"Kurosaki-kun, did you already come here?" Orihime broke the awkward silence, genuinely looking at the orange haired kid in confusion. "Why didn't you say anything?"
Bless her heart, I just wanted to give her another pat on the head.
"I didn't." He gritted his teeth. He walked up to me, obviously understanding Yoruichi's insinuations. "Why the hell do they think I did shit!?"
"I don't know, why did you?" I countered. "It's obvious that some nefarious and dastardly villain by the name of Kurosaki Ichigo caused some havoc within Soul Society. I don't think that name is common enough for them to be mistaken."
"Fuck you, you did it."
"Really? You're going to blame me? How could it possibly –"
"Apparently he had red hair." Yoruichi chimed in. "One of his more notable features."
"..Just because they said he was charming, and handsome, and a dashing rogue doesn't mean it's me –"
"They said none of that." Yoruichi deadpanned.
"Are you sure? There was nothing mentioning any of that?" I looked at her suspiciously.
"If anything, they said that the person was ugly, and annoying, and just a menace in general."
"Lies and slander!"
"….Uh huh." Yoruichi poked my cheek. "You seemed awfully concerned about what happened to Strawberry over there."
"Don't call me that, you stupid cat!"
"Yeah, Yoruichi, be nice. He's under a lot of pressure. I can't imagine the kind of stress he has after invaded Soul Society a second time."
That made her snicker despite the situation.
"I did not you asshole!"
"That's not what the people are saying…."
"Raaah!" He started haphazardly swinging his big sword around with annoyance. "Get over here you asshole!" He shouted while I casually used a burst of my bastardized Shunpo to hide behind Izzy.
"Stop flailing around." Yoruichi jumped off my shoulder, smacking Ichigo's head to the ground. "We have more important things to worry about."
"What the hell is more important than this asshole shouting my name after running around here already!?" He jabbed his finger in my direction, after jumping back up to his feat.
Honestly, that's a fairly decent question. But, regardless…..
"Can't prove shit."
"Right here! Let's go!" He made a beckoning motion.
"Don't fight.." Orihime frowned.
And the wind was taken out of his sails very quickly.
"Alright, alright." I held my hands up. "Let's just agree that we've all made some mistakes and move on to more important things."
"You're the one who caused this whole problem!" Ichigo's eye twitched.
"From what I understand, they're blaming someone named Kurosaki Ichigo. Last I checked, that isn't my name." I smiled. "Honestly –"
I felt a hand grab at my ear and pull. "Wilhelm, what did you do?" Izzy glared at me.
"Pfft, whipped." Ichigo grinned.
"….Virgin – owww." I whined, as Izzy pulled my ear a bit harder.
"Alright, stop messing around." Yoruichi looked like she was laughing a moment ago, but she regained her seriousness. "Did you seriously run around calling yourself with his name previously?"
"....similar events may or may not have occurred."
"That makes things significantly worse." Yoruichi grumbled.
"In my defense, I didn't think a 15 year old would get it into his head that it was a good idea to invade the afterlife." I pointed out.
"Didn't you do it already? What makes you different!?" Ichigo scowled.
"I can take responsibility for my actions. I came and left without problems and I didn't involve my high school friends in some hair brained scheme when they have next to no actual experience fighting." I flicked his forehead.
Am I being a little bit of a hypocrite? Sure. However, they're just kids with next to no real experience with this sort of thing. I've been in many life-and-death battles at this point, and I know how to handle myself. I could handle the repercussions that came my way. I just didn't expect that they were wanting to do the exact same thing only a little time later. I also could at will leave this world line behind without a trace, so the consequences facing me weren't that great.
"Is that why you're here?" Chad, who had been silent along with Uryū at the side, had walked forward and put a hand on Ichigo's shoulder. "You do not seem to care about Rukia. And you should barely know any of us."
Well, he has a good head on his shoulders. "That's right."
He wasn't the type to say much.
"What exactly did you do? The rumors aren't really…..reliable." Yoruichi asked as everyone else seemed to lean in to listen.
"Went to a few places, met a few people."
"That doesn't seem like it'd get the kind of response I heard about – "
"May have beaten up a Captain while I was at it."
"I mistook him for a clown at first. He was really weird."
"Are you talking about Mayuri?"
"Yeah, that was his name." I nodded.
