Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach.
AN: So far, I doubt there will be any pairings in this story...but well, we'll see how it goes. The premise for this story is a different Ichigo going through the events of the Bleach storyline. I aim to make him more cool headed, logical and just generally not a brash teen who rushes mindlessly into things. I would say that he would not become over powered, but then, in a world where beings redefine the landscape with the swing of a sword, what is overpowered? Anyway, BAMF Ichigo
Kurosaki Ichigo groaned as he opened his eyes to face a new day. His still sluggish mind noted that his dad hadn't yet come to wake him up in his usual over the top way. Grateful for small mercies, he rolled off the bed, getting up in a motion that was entirely too graceful for a person just waking up. Just then, his sharp hearing picked up hurried footsteps approaching his door. With an exasperated sigh, he turned, threw his window open while simultaneously stepping aside. Right on cue, the bearded form of Kurosaki Isshin sailed through the kicked open door with a cry of,
"Good morning, Ichigo!"
His voice cut off in a yelp once he registered the lack of impact, followed by the sight of the rapidly approaching floor outside his son's window.
Ichigo blithely ignored the painful thud of his father's stoppable body meeting the immovable object that is the ground. He made his way out of his room and to the bathroom to begin preparations for yet another day.
Kurosaki Yuzu spun from her place in front of the stove when she picked up the even footsteps of her brother coming down the stairs. With a bright smile on her face, she moved forward to receive her customary good morning hug and kiss on the forehead from her beloved brother. She chirped back a greeting to him, as he moved on to do the same to her twin sister, Karin, who made a fuss, grumbled about being too old for such things, though she still did nothing to prevent Ichigo's actions.
Ichigo didn't bother hiding his fond smile at his black haired sister's usual protests, fully aware that they were cursory at best. He turned to take his seat, waiting for Yuzu to put the finishing touches on the day's breakfast. Abruptly, his fist lashed out in a preemptive strike to disable his father, who had been trying to carry out a sneak attack on his person.
Slumping to the floor in pain, Isshin's nasal and weakened voice groaned out,
"Excellent reflexes son, I have trained you well."
Ichigo merely shook his head at his crazy father's antics, prompting the man to begin wailing to the huge poster of their deceased mother, complaining about how their delinquent son didn't love his father anymore.
Ichigo's brown eyes involuntarily softened as he took in the tableau before him; his cute little sister finishing up the family's breakfast while her twin derided their wailing father, admonishing him for acting like a man child. He was reminded, once again, of the promise he had made to himself a few days after his mother was killed - murdered.
It had taken a few days for Ichigo to finally believe his father when he told him that no one blamed him, and that Masaki gave her life for him out of love for him, as any good mother would. He had vowed then to never act so brashly again, especially not when it had already cost him the life of his beloved mother. He forced himself to learn restraint and self-control. He even went so far as to quit karate and convince his father to enroll him in Tai Chi classes instead, hoping to achieve a level of internal peace and balance that would facilitate his efforts to become more level headed.
With the lessons, both physical and mental, that he learned from his sensei, Ichigo grew up to be an amazing young man: a polite, reasonable, and calm individual to strangers he met, a fierce and terrible opponent to bullies and delinquents who would think to pick on him for his hair color, a loyal and dependable person to the few real friends he made, and finally, the best big brother Yuzu and Karin could have ever asked for; all in all, a person that his mother would have been immensely proud of.
It had taken him merely three years to master all that his teacher had to teach him, before he sought to branch out and learn other things. He took classes in Wushu and Kendo, displaying in both disciplines, a prodigious talent that enabled him to quickly master all that was put before him. And now that he was done with formal instruction, he still kept up a practice of personal exercises to ensure that he didn't lose all that he had learnt.
His interactions with the people around him had changed from what they might have been had he not made his personal decision. To his classmates, he came across as unapproachable. His level of focus allowed him to constantly maintain a high level of academic performance, often attaining a spot amongst the top five students in his year. His obvious intelligence, coupled with his usually stoic demeanor kept most people from approaching him freely.
His close friends knew that they could count on him to always be there whenever they needed him, as evidenced by the numerous times he went out of his way to protect them from bullies. Though he was never blatantly open around them, they had come to learn that whenever they spoke, he listened. Even Keigo, for all his flamboyant goofiness knew that Ichigo would be there for him when it counted.
