ago Ichigo-kun," Sosuke commented, watching his son scowl and turn away.
"Yeah but that was different," he grumbled in reply. "I mean what did you expect after having those ideals stuffed down my throat for most of my life. Though some of it was similar to what you taught me."
"Yes, well…" Sosuke began rising from his chair and walking over to Ichigo, "Isshin Kurosaki is many things, an honourable family man being one of them. But we've spoken enough about such matters. Come we need to meet the others for breakfast."
"Of course tou-san," Ichigo replied, feeling the zanpakuto spirits disappear back into their inner worlds and following Aizen out of his room. As he crossed the threshold though, he felt his father's hand on his shoulder. Peering back at the man curiously, he raised an eyebrow at him.
"Forgive me Ichigo, but I do not believe that, that is suitable attire for your new life here," Sosuke said, gesturing to the black shihakusho that he wore. "There are various outfits within your room, please choose something appropriate first and meet me out here."
Nodding to his father, Ichigo slipped back into his room and headed towards the walk-in closet. Not bothering too much on what he wore, he quickly settled on a white gi and hakama, similar in style to his old shihakusho. He did however opt for a new dark blue obi, the colour reminding him strongly of his reiatsu. Finally he did away with his white socks and sandals and slipped into a pair of black socks, which felt so soft that it was akin to draping silk over his skin and a pair of white sandals. Presenting himself to his father again, he noted the pleased smile at his altered appearance and fell into step behind the man as he led the way to the dining area.
After five minutes of walking, the pair of them entered an ornate dining area, Tosen and Ichimaru already seated and waiting for Aizen. "These are my associates in my endeavours, Gin Ichimaru and Kaname Tosen," he explained to Ichigo, keeping up the ruse that Ichigo knew nothing of them. "They, like yourself, are second in command to myself and as such will also be part of ensuring that Las Noches is maintained properly in my absence."
Nodding their head in greeting, both Tosen and Ichimaru were taken aback as they took in the former substitute in front of them. Yesterday his reiatsu was leaking out of him unrestrained. Yet now, his presence was rather muted, belying his true strength.
"It's good ta see ya again Kurosaki-kun, I hope ya aren't feelin' too bad afta' what happened to ya yesterday," Gin said with his usual wide smile, puzzling Ichigo at his personality.
"Could be worse I guess," he said quietly, taking an open seat at the table, directly across from his father. Moments after they had taken their seats, several arrancar servants swept into the room, some bearing trays with various fruits, meats and other accompaniments, while one bore a tray of tea and coffee. Chuckling inwardly, Ichigo smirked at Aizen as he had a steaming cup of tea placed in front of him.
"So how do ya think your friends are taking your capture?" Gin asked, digging into his dried persimmons that he was so fond of.
Taking care to swallow his mouthful of rice and scrambled egg, Ichigo wet his throat with some orange juice before answering, "They're probably trying to find some way to storm in here and rescue me as soon as possible. That's just the kind of people they are. The worst possible thing they could be doing is moping about my capture," he explained, eagerly returning to his food and barely conscious of the smile of approval from his father.
Meanwhile back in the Soul Society, the Gotei 13 laboured to repair the damage from the recent ryoka invasion. As both soul reapers and humans were treated under the care of the Fourth Division, the teenagers from Karakura Town reeled from the loss of their comrade. Whilst each of them knew the dangers of coming on this mission, none of them had expected one of their own to be kidnapped by a traitorous soul reaper and to be used for his demented plans. Despite reassurances that the situation would be resolved as soon as possible, without harming their friend in the process, each of them were sceptical of the sincerity of that statement. Even if they wanted to do something about it though, each of them knew that none of them possessed the power needed to do anything about it.
When faced with the fact that a single man had effortlessly cut down not only Ichigo and Renji, but even a fellow Captain without breaking a sweat, it only served to reinforce their powerlessness in the matter.
"Hey," a quiet feminine voice broke into their stupor and drawing their attention to the doorway. Standing with her hand on the doorframe, clad in a violet kimono with white blossoms embroidered along the edges, stood Rukia, with Renji's imposing stature behind her.
"Kuchiki-san," Orihime greeted her politely, but with a far less affectionate tone than when they had spoken back in the World of the Living, while Chad grunted his greeting and Uryu nodded his head in their direction. Walking into the room with Renji, the two of them drew up two chairs and joined the others in their silent mourning.
"Have the Captains decided to do anything?" Orihime asked quietly, turning to face the petite soul reaper and seeing her grimace.
"They…are still deliberating on what is to be done," she said sadly, watching the three teenager's shoulders slump at hearing this. "But I know that Yoruichi and Captain Ukitake have been trying their best to organise some form of rescue mission. It's just hard to do when you have no way to get there in the first place." Seeing them nod in understanding, but still sit slumped in defeat, she sighed and leaned back in her chair.
Elsewhere in the Fourth Division relief station, Captain Commander Yamamoto was currently flanked by Kyoraku and Ukitake, while he sat next to Byakuya's bedside.
