This is chapter two to Crelrn's Bleach: Reemergence.
Chapter Two: Training
“He really is his father’s son…”
Footsteps echoed and resonated throughout the dark hallway, lonely. The butterfly’s wings flapped silently, kicking up small gusts of wind that played at Shou’s Shinigami uniform, rippling the folds on it like waves in a sea.
The tunnel, dark and cool, passed through the Dangai Prepice World (also known as the Severing World). As he was guided by a Hell-butterfly, the Kouryuu current wasn’t active and the Janitors weren’t passing through the tunnel (Ichigo and the others weren’t so fortunate).
The Hell-butterfly also allowed him to enter the Severing World without alerting Soul Society, as anyone entering it without a Hell-butterfly would trigger Soul Society’s alarm system. This was essential for his task, as stealth was a necessity in order to achieve it with the least amount of conflict.
Here it comes, he thought as he started to see light at the end of the tunnel, signaling the end of it. Walking over to the exit, he started putting on the cloak that Urahara gave him in order to hide his Reiatsu that was oh so familiar to the Soul Society. Hmm…it’s a little big, he thought as he tripped on the hem and fell out the exit. He then realized that he was several hundred feet in the air and falling fast. No prolem, Shou thought as he prepared to gather reishi underneath his feet,I’ll just stop my fall with reishi!
Oh shit…Shou thought as he continued to fall downwards.I forgot, you can’t physically manipulate the reishi in Soul Soci-.
He crashed (hard) into a dirt space in between the thatched-roof houses that made up the Rukongai. “Ow…that hurt,” he complained audibly.
Getting up, he brushed the dirt off of his cloak and cracked his joints. “Hey! Did you hear that?” he heard coming from a nearby house.
Uh oh,thought Shou. “Yeah! I think it came from over there!” I need to get out of here before anyone sees me.Using flash steps, he immediately went to the thatched roof of a nearby house, landing on it as quietly as possible. He looked around from where he was standing, observing his surroundings.
He found himself standing in the Junrian district, the most lawful and peaceful district of the Rukongai. This wasn’t surprising as Urahara’s Looking west he could see Mt. Koifushi looming over the Hokutan district. Out west, illuminated white by the moonlight, he could see his destination: the Seretei, the Soul Society’s fortress. Let’s see, he thought to himself, the walls are already down, but no one is in front of the Western Gate. He put his hand on his chin. Did they go in through there?
He vanished. Moments later he appeared in front of the Western gate of the Seretei, hands on his Zanpakutou. Making sure that no one was around, he relinquished his grasp on the handle. He placed his bare left hand upon the cold, hard stone of the wall to the Seretei. It’s been so long, he thought to himself, a small smile forming on his face. As he well knew, the wall that his fingers ran across was made out of Sekkiseki, a special stone that sealed up spiritual energy, making using his Zanpakutou on the wall as useful as a wooden sword.
Only one other way,he sighed, pulling back his sleeves before putting his hands on the bottom of the gate.
“Whew!” sighed an exhausted Ichigo as he collapsed on his back to the rocky floor beneath him. Although the floor would normally be extremely uncomfortable, Ichigo couldn’t care less what he was laying on as long as he was laying on something.
He raised his right hand up in front of his eyes, marveling at the black daitou (long sword) in it. “So this,” he started out loud to himself, “is Bankai…” Suddenly, the blade changed back to it’s sealed state and landed heavily on his chest because of the increased weight. “Oof!” he grunted painfully.
He stood up, rubbing his chest. The hand holding his Zanpakutou went to his back and secured it there, the Zanpakutou itself shrinking slightly and wrapped itself up in the white bandages that made up its tail.
Meanwhile, up above the training chamber in another rocky room (although smaller than the main one), Shou entered through an opening in the rock wall. “Are-are,” he sighed out-loud. “How can Soul Society not even notice them with all of this spiritual pressure leaking out of here?”
Moments later, an arm was wrapped around his cloaked neck, his arms held behind his back with another. “Who are you,” the voice behind him demanded, “and what do you want?”
