Another one had left that made four this month alone. Sure he expected this, but since he had being appointed captain of the fifth division members had been leaving or transferring to other division. If it carried on at this rate in five months he’d be the only one left well him and her.
Ichigo threw his pen to the ground and stood up. That night was a mistake he shouldn’t have let it go so far. Honestly why couldn’t he just control himself. “I’m leaving for awhile.”
“…” no reply. It had been like this for the last week. She had said one word to him. But honestly it wasn’t his fault she came on to him right. He reached the door and gave her one quick glance she had moved at all. He slammed the door shut and made his way to the courtyard. It was the only place he could feel at peace. No paperwork, no constant nagging about captain duties that need to be complete by his third seat, but if he thought about at least his third seat actually spoke to him. And most importantly no silent treatment from his vice-captain.
Actually the whole thing infuriated him, he was pissed and she said those things and that damned Matsumoto, why did she always have to rub her bad habits off on everyone. Ichigo looked at the other members of his squad or what was left of them, they couldn’t even look at him, was it such a big deal that he could use that power or where they just scared of him.
He looked at the ground his eyebrows pulled together in that all too familiar scowl, his teeth grinding against each other. What did she mean he didn’t understand how she felt? He was alone too. Except for most of the captains and vice-captains no one could even look at him. He saved there lives for gods sake and this is the thank you he receives. “I don’t deserve this.”
“Taichou…please your reitsu’s…killing us.” He looked up at his third seat Hinamori the original vice-captain of the fifth division; she had agreed to stay on, but only as a third seat. He knew why and agreed he was quiet fond of her she at least gave him the time of day.
He looked around and soon realised that he was unconsciously released too much reitsu, was this why they where scared. He didn’t even notice could the gap be that big between them and him. “Right sorry Hinamori it wasn’t on purpose-“
Ichigo’s sentence was cut short as a huge pulse of reitsu came crushing down around them, so strong and dense that it could only belong to one person. Kenpachi.
“Yo, Ichigo see you’re a little stressed out, how about a little sparring between friends.” Ichigo of course didn’t have a chance to so no as he started blocking strike after strike from the fight hungry man, but that’s when he realised his division wouldn’t survive a fight between the two men.
Doing the first thing that came to mind Ichigo shunpo’ed away from his division and to the training grounds, “It should be safe here.”
“Don’t think you can get away that easily Ichigo!” Kenpachi came crashing down beside Ichigo leaving a crater sized hole where one Kurosaki Ichigo had been standing mere seconds ago. Ichigo couldn’t help but think that this was exactly what he needed right now.
(General Commander’s office)
“We lost another three officers this morning, a large reitsu was confirmed be the disappearances. It would seem that it is Arrancar level hollows that are attacking them.” The messenger from the science division looked at Ukitake and waited for a reply.
“Taichou what are we going to do!” The two third seats screamed before getting up and threatening each others lives. Ukitake out his cup of tea down before looking at the messenger and dismissing him.
“We need to find who ever is doing this and send a team out to kill him. I will form a team and leave immediately.” Soi Fong said as she got up from her seat.
“No need for that Captain Soi Fong. I have decided to send fifth division captain Kurosaki Ichigo and his vice-captain to complete the mission.” Ukitake said in his usual calm voice.
“What! That is absurd Ichigo hasn’t even been a captain for a year and you want to send him out on such an important mission, what if he fails!” Soi Fong was livid as all present could tell.
“Soi Fong-taichou, Kurosaki-taichou has proven himself loyal to the Gotei 13 and his knowledge of Hueco Monde will prove invaluable to the mission and lets not forget that his vice-captain once lived there. I agree with Ukitake-taichou that sending them is the best course of action.” Soi Fong was left stunned and sat down quietly. Something about captain Unohana frightened her, not that she’d ever admit it though.
“So then it is decided that Kurosaki-taichou and his vice-captain will lead out the mission to discover what is happening to our fellow shinigami.” Ukitake said as he looked at the faces of the five present captains.
“General Commander Ukitake-taichou I volunteer to go with Kurosaki-taichou on this mission. Although he is very capable I would like to accompany him on this mission.”
“Impossible. You will just slow him down Abaria-taichou.” Once again Byakuya said what needed to be said in the least amount of words possible.
“It’s okay Abarai-kun he can handle himself, lets not forget he’s the one who defeated Aizen Sousuke after all. Well if that’s all your dismissed.” Ukitake stood up and greeted his fellow captains as they all left.
