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Chapter One to Crelrn's Bleach: Reemergence
Chapter One: Tea
“I’m home,” the man whispered.
A robed figure walked through the crowded streets of the central section of Karakura Town, no one paying any attention to his rather odd sense of fashion. He likewise ignored them, seemingly only focused on his final destination.
It’s been so long since I’ve last been here,thought Shou as his spiritual form passed through a middle-aged man, sending chills up his spine. But why does he want me to come now, of all times?
Turning off of the main street, he walked past a house labeled, “Kurosaki Clinic.” Stopping in front of it, he smiled to himself and continued on his way down the street. A black-haired girl inside noticed Shou looking towards him, thinking,Man, what a weirdo! I mean, who dresses like that, really? It did look familiar, though.She leaned back in her chair, looking at the ceiling. I wish Ichigo would come back, already. Dad’s been acting really weird…
Shou continued down the street, taking another turn off the road and waking into a dusty driveway that looked like it hadn’t been used in years; an small, equally dusty building was at the end of it. Looks like he hasn’t got much business these past 20 years, yet it’s still making enough to get by, he sighed. Well, that’s typical of him.
The building was tagged with a large sign, labeled “URAHARA SHOP”. Standing in front of it was a tall man, looking directly at Shou. His short, black hair and scraggly beard highlighted the grin he directed at Shou. “Shou-kun! I haven’t seen you in a while!” exclaimed the man, holding his hand out.
Shou’s apathetic demeanor melted into a warm smile. “Kurosaki-san. It has been a while, hasn’t it?” he replied, shaking his hand. “How long has it been exactly…something like 20 years?”
“Yeah, something like that,” Isshin said, relinquishing his grasp. “Did Kisuke call you out here, too?”
Shou nodded. “Yeah, though I don’t exactly know why. I haven’t felt any spiritual disturbances of any kind when I was in Hakone.” Turning, he looked around the dusty lot, a scowl forming on his face. “Ishida isn’t coming, is he?”
“I asked him to, but he said he had no interest as long as you were coming,” said a voice from behind the now opening doors to the shop. It belonged to a man wearing a dark-green coat that draped down to his feet, resembling a captain’s haori. His messy, blonde hair flowed out from underneath the striped bucket-hat that he wore, also draping his eyes in shadows. “If you couldn’t tell, I was directing that to you, Ishhin.”
“Urahara-sensei,” said Shou, bowing. “It is an honor to see you again.”
“Enough with the formalities, Shou-kun!” laughed the shop-owner with a lighthearted grin. “It’s not like we’re in the Gotei 13 anymore.”
Shou rose up from his bow, but still kept his eyes aimed at the floor. “M-my apologies.”
Sighing, Urahara motioned them inside. “Come on in! We’ve got a lot to talk about,” he beckoned while walking back through the beat-up doors.
As Shou followed him through the doors, he failed to notice a short, red-haired kid that he ran directly into. “Oh! Jinta-kun!” exclaimed a surprised Shou. “Sorry, I didn’t see you. You sure have grown, though!”
“Oh, really? Thanks for noticing, Mr. Bandages!” incandescently said a beaming Jinta.
“Yeah, whatever,” Shou sighed. “I thought I told you not to call me that anymore…”
Continuing on inside, he and Isshin walked past the dusty counter and towards the back of the shop. Walking through another door and down a hallway, they arrived in a poorly lit, traditional Japanese room, complete with a tatami mat and shoji screen door. The table in the middle of the room had several steaming cups sitting upon it’s lacquered top.
“Come, come!” happily invited Urahara, “Come sit and have some tea! We might be here for a while.”
Counting the number of cups on the table, Shou asked, “Urahara-sen...er, I mean, Urahara-san. There are only three cups out. Does that mean it’ll be just us here?”
“That would be correct!”
“Then where’s Yoruichi-senpai?” inquired the black-haired Shinigami. “I’d have thought that she’dbe here. That is unless,” began Shou, looking at Urahara with an inquisitive look accompanied by a grin, “you two are going through something, hmm?”
Urahara waved his arms in denial, laughing nervously. “Heheheh! No! Of course not! Th-that’s not it at all! Hahaha…” His jolly demeanor changed fairly quickly though. “Anyways, in all seriousness, Yoruichi is away in the Soul Society with Isshin’s son, Ichigo,” he explained, turning to Isshin.
