Hi everybody. Sorry this took so long. I did finish it several months ago, but then my Laptop crashed and when I tried to get it back up it was gone. I was rather sad but eventually I mustered up enough will to try again. I wrote a thousand words, before saving it the first time before going on to write several thousand words. But when I had to restart my laptop turned out the normal save button wasn't working, so once again I had to start over. Albeit I still had the first thousand words. After that shit just started happening. Certain opportunities came up. Most didn't pan out. My Nan pissed off death. And the doctors probably. They kept saying she was going to die that very day. Every day for over a week. Admittedly she gave in eventually, but seriously she put up a great fight. Well anyway, I'm back now. Albeit not very long, I'm going on holiday in a few days, and once I get back I'm going to try and get my laptop fixed. I'm really not sure how long it's going to live for. And now without further ado, on with the story!
Disclaimer: Naruto belongs Masashi Kishimoto. I think. Well Akira Toriyama is Dragonball. I know this because of TFS. Otherwise I'd never remember. Tite Kubo I'm hoping is Bleach. Aaand I know no other names, so. Yeah I'm saying Masashi Kishimoto.
Stars sparkling in her eyes Momo couldn't help but stare at the collection of cute little decorations that were spread out in front of her. They were small little things, like a little yellow cat on a key-chain, a flower hairpin, a little hat shaped like a duck beak. There were lots of odd little cute things around to capture her attention. She hadn't actually done much looking for Rukia Kuchiki or any of people reported to be harboring her. She didn't know what to think about it really. She tried to discuss it with her captain, but he had confessed that he too had mixed feelings on the matter, and the reasons for Rukia's execution may run deeper than they first thought. He told her that for now she should just have faith in the system and that if there is anything wrong or unfair with Rukia's execution it would hopefully come to light and in the meantime he would look into it.
She had also had a brief conversation with Toshiro as well. He'd confided that he too thought something was strange with Rukia's pre-determined fate. For starters she'd been given no chance to defend her actions, no real trial either. He said it was strange how quickly central 46 was rushing into it. He also told her to be careful of the hollow while she was in the human world, saying as long as she doesn't attempt to hurt its friends then the hollow shouldn't try to kill her, but none the less she should be wary of any pranks it may pull.
Truth be told though she actually wanted to meet the hollow. It sounded rather hilarious to be around, and if she could talk to it, it might be able to help her come up with an idea to prank Toushiro with. Sometimes her childhood friend was far too serious.
Momo hummed cheerfully to herself, lost in her thoughts as her eyes skimmed over the cute little charms that were in front of her. She didn't notice the group of guys who were approaching from behind her.
"Hey cutie, what you doing over here all by yourself?"
Momo quickly spun around with a small eep at the sound of the voice only to be met with…
"What happened to your face?"
The words fell from her mouth with an innocent curiosity before she could stop herself from saying them, causing her to gain a red blush and cover her mouth with her hands. The man in front of her blushed too both, but more in anger and annoyance than embarrassment. The man had a black eye, which he was trying to cover with a pair of sun glasses, his nose was red and swollen, he had a busted lip and his once blond hair was now rather gritty, with a few bits of dry blood he'd missed when he was trying to get it out of his hair. She'd also noticed one of his front teeth was missing when she first turned around and he was still smiling at her. There was another man next to him too who seemed to be in a similarly bad condition, and seemed to be frowning at the other guy.
"Hey man, are you sure this is a good idea? I mean we just took lil' Chima to the hospital and now we're trying this again?"
The blond twirled around on his friend and growled.
"Shut the hell up dude, you know what they say right, if at first you don't get laid, try, try and try again!"
"Actually that's called harassment."
A new voice interrupted the group, and they all spun around to see an annoyed looking girl, wearing a white shirt, blue jacket and spats. Her hair was spiky around her head and was being held back with a headband.
"Tatsuki, babe what are you doing here?" said the blond chump nervously, a trickle of sweat working its way down his forehead.
"Oh you know, just exorcising. Better question would be what are you doing here, because if I remember correctly the last time we met I told you if I found you trying to pick up girls again I'd pull your balls out through your throat and plate them for you, so you had better be very, very careful with your answer."
The blond douche paled and held up both his hands in a placating gesture, allowing both Tatsuki and Momo to notice that three of the fingers on his right hand were broken.
