SSC: I. AM. BACK!
SSC: Now I know I haven't updated in awhile, but I have been busy with family, school, and illnesses that put me in large amounts of pain.
Harribel: Sixsamchaos does not own Bleach in any way, shape, or form. It belongs to Tite Kubo. He also don't own anything from other animes, books, or videogames as well. They belong to their respective owners.
Hanataro: However, he owns the plot and any OCs that he creates.
Now, as for my stories, I have not given up on them, but with things like Graduation so close it might take a while to get back into the game. This story is just a little thing I decided to write to celebrate Memorial Day.
I am also rewriting my Hanataro and the Guardian story, and I have already rewritten the first four chapters. I am also working on the After the Struggle story as well.
"Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime."
As Xander placed the historical novel back on the shelf, the cowboy could not help but agree wholeheartedly with the book's author.
'You have no idea how right you are, Earnest Hemingway.'
The Guardian sighed, as he continued searching through the wide aisles of the Karakura Town Library. The quiet air of the peaceful building provided a sense of calm that the cowboy had not felt in years, a calm that the Guardian relished and appreciated greatly. Stretching his aching muscles and groaning softly from the satisfying pops and cracks, Xander returned to the task at hand. Although the Guardian had not been in the World of the Living for long, the cowboy knew that he had a schedule to keep and couldn't stay in this serene sanctuary much longer.
'Come on. Ichigo told me that this place has a lot of information on the previous wars. There has to be some information on the soldier I am looking for.'
Knowing that he wouldn't be able to find the information he sought without help, Xander walked over to the elderly woman who was typing away on the library computer.
"Excuse me, ma'am," asked the Guardian politely.
The elderly librarian took a moment before she turned her attention to the cowboy. Raising her brow at Xander's strange choice of attire, the librarian returned a polite yes.
"I was hoping if you had a list of names on medics that served in the military since World War II."
The librarian looked puzzled. "That is awfully specific, son. Is there someone you are looking for in particular?"
The Guardian nodded. "The medic I am looking for actually saved my grandfather's life several times during World War II, but I haven't been able to find anything about him."
The librarian looked at the cowboy strangely for a minute before returning to the computer. "I believe that I can find the information you are looking for. Do you know the person's name?"
Xander nodded, although he felt slightly guilty for lying to the old woman, but knew that she would never believe him had he told her the truth. The fact that he knew spiritual beings watching over the living was farfetched enough on its own.
"Yes. The medic's name was Hanataro Yamada."
"Hmm. What a strange name," murmured the librarian, as she typed the name into the computer's search network. The cowboy nearly snorted, as he thought back to how Ichigo and Ganju expressed their feelings about the medic's unique name. The orange-haired substitute didn't know whether Hanataro's name was intended for a girl or a boy, while Ganju merely found it a little strange.
"Well. We don't have any books about Hanataro Yamada, but I was able to find this small profile about the man," the librarian said kindly.
Xander smiled. "It's fine. Any information is useful information."
The old librarian printed out the profile and gave them to Xander after he had paid the appropriate printing fee. Skimming through the information, the cowboy nodded before deciding to leave.
Carefully holding onto the small stack of papers, Xander took a deep breath before ringing the doorbell. After a moment of waiting, the door opened to reveal the adorable face of Yuzu Kurosaki, as she smiled at the tall Guardian. The cowboy smiled back and was about to enter until…
"That hurt damn it," screamed the pissed off Guardian, as he held his possibly broken nose. Fortunately, Xander was able to keep a tight hold on his papers, so they weren't thrown about when he was launched from the doorstep. From the doorway, Isshin Kurosaki shook his head in amused disappointment.
"I am very disappointed in you, my guest. A real man would have been able to see my surprise dropkick of doom. However, it also serves as a punishment!"
"A punishment for what," screamed Xander.
"For swearing in front of my daughter," cried Isshin, as he dramatically pointed at a shocked Yuzu.
"I wouldn't have sworn if you hadn't kicked me in the face you crazy old man! I thought you told me that you only did this kind of thing with Ichigo!"
