An Ashikabi's Worth
It was rather quiet in the Hiyamakai Hospital this evening. Chiho had gone about her usual routine and had been enjoying the tranquility that night had brought to her room. It was never too rowdy where she was assigned, but that didn't mean she didn't enjoy some peace and quiet every once in a while. Her day had mainly consisted of a few physicals and tests where it was determined that the doctors of the Hospital still had no idea what was wrong with her.
She caught herself sighing at the thought. It had been a long time since she was admitted and truth be told she was beginning to become a bit tired of all the tests, the poking and prodding, only to be told that they still had no idea what was wrong. She was beginning to think that even if they did diagnose her correctly, there would be no cure. In her heart of heart's she was secretly terrified of this outcome. Even deeper than that she felt a grudging acceptance.
Her thoughts then drifted to Uzume-chan who had seemed a bit distant these last couple of days. She had hoped her Sekirei would come and brighten her day, if only for an hour or so, but she hadn't seen her after her visit nearly two days ago.
Chiho observed the moon slowly rising in the sky from her bed. It was a clear night with the moonlight lighting up the outside, thought there were other buildings in the vicinity that were also lit up, combating the darkness of night. She hoped that she would be able to see Uzume-chan soon, it was getting to be rather lonely without her closest companion to keep her company.
While Chiho was thinking about her Sekirei, said Sekirei was stealing through the night with a small black cat draped over her shoulders. Both Yoruichi and Uzume had agreed that it would be easier for Yoruichi to infiltrate the building under the cover of darkness if she was in her cat form. Not only did it make her harder to see, but it also added the benefit of no one suspecting that Yoruichi was really an infiltrator sent to acquire a target.
Uzume was supposed to lead Yoruichi only up to the hospital where Chiho was checked into, but she would be damned if she didn't have at least some part in getting her Ashikabi out of captivity and to Orihime.
Uzume glanced at the cat, still a little unnerved by the distinctly male voice that came out of Yoruichi when in this form. Yoruichi merely gazed back at her impassively as her eyes glowed in the moonlight. Uzume was about to question what Yoruichi had meant by that comment, when she answered for her.
"Your shoulders are tense and stiff from worry, if we get into a fight I don't know if you'll be loose enough to handle the situation."
Uzume scoffed at Yoruichi's analysis. Of course she was tense. Her entire world rested on this mission and the ability to bring Chiho back and get her healed. Yoruichi just couldn't understand that because she wasn't a Sekirei. However, it seemed she wasn't quite done lecturing Uzume quite yet.
"While Ichigo's own rescue attempts have always been somewhat idiotic, this time Urahara and I are the ones in charge. Ichigo is at best a distraction."
Uzume glanced dryly at the cat on her shoulder, which then relented.
"Well, he's at least going to distract Higa from focusing on the patients in this medical building, and if I know Kisuke, there's more to the plan than just the parts we discussed."
Uzume felt her eyebrows rise at this declaration. She decided to comment on that.
"So he likes to withhold information even from allies?"
Yoruichi gave a dry chuckle which Uzume felt upon her shoulders.
"Kisuke is probably one of the most paranoid men you'll ever have the pleasure of meeting. He's also one of the smartest. Whatever he does have planned will probably only help in the endeavor to get Chiho-chan to Orihime. Don't worry about this Uzume. We are on your side."
Uzume nodded in acknowledgement, hoping against hope that everything would go off without a hitch. She knew that Ichigo was strong, and if both Yoruichi and Urahara believed he could provide a suitable distraction to the man who had the most Sekirei under his thumb, then she would just have to trust them. She would also have to hope that whatever he did didn't end up hurting her Ashikabi, it wasn't worth it to go through all this trouble only to have Chiho injured, that might send her off into a blind rage at the orange haired man and if what she saw when he disabled Musubi so easily was just a warm up for him, then she knew she didn't have a chance in hell against him. Hell, she didn't think any Sekirei had a chance against him.
"Look alive, Uzume. We're approaching our destination. Once you get to the building across the street, I want you to hold that position while I scout out the area for any signs of enemy Sekirei. If I find nothing I'll give you a signal telling you to enter, if you don't see anything in twenty minutes, assume there are more enemies here than we had anticipated and I can't get you a signal. That means you'll have to move stealthily. Any questions?"
Uzume looked mildly annoyed at the rather glaring question that Yoruichi had set up for her, but sighed in defeat. Apparently she and Urahara had at least a little bit in common when it came to dramatics.
"Yeah I have a question. What exactly is the signal going to be?"
She had the distinct impression that Yoruichi was smirking at her as she lithely land on all fours after springing from Uzume's shoulder.