As a student of two schools of unarmed combat, Ichigo was a foe beyond the ken of any of Karakura's thugs and delinquents. Of course, it had taken them a few encounters, and ruthless beatings, for them to learn that valuable lesson. Now, they know that attacking him with less than fifteen people was just asking to be mowed down in seconds. Tatsuki, after seeing him take apart a group of bandits that had been attacking Chad, the pacifist, had decided that she was glad that Ichigo had quit karate; she enjoyed being the top student too much to give that up.
Though he was often stoic when out in public, Ichigo never kept from showing his sisters how much he cared about them. He wasn't shy about laughing freely or smiling in their presence. The first time that Isshin had brought the two girls to meet Ichigo at the end of a school day, jaws had dropped when Ichigo had caught the running bodies of his sisters in a hug, with an open and loving smile on his face.
He tried his best to always be around to pick his sisters up at the end of school, as well as, always attend Karin's soccer matches. It was he who had taught Yuzu how to cook when she expressed the desire to take over the chores from Ichigo after their mum had died. It was he who took Karin shopping for her first soccer boots, signed her up for the soccer club, and practiced with her whenever he had the time. It was he whom the girls told personal things to, as well as the one who got Tatsuki to give them the talk about becoming women. Yuzu and Karin loved him unconditionally, just as he did them.
The sound of a plate being placed in front of him drew him out of his thoughts. He smiled his usual small smile at Yuzu in thanks, before he waited for everyone else to receive their own dishes. Together, the Kurosaki family began their breakfast under the watchful and loving eyes of Kurosaki Masaki.
"Good morning, Kurosaki-kun."
The cheerful voice of Inoue Orihime drew Ichigo's gaze from the scenery outside his window. His calm face, the norm when not in the presence of his sisters, turned in her direction and with an incline of his head, he replied,
"Good morning Inoue."
Before more could be said, the deep voice of Yasutora Sado, Chad to his friends, drifted to their ears,
The two redheads responded in kind.
Without any warning, two arms appeared around Inoue's torso, blatantly copping a feel. Ichigo merely counted down, three, two, one.
With an echoing smack, Chizuru was torn away from Inoue by a harsh blow from Arisawa Tatsuki, renowned Karate champion, and Inoue's self-appointed guardian. Ichigo shook his head as Tatsuki began to fuss over Inoue, while simultaneously threatening Chizuru with bodily harm. From the corner of his eye, he spied the approaching figure of Asano Keigo, and just as he was gearing up to deal with more drama, the bell rang, signifying the start of the school day. With an inaudible sigh of relief, he turned to face the board just as his homeroom teacher walked in.
The bright voice of Kurosaki Yuzu cut through the noise caused by departing middle schoolers, drawing the eyes of her brother, as well as, those of most of the people around her. Too happy to feel embarrassed at the attention, Yuzu skipped towards Ichigo's standing from by the school entrance, dragging her twin sister along. The other middle schoolers, long since used to the presence of the oldest Kurosaki child at the end of the school day, barely glanced in his direction, before continuing on to their respective homes.
Ichigo caught Yuzu as she propelled herself at him, swinging her around with a smile on his face. When he put her down, he turned to Karin and his grin widened when he read the stubborn look in her eyes. Before she could react, his hand was suddenly in her hair, ruffling it, much to her consternation, as evidenced by her attempts to bat away his hand. Giving off a huff of laughter, he turned to take Yuzu's hand in his left, and Karin's in his right, and together, the Kurosaki siblings set off for their home.
As was always the case, Yuzu talked enthusiastically about her day, until Karin deigned to join in as well, telling him about a soccer match she dominated and a particularly arrogant brat she knocked down a peg or two. Through it all, Ichigo gave them his full attention, listening to them and reacting appropriately in all the right places. Women who saw them walking cooed at how cute they looked, and how obviously caring Ichigo was to his sisters.
