A/N: Quite a handful of reviews: MugetsuIchigo, Carrie96235, Dragon and Sword Master, Assault Godzilla, NieveDrop, KitElizaKing, laughingspider, Quickslice, darklover, 12kirune12, and Rukia's Reflection. And thank you to everyone who put this or its author on their lists. It's been a long while for this story too but hey, two stories updated in two days is something, isn't it?
Disclaimer: I do not own the Bleach characters, manga, anime, movies, etc. They belong by copyright laws to Tite Kubo et al.
Consequences of War
Rukia was in the middle of going through her brother's personal papers when a short burst of familiar spiritual energy caught her attention. Glancing up, she saw a white clad figure fall into the nearby garden. Rushing out, the young lady dropped to her knees next to her friend. "Ishida-kun!" she whispered urgently, hearing others come up behind her.
"It's another Quincy! Quick, call the guards!"
"You'll do no such thing!" Rukia countered. "Send for Seventh Seat Yamada of the Relief Squad immediately. Say nothing of this to anyone."
"But Your Ladyship…" the servant protested, fear bright in his eyes.
"If it wasn't for Ishida-kun we would have been slaughtered." She used her own healing kido to bring the proud young man back to consciousness, dark eyes opening to look at her with urgency.
"Kuchiki-san, you must get the captains together immediately. There are still more Sternritter and the king is preparing another attack. This war isn't over yet…" He tried to lift a hand in supplication but was too weak.
Violet eyes widened in horror and she turned to the servant who had been hovering anxiously. "You heard him. Send a message to the remaining captains and captain class Shinigami. Get Ichigo and the others here immediately. If Inoue-san is able to continue healing, we have need of her powers as well."
Seeing the resolution in her eyes, the servant left, hoping against hope that she wasn't making a mistake. Other servants took his place, a few of the Kuchiki guards following. An elder stopped him on the way out of the compound and he merely shook his head when asked what was going on. He would have to apply to the new lady if he wanted to know.
Rukia ignored the protests around her, merely glaring and using all of her power to make them obey her. "Get him into a room this instant. Ishida is a member of the Special War Time Powers. He was working on the inside for us this entire time. You are to say nothing about this to anyone. Do you understand?" she questioned, hating that she had to repeat herself.
"Kuchiki-san, I'm sorry I couldn't find a way to…"
"Hush. I know that even though you are a Quincy, you are an honorable man, Ishida-kun. You must have had a reason and you would have never supported what has happened here." She had always admired how he had used his powers to defend people, even though they destroyed souls instead of released them. He was much like Ichigo in that regard and his pride wouldn't have allowed him to turn his back on his friends so easily.
"There was… But they found out and turned on me when they found out that I was giving information away…"
"Rest, Ichigo and the others will be here soon."
Ichigo arrived first, a shocked Hanataro slung over one shoulder. "Inoue's on her way with Chad. Dad and the others are gathering for a meeting at the first division. He said something about you gathering information…" The orange haired young man looked down at his classmate as Hanataro got to work, brown eyes clouded with confusion. "What were you thinking, going off on your own."
"I had too. I was the only one in a position to do so without suspicion."
"Yeah, well, now all of Soul Society wants your head so you just stay here and keep quiet. Is there anything you want me to pass on?"
"This," Ishida said and reached into his shirt pocket for something. Pulling out a cube, he held it out unsteadily to his old rival. "Give this to Urahara. It's the data he asked for."
"Sure, you just relax and heal. We're going to need you again if that bastard's coming back." Ichigo turned towards the door, pausing only to rest a hand on Rukia's shoulder. "Don't let him go anywhere, even after Inoue works her magic. I have to convince the old guys that he's not a threat."
"I know this puts you in a bad position, Rukia but you're the only one who has the power to keep him safe. If anyone here gives you grief, let me know."
Rukia looked at him briefly before turning concerned eyes on the Quincy on the futon. "Aa. Go, I'll see to it that he's kept safe."
"Yeah," he returned and had to dodge Inoue as she came rushing into the room, Chad right behind her. Exchanging a shuttered look with the tall teen, Ichigo went to make his case with the captains.
The first division was quiet except for the low din of voices coming from the meeting hall. Ichigo didn't have to announce his arrival, he merely stopped briefly as the doors opened. Several worried and angry faces met his brown eyes when he entered, his dad and Urahara an exception. "I'm sure you've realized by now that Uryuu Ishida has made it back from Heuco Mundo."
"He should be taken into custody immediately," Soi Fon said, her Zanpakutou in its shikai form so that she would be at the ready.
"He's being kept that the Kuchiki estate under strict supervision by Lady Rukia Kuchiki herself. I have told her not to let him leave."
"Rukia Kuchiki is a known sympathizer with…" She stopped herself as she realized she was stepping out of line.
"Look, I know you don't have any reason to trust Ishida. Hell, I didn't even trust him when I first met him but he has a strong sense of honor. He wouldn't have been able to stomach the thought of all this destruction. If he'd really wanted to see us destroyed, he wouldn't have come back. He's the reason that you have your bankai back. He risked everything, including his soul to get this information back to us as well." Ichigo removed the cube from inside his shihakushou and passed it to Urahara who murmured in understanding.
"There is one thing we do know about the Quincy King that makes Ishida-kun's duplicity even more unlikely," Isshin said. He was still heavily bandaged but he was standing proudly in front of the others.
