Disclaimers, etc.: See chapter one and/or Disclaimers Page.
Opening Theme: Hanabi by Ikimono Gakari
Ending Theme: Life by Yui
Across the Dimensions
Another Shinigami Part 1
White Princess Rebirth
Chapter Twelve: Enter Inoue, A Revelation of Past Light
There was nothing Rukia could do for Ichigo. She hated seeing him in such pain and helpless. Without his zanpakuto, a shinigami would be only without power for a short while. Yet Ichigo was missing the hollow part of himself. She should be glad of this, but Rukia and doubtless the others wondered if Ichigo’s hollow had taken Zangetsu for himself.
All of this was unprecedented. Then again, not many shinigamis were part hollow, and certainly none but Ichigo was also human. At least, that was how much she knew. She did not know of Isshin, Ichigo’s father, who had been a taicho most likely during the same time Urahara had been one. She did not know of Sam Hawthorne, the human who would soon discover her past and the importance of her future.
Human or not, Rukia cared deeply for Ichigo. She smacked him around and insulted him on more than one occasion, but strangely that was because she cared so much for him. She had treated Renji Abarai much the same way, but as time went by, she cared more for Ichigo. When would she cross over the line of simple friendship? He occasionally kissed her, but she wondered if he was serious enough.
She was not alone in her admiration and growing love for Ichigo. Another, Orihime Inoue, had known him longer and sometimes fought her own jealousy over Rukia. Orihime possessed an unprecedented power to reject fate. She had brought her friend back from the dead as her first rejection, simply on the idea that she didn’t want to be without her. She had healed Ichigo before. Perhaps she could do it again.
Rukia stood, and with one final glance to Ichigo, told the others she was going to get Orihime.
Orihime found her thoughts returning to Ichigo Kurosaki. She thought of the first time she had met him and then again to what Tatski said about him losing his mother. She wanted to be strong for him and the others. She wanted to be his friend. Above all, she wished she could be his girlfriend. Like that would happen. She tried to push the thought aside. She doubted it would ever happen, but still she wished it would.
Ichigo was somewhat popular in school, even without anyone knowing that he had special powers or was a Substitute Shinigami. There were many other girls at school that flirted with him, but he never seemed interested. No, Orihime’s one competition was not human at all. Rukia Kuchiki had given Ichigo her Shinigami power in order for him to protect his family. He had his own power all along, but it took Rukia to awaken it. He and the others traveled to Soul Society to save Rukia when she had been sentenced to be executed as part of the traitor Sosuke Aizen’s plans.
Ichigo fought for her out of loyalty to his debt for her, but Orihime knew it extended to more than that. Rukia had become important to Ichigo and close to him, all that Orihime wished she had been.
A chill came upon her. She knew someone was there.
Her nervous smile covered her apprehensions. Rukia in her soul form appeared in her window.
“Inoue,” she said, full of grief.
“Inoue, Kurosaki needs you.”
Every apprehension she had felt came upon her again. She had longed to be of use to him. She had wanted to hear him say he needed her, but there was only one-way Rukia meant. Orihime Inoue could reject fate like none other, and she knew only her power would save him now.
Kon did not know what to expect or to do when Isshin would appear. Mere seconds became moments in eternity. Kon had a bond with Ichigo, and now in his body, he felt stranger than he had before. Something had affected even his human body.
“Maybe I’m not alone.” Ichigo’s voice. “I want to give her something to say ‘thank you.’ Even though I’ve never met her before, I feel like I’ve known her all my life. I want to protect her.”
Who had Ichigo talked to? And who was he talking about? Surely, it was not Rukia. If Ichigo vowed to protect someone, surely whoever it was would be okay.
“Kon,” asked Chappy, the Soul Candy Rukia, “what do we do now?”
“Well, I’m certainly not going to kiss you.”
“That’s a relief,” she laughed, “but we’re in big trouble.”
“Yeah. No sense hiding in the closet.”
The door flew open. Isshin stood there, not in his normal carefree way, but in a way that completely freaked Kon out. He had a plastered “concerned father” smile on his face, but his eyes bored into Kon—he knew Kon was there and not Ichigo.
“Are you two alright?” he asked.
Isshin nodded, fully knowing what he really asked was, “Is Ichigo’s body and Rukia’s gigai okay?” Then said, “You, come with me.”
Kon complied, following him, not sparing a look at Rukia’s gigai.
Out in the hallway and low enough not to wake his daughters, Isshin turned on Kon and asked in a near growl, “Where is my son?”
“Rukia took him to Urahara’s. He’s missing his zanpakuto…and his hollow.”
“Well,” he said, clamping a hand on Kon’s shoulder, “do a good job, Kon. After all, my two little girls expect their brother to protect them.”
Ichigo had a vision—that much had been clear to Yoruichi. Although she did not see it, she felt strangely familiar spiritual pressure from him. It was not his she recognized, but another’s. Her mind returned to her uneasy night.
She had been dreaming of a time long ago when she and Kisuke were so much more than they were now. They felt like family then and had strong bonds and tragedy that kept then together. She had been weeping. Her sadness seemed not to end, but she could not remember or feel what it had been for. She had been crying into a blanket—a pink one sized for an infant. Crying over a child.
“You took her from me.”
She heard the conviction in her own voice. She had sad the words, but it had been her past self that was so enraged. She said them to Kisuke.
Her. A child.
Her child. Their child.
He took her. Kisuke took their child away.
Kisuke walked up to her and touched the tears streaming down her face. “You okay?”
“Yeah.” She turned to him and threw her arms around him. She startled him with such a public display, but he wrapped his arms around her.
“Kurosaki is a fighter, Yoruichi.”
“It’s not Kurosaki I’m crying for.”
SOUL SOCIETY – YORUICHI’S AND KISUKE’S TRAINING GROUND
Far away from the pair, another human shinigami smiled for the first time in a long while. Although she began to understand that Zangetsu, her first love, was now in incarnation of a sword, she had finally been reunited with someone she loved.
“My love,” she said to him as they embraced. “No one ever knows the shortness of life. Can we just have ours here and now, no matter how long that is?”
“I love you,” he said, with the same depth he would have long ago. Although Kail was still inside of her, this time he did not fight against Zangetsu.
She moved out of their embrace and looked into his eyes. Taking his hand, she said, “Show me.”
After all, teaching her to fight during their dance had been intrusive enough. He had to have her permission to show her the truth of the present.
“Forgive me,” he said. “This will hurt.”