Disclaimers, etc.: See chapter one and/or Disclaimers Page.
Opening Theme: Diamond by Alan
Ending Theme: With You by AAA
Across the Dimensions
Chapter Two: The Sealed Yukihime
SHIRO’S INNER BATTLEFIELD – FIELD OF ICE
Shirahime Thorne awoke on a plane of ice, staring into the cold, unforgiving eyes of Hyorinmaru. The ice dragon roared at her.
“Maru,” she said in greeting, clutching her chest as she rose. She could see the reflection of Shiro in Maru’s eyes. Both zanpakuto and master accused her.
“The only way,” she brushed off the accusation. “Aizen is still pissed at me for taking his place.”
“Enough,” she deflected. “I’m sure the real Element God Hyorinmaru will complain later.”
Maru left his dragon form and appeared in his human form—still retaining his tail.
Shirahime stared into his cold eyes. “A point?” she asked.
“No,” said Maru, running his hand through her hair.
Suddenly her body felt on fire, as if only then did she feel the puncture through her chest. Then she heard Shiro’s words: “Last Revival.”
Stricken with fear, she looked into Maru’s eyes. Maru reached out to her, but she faded away.
SOUL SOCIETY – FOURTH DIVISION
Shirahime felt warm blood pooling inside of her mouth. She turned her head aside to cough and through poor vision watched her own blood flow onto the sheets.
“Lung puncture,” a member of the fourth division announced.
“But how?” Shiro questioned.
“She was still in human form,” Unohana answered as she walked closer to Shirahime. “Hitsugaya Taicho,” she said to Shiro, “please excuse us. We must prep for surgery immediately.”
Shirahime could feel Shiro’s uneasiness, though she could no longer see him or anyone else. What had they said? I was in human form? Perhaps at another time it would have made sense to her, but now she could only see Maru’s eyes. In her mind, she reached out for him, but touched nothing.
SOUL SOCIETY – FOURTH DIVISION – OUTSIDE
Momo Hinamori ran into Shiro’s arms, tears streaming down her face. “Taicho! My taicho!” Her cries became more frantic and her breathing more frantic.
Shiro could not see her. His shock blinded him. He could only hear Unohana’s voice. “It’s my fault,” he mumbled. “How much time had it been? How long was I standing there?” Only now could he recall the members of the fourth division prying him off of Shirahime. He had stood there for a long time impaling her with Yukihime.
Surely it did not take so long to revive a soul?
Time had seemed to stop for him. From the moment he struck her with her own zanpakuto, he had known no more until he heard “Lung puncture,” until he had dropped Yukihime. Only when he was free of Yukihime did Toshiro Hitsugaya exist again. For while he held Yukihime in its Last Revival, he saw through Shirahime’s eyes—he looked at Hyorinmaru, whom Shirahime often called Maru. He remembered calling him Maru.
“Hitsugaya Taicho!” Momo cried out.
The fact she called him taicho and not Shiro jolted him into reality.
He looked across to Rangiku Matsumoto, oddly aware at how watery she appeared. He felt his tears drop from his face.
“Taicho!” Matusmoto yelled at him, trying to shake him.
He dropped slowly to the floor.
“Shirahime,” he muttered. “Shirahime.” He looked to his own hands. Could he see her blood or was he imagining it?
SOUL SOCIETY – FIRST DIVISION – MEETING HALL
The taichos of the Gotei 13 stood on either side of Yamamoto Sou Taicho—save for Hitsugaya Taicho and Thorne Shirahime Taicho.
Rangiku Matsumoto knelt across from Yamamoto, just as she once did when her taicho had been thought a traitor.
“Hitsugaya Taicho cannot attend the meeting, sir. I apologize for him.”
“I am aware of his state,” said Yamamoto.
Yamamoto examined the taichos present. Zaraki veiled a deep anger. Kurotsuchi seemed uncharacteristically attentive. “Thorne-Shihoin Shirayukihime Taicho is a member of the royal family. She is the next wife of the crown prince. As shinigami, it is our duty to protect the members of the royal family. Therefore, from this day forward, the princess will not return as a shinigami or a taicho.”
“Sou Taicho,” asked Unohana, “are you sure this is what she would want?”
“If she dies,” he answered, “Crown Prince Shiroyuki will have our heads. So, I am sending her back to Yoruichi Shihoin and Kisuke Urahara.”
“Sou Taicho,” Zaraki said, “I don’t think that would make the crown prince content.”
“Those are my orders,” Yamamoto said. “Soi Fon, you will send your third seat with her.”
“Yes, sir,” said Soi Fon.
“What about Yachiru Kusajishi?” asked Zaraki. “She won’t be happy you plan to do this with her mother. Nor will Daichi Thorne Takeya.” He emphasized his full name.
“Kusajishi Fukutaicho is not yet an official member of the royal family. She is still a shinigami under my command. And Takeya is not really her son. What could he do? You are all dismissed.”
Each taicho and Rangiku left the room, but Zaraki remained behind. “Yachiru will complain to Shiroyuki. And a word of advice, don’t ever say that about Daichi around Yachiru. Or anyone in my division.” He left, not waiting for Yamamoto’s reply.
SOUL SOCIETY – FIRST DIVISION – OUTSIDE – FRONT ENTRANCE
Zaraki found Matsumoto waiting around, staring off into the distance.