"Oh I wouldn't worry too much about that, you'll know it when you see it."
Uzume just sighed once more as she watched Yoruichi swish her tail and disappear into the night. She would be able to find a way in without alerting anyone, and then Chiho would be a step closer to being healed. Ichigo's distraction would be enough to get Uzume in and out with no one the wiser. She hoped everything went according to plan.
Orihime fidgeted as she waited with the ever faithful Akitsu sitting by her side. She didn't really need to set anything up for when Chiho came seeing as her powers were going to be the thing that healed Chiho, but she had laid out a few futons and was now standing vigil with Matsu, who was apparently rapidly scanning something on her laptop. Both Orihime and Matsu had a radio in their ear, while Akitsu had decided to forego one seeing as she would constantly be in contact with someone who did have a radio. It would have been rather redundant to require her to have one, especially since her style of speech wasn't really suited for the conversations that would be going on.
Urahara had been with them as well for awhile, but he had said that he was going to take a leisurely stroll throughout the city to calm his nerves in a tone that said he was probably going to be doing something far more devious.
Orihime felt a tiny involuntary shiver run down her spine. Whatever Urahara had decided to go and do, she wanted no part of it seeing as his penchant for mischief was pretty high and he like to poke sleeping dragons in the eye. Granted he had the skills and the smarts to back up any sort of mess he got into, but it would be nice if he really was only going for a stroll.
Orihime then felt her eyes once more slide over to Matsu who was rapidly scanning her laptop still, looking for something, though Orihime was unsure as to what that something was.
Matsu seemed to jump a little at being addressed directly, and if the sheepish way in which she was rubbing her neck was any indication, it seemed she may have forgotten that Orihime was in fact sitting near her.
"Ah, sorry Hime-tan! I got lost in trying to find all the Ashikabi that Higa has under his thumb. I know Ichigo will have no problems, but we are about to make an enemy out of the man. It won't hurt to have a bit of foreknowledge for the future."
Orihime smiled at that, although Matsu had kissed Ichigo, and she ruthlessly crushed the pang of jealousy that she felt at that memory, Orihime found herself unable to hate the brainy Sekirei. Which was pity because she really wanted to hate her, but it seemed that her nature just wouldn't allow it, especially when she knew that Matsu was utterly devoted to Ichigo.
"Sorry for startling you, I was just wondering if you had heard anything from Kurosaki-kun yet?"
Matsu shook her head as she took off her glasses and gazed at Orihime for a moment.
"I know that you're getting used to this whole Sekirei business and you haven't been around me very long, but when I said I would share Ichigo I was being pretty serious."
Orihime felt a flash of something at Matsu's words, but she wasn't entirely sure what it was.
"Even if you are, it has nothing to do with me."
Matsu's gaze seemed to pierce her, but Orihime refused to be cowed and met the gaze resiliently. Matsu nodded her head, but then continued.
"I think there might be something you don't understand, when I said that I would share, it meant that there is a high probability that I will share."
Orihime felt her breath catch at that.
"Even if Hime-tan isn't the one doing the sharing, Ichigo is a powerful Ashikabi. I've been to his Inner World because of the bond and have felt at least a little bit of his power. If nothing else it will draw other Sekirei to him, I'm not sure how many, but others will come, and Ichigo-tan might not turn them down you know."
Orihime stayed quiet at Matsu's impromptu speech, but she could understand what Matsu was getting at. Ichigo may have more than one Sekirei, it meant that she would be put on the backburner once more, just like with Rukia. She felt another stab in her chest and recognized the jealousy for what it was. She would have to prepare herself to face off against other opponents for Ichigo's affections, despite the fact that she had loved him first and far longer than the others.
Matsu smiled a bit sadly at Orihime's expression, which was probably a bit distraught.
"Don't worry Hime-tan, it's not the end of the world, but we're going to have to hash this out one of these days."
Orihime nodded in acceptance as she felt a cool hand placed in her own. She glanced down and followed the offending appendage back to Akitsu, who was studying her with concern. Orihime merely smiled and shook her head in resignation. She had always known it wouldn't be easy when it came to Ichigo, but she would find a way to make it work. She had to be hopeful of that.
Matsu sat studying her for a moment more before turning back to her laptop. Orihime felt herself relaxing when Minato and Musubi walked over to where they were sitting. Although Musubi looked fairly tired, the fact that she was awake meant that she had recovered from whatever Yoruichi and her had been doing while the rest of them were trying to access their Inner Worlds.
"Hi Matsu-chan! Has the fighting started yet? Musubi wanted to fight, but Minato said that she wasn't allowed to because she must still be tired from training."
Matsu just shook her head in amusement at the fighting nut that was a part of her species.