Without even having to look behind himself, he started, “Ah, Yoruichi-senpai! You’re as cautious as ever!”
“That voice!” Yoruichi exclaimed in surprise. “Is that you, Shou-kun?”
Looking back, a grin on his face, Shou laughed. “Did you even need to ask, Senpai? It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”
Yoruichi hummed in agreement. “It sure has. I haven’t seen you since that night that we escaped from this very place!”
“By the way,” Shou said sheepishly, “would you mind unhanding me?”
“Oh, I’m sorry!” she exclaimed, releasing her grasp on his body. “I was so wrapped up in nostalgia that I forgot that I was trying to break your arms!” At this last comment, she laughed heartily.
“Yeah, it’s fine…” He rubbed his arms, comforting them from the pain that they felt. Damn, even after all these years she stillhas a killer grip, he thought in his head. “So,” he started, looking around the room for a bush of orange hair, “where’s Kurosaki-san’s son?”
“In the training room,” said Yoruichi, now looking down the hatch to that same place. “He’s training to defeat Little Byakuya.”
“Little Byakuya?” heartily laughed Shou. “Why just him?”
Grinning, Yoruichi said, “Ichigo views him as a rival and the greatest obstacle to overcome in order to rescue Rukia Kuchiki.” She paused. “He just achieved Bankai.”
Shou’s eyebrow went up. “Byakuya has achieved Bankai? Does that make him a Captain, now?”
“I wasn’t talking about Byakuya: I was talking about Ichigo.”
“What?” questioned Shou disbelievingly. “What did you just say?”
“Just what you heard,” she stated bluntly. “He’s achieved Bankai.”
“So let me get this straight,” Shou started. “He awakened his Shinigami form off of borrowed powers, was only a Shinigami for a few months, lost his powers, regained them again, released his Zanpakutou, and has now achieved Bankai.”
Shou stared at Yoruichi blankly and sighed, “He really is his father’s son.”
“You’ve got that right…” She noticed a grin starting to form on Shou’s lips and the quiet laugh that accompanied it. “What is it, Shou-kun?”
“Urahara-sensei sent me here to help out Ichigo, and I’ve got just the way.”
Yoruichi’s eyes narrowed, staring at Shou suspiciously. “Just what is it?”
Shou’s hands slowly moved towards the hilt of his Zanpakutou. “A bankai has no use if the user has no experience in using it, so,” he began with a grin, “why not give him that experience right now?”
As he jumped down the hatch, Yoruichi sighed loudly. Oh well,she thought to herself while walking over to the hatch to follow him, it’s not like he’s going to kill him…
Back down in the training room, Ichigo put his hand up to his mouth. “Yoruichi-san!” he yelled, looking across the rocky landscape. “I did it! I achieved Bankai!”
Hearing no answer, he looked around once more. “Yoruichi-san?”
He heard a crunching noise on the ground behind him and turned around to see what it was. He narrowed his eyes, facing the person now standing in front of him. “Who are you?” he asked, as his right hand tightened around the handle of his Zanpakutou.
Drawing his sword, Shou responded, “It doesn’t matter, as you’ll be dead soon enough.” He disappeared.
Ichigo’s eyes widened and immediately drew his Zanpakutou and placed it in front of him, narrowly blocking Shou’s slash.
“Oh?” said Shou with a raised eyebrow. “You can follow my flash steps? I’m impressed. But,” he said as his left leg went up and around Ichigo’s Zanpakutou, connecting with his side, “it’s inconsequential.” He followed that kick up with another spinning kick, his heel colliding with Ichigo’s chest, launching him backwards.
While Ichigo was still in the air, Shou appeared right above him, sword raised. “Is that it?” he asked as his blade flashed downwards into Ichigo’s abdomen. The force of the blow slammed him down into the ground, coughing up blood.
Dammit!thought Ichigo to himself as he used his Zanpakutou to help himself up off of the ground. “How did that not kill me?” asked Ichigo, wiping the blood off of his mouth. “It connected right with me! It should have split me in half!”