“How is he?” Zaraki asked.
“He won’t forgive himself. He won’t eat.”
“It’s not his fault. He did save her life.” Then he looked down, as if seeing himself in his past life. “I never thought I would meet someone who loved her more than I did.”
“Do you think Yachiru will change things?” she asked.
“She’s already talked to Shiroyuki. He knows what happened. The King won’t allow anyone to leave. Shiroyuki wants to destroy Aizen, but the king won’t allow it. Shiroyuki is his only heir.”
“So, he won’t stand up to his own father?”
“No. Not until Yachiru gets recognized as a member of the royal family.”
She turned to him, looking at him in the eye, “And you’re okay with this? If Yachiru becomes an official princess, you may never see her again.”
“I wouldn’t say that. I’d just have to work very hard to get into zero division—you would, too.” He smiled at her.
Matsumoto didn’t want to confront her own feelings at the moment. Her taicho was unstable, and the woman he loved could be dying. No, she did not feel like she could be selfish.
“I don’t want to leave you,” she said, “but I can’t leave my taicho.”
“I don’t know how it will be for Hitsugaya. In a way, he will lose the one he loves either way. I doubt he would want to go into zero division after she marries Shiroyuki.”
“Yes, he would. I don’t think he could ever live without her again, even if it means someone else will be married to her.”
Zaraki gathered her into his arms. “Just promise me you don’t have any plans to marry Ichimaru. I doubt I can be as noble as Hitsugaya.”
SOUL SOCIETY – FIRST DIVISION – OUTSIDE – BACK ENTRANCE
Mayuri Kurotsuchi lingered. He heard Zaraki’s words. It seemed Sou Taicho still held a grudge against the Shinnouhi since the incident with the Oin.
Mayuri thought no one would notice him. They didn’t. But he was wrong if he thought he had stopped here alone.
Daichi Thorne Takeya sat on the grass. His younger sister, Raiko, rested her head on his leg. She was the human incarnation of his zanpakuto, so she was exhausted after the battle. Daichi tried to speed her recovery. But Daichi was crying, trying hard to keep quiet.
Raiko held his hand, wanting to comfort him, but too exhausted to do much.
Mayuri had once been close to Shirahime. In one strange meeting before the Oin was stolen, Shirahime had a vision, and Mayuri never yet discovered what it was. After Shirahime returned from whatever happened with zero division, she became distant to every man. There had been Hinamori’s idea for the dating fund raiser. He let himself be his actual self for once. What he felt or didn’t feel about Shirahime, he still was unsure.
But anger flared in him now. Daichi had heard what Sou Taicho said, and Mayuri knew all too well what he must have been crying over.
“Daichi?” Matusmoto said as she came over to him. She heard his crying from the other side of the yard.
Kenpachi walked in. He said nothing at first, but Mayuri thought they shared their conclusions.
“Daichi,” Rangiku said as she knelt to him, “your mom’s going to make it. She’s strong, you know that.”
“But she isn’t really my mother, is she?” he countered.
Kenpachi ground his teeth.
Yachiru walked up to her brother, tears forming in her eyes. “Who said that about Dai-kun?”
She hugged Daichi and took Raiko’s hand.
“Whoever said it is stupid. It’s not true.”
Rage filled her, her reiatsu spiking.
“Kenny, who lied about Daichi? Who said that about my brother?”
“It’s not a lie,” Daichi said. “It’s true.”
“No, it isn’t!” Yachiru shouted. “If you weren’t really my brother, then how could I feel you cry?”
“Listen to me,” Rangiku interrupted. “Yachiru, you are her daughter from her previous incarnation. Daichi, I’m sure it’s the same for you. But Yachiru is in danger from the royal family. Daichi, your mom wants to keep you safe. That’s why she lets people believe it.”
“She’s right,” Kenpachi agreed. “Sounds like something she would do.”
“It’s the most logical explanation,” Mayuri interrupted, finally revealing himself.
Kenpachi and Rangiku looked up at him. Kenpachi knew Mayuri used to have a somewhat friendly relationship with Shirahime – before zero division. They ruined many things, relationships, and one very important life.
“Thorne,” Mayuri said, looking directly at Daichi. “I need to work on something to help your mother. And if one of her children would help me, it just might work.”
“Let me go, too. It will work great if all three of us go.”
“Yachiru,” Kenpachi interrupted. “I think you can help your mom a bit better if you go talk to your other father again. We may need his influence.”
“Okay,” she agreed. “Look after my little brother, Kenny.”
She kissed Daichi on the cheek. “Tell whoever said that I’m going to kill them.”
She kissed Raiko on her forehead.
Daichi ran his fingers through Raiko’s hair. “I know you’re exhausted, sister. Get some sleep, and we’ll see mama later.”
Raiko smiled and shimmered in the air. Her spirit returned to the zanpakuto.
“I bet they’re jealous of you and your mom being able to do that,” Kenpachi said. “How many other people can do that? They envy you two for Raiko and Kosetsu.”
“Obviously,” Mayuri agreed.
Once the children and Mayuri left, Rangiku turned to Kenpachi. “Never thought I’d see the day we’d be getting along with him.”
Kenpachi nodded. “I think Shirahime was his first friend – before zero division took her away. Considering what he tried to do to her before, it’s unbelievable now.”