Soi Fong wasn’t happy with this particular set up she was one of the few that actually knew what happened in that fight against Aizen. That monster that had appeared was still sketched perfectly into her head, she would never forget for as long as she lived.
“You aren’t thinking of following him now Soi Fong?”
“Yoruichi-sama! I wasn’t-“
“You can’t lie to me Soi Fong. Just let him go I trust Ichigo with my life and you should too he’s a good man and would never betray use.” Yoruichi jumped from the tree she had been sleeping on and onto Soi Fong’s shoulders.
“Yes, Yoruichi-sama. Uhm?” Soi Fong hesitated for a second, “Should you be walking around in that form Yoruichi-sama?”
In one swift movement Yoruichi jumped off of Soi Fong and onto the ground before transforming into her human form. “Why do you like this form better Soi Fong? Hmm?” she rubbed her finger along Soi Fong’s cheek and watched her old third seat blush a deep crimson red before stuttering embarrassing apologies. Yoruichi just laughed before turning back into a cat and jumping into Soi Fong’s arms.
“Are you really that worried about Ichigo?” Rukia asked as she put a cup of tea in front of Renji.
“It ain’t that I’m worried or anything. I know he can hold his own, I just don’t trust his vice-captain. No matter what Ukitake-taichou has done to her she is still a hollow and therefore could betray Ichigo at anytime.”
“Impossible.” Byakuya said as he suddenly appeared out of nowhere just another reminder that Renji would never catch up to his former captain.
“Nee-sama.” Rukia said as she got up and greeted her brother.
“Halibel, Kurosaki’s vice-captain can not release thus she is in a permanent second form. She has had her power dramatically decreased to that Rukia or one of the other vice-captains. If she decided to betray Kurosaki Ichigo she would die.” Byakuya said ever word with minimum emotion and as clear as he always did.
There was a long moment of silence as the three just stood there looking at each other. Before finally Byakuya turned and left his office.
“That’s the problem,” Renji finally said as he sat down and picked up his cup of tea. “If Halibel is so weak then she could become a liability. We know Ichigo if she falls into danger-“
“He’ll risk his life to save her.” Rukia said finishing Renji’s sentence.
Ichigo walked into his office completely different than when he had left earlier that day. That sparring match he had had with Kenpachi was exactly what he needed. To blow of some steam. He entered his office and was glad not to see Halibel there he couldn’t deal with her right now. He just wanted to relax and have a little down time.
He made his way to the couch and sat back, he only realised it now that the adrenaline that had been pumping was starting to fade of that he was rather tired. He took of his captain’s coat and threw it on the latest addition to the room a smaller single seater sofa directly across from the one he was lying on. It would seem Matsumoto had visited again sometime today while he wasn’t there, but right now he didn’t care.
Getting comfortable he thought of the last time he had being on this couch, with her. It was an incredible experience, why did it have to turn out so bad. Even after saving the world and Soul Society for that matter and fighting of monsters he still couldn’t understand the female mind. He shrugged it off and closed his eyes ready to enjoy a nice night’s sleep.
Less than an hour later Halibel entered the office, she hadn’t seen Ichigo at all since that morning and then the vice-captain of the tenth division had come and dragged her off again. It wasn’t that she enjoyed being with the wild and loud woman, but rather that she hated being alone.
She made her way to the sofa that she had been sleeping on since that night. She couldn’t help but think she had made a mistake. Honestly how could she allow herself to do that with him? A Shinigami or perhaps not. She was so confused by him. He made her feel different something she couldn’t explain or understand no matter how hard she tried. She wanted to know what it was, but for the first time in her life couldn’t gather the courage to ask him about it. She reached the sofa and was stunned by what she saw.
She felt her body tingle with emotions of that night returning. This exact same spot, this is where it had all happened. She moved a little closer and ran her finger along the side of his face it didn’t feel the same. It was warm, soft nothing like that of his mask. The cold hard emotionless mask, just like herself.
She watched him her beautiful green eyes scanning ever detail of him, trying to imagine the real him, his released form the form she could relate with the hollow buried deep within him. She bent over her eyes never leaving his own closed ones her mouth inching closer and closer ever second. She could feel the warm air hit her lips as he exhaled, but she couldn’t stop herself. She moved closer her lips almost on his…
Ichigo woke with a start that was the weirdest dream he had ever had. Honestly there is no way Rukia would turn into a giant chappy bunny and try to destroy Soul Society. And more importantly where did that thought even come from in the first place. But he sighed in relief at least he hadn’t dreamt about her again.