"Don't worry Musubi-tan, we'll get to that pretty soon, I think Ichigo-tan is almost in position."
Orihime wasn't sure, but she thought she saw a different gleam in Musubi's eye before it was gone, replaced by the normally cheerful Sekirei. Had she just imagined that? She would have to keep an eye on Musubi, she didn't want some sort of health problem to spring up in one of her former patients.
Matsu nodded to herself as she scrolled through the laptop one more time as if confirming that everything that she read was correct. Orihime watched as she then tapped the radio on her ear and spoke.
"Okay Ichigo-tan, this is your awesome and highly sexy Sekirei speaking, it's about time to get this party started!"
Orihime could only shake her head at Matsu's antics, never noticing that she still held Akitsu's hand lightly in her own.
Ichigo stood on the rooftop of a building glancing over at what they had determined were the headquarters of Higa Izumi. It was a perfect night for fighting: clear sky, not too cold, a gentle breeze lazily streaming along. Ichigo breathed in deeply, savoring the scent as he prepared himself for a fight.
He had left his body at Urahara's shop and was now in his Shinigami form. He rolled his shoulders in anticipation when Matsu's communication had come in to him. He blushed a bit at her over exuberance, but didn't comment on it. He was beginning to learn that that only encouraged her to tease him more. He supposed she was a little like Yoruichi in that sense.
Instead he merely raised a hand to tap on the radio that was assigned to him.
"Roger. So what do you think would be the best way to get their attention?"
He was sure Matsu was going to say something outrageous, but decided to answer his own question to cut her off.
"You know what, screw it. I'll just blow a hole in the wall like old times."
He was met with a heavy silence from the other line.
"Ichigo-tan, Matsu loves you quite a bit, but please don't act like what you did before was a good strategy."
"I'd have to agree Kurosaki-kun."
"Me too, bro."
Ichigo sighed as he hefted Zangetsu off of his back and began to gather reiatsu to his blade.
"You guys just don't understand the meaning behind this awesome plan. I'm gonna go have some fun now. Ichigo out."
When he had finished his piece he slashed Zangetsu down violently letting loose a cry of "Getsuga Tenshou!" to go along with his wave of blue reiatsu.
He watched in grim satisfaction as a hole was blasted into Higa's headquarters. He supposed it was time to introduce himself.
With that last thought Ichigo used shunpo to move down toward the convenient door that he had just made. Somebody would probably try to stop him soon. He hoped they put up at least a bit of a fight.
Uzume couldn't help but face palm as she heard the explosion that came from the general direction of Higa's headquarters. Well he was going to be the distraction. A little drastic, but she supposed that it got the job done. Sighing she turned back to her vigil for Yoruichi's sign, when she came face to face with the yellow eyed woman herself, now back in human form.
Uzume let out a yelp of surprise that she immediately stifled by covering her mouth with her hands and glared at the lurching shoulders of Yoruichi, who was obviously suppressing laughter at her expense. When Yoruichi calmed down she turned back to Uzume, who looked rather displeased.
"Well apparently Ichigo's presence spooked the guards that were Sekirei here. There are still a couple of normal thugs that were probably hired to stand watch, but nothing the two of us can't handle. I guess it's time to go and get your Ashikabi."
Uzume gulped audibly and nodded her understanding. Then Yoruichi grabbed her and she felt the odd sensation of her first shunpo. Of course Yoruichi was the one driving the technique so it probably felt a little different than if she was in control, but she couldn't deny the speed at which they moved.
Then they were in the Hospital and rapidly walking towards Chiho's room. Uzume was still anxious, as she had a slight bit more of fear than the others who were a part of this operation. If anything went wrong she might lose her Ashikabi for good and she really didn't want that to happen.
It was mostly Yoruichi dragging her along that got her to keep on moving toward the goal. The quicker they were done here, the quicker Chiho could be healed.
At last they arrived in front of Chiho's room and the two of them peered inside. Chiho was laying in the moonlight rather peacefully her chest rising and falling slowly indicating her peaceful state. Uzume frowned as she took in her Ashikabi's appearance.
Her skin was paler than the last time she had seen her, making her brown hair stand out. Uzume felt her heart clench at seeing her Ashikabi in such a peaceful state. She almost just wanted to watch her as she slept, but she had a job to do and she fully intended to get the job done.
She tentatively stepped forward as Yoruichi kept guard at the door. Uzume walked slowly to her Ashikabi and gently caressed her cheek.
Chiho's eyes lazily opened at the familiar touch and voice of her Ashikabi and her eyes widened in surprise. She immediately sat up, looking immensely pleased.
Even though her voice was instinctively a whisper, it still caused Uzume to smile brightly at the perceived eagerness within it.
