Ichigo had sunk into a deep depression after the loss of his powers and near loss of his sister Yuzu. Isshin knew that because of what he was, his powers would eventually return...they just needed a good kick start.
But first he had to keep Ichigo from giving into his depression. Ichigo was a take action type of boy, one who didn't think twice about the danger if it meant helping others. The problem was that there weren't many jobs that would fit him and he was still in school. Well, home school anyway.
Isshin had pulled his son from public to keep an eye on him, and Ichigo flourished somewhat. It also kept the teachers from asking why Ichigo now carried a bokken around with him.
Isshin was training his son in kendo, using the Soul Reaper Academy as a basis. Ichigo took to them like a duck to water, but it wasn't enough. So Isshin decided a final desperate measure was needed.
He asked Urahara for advice.
"Hmm... We're close to finding a way to give Ichigo back his soul reaper powers, but we still need time. And from the way Ichigo's been acting that's one thing we don't have a lot of. Perhaps a change of scenery is needed," suggested Urahara.
"I was thinking the same thing, but it would be hard for Ichigo to leave Karakura."
"Actually I was thinking along the lines of an entirely different dimension," admitted Urahara.
"Well back when I was still captain of Squad 12, I stumbled across a multi-verse portal that gives us the ability to travel to different worlds. You do know that Hueco Mundo was discovered entirely on accident right?"
"Go on," said Isshin. This could be just what Ichigo needed.
"Well we never had the opportunity to test the portal, because even though it was stable enough to keep it permanent, there wasn't anyone who was brave or desperate enough to try it. Well, that and old man Yamamoto said he would never sign off on letting anyone try it because they were having enough troubles with the hollows. Apparently he didn't want a repeat of the mess they caused when we first discovered them," said Urahara.
"Does it go both ways?"
"Of course it does. The only issue is finding a way to open a portal from the other side. How do you think we found the way back from Hueco Mundo? All we have to do is get Ichigo to agree to it."
"So long as he can come back, I think he'll agree. He's been in a slump for a while now."
"I just have to go there and wait for someone to come and use kido to bring me back right?" asked Ichigo.
"Yup~!" said Urahara. He neglected to mention that when he tested it earlier, he ended up a ten-year old kid. This was going to be fun! He had already left a camera where the portal let out so he could watch the look on Ichigo's face when he realized he de-age about six years. And just so he wouldn't be lonely, he was sending an old friend with Ichigo.
She was already there waiting for him. Urahara really couldn't wait to see the look on Ichigo's face when he realized who was waiting for him in a brand new gigai made just for her.
Ichigo sighed, pulled up his backpack, and walked through the portal. Urahara had already acquired enough cash for him to live on for a while in that world's currency, so he wouldn't be entirely helpless.
He walked through the portal, felt a falling sensation, and fell flat on his face.
"What the hell Urahara!" he yelled at the sky, knowing the man was watching anyway. He had seen where he would land.
Then he realized something. His voice wasn't as deep as it was normally. He looked down...and started swearing.
He was ten again! What the hell?!
The myriad of emotions that went across Ichigo's face went too quickly to be captured, but the one that stayed was extreme annoyance and his usual scowl.
Suddenly he heard someone coming up from behind and prepared for anything. Well, almost anything.
"ICHIGO!" squealed a certain green-haired girl with a skull-cap on her head.
"...Nel?" said Ichigo in shock.
Nel looked like a ten-year old, same as him. Where her hollow mask usually sat on her head was a cap that looked like a skull. Her hair was in a simple ponytail and she still had the odd markings on her face. While she was still acting like a child (despite being the previous Third Espada) this new form suited her better than her adult one. Ichigo noted that Urahara even gave her something new to wear.
She had a dark green hoodie with the names of her fraccion (and to his annoyance his name at the end) and a picture of the odd creature they sometimes rode on the back. She had a pair of brand new blue jeans with a white belt. Her shoes were brand new as well.
"What are you doing here Nel?"
"Urahara sent me as back-up! I can take you home via Hueco Mundo as an emergency exit!" she said proudly. It was one of the skills she had to relearn...how to open a Garganta. But the fact she had been chosen over Orihime to accompany Ichigo gave her all the incentive she needed. And to keep her fraccion safe, Urahara had given them free room and board in his training ground. As long as she could keep Ichigo from trying to go home before they found a way to bring back his powers, they could walk around the world of the living!
Well, that and she liked hanging around Ichigo.
"So where do we go first?" asked Ichigo.
"Urahara said we had to go to the big house on the hill! The man he talked to is waiting for us!" said Nel.