“Look,” simply stated Shou as he rose up his Zanpakutou in front of him. Ichigo noticed that while the back of it looked deadly sharp, the front side was very much round and unthreatening. “My Zanpakutou is a reverse-bladed sword,” he said pointing it at Ichigo. “That’s why it did not cut you.” He removed the black cloak that Urahara gave him, revealing the Shinigami uniform underneath.
Ichigo grinned devilishly. “Well you should have when you had the chance!” he shouted, bringing his Zanpakutou back behind himself like a batter waiting for the pitcher to throw the ball. A blue aura emanated from him as he swung the Zanpakutou at him. “Getsuga Tenshou!” he yelled. A blue blade of spiritual energy launched off his blade and connected with a surprised Shou’s chest, exploding on impact.
The force of the blow blew him backwards, but he stuck his Zanpakutou into the ground, slowing his momentum to a halt. He looked up to see another blue beam flying towards him. Flipping his Zanpakutou around, he swung at the energy blade with the backside of his blade, cutting it in two separate parts that both collided into the ground behind him.
Ichigo looked at him, surprised. “Is that your Zanpakutou’s ability?” asked Shou with an interest.
“Yeah, it is.”
“Is that so? In that case,” said Shou, getting into a fighting stance, “it won’t work on me again.” He charged towards Ichigo, flash stepping from side to side to make his approach unpredictable. Ichigo also went towards Shou, intercepting one of Shou’s flash steps with one of his own. Raising his blade overhead, he slashed downwards but Shou blocked the blow. Using the momentum of Ichigo’s strike, Shou redirected his blade downwards and looped it up, slamming it once again into Ichigo’s abdomen.
As Ichigo’s body bent over from the blow, Shou’s knee came up and hit Ichigo right in the chin. Saliva mixed with blood flew out from his mouth. Bringing up his Zanpakutou again, Shou swung it at Ichigo, colliding it with his side and launched through the air into a rocky spire that collapsed around him.
Crawling out from the wreckage, Ichigo’s body was battered and bloody, many new scars upon its surface. His breath came out in large, struggle gasps that could be heard all the way from where Shou was. “Have you learned enough, now, Ichigo?” Shou asked with sincerity. “Now stop messing around. You know what you have to do.”
Ichigo paused for a moment and stared at his Zanpakutou, an undecisive look on his face. Well, Zangetsu,thought Ichigo as he tried to project his thoughts to his Zanpakutou’s spirit, Should I do it?And although Zangetsu didn’t directly answer him, a sudden pulse of spiritual pressure coming from it did more than enough to settle his doubts.
“Heh,” chuckled Ichigo as he started to get up off of the ground. “Of course I do! You don’t have to tell me that!” He grinned at Shou. “Watch closely, for this is my Bankai!” Getting back into a fighting stance, he raised his Zanpakutou up behind himself. “Aaaaagh!” A blue aura shot out of his body and erupted in the air around him. Whirlwinds started up, blowing both combatants’ garments about.
Shou stood there, silently thinking. What an amazing spiritual pressure!Shou mentally exclaimed. How can this belong to someone who has only been a Shinigami for less than a year? He really is Kurosaki-san’s son.
The aura suddenly disappeared as Ichigo moved his Zanpakutou out in front of him. A look of determination filled his eyes as he put his hand on the arm that was holding his Zanpakutou, channeling spiritual energy into it. And then,
A moment of silence.
A spark of spiritual energy ran down the length of the blade and a wide beam of energy shot out of its end. A huge surge of tangible spiritual energy obscured Shou’s view of Ichigo, leaving him clueless as to what was happening behind the curtain of blue fury. The huge amounts of spiritual pressure that Shou could feel seemed to shake up his entire being.