"Now now, we ain't doing nothing bad here, Tatsuki. We were just checking to make sure this girl was okay. She seemed kind of lost ya know."
His face held an uneasy grin and it was rather easy for Momo to tell that the two thugs were rather scared of this Tatsuki girl.
"Well normally I'd put you both through the meat grinder, but by the looks of it, I'd say someone's already gone to town on you guys. So scram before I reconsider."
Needing no more encouragement the two thugs quickly made a break for the exit, knocking over a revolving stand as they went.
"Ah damnit, those idiots," moaned Tatsuki as she walked over to the stand and put it upright once more. Momo quickly approached as well, helping Tatsuki to pick up all the items of the floor and put them on the stand.
"Anyway, you okay there," Tatsuki asked Momo as she began hooking the merchandise back onto the stand.
"Yes, thank you. Although I think I could have handled myself, but your help is none the less appreciated. I just moved here so I will admit I wasn't really expecting such a thing like that to happen."
Tatsuki nodded and gave her a smile.
"Yeah, it's difficult to tell at first but, you've got a little muscle on you. Your cutesy look just makes it a little harder to tell. Oh and I'm Tatsuki by the way. Tatsuki Arisawa."
Momo quickly blushed when she realised she hadn't introduced herself and gave a quick bow.
"My apologies I really should have introduced myself right away. My name is Momo Hinamori. It's nice to meet you."
Tatsuki simply waved the girl off, somewhat amused by the girl's embarrassment.
"No need to apologize. So you just moved to Karakura?"
"Oh yes," said Momo, who wasn't really sure if she should be talking to someone like this but didn't want to appear rude. "My… family and I just arrived in Karakura today actually. We're looking for a… relative who should live around here somewhere?"
"Oh really? Who, I might know them," said Tatsuki, who was interested in the hesitance in the girls tone.
Momo thought about it. Really there was no harm in saying who she was looking for. And according to reports, Rukia's companion Ichigo Kurosaki should be around the same age as this girl. So there is a chance she might know her!
"I'm looking for a girl by the name of Rukia Kuchiki. She should be somewhere in Karakura."
"Oh the new girl," said Tatsuki, with a slightly surprised expression. "Yeah she's a girl in my class at school."
Momo's eyes widened, and then she smiled to herself. She hadn't been in the human world two hours yet and already she had a lead.
'Captain Aizen will be so proud of me,' she thought to herself.
"That's great," said Momo excitedly. "Do you know where she is?"
But to her disappointment Tatsuki shook her head.
"School's broken up for summer, and I have no idea where she lives."
Momo frowned. She thought she'd gotten a lead, but it looks like a dead end.
"But I know someone who might know where she is."
Momo instantly perked up, giving Tatsuki her full attention.
"I got a child hood friend named Ichigo. Rukia seems to stick with him a lot. Come on we can go ask him."
And before Momo could answer Tatsuki grabbed her arm and started dragging her away.
"Wait a minute, I should get the rest of my family first," Momo said, shaking her arm to try and loosen Tatsuki's grip.
"No can do, you can't just turn up at someone's house in a large group you know. And there's only going to be someone in for the next hour. We got to hurry before Isshin heads over to the clinic."
Momo frowned. She could not imagine confronting Ichigo Kurosaki and his family by herself to be a good idea.
Ichigo blearily opened his eyes.
"What the hell hit me?" he asked no one in particular. There was an answer none the less.
Ichigo looked to his right to see Rukia, thumbs clicking away on what looked like his Nintendo Ds.
"What are you doing?" he asked her.
"Playing Pokemon. Some of them are so cute. Look at this one!"
She turned the Ds around to show him the Buneary she had just caught. He could make out it was level fourteen and she'd nicknamed it Chappy.
"Urm, that's nice. You're not gonna break that are you?" he asked.
"Hmph, how rude. Of course I'm not. I am fully versed in the art of playing Pokemon."
"Right," said Ichigo, obviously confused, but choosing to put it aside. "Hey, where's Naruto?"
"Gone out for Lunch."
Ichigo gave a sigh.
"Yoruichi should be swinging by soon. She wants you to work on your flash step. She thinks it might help you keep pace with Naruto in your training sessions, because otherwise he's going to kill you."