Ichigo hefted up his bag (he would have to check to see if his clothes still fit after the ride) and started walking. Nel hung back and looked like she wanted to ride on his shoulders like Yachiru did, but had enough sense not to. She would still tackle him with a hug if given the chance though.
Professor Samuel Oak heard someone knock on the door.
"Come in!" he called out...only to get toppled over by the massive stack of research papers he had lying around the place.
A boy with orange hair and the cheerful green-haired girl from earlier (Urahara had introduced her and explained the problem with the boy he was sending here) helped him get out and cleaned up the mess.
"Sorry about that. Blasted Urahara left me with so many questions that I still don't have the answer to," said Oak jovially.
The orange haired boy winced.
"Yeah, he tends to do that," said the boy.
"Anyway, my name is Professor Oak. Urahara asked me to get you two started on your journey."
"My name's Nel, but you already knew that!" said Nel excitedly. She had learned what Oak meant about journey earlier, and she couldn't wait!
"Well Ichigo, I have only a few questions before you get started. What is your favorite element?"
"Well there are so many it's hard to pin down just one, but there's Grass, Fire, Water, Poison, Rock, Fighting, Ground, Ice, Dark, Psychic, Steel, Normal, Ghost, Dragon, Bug, Electric, and Flying. And there are so many combinations of them that it's hard to name them all!"
"Uh, Dark I suppose."
"Ghost!" said Nel. She couldn't wait to see Ichigo's reaction.
"Do you have a second element you like?"
"Fire, I suppose."
"Excellent! You're in luck because I just got a new set of starters from a friend of mine in Johto! They aren't the usual sort, but they'll work for someone such as yourself."
Oak handed Ichigo a ball of some material he didn't recognize. It was white and had odd striations on the top.
"This here is called a Great Ball. He gave up a bigger fight than normal, so you should have some fun learning with him," said Oak cryptically.
"And as for you young lady, we have this lady here. I expect you to keep her reasonably in line, since she's prone to mischief," said Oak, handing her a different ball that was red and white.
"What do I do with it?" asked Ichigo, confused.
"Just toss it in the air," said Oak.
Ichigo shrugged, and tossed it. The ball split in half and revealed a dog with a skull on its head. The coloring was primarily dark and had a red belly.
Ichigo's eye twitched.
"What on Earth is he?"
"He's a Houndour. Nel, why don't you show him yours?" asked Oak.
She nodded and tossed her own ball.
"That is a Misdrevius. It took my colleagues some time to catch her."
Misdrevius hovered around Ichigo for a moment before she went to Nel. The two started chatting like old friends, since the ghost Pokémon clearly recognized the two of them as familiar creatures.
Ichigo noted that his new friend looked ready to bite Oak, and he swiftly grabbed it by the base of the neck. The canine glared at him before it saw the look in Ichigo's eyes. They weren't brown, but rather an icy blue.
"None of that now. If you want to work out some of your aggression later we'll do it on my terms. Otherwise you'll deal with me pal," he said firmly.
The Houndour flinched at his look and was quiet when Ichigo put him back down. However he quickly recovered when Ichigo started scratching a certain spot that had his back leg going nuts. Oak watched the interaction with interest.
"Astounding! I would have thought he would prove to be stubborn, but you have him calmed with only a few words!" said Oak impressed.
"I like animals. And you just have to let them know whose boss," said Ichigo.
"So are you going to name him?"
Ichigo considered his new friend. There was something about the canine that reminded him of someone, but he couldn't figure out who. That is, until he heard the dog's chuff when he saw Nel's new ghost friend.
"Kenpachi! That's who you remind me of!" said Ichigo. The dog reminded him of a canine Kenpachi! Always willing to fight for the hell of it.
And so, Ichigo's new canine Pokémon was named Kenpachi.
Two months after his arrival into this new dimension, Ichigo was reasonably ready to leave Oak's lab. He and Nel had stayed around for a while in order to get accustomed to the new world and to learn how to use their Pokémon in battle instead of charging in themselves. Ichigo spent some of his free time reading Oak's books on Pokémon, and Oak let him since the boy helped around his lab.
Nel had named her new Misdrevius Yume. The two got along like a building on fire.
Of course that was nothing compared to the reaction Ichigo had when he learned Urahara had come and gone in the middle of the night and left several things he would need later.
Like a modified soul pager that would let him call his family.
Ichigo was about to leave the lab when a boy came running in, obviously having slept in too long.