“Well then why are they in the Soul...” He paused for a second, thinking what Urahara had just told him twice over. “Wait, what? Hold on a second!” he exclaimed, turning to Isshin in surprise. “Kurosaki-san! You have a son?”
Grinning, Isshin put his fist on his chest proudly as an immense grin spread all across his face. “Of course I do! Andtwo daughters! Would you expect any less of your old senpai?”
“Well, you’re not exactly the type that I thought would settle down. So…” began Shou grinning, “who’s the mother?”
Isshin’s grin slowly began to fade. “She’s no longer with us. She lost her life to a Hollow about ten years ago protecting our son from it.”
“I’m very sorry, Kurosaki-san. It seems like she was a good mother.”
A small, nostalgic smile started creeping at the corners of the bearded man’s mouth. “Yeah, she was…anyways,” be continued with renewed fervor, “What was it that you were going to ask before we brought this up?”
“Uhhhhh…” Shou looked up towards the ceiling in an attempt to jog his memory. Crap! What wasI talking about?
Raising his fan, Urahara suggested, “I believe it was something around the lines of, ‘Well then why are they in the Soul...Wait, what?’” He punctuated the last part with a overly-dramatic double-take, getting smacked in his face with his own fan by Shou.
“Yeah, I get the point, Urahara-sensei,” scoffed Shou mockingly. “Anyways, back to the point. I was going toask why Yoruichi and Kurosaki’s son are in the Soul Society.”
“Oh, is that all?” asked Urahara, holding his bleeding nose. “In that case, you better get comfortable, because it’s going to be a long explanation.”
After composing himself for a moment, he began. “Alright, Shou-kun. Do you remember that day some-hundred years ago when we escaped from the Soul Society?”
“Of course,” said Shou, nodding. “How could I ever forget?”
“When we came to the Real World, I brought with me several untraceable Gigai, miscellaneous supplies, and,” He paused, looking around the room as if his gaze would bring out any hidden entities into the open. “the Hougyoku.”
All three men’s expressions tensed up at the mere mention of the item. “Now,” continued Urahara as if nothing had happened, “about two months ago, Soul Society assigned a new Shinigami to watch over and protect Karakura Town.”
Urahara smiled. “Miss Rukia Kuchiki.”
“Kuchiki?” clarified Shou with a raised eyebrow. “As in the same noble household that my old Lieutenant, little Byakuya, is in?”
“As in his adopted sister, Rukia,” said Urahara with a small smile.
“They adopted an orphan? That’s hard to believe.”
“Well, they did,” laughed the man in hat and sandals. “But back on topic, during one of Rukia’s routine Hollow-hunts she came into contact with Kurosaki’s family, namely his son, Ichigo. Due to Ichigo’s high spirit power, she failed to sense that the Hollow that she was hunting had already entered the house and proceeded to attack his family.”
Shou turned towards Kurosaki. “But Kurosaki-san, why didn’t you take care of the Hollow yourself?”
Looking down in shame, the bearded man said, “Since I retired 20 years ago, I’ve lost my Shinigami powers and haven’t been able to achieve my spiritual form correctly. Whenever I try, I can only turn into a Plus.”
Shou’s expression saddened. “I’m sorry to hear that, Kurosaki-san. It must be hard.”
“Oh, it’s not as bad as it seems,” laughed Isshin. “This way I don’t have to worry about having to exterminate Hollows or help the Gotei 13.”
“Let’s get back on track,” urged Urahara. “We haven’t got much time.”
“Of course, Urahara-sensei,” apologized the black-haired ex-Shinigami.
“Anyways,” started up the shop-keeper as he cleared his throat, “Rukia-chan failed to protect them and was forced to transfer her powers over to Ichigo in order to save everyone’s life. With Ichigo now possessing Shinigami powers and Rukia without any, I thought that this was the perfect time to hide the Hogyoku forever.”
“Inside Rukia-chan’s soul,” said Urahara. “Through the use of my untraceable gigai and a method of implanting objects within souls, I persuaded her to buy the gigai that housed the Hogyoku anddrained her spirit energy till the point that it would rob her of allchances at recovering her Shinigami powers, thereby hiding the Hogyoku in a normal, untraceable human soul forever.”
Shou raised an eyebrow. “That’s quite an elaborate plan, though I didn’t expect any less from you. I assume something went wrong, though?”