Ichigo couldn't argue with that. Naruto's speed and strength had been something else. He hadn't even used any of those powers he'd been using before, like cloning himself, or swapping himself out. It had just been a giant ass whooping.
With a sigh, Ichigo worked on getting up and out of the futon he was in. He was slightly surprised when he felt no pain coming from his limbs, although he was still a little sore.
Seeming to realize his confusion Rukia decided to speak up.
"Orihime came by earlier. She healed the worst of your injuries."
Ichigo nodded his head. That was good. He was pretty sure Naruto had broken at least half the bones in his body.
"So how long was I out?" he asked while flexing his arm, and making sure everything worked.
"About ten hours. Would have been a lot longer if Orihime didn't heal you."
Having said that Rukia closed her Ds and put it away.
"Anyway, it's time for lunch. Tessai should be just about ready now."
Rukia got up and walked to the door soon followed by Ichigo. But the second he exited he felt something land on his shoulder. Looking over he saw a black cat perched there.
"And where do you think you're going. Dinner can wait, we have to get your flash step up to snuff before your training with Naruto starts. Otherwise you're going to die."
Renji huffed slightly as he looked down at his now empty bowl. He'd stopped at a stand to get something to eat. It didn't seem very popular, the was a guy in a coat over to the left and a girl sitting on her own not even ordering anything to his right.
"This is hopeless," he muttered to himself. "Where the hell am I going to find Rukia in a city this big? Especially if we can't even detect her."
He was going to order another bowl of food when he got a message on his soul pager. Curiously he pulled out the device and noticed it was a message from Momo.
'Got a lead, being taken to Ichigo Kurosaki's house.'
Renji quickly stood up and pressed some buttons, changing the screen to what looked like a radar with a glowing blip, the blip being Momo.
"Gotta get there quickly. If Ichigo has any friends with him Momo might not be able to win."
And like that Renji ran out the stand.
Ten seconds later the flaps on the stand were pushed aside and Naruto Uzumaki walked in, quickly walking over to the girl who was sitting by herself to the right.
"Hey Karin, how you doing?" said Naruto with a bright grin. Karin simply glared at him.
"You're a ghost. Every time we came here and I talked to you, no one else could see you. They must all think I'm crazy."
Naruto just shrugged.
"In that case too late to save your reputation now, so you might as well just go with it. More importantly, I think today I'm going to have some beef in my Ramen. What about you?"
The girl shrugged, before placing her chin on the table and giving a sigh.
"Think I'll just have some miso. Hey old man, can we have some food here?" she called, getting the owner of the stand to walk over to her.
"Sure little miss, what you having?" he asked her. The man was nearing sixty, and to Naruto he seemed to resemble old man Ichiraku an awful lot.
"Could you get us a miso and four beef Ramen please," grumbled Karin, but her words were caught by the ramen owner.
"Of course. You just watch little missy, my Ramen will have you out of your glum mood in no time!"
"Sure, thanks old man."
The chef gave a nod and a smile before walking back to his stove to prepare the ramen.
"So," said Karin, her voice little more than a drawl. "You know my brother at all?"
"Strawberry? Yeah I know him. We had a fight. I won of course," replied Naruto in his cheery voice.
"You had a fight? And here was me about to nickname you Casper, but I guess you're not as friendly as I first thought."
"Eh, it was more like training than a fight," answered Naruto.
"Why do you need to train?" asked Karin. "Has it got anything to do with those strange black clothes my brother wears occasionally?"
Naruto gave a nod.
"Yeah. Can't tell you what it's about though. Top secret stuff. If I told you I'd have to kill you. Or tie you up and throw you in a closet until the whole thing's blown over."
Karin pouted. She was rather upset about her ignorance in this matter.
"Can't you tell me something?" whined Karin.
"Sure, if you lock a moth in a box with a spider, so long as the moth is larger than the spider, the moth will eat it."
"No, I meant about what my brother's doing," said Karin, who was now trying to stamp down her annoyance with the blond Hollow.
"Ohhhh, okay then," said Naruto. "You're brother's learning how to fight Ghost's."
Karin blinked a few times.
"Yeah," said Naruto with a nod. "We're going to form our own version of the ghost Busters. Only instead of capturing evil ghosts, we're going to cleanse them of their sins and then send them into poverty."