Gradually, as the smoke and spiritual energy cleared and subsided, Shou began to make out Ichigo’s shadowy outline. He noticed that a long-sleeved, ankle-length black coat that had a red lining that closed at his chest had now replaced Ichigo’s standard Shinigami uniform; the bottom draped down behind him. In his hand was a chained, jet-black daitou (Japanese version of a long sword) that seemed more like it was an extension to his outfit than a suitable weapon. With a serious look in his eyes, he raised up his Bankai, pointing it in Shou’s direction. “Tensa Zangetsu,” he stated with the utmost ease, as if those words were so familiar to him.
Is that,Shou thought to himself, his Bankai?Scanning the blade from tip to hilt, he tried looking for something out of the ordinary; some sort of trick. This doesn’t seem right…there’s got to be something else to it.He got back into a fighting stance, getting ready for the inevitable attack to come.
His eyes fixed on Ichigo, Shou gripped his sword even tighter. Suddenly, much to Shou’s surprise, Ichigo’s image blurred. Oh shi-
Shou barely brought up his blade in time to block the strike from his left side, though the tip of his opponent’s blade nicked his face, carving a streak of blood down his cheek.
Though Shou brought up his blade for a counter-attack, he found himself once again blocking the orange-haired boy’s blade. Teeth clenched, he pushed forwards, forcing Ichigo to lock blades with him. After doing so, he brought his knee straight upwards, extended it, and pushed off of Ichigo to launch himself backwards in the air.
As he landed on the ground, he looked back up to observe Ichigo once again, paying close attention to the black blade in his hand. Is that his trick?Shou asked himself. It doesn’t feel like he’s emitting a large amount of spiritual pressure from here, only when he strikes. Maybe his increased efficiency is caused by the compression of all his spiritual power into that small blade…He wiped the blood off of his mouth. I can’t come to a conclusion. I must gather more information,he concluded as he launched towards Ichigo, blade in hand.
Although his assault failed, he reinitiated multiple times and was beaten back each time, getting cut up in the process, though with minor wounds; his Shinigami uniform was now faintly tinted red from his own blood. However, he did get the information that he needed. Hmm…my premise was correct, after all. But it still seems like there’s something more to it…
Ichigo grinned at him. “Are you gonna keep doing the same thing over and over again, or are you just gonna give up?” he arrogantly scoffed at Shou, resting his Zanpakutou on his shoulder.
Shou chuckled. “It does seem like the tables have turned, haven’t they?”
Ichigo grunted in agreement. “You could say that again.”
“However, you seem to be forgetting,” began Shou as he held his blade out in front of him, “that I have yet to release my Zanpakutou.” Ichigo tensed up at this reminder.
Holding his sword out with both hands, he commanded, “Oku no homura to saku! Honoo no Kaze Soushi!” An aura of flames erupted from Shou’s body that obscured Ichigo’s vision of him. When the flames died down, Ichigo could see the twin hook-swords piercing out of the smoke. “Are you ready, Ichigo?” Shou asked with a serious look. “If so, then have at me.”
Without a second’s notice, Ichigo launched himself at Shou, his arms delivering a powerful slash. However, his arm stopped prematurely as Shou simply held out his arm and instantly blocked the blow with his sword, fitting nicely into the top of the crescent moon shaped hand guard. Ichigo’s eyes widened in surprise. “Although in this form you may be faster,” Shou said as he slammed both of their locked-up blades into the ground, “that doesn’t amount to anything if you can’t move.” With his right hand, he slashed downwards to Ichigo’s right arm that was still grasping his Zanpakutou.
Crap!Ichigo quickly removed his hand from his sword and retracted his arm, Shou’s blade slashing through the space where it had been less than a moment ago. Shou plucked his left blade out of the ground and spun around, slashing at Ichigo’s body. With no time to think, Ichigo ducked and rolled to his Zanpakutou, grabbing it out of the ground and using it to block Shou’s follow-through.
“Good!” happily exclaimed Shou as he continued on the offense, both arms quickly moving back and forth, keeping Ichigo on his toes. “Excellent reflexes! You’re getting the hang of using your speed in this form to your advantage!” He then swung with extreme velocity with both blades from the same side at Ichigo’s torso.
