Actions

Work Header

Saving Superman

Chapter Text

Chapter 1: A Surprising Death

 

Tatsuki Arisawa ruffled Kazui’s hair before he sprinted into his mother’s arms.  He reminded her of Ichigo that way; the absolute dedication to his mother was astounding.  Orihime giggled as the orange-haired boy hugged her tightly.

 

“How did practice go?”  Her friend questioned both her and her son, sending concerned looks Tatsuki’s way.  Despite the fact that the kid was a fourth soul reaper, a fourth Quincy, and half whatever the hell Orihime was, their parents still insisted that he take classes from her to learn how to fight hand to hand, just in case he ever got caught without his weapon.  The sapphire-eyed female suspected that it was more paranoia about bullying on Ichigo’s part that had pushed the parents to paying their long-time friend for one-on-one classes, even if she had tried her best to refuse payment. They had made their point, however, when they insisted that a world-renowned karate champion should get paid her dues.  Since winning the championship, her business had been booming despite the fact that her coach frowned upon her teaching in her freetime.  It was about time for her to retire anyway, though. She had to have a back up plan, just in case.

 

“He did well.  Soon enough, he’ll be able to take my title away from me,” she joked.  Kazui was doing well.  Half of it was probably due to the Shinigami training Ichigo had been teaching him since he could walk.  The rest was probably just due to a natural, unfortunate result of avoiding his grandfather’s “surprise attacks” whenever he could.  Yuzu and Karin had been convinced that he would stop his tricks with the birth of his first grandson, but the pranks had increased once the kid had shown any sign of above average spiritual pressure.  At least the kid thought of it more as a game than an annoyance, though the same couldn’t be said for Ichigo.

 

Soon enough, she was waving goodbye as her friend took her son’s hand and began the walk home.  She’d see them later in the day for another one of Chad’s competitions, something that became a get-together for all of the friends that had been through the hell of Ichigo saving the planet two or three times.

She was still watching her friend’s retreating back when the noise of a horn blaring caught her attention.  As she turned to glare at the offending truck, her eyes widened. Time slowed as she watched the driver move towards her.  It had been trying to avoid a dog on the street and had driven into the sidewalk she was standing on, she absently noted, as her body screamed for her to move faster than physically possible.  She was able to hear her friend scream just as she felt the warm metal of the vehicle collide into her arm. It made a sickening crunch and her mouth opened to let out a scream, only to find that she was staring at the white metal up close as it raced towards her head.  Her sight was cut off as she felt herself hit the ground, tires screeching around her. She tried to scream in agony, but she couldn’t; her throat was closed and wouldn’t open, wouldn’t let her breathe.

 

************

 

“Tatsuki, honey, it’s time to wake up!  If you don’t hurry, you’ll be late for practice,” her mother’s voice called from behind the door.  She shot up like a bullet, her entire body still aching in pain as she turned her head to the door, letting out a grunt as her neck cracked, which her mother took for acknowledgement.  Her throat seemed to open up, and she managed managed a deep breath as she felt her body, checking automatically for injury as the raven haired female investigated her surroundings. The walls were covered with scribbles and horrible attempts of writing.  There were action figures strewn across the room and clothes in a hamper in the corner. The walls were still pink, a colour they had been long before middle school even began when her mom had hoped for a girly girl and had gotten her instead. As a matter of a fact, she had moved out long ago.  The last time she’d seen her room with her stuff in it was a good seven years ago, and none of it had looked like the childish stuff that was in it right now.

 

Dazed, Tatsuki hesitantly started to get dressed, convinced that she was in some sort of dream, that none of this could be real.  She rifled through dozens of drawers before finally finding what she needed. She winced at the reminder that her mother was still clearly buying her clothing; the neon pink underwear was atrocious by itself.  As she finished tying the bright white belt of her karate uniform around her waist, she paused. There was no way it was real, right? She made her way to the bathroom and stopped short at the sight in the mirror.  She was a kid again, no older than 10 at most. Her hair was in its short, spiky style instead of the long, smoother style she favoured as she got older. She was much shorter, too. She could actually barely see her own face in the reflection of the mirror.  As a kid, she’d always hoped that she would grow tall; it would never be the case, unfortunately, as her height stopped at a measly five one. She patted her hair gently, shocked when she could feel the hairs under her fingertips bend and spring back in place.

 

“Tatsuki, hurry up and get down here!”  Her mother called, more impatiently this time.  Out of habit, the girl complied, brushing her teeth quickly before making her way down stairs.  She was surprised to see a booster seat of sorts on her seat at the table. She hesitated for a brief second before making herself comfortable on it, eating the breakfast automatically as she studied her parents.  Her father was reading the newspaper, like he did every morning growing up, and her mother was humming as she ate her own meal. They both looked… much younger. The wrinkles around her mom’s eyes were gone, and the streaks of grey in her dad’s hair were replaced with that dark raven tone her own took after.

 

“What day is it?”  She managed to ask, voice trembling.  Her parents each gave her confused looks, her dad’s amused while her mom’s was more concerned.

 

“It’s a Saturday, honey,” the woman replied steadily, though her tenor voice showed just how strange her question seemed.

 

“I-I meant… what’s the date?”

 

“June 17 th , dear,” she replied in the same tone.

 

“And how old am I?”

 

Her father gave her an amused snort.  “You’re 9, goober. Now stop pestering us and eat your breakfast.  You have karate practice today. You wouldn’t want to miss it, would you?”

Her eyes widened.  Hands under the table, she pinched the skin of her left wrist.  Hard. She flinched and watched as her skin turned red, marks from her nails denting the skin.   How is this possible?  I should be dead or at least hospitalized.  Maybe I’m just reliving my past? People do that when they die, right?  Sorta like a last moment type of thing.  As she sat, lost in her thoughts, she missed the concerned looks between her parents.  She did notice, however, when her mom started to wring her hands. “Tatsuki,” it was her father that spoke, surprisingly enough.  “Are you alright?”

 

“I’m fine!”  She reassured, not wanting to cause her parents any more stress.  She practically shoveled her breakfast into her mouth, earning amused looks from her parents, which she ignored.  They were, of course, not surprised by her enthusiasm. She didn’t remember too much of her childhood, but she knew from stories that threatening her precious karate practice pretty much made her do anything they wanted her to.  Hopefully, they thought the delay was just her contemplating the horrors of missing practice. Her thoughts, however, continued to wander. The 17th, huh…   She sat up straight.  Her best friend of many, many years suffered a great deal of pain because his mom died too soon to protect him from a hollow.  But this time, if this wasn’t just some weird dream, maybe she could stop it. She could stop his mom from dying.

 

As her mom escorted her to practice, she tested out her so-called powers.  She was still able to hide her reiatsu, thank kami, which would keep her from attracting the attention of any hollows.  Much to her relief, she could also sense Orihime around a presence that felt like hers; her brother’s , she absently realized.  Keigo and Mizuiro, the idiots, were also fine as far as she could tell.  Chad she couldn’t feel at all, but that was expected; he was probably still in Mexico with his grandpa, if she was remembering correctly.  Any of the soul reapers she knew she had no chance of sensing since they were probably in the soul society. She had no idea how soul reaper training worked, but she did know that Rukia probably was one already.  She had bragged to Ichigo that she had been one for hundreds of years, after all.

 

There was something she sensed about herself, though, that seemed at hit… off .  It was almost like her spiritual pressure had changed this time around.  She wasn’t sure if it was because, well, she should be dead or because she was younger and more aware this time around.  Either way, there was nothing she could do about it now. Ichigo’s mom had powers, right? Though that quincy guy sealed them away before he was born, according to Ichigo.  Even so, she might be able to help her figure out what was going on, why her own spiritual pressure felt so different. Ichigo’s father would be as useful as a sack of potatoes anyway; it would be best to ask his mom instead.  She tried her best to shove her worry into the back of her mind as she entered the studio. Sensei began lessons like he always did, and she found that despite the fact that this body had no “muscle memory” of her many years of karate, her brain did.  So, she took the chance to look at the other students as they practiced, but, mostly, she looked at Ichigo. His spiritual pressure was… barely higher than the other kids. For so long it had been super high and distorted by his inner hollow, it was strange to see it so clean and… weak .  It also relieved her.  Sure, it was high enough for hollows to notice, but not high enough for them to chase after him.  Not unless he did something stupid, which would happen sooner rather than later even if she did save his mom, knowing the kid.

 

At the end of the session came the one on one battles.  She faced off against Ichigo, as was common at this age.  She held herself back as best as she could, but dodging his attacks was second nature to her at this point.  She couldn’t help all the side stepping moves she used, even the ones that were much more advanced than what she should know at this point.  It just took a simple swipe of his feet to bring him down, and he was crying all over again. The sight itself seemed to strike something in her as she clenched her hands in fists and gazed at them.  This was real, wasn’t it? She was really back in her 9-year-old body, fighting Ichigo and making him cry. He hadn’t saved the world a time or two yet. He was just a normal kid.

 

Once Sensei dismissed them, he ran to his mom like he always did, tears being replaced by smiles, so she sprinted to hers.  “Mom, can I go home with Ichigo-kun today?” Her mom gave her the look which meant “no,” but before she could open her mouth, the raven-haired female continued, “I wanna apologize for hurting him.  I’m scared he won’t be my friend if I don’t, and I don’t want to embarrass him.” She let the worry and fear she was feeling, granted for entirely different reasons, flow into her voice to make a more convincing argument.  As far as she knew, she never cared for that sort of thing growing up, so, predictably, her mom’s reaction softened. She was soon nodding her head, saying that she could as long as Kurosaki-san said it was alright.