"Such disrespect! It seems you need another lesson on manners," smirked the elder Kurosaki, as he tried to tackle the wounded cowboy.
However, Xander was prepared this time and ducked before the former shinigami could grab him. Tightening his hold on the stack of paper, Xander rushed into the house, while Yuzu ran over to her father who had face planted into the lawn.
"Great dodge, my guest," muffled Isshin.
Xander sighed as he entered Ichigo's room. Said orange-haired substitute looked over at the cowboy, while Rukia paused on her drawing of Chappy. Noticing the healing wound, Ichigo knew that his crazy old man was the cause of it and noticed that his father was still lying out in the front yard. Shaking his head, the carrot top asked the Guardian how his day was.
"It was a bit tiring, but I found what I was looking for. It would have been better if your dad hadn't decided to redecorate my face with his foot."
Ichigo snorted. "The old man's always been like that. Just be glad you're only here for a few more hours."
Rukia nodded. "Ichigo's right. You might be an ally of the Soul Society, but we can't have Zennousha knowing about you yet. You could be in danger if you go off on your own."
The cowboy rolled his eyes, but was actually touched by his friends' concern. "I've spent a good ten years evading hunter-killer squads that had the latest technology the multiverse had to offer. I think I can handle a few ghosts and assassins."
"It doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful," scowled Ichigo.
"Anyway. What were you looking for," asked Rukia, as the smaller shinigami saw the stack of papers that the Guardian was holding.
Xander walked over to where Rukia had been sitting before dropping the papers and sat against the bed. Curious, both shinigami looked over the stack of papers before widening at the information that Xander had found.
"Xander. Is this Hanataro's military profile," asked Rukia.
The cowboy nodded. "Yeah. You guys told me how none of you could remember how you died since so much time has passed. I decided to look up a little info on the guy since he'll be my mentor in the healing arts."
Ichigo raised a brow. "But why would you look for information about back when he was alive?"
"Check the date."
Confused, Ichigo and Rukia turned to see that the calendar read May twenty-seventh before turning back to the Guardian. However, it seemed that the orange-haired substitute understood now.
"It's because of Memorial Day isn't it?"
Xander nodded, while Rukia remained confused. "Hold on. Why is today so important?"
Realizing that she had no idea about the American holiday, Ichigo went on to explain how citizens of the United States would celebrate and remember their fallen military soldiers.
"I still don't get why Hantaro is involved in all of this," said Rukia, as she once again looked at Xander.
"Hanataro told me that he was in the Soul Society for about seventy years. Since the year is 2013, I think he must have died sometime during World War II."
Rukia shivered at the mention of the ghastly war that nearly destroyed the Eastern part of the world. The near decade of fighting caused a major influx of souls into the Soul Society, especially with what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. However, it was also a feast for the hollows, which caused many conflicts between the shinigami and their natural enemies. In addition, the shinigami usually looked over Japan rather than the entire world, so it was difficult to purify all the souls throughout the world.
"So you mean to say that Hanataro could have been a medic during the war," asked Ichigo.
"Yeah. I looked at the small bit of info that I found. Apparently, he served for the Allies as one of the Japanese-American volunteers. He was trained to be a medic, since he was studying to become a doctor before the war."
Rukia smiled a little. "It seems that Hanataro was destined to heal people if he did it even before he died."
Xander frowned. "It's dangerous being the medic. Having a red cross on your helmet only keeps you alive so long as you heal the enemy soldiers. Most of the time, medics are targeted because they keep the other soldiers alive."
Ichigo frowned a bit, as he read over some of the documents. "But how did Hanataro die?"
At this point, Xander sighed. "Hanataro was assigned to a regiment sometime during the Pacific War. He was already a field medic and worked as an assistant in the hospitals during the fight against Germany. He ended up getting sent to Iwo Jima later on to act as a field medic."
Rukia frowned. "That still doesn't explain how he was killed."
Xander sighed. "Hanataro was treating a wounded marine when a artillery shell hit nearby. The shrapnel killed the marine instantly and Hanataro was torn apart. The sad thing was that the medic was still alive, but no one would help him. He ended up dying a slow, painful death next to a crater."