"Sorry I haven't come to visit the last couple of days. I was busy finding you a new doctor, one who's sure they can cure you!"
Uzume couldn't help the excitement that crept into her voice as she said this. It had been a long time for Chiho. Even before Uzume had met her Chiho had been sick, so when her eyes lit up in an expectant kind of way, Uzume couldn't have been happier. Then she noticed that Chiho's happiness seemed to dim.
"Are you sure, Uzume-chan? I was beginning to think that I would never be able to get out of here."
Chiho then glanced out the window to the rising moon.
"I felt like I would never find a cure."
Her voice was still a whisper, but Uzume could hear both the despair and the hope contained within her Ashikabi's voice.
Uzume tried to stop that kind of thinking in its tracks so she pulled Chiho into a fierce hug, eliciting a startled "Meep!" from the bedridden girl.
"I promised that we would find a cure, Ashikabi-sama. And then we would go to the beach and have fun! Don't give up, we're close. Really close! Just trust me."
Chiho seemed stunned for a moment by the forwardness of her Sekirei, but eventually returned the hug that Uzume was giving her.
"Of course, Uzume-chan. I haven't forgotten. If you say that you've found a cure then you have."
Finally it seemed that Chiho came to the realization that it was definitely not visiting hours anymore and that they weren't quite as alone as she had thought if the purple haired woman smirking at them in the corner was anything to go by. Once the woman caught her eye, the smirk widened.
"Nice to meet you, Chiho-baby, my name's Yoruichi. I'm here to help get you out without any problems."
Chiho blushed at someone else using Uzume's pet name for her and seemed a little confused by Yoruichi's wording if the tilt of her head was anything to go by.
"What kind of problems could come from checking out of the hospital, even if it is late at night?"
Yoruichi's eyes glinted of mischief as she answered Uzume's Ashikabi.
"Well, we're not exactly taking you legally."
Chiho felt a little dumbfounded at how easily Yoruichi had stated her intention to abduct her illegally from the hospital and turned to Uzume who had a bit of a sheepish look on her face.
"Well if you wanna be technical about it, we kinda need to kidnap you from here."
Chiho seemed a bit stunned by this revelation, but nodded her head acceptingly.
Both Uzume and Chiho looked over at Yoruichi who had just clapped her hands as though ready to get the show on the road. She then pulled out a familiar black bag. At least it was familiar to Uzume.
"Wait a minute! You're going to use that again! I thought you had something else to transport her!"
Chiho looked a bit taken aback at her Sekirei's outburst, though Yoruichi only seemed a bit confused.
"It is different! Look, it has air holes!"
Yoruichi then showed the bag off, but it was so dark that the other two couldn't make out what she was talking about.
Uzume gave a questioning noise acknowledging her Ashikabi.
"Are you sure about this?"
Uzume sighed and dragged a hand over her face as she nodded.
"They're a little crazy, but they're definitely your best bet."
Chiho nodded her understanding as she looked back to Yoruichi who was still proudly displaying the black bag. Sighing she stated her terms.
"I'll go with you since Uzume-chan seems to trust you, but I refuse to be put in a bag like some kind of luggage."
Yoruichi looked slightly put out by Chiho's comparison, mumbling something about luggage not being afforded air holes, but she acquiesced quickly enough.
Chiho was a little scared as she witnessed Yoruichi become much more serious. It completely transformed her demeanor and she now had a sort of deadly aura about her.
"Well I think that we've bought enough time. Uzume!"
Uzume felt herself straighten involuntarily at Yoruichi's command.
"Bring Chiho over to me. If we are going to do this, we're going to do it so that they can't catch us."
Uzume nodded, though there was a question within her eyes as she lightly picked up her Ashikabi and began to walk toward Yoruichi. She gently gave Chiho over to Yoruichi, wondering what the woman was going to do now.
Yoruichi then sighed as she looked at Uzume.
"Sorry to say this Uzume, but you're too slow. You'd only slow us down if I took you. You can also defend yourself."
Uzume was beginning to see where Yoruichi's train of thought was heading and although she did agree, she didn't like it.
"I'll meet you at the hideout. Get there as quickly as you can."
Yoruichi then pressed the radio in her ear.
"This is Yoruichi. I've gotten the target, Ichigo how's it going on your end?"
Before Uzume heard an answer, Yoruichi had vanished in a shunpo. Uzume stared at the space Yoruichi had just occupied for a second before scowling and following after her. She really needed to learn that technique.
Ichigo heard Yoruichi's question, but chose to ignore it in favor of dodging a vicious staff thrust towards his stomach area. Everything had been going fine as he blew pretty much all the first Sekirei that had first responded to the attack. And then these two showed up.
