Opening Notes; I have no idea what happened last time, but I apologize for the messed up chapter update. THIS should fix it though.
The next morning
While he wasn't surprised to see he had company so early in the morning, Kisuke was slightly surprised to see Yukiko Amagi had come to his shop by herself. He shrugged it off though, and simply nodded his head to the young inn manager as he opened his front door the rest of the way. "What can I do for ya Ms. Amagi?" He asked, waving her inside while he yawned behind his closed fist. "I just put some tea on the stove. Give me a bit and I'd be happy to share it."
"It's alright Urahara-san, I won't be here that long. I have a busy day at the inn to get through, and was doing a bit of shopping to help my mother out for that reason." She replied, and something in her voice caught the shop owner's attention as he turned and looked at her, really looked at her. It wasn't until he scanned her uncontrolled spiritual pressure that he realized she had changed for the better. To prove that point, an ornately decorated red fan appeared in her open hand in a burst of gently glowing flame. The bladed fan itself was covered in swirling flames which seemed to radiate a gentle heat rather than an all consuming inferno. It fit the healing properties he had observed from Amaterasu, as well as Yukiko's personality, quite well. Elegant, yet functional, what you see wasn't what you got in her case, and the hidden fire behind that serene face proved that in spades. "I wanted to thank you, for everything you've been doing. I was able to talk to Amaterasu in a way I didn't think was possible before now, and she helped me…through some difficult things last night."
It came as no surprise that Amaterasu had wanted to meet her in the shrine that was located in Inaba, but what was surprising that she was fast asleep in her futon in her family's inn. Not only that, but the little japanese shrine that was in town might as well have been a few stone pillars and a ramshackle hut in the back in comparison to the place Yukiko stood in now. "What...is this place Amaterasu?" She asked, her gray eyes alight with wonder at the beautiful sakura tree lined path that led up to a pair of lit gold embossed braziers, which stood on either side of a stone slab at the far back of the ornately decorated shrine. Twin serpent dragons made of red polished stone stood silent guard on either side of the shrine itself, which was dedicated to the Priestess Arcana.
"This is your Inner World, the very core of your soul, Yukiko." The white garbed priestess replied, and it didn't escape the young Amagi's notice that she wasn't transparent anymore. In here, she was as real as the raven haired woman at her side. "It has always been here, just as I have always been."
"I'm glad I was able to help Ms. Amagi, but really, all I did was draw out the power you and the others already possessed. The rest was up to you." Holding up his hand to prevent her from talking just yet, Kisuke smiled warmly as he finished. "I understand what you're going through, losing someone you love. I know that you don't like Adachi much more than the rest of your friends, for good reason, but I'm glad you're starting to get over it. I know it'll take some time, but the warning he gave you wasn't without merit. If your Persona was to somehow revert back to a Shadow, or if you died and became a Hollow either on your own or you were changed by force, it wouldn't be pretty. On that note, I'm kinda taking a risk, keeping Adachi around since he could go Hollow in a year's time unless something happens to him first." The shrug Kisuke gave showed he didn't consider him a threat either way, but the thought was still there.
"I see." What else could she say? As much as she hated Adachi, he had, in his own way, helped them to become what they were now. Despite all of his faults, he was still human. While it was unlikely she'd ever truly forgive his part in Izanami's attempt to destroy their world, he had been a friend, and he had helped them identify the real culprit behind everything before it was too late. "Still, thank you for doing all of this Urahara-san." Yukiko finally said, bowing her head to the man that had helped them, helped her, in such a short amount of time.
"Please, just call me Kisuke. And don't mention it Ms. Amagi." Nodding his head to her one last time, Kisuke saw her out before going back to his tea, just as the kettle started to whistle at him. He didn't react when a flash of blue light in the corner of his little kitchen caught his attention, and he looked over to see a familiar blue door. "You could always knock first Margaret, before making your master's door appear in my kitchen."
"Where would be the fun in that, Urahara-san?" Margaret's voice reached his ears just as the door to the Velvet Room opened, revealing this year's blue garbed assistant to the strange old man. "I must admit, I had not expected such swift progress to have been made, especially in Yukiko Amagi's case."