"Well Heaven's overpopulated, so it's kind of fallen into poverty. Well most of it has anyway."
Apparently this news was finally big enough for Karen to lift her head up of the counter.
"Seriously, when I die, I'm going to live in poverty?" she said with a little bit of fear in her voice. Hey it wasn't a nice thing to think about.
"Probably not," said Naruto. "You emit some spiritual pressure and you can see ghosts. You'll probably become a Shinigami."
"Shinigami?" Karin asked.
"Ah, wasn't supposed to tell you about those. Well the Shinigami are the ones who collect souls from the living world, and take them to the Seireitei. And they kill Hollows too. Like that Monster that attacked you and Chad."
"What about you then," she asked with a frown. "Or are you hiding from them?"
"Well I am at the moment, but that's mainly because I pranked them. I not really a ghost. I think I'm some kind of Hollow, but other than that I'm not really sure what I am."
"Soooo you're a monster?" Karin asked with a raised eyebrow. Naruto's response was a simple shrug.
"Alright, one miso and four beef Ramen," bellowed the chef as he walked over.
"Thanks, just put the beef one's down there," said Karin. The chef gave a nod before placing the miso down in front of her, and the Beef down in the space next to her.
"Thanks old man," said Karin, as she picked up her chop sticks.
The chef gave her an appreciative nod before he was distracted by a clatter, coming from the right of Karin. When he looked, he saw four empty bowls all stacked and a pair of chop sticks resting in the top bowl.
"I will never know how you do that," the chef commented. "Mind you your mother used to do the same thing."
Karin looked up from her Ramen, to give the chef a look.
"Would you believe me if I said it was a ghost?"
The chef gave a shrug.
"Well it was a ghost. And his name is Casper."
Naruto gave a snort of indignation, and the Ramen chef gave a small chuckle.
"So my Ramen is so good, even the spirits form the afterlife can't resist them," he said with a grin.
"Yup," responded Karin. "In fact it's so good Casper wants four more bowls."
"You shouldn't go wasting all that money on ghosts little missy," responded the chef, who decided to play along. "But I guess since you asked, four more beef Ramen coming up."
Karin gave an appreciative nod to the man before returning to her bowl.
"It's not my money," Karin whispered to herself. "Mom left Naruto a Ramen trust fund. And since Naruto's a ghost that means Mom must have been able to see ghosts too."
Naruto could guess what she was thinking about as he eyed her Ramen hungrily. But little did little Karin know that Masaki did not set up a Ramen Fund. It was his own money, which he'd gotten from bringing the works of his old master back into the world. Of course he'd had to get Masaki to print them for him, so all the royalties went to her, which she promptly placed in a new account which was called the Naruto Ramen fund.
"S-S-So this is Ichigo K-Kurosaki's house," said Momo as she looked up at the small seemingly innocent house.
"Yup," responded Tatsuki, "And there's the guy we need to talk too. Hey old man!"
Momo watched as a Man with a small beard around his chin and wearing a Doctor's coat came out of the door before closing it and getting his keys out to lock it. He turned around when Tatsuki called him though. Momo watched as he face transformed from what that looked somewhat serious and calm into goofy and joyful.
"Ahhh, if it isn't little Tatsuki, you've grown up so much since I last saw you," the man said. "Could it be that you've missed your uncle Isshin? Well that's no surprise, I've missed you too little Tatsuki. You used to be around here so much. Come little Tatsuki, we shall express out joy at seeing each other once more. Leap into my arms and give your uncle Isshin a hug."
Having said that the man Isshin approached them with his arms held out expectantly. Momo was staring with a rather dumbstruck expression on her face as she watched the strange man approach them.
"No thanks Isshin, I actually came to see Ichigo. You know where he is."
Once Tatsuki finished speaking Isshin dropped his arms to the side and a comically sad expression appeared on his face.
"Aww your so mean to me little Tatsuki. And as for my Delinquent son I haven't seen him since yesterday. Apparently he's staying at a friend's house for a few weeks."
"I see," said Tatsuki frowning. "Hey old man, do you know Rukia Kuchiki?"
Isshin raised an eyebrow in thought.
"Rukia Kuchiki. Hmm, can't say I do."
"Damnit. Alright thanks old man. I'll see you later."