He got up and stretched looking at her desk he was surprised to see she wasn’t there. This was the first time since that night that he had come in before her. Every morning was the same he would come in see her at her desk doing nothing and greet her she’ ignore him and he would go sit in his desk and start doing boring paperwork.
He turned towards where he had thrown his captains coat and was shocked by what he saw. There she was sleeping with his coat wrapped around her tightly he was kind of confused by the sight. Why would she be here and on that couch, (which he remembered only got here the day before) sleeping with his coat wrapped around her like a blanket. He wanted to wake her and take his coat back, but before he could there was a knock on the door.
He turned to the door and shouted for the person to enter. Hinamori came walking in with a big smile on her face and greeted Ichigo and Halibel. Ichigo looked over to where Halibel was sleeping and saw nothing but his coat on the empty coach. He looked over at her desk and saw her sitting there the same as every morning.
“Ichigo-taichou. Ukitake-taichou has requested a meeting with you and Halibel this morning.” Hinamori walked over to Ichigo’s desk and placed a cup of steaming hot tea on it. She then did the same with Halibel and walked to the door.
“Ah. Thank you Hinamori.” Was all Ichigo could get out before she left.
He turned to Halibel and picked up his coat before putting it on. It was warm, so he hadn’t imagined what he had seen.
“We’ll be leaving soon get ready.”
(General Commander’s office)
Ichigo and Halibel arrived at the general commander’s office right on time, but for some reason everyone else was already there. Not exactly sure if he was late or not he did the only thing he could think of, “Sorry I’m late.”
Soi Fong was just about to comment on him being late, when Unohana politely replied first, “No need to apologize Kurosaki-taichou we are early your not late.” Ichigo sighed he had always like her for some reason very calm and respectful.
“Kurosaki-taichou you have been called for a new mission. There have been some new disappearances lately and we want you to go and investigate. This mission could be quiet dangerous and you might have to infiltrate Hueco Monde again. Your vice-captain will accompany you and-” Ichigo listened to Ukitake talk about all the mission details, but couldn’t help feel excited this would be the first real mission he would receive as a captain of the Gotei thirteen, did this mean they all finally trusted him.
“Are you clear on everything about this mission Ichigo?” Ukitake asked when he was finished explaining all the details about the mission.
“Yes, but when do I leave?” Ichigo wanted to start this mission as soon as possible. He was tired of sitting in that damned office working on boring paperwork the whole time; he was a fighter that’s what he was good at.
“You may leave as soon as your ready. Vice-captain Kuchiki Rukia will take you to your destination. Good luck Ichigo.” Ukitake was always nice.
“Lets go Halibel.” Ichigo said as he left the meeting room. The other captains all stood and left the conference room and headed towards their respective divisions all except one.
Ichigo arrived with Halibel and Rukia in a place he had never seen before. The small town was left in ruins, clearly someone or something had fought here.
“It looks like they where just here Ichigo I must return now see you when you get back.” Rukia gave Ichigo a small smile before turning and leaving.
“Thank you Rukia.”
Ichigo and Halibel walked around the destroyed town. There where humans walking around in fear of what just happened. He remembered when Rukia had first saved him all that time ago. So this is what it was like not knowing.
The two continued to walk for a few more hours, but found nothing not even a trace of reitsu was left. There wasn’t even a hollow to be seen.
“What a waste of my time.” Ichigo said as he sat down on a park bench. “There’s nothing here. I finally get a mission and then it’s a dud.” As if on queue a hollow appeared out of a rift right behind Ichigo. Halibel saw it and was just about to protect Ichigo when Ichigo’s arm shot up and smashed the hollow’s mask into tin fragments.
“And now I have to fight these weaklings. So much for an Arrancar that couldn’t even be classified as a hollow.” Halibel said nothing and walked over to Ichigo and into the black rift that was behind him.
“Lets go Ichigo.” Was all Halibel said before disappearing into the black abyss.
Ichigo smirked and followed her, but when the two arrived at the other side they where not greeted by some weak low level hollows, but more like a army of Arrancar, all as strong as the Espada fraccion.
“I think this is the place.” Ichigo said as he gripped Zangetsu’s hilt.