Shrugging off her compliment, the former scientist just grinned at the beautiful woman that had appeared in his little shop. "They're a strong bunch of kids, stronger than any Soul Reaper I used to know back in the day." Kisuke replied, nodding his head to Margaret's unspoken question. At his nod, Margaret helped herself to his tea, and leaned against the kitchen counter while her host continued. "Yep, I imagine they'll be ready in time, just in case my first plan doesn't proceed as I'd hope."
"You're referring to Ichigo Kurosaki. The master has been keeping an eye on him as well, but he doesn't plan to interfere since this is a Soul Society related matter, and not one of our unique circumstances." Nodding her approval of Kisuke's brew, Margaret closed her golden eyes for a moment before she let her gaze fall on the former Captain. "Do you really think he is as strong as you believe?"
"Not yet he isn't, but given enough of a push, I doubt even your boys Arisato and Narukami could stand against him if they were together. But, on the other hand, I'm still learning about these Personas you're so fond of, so I'll keep my bets to a minimum for now. The power of the heart and their bonds was able to defeat Izanami after all." Kisuke shrugged again, taking a moment to drink from his own glass before meeting Margaret's gaze. "If you had come to me before my exile, I probably would been a lot more hesitant to believe in this kind of power, but after starting to get to know those kids personally, well, let's just say I'm willing to keep my mind open, among other things." The hint wasn't lost on the platinum blond, and she smiled a little wider as he emphasized his hint when he tapped at his chest before finishing his cup and setting it down. "So, anything else I can do for you Margaret?"
"No, I think I got what I needed. Good luck Urahara-san, but I don't think you'll need it." With a quick nod of her head, Margaret disappeared, the only trace she had ever been there was her empty glass of tea which she had left on the counter behind her. The door to the Velvet Room had also disappeared, which was no surprise to Kisuke.
Just as he got done cleaning up the evidence, his shop door opened once more, and Kisuke smirked when he saw it was Kanji and Naoto. "Morning folks, I already got a visit from your Amagi friend, so I was kind of expecting company. What can I do for ya?"
They shared a brief, awkward look, but to Kisuke's surprise, it was Kanji that spoke first. From the way he was blushing almost as red as Yukiko's outfit, he had expected Naoto to be the one to say anything. "We uh, thought we'd ask if we could use the training room downstairs for a while. Had a bit of a heart to heart with our Personas-"
"And you want to see what you can do now. I don't see why not, but ya don't have to check in with me every time guys." Still, Kisuke smirked as he jerked his head towards the hatch that was at the other end of his shop. "On the other hand, it's always better to be safe than sorry, so I won't raise a fuss about being informed. Just don't come here alone to train, just in case, alright?"
"Of course Urahara-san." Naoto replied, bowing her head before she tugged Kanji away with her. As much as Kisuke wanted to follow, he had a store to run, shelves to stock, and without his buddies back home to assist him here, it promised to be a boring day until he was able to get a break.
It was only an hour later however, that he had a problem. Just as he was getting ready to head to the front of his shop again, that the floor gave out from under him. "What the?!" Kisuke righted himself in midair, but his inverted position gave him all the information he needed as he saw the cause of the destruction. "Ah, so that's what it was. Pretty impressive." The man smirked, landing on his feet before he dusted himself off, his eyes shining with awe at the power he was sensing, let alone seeing.
After seeing Yukiko's flame fan, he wasn't all that surprised to see that Naoto and Kanji's power had also manifested weapons to fit their natures and their natural abilities. While they were staring at him in shock and embarrassment at the destruction they had caused to his shop, Kisuke merely walked closer, wanting a closer look at their new gear. "Uh….fancy seeing you here Hat and Clogs…." Kanji said, his right fist crackling with electrical energy from his most recent attack. His entire right arm was covered in veined, armored plates, giving him the image of having replaced his arm with a demonic limb. The fingertips were serrated claws, while the armored limb itself was red and radiated the same electrical spiritual energy he had seen crackling around Kanji's fist moments earlier. Rokuten Moah stood nearby, his arms crossed over his chest.