"Wait Tatsuki," cried Isshin before we wander off. "Is this Rukia connected to Ichigo somehow?"
"Well this here is Momo," answered Tatsuki, pointing to the girl beside her who quickly bowed with her introduction. "Apparently she and Rukia are related. But the only one who Rukia's really seen around at school is Ichigo so I thought he might know where she lives."
"She hangs a lot around Ichigo?" asked Isshin before his face broke out into a grin. "And he's staying at his friend's house for a week. I wander if our mysterious young Miss Kuchiki is this friend he was talking about. Oh my delinquent child, you had better use protection. I don't think I'm ready for Grandkids just yet."
Tatsuki could feel her eye twitching.
"Sometimes you can be really creepy old man. Well we're going to hit the road. Give us a call if you hear from Ichigo yeah," said Tatsuki as she walked off and waved over her shoulder.
"Will do," said Isshin as he happily waved back. But once Tatsuki and Momo were out of sight his face quickly did a one-eighty.
"You had better hurry up with your training Ichigo. It won't be long until they find you."
As Isshin said this and finally turned around to head to the clinic a red blurr ran past him. Isshin blinked.
"What was that?"
"Ichigo groaned as he attempted once more to do a flash step. The theory behind it was simple enough. It starts as a simple step, but as you lift your heel pour your reiatsu underneath and allow it to burst. If done correctly the burst of Reiatsu should propel you forward, and so long as your heel is at the right angle when the chakra burst's you will go simply forwards instead of straight into the air. The speed of the technique isn't controlled by the amount of reiatsu put into it. Rather that controls how far you go. The speed comes from the movement of the heel. The faster you are naturally the faster you will go. Ichigo's problem was the amount of Reiatsu he was putting in. It was far too much, and he couldn't keep his heel and ankle straight when the Reiatsu burst. This meant that when he flew forwards he went further than he wanted to, and he was off kilter making it difficult to stop.
Rukia had to stifle her giggling as she watched Ichigo fly into a far off boulder once again. He ploughed right into it and reduced it to rubble. Flash step was linear. It went in one direction, and in order to change that you had to be able to stop halfway through to do a second step. Yoruichi decided the best way to motivate Icihgo to learn this was to stick a boulder in his path. If he didn't learn to stop he would smash right into it. Simple as that.
Yoruichi face pawed as she watched Ichigo destroy yet another boulder. This was going nowhere. The kid had no control at all.
"Keep your ankle straight damnit!" she yelled at Ichigo as he pulled himself out of the debris. "And put less Reiatsu into it. Come on Ichigo, again. Sooner you get this sooner you can eat."
Rukia nodded her head from beside Yoruichi as she munched on her chocolate salad Sandwich (one of Orihime's experiments which she actually liked) and Yoruichi dipped her head to lap up some milk from her bowl.
Ichigo glared at the two as his stomach gave a rumble.
"I'm too damn hungry. I can't concentrate damnit!" he yelled back. Yoruichi and Rukia seemed to ignore him as they ate their meals. Eventually Yoruichi raised her head from the bowl, a small white milk mustache now adorning the top lip of her kitty face.
"Stop complaining Ichigo. It's important you get this down, it can really help when you're fighting the Shinigami."
Ichigo gave a groan.
"Fine, just let me have some food. I'm really hungr-"
Before Yoruichi could react to her newest nickname, she was scooped up into a hug from bya certain blond haired hollow."
"Hello Naruto," she said, with a raised eyebrow as he rubbed his cheek against hers. "Where have you been?"
"Eh, you know. About. Karin figured out I was a ghost, but she still got me some Ramen."
"What was that?" yelled Ichigo as he came over. "You're still getting my sister to buy you Ramen. I swear to god Naruto, you are going to pay back-"
"No time for that Ichigo," shouted Naruto happily as he appeared to his side and clapped his back. Yoruichi was now perched in his hair with a satisfied look on her face. "We got to train."
"Wha- but I've been training for ages. And I haven't eaten," Ichigo sputtered indignantly.
"Eh, you've had twelve hours to eat Ichigo," responded Naruto. "Tell you what, we'll do three hours of some hard core training, then we'll stop for a Ramen break , how about that?"
But Naruto had to quickly take a step back from Ichigo who now seemed to have pulled Zangetsu out from nowhere and was trying to slash his head off.