Sapphire eyes blinked back tears as she raced towards the mother and son pair, barely stopping them before they left to ask for permission.  Masaki took one look at the girl and agreed, much to her son’s chagrin, and Arisawa waved at her mother as the three began the trek to the Kurosaki home.  Once they were out of earshot of the others, Tatsuki actually did apologize to Ichigo for hurting him. After all, she didn’t mean to, and her skills were so far above his own that it felt like she had been beating up on him the entire match, even if she hadn’t done anything besides swipe his legs out from underneath him.  The orange-haired boy was surprised but accepted her apology, chattering eagerly to his mother as they walked home. As much as she wanted to, Tatsuki wasn’t able to relax on the walk home. Something involving a hollow would happen today, and that something would end up with Ichigo covered in his mom’s blood. Though her best friend rarely talked about the event, she knew that it still hurt him that his son would never know his grandmother.  The air crackled with negative energy as the trio walked towards the bridge that crossed the main and only river in Karakura. A hollow was close by, that was for sure, and she couldn’t sense the distinct flavour of a soul reaper nearby either. Ichigo couldn’t save them this time, and she was useless. She scanned the bank of the river as they reached the bridge. Blue eyes watched as a black-haired ghost appeared and shivered. No, that wasn’t a ghost.  It jumped into the river, and Tatsuki had to forcibly grab Ichigo to keep him from running towards the hollow. The boy yelled in protest, but Tatsuki simply looked up at his brunette mother before saying, “hollow,” and shoving her son at her in explanation. Masaki visibly paled, eyes widening as her gaze ran over Tatsuki, almost like she couldn’t believe what the girl had heard. Brown eyes stared into blue as the girl held her gaze before the woman abruptly turned and held onto Ichigo’s hand so tightly he yelped as she picked up the pace to hurry home.  Once they were behind closed doors, she visibly relaxed as the twins toddled towards her, sweeping them up in her arms to kiss their cheeks. Even if they were basically toddlers at this point, they still seemed to love her very much. Masaki sent them to the living room with their brother before turning a serious expression to her husband, causing him to cut off in the middle of his long rant professing his love to her.

 

“Tatsuki-chan,” the woman began.

 

“Kurosaki-san, I need to talk to both of you immediately.  It’s… important.”

 

Her best friend’s parents’ eyes widened, but they didn’t say anything, moving into the kitchen where they could still keep an eye on their children without being heard.

 

“What’s wrong, Tatsuki-chan,” Isshin finally spoke, eyes not focused on her but rather his wife, whose complexion was now paling.

 

“You said ‘hollow’ earlier.  What did you mean by that?” His mother all but demanded, her usual cheery attitude that reminded the black-haired girl so much of Orihime gone.  Her husband shot her a look mixed with confusion and concern.

 

“It’s a long story,” Tatsuki admitted with a sigh, “but here’s the short version.  I’m from the future. Or, I guess a different version of it. I’ve already changed it by keeping Ichigo from running towards a hollow today.  You,” she looked up to Masaki, “were supposed to die today. You were supposed to get eaten by a hollow.” She winced as the expressions of horror, disbelief, and outrage overtook each adults’ face.  She’d always been blunt, but maybe she’d taken it a bit too far this time. She didn’t really know of any better way to explain what happened, though.

 

Isshin’s expression turned grimmer, a feat she would have deemed impossible if she hadn’t glimpsed the man in combat before.  “Tatsuki-chan, you can’t expect us to believe you,” he said gently though she could tell his mind was racing.

 

“Aizen,” she spit out, not using any honorifics which let the parents know that she was disgusted, “is planning on using Urahara’s hogyoku to create the Oken by sacrificing the souls here in Karakura to get to the Soul King and kill him.  He created the Vizards like Hiyori-san and Lisa-san by doing some twisted experiment, but he needs the hogyoku to create hollows called Arrancar which are much more powerful than your everyday hollow.” That seemed to leave Isshin dumbstruck while she turned to the brunette, eyes narrowing.  “And am I correct in assuming Yhwach has already sealed your powers at this point?”

 

Isshin grabbed a chair from the table and sat down heavily while Masaki leaned against the counter.  Both stared at the child, a girl that stood little more than four feet, in absolute shock and even fear.  Finally, the former taichou spoke. “Tatsuki-chan… You’d better tell us everything. From the beginning.”

Chapter Text

The couple was finally calming down, thank God.  Or, maybe Tatsuki should say Soul King.  She had finished her story and answered all of their questions, despite feeling like they were making her tell the whole story again. The part that really convinced them was the fact that Misaki had felt her powers get sealed sometime during the walk home; apparently, there was no way the sapphire-eyed female should have known something like that was possible even if she had been a nine-year-old with an overactive imagination a few days earlier.  Maybe, she decided, as they continued to discuss, only growing more anxious as time passed, it was time to ask a question of her own.  “So, my spiritual pressure’s kinda off.  I was wondering if you guys could help me figure out what’s going on.”  Sapphire colored eyes flitted between the two adults, hopeful expression giving away to a grimace as she noticed the helpless look on the adult’s faces.

 

“We can’t, Tatsuki-chan,” Isshin spoke up first, choosing his words with care.  “Without our powers, we can’t sense spiritual pressure at all.”

 

“But Katagiri-chan can,” his wife interjected excitedly.  “Uryuu-kun’s mom.  She would be able to tell!  Do you think you can find her?”

 

“Kids feel sorta like their parents, right?”  She questioned as her eyes fluttered shut.  At their affirmative responses, she sought out for the pressure, trying desperately to remember what the black-haired kid’s spiritual pressure felt like.  She didn’t know it nearly as intimately as Ichigo’s and Orihime’s; the kid hardly hung out with them anymore since he had started working in the hospital.  She felt rather than saw differing spiritual pressures brush up against her, like pieces of cut fabric rubbing against her skin.  She tried her best to sort through them all, finding two that were like Uryuu’s for sure.  She couldn’t exactly explain it, but one definitely felt more feminine than the other.  It was almost like someone sprayed some flowery smelling perfume all over the spiritual pressure somehow.

 

“I found her,” she said, eyes snapping open as her too small hand reached out and grabbed a white thread, a technique that, while Isshin couldn’t see, he was all too familiar with based upon the knowing look on his face.  It must have been something soul reapers could do, since Ichigo had told her of doing something similar before.  “Let’s go.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

 

It took more time leaving than she wanted it to; the parents fought for a minute about who should stay behind until Masaki mentioned the whole “Quincy-Shinigami war” thing.  Apparently, the two groups tended to hate each other, which didn’t make sense considering that they all had the same goal anyway.  If she was honest, the Quincy stuff was what she was least familiar with since there hadn’t been a whole group of them who invaded her high school masquerading as students growing up.  Ichigo had told Tatsuki to go ask Ishida, but the guy usually made himself pretty scarce.  She suspected it was half heartbreak from seeing his teenage crush marry someone else and half guilt from having to betray his friends, even if he wasn’t actually planning on going through with it.

 

Because of the comment though, Isshin had been the one to stay behind, which relieved her.  The man was crazy at best; who knew if he’d be able to keep from upsetting the Quincy woman long enough for her to answer Tatsuki’s questions.  After bidding goodbye to Ichigo and the twins, Masaki followed as the raven-haired child led the way.  Tatsuki was trying to take the shortest route that didn’t cut through yards or suspicious alleyways, based on her knowledge of the future’s good and bad parts of town.  Even if she remembered her karate training, she wasn’t sure that her body could handle dealing with full grown muggers, not to mention the fact that Masaki probably couldn’t.

 

The sun had long since set by the time Tatsuki felt it.  The woman’s spiritual pressure was growing weaker, a lot weaker.  She let out a curse and sprinted, Masaki letting out a surprised shout before following her.  Tatsuki let out a garbled explanation as she ran, more focused on the thread that was unraveling in her mind’s grasp.  They ducked through alleyways and cut across yards, paying no heed to their surroundings, focused on getting to the woman as quickly as possible.  Once their target was in sight, Masaki let out a shout and rushed forward, kneeling by her the woman’s side

 

“Her heart’s not beating,” panicked as she started chest compressions on the woman.  “It’s like the power’s been drained from her.  What happened to you, Katagiri-chan?”  Spiky black  hair flew into her face as Tatsuki huffed, tilting her head as she carefully examined the woman’s spiritual pressure again.  That seemed pretty accurate, actually.   This Katagiri woman felt more like a typical human now; she had lost the pristine, white feeling that had come from the Quincy side of her.  She was now dull in comparison and fading fast.  There weren’t any physical wounds as far as she could see; it was like she just like she had collapsed.  Tatsuki wasn’t exactly a medical expert, but she really only knew of heart attacks that caused someone to just randomly collapse.

 

Masaki was getting tired; manual CPR was exhausting work, something the Tatsuki had learned during her own certification.  This wasn’t working; they needed help, and fast.  “Switch me,” the child ordered.  “We’re close to her place, right?”  She’d been there only once before, to deliver homework to Uryuu when he was out sick from school.  “We need help.  Now.”  The brown-eyed woman didn’t bother to argue, instead hopping up and sprinting off before Tatsuki could even settle over the body.  She placed her hands on the woman’s chest.  “Don’t die on me,” she ordered as she tore the woman’s shirt in half, worrying about the high neck of the garment constricting her air flow.  As she did, she revealed the older woman’s pale skin just above a black tank top.