Naoto was blushing furiously, although she recovered quickly. Twin pistols, recently fired, were in her hands. Memento Mori and an image of entwining chains ran down the barrel and down to the grip was visible on the pale white pistol in her right hand, while its cobalt black twin was completely unmarked save for an engraving in gold that looked very similar to Yamato-Takeru's glowing blade. As she put her black pistol back into the holster on her hip, its twin disappearing altogether, the detective walked over to Kanji's side. Yamato-Takeru sheathed his blade and stood with his hands behind his back, having come to the same decision as his mistress had. "We apologize for the destruction we've caused." Naoto said, stepping on her friend's foot. He immediately made his armored fist disappear, and quickly muttered an apology.
"Ah don't worry about it. It just goes to show that rush jobs have their consequences." Pointing to the ceiling, Naoto and Kanji looked up, and saw that most of the damage had reversed itself by that point. Ignoring the surprised looks on their faces, Kisuke continued. "Normally, these spaces don't require much reinforcement since the ceiling is made from a special stone that completely neutralizes spiritual based attacks, but it seems I underestimated your abilities. Thankfully, I had the foresight to install a kind of minor spiritual auto-repair feature into my shop here in Inaba, otherwise that hole in the floor would have been a bit harder to fix. Just don't make it a habit."
"We won't, Urahara-san." Naoto said, bowing her head quickly as her cheeks started to cool off. "I'm afraid the damage was of my own doing. In the heat of the moment, Kanji was forced to deflect my most recent attack and it hit the ceiling, thus causing the initial destruction."
"As I said, it's no big deal. I am curious though, what that attack was." Kisuke's grin returned, and Naoto found she wasn't entirely sure she liked the look in his eyes as he nodded for them to demonstrate what had happened. Finding no safe way out, Naoto pulled her gun, just as she opened her empty hand, and called forth its pale white twin. Taking a note of how the blue spirit particles in the air coalesced and were made to bend to the detective's will, much like a Quincy's bow, Kisuke made a mental note to investigate Naoto's ancestry at a later date as the pistol she pulled from its holster also transformed before his eyes in much the same way, except the spirit particles were a shade darker. The difference went beyond the color scheme since the black had a considerably darker presence to it than its lighter twin. One for her light based attacks, and one for her dark based ones; literally two sides of the same coin. Not only that, but she's able to hide her weapons in plain sight. Interesting trick. I guess it fits given how the 'Detective Prince' tried to hide her true gender from her male peers in the police department before having to face herself in that other world. Heh.
Kanji's armored limb started its appearance at his hand and worked its way upward, until his entire arm was covered in his Persona's armor. The same electrical energy Kisuke had sensed earlier began its dance up and down his arm, giving the bleach blonde's already imposing physical ability that much more of a boost. However, there was something out of sync with Kanji's gauntlet, as if it were waiting for something. It gave Kisuke the impression that given the right trigger, it would complete itself when he needed it the most, but even at that moment, it was an impressive piece of equipment. Even incomplete, Kanji's power isn't to be underestimated. That gauntlet serves as both sword and shield in his hand if what Naoto said is true. And given the damage to the floor, I'd say it was.
"What are ya waiting for Naoto? Let's do this!" Slamming his armored hand into his open fist, Kanji's gray eyes blazed with determination, and the blue haired detective couldn't argue with his attitude as he took up a defensive stance.
"Very well." Was her simple reply, before her pistols snapped up and fired off what sounded like a single round, but in reality were two shots fired simultaneously. Just as Kisuke had suspected, each bullet was steeped in light and dark spiritual energy, giving them far more bite than any normal shot, but Kanji merely grinned as he blocked with his oversized gauntlet. While the force of the attacks forced him back several feet, the attack had all the effect of an insect bite as two tiny imprints were left behind on the armored plates.
"My turn!" Slamming his fist into the ground, Kanji produced a directed shockwave which went right for the pint sized girl, but he wasn't worried about hurting her. Just like last time, Naoto disappeared before reappearing once more, above and to the right of the bleach blonde boy, her guns at the ready.