Ichigo scowled, while Rukia gaped at the cowboy. "You mean to tell me that Hanataro was abandoned by his own squad members?"
Xander scoffed. "They didn't mean to abandon him. Despite the mistrust towards him for being Japanese, a lot of soldiers owed their lives to Hanataro. Besides, artillery shells were flying left and right during the battle. It was hard enough telling what limb belonged to what body."
"That still doesn't excuse them from abandoning Hanataro," growled Ichigo.
Xander frowned at the substitute. "You really think that they abandoned him on purpose? You soul reapers don't know the kind of warfare that those soldiers fought. They didn't have spiritual sensing powers, magic swords, or any powers that you had. All they had was their training, their weapons, and their squad mates. Nothing more, nothing less."
Rukia frowned. "That maybe true but those men never fought against hollows."
Xander scoffed. "The fact that they were fighting fellow humans is worse than fighting a hollow. A hollow is a monster that could be purified and reborn as a clean soul, meaning that they don't really get killed. The men that fought during World War II on either side all had to deal with the trauma of fighting other humans, not monsters. There is also the fact that many of those fallen soldiers, no matter which side they were on, could have turned into hollows themselves."
The Guardian's words made both shinigami look down, as they knew Xander was technically right; however, the revelation of Hanataro's violent death still left a bitter taste in their mouths. The three sat in silence until Ichigo's gaze returned to the Guardian.
"So what are you going to do now? You know how Hanataro died, but what do you plan to do with this info?"
Xander looked down a bit before taking something out of his pocket. Curious, Ichigo and Rukia looked to see a small necklace with a silver medallion in the shape of a shield. On the shield was a ruby in the shape of a red cross. Hanging from the small chain, the medallion shined brightly in the sunlight.
"It's beautiful. Did you make this yourself," asked Rukia in awe.
The cowboy shook his head. "No. I asked Hinamori to create the medallion, although I provided the designs. I planned on giving this to Hanataro on his birthday, but I think today would be more appropriate."
Ichigo smiled softly. "It's a nice gift. I heard about how hard he has it in Soul Society. Your gift will definitely help his day."
"Thanks, but the gift is not complete. The medallion was created to hold the spiritual pressure of those close to Hanataro. This way, our friend would feel safe even when he is alone."
"You want us to put some of our power into the medallion as well," spoke Rukia.
Xander nodded. "You were Hanataro's friend even before you met Ichigo, while carrot top here gave the kid some confidence. He made Hanataro want to strive forward and protect everyone he cares about."
Ichigo scowled at the comment about his hair, but nodded in agreement. "So, how are we going to do this?"
Xander placed the trinket on the table before gesturing his host to place their hands over the medallion. "Hinamori has informed me that one merely has to focus some of their spiritual energy over the medallion. It'll then absorb the energy and store it within the ruby. I've already placed my own energy inside it, as did Hinamori, Ganju, Isane, and Unohana. Hitsugaya, Matsumoto, and Ukitake gave some of their spiritual energies as well."
Ichigo and Rukia nodded and began focusing their spiritual energies to their hands. However, Ichigo seemed to have some difficulty, as he was trying not to place too much energy due to his lack of control. As their hands began radiating the familiar blue energies, Xander nodded as he saw the medallion responding to the presented powers, shining a brilliant crimson red. Soon, the medallion began absorbing the spiritual energies for a few minutes before the crimson energy faded away. Nodding, Xander gestured Ichigo and Rukia to stop and picked up the medallion for the two shinigami to see.
Ichigo and Rukia stared into the red gem in slight awe, as they saw their powers glisten beautifully within a rainbow of colors, dancing with the other colors that represented the energies of their comrades. Xander smiled at the completed work before placing back in the box. However, he raised a brow when he saw Rukia's questioning eyes.
"I know that this is a very thoughtful gift, but what made you decide to have Hinamori make this gift anyway?"