 

A blue light shone brightly as she pressed down, starting her compressions, seeming to come from her hands.  Her arms began to tingle, feeling like they were simply falling asleep, and as she pressed down harder, the sensation increased.  She kept going, more intent on saving the woman underneath her, until a sharp pain was shooting down them, causing her to cry out.  She cursed and tried to pull her hands from the woman’s skin, only to find that she couldn’t.  Her arms felt like they were on fire as the light shone brighter and brighter, turning a whiter color before completely disappearing.  A wave of lightheadedness hit her as she fell over, hands finally escaping the older woman’s skin.  She leaned to the side, black spots marring her vision, and she found that she was unable to stop, toppling over to land on the ground next to Katagiri in a heap.  The woman’s eyes fluttered open, and her chest heaved as she took a breath.  All Tatsuki heard was a soft “W-What?”  before her world went black.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

A soft beeping roused her from her sleep.  Her head ached, and she couldn’t feel her hands, though she knew they were still there after a quick, panicked touch to her face.  Her eyes felt like they were sticking to their lids, and her entire body felt like she had been run over by a truck.  Which, if she was remembering correctly, she had been.

 

Oh, thank God.  It was all just a dream… She thought as she let out a sigh of relief.  She winced; even that little action caused her head to ache.  She tried to open her eyes again with no luck, choosing to relax into the pillow behind her head as she did a mental scan of her body, taking in the damage.  Actually, besides the whole arms thing, she couldn’t find anything else wrong.  Strange.   Orihime must have gotten to me right after the truck hit.  She sighed in relief.  That was one hell of a hallucination.  Like I would actually be able to help anyways.  The Soul Society wouldn’t listen to a nine-year-old, even if she knew what she was talking about.  And me?  Have powers?  If wishing for them gave them to me, I would have had powers right after Ichigo got his.

 

“Tatsuki-chan,” a gruff voice spoke from somewhere to her left.  “You’re awake.  How are you feeling?”  She opened her mouth to respond, only to find that she couldn’t; her throat was too dry to get even the most basic of noises out of it.  The person, a man, she decided, let out a sigh.  “Are you in any pain?”  She nodded gingerly, not wanting to cause herself any more pain.  “Your head?”  Nod.  “Arms?”  A hesitant shake.  “Is there something wrong with them?”  Nod.  “Interesting.  I’m going to check your reflexes, alright?”  What felt like rubber gently tapped against her knees, eliciting the normal, kicking response before he moved up to her arms.  She couldn’t feel a thing, but his hum of disappointment spoke volumes.  She forced her eyes open by blinking rapidly, to help them adjust to the light as well as get rid of that sandpaper like feeling. God it hurt like hell.  She looked up at the man, standing above her.  His white hair and glasses gave his identity away immediately.  Ishida-san, she recognized.  He looked… different.  Perhaps, she guessed, it was the fact that his son wasn’t glued to his side; the pair worked together quite often in the hospital taking care of trauma patients.  Blue eyes left his face to glance at her arms, and she inwardly groaned.  They were much, much too small.

 

“I believe I can fix the problem with your arms in a minute,” he spoke, ignoring her obvious frustration.  “But first, you need to drink something.”  He used a remote on the bed causing it to shift her up into a sitting position and held out a cup and straw, staring at her with a quirked brow until she downed the whole thing.

 

“I’m still a kid, huh?”  Her voice was scratchy but still much higher than what she was used to.  She spoke more to herself than to him, sighing as reality settled down heavily on her shoulders yet again.  She hurt way too damn much for this to be any sort of dream.  He made no acknowledgement of her comment, choosing instead to study her arms once, uncapping a strange capsule and rubbing the contents on her arms. An eerily similar blue light shimmered over them, causing the feeling to flood back into them, and she snatched them back with a hiss, cradling them against her chest.  She didn’t even notice him leave, too busy studying her hands, which looked fine, just a little more pink than usual.

 

“Oh, Tatsuki-chan! Thank goodness you’re alright!”  Ichigo’s mom burst in and started to examine the girl.  Once again, she was astounded by the similarities the woman had to Orihime.  No wonder Ichigo ended up marrying her; she’s just like his mom.  It’s like some sorta Oedipus complex or something.  “When I got back with Ry­uken-kun, you were passed out on the ground next to—”

 

A discreet cough interrupted the woman as another one stepped into the light, a light blush on her cheeks  She had on what seemed to be Ryuken’s lab coat draped over her shoulders, and a fist bunched the fabric together.  Dark blue eyes, the same color as Uryuu’s, met Tatsuki’s lighter ones before the woman bowed.  “Masaki told us everything,” her voice proclaimed softly.  “Thank you, for saving my life.”  Her husband was right behind her, arms crossed over his chest as he studied her quietly.

 

“It’s no big deal.  I’ve been doing a lot of saving lives today,” the woman in a child’s body reassured her, feeling exhausted as she leaned back again.  “Just… What was that?”

 

“It appears you can summon a great deal of Reiryoku without using a Ginto,” the white haired man replied.  When he noticed her quirked brow, he sighed and pinched his nose, right below his glasses.  “It’s similar to how a soul reaper uses Kido, except Quincies have to store Reiryoku in a container before they can use it.  It’s how I healed your hands.”  A pause.  “Masaki-san said you were from the future?”  His voice was slightly accusatory, as if he didn’t quite believe her.

 

“Yeah, well you and your son aren’t exactly the type to tell all your Quincy secrets, especially after Uryuu-kun’s battle with Yhwach,” she retorted sharply, the pain in her hands making her more irritable than normal.  “Don’t blame me for not knowing about all the technical crap.  Did Kurosaki-san also tell you why I’m here?”

 

Blue eyes looked at her sharply from behind thin glass, but he didn’t comment on her tone.  “Yes.  Your spiritual pressure’s changed.”  She waited, watching as he exchanged a look with his wife.  “It seems you’re a Quincy now.”

 

“Wait, I thought I had to have some blood connection to… that guy for that to happen,” she protested immediately.  “And, anyway, I just died.  Wouldn’t it make more sense if I had a soul reaper powers or something?”

 

“It would,” he admitted grudgingly, “And your spiritual pressure is a little off.  There may be something else, but,” he glanced at Katagiri again, “given what happened this evening, you are, most definitely a Quincy.  Your spiritual pressure feels just like my son’s.”  She settled back onto the bed, eyes closing.  It was a lot to take in, and it had been one hell of a day.

 

“I think it would be best if you came with us.  You need to learn how to use your powers,” Masaki explained softly.  “And, you’d be putting your family’s life at risk if you don’t.”

 

“Like you guys are better,” the raven-haired girl shot back.  “You all still haven’t told Ichigo-kun about his powers; I’m sure Uryuu-kun knows how to fire that bow of his by now too.”  The shocked, guilty silence of the Kurosaki woman told her all she needed to know.  “If I’m going to leave my parents to protect them,” she hesitated, “I’m going to  tell them what’s going on.  They deserve to know the whole, real truth.”  The brunette started to protest, but Tatsuki shot her a glare, causing for her mouth to slam shut.  “I was almost killed by Aizen because your son didn’t bother to tell me what was going on.  The bastard chased my friends and I around like it was some sort of game,” she spat.  “I will not make the same mistakes he did.”  She took a deep, slow breath to calm herself before turning to Katagiri.  “And, I’d prefer to train with you and your husband.  I believe he and Uryuu-kun are the only ones with powers still, correct?”

 

“Yes,” she answered simply, not bothering to look at her husband for confirmation first.  “You are more than welcome; Uryuu will need someone to train with that’s closer to his skill level.”

 

Tatsuki nodded her thanks before settling more heavily against the pillows.  Her head ached, her arms still stung, and she was exhausted from doing whatever the hell it was that she did.  At least Uryuu’s mom was safe too. She hadn’t intended on saving her.  She never really knew all that much about her death, anyway, but she was glad that she did.  Maybe the kid would grow up less jaded and serious; he deserved some fun in his life, after all.

 

“Then, we should go tell them.”  Her voice didn’t seem to be her own as she spoke, and knots seemed to form in her throat.  There were going to be a lot of things her parents would miss out on: her first karate championship, graduating into middle and high school, her first world championship, but it was worth it to keep them safe.  Besides, they could come visit, right?  As she glanced at the faces surrounding her, she felt a sickened feeling creep into her stomach.  Yhwach would want to know where some of his powers had gone and why a mere human had gotten them eventually.  Maybe, just maybe, the adults knew that and were planning for it.  From what she knew, she didn’t think the guy was a decent sort; using hostages was probably right up his alley.  She’d deal with those trouble thoughts later, though.  “But first, we need to stop by Urahara’s.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

“So,” her voice cracked, “I can’t live here anymore.”

 

Her parents had sat in silence the entire time while she had spun her tale, the presence of the two other couples probably helping the authenticity of her story.  She could tell, though, that they didn’t quite believe her.  Her dad, especially, seemed to be in shock about the whole situation.  She sighed softly before letting out a huff through her nose.  Her dad had always been hard-headed; she’d have to be blunt with him for sure.

 

“Mom, you’re pregnant right now,” she proclaimed.  By the look on her mom’s face, she clearly already knew.  “It’s going to be a girl.  You’ll name her Yuna because you conceived her during make up sex with Dad after a big fight.”  A glance showed that her dad’s face had paled.  Behind her, she could practically feel Isshin grimace.  “How would I know anything about that stuff if I was lying?”  She gentled her tone.  “Mom, Dad, I love you guys, but the stuff that I’m going to have to deal with… it’ll put all of you in danger.  Yuna deserves the chance to grow up normal and not wonder why I disappear all the time for months at a time.  It will happen; I’m not going to put her through what I’ve been through.  It’s just not fair.”  She let out a breath.  “Karakura Town is going to be a dangerous place; I’d like you guys to move.  I know you both have better job offers elsewhere; you just don’t want to move because of me.  Now, you don’t have to worry about it.”

 

“We’re not leaving without you,” her father protested, face growing red, something that only happened when he was truly upset.

 

“You’re our daughter; you can’t expect us to leave you here!”  Her mother practically screamed at the same time, tears welling up in her eyes.  Her father wrapped an arm around her mother, gently rubbing up and down.