"Megidolaon!" While it was considerably smaller than it could have been, the gray white blast that followed shot Naoto through the sky in a barely controlled flip, but Kanji didn't pay his friend's descent any mind as he roared his defiance, catching the oversized Almighty blast on his arm in a backhanded swing. Just as before, the blast was deflected and sent upward, creating another hole in the ceiling of the training area. Having since landed on her feet, Naoto nodded her approval of Kanji's quick actions as a pile of debris fell behind her.
"Nicely done." Clapping his hands at the impressive display, Kisuke's eyes were alight with delight at how powerful his little side project was becoming. "No wonder Izanami didn't have a chance against you guys. If you were able to take on a goddess without awakening to your true potential, then I'm almost scared to see how strong you get if given enough time to hone your new skillset." Despite his words, Kisuke's smirk couldn't have been wider as he went back to the hatch, planning to leave them to their own devices for a while. But as he reached the bottom of the ladder, Kisuke stopped and looked at the two for a moment, lost in thought as the gears of his mind began to turn. Maybe, just maybe Margaret and Igor were onto something with these kids. And if they really are as strong they seem, getting the band back together might be more crucial than I had initially thought. Going back up without another word, Kisuke wondered what the future would hold. He had the feeling things were going to be getting very interesting, one way or the other.
Soul Academy Zanjutsu Training Area.
"Good block!" My sparring partner grins even as he tries to break my stance, but his attack is too broad and slow to match my speed. With an almost casual step forward and a hilt smash to his stomach after we pull apart, he's doubled over with my sword's edge against the back of his neck. "Damn, lost again."
"You're getting better." I reply, and the honest smile on my face showed it was true. He and everyone I had been asked to spar against had shown improvement, some more than others, but the instructors had been impressed all the same with the progress. Having received several requests since my unasked for duel against Kenpachi, the Zanjutsu instructors had found every excuse to have me tutor any of the first year students that asked for the aid. While the far more advanced techniques were still beyond me, the basics of swordplay weren't, and it showed as I swung my unsealed zanpaktou as if I had been born with the blade in my hand.
Just as I prepared to sheath my blade, I notice a black haired kid in the crowd. Hanataro was here, why? Despite the question, I smile at the boy's small smile as he rubs the back of his head in embarrassment when he sees I'm looking at him. "Come forward Hanataro." He blinks owlishly and points at himself even as everyone looks where I've directed my gaze. I nod and smile invitingly, my blade resting at my side for the moment. The reaction I get from the crowd isn't one I expect however.
There must have been a joke I wasn't aware of as most everyone around me starts laughing like hyenas. Even Saki can't suppress a smirk from across the room, even as her eyes fill with a little shame at her own reaction to the situation at hand. Hanataro has started away, and I can tell that while he didn't blame me for what was happening, he is still hurt even as he puts on a self deprecating smile. Taking a moment to let the crowd wear themselves out, I only shake my head and sigh before starting towards the exiled youth. The silence that falls as those around me realize what I'm doing is palpable, but I ignore it. Ever since going to Inaba and becoming a part of their lives, I had gone out of my way to make everyone I came into contact with feel worthwhile, not shun them for some petty excuse or another. Hanataro had been shunned, and I was determined to find out why right from the source.
The obvious questions were asked but I ignore them as I follow the medic out of the training room. I don't have to ask him what he wanted to do. If our roles had been reversed, I'd doubt I would want to stick around either. If he was surprised I followed him out into the main halls of the academy, he doesn't immediately show it as he looks up and blinks again before it dawns on him that I'm not running, or laughing at him, or anything of the sort he's no doubt gotten used to from his fellow Reapers. Fellow Reapers….the very thought makes me sick to my stomach that they can so easily degrade one of their own. It seemed that even in the afterlife, people only saw and believed what they wanted, to know only what they wished to know, even if it wasn't the truth.
"Why did you follow me?" I had expected the question, and as we walk, Hanataro looks me up and down, no doubt trying to figure out what my game plan was. The truth was however, I had no plan. Despite what my friends might have believed, I hadn't planned any of my decisions. I had simply followed my heart, which had grown stronger the closer I got to those I had come to love as true friends and more.