Xander rested his head on his hands, as he leaned against Ichigo's bed. "It was actually Hinamori's idea to make the medallion. Besides, check out the marine Hanataro was trying to save."
Ichigo and Rukia blinked before shifting through the small stack of papers. However, Ichigo's eyes widened when he found the document containing the information. Passing the paper over to Rukia, the ice princess was also shocked by the information. Both shinigami looked to the cowboy for confirmation, as Xander merely nodded.
"You mean…" trailed Rukia.
"The marine that Hanataro was trying to save was the Xander of this world."
Ichigo frowned, but understood the connection. "So your counterpart is dead in our world."
Xander nodded, but passed another document to the two shinigami. "It turns out that I was part of the same regiment Hanataro was assigned to. However, the bigger shock is the fact that Hanataro knew several familiar faces during the war."
"This can't be…"
"Now that is a freaky coincidence," said Ichigo.
"Sergeant Ganju Shiba," read Rukia, as she listed the people Hanataro had either saved or knew.
"Assistant Nurse Isane Kotetsu."
"Head Nurse Retsu Unohana."
"Lieutenant Jushiro Ukitake."
"Private First Class Toshiro Hitsugaya."
"Assistant Nurse Momo Hinamori."
These were the names that the two shinigami recognized, as Rukia continued to scan over the list that spanned over three pages. Xander nodded, as he saw his friends stunned by the number of lives Hanataro had been able to save. Ichigo was amazed at the number of medals Hanataro had earned, including the Purple Heart, Commendation Medal, and Silver Star. However, both soul reapers were unsurprised that Hanataro was one of the Chief Medical Officers for his regiment and was a doctor for the makeshift military hospitals.
"Hopefully, giving the medallion and some of the information would make him have a little more confidence," spoke Xander.
Rukia shook her head. "It wouldn't matter if Hanataro knew about his past or not. He would still try to become one of the best medics of the Soul Society."
Ichigo nodded. "Hanataro doesn't care about his own troubles, so long as his friends and family are safe."
"Hanataro knows the meaning of sacrifice. However, it will still be nice if we were to let him know that we appreciate him."
Rukia smiled. "I'm sure he'll love the gift, Xander."
Xander smirked. "I'm hoping that he'll do something more than just receive the present, especially since I am not the one to deliver the medallion."
Ichigo raised a brow. "Then who do you plan on delivering the gift?"
Xander laughed and began sharing his plan with the two soul reapers.
*That Night in the Soul Society*
Harribel shifted nervously, as she stepped up to Hanataro's little home just outside the Seireitei. Holding the small box that held the medallion, Harribel looked around with hopeful eyes that someone would be there to help her, but was disappointed to find the expected quietness of the night. Although the former Espada was not usually nervous about most things, the little medic always seemed to play her heartstrings like a maestro. Sighing, Harribel knocked on the door.
"Harribel-san," asked a blushing Hanataro.
"Hello, Hanataro," smiled a slightly nervous Harribel.
"Would you like to come in for some tea?"
Harribel nodded, making sure the box was still hidden behind her. "I would like that."
As Harribel entered Hanataro's home, neither soul reaper nor arrancar noticed a certain cowboy watching from afar through a pair of binoculars. Smirking, Xander glanced to see Rukia and Ichigo rolling their eyes at him. Chuckling, the cowboy got up from his perch on a large tree branch.
Ichigo sighed before smiling softly. "I hope those two finally get together. They were made for each other."
Xander nodded. "I understand. When two people are perfect for each other, they should be together."
Rukia agreed, while making a small glance towards Ichigo, which was not unnoticed by Xander.
Xander smirked, as he believed he had just found his next targets. As Ichigo disappeared in a blur of shunpo, Xander glanced over at Rukia.
"Don't worry. He's a guy, and we're all a little oblivious when it comes to things like love," said Xander before he too disappeared.
Rukia blinked at the sudden comment until her eyes widened and her cheeks took on a rosy color.
"H-Hey! You better not try anything stupid," yelled Rukia, as she followed the Guardian and the other soul reaper.
Hope you like the story. Happy Memorial Day! Please review!