 

 “I want you to be safe,” she whispered.  “Here?  You’re not.  I don’t know if I can stop the horrible things before they happen, but Karakura Town is going to be a battle ground, and people are going to try to use you against me.  Even if I went with you, the bad stuff would follow.  I can’t hide who I am forever.”  Her voice broke.  “Don’t make me have to watch you die.”  She sat rigidly, blinking back tears, and a hand gently came down on her shoulder.

 

“We’ll take care of her,” Isshin, to her surprise, was the one that spoke.  Masaki had called him on the trip over to Urahara’s; he knew the shop owner best, so they had switched.  He had come along while she watched the kids, even though they were fast asleep.  “She can stay with us; even though we’re powerless, we know how to defend ourselves.”

 

“I can also take care of the paperwork,” Ryuken added, his hand resting on her other shoulder gently.  “She would be adopted into the Kurosaki family easily.”

 

“Grandma and Grandpa are long gone,” Tatsuki added softly.  “No one would think it was weird.”  At the sight of the tears rolling down her father’s cheeks, her own started to fall.  “Please, Mom, Dad.  You have to let me go.”

 

They finally both nodded after she agreed to spend one more night with them, stealing glances at the three adults that accompanied her the entire time.  It was obvious that they wanted to be left alone with their daughter; they probably thought the trio was forcing her to tell this story.  But, given the minimal spiritual pressure they possessed, proving it to them wasn’t an option.

 

Finally left alone with her parents, and Tatsuki fiddled with the PEZ dispenser in her pocket gently.  She had made a tall order and was a little surprised that Urahara had managed to get her something so quickly, but he was a genius.  He did want a more detailed explanation from her later, though, during which she was completely prepared to rip him a new one for making the hogyoku, let alone the things he would do with it.

 

Glancing back up at her parents, it was obvious that they wanted to question her.  Instead, though, she changed the topic, asking them about their day and bringing up the few funny memories she had from this early on in her life.  Just talking about normal, everyday things, seemed to help them relax, and the tension slowly lifted from their shoulders.  After about half an hour, she even had her mom laughing over a story about how she had convinced Ichigo he had to scream at the top of his lungs whenever he attacked during karate practice.  It felt good to hear them laugh, to see her mom’s eyes crinkle when she did and her dad cover his face with his hands at some of her more embarrassing tales. 

 

She and her parents talked a lot that night, reveling in memories.  It wasn’t until the sun was rising that she insisted that they go off to bed, handing them each a piece of candy from the dispenser and insisting that they take it, saying it was a good luck candy, of sorts.  They weren’t going to let her go.  Not really.  And they didn’t believe her either.  The looks that they had been exchanging throughout the night had been enough to convince her of that.  She let out a breath and hugged them each fiercely, burying her nose into the collars of their shirts  and breathing deeply, memorizing her mom’s flowery smell, emphasized by her perfume, and her dad’s rich, muskier one.  She tried to memorize the feeling of her mom’s hands running through her hair and her dad’s strong arms wrapped around her.  If she was holding on longer than normal, they didn’t mention it and just let her bask in their presence.

 

Finally, she stepped back, just as her mother slumped to the floor.  Her father cried out in alarm before he too fell, and she finally let tears drip down her cheeks as she stared up at the ceiling, her parents’ soft snores echoing in the room.  A few flares of her reiatsu let the others know that she was done, and Ryuken walked in, placing a hand on her shoulder.  It was interesting; Uryuu had always described his dad as a cold bastard but maybe that had been because of his wife’s death.  The man as he was right then let a snot nosed nine-year-old cry into his shoulder, hesitantly wrapping thin arms around her shoulders as she shook.  His pristine, white shirt was soaked by her tears, but he didn’t complain, just rubbing his hands up and down her back, on his knees, something that had to be uncomfortable given the hardwood floor.  It wasn’t until she had no more to shed that he let go and silently took her by the hand, taking her to the Kurosaki’s home, and settling her into a bed before assuring her that he would take care of the rest.  Her parents would be relocated safe and sound in the furthest town possible, and they would have no memories of their oldest daughter.  She would become the adopted daughter of the Kurosaki family, and, according to Urahara, after today, no one would remember her parents.

 

As Ryuken tucked the blankets around her shoulders, he ruffled her hair.  Everything would be alright, and she’d better be ready, he’d said.  Training started tomorrow.

Chapter Text

Something was off; he just knew it.  All of a sudden, Tatsuki, his best friend, though he loathed to admit it since boys weren’t supposed to be friends with girls, was living with some people named Ishida.  They were “fostering” her, but that part confused him even more.  His mom had told him that fostering meant that she had no parents because they couldn’t take care of her or died, but that didn’t make any sense.  He had just seen Tatsuki’s parents earlier that week!  Where did they go?  Why didn’t they take her with them?  Why couldn’t they just adopt her instead?  He’d heard them talking about that a few weeks ago, after all.  What happened to that?  He tried asking his mom about it, but she had simply shaken her head, tears in her eyes, saying that it was something that he’d have to understand when he was older.  His dad wasn’t much help easier, and something was weird with him too.  He was much more… serious than normal.

Determined to get some answers, he cornered Tatsuki after school one day, not caring that his mom was waiting for him to walk home.  He followed her out of the pink-bricked building and forced her to stop by the walls surrounding the school, hands twisting nervously in front of his body.  “Why don’t you come to karate practice anymore?”  He demanded first, only able to make eye contact after a staring at the ground for a few moments.  Her expression changed slightly; she looked worn out.

“I don’t need it anymore if I can beat you,” was her simple, teasing reply, though it didn’t have any of the heat behind it that was normally there.

“Where are your mom and dad?”  He tried again, hands moving to his hips and bottom lip trembling.  Even if he tried to be tough, he couldn’t help but feel sad for her.  He wasn’t sure what he would do without his mom.  She must be feeling awful to lose both of her parents in one day.

“They… they had to leave.  To be safe,” she explained quietly.  “I know you don’t get it right now, but…” she ran a hand through her black hair.  “You love your mom more than anything, right?  You wanna protect her no matter what?”

He nodded eagerly.  “That’s why I’m taking karate!  I wanna protect her!”

“It’s like that, except to protect my mom and dad, I had to send them away.”

“Then why aren’t you living with us?  Mom and dad said they’d adopt you.”  It was pretty blunt, but it wasn’t fair.  She was his best friend, after all.  Why would she pick someone else’s family over his?

A look of surprise flashed over her face before she quickly concealed it.  “Things… just worked out better with me being apart of the Ishida’s family.  They had a bigger house and they can homeschool me if I need it.”

Before he could ask her anything else, a soft voice was calling her name.  A tall, dark haired woman waved and Tatsuki smiled tiredly back.  “I’ll see you later, Ichigo-kun.”

Soon enough, he heard his mom calling his own name and walked over to her, head drooping.  If his mom noticed that he wasn’t as energetic as before, she didn’t mention it.  Instead, she let him stay quiet the whole walk home.  Only once they walked up the steps to get to the front door did she break that silence by taking in a deep breath.  “Ichigo, honey?”  She said quietly.  Her voice shook, something that was so rare that it caught his attention immediately, causing for him to look up at her.  She was blinking back tears.  “When your father gets home… we need to talk about some things that make you… special.  And what they mean.  And how we can help you use those things to help other people.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

 

Being a Quincy was hard work.  Not the aiming for a target- that was easy.  She had taken up archery as a side activity in high school after watching Uryuu shoot a few times, so her aim was dead on for a still target.  Focusing the Reishi in the air wasn’t that hard either; she had had plenty of practice focusing on spiritual pressure from tracking Orihime around, a habit she seemed to be unable to break, and Karakura Town had plenty in the air in general.  The Quincy Cross hadn’t taken long to get used to either when she thought of it like an extension of herself, something that had surprised Katagiri the first time she had touched the bracelet weapon.  The Kojaku wasn’t even the problem; she could use the blue bow to hit almost every target presented to her and form it easily.  The only ones she had even a little trouble with were the super fast-moving ones!  No, the problem was Ryuken.  The man demanded perfection in everything.  She understood why he was being so harsh on her; she was a grown woman after all, even if it didn’t look like it.  His attitude towards his son, however, she didn’t understand.  As far as she knew, Ryuken didn’t want to have anything to do with the Quincy, and Uryuu’s grandpa had been the one to teach him before he died.  Within the first few weeks of living with the family, she’d taken back every nice thing she’d ever thought about the man twice over.  He really was a cold bastard.  Either that, or he was scared out of his mind.  She tried not to think about which one it was; both scared her, but one was much worse than the other.

“Tatsuki-chan,” a voice greeted.  It was a kind, soft one that put her at ease.  She grinned and turned to the man standing before her, letting the blue bow shatter and disappear from her fingertips.  The man’s grey hair and thick eyebrows stood out sharply from his tanned face and sparkling grey eyes were always full of excitement; he wore the same white uniform that he wore every time she saw him, the typical Quincy getup, and she had to wonder how it wasn’t covered in grass and dirt stains by now.  He worked with kids, after all.

“Soken-sensei,” she returned with a polite bow.  It only felt right to call him sensei, even if he insisted that she use his first name.

Uryuu’s grandfather was a Spirit-King (God) send; she didn’t know how she’d survive without him.  He was gentle and encouraging with her where Ryuken was not.  She would never understand how the two were related; obviously, kindness and patience were not genetic.

“I was thinking,” the man continued, obviously not seeing that she was lost in thought, “that maybe you would be able to shoot faster opponents more accurately if you learned to move quickly yourself.”

“You’re talking about Hirenkyaku?”  She pronounced the word slowly; the German part of the Quincy heritage was still taking some getting used to.  And she’d thought English was hard.