With a graceful roundhouse kick, Ichigo ended the last of his katas for the day. He then began a series of fluid and smooth warm down movements, all the while relishing the cool breeze blowing in from his open window. Finally done, he stepped off his practice mat and set about moving things back into position in his room. He then left to take a bath after he was done, to wash off the accumulated sweat from his two hours long workout. Since the next day was a Saturday, he had no compulsion to go to bed early, and so set about doing his homework, intending to clear up his schedule for the weekend. He was just about finished when he felt a chilling change in the air. Silently, he got off his seat and walked towards the window to look outside. He saw nothing to account for his unease, neither humans nor spirits.
When Ichigo had set out to master himself via tai chi, it had had a side effect in addition to granting him an internal peace. Whereas before his reiatsu was a raging storm, unreasonably powerful for an ordinary human, now, it was smooth and calm, much like deep sea. His mental fortitude had also strengthened the potency of his reiatsu, further increasing its sheer power.
The effect of this change was that where before his out of control spiritual energy served as a beacon to hollows everywhere, attracting them and making the resident Shinigami's job all the more difficult, it now served to do the opposite.
Hollows who knew better realized that his reiatsu was much akin to that of a high level Shinigami who had a reasonable level of control over his powers; in essence, a deadly opponent for them to hunt. The result was that Ichigo rarely, if ever, ended up running across any hollows whatsoever since the foolish ones that chose to come after him were the weaker ones, and thus easily slain by the Shinigami stationed in Karakura Town.
Furthermore, since Ichigo's reiatsu was no longer the turbulent mess that it was, the effect on the people around him was practically nonexistent. That meant that the other humans he constantly hung out with would never end up being changed by his fluctuating reiatsu.
Determining that there was nothing outside his window, Ichigo turned to return to his desk when he suddenly froze. Emerging seamlessly from the wall in his bedroom was the petite figure of a young female clad in a black shihakusho, with a sword at her waist. Making no moves whatsoever, his sharp gaze calmly observed her for any sudden hostile actions.
Surprisingly, he noticed that her eyes were constantly shifting, as though searching for something, yet never focusing on his figure standing right in front of her. With dawning comprehension, he realized that she fully expected him not to be able to see her, much like many deceased souls had in the past. Confident that she would continue to ignore him lest he did something to garner her attention, he returned to studying her intently. From the top of her black hair, to her violet eyes, all they was down to her sandaled feet, he observed and catalogued.
Kuchiki Rukia coolly surveyed the room she was standing in. Earlier in the day, a particular determined hollow had attacked a plus soul, even with her presence not too far away. She had interrupted it, causing it to flee before it could devour the child. After performing konso on the little girl's soul, she had set off to track the hollow down; leading her to the house she was standing in.
She absently noticed that the room she had just entered was occupied by a tall male teenager with the most outrageous hair color. Dismissing the human from her thoughts, she observed her surroundings, constantly casting her senses out in search of the hollow's presence.
Her carefully constructed Kuchiki mask prevented her frustration from showing when she noticed that something was interfering with her senses. It was then that she felt a shiver up her spine, followed by the sensation of being closely scrutinized. Her eyes snapped back towards the human boy she had previously dismissed, to meet even brown eyes staring straight at her. Shocked that a human could actually see her, she stuttered out,
"You…you can s-"
A high pitched scream, followed by a crashing sound from downstairs abruptly cut her off, and before she could adjust to the new development, the teenager was already out the door in a blur of motion.
Ichigo, practically flying down the stairs, suddenly drew up short as he took in the scene before him.
His father was bleeding and unconscious on the floor, having obviously thrown himself over Yuzu to protect her. There was a hole in the wall and through it he could see the form of his other sister, held in the hand of a creature straight out of a nightmare. His observations only took a second however, and his course was set. Without hesitating, he dashed towards the hole in the wall, not even slowing down as his hand reached out to grasp a metal leg from one of the chairs that had been destroyed. As he neared the monster holding his sister, he struck.
In one fluid motion, the metal leg, long since saturated with potent reiatsu from years of being in the same house as the Kurosaki family, was launched towards one of the eye sockets in the bone white skull of the beast…it flew true.
With a howl of pain, the monster released Karin as it clawed desperately at the object suddenly sticking out of its eye. Karin, just barely conscious, fell through the air to land in the waiting arms of her brother.