"And what's that?" Unohana asked. She would wait until she had all the facts before she made up her own mind about the child.
"Most of you know why I went missing twenty odd years ago. My dearest wife saved my life at the cost of her own soul's purity. The thing you aren't aware of is just who she was."
"Isshin, are you sure…?" Urahara asked, looking significantly at Ichigo.
"This is no time to be keeping secrets. Misaki Kurosaki was a Quincy. A full blooded one. In order to attain more power, the Quincy King stole the powers of the Quincys he deemed impure. That included Ichigo's mother and Ishida's. He stole Misaki's because she had a Hollow in her soul while he took Kanae Katigiri Ishida's because she was of only partly Quincy descent."
"Mom was a Quincy?" Ichigo said, shocked to the core.
"That's right. If Ywach hadn't stolen her powers when he did, Grand Fisher would have been killed long before he was. Ishida's mother fell into a coma and died three months later."
"I see," Kyoraku said, his good eye closing in consideration. "It is likely Ishida-kun knew what was happening and took the chance to get a little revenge. While he sought for a way to exact vengeance, he got a hold of any information we could use on our end. If the king knew that he was so treacherous, he would have stolen his powers as well."
"He tried. Remember, he took the powers of those that were only part Quincy or tainted Whole-Bloods. For some reason it didn't work on Ishida-kun. No doubt he tried again and failed. Or perhaps he deliberately let him go alive."
"Not by much. I haven't seen Ishida that hurt since the war with Aizen. Say, if he was collecting powers of partial Quincys, why didn't the girls and I get our powers taken?"
"Ah, that would be my doing," Urahara admitted. "To be safe, we put charms around you to keep you hidden from the Soul Society and any other spiritual entity. Ishida-kun's father would have none of it and made his own preparations. Perhaps he did something that saved his son from being taken like his wife."
"And all that was ruined the minute you became a Substitute Shinigami," Toushiro added in a considering voice. "The Quincy King has probably been watching you ever since. Regaining your powers might have fallen right in with his plans."
"He did mention something about me being his lost son. What a load of crap. Just because he started the Quincy race doesn't mean he has the right to take people's powers and kill them. Ishida probably thought he could do something by himself and that's why he went off without telling anyone."
"I believe that's the gist of what his plan was," Urahara said, earning him suspicious looks. "Someone had to help him get into Heuco Mundo. It is a spiritual plane."
Ichigo felt like beating the scientist over the head with the nearest heavy object. "Okay, look, we probably don't have a lot of time left before he comes back with whatever reinforcements he has left. I'm in charge of my friends from here on out. We'll do what we do best and you guys concentrate on protecting everyone that's left in the Seireitei." He turned to the only member of the Royal Guard still present. "That offer you made me earlier, does it still stand?" he asked, his hand clenched tightly where it ached to hold Zangetsu.
"Of course," Oetsu Nimaiya said. "Are you prepared for what awaits you though? You are not a true Shinigami."
"I may be a mix of things but I'm entirely human. And I'll do whatever I have to, to get Zangetsu back in fighting order. There are innocent people in this city that will die if Ywach isn't stopped."
Kyoraku smiled grimly, darkly amused and a bit proud. "That is the Ichigo we know. Nimaiya, go and do what you must. We'll do the best we can until Ichigo returns. However, if you're not here, someone will have to watch over our double agent."
Ichigo paused, considering the new head captain. "I guess so. We'll keep Chad there with Rukia just in case while Inoue helps Unohana-san. I'll take Renji with me. He needs help with his Zanpakutou just as much as I do. That way, we'll both have reason to come back."
"You're trying to bargain," Soi Fon said, clearly unhappy with the situation.
"Well, you're not going to let Ishida completely off the hook, are you?"
"Not at the moment, Kurosaki-kun," Unohana admitted.
"Didn't think so. By the time I come back Urahara should have deciphered what that cube has on it and maybe we'll have a way of defeating Ywach. If he can take Quincy powers at will, there's no telling what else he can do. And maybe Rukia and Chad can get more information out of Ishida once he's up and about."
Shinji, who had stayed quiet through the entire conversation, stepped forward. "Do you really think he can be trusted, Ichigo?"
"Look, Ishida can be a prick sometimes and he definitely has a reason to hate Shinigami, although most of his ire is pointed towards that creepy science guy that replaced Urahara."
"He's not the only one," Kensei muttered. Several voices of assent went around the room, nearly everyone having had at least one problem with Kurotsuchi.
"Like I said. On the other hand, there are a lot of you I think he respects. Ishida might never actually like you guys, but I don't think he would try to kill any of you as long as you extend him the same courtesy. He's filled with pride and has a sense of honor that I haven't seen in these other Quincy. He'd never willingly hurt an innocent soul. So yes, I think you can trust him."
"You will be held accountable if he turns, you understand this, Kurosaki, don't you?" Soi Fon said.
"It's only right. I am the leader of the Special War Time Powers and he's one of my men, to put it in words you might understand. Besides, if he causes you any grief, I'll just beat the crap out of him, student body president or not." With that he inclined his head and left to go tell Rukia what he was about to do. He was glad the captains hadn't fought him too hard. He really hadn't had a lot to bargain with.
Unless he counted his life.