"Because no one else did." I reply simply, but my voice holds a measure of compassion and understanding he's not used to hearing, save from his Captain perhaps. Despite the hard edge I had sensed around her, she genuinely seemed to care about the people under her command and those that passed through her medical ward.
"Huh. I'm just a medic though Mr. Narukami. I'm nobody special. Besides, I wouldn't have blamed you for not trying to cheer me up." He looks down but I can tell he's grateful, even if he doesn't understand why I'm making an effort to help him of all people.
Putting a hand on his shoulder, the young medic looks up, the surprise on his face clear as day. "No one should be alone Hanataro. Whatever the reason people act the way they do doesn't make it right. You might not understand my reasoning, but let's just say that I know what it's like to be alone."
That statement has his curiosity piqued as he looks at me in a new light. "You...were alone? I find that hard to believe Yu."
I smile but nod as I stuff my hands in my robe's sleeves, my arms crossed at the chest. "It feels like a different life now, and I guess in a way it is, but the fact remains, I wasn't always who I am now. Although my life ended in that town, the year I spent in Inaba was the best year I could have ever spent alive. I made friends and bonds that not even death could break, and I learned things about myself that have made me into who I am now." An image of me facing off against Margaret, about the same time my own Shadow appears behind me in the pile of TVs, flashes before my eyes. That battle had been a necessary one, where I had shattered my own self delusion thanks to the platinum blonde's interference when it had been needed the most. Izanami's illusion would have won out otherwise, and the world would have been destroyed because I had fooled myself into believing the lie forged by the goddess. Being alone had never terrified me as much as it had at that moment, and I would have been happy with the lie rather than face the fact Izanami had killed them once already with her Thousand Curses. I let it play itself out before turning back to the kid before me.
"Huh. I guess that explains why you're so approachable Mr. Narukami." Hanataro smiles softly before he looks around, realizing that he's been talking with me for quite some time. "Oh no, Captain Unohana's gonna be mad if I don't hurry up! Good luck!"
I shake my head and walk away, not too surprised that I hadn't learned as much as I had wanted to about the young medic. Even so, I sense my Hanged Man Arcana has powered up slightly, which suits me just fine. Not because of the increase of power, but because it means I've gotten closer to the kid.
End Notes; I apologize for the very long delay on updates guys and gals, as well as for the short chapter this round. I've been working on a couple of original stories, both with Archer83, add on top of the stress of all of my RL crap, it's amazing I haven't gone nuts already lol. Still, I've gotten requests to update this and I was wanting to provide what you guys wanted. I'll hopefully get my groove back soon. Until next time, adios and have a good one!
I wanted to thank webghost for a few of the newly filled Arcana spots I was hoping to fill. I also wanted to thank Bboy43 for a little inspiration for Naoto Shirogane's twin pistol design I came up with for her Persona given weapons. While Kanji's is a bit of a rip off of Sado's gauntlet, it was unfortunately the only thing I could think of that matched his personality and his natural abilities lol. However, what I have planned for that arm will be different since he was proficient with blunt weapons, such as chairs, tables, etc. Heh. I also have a new reviewer to thank for the Arcanas I wanted to fill and had no idea on how to do so. Thank you Xoraan for the input. ;D
Renji Abaria, Strength; 5 Kusi Mitama
Retsu Unohana, Priestess; 1 Kikuri-Hime
Momo Hinomaru, Magician; 4 Rangda
Toshiro Hitsugaya, Emperor; 4 Setanta
Rukia Kuchiki, Chariot; 2 Ares
Hanataro Yamada, The Hanged Man; 2 Taown
Saki Konishi, Death; 3 White Rider
Seta Souji, The World; 4 Izanagi-No-Okami.
Future Arcana List. (Provided by you, the readers/reviewers. Thank you. D)
Fool; Ichigo Kurosaki
Star; Kon, the Mod Soul.
Fortune; Jushiro Ukitake
Justice; Byakuya Kuchiki
Jester/Hunger; Sosuke Aizen
Lovers; Soi Fon
Hierophant; Shunsui Kyoraku