One was a tall woman with long, dark green, hair and blue eyes. She was wearing a blue and white tight belly-top that displayed the Sekirei Crest on her left breast, revealing quite a bit of cleavage. Dark long gloves, stockings held by a garter over her bloomers, and thigh length boots finished off her attire.
The other was wearing a purple, yellow, and black outfit that wrapped around her and was held together by a small metal ring right below her breast. Portions of her midriff, her sides, her arms, even the outer portions of her thighs were exposed, while the rest was checkered back and forth with purple and yellow. She had long black thigh high boots and short black gloves to finish her attire. Her black hair was shaved quite close to her head.
Neither of the two Sekirei would be a problem on their own, but their teamwork was good enough to make Ichigo at least pay attention to them.
"Who the hell are you!?"
That was staff wielder, as he was calling her in his mind, snarling at him. She really wasn't too bad with a staff, but compared to Ikkaku she just didn't compare, especially since she had no blade to counter his.
Ichigo was beginning to get a bit tired of this charade that they had been doing. The two were decent fighters for their species, but they had nothing on him. He had fought demons such as Zaraki Kenpachi and Ulquiorra. These two just didn't stack up.
"Yeah, do you have any other people in there, or is that it?"
He had definitely decimated at least five other Sekirei before these two popped up, so he wouldn't be surprised if there were more waiting in the woodworks getting ready to attack him. Unfortunately he was never going to get an answer from those two, because they were now looking past him with quite a bit of fear.
Ichigo glanced behind him, only to come face to face with MBI's Dog once more. Her smile was a bit intimidating, even though he knew that she probably wouldn't even be able to cut him with her abilities.
"My, my. I was sent to find out who was causing such a ruckus in the East, and I find numbers 16 and 18 playing around with that orange haired punk I ran into a couple nights ago."
Ichigo was measuring Karasuba as she subtly shifted her stance, drawing her blade menacingly as she did so.
"Tell me. Is that Geta-boshi with you as well?"
Ichigo snorted; somewhat amused that someone else was using his nickname for Urahara.
"Sorry, but he had other engagements he had to attend to tonight. Would you like to take a rain check?"
Ichigo was vaguely aware that the other two Sekirei were openly gaping at him. No doubt they thought that the Black Sekirei wasn't someone to get on the bad side of, but Ichigo found he didn't care. Urahara had said that this Sekirei was able to use shunpo after only seeing it a few times and he was curious at how much growth the Sekirei could get from defeat. She probably had never been beaten before if her strength was able to actually make Urahara work when compared to the rest of her species.
Karasuba merely chuckled at Ichigo's inquiry before turning her attention to the other two Sekirei.
"Sorry, but I don't think that trash like you are going to be able to handle this little shindig, please die."
Her request was said with such a straight face that Ichigo almost missed when Karasuba lunged for the other two Sekirei, who would definitely be wounded pretty badly by the number 4. Ichigo acted on instinct and moved in front of the two with a shunpo, blocking Karasuba's blade on his own. It was actually the first time he had had to use his zanpakuto since firing off the Getsuga Tenshou earlier.
"Oh? You would protect weaklings like that?"
Ichigo managed to make an attempt at a shrug despite his arms being rather pre-occupied with holding Karasuba at bay.
"Sorry, but I protect everybody weaker than me, it's just how I'm wired. They can't fight so I'll protect them."
Karasuba's smile never left her face as she stared at something behind Ichigo.
"I'm not sure they're too thankful for that."
Ichigo became aware of the two Sekirei attempting to attack him from behind. He shifted his center of gravity and spun so that he could push off Karasuba and focus on the other two for a moment. They seemed fairly surprised as their attacks slammed into the side of his blade rather than his back and he pushed so that they were sent flying away from him.
Ichigo had no time to be satisfied because Karasuba was once more in his face and a vicious slash was blocked as he once more turned his attention to the Black Sekirei.
"You're not half bad Strawberry-kun, I think you might make a nice replacement for that damn Geta-boshi."
Ichigo grunted as he pushed Karasuba back. She had some pretty decent strength for being such a slender person. It wasn't anything he couldn't handle, but it was slightly annoying. He supposed he would have to be a little more on his guard around this particular Sekirei.
She then surprised him by slipping into a shunpo. He was able to follow her progress fairly easily, after all he had seen some pretty monstrous speed in Byakuya and Yoruichi, but it surprised him that she was able to use it as she was after having only seen it a couple of times and being able to copy it to the extent that she had.
Well, if she wanted to fight with speed, he would fight her with some speed. Disappearing into his own shunpo at the last second just as Karasuba made to slash at his neck, he relished the slight look of surprise on her face.