"LET ME EAT DAMN YOU!"
"You there, wait!"
Tatsuki turned her head at the yelling to see a man with long red hair with tattooed eyebrows. He quickly ran up to them before stopping and placing his hands on his knees, seemingly out of breath.
"Umm, can I help you?"
"Renji," gasped Momo, causing Tatsuki to look at her.
"You know him?"
Momo nodded her head.
"Yeah, he's… my cousin. He used to be close to Rukia when we were all younger so he's excited to see her again."
"Renji, this is Tatsuki," said Momo quickly. "She said she would help us find Rukia."
As she was saying this Tatsuki was furiously texting Renji behind her back. As soon as she was done, she hit send.
Renji was distracted by the beeping of his phone. He quickly pulled it out and the screen lit up with the text.
Told Tatsuki we just moved into neighbourhood. Said Rukia was family and we were looking for her – Momo
Renji gave a nod to himself, before looking back up, noticing Tatsuki was looking at him with a bit of curiosity.
"Yeah, we're all pretty excited to see her again. But I was getting worried about Momo so when I saw her with you I got a little panicked. Sorry about that," said Renji as he rubbed the back of his head with an embarrassed blush on his cheeks.
'Man, I'm such a brilliant actor. I should get an Oscar or something for this.'
"That's okay," said Tatsuki waving off his apology. "I have this friend Orihime. I get worried every time I see her with someone I don't know. But then it's usually some ass trying to put the moves on her."
Renji gave a nod of understanding, even though he didn't really get it.
"So, you know Rukia," he asked, his interest piqued.
"Yeah, she joined my class at school a few months ago. I spoke to her a few times and she seemed alright. When she wasn't pretending to be a perfect goody two shoes. But I don't know where she lives so I thought I'd go ask my friend Ichigo. She seems to spend a lot of time around him."
Renji nodded, but he'd started sweating a little bit.
'Still can't believe that guys still alive,' Renji thought to himself.
"So now we're tracking down anyone else she would hang out with. But the only one's I can think of is Orihime, who said she was going somewhere and she'd be back in a few days, and Chad who seems to have vanished."
'Those must be Ichigo's accomplices' Renji thought to himself as he continued to listen.
"So anyway I've kind of reached a dead end here," said Tatsuki with a shrug. "Sorry but I don't really know where we can look next."
"What's going on here?"
The new voice that suddenly interrupted them caused Tatsuki, Momo and Renji to jump. They looked over to where the voice came from to see a woman with grey eyes and a hime hair cut that fell into twin braids sown her back. Next to her was a little girl with pink hair on a tricycle munching on a lollipop.
Looking at the first woman, Tatsuki could tell one thing.
"She's strong," she whispered to herself as the two approached.
"Renji, what's going on," the woman snapped as she reached them, breaking Renji out of his stupor.
"Oh, umm. This here is Tatsuki. Apparently she's a friend of our cousin Rukia and she's helping us look for her," said Renji slowly, trying to convey as much information to Soi-fon as he could without appearing suspicious to Tatsuki.
"I see," said Soi-Fon before turning to face Tatsuki. "My name is Soi-Fon. I suppose you could say I'm the one responsible for looking after everyone while we are here. I thank you for your assistance."
Both Renji and Momo were rather amazed. They'd never seen Soi-fon try to appear polite before.
"You're welcome," said Tatsuki who was surprised by Soi-fon's formal tone. "Umm sorry if I seem forward, but do you study martial arts?"
Soi-fon raised an eyebrow at the girl.
"I study several different forms of combat. So yes I am well versed in martial arts," she answered.
"Awesome. I really like martial arts aswell. I mainly do Karate but I know a little Judo as well."
"A hard fist with a gentle step behind it. I can… see the logic behind it," said Soi-fon as she nodded her head. Doesn't necessarily mean it would work though.
"Sooooo," said Tatsuki and she took a few steps forward. "You want to spar?"
So really it's just filler that will eventually lead up to the epic conclusion of this arc. Which will be in approximately four or five more chapters. Unless it's more than that. Okay then, hopefully I didn't get to rusty. Oh this chapter hasn't been beta'd yet. I jsut wanted to put it up now in case my beta doesn't get it back to me before I go on Holiday. I'll swap it around once she does.