The man nodded thoughtfully.  He wasn’t quite treating her like the adult she was yet, but few people were besides Ryuken.  The man was kind to everyone regardless, so she supposed it didn’t matter.

“I’ll show the technique to you and Uryuu, if you don’t mind.  He hasn’t learned it yet either.”

The girl nodded, dark hairs falling into her face before she brushed them back.  She was letting her hair grow out, aka skipping the embarrassing hair phases she had in her past life.  The haircut would look good on her, even with her child body, probably.

As she watched the old man casually walk towards the house, she sighed.  Poor Uryuu.  She’d uprooted his life for sure, though he didn’t seem to take any offense to it.  He was still dedicated and serious about being a Quincy; that much was certain.  But, he wasn’t nearly as quiet or closed minded as his older self.  He talked to her frequently and was actually trying to befriend her; he seemed excited to have another kid in the house.  Uryuu was taking her addition to Quincy training rather well too, in her opinion, being more excited that there was another Quincy than disgruntled with the fact that she was, well, better than him.

“Tatsuki-chan did you hear?!”  The boy in question trotted up, blue eyes gleaming with excitement as he pushed his bangs out of his face.  “We’re going to learn Hirenkyaku!”  He said the word with ease, causing a brief pang of jealousy which she quickly dismissed.

“I did,” she replied, trying her best to keep the “baby talk tone” out of her voice.  She was a kid now; she didn’t need any of her friends to feel like she was mocking them, even if they were much, much younger.

“I asked grandpa about learning it earlier this year, and he said I’d have to wait because I wasn’t ready yet, but now he says I’m ready!”  He was probably the person that was taking her transition the best, and if she was honest with herself, it was nice.  As he continued to chatter, she observed him quietly.  He seemed to hold no resentment towards her; he treated her as normally as he could.  His parents had told him the truth from the beginning, though, about her living situation so that helped.  They just hadn’t told him all of it yet.  After all, learning that she was actually in her thirties and that the king of Quincies would one day try to use him as a weapon to destroy the world may be a bit too much for a nine-year-old to know.

As Soken returned, smiling and shaking his head at Uryuu’s enthusiasm, Tatsuki hid a smile of her own.  The relationship between the two was so healthy and positive; she had to wonder how Uryuu would be different considering that Soken wouldn’t die by the hands of Shinigami this time.  She’d warned the old man not to bother with any hollow trouble until future notice; she knew that he had died, but Uryuu had never been close enough to her to tell her when.  As a matter of a fact, most of the information on the guy had come from either Ichigo or Orihime, not the dark-haired Quincy himself.  She hoped that she’d be able to save this Uryuu from becoming like that.

As the man demonstrated the technique, she payed close attention to how his feet moved through the grass and the feel of the Reishi in the air.  Thinking about how to pull the spiritual energy always helped when learning Quincy techniques, she had found, versus Shinigami ones were apparently more instinctual.  She’d always hated how Shinigami and hollows could spring up behind her with no warning.  Being human had sucked during her last life, so she was incredibly grateful that she came back as, well, whatever the hell she was.  Ryuken kept telling her that she wasn’t just Quincy, and it made her wonder if she was a Shinigami-Quincy mix, like Ichigo.

The pair spent the rest of the afternoon practicing the technique, only stopping for water and to discuss things that were working well or not at all for them.  Soken was absolutely right; it was horribly difficult, especially for her uncoordinated child body.  She figured, though, that if she could master it now, she should be able to master it later once things evened out.

As they were called in for dinner, though, she couldn’t help but wonder how the hell she was going to keep Aizen from taking over Hueco Mundo.  She knew that his plans took decades to make; the Espada were probably already picked out by now, but luckily only Starrk was evolved.  Apparently, that guy had been so powerful that he could evolve by himself, no strange orb needed.  But, if she could keep the rest of them from evolving them, it’d save the soul society a lot of lives and her friends a lot of pain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

Later that night, she scribbled hurriedly in a notebook that Katagiri had been nice enough to give her.  She was sitting on her new bed, the sheets underneath her white and blue, of course, her as she curled into a very fluffy pillow.  The hand that wasn’t holding her pen was constantly running through her hair.  She had so many things to remember, so many dates and times to keep track of.  Orihime’s brother dies when she’s 12, so she had to remember to stop that.  But would that keep her powers from developing?  Urahara had theorized that it was Ichigo’s spiritual pressure that had caused for her and Chad to develop those things, but now that Ichigo wouldn’t be his normal, moody self, she wasn’t really sure what would happen.  Chad didn’t get here until middle school anyway.  Then, there was the whole Aizen mess.  The visoreds had already been created by that monster and were in the living world.  She needed to get them on her side, provided that they had already tamed the hollows inside of them.  Urahara said he’d look into setting up some sort of meeting, but not until she knew exactly what she wanted to do, the dick.  The Espada wouldn’t be a mess unless the shop keeper fucked up again, which was highly doubtful since she had Ryuken and Masaki watching over him like hawks circling pray.  She really needed to decide what to do with the hogyoku.  And then, there was the whole Quincy king and Spirit King bull shit.  She groaned, rather loudly, and placed her head in her hands, massaging her forehead.  This was way too much to keep track of, and the worst part was that she hadn’t been a part of any of it the first time; all of her information was stuff she had dragged out of her friends.  How was she supposed to protect everyone if she didn’t even know the specifics?

 

Katagiri walked in after knocking softly on the slightly.  The ravenette glanced up, blue eyes looking tiredly at the woman now known as her foster mom.  She accepted a steaming mug of tea gratefully from the older woman and made room as she went to sit on the bed.

 

“You’re exhausting yourself,” she said disapprovingly, taking a sip of her own tea.  Her legs were crossed and tucked politely under her, and she only glanced at Tatsuki.  “Are you alright?”

 

The woman child let out a heavy sigh, setting her tea on the bedside table before flopping back onto the bed and letting the notebook and pen slide out of her too small hands.  “There’s so much to keep track of,” she admitted.  “There’s so much I need to do.  And if I don’t do it all, my friends will end up paying for it later.”

 

“It’s a lot of pressure,” Katagiri replied softly.

 

Tatsuki snorted.  “Tell me about it.  The fate of the world literally depends on how well I can remember this shit.  Especially since I’ve changed the future by saving you and Masaki-san.  Who knows how things will turn out.  They may happen even faster now than before.”

 

The woman simply nodded, sipping her tea contemplatively before reaching for the notebook.  She opened it and flipped through the pages.  “You’re incredibly detailed,” she commented.

 

“Yeah well, but I don’t know exactly when everything happens, so what’s the point?”  She let out another groan before sitting up and sipping the tea, feeling grateful when she noticed the fierce pounding in her head begin to fade.  “I’ll have to be in so many places at once for everything to work out how I want it to.  And besides that, how am I supposed to get the Soul Society to trust me?  It took Ichigo exposing one of their captains for them to consider not murdering one of their own soldiers for a little mistake!  That council would never listen to a human, let alone a human Quincy child.”  To her own chagrin, a tear slid down her cheek, and she sniffled loudly before moving to wipe it away.  An arm cautiously wrapper around her shoulders, and she stiffened slightly.  It stayed put, and she practically melted into the side of the woman next to her.  “I didn’t want any of this,” she said after a few moments of just soft sniffling.  “My life was finally the way it was supposed to be.  I had a few gold medals, a school for karate… and my best friends had finally stopped lying to me about everything.  I was able to spoil the hell out of their kid and be myself again.”

 

“But it doesn’t sound like you every did a lot for you.  From what you’ve told me, you’ve been worrying and trying to help your friends for years; did you ever think about how what they did was hurting you?”  Her voice was gentle but firm, a mom voice that made her throw away even the thought of lying to the woman.

 

“I guess not.  But I was starting to.”  She sniffled again, shifting in the bed slightly.  “I miss them a lot,” her voice was small.  “It’s so stupid; I’ve been moved out for years, but I always at least had the option to go visit if I wanted to.  But now…”  A fresh wave of tears streamed down the ravenette’s face.  “I-Is this how Ichigo felt all the time?  Cuz this sucks.”

 

The Quincy laughed, squeezing Tatsuki closer to her side.  “It’s how everyone feels when they try to save the people they love.  All of us, Ryuken, Soken, Masaki, Isshin… we’ve all felt that one time or another.  And we’ve all failed to save the people we loved most too.  It’s not an easy job.”

 

“Yeah well,” a loud sniffle, “Ichigo already did his part.  And so did Orihime, Chad, Rukia, and Uryuu.  I think it’s about time I pulled some weight.  I don’t want them to go through that ever again.  Not alone, at least.”

 

“We’ll figure out a way to make that happen,” Katagiri replied.  “But you need to get some sleep.  Even if you’re not mentally nine years old, your body still thinks that you are.  It needs rest.”

 

Crying always wore her out anyway, so there was no harm in following the woman’s advice, Tatsuki decided, obediently laying down in the bed under the cover after handing her now empty tea mug over.  Katagiri smiled gently, ruffling her hair before turning out the lights and heading out the door.  “Goodnight, Tatsuki.”

 

“Goodnight,” she replied.

 

As azure eyes began to flutter closed, a single idea came to her mind.  One so obvious that she wasn’t sure how she didn’t think of it before.  She bolted upright and reached for her journal.  “Urahara.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 4: The Message

The man had apparently been born an irritating asshole at birth, the ravenette decided, hands on her hips as she stared him down.  A difficult task given the fact that her nine-year-old body was a good two feet shorter than him and those damn shoes gave him a few extra inches.

 

“Tatsuki-chan I’m sooorry,” the blond said, waving a dark green fan in front of his face, hat pulled down so low it almost covered his eyes, “but I can’t get you into the soul society.  I’m banished, and there’s no way in.”