"What's with that look? You didn't think Geta-boshi was the only one who could pull of that move did you?"
Karasuba's grunt of frustration answered his question, but before the two could once more engage, the two Sekirei from before came flying toward Ichigo once more. Sighing, Ichigo decided that enough was enough. He gathered reiatsu to his blade once more and fired a slightly underpowered Getsuga Tenshou.
If the looks on the faces of the two attacking Sekirei were anything to go by, they were completely unprepared for this kind of attack from him. As they were once more sent flying, this time they crashed into a building and it looked as though they weren't coming back out. Ichigo once more turned his attention to Karasuba, who had watched these proceedings with slightly widened eyes that seemed to communicate that she had just thoroughly enjoyed the show he had just given her.
"What an interesting technique you've got there. Let's see if I can force you to use it on me!"
Karasuba's peace said, she once more disappeared into a shunpo, though Ichigo could still track her. He sighed as he brought his blade up to counter a downward slash by Karasuba. However, this time it seemed she wasn't done and used her blade as a kind of wedge to vault herself over Ichigo's head. She came down behind him and he spun to once more meet her blade.
The two then took part in a flurry of slashes, counters, and thrusts. Sparks flew from the two blades as they collided again and again, momentarily lighting up each of their faces. Finally Karasuba used a move that Ichigo wasn't expecting.
She once more caught Zangetsu's blade with her own, put instead of diverting the attack she held it. She then twisted her blade so that she could thrust toward Ichigo. Ichigo though fast and was able to lower himself to keep from being pierced, but Karasuba still wasn't done. She then used her opening to slash downward at Ichigo's exposed shoulder, but Ichigo wasn't going to give her time.
Ichigo lunged forward and shoulder checked the Black Sekirei sending her flying backwards. She rolled with her fall and landed on her feet poised to do battle once more.
"Heh, your swordsmanship is actually pretty good."
Karasuba dipped her head in acknowledgement of Ichigo's words.
"Thanks. You're not so bad yourself."
Ichigo grinned. He was about to once more attack Karasuba, but a crackling in his ear alerted him to the fact that someone was contacting him.
"I've got the target to the base, you can draw back now Ichigo."
Ichigo sighed, momentarily debating the pros and cons of just continuing to fight, but he decided that he had had enough. He had made a name for himself tonight, being able to take on all the gathered Sekirei and MBI's dog probably meant that he would be feared by all other Ashikabi and Sekirei.
Ichigo straightened from his stance, though Karasuba still remained tense, waiting for an attack or opening. However, when he placed his sword on his back once more, she seemed slightly puzzled.
"What happened? Are you too afraid to continue?"
Ichigo snorted. He would have to finish this sometime with Karasuba.
"Sorry, but I completed my part of the mission tonight. Tell MBI that the North is now under my protection. If they try to interfere there I'll make them my next target."
He then turned his gaze to a couple of the first Sekirei to arrive and noticed that they were beginning to regain consciousness.
"And tell Higa that the Ashikabi of the North sends his greetings."
With his final piece sad Ichigo then disappeared into a shunpo, vanishing from the battlefield.
Karasuba considered the place where he had just been seconds ago, but apparently decided that he was really gone. Sighing she sheathed her Nodachi. It seemed that Geta-boshi wasn't the only interesting guy that she had encountered the other night. She hoped that whoever was chosen to wing the Discipline Squad would be as interesting, she would be finding out soon enough. Shaking her head she disappeared in her own shunpo, making her way back towards MBI headquarters.
The Sekirei that had been left behind and were awake just stared at the spot the two had been battling at only moments before. One decided to speak up.
"What just happened?"
Another shook her head as she went to go check on number 16 and 18.
"I have no idea, but I think we just got a beat down from an Ashikabi."
Sighing, her companion shook her head and went to help. What a crazy night.
Ichigo felt himself relax as he entered into the underground training room that was serving as their impromptu base of operations. Yoruichi stood near the entrance leaning on the wall with her arms crossed and her eyes closed. When he entered she pushed herself off and greeted him.
"Yo, Ichigo, what took you so long to get back here? And why didn't you answer me before?"
Ichigo scowled in annoyance at his mentor's question.
"I ran into number 4. Apparently she knows how to use shunpo now."
Yoruichi's eyebrows rose at that statement.
"Oh, now that's a scary thought."
Ichigo only grunted in agreement as he made his way over to where Orihime had Chiho laid out before her. It seemed that the girl had wasted no time in getting to healing Uzume's Ashikabi and Ichigo noted Uzume hovering near Orihime as she worked. He also noted that Akitsu was dutifully sitting near Orihime.