Ichigo rose his sword up to block, but was blown away backwards from the combined weight and power of the blades. Hurtling in the air backwards towards a rocky cliff, he realigned himself so that he was flying back feet-first. His feet collided with the cliff-face and his legs retracted; he quickly extended his legs and exploded off of the rocky-crag like a spring. Shou’s eyes widened.
With that, Ichigo was suddenly on the defense.
“Moetsuku,” he muttered as flames erupted from his blade that he then expelled at the incoming Ichigo. Ichigo, gathering up spiritual pressure into his blade, sliced through the flames unharmed, though his coat slightly tinged. His momentum unaffected, he crashed into Shou’s blades with his own, forcing Shou backwards. Shou immediately counter attacked, which Ichigo then blocked. “Very resourceful!” praised a pleased Shou.
And so it went on for a while; metal clashed with metal and a symphony of clangs and crashes commenced. The two combatants went back and forth across the rocky landscape, blades flashing. From a rocky cliff, Yoruichi watched with great interest. Ichigo is really improving, even in this short span of time; he’s starting to get more proficient and used to his Bankai. he should be thankful that Kisuke sent Shou-kun here to help him out.
Both combatants had their blades locked together and forced each other backwards with a powerful push. In a momentary lull in the fighting, Shou could hear Ichigo’s heavy breaths rasping out of his mouth. Although he’s breathing like that,mentally commented Shou,I can tell he still has a ridiculous amount of stamina left.
On the other side of the battle, Ichigo was trying to coach himself, which proved to be very difficult. Man, he’s strong, thought Ichigo. If this continues much longer, I’m not going to be able to hold out much longer…
Surprised at this new voice, Ichigo looked around the room, only to find no one that the unfamiliar voice could belong to.
Who is this?demanded Ichigo. Are you Zangetsu?
Does it matter?laughed the voice humorously. Use Getsuga Tensho.
Ichigo’s eye’s narrowed skeptically. Even I didn’t know that I could use Getsuga Tensho in my Bankai. How did you know, and how do I know that I can trust you?
The voice scoffed.You can’t, you just have to. Believe me; you dying wouldn’t be such a hot thing for me'''.
Fine, I’ll trust you,Ichigo thought to the unfamiliar voice.But we’ll come back to this later.
There was no answer.
Ichigo looked up towards Shou with a newfound determination in his eyes. “Let’s go.”
They resumed their fight with renewed vigor, blows contained even more power than they did prior. As Ichigo launched Shou back with a powerful slash, Ichigo went back into a fighting stance and brought his blade back up to his shoulder. That’s interesting,thought Shou to himself. He’s losing his efficiency and is starting to leak spiritual energy. What’s he doing now?
“Getsuga,” yelled Ichigo as he began to swing Zangetsu at Shou.
Shou chuckled.I knew there was something more to his Bankai.
“Tenshou!” A black aura highlighted by red gathered along the blade and discharged out with explosive power and speed towards Shou.
Shou’s eye’s widened at the amount of spiritual pressure that the energy beam possessed. Crap, if I get hit by that it’s not going to end well. One thing I can do, though…He stabbed both of his blades into the ground, yelling, “Jisei Honoo no Hana!”A geyser of wild flames burst out of the ground and spread up and outwards, completely engulfing Shou in the flames and expanding at just the right time to slam into Ichigo’s black Getsuga Tensho. Ichigo stood there, stunned that his blast was just repelled.
The flames died down, but Shou wasn’t behind them. “What?” exclaimed a bewildered Ichigo as he searched around his surroundings for his opponent.
“Moetsuku,” said a voice up above him. Panicking, Ichigo blocked up above himself just in time to meet Shou’s blades with his own.
Shou grinned. “Got you.” The flames on Shou’s Zanpakutuou discharged and traveled downwards, engulfing Ichigo.