Yoruichi stared at me for a moment in complete silence. "Right, I'll process that later. Didn't know you could handle a Captain like that, and I don't understand it, but that's not important right now. Not to mention Kisuke is going to get a kick out of it."
"Also shared a drink with Shunsui. He's a nice guy." I added.
"….that's actually kind of believable. Anything else I should know?"
"Mmm, ended the little trip by going to visit Unohana and I may have flirted with her a little."
"….I don't believe you." Yoruichi said without much emotion. "Out of everything you said, that's the least believable."
"She has a very pretty smile."
"Yeah, you're lying." Yoruichi hopped down from my shoulder. "Okay kids, we have a change of plans. Our original way in is now gone because someone went gallivanting around the place without telling anyone."
"To clarify, the authorities here are going to be attempting to arrest Kurosaki due to his delinquent behavior?" Uryū asked.
"Undoubtedly." Yoruichi nodded.
"So it's not much different than normal." There was a shadow of a smile appeared on his face as he took a jab at the orange haired kid.
Ichigo's head slowly turned towards Uryū and shot him a glare. Uryū had a smug look about him and didn't look perturbed in the slightest.
"So what's the plan now that this asshole screwed things up?" Ichigo crossed his arms with a grunt, his sword returned to his back.
"I have some connections around here. I think I can swing us a way inside, but it's going to be…..noisy." Yoruichi replied. "They will probably detect our entrance to Soul Society since we came straight from the Dangai and that's not something subtle. However, this method will put all of us right in the spotlight if we get through the barrier."
"Well, whatever we gotta do." Ichigo shrugged. "If they came after us, then we beat them and keep moving forward."
"Hmph, how brutish. But he isn't incorrect." Uryū fixed his glasses again, a seemingly unconscious action. "If any Shinigami try to apprehend us, I will show them why Quincy are superior."
"If you're prepared, then we need to head somewhere. There's a restaurant not too far away that someone frequents. We need to get in touch with his sister so it may take a little while."
"How long is this going to take?" Ichigo asked.
"A few days most likely. The kid likes to come out and play often, so it's likely he'll be out causing some kind of problems and we can find him." Yoruichi shrugged.
"Fascinating, but I propose a different option." I interjected because that sounded like a hassle that I didn't want to deal with.
"What, you got a better idea?" Yoruichi eyed me.
"I invite you to remember how Izzy and I even entered the Dangai in the first place."
"…..Oh." Yoruichi had a look of realization.
"What're you talking about?" Ichigo blinked in confusion.
"He's saying he can take us inside, Kurosaki." Uryū elaborated for me. "He obviously used another method to travel along with us considering his early conversation about being unable to use the same portal."
"That would save us a significant amount of time if so…" Yoruichi looked at me in anticipation.
I flipped my hand over, allowing Mirage to fall from between my fingers to land handle up in the ground. Maybe it was my dramatic side, but I wanted to make a little show of it as I gathered my Magical Energy, and my sword illuminated the surroundings. Holding it aloft, I slashed through the space, tearing it open and connecting it to a point much further away.
"That simple?" Ichigo peered through, the obvious change of surroundings noting that it worked.
"Huh, yeah, that's right smack in the middle of the Seireitei." Yoruichi walked around it, eyeing everything about it.
"Alright, let's get going –"
I yanked his collar back, making his grunt in annoyance. "Hold your horses." I reached into my sleeve – or rather my storage ring and withdrew a few things I had prepared beforehand. "All of you are going to take one of these." I spread out four Talismans and held them up. "Keep them on your person at all times."
They took them awkwardly, I suppose they didn't really know the purpose, so I just continued. "They should be able to block death one time. A safety precaution in case things turn pear shaped."
"Thank you." Orihime happily bowed her head without a second thought.
Jeez, she was such a likable young woman.
"How does this work?" Ichigo asked.
"Just keep it on your person. I could explain the concepts behind its inception, but we'd be here all day." I waved it off as if it wasn't the time even if the prideful side of me was nipping at the idea of explaining the complicated mechanics.
"…thanks." Ichigo nodded, shoving it into the inside of his Kimono while the others also hid it on their persons.
I smiled, gesturing towards the portal as the kids filed through with Yoruichi hopping into Ichigo's shoulder.
