For as long as people had known him, no one had ever questioned who Ichigo's family was. He was the eldest son of the Kurosaki family, and for some reason had more power than all but the most senior of the captains and it only got stronger with each trial.
At least until the day Orihime stumbled on an old photo album and Isshin insisted they look at old pictures. How he roped Ichigo's nakama into cleaning the attic he would never get.
"She's really pretty. Who is this?" asked Orihime.
The woman was tawny haired and had familiar brown eyes. In fact she looked a little too familiar.
Ichigo looked at the picture and snorted.
"That's my mother Nana."
"Your...mother?" repeated Uryu.
"I thought your mother was Masaki Kurosaki?" asked Tatsuki.
"She is. But she's not the woman who gave birth to me. It's complicated," said Ichigo shrugging.
After Masaki's death, Isshin had waited three years before explaining the truth of Ichigo's origins to the boy. Ichigo had taken it in stride... as far as he was concerned, the Kurosaki were his real family. Especially after Isshin told him the full, blunt truth of why he was living with them in the first place.
"Complicated?" asked Chad, setting down more boxes.
"It's not that big a deal."
He then noticed that they were now all curious. Odds were they wouldn't ask if he was uncomfortable about the subject, but he had long come to terms with it. It was more like he was talking about someone else's mother, rather than the woman who gave birth to him in the first place. He sighed.
"Apparently my birth mother wasn't entirely 'all there'. She would go long stretches of forgetting she even had a son, and from what I was told she was a bit too oblivious to certain things. Think the way Orihime sometimes goes on a mental tangent, except worse."
Tatsuki winced. Orihime was a bit of a ditz, but she was not oblivious when it mattered. She was highly dependable and she only let her guard down like that when she felt truth safe.
"How bad?" asked Tatsuki.
"According to what my dad told me, I was being bullied extensively by most of the kids in my age group and looked down upon by the teachers to the point I had a rather degrading nickname. It was to the point where I came home with bruises and a lot of cuts or scrapes and my mother simply thought I was overly clumsy."
"I remember that! You used to trip a lot when we were kids and you first took up martial arts, but it went away shortly before your mom died! Your grades shot up around that time too, come to think of it."
"Well what I didn't know then, but Urahara mentioned it after the war, was that some idiot apparently though putting a seal on my powers was a smart move when they were already active, without dealing with the effect of being spiritual catnip."
"You're kidding. With how much power you had before you were trained? That's like tossing someone suffering from major bleeding into a feeding frenzy of sharks while tying their arms to their body!"
"Yeah, dad was really pissed when Urahara found that. It took them two months before Hat and Clogs found a way to break it without accidentally killing me. Apparently there were other side effects too... the seal completely screwed up my balance and dampened my natural intelligence to the point it was barely functioning. Of course when they broke the seal there were...side effects."
"Side effects?" repeated Uryu dangerously.
Ichigo pointed at his hair.
"You're telling me that breaking this seal caused your hair to turn orange?" said Uryu incredulous.
Ichigo took the photo album, and after a few moments found the picture he was looking for. Every single one of them stared incredulous.
In the picture was a much younger Ichigo...about four or five...with caramel colored hair as opposed to his familiar orange.
"Believe me, I asked Urahara how the hell my hair suddenly became orange when he told me what happened, and he said that my body became over saturated with whatever it was that the seal was holding back to the point it permanently dyed all my hair orange. Something about types and how strong ones manifested in physical ways."
They all stared at him, before shrugging.
"So about your mother."
"Well mom, Masaki-kaa-san... she noticed that my mother was drifting off more than normal and that she didn't even notice I was having a much harder time in my school than was normal. So after a few months, I was more or less adopted by the Kurosaki family after mom had Nana evaluated. While she wasn't a danger to herself or others, the fact was that I was being neglected while in her care. So they went through some discreet channels and they had my name legally changed to Kurosaki Ichigo, rather than what I was born with initially. From what little I remember of that home, I can't say I can complain about it."
It was nice, but it didn't feel like home. Not like the way the Kurosaki Clinic did.
And that, in the minds of his nakama, was that. Sure, Ichigo apparently had a birth mother in another town, but his family was and always would be the Kurosaki.
What none of them knew was the fact that while Nana had given up her son without knowing it, his father's family most certainly hadn't. And it was about to come back to 'haunt' them...which was ironic considering they could deal with any pesky spirits.
A small figure was looking at the sealed records in their hand with a frown. He had come to this town to train the last potential candidate for Vongola Decimo...only to find that all the information on the boy was in fact so out of date it was useless.
Not his problem, though he did pass this fact along to someone who can and would do something about it.
Though now he had to track down the family the teenager lived with and explain things to him. From what these records stated, he had been removed from the home early enough that any memory he likely had of it was almost forgotten. And while the records were sealed (to prevent the mother from reclaiming her son, though it was assumed the father was long dead) he had ways around that.
It seemed his luck was somewhat in... the family still lived in the same address as when they adopted him.
Reborn walked into the clinic and his instincts as a hit man immediately warned him there was something off about the doctor who ran it. This man was more like his friend Shamal than a civilian.
"Hello! How can I help you?" he asked cheerfully.
"I'm looking for someone. A boy by the name of Tsunayoshi," said Reborn calmly. He knew something was definitely off because the man wasn't automatically treating him like a child.
The man's carefree attitude shifted immediately.
"If Nana's trying to regain custody after all these years..."
"No. Considering what I found when I visited, the boy is better off away from her. Putting a second Sky around someone already suffering from Sky Infection is just asking for trouble. How that idiot completely missed the fact his wife was Infected with his Harmony I'll never understand. I'm here on orders from someone else to train him."
"Train him in what?"