“Aaaaah!” he screamed as he fell to the rocky floor, the flames extinguishing themselves. Shou resealed his Zanpakutou and started to walk away. Ichigo tried to get up, but his body wouldn’t respond, no matter how hard he yelled at himself. Is it over?the orange-haired Shinigami asked himself.
Shou, surprised at this new voice turned around to find Ichigo’s half-masked face right behind him, sword in hand. Unable to draw his sword in time, Shou raised his sheathe in front of himself to block the blow, but this blow was exponentially stronger than Ichigo’s other strikes and launched Shou into a rocky spire. What the hell? Did he just awaken his inner Hollow like Urahara-sensei said he would?
Shou looked up to find Ichigo standing, apparently talking to himself.
“Ichigo, you dumbass, that’s not how you use Bankai,” he cried loudly. “This'''is how you use Bankai!”
The now half-deranged Ichigo charged at Shou, laughing hysterically. “Yoruichi-senpai!” Shou yelled, getting ready for the demi-Hollow’s charge. “We have to subdue him!”
Hollowfied-Ichigo slashed towards Shou’s left side, but, much to its surprise it never reached Shou. Shou held out his hand and a large blast of spiritual energy emitted from it, making Ichigo’s hand come to a standstill. Taking advantage of this, Shou grabbed both of Ichigo’s arms, pulled him towards himself and kneed Ichigo hard in the center of his mass.
At that moment, Yoruichi appeared behind Ichigo and slammed his chest into the ground while pinning his arms to his back. “Got ‘em,” she announced, confidently.
As Shou redrew his Zanpakutou, incoherent screams blasted from Ichigo’s throat, spittle fying out of his mouth. “Begone, demon,” Shou simply said as he slammed the hilt of his Zanpakutou into Ichigo’s face, shattering his mask. He resheathed his sword and bent over to pick up Ichigo’s.
“Oww…what happened?” groaned an extremely sore Ichigo. Opening his eyes, Ichigo looked up to find his own Zanpakutou next to his throat with Shou the one holding it.
“Game over,” said Shou nonchalantly. He raised the black sword above Ichigo’s head and thrust it downwards into the ground next to his neck.
Ichigo released a held breath. “Aren’t you going to kill me?” he asked Shou confused.
“Of course not, Ichigo-kun,” laughed the black-haired Shinigami. “I’ve done all that I needed to.” He held out his unoccupied hand to a puzzled Ichigo, which he tentatively took. Helping him up he then offered Ichigo’s Zanpakutou back to him, which he also took (A/N: no surprise there >.>), albeit confused.
Ichigo then realized that standing next to his affable opponent was a grinning Yoruichi, who didn’t seem the least bit threatened by him. “Uhh…Yoruichi-san…care to explain?”
“If you insist,” said Yoruichi with a sigh. She then proceeded to explain the confusing chain of events of what had happened and about his inner Hollow, Ichigo nodding all throughout while Shou observed him.
Afer she finished explaining, Shou turned around and started to head back towards the ladder, grabbing the cloak that he had left on the ground and put it on. “Wait!” yelled Ichigo at Shou’s turned back. “Where are you going? Aren’t you going to train me more?”
Without looking back, Shou said, “There’s something else I have to do here, as well. But don’t worry, as far as I can tell,” he said, a hint of a laugh on his voice, “you can defeat Byakuya Kuchiki.” He looked back at the end of this statement, then disappeared after uttering, “Good luck.”
Ichigo stood there, wordless. Resealing his Zanpakutou, he placed it upon his back. Slowly, he started falling backwards until he collapsed on the floor. “I guess my body can’t take much more, huh?”
“Maybe a bath would help, eh?” said Yoruichi’s voice over the sound of clothes falling to the floor.
“Aah! Yoruichi-san! Not again!” he yelled, covering his eyes with his hands (though we all know he was still peeking).
“Wow: you’re not just a pervert, you’re an idiot, too,” she laughed, now with a deep voice. Ichigo removed his hands from his eyes to see Yoruichi’s human form replaced by that of a black cat. “Dumbass.”