Relieved that his sister was alright, Ichigo wasted no time in getting out of there; he immediately ran back into the house, and placed Karin's now unconscious body next to the rest of his family, intending to check them over for life threatening injuries.
Rukia snapped out of her shock at seeing a human teen harm a hollow with naught but a metal rod. She barely spared a moment to cast a glance at the now fussing teen before she launched herself outside in a flurry of black and white, to clash with the injured hollow. Though the beast was of slightly above average strength, the debilitating injury to its eye proved to be its downfall, and after a few exchanges, it finally fell to Sode no Shirayuki.
Turning from the disappearing corpse of the purified hollow, Rukia met the eyes of the kneeling Kurosaki Ichigo. She noticed that during her fight, he had retrieved a first aid kit and attended to his injured family. Her attention turned back to him as his eyes abruptly widened in alarm. Before she could wonder at his actions, her world exploded in soul searing pain – literally – as the jaws of another hollow clamped down on the right side of her body. The only thing that saved her from sudden death was the fact that she still had her sword in her hand, and when the hollow attempted to bite through her, the roof of its mouth was pierced, forcing it to release her gravely wounded, but alive, form.
Howling in pain, the hollow retreated into a black portal…for a time.
As she slumped to the floor in pain, Ichigo was already kneeling next to the bleeding form of the black clad female who had inadvertently helped his family. His eyes, trained from years of living with a medical doctor, clinically catalogued her injuries and reached the correct conclusion; she was too injured to continue fighting. Just as he had that thought, the monster returned to finish off what it had started.
Realizing that he was all that stood between his family and certain death, he turned to face the lumbering giant. But before he could proceed to engage the beast, for all the good he could do, a hand on his arm stopped him. Turning to face the wounded girl beside him, his ears barely caught her haltingly spoken words,
"Wait…my sword, take it and pierce your heart…it…my power will transfer…"
His quick mind easily grasped her intention, and seeing no other option before him, he chose to do as she said. Wrapping his hands around hers on the hilt, he placed the tip of the sword against his heart.
Rukia, expecting some hesitation on his part, was stunned silent when he smoothly slid the blade into his chest. Immediately, she began to pump what was left of her power into the blade, transferring some of her Shinigami abilities to the teen…well, at least, that was her intention.
In an explosion of light and sound, Rukia felt a huge amount of her Shinigami powers get sucked out by the soul of the orange haired teenager before her. Her eyes widened in shock when she sensed the amount of reiatsu suddenly being put out by Ichigo; that's…that's sixth seat at least!
Ichigo felt a sudden influx of energy deep within him, in a place beyond physical sensation. Before he could be overwhelmed, his training abruptly kicked in and he began to try to regulate the suddenly turbulent energy, seeking his calm center in order to tame and master it. Gradually, the raging storm of reiatsu calmed down and evened out, revealing Ichigo's new form once the dust kicked up by the explosion had cleared out.
Clad in a black shihakusho, he cut an awe inspiring figure with a scabbard attached to his back, housing a broad katana that was as long as he was tall. Reaching behind him, all the while keeping his focused gaze on the now stationary monster, Ichigo grasped the red handle of his new sword and smoothly slid it out of its sheath. Hefting it, he gave it a few practice swings to get a feel for the weapon. Satisfied that it would do for now, he turned his full attention on the hollow before him. His sharp gaze assessed the beast and determined that he shouldn't take any chances; go for the head.
Like a shot, he was off, suddenly blurring across the ground towards the target. Years of mastering his body allowed him to easily compensate for his suddenly improved speed, as well as, the increased strength of his body. His eyes tracked the movement of the hollow's arm as it tried to intercept him.
With a deft twist of his body, he was suddenly spinning past the outstretched arm, without losing any momentum. There was suddenly a flash of silver, and the reaching arm fell off at the elbow, sliced effortlessly by Ichigo's blade.
Before the hollow could react to the pain of a missing limb, Ichigo was in the air in front of its face, his sword already descending on a sure path for its head.
In a flash, it was all over, and the bisected corpse of the hollow fell into two rapidly dissolving parts.