He then looked around the room and asked something that had been bugging him since he had come into the building.
"Where's Geta-boshi? You'd think he would've wanted to see the fruits of his operation."
Yoruichi shrugged as she sauntered over to watch Orihime work. Chiho seemed rather fascinated by the orange dome that she found herself encased in. Yoruichi couldn't blame the girl, it wasn't the most conventional way of healing, even by Soul Society's standards.
"Kisuke apparently went for a walk somewhere, I've got no idea exactly what he's doing, but it's probably pretty interesting."
Ichigo nodded as he continued to watch Orihime work and noticed that Chiho's eyes were getting wider and wider. Finally Orihime let out a smile and cancelled her technique.
"There you go Chiho-chan. Do you feel any pain or any kind of discomfort right now?"
Chiho numbly shook her head in the negative and Uzume squealed as she tackled her Ashikabi into a fierce hug.
Orihime wore a proud smile and Ichigo found himself smiling in return. Matsu then came up to him and studied him very closely poking and prodding him. Ichigo was about to ask what she was doing, before he was enveloped in a surprisingly chaste hug. He blushed a bit at Matsu's forwardness, but was able to awkwardly return the hug.
"I'm glad you came back safe Ashikabi-sama."
Ichigo chuckled at Matsu's relief.
"I don't think there's anyone in this city that could beat me except perhaps Yoruichi and Geta-boshi."
Matsu sighed at Ichigo's answer and replied with an explanation.
"Nevertheless, I was worried, it's hard to sit on the sideline while my Ashikabi fights. I think we're a rather inverse type of Sekirei/Ashikabi relationship."
Ichigo smiled at that and then let out a yelp of surprise, he had felt a very distinct pinch and he knew who had caused it.
"Did you just-?"
Matsu merely smirked as she let out a perverted giggle.
"Ichigo-tan sure has nice muscles!"
Ichigo sighed as he pried off his perverted Sekirei. And they were having a moment too.
His gaze then slid to Orihime who was now gazing at Akitsu in a way that told Ichigo she was about to try and help heal someone.
Akitsu looked up at Orihime and Ichigo could see the hope in the other Sekirei's eyes. Orihime smiled as she offered Akitsu a hand.
"I said that I would try to fix you. Everything that's broken can be fixed and I think I still have enough reiatsu to help you as well."
Akitsu seemed confused by Orihime's words for a moment, before comprehension slowly dawned on her face. It seemed that that hope in Akitsu's eyes had grown and she tentatively took Orihime's hand and allowed her to pull her to her feet.
"Let's see if we can fix you right up, okay?"
Akitsu could only nod as she followed Orihime over to where Chiho had been laying just a few seconds ago. Uzume was currently swinging Chiho around and laughing a little further on with Yoruichi watching in amusement. Ichigo then noticed that Minato and Musubi were nowhere to be seen.
"Where did the other two go?"
Matsu was the one who answered him this time.
"Musubi-tan and Minato-tan have gone back to Izumo, they're probably getting some rest after their crazy day."
Ichigo nodded in acceptance as he continued to watch Uzume celebrate with her Ashikabi. He thought he rather liked the bond that those two shared and he decided that he would protect their bond, even if he had to completely dismantle the Sekirei Plan himself.
Orihime felt a little bit nervous as she knelt down with Akitsu. She had said that she would fix Akitsu so that her friend could find her Ashikabi and she was sure that she would be able to do so. She supposed even after all this time she still felt a bit nervous, and she felt that if she did heal Akitsu, she might decide to become Ichigo's Sekirei.
She couldn't stop another pang of jealousy at that stray thought, but she decided to ruthlessly crush her insecurities down into the deepest part of her soul. She had said that she would help her friend and she meant it.
Studying the mark on Akitsu's forehead, Orihime decided to be on the safe side and with a mutter of "Souten Kisshun, I reject" Akitsu was encompassed in her orange dome.
Orihime watched with satisfaction as she focused on the mark that Akitsu had observed as it slowly faded away, until nothing but smooth skin was left. Sighing in content, Orihime ended her technique. She had done her job once more, and now Akitsu was free to choose whatever Ashikabi she wanted. Orihime was glad for her friend as she stated this.
"It seems that I've done it. Congratulations, Akitsu-chan, you're not broken anymore."
Akitsu tentatively reached up and touched her forehead where the mark had been. She looked up trying to see with her eyes, but it was definitely in her blind spot. Orihime had luckily had the forethought to bring a small mirror with her and handed over it without complaint for Akitsu to examine herself.