"That was a nice gesture." Izzy walked up to me. "I could feel the faint divinity you applied to them. Along with the Runes you used, those could not have been easy to make. Both in terms of resources and time-wise."
Yeah, well….just wait until they find out what I really did during my stay here before deciding to invade the afterlife.
"Would you mind doing me a favor?"
"What do you need?" Izzy tilted her head.
"I had an idea, and I wanted to go talk to something, but it's probably not a good idea to bring everyone with me. I'd feel a lot more comfortable with you around to protect them."
"Take care of what you need to. I will make sure no harm comes to them in my presence." Izzy promised.
"Thanks, I know I can always rely on you."
"…of course." She looked very happy to hear me say that for some reason.
Kurosaki Ichigo POV
"We should be somewhere near the Eighth Division." Yoruichi said, sniffing the air.
"How would you even know that? Everything looks the same in this place." The asshole stepped out of his….portal, thing with the freaky woman.
Seriously, I don't know why she gave me such a feeling. Even both Zangetsu were quiet when she was around.
"Right." He snorted. "But yeah, we should be right at the edge of the Eighth Division. Figured it would be the best spot that I remembered from before."
"You're not wrong, it's probably one of the better Divisions to be skirting around." Yoruichi agreed.
Well, guess he knew what he's doing at least. As much as I was pissed at him for using my name, I guess it's stupid to think it'd have been a problem however long ago it was. Not like he knew we'd be here like this. Still, he's an asshole, but he's not an 'asshole'.
Zangetsu weirdly liked him too. Both of them, even the pale copy didn't really dislike which is weird cause he only had annoying crap to say while the old man seemed to agree. They've been arguing a lot so it's weird to see them agree on something like that.
They mentioned something about a Sheath, but I didn't really get it. Only that they seem to relax in a weird little meadow even though everything else of my inner world is basically sideways skyscrapers and that somehow has something to do with it.
Still, screw him. Gonna kick his ass one of these days, but he's alright I guess. It's not like he hasn't been helpful and doing stuff. I did feel bad about dragging Chad and Orihime here, even if they decided to come on their own. Would be a dick move if I told them they couldn't do exactly what I was doing in the first place.
I'm glad that they have someone watching their backs. I feel like I might be too preoccupied to always cover them.
Those pieces of paper – Talismans, felt weird, so I think they're legit.
And the scary lady that I can't feel any Reiatsu from but still makes my hairs stand up.
Were they dating or something? They act like a couple, but also not.
Whatever, I didn't really care.
Scary housewife wasn't the weirdest thing I've ever seen.
"Anyways, I chose this place on purpose. I had an idea, I wanted to go pay a visit to Shunsui and talk to him about the whole execution thing, see if we can't maybe get a Captain on our side." I perked up and listened as he talked. "Even if this whole 'rescue' thing miraculously works, what exactly is the end goal after….stealing her back?"
"True, they wouldn't just stop if we grabbed that little twerp and brought her back to the Human World." Yoruichi nodded. "And Shunsui is very close friends with the Captain of Rukia's Division, so there's a good chance he might help."
"We're friendly, I'll go see if I can chat him up about helping. In the meantime, you guys work towards your goal, I'll catch back up. And Izzy will be in charge while I'm gone."
Everyone looked at the scary housewife and even that snooty cat didn't say anything even jokingly about her. I think even the cat was scared of her, which was weird cause the cat seemed not scared of anything until this point.
"Do what you want." I said.
It made sense. It'd be better if they didn't do anything after. But for now, the important thing was just rescuing Rukia in the first place.
"Alrighty, since Strawberry gave me permission. Try to stay out of trouble this time." He smiled and it really made me want to punch him, but he slashed that weird sword of his through the air and stepped through another of his weird portals.
"If we're going to be moving around, should we find some clothing to blend in?" Chad asked.
He made a good point. "Doesn't sound like a bad idea if we can grab some from somewhere."
"You can strip the first Shinigami we come across, because chances are they're on alert after our entrance to Soul Society." Yoruichi snorted. "We're lucky this is a remote corner, but expect to see patrols every which way."
"Do you know the fastest way to get to Rukia? So we don't have to keep stopping or getting lost." I asked.
"I need to get my bearings, so we'll need to step further out. Either way, we're probably going to run into people. May as well go hard and fast."