"And you are sure of this information Captain Kuchiki?" the aged commander asked, his tone grave and serious. When he had been informed that the stoic Sixth Division Captain had requested an audience with him, he had not expected to learn such disturbing news.
"Positive Captain Commander," the noble replied in his even tone. "The boy possesses a power unlike anything I have seen before. During my battle with him, a side emerged that radiated pure death and madness. If it were another soul reaper, I would not be concerned. However this…being that resides within the boy, its power was tainted, unwholesome and depraved. It reminded me too strongly of a hollow."
Seeing the old man stroking his beard quietly, Kyoraku and Ukitake exchanged nervous looks with one another, their minds thrown back to the incident over a hundred years ago.
"I see, thank you for this information Captain Kuchiki," the commander said as he stood. "Despite what he has done for the Soul Society, it is unfortunate but young Ichigo Kurosaki should be considered as a potentially dangerous individual and is to be detained or executed should the situation present itself," he proclaimed, shocking the three Captains present.
"Sensei are you sure that is wise?" Ukitake asked carefully. "The boy may be strong, but is it not too soon to condemn him to execution?"
"Regardless of our personal feelings for the boy, he has been captured by the enemy and will most likely turn on us, willingly or not," the old man explained, his expression completely blank. "Whether he was hero or convict, it matters not after what Aizen will do to him. If possible, I hope and pray that he perishes under the strain of Aizen's plans so that we are not forced to end him. But should he become a threat, I expect each and every one of you to carry out my orders without question," he finished sternly.
"Of course Sensei/Jii-san/Captain Commander," the three of them answered, bowing their heads as he left the room.
"For his and his friend's sakes, I hope the boy passed on before Aizen was able to tend to him," Kyoraku said solemnly, drawing his hat lower and leaving not long after the Captain Commander.
"We need to tell Rukia about this," Ukitake said softly, noticing the Kuchiki Head's back stiffen at the mention of her name. "Ichigo's friends need to be told too."
"No," the injured Captain replied in an emotionless voice, surprising his senior Captain. "To tell them now would only worsen the hurt. It would be best if they simply learned of him as a casualty of war, rather than a prisoner with a death sentence from both sides on his head."
"I see the logic behind you words," he replied with a sigh. "I will not inform the others of it, but at the very least Yoruichi should be told. She can inform the boy's family of his demise."
"Where is the cat woman anyway," Byakuya asked with a grimace. "She is not one to miss things such as this."
"I don't know really, I haven't seen her since the last Captain's meeting actually," Ukitake replied, holding his chin in contemplation as he thought.
Hearing a knock at their door, Karin muted the TV for a minute and ambled over to the door. Opening it, she found herself face to face with a tall man dressed in a green shirt and pants with an even darker green jacket worn over it. He had pale skin and light blonde hair, hidden away beneath his green and white striped bucket hat. In his hand was a thin brown cane, it's clacking mirrored by his wooden clogs.
Next to him was a lithe woman that was so alike to the supermodels you saw on TV and in magazines, that she wondered what she would be doing with such a man. Her golden yellow eyes and long purple hair mesmerised her even further, drawing attention away from her bright orange top and tight black leggings with crème leg warmers.
"We're here to see Isshin Kurosaki," the man said in an even tone, his grey eyes boring into her own with such intensity that she flinched back slightly.
"Uh yeah sure, one sec," Karin said as she stepped back from the door, inviting them in. "Hey Goat-chin, there's some people here who want to talk to you," she yelled, her voice echoing all the way to her father's room.
"Ah what can I do for you," Isshin said as he appeared at the foot of the stairs, smiling brightly at his guests. When he noticed it was Kisuke and Yoruichi though, his smile faltered and fell away, replaced with a look of grim determination. "Karin, can both you and you sister go up to your room please," he requested, gesturing for the two exiles to follow after him.
Once they were within the man's office and the door was shut tight, he rounded on them with a glare. "What's happened that the both of you need to show up at my home," he almost growled his mind already in a panic at what could possibly have happened to Ichigo.
"Aizen made his move. He's taken the Hogyoku and retreated into Hueco Mundo," Kisuke said with a sigh, removing his hat from his head and holding it in his free hand.
"Then Ichigo and the others didn't retrieve it in time," Isshin said bluntly. "What's happened to them? Did they stop Rukia's execution in time? And where are they now?"
"They did manage to prevent her execution and most of them are recovering in the Soul Society at the moment," Kisuke replied, fidgeting in his seat.
Growing more agitated over the scientist's continued evasion; Isshin began to worry even more. "Stop playing around Kisuke and tell me what happened to Ichigo."
Seeing the man flinch and turn away from him, he felt his panic increase tenfold and he looked desperately at Yoruichi for answers.
Sighing at the desperate look from the man in front of her, Yoruichi glanced at the shopkeeper to her right, before turning back to the distraught father. "He's been captured by Aizen Isshin and we have no idea how to get him back."
And Yoruichi drops the bomb on Isshin, poor man. I was pretty much smiling myself when I wrote the scene between Ichigo and Zangetsu, so I hope it brought a smile to your face too. I'll explain why he's like that later on.
So what did you like about it and where do you think I could improve. Till next time guys and girls.