 

“Bullshit,” she snapped, mentally wincing at the sound of the curse coming from a voice so young.  The urge to yell at a child for cursing was still so strong from running her own karate classes that she had to resist barking out a sharp “hey” at the sound.  Kami she missed being an adult.  Granted, being a kid had it’s perks, but she’d give anything to have her old body back—and her old voice.  “Yoruichi ends up taking Ichigo, Chad, Orihime, and Uryuu to the soul society through some portal of some kind.  And they end up having to run from the cleaner.”

 

Despite the fact that he hid his face, the ravenette was able to catch a flash of surprise.  She hadn’t told the man all that much when she had arrived; he was a manipulative one after all.  She instead had kept her cards close, telling only Ryuken, Katagiri, Isshin, and Masaki everything that had happened, though the man probably had found out most of the information some way or another.

 

“Where is she anyway?”  The azure-eyed female asked, eyes sharp as she carefully examined him for any hint of emotion.  “In your underground training center?  Disguised as a cat and wandering around somewhere?”

 

He sighed, fan closing with a sharp snap.  “Look,” the hat finally came off of his head and was set onto a counter in the “candy” shop, a large hand pulling through his hair.  It was more of a mop than a do; he needed to get it cut, and it was obvious that he hadn’t been taking care of himself as of late.  “It’s not a good idea for you to go to the soul society right now.  Too many people want the Quincy dead, and while you’re not exactly one, you’re close enough.”

 

“I’m not an idiot, Kisuke-san,” she ground out, her frustration causing her to be a little disrespectful, though not too much.  “I want to send a message.  I wasn’t asking so that I could go to the soul society and cause a ruckus; I was asking to see if you could get a message through.  One that old man wouldn’t be able to ignore.”

 

“Like information on a traitor in his midst,” he murmured quietly, surprising her with the fact that he let the use of his first name go so easily.  “I tried that, you know.  They didn’t believe me.”

 

“Which is why I need to contact the vizords.  Between you, Yoruichi, me, and them, there’s no way the old man or the council can ignore the evidence.”

 

“The old man might surprise you; he’s more of a questions later kind of guy.”

 

“I have to try,” she responded, exhausted.  “There’s no other choice.”

 

He was silent for a moment.  “It won’t be easy getting the letter through—”

 

“Oh fuck off,” she snapped.  “I know you have the connections, damn it!  Ichigo’s aunt… oh what’s her name… Shiba Kukaku?  She’d be more than willing to pass the message along.  The flowery captain guy drinks a lot; I’m sure she’d be able to get into contact with him and slip the note over.  He’s second in charge anyway, right?”  She paused, blue eyes roaming the male’s face for a moment, taking in the exhausted look on his face.  “What’s the big deal anyway?  You practically leaped for joy when Ichigo took the ride over.  Why’s it any different with me?”

 

Silence was her only answer, and a deep sigh left her lips as a result.  One of her own hands went to mess with hair by her shoulders, only to find that it wasn’t there and scowl before reaching up much higher.  A sharp tug on the stuff seemed to help her gather her thoughts.  “You can’t figure out how I got here or how to send me back.”  It was a statement, not a question.  She hadn’t asked him to do it, but she’d be an idiot if she couldn’t figure out that he’d been trying.  For a few weeks, at that if the bags under his eyes were anything to judge by.  “So, why don’t we just take advantage of this and keep people from dying.  And from getting hurt.”  The man nodded once, and she reached into her pocket, pulling out a neatly folded, but unsealed envelop.  “Go ahead and deliver it after you read it—don’t even pretend you won’t.  But don’t change anything yourself.  Just tell me if something needs taken out,” she cautioned before turning towards the door.  She had just pushed it open when she heard his footsteps behind her.  She turned rapidly only to see the bottom of his cane coming towards her face.  She grasped it with her hands, but she wasn’t strong enough to keep the thing from hitting her square in the forehead.  She fell back, and…

 

Tatsuki looked at her nine-year-old self laying on the floor before placing her hands on her hips and glowering at the man in front of her.  “You didn’t have to hit so hard,” she protested angrily, looking up at him.  Though, it was much easier now than a minute ago.  Glancing at the sheepish look on his face, she stretched out her arms, looking them over before looking down.  She was in some weird grey outfit, but everything that used to be there was there.  Her hands went to her shoulders, and she gingerly touched them, a look of relief overcoming her face as she felt hair.  “Thank Kami,” she said, leaning against the door heavily.  “I’ve missed my adult body so much.”

 

He walked towards her and then around her, taking care not to step on the child now laying on the floor.  “So you weren’t lying,” he managed a moment after stopping to stand in front of her; she shot him a glare, and he raised his hands in defense.  “I wasn’t sure if Aizen had done something to you to get me to let my guard down.  It would be something he would do.”

 

“Including facts about the Quincy King guy?  The one that Aizen shouldn’t know anything about?  The one that can see into the fucking future?”

 

“Aizen’s always known more than he should.”  He took a deep breath.  “How old are—were you?”

 

“Thirty,” she answered hesitantly, looking for any sign of judgement in his eyes.  “Everyone told me that I should settle down, but… I never did.”  She shrugged.  She had at one point in her early teens had a small crush on a guy, but he ended up being a superhero jackass that kept secrets from his best friend.  A real turn off, for sure.  “It was just me and my karate shop when I…”  When she died.

 

“Your robes,” he continued, brows raised.  “They almost look like a mix between a normal soul’s and Shinigami’s.”

 

“Oh no, that’s Ichigo’s thing,” she sputtered.  “The whole Quincy and Shinigami thing.  Not mine.”

 

“But if your soul was headed to the afterlife and your spiritual sensing abilities were as good as you say they were, then you would have ended up a Shinigami eventually,” he pointed out.

 

“Yeah, but,” she looked down at the grey garment again.  “I don’t really feel like one.  If I was one, where’s my katana?”

 

“Your zanpakuto should be here,” he hummed, brows furrowed.  “Would you mind coming down with me to the training center to run some tests?”

 

She hesitated.  This guy was sneaky to say the least.  Who knew what other kinds of information he’d try to collect.  “Let me think about it,” she answered instead.  Another pause.  “Can I have one of those symbols?  So I can stretch out of this body sometimes?  I feel like I’m going crazy in there,” she turned towards the child’s body on the floor again, a frown on her face.

 

He walked into the back, out of sight, while she shoved her too large soul back into her body.  She was up off the floor and dusting off her clothes when he came back, handing her what looked like a sweat band with that symbol on it.  “Now you’ll have to pay me for it, of course,” he said in his usual, teasing voice, hat back in its normal spot on the top of his head.

 

“Yeah, yeah,” she grumbled, handing over a few bills and taking the damn thing.  She was lucky that Katagiri and Ryuken had decided to give her an allowance, though it was still frustrating to have to ask for permission to buy things that she used to not even think twice about.  “Give me a few days to think about it, and I’ll let you know.”

 

“Sure thing, Tatsuki-chan,” he said with a huge smile, apparently back to his normal self.  She rolled her eyes and clutched her new belonging in her hands, heading out of the shop and towards the Ishida’s place.  Only when she was sure no one was looking did she place the clothing item into her back pocket.

 

“I wonder if Quincies can still use their powers in soul form,” she mumbled to herself, taking care to take well-traveled roads, even if it meant a few adults openly stared at her in concern.  A nine-year-old walking herself home from school shouldn’t be that unusual, should it?  Honestly, she didn’t really remember that kind of stuff; most of her childhood memories were about having fun with her friends, not worrying about what adults thought.  Having a fully developed maturity definitely made her see things differently, that was for sure.

 

Once she made it back to the house, which was basically a mansion in her opinion, she dropped her stuff off in her room, homework for the week already completed in about half an hour and grateful that Ryuken was finding her a “home tutor” so that she wouldn’t have to go to public school anymore; the past few weeks had been awkward between stares from Ichigo and the teachers, who were seemingly thrilled that she was “finally reaching her true potential.”  Maybe she could quietly get her high school degree early and then not have to deal with any of that shit anymore; sure, she’d gotten a business degree before, but that’d only been so that she could open up her own dojo after she finished competing.  Now, things were different.  She wasn’t sure if she would compete; she had too many other things to do this time around.  Maybe she could get Urahara to give her a mod soul and make her a gigai for her adult form so she could move around more freely; who knows how much that would cost, though.  She had to wonder, though, as she stared at her hands whilst heading towards the training ground.  Was her child soul in there somewhere?  Or did it sort of merge with her adult one when she came back to the past?  And, if her child soul was really in there, was she just a plus soul floating around, waiting to be sent over by a Shinigami?  Or was she something more?  She finally reached the grassy training area, dropping her head in her hands and groaning.

 

A soft crunch of grass alerted her to the man approaching behind her.  He stopped and didn’t say a word.

 

“He can get it across,” she said, not bothering to turn around to gaze at the white-haired man.  “He put up a fuss about it, though.”

 

“As expected,” the cool voice answered.

 

She nodded, though she had to stifle the noise of frustration that tried to escape her.  While he was right, and they had talked about that before she left, she wished he had a little more confidence in her.  After all, the only reason anyone was aware of the bigger things going on was because of her.  Though, she suspected that Urahara knew a lot more than he let on.

 

“I bought something today from that crazy bastard too,” the azure eyed female continued, a huge grin on her face.  “I thought I might want some time out of this body; it’s too damn constricting.”  Tatsuki reached into her back pocked, offering it to him for inspection.  His eyebrows were raised as he returned it back to her, and she tapped the sweat band against her chest, turning just in time to see a look of surprise cross Ryuken’s face as her younger body tumbled to the ground.  She stretched from side to side for a moment; she hadn’t realize how constricted she felt until she was free from that body.