Rukia couldn't take her eyes off the approaching figure before her. Never, in her relatively long life, had she ever imagined that such a thing was possible; that a human would possess such vast amounts reiatsu, and would wield the power with the sort of casual ease of seated officers. Looking at the size of the sword at his back, she found her disbelief growing when she noticed its size. Without think, she tried to move, and suddenly had to bite back a scream as her grievous wound was aggravated. With her vision rapidly darkening, the last thing she saw was a hand reaching for her.
Ichigo caught Rukia just as she slipped into full unconsciousness. With a weary sigh, he laid her gently on the floor, knowing better than to move her before taking care of her injuries. Before he left to retrieve the first aid kit, absently wondering if it would work on a soul, his gaze cut to the side, zeroing in on a patch of darkness down the street. After a few moments, he shook his head and turned back to continue his journey to get the medical kit.
Hidden from sight, Urahara Kisuke finally released the breath he had been holding, startled by the close call. He had taken the chance, while Ichigo had been fighting the hollow, to replace the first aid kit in the house with a replica that would function on a soul like Rukia's.
The next morning, Kurosaki Isshin was back to his usual ways, running about and generally making a fool out of himself, as though his injuries of the day before were completely healed. Somehow, he had gotten it into his head that a truck had crashed into their living room, resulting in the damage that they discovered the next day.
Having been knocked unconscious straight away, Yuzu had no reason to doubt him, and was only glad that Ichigo had been around to care for them as he did. Karin, on the other hand, was slightly skeptical of his claims, though her memory was hazy on the events, owing to a head injury she had sustained. Through it all, Ichigo merely fussed over his sisters without saying a word; he had every intention of keeping the two girls as far away from the supernatural world as possible.
With a groan, Rukia came awake to the sight of an unfamiliar ceiling above her head. Turning to look at herself, she noticed that her body had been cleaned up and bandaged. Flushing in embarrassment, she clutched the sheets over herself when she realized that her clothes had also been changed. Sensing a gaze on her, she looked up to meet the calm brown eyes of an orange haired teenager.
Suddenly, It all came rushing back.
She almost lurched up, only just stopped in place by the hand that was suddenly on her shoulders. Before she could give voice to her indignation, Ichigo spoke,
"Stay still. Though you can't feel it, you were hurt pretty bad. Moving now will only rip out your stitches."
At his words, Rukia finally stopped struggling. With a nod, she accepted his help in getting her to sit up, taking care not to aggravate her healing wounds. She expected to be immediately interrogated about the happenings of last night, but she was surprised when instead, her host placed a bed tray with breakfast in front of her. Suddenly famished, she immediately dug in, still maintaining the manners that had been drilled into her as a Kuchiki.
Ichigo calmly observed the petite female as she ate the food he had brought for her. Seeing that she was done, he moved forward to clear away the dishes, and then he returned to his seat, and to watching her.
Rukia fought not to squirm under the impassive gaze of the orange haired teenager, internally berating herself for letting him get to her. Deciding to get the questions out of the way, she asked,
"I guess you have questions?"
Ichigo merely inclined his head towards her. Taking his nod for agreement, she began to explain about Shinigami and their jobs to hunt down hollows, intending to take the initiative and only tell him as much she felt he needed to know. Since the topic was broad, she was forced to be vague and brief in many parts. Finally satisfied that she had given him the bare bones of the matter, she trailed off and awaited his reaction…it was not what she expected.
Having taken in and dissected all that he had just heard, Ichigo was dissatisfied with her explanation; he felt that she was hiding important information from him, information that could matter in his bid to keep his loved ones safe from the dangers of the supernatural world. Determined to learn all that he could, he set about questioning his guest, absently musing that he was lucky that his dad had taken his sisters out for the day,
"I see. I am grateful for your explanation, yet I can't help but feel like it was not the full story."
In an exasperated tone, Rukia responded,
"Of course it wasn't the whole story…that would take too long."
Ichigo merely raised an eyebrow and replied blandly,
"I assure you I have nowhere I need to be today. So, why don't we start with the physical structure of this…Soul Society, and then move on to the people who run it?"
Stunned at the directness of his question, Rukia took a moment to observe the teen before her. Noticing the glint in his eyes that told her he meant business, she sighed and reluctantly began to talk. The only reason she felt comfortable revealing the workings of the afterlife to him was because he would be taking over her duties in the meantime, even if he didn't know it yet.
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