“Naturally!” inappropriately laughed Urahara. “You see, Aizen found out and through his manipulation sent Little Byakuya and his Lieutenant after Rukia-chan on false charges. As you would expect, Ichigo couldn’t stand up to them and they easily took Rukia-chan back with them to the Soul Society, and along with her, the Hogyoku.”
“Aizen wants the Hogyoku?” darkly asked Shou. “Or does he want to destroy it? Or maybe recreate it? In either case, it’s bad news.”
“I believe it’s the former,” answered Urahara quite frankly. “I believe that he is either trying to make more Shinigami/Hollow hybrids or he is finally going to make himself into one.”
“Speaking of which,” interrupted Isshin abruptly, “whenever I felt Ichigo’s spiritual pressure after he got back from training after Summer Break, it felt like theirs.Care to explain?”
“Right, right! All in good time!” laughed Urahara, not attempting to avoid the question at all (like how you can’t tell I’m being sarcastic?). “Anyways, as I was saying, after Ichigo lost to Little Byakuya he alsolost his Shinigami powers. In order to restore them, I had to use ‘The Shattered Shaft.’ This way of renewal formed an alter-ego inside of his soul that I could already feel as he left for the Soul Society several days ago.”
“Which leads me to the reason why I asked you to come today,” continued Urahara. “I wantyouto keep an eye on him and make sure that his Inner Hollow stays dormant and not in control of his body.”
Shou nodded. “I understand and will try to accomplish this to the best of my ability. But,” paused Shou with a skeptical look, “if Yoruichi-senpai is with him, why do I need to go as well?”
“It’s not justabout Ichigo-kun; if we can stop Aizen here and now, we won’t have to worry about him ever again.”
“I assume you have a Senkaimon active here?” presumed Shou. “I’m ready to go now, if you want me to.”
[A/N – Senkaimon = Gate to the Soul Society]
“Of course!” happily answered the shop-keeper. “Follow me!” All three men got up simultaneously, putting down their tea and stretched from sitting down for so long. With the shop-keeper leading the way, they made their way to a hatch in the floor of the shop, revealing a ladder that descended into darkness. “Down we go!” he cried as he jumped down the hatch, completely ignoring the ladder.
Isshin and Shou looked at each other in skepticism, then descended downwards using the ladder, though Shou didn’t use the rungs and simply slid down the sides to the bottom.
When he got there, he found himself in an extremely large, well-lit room. The ceiling went up for several stories and was painted like a calm blue sky, with stationary clouds dotting it. The terrain was desolate and craggy; rock spires jutted out of its surface.
In between two rocky spires stood a peculiar gate-like object that appeared to be made out of worn-out, Paper-Mache boxes. Urahara was standing in front of it, a look of pride on his face. “Do you like it?” he asked with the utmost glee. “It’s a Senkaimon that I made out of improvised materials myself! I think it’s pretty trendy, if somewhat gaudy.”
Shou tried to take his attention off of Urahara’s child-like behavior and focus on something else, though it was kind of hard considering that nothing else was around in the room. “Uh, yeah. Sure.”
Urahara slammed his cane into the ground, triggering two final boxes to rise up off the ground and settle in their respective places on the gate. As soon as they slid into place, spirit particles began to dance madly along the frame as energy sparked inside the gate. The energy in the middle shot up and down along the height of the gate and spread out to the sides like opening a book. An otherworldly hum emanated from the gate and Shou could faintly feel it pulling him inwards towards it.
“Here you go, Shou-kun,” said Urahara as he held out his hands that were holding a bundle of worn-out, black fabric.
Sho gingerly accepted the offering. “What is it?” he asked while opening the bundle.
“Watch out! There’s something wrapped up inside!” he warned as something flew out of the bundle. Quickly catching it, Shou opened up his hands to see what it was and found that it was a black butterfly that glowed a faint purple. “It’s a Hell-butterfly,” exclaimed Urahara, “although you already know that. Do you recognize the bundle, though?
“Of course I do; it’s from thatnight,” said Shou with a grin. “It’s your Reiatsu-concealing cloak, right?”
“Correct!” he exclaimed with an unusually large smile that made Shou want to look the other direction. “Are you ready, Shou-kun?” asked the enigmatic shop-keeper.
“Of course,” bluntly stated Shou as he opened out his hand, releasing the Hell-butterfly. The spiritual insect slowly flapped over to the crackling gate of energy and flew in unfazed, Shou in tow.
Only one way out, now, he thought to himself.