 

Blue eyes met her own, slightly darker ones sharply before he circled her.  “Interesting,” he simply commented.  “You don’t seem to be a Shinigami, but you also don’t seem to be a normal human soul either.”

 

“Yeah, I know.  Urahara-san caught me off guard by slamming his cane into my face earlier today,” she explained the situation to the man, who, while his eyebrows were raised, didn’t seem too surprised by the actions of the former captain.  “He wants to run some tests on me.  And train me in some way or another, I guess,” she finished.  “I… I’m not so sure if it’s a good idea.”

 

“Has he been trustworthy in the past?”  the Quincy asked.

 

“Well yes but actually no,” she replied automatically; that kami damned meme format made it hard for her to say anything else in such a situation, and, were memes even around yet?  “He’s certainly helpful and a valuable asset, but he was still head of the research department.  He’ll take every opportunity to get data on you.  Urahara-san will use that to his advantage later if he needs to too, so it really depends on how much you want him to know about you.  Before, I didn’t have any special qualities, so I didn’t care, but now…”

 

He nodded, blue eyes roaming her figure once more.  “I would usually say to never trust a Shinigami.”  He spoke, though not harshly.  “But, after meeting Isshin… They’re not all horrible,” he admitted after a moment.  “This, time, however…”

 

“This time we’re trying to get Shinigami to trust us.”  It was more of her finishing his thought than her arguing with him.  She went to stand beside him, a hand caressing her thankfully not too short hair.  A jingling noise brought her attention to her wrist, and she brought it up closer to her face for inspection.  It looked like…

 

She assumed the stance and focused.  Almost immediately, a blue bow formed in her hands, and she shot off a few arrows which hit the targets perfectly.

 

“I guess Quincies can use their powers in soul form,” she muttered, allowing the bow to shatter and taking a better look at the bracelet on her wrist.  It was different from all of the ones she had seen before; instead of forming a cross, it instead looked more like a shield which, when turned the right way, seemed to disappear from sight.  A large hand captured her wrist as well, causing her to glance up just in time to see furrowed brows looking at the object before Ryuken shake his head.

 

“No, not usually.  The bracelet is a physical tool; it usually isn’t a part of our soul when we… ‘pop out,’ as you put it.”

 

She hummed.  “Well, this definitely isn’t a katana.  Or a zanpakuto or whatever.”  She focused on the Reishi again, letting the feeling of it flow through her body before stepping, rapidly, and appearing next to a tree several yards away almost instantaneously.  “Things are a lot easier when I’m my normal size,” she admitted as she appeared next to the man.  He seemed unphased, but the way he avoided eye contact told her differently; he was definitely intrigued.  The doctor was trying to act like an iceberg, but he wasn’t nearly as bad compared to how he acted after his father and wife died; that much was for sure.  “I’ll probably practice this way from now on, if that’s okay with you?”  She asked rather than told, knowing that it was his family that would be affected by it the most.

 

“As long as you carry that wrist band with you, I don’t see an issue,” he said simply, before turning on his heel and heading indoors.  “Dinner’s ready.”  She gently laid herself down inside her body before trotting to catch up with him, walking at his side.  She couldn’t help but notice the strange look he was giving her and frowned.

 

“Weird, isn’t it?”  She commented more than asked.  “I was thinking about asking Urahara-san to make me a gigai and give me a mod soul.  So that my body can go around doing normal kid things while I can actually do adult things around town without getting looked at like I’m committing some crime.”

 

“It’d probably be a wise idea,” Ryuken commented, “but after you meet with the vizords, perhaps.  There’s no better evidence to your…. interesting story than watching an adult soul come out of a child’s body.”  He hesitated.  “He may also put something in your gigai.  It’s certainly something to be aware of.”

 

She nodded her agreement before settling at the table, sitting to the right of a grinning Uryuu excitedly chattering to his mother about the training he did with her grandfather while she was out that day.  The old man, though she supposed he wasn’t that old—late thirties at most, making him only five or six years older than her, had a point.  Urahara would probably be a lot more cooperative now that her seemingly insane story had some proof behind it.  As far as she knew, it simply wasn’t possible to inhabit an actual body not your own, so there was no way she could be faking it.  And maybe she could get a mod soul that was intelligent enough to keep up her good schoolwork so that she didn’t have to; she already went through it once, after all.  If the tutoring was done at home still and Uryuu went to public school, she didn’t see any problem with the idea.  The kid wouldn’t even know that anything was different unless they told him, which she was starting to wonder if they should.  She would never want to keep him out of the loop, but it was Katagiri and Ryuken’s decision on how much they wanted their son to know; he was only nine, after all.  She would have a quick word with them after dinner and go from there.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

 

Finding the vizord’s hideout wasn’t too hard, much to her surprise.  Apparently, Urahara had some device that could sense their spiritual pressures, even if the fat pink one had a barrier up.  In all honesty, these guys were the ones that she knew the least about; sure, she’d met Shinji a little in school, but he’d set off her creep radar so badly that the only interaction she had with him was keeping him away from Orihime.  She could only hope that, since this time she was approaching them that maybe they’d be a little more… receptive?  Normal?  She wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted, but she hoped that they at least had their hollow powers under control; it’d suck to die after all this work she’d done, after all.

 

She rapped on the rusty warehouse door cautiously.  “I need to speak to Hirako-san,” she announced clearly while still keeping her voice down; there were a lot of creeps on this side of town, after all.  Always had been.  She waited for a moment and listened; hearing nothing, she rapped again.  “Hirako-san, I know you’re in there,” she tried again.  “I’m a friend of Urahara-san’s.”  It would seem that even those “magic words” weren’t working.  She took a deep breath instead of yelling.  She couldn’t blame them for being cautious.  Especially around a seemingly young human child.  She blew out the air through her nose before trying agin.  “I’m here to talk to you about getting revenge on Aizen.”  Her words were short and sharp, and, finally, the door opened in response.

 

The man in question raised his brows high enough that they were hidden in his unevenly cut bangs, muttering “What the—" at the child before him, but she simply elbowed past him, entering the warehouse where an eerily quiet group of vizords awaited her.

 

She bowed deeply, hands flat on her thighs.  “My name is Arisawa Tatsuki,” she introduced herself, trying her best to keep her voice from shaking.  The others, and by others she meant all the parents except her own, had been easy to convince, if she was being completely honest with herself.  She knew them all already, for the most part, even if they hadn’t known her.  Even worse for her nerves was the fact that the vizords were a key part of the forming plan she had to save as many lives as possible.  Surely, they’d be on board with that.  They were still Shinigami, right?  Didn’t all Shinigami care about balance and shit?  “I’m a Quincy,” she started, deciding to leave out the questionable other part for now, “and I would like your help with stopping Aizen.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

 

They were just as hard to convince as she’d thought they would be, not that she blamed any of them.  After all, they had been through plenty of pain because of Aizen, so she understood not wanting to have any interactions with him again.  At the same time, though, their thirst for revenge was pretty strong.  To the point that the tiny pigtailed blonde chick had immediately agreed, not even listening to her plan.  The others, though, weren’t so easily convinced, and it wasn’t until she left her body that they even began to believe her story.  Not that she told them all of the details, of course, only what they needed to know.  She’d hashed and rehashed the plan out with them for hours, pointing out obvious advantages this time, like how she’d never seen Aizen’s zanpakuto’s release or how they were doing things six years early and would catch him off guard.  And, more importantly, in her opinion, it was about getting the old man in the chair’s trust so that they could talk to him about an even bigger issue; Yhwach.  She really hoped that the barrier kept his “all seeing eyes” from actually seeing what she was doing, because if not… well, her plans were screwed.  She was no Ichigo; there was no way she’d be able to brute force her way through a battle.

 

After all of that work, they ended up saying that they would think about it, and she respected their space, shoving herself back into her too-small body and heading home, fighting a raging headache the entire walk back.  Thankfully, Ryuken and Katagiri had decided that Uryuu could handle a good chunk of the truth, so once she was home, she’d be free to roam around in her adult body.  She could only hope that it wouldn’t be too awkward for the poor kid since his playmate just turned into another adult.  He’d taken everything else so well that she couldn’t help but think he’d take her adult self well too.  Arms stretched behind her back, she made her way inside quietly and up to her room.  It was well after midnight, and she honestly had been surprised that a cop hadn’t seen her wandering around and taken her to the station.  Setting her body down on the bed, Tatsuki removed her soul and laid it on the couch on the other side of the room.  Ryuken had been nice enough to point out that, while usually souls couldn’t interact with physical world objects, his mansion was infused with enough Reishi that she would be able to.  It made for much better sleeping arrangements, in her opinion.  A large sigh escaped her lips as azure eyes stared unblinkingly at the ceiling.  Unfortunately, now there was only one thing left for her to do: wait.

Chapter Text

Chapter 5: What Next?

A heavy sigh permeated the room as the brunet stared at the sealed envelope in his hands.  He had already been told what was in it, but why he had to be involved was beyond him.  He should have known that Kukaku was up to something when she invited him out for a drink.  Getting him drunk before having him agree to do it was a little too far, though.  A hand adjusted his hat before he let out another, though somewhat lighter, sigh.  The letter had good points, if what was in it was true.  The fact that it was an offer for a conversation with proof to prevent bloodshed was, well, a good idea.  The young Quincy could have simply chosen to allow dozens of soul reapers to die in the upcoming war due to the age-old grudge.  However, the how of the information was still questionable; something that would have to be proven.  He scratched his head before groaning, rising from his seat and tucking the letter into the folds of his sleeves before his soft footsteps pattered down the hallway.  A polite knock and answer had him shuffling before reluctantly opening the door and making his way inside.