Oak had recently gotten a new shipment of the standard starters, Bulbasaur, Charmander and Squirtle, with a rather cranky Pikachu since the people didn't know what to do with the mouse.
The first time it shocked Ichigo, Ichigo got into a staring contest and won. His ability to win over any Pokémon was something Oak never got tired of, since it made taking care of them much easier.
Ichigo realized the kid had come for his first Pokémon and winced. The only one left was that damn Pikachu, who didn't like to work with humans. The only one it would listen to was Ichigo, since he didn't tolerate disobedience.
"Bad luck kid. All we got left is the spark-plug," said Ichigo cryptically.
The kid soon learned what Ichigo meant with he brought out the Pikachu and it turned him into a lightning rod. Nel giggled on the side and the kid glared at the Pikachu. Still, he didn't have any other choice unless he wanted to wait another month.
Apparently Ash (Ichigo finally heard his name from Oak) was willing to deal with a reluctant Pikachu rather than wait.
Ash was very surprised when Ichigo and Nel joined him.
"Aren't you guys Professor Oak's lab assistants?"
"Not really. We were only staying there so he could learn more about our power and because I helped around the lab. My name's Kurosaki Ichigo."
"Hi! I'm Nelliel, but you can just call me Nel!" said Nel with a chirp.
"I'm Ash! Ash Ketchum!"
"Well now that introductions are out-of-the-way, shall we get going? As fun as Oak's lab is, I need to get out and explore," said Ichigo.
Ichigo didn't notice it, but being away from the constant chance of fighting hollows and seeing his friends get stronger without him had done wonders for his temperament. Nel had noticed three days in that his depression was finally gone.
Ichigo noticed that Ash had Pikachu on a rope, since every time he tried to put the mouse in the ball it kicked it away.
"While I approve leaving him out, I don't think the rope is a good idea."
"It will simply direct any electric shocks straight up your arm."
"But my gloves will keep it from hitting me!" said Ash.
"Yes, but all he would have to do is direct it towards you and you'll get electrocuted. Besides, he's supposed to be your partner right? What sort of example are you giving him by not showing him any trust?" said Ichigo.
"What about your partner?" asked Ash.
"Come on out, Kenpachi!" said Ichigo.
The black and red canine came out with a howl, and went immediately to Ichigo. They had come to an understanding a few days ago. Kenpachi would follow Ichigo's commands in exchange for being allowed out of the ball more often. It helped that Ichigo had a habit of playing fetch with the dog. Kenpachi loved to play and run around, when he wasn't fighting the older Pokémon.
"What kind of Pokémon is that?" asked Ash.
"It's a Houndour. It's from the Johto region. Since you're just starting out, you'll have to live with using a Kanto region Pokédex. Professor Oak said once you had a few Gym Badges in your belt he would upgrade it to include the Johto one," said Ichigo.
"What about yours?"
"I got the Johto standard. One of his friends sent it over, since it had both Johto and Kanto databases loaded into it. Once I have a few more Pokémon in my repertoire, they said that I would get an upgraded model. Nel has the same one I do," said Ichigo.
Actually he had been given the one with both regions because he and Nel had starter Pokémon from Johto, and it was easier giving them one with both rather than just one. In a lot of ways Ichigo was similar to Ash, except he knew how to fight without his Pokémon beside him.
"What about her?"
"No, no way am I letting Yume out unless it's time to battle! Do you have any idea what sort of headaches you could get trying to understand what those two are saying? And don't get me started on the pranks!" said Ichigo quickly. Kenpachi groaned in unison.
Ash was so frustrated with Pikachu's refusal to work with him (he barely liked working with Ichigo, and that was because he sensed something sleeping in the boy!) that he threw a stone. Ichigo hadn't been in time to stop him, but when he saw what the kid hit he paled.
"While I applaud your excellent aim with that rock, right now I'm more concerned with the fact you just hit a Spearow," said Ichigo a little too calmly.
"So the Spearow in this area are mean little bastards and you just made it furious. At us. And an angry flock of Spearow are about as bad as an angry hive of Beedrill."
"...So we should be running?" said Ash, his face paling as much as Ichigo was.
"SPEAROW!" came the loud cry from the tree ten feet away from the one he just hit.
"Nel, grab Pikachu! Ash, hold on!" said Ichigo, grabbing the kid by the hand and practically using Shun Po to get the hell out of there. Nel wasn't far behind him using the Espada equivalent. Pikachu wisely didn't try to shock her at the speed they were going at.
Ichigo did noticed some sort of rainbow bird flying above him, that he would later find out was called Ho-oh.