Akitsu twisted and turned as she gazed into the mirror as if trying to see whether or not Orihime was telling the truth. Finally a smile that reached her eyes lit up Akitsu's face. It was a small smile true, but it was the first time that Orihime had seen a smile reach the ice Sekirei's eyes. Then Akitsu did something that Orihime wasn't expecting. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to Orihime's own.
Orihime felt her eyes widen in shock, just as Akitsu's wings burst from behind her. There was another second and then Akitsu leaned back, leaving Orihime with a slightly cool taste. Orihime was sure that her mouth had dropped in shock. She had been expecting Ichigo to be Akitsu's Ashikabi. She glanced over to Ichigo and Matsu and they too had their jaws hanging open.
Orihime couldn't help the giggle that bubbled up from her mouth at their surprised faces and she turned her attention once more to Akitsu. Akitsu was fidgeting under her gaze, before she stilled and bowed her head.
"I'm sorry. Was I too forward?"
Akitsu's desperate whisper tore at Orihime's heartstrings and she found herself shaking her head in denial.
"No, it was just unexpected. Are you sure you're okay with me?"
Akitsu nodded as she raised her head.
"You're now my Ashikabi. Forever and ever."
Orihime smiled at Akitsu's and nodded her acceptance. Perhaps she was just in shock of winging her own Sekirei, but she found that she genuinely like Akitsu and she would fight so that the Sekirei never had to fell "broken" ever again.
Minaka Hiroto was frowning as he looked at a computer screen within his office. MBI had long ago closed, but he still had a few things that he wanted to observe. There had been an interesting incident at his competitor's place tonight and he had a shrewd idea as to what the cause was. Karasuba was probably making her way back right now.
Minaka locked his fingers as he scanned the computer once more. Kurosaki Ichigo might become a problem later on in the plan if he wasn't put in check, but he would have to wait before something like that could happen. Shrugging Minaka closed the files he had been working on and was about to open another when he stilled.
He had heard the rustle of something in the background and that generally meant that something was about to go wrong. Glasses reflecting the light of his screen he twirled his chair around and gave a hearty greeting.
"Why hello there what an unexpected visit! May I enquire as to what your purpose is for this meeting?"
From the shadows came some distinct clops as a man dressed in green appeared before Minaka. His bucket hat shadowed his eyes and Minaka noted the old style geta that the man wore. The hat lifted and Minaka was met with a piercing gaze, one that reminded him a little of his own.
"It's quite nice to meet you Minaka Hiroto-san. My name is Urahara Kisuke, and I have some things that I need to discuss with you."
Finally got another one made. I'm fairly certain this is one of my longer chapters, though perhaps not the longest. I realized in the last author's note I said that Ichigo would be winging another Sekirei, but well, that didn't work out. I had gotten halfway through the chapter had the person I wanted winged, realized what I wrote was stupid and went back and redid it. So in compensation, Akitsu is fixed and winged! A shit ton of you guys have been wanting this to happen, and happened it did. Some of you will be happy some of you won't, but this was actually the other pairing that has been locked in from the start. Orihime's relationship with Ichigo will become kind of complicated as the fic goes on and I thought that Akitsu would be a good Sekirei for her.
In any case, it's been a blast writing this and fanfiction in general again. Because of this fic I decided to upload The Lucid Berserker, which has actually become more popular than this one. Worry not! I shall endeavor to write the two fics at once, but this one was put on the backburner a little bit because of the pace I was writing Berserker. I don't know when Ichigo will wing another Sekirei, but it will probably be fairly soon. Chiho has been saved, Uzume is happy, and Orihime "fixed" Akitsu. This brings us to the end of the kind of sort of arc I had going which set up the rescuing of Chiho. There was some other important stuff that was actually set up for things down the line as well.
I'm glad that this story is still pretty damn popular, so much so that I think I have like the third best counts behind Transcendent Ashikabi and Veiled Moon. Those two fics are pretty awesome though so it's cool. At the current count I think I'm over 300 follows and just shy of 300 favs, with reviews about 140. It's been a cool ride and this fic helped me get back in the swing of things and had other creative juices flowing. I think I'm done with my little rant so we'll finish up as usual.
Questions, comments, concerns? PM me! Still no beta, so there are still typo and grammar stuff, if you found one or are a willing person to do it, PM me! If you're feeling kind leave a review, as I've been saying, I don't write for reviews, but they help me know there's an interest in this story. I think that's it so onto the disclaimer!
Disclaimer: I do not own Sekirei or Bleach! They belong to Sakurako Gokurakuin and Tite Kubo respectively, please support the official release!
P.S. I had one review that was probably one of the nicest ways I've had someone tell me they didn't like the story. It was actually kind of awesome because they were so gracious about it. Anyway, hope you guys enjoyed the chapter. Peace out.