"He's the last heir remaining to take over the family business. And with the track record of the last three, never mind the fourth who's still locked up, it was decided that an outside party would train him instead. I come with credentials."
The man gave him a hard look.
"Ichigo (he stressed the name...clearly they had given him a new one when they adopted him) should be home soon. Though it would be better if you came out in the open about it from the start about why you're here and who sent you."
"He was a kid at the time demanding strawberries, because Masaki gave him some. So we figured if he loved them that much..." shrugged the man, smirking.
Reborn snorted. Served the kid right.
Reborn did a minor doubletake at the color of the boy's hair, though it might be more appropriate to call him a "young man", considering the way he felt.
There was nothing about him that was a "boy" anymore. This was someone who knew what real fighting was about.
"Dad, what's with the midget?"
"Ciaossu. My name is Reborn and I was sent by someone to train you."
Ichigo blinked. Twice.
"Train me in what exactly?"
Ichigo looked at his father incredulous.
"Is he for real? Or is he another one of Urahara's special mod souls with a weird sense of humor."
"He's not one of Urahara's. Not even he would be stupid enough to try and recreate one of the cursed Arcobaleno souls. The Vindice get bitchy enough as it is whenever one of the rookie reapers come after them," said his father flippantly.
"And why exactly are you here to train me into being a mafia boss? I thought that the seat of power generally stayed in-house."
"Yes, but all the heirs ahead of you died, though the other one is currently on lock down. Which means you're the only one left to take it," said Reborn patiently. "And your father is ineligible unless there are no other options."
Ichigo looked at his father.
"Not me. He must mean your birth father. Though I was under the assumption that the man was already dead," said Isshin.
"More like overly married to his work. The fact he missed his wife's condition is pretty damning, to say the least. Never mind that he didn't even know his own son had been adopted by his sister-in-law. As it stands it's highly unlikely he'd contest the adoption."
Not like there was much point even if he did... Ichigo was almost full grown and a scant year and a half away from being considered a legal adult.
"I was sent here by Vongola Nono to train you into becoming the tenth generation boss of the Vongola Familigia, the strongest mafia family in the world. Mostly because all the other heirs before you were killed off. And while Iemitsu could potentially sire another heir, the Ninth doesn't exactly have that much time left to wait for him to do his job and hope that the next kid has Sky flames," said Reborn bluntly.
Ichigo sighed, before he looked at his father.
"Whatever path you take, you're still my son."
"Fine, but if I get stuck having to clean up the crap the current generation left I am not going to be happy."
And yet somehow he had the feeling that he was going to have to deal with crap that should have been resolved decades ago, again.
Ichigo had his phone out and was calling his nakama. No way in hell was he getting stuck with this mess without their help. If for no other reason than to watch Chad punch the lights out of the Italians for trying to force Ichigo into anything.
"Guys, we have another situation and for once it's not because of the afterlife..." he said with open annoyance. In less than an hour his Nakama showed up at the door, and looked rather cheerful considering. Karin had huffed when she found out they were going to be playing 'host' to a cursed adult, while Yuzu had taken it all in stride.
They trusted Ichigo to keep them safe.
"These are your friends?" said Reborn, eyeing the collective group with interest. They felt more like fully bonded Guardians. He was only missing a Storm, Rain and a Cloud to complete his set.
Though the Mist he had felt like he had two primaries. The girl was a particularly powerful Sun, almost on par with Reborn himself, and the Lightning was stronger than even Verde. The other girl felt almost like a Sun, but she wasn't entirely active just yet.
"They're my nakama," Ichigo corrected. "So apparently my birth father is in the mafia, and they expect me to take over the family he belongs to."
The matter of fact way he delivered that news had Reborn raising an eyebrow, but it was his friend's reactions that said volumes.
"Only you, Ichigo, could possibly be an heir to an Italian criminal family and not know about it," said the Mist exasperated.
"To be fair, I never really bothered with my birth family even after dad explained I was adopted," said Ichigo annoyed.
"You're taking this rather well," commented Reborn.
"We have a name for days like this," said Ichigo.
"And what's that?"
"Tuesday," said the Mist, Suns and Ichigo all in unison.
Because really, with how chaotic Ichigo's life was after Rukia came into it, this sort of thing barely rated a raised eyebrow. More like an exasperated headshake at most.
"At least this time you won't be running around trying to keep us out of the loop, Ichi-nii," said Karin.
"And look how well that worked out last time. The only one who was kept out of the loop properly was Yuzu and she ended up kidnapped," said Ichigo crossly. "I'd rather you understand the situation properly from the get go and avoid a repeat, thanks."
Karin snorted in agreement. Reborn felt like he was missing something rather big.
"So you're the heir to a mafia family. Big deal," said Karin dismissively.
"It is a big deal, actually. The Vongola are one of the most powerful familigias in the world, so much so that they hired me to train their heir," said Reborn. "And I don't exactly come cheap."
"Who are you anyway?" asked Tatsuki.
"My name is Reborn and I'm the World's Greatest Hitman," he said matter of fact.
"He's an Arcobaleno, one of seven people chosen to bear a special curse. Specifically the Sun pacifier, which means he's the strongest Sun alive at the moment. Supposedly they get turned into toddlers to make it easier on them, because the pacifiers drain their Flames at a steady rate until they die and the curse gets passed on," clarified Isshin.
"How do you know all this?" demanded Reborn.
Isshin rolled his eyes.
"Urahara was bored one century and ended up running into the asshole in charge of it. There was some talk about altering the curse in question, but nothing ever came of it. That and he took an open interest in the Lightning, though I will gladly plead ignorance when I hear that man laughing like a loon," said Isshin.
"...He found someone else like him and started doing that really creepy laugh that involves humiliation and doom for everyone else, didn't he?" asked Ichigo.
Ichigo groaned openly at the very thought of that damn laugh.