"Works for me." I cracked my knuckles. "Everyone else ready?"
Chad nodded and Uryū looked like he still had that stick up his ass, but he looked prepared. I'd try my best to make sure Orihime didn't have to fight.
Scary Housewife didn't say anything, but a small look from her made me feel a little relieved for some reason.
"Alright, follow my directions." The Cat jumped onto my shoulder and I didn't argue. For some reason, he knew this place well.
"Just tell me where to go." I didn't care as long as I went the right way.
"Take a right up here." I began moving and they followed quickly.
As soon as we turned the corner, there were a handful of Shinigami standing around. They saw us immediately and they could probably tell we weren't supposed to be here.
"Ryoka!" One of them shouted and they all stood up straighter and drew their swords, running at us.
"Try not to kill anyone unless you have to." Yoruichi voiced.
I nodded at Chad and we ran at them, that weird arm of his came out and he immediately cracked one of them across the face with a hail maker and I kicked the next one in the stomach. These guys were barely better than some of the thugs we've had to fight in the past. Sure they had swords, but we were also much stronger than when we did this in the past.
Their blades never touched us and we knocked down these six or seven easily.
Uryū didn't do anything, and I'd normally give him shit and he'd probably say something about dealing with weaklings, but I noticed him standing protectively next to Orihime.
"Stop spacing out, to the right again, then there's a long path. Don't stand still." Yoruichi slapped the side of my head. "The alarm hasn't been raised, but it's only a matter of time until they realize that we're inside."
I grumbled, but I listened to his orders.
Running along the endless walls, we didn't move much more before running into another group, a little bit bigger but I also felt that one of them was a lot stronger than the others.
"One of them is a Seated Officer, be careful." Yoruichi warned.
"Yeah, yeah." I noticed him too. I grabbed Zangetsu from my back and picked him out of the lot. A few arrows flew past my head and shot at the hands holding swords. They shouted and dropped their weapons while Chad ran up and knocked them out.
I ignored the small fries and swung my blade at the strongest one.
He unsheathed his sword quickly, and blocked my strike. From that one exchange, I could pretty much gauge his overall strength and I just flexed my Reiatsu a little and swung Zangetsu again with more force. He tried to block again, but he was slammed to his knees and I finished him off with a kick to the stomach, sending him tumbling.
He was still conscious and I was curious about something. "Hey." I grabbed his collar, bring him up to meet my eyes. "The name's Kurosaki Ichigo, does that mean anything to you?"
"Oh god, please don't hit me with a brick!"
"While I second that question, I have another. What's the Fifth Division doing over here, your barracks are on the other side of the Seireitei?" Yoruichi jumped down to my hand and patted where I was grabbing at his kimono. I pulled it a little more to see a 'Five' stitched to the inside.
"That's because I was in the area."
I felt something tingle on the back of my neck as the words reached me. It wasn't just me either, Yoruichi seemed to freeze at hearing the voice.
I turned to look at the source and it was a gentle looking guy with somewhat messy brown hair and an otherwise scholarly look. Honestly, without the white Haori I wouldn't have ever thought of him as important
I Barely even blinked and Yoruichi was standing between us as the guy, looking ready for a fight. "Run, now." He commanded. "Run and don't look back."
"What're you talking about?" While the guy gave me a weird feeling he seemed…..kinda harmless. He didn't really look like he was gonna fight.
"What a strange coincidence. I was bringing some of my division members to see the Eighth for a joint exercise and I've run into an old acquaintance. It's been a while Shihōin Yoruichi. And I see you've made some new friends." His eyes ran over all of us, but strangely, they looked at the scary Housewife the most and he looked….surprised? Looked kinda confused too and he stiffened a little as she looked back. Whatever he was thinking, it took him a second to turn his attention back to us.
"Aizen." Yoruichi spat out.
"How about we have a chat, for old times sake?" He smiled and it suddenly felt wrong.
"I have nothing to say to you." He growled, standing ready for some kind of attack.
"What a shame. However, I have some words I want to share with you." He smiled and it came off kind of genuine despite the situation. He grabbed his sword at his hip and I tensed up, even unconsciously grabbing at Zangetsu because I felt my instinct telling me how dangerous this guy was. He only barely pulled it a few inches from his sheath. "Shatter – Kyōka Suigetsu."
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