 

“Shunshui-san.”  A white eyebrow raised critically.  “What do you have for me?”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

She was getting frustrated; that much was certain.  The ravenette had sent the message two weeks ago and had been assured, albeit by a fan waving liar, that it had been delivered.  Whether or not it had been read, however, was another story.  Waiting for the “old man to be in a good mood,” was apparently taking longer than she thought, and, as a result, she was getting antsy.  Who knew whether or not the Quincy “king” could see her or if he was looking at her; since she was living with Quincies, she knew he had to have at least figured out who she was.  If that was the case, then he knew that she had powers and was trying to figure out how the hell she got them.  An army of Quincies coming after her, even a premature army, wasn’t something she wanted to face or deal with.  Also, if Aizen figured out that she knew his plans, he would kill her before she even realized he was there.  She just wasn’t strong enough.  Not yet, anyway.

 

That was the one good thing about this whole thing was the fact that she could actually help this time.  She wasn’t stupid; she knew that she could never be as powerful as Ichigo.  She also knew that she’d never be able to just hope for the best and brute force her way through the situations either, which seemed to be something that her friend used frequently when dealing with the situations that now she was trying to prevent from happening.

 

She groaned as a soft knock sounded on the door; it must be morning already.  She hadn’t slept at all the previous night and was hoping for a chance for some rest.  However, the knock meant that her tutor would be arriving soon, meaning that she needed to slip into her old body.  The old man was nice enough, however.  He was apparently just fine with testing her knowledge; if she passed the exam, he would leave for the day.  If she did not, he would explain the topic, and she would have homework to complete.  To her utter surprise, she had not failed any of the exams so far, and the man was obviously impressed; Ryuken paid well, though, so he stayed quiet.  The last thing they needed was rumours about a “genius child” spreading around.

 

She slipped back into her body, throwing on her clothes before opening the door.  To her surprise, it wasn’t Katagiri who stood there but Ryuken.

 

“Ryuken-san?”  She questioned politely before bowing.  Though he could sometimes be rude, she knew she owed the man a lot.  And, he wasn’t all that bad.  The more time she spent with him the more she discovered that he was more tsundere than an ass.

 

He didn’t respond verbally, instead handing her a sealed letter; it hadn’t been opened yet.  She raised her brows before tearing open the envelope, breaking the wax seal in the process and scanning the contents of the letter.  Her face formed a fierce scowl as she palmed her forehead, trying to ease the oncoming headache the contents were sure to cause her.  She handed it back to him with a long sigh, allowing him to skim the contents as well.

 

“Thanks for letting me open it first,” she offered once he’d finished reading.  “Those fucking idiots,” she murmured.  She’d heard from Ichigo and Rukia that the Soul Society was governed by a group of unchanging old people, but she didn’t expect things to be as bad as the letter had made it seem.  Apparently having proof of a traitor didn’t count when pieces of the evidence came from the testimonies of more so call other traitors.  Seriously, did this guy even think?  Or was it the council of rich old farts that was keeping him from taking action?  Either way, she had mentioned Aizen and Tousen by name while saying that Ichimaru was planning on acting as a spy of sorts, waiting for the proper moment to strike.  She knew that anyone with common sense wouldn’t mention the knowledge to anyone but the flowery captain who had been charged with delivering the letter.  If it was her, she wouldn’t even mention it to the Central 46 until she had more definitive evidence.  She let her eyes skim over the letter one more time, not quite believing what she had read.  In short, it was a huge “fuck you, why should we believe you,” and she wasn’t sure how to get the soul society to without dragging them to the living world; it would be impossible for her to “pop out” of her body while in that realm as her living body would be converted for her to even get there.  Maybe her unusual soul appearance would be enough.  Obviously, her extensive knowledge about the captains of the soul society hadn’t been good enough, even if she did know what their bankai were.  She’d also mentioned some details about how the vizard had been formed, but the details had been sparing since she didn’t have them on her side yet and didn’t want to piss them off.

 

“What did you expect?”  His voice was cold, but she didn’t take offense.  He was right, after all.  What had she expected?  Well, when she thought about it, it had been precisely this, though it hadn’t been what she’d been hoping for, and she said just that.

 

“Exactly what happened,” was her response, though her voice was exhausted, “but it wasn’t what I was hoping for.”  He was silent in his response, glancing at her for a moment.  “I think I need to go to Urahara’s and see about that gigai.  If he puts it into the darned thing, at least we’ll know where it is.  It’s not like he can destroy it right now anyway.  Besides, Aizen wouldn’t think he’d stick it into an average human’s body anyway.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

It took a whole lot of finagling and some money, but she walked out of Urahara’s with Ryuken with the promise that a gigai, a smart, appropriate, and not Kon mod soul, and some papers for her new adult body would be ready by the end of the week.  She’d had a talk with him about the damn orb, but she wasn’t really sure how it’d gone.  He promised that he wouldn’t put it in her gigai without her knowing since it would disrupt her powers, and they weren’t even sure what they were yet.

 

That comment reminded Ryuken that she needed more practice to master her powers, especially the soul-version.  He made the comment that her power seemed to be “not quite a Quincy power” and practically shoved her at his father once they reached the house.  She huffed at the thirty-year-old man’s back as he walked back towards the house, a blush on his cheeks and emotion running over his face, though it was obvious he was trying to hide it.  She’d much rather have it this way, though.  He didn’t smoke, so she guessed that was a habit he had gotten after his wife had died.   And, he was much, much nicer to his son.  After explaining to Soken what the situation was, she grabbed the sweatband from her pocket and pressed it against her chest, her soul coming out of her body much like before, though with a bit more difficulty.  It almost felt like she was trying to take off rubber boots that had gotten wet on the inside; her soul’s skin, if you could even call it that, was sticking to her body, not quite wanting to let go.  Regardless, she managed to get out, though the old man hummed once she did.

 

“Tatsuki-chan,” his soft voice came as he reached over to inspect the bracelet that had materialized much like the grey shihakusho she wore.  “What are you going to do?”

 

“What do you mean?”  She asked as she formed her bow, prompted by a tap on her shoulder.  The ravenette was grateful that it shown the normal blue colour; Tatsuki didn’t want to seem like any more of a freak than what she currently was.  She released an arrow, and it hit the target she was aiming for perfectly in the centre, evident by the scorch mark left there after it disappeared.  She was learning how to make arrows of differing strengths; Soken had told her that it’d be foolish to make a strong arrow for a weak enemy and waste energy in doing so.  Being tactical was a large part of being a Quincy, she was learning, and it was no wonder that Uryuu had been so prideful about his mastery of the bow.  It felt like it was going to take her forever to do so just because she’d never had to deal with focusing reishi or reiatsu before.  She was doing fairly well, or so she felt.  She’d only been at it for a few weeks and had already surpassed Uryuu in terms of difficulty; not that that would be hard, given that he was still just a kid.  She was also getting much faster when using Hirenkyaku, now only surpassed in speed by Ryuuken.  The only thing she was having trouble with was the whole “walk on air” part.  Honestly, having been kidnapped by so many hollows and dropped many times made her terrified of the move, though she tried to swallow her fear often enough.

 

“About the soul society,” was his simple response as he lightly corrected her form before ordering her to fire an arrow of slightly greater strength.  She concentrated before the blue light developed and she fired, hitting the target with exactly the amount of strength he had wanted.  Perfect.

 

“I’m not sure yet, honestly,” she admitted, bow deteriorating as she rubbed her head.  “Either way, Aizen has to be stopped first.  He’s the more immediate threat.  If they won’t do anything, I have half of a mind to use the hogyoku to create a hollow army for myself; just a big enough one to make them shut up and listen for once.”

 

The man nodded, sympathetic.  He understood probably better than anyone else would.  Uryuu hadn’t exactly told the ravenette, but he’d told Ichigo the horrors of how the Quincy had practically been wiped out as a race.  She wasn’t stupid, though.  Massing an army would be as good as an act of war, especially since her letter had been sent and read.  Besides, where would she find the espada anyway, and, she shuddered, what would they eat?  She knew of a few “decent ones” that would more than likely be helpful.  Orihime had told her that Grimmjow had helped them fight the Quincy, so he was one, if a volatile one.  The redhead had even said that the guy that’d kidnapped her, Ulquiorra, wasn’t so bad either.  Something about just being confused and needing a little guidance, though she wasn’t sure if she bought it.  The last two she had seen during the fight herself.  Starrk had made it clear he didn’t truly want to fight while Harribel seemed to only want to protect her female companions, something that she couldn’t help but relate to especially now.  The last one was one that she had met after the war several times, and the hollow had grown on her.  She was just so sweet and genuine that Tatsuki had a hard time remembering the woman was a hollow most of the time.  Nelliel would probably be the easiest person to persuade, followed by Starrk and Harribel.  The only person she saw being a true pain in the ass was Grimmjow, simply because he loved to fight so much and needed to be fought to show that she was better than him.  Honestly, she wasn’t sure if she was.

 

“Does the soul society patrol Hueco Mundo currently?”  She wondered aloud.  If not, then it’d make the “amassing an army” part much easier.  And, in terms of what the hollows ate, in Hueco Mundo, they only ate other hollows.  It wouldn’t be too horrible for that to continue, right?  They were the bad guys, according to the soul society, and needed eliminating anyway, so what would eating a few do?

 

The old man didn’t answer her, just giving her a bemused look before directing her attention back to her training.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

She looked at the passport and background information in her hand and raised a brow.  First of all, this document had her listed as 18 years of age; there was no way she could pass that off.  She was thirty, she looked thirty, and she was an adult, damn it.  Also, being in school?  That would be even more of a nuisance.  He’d better have some proof she graduated high school; the whole point of this gigai was so that she didn’t have to keep going.  She shot Urahara a glare before she stopped at the name listed: Chisana Ryu.  “Are you serious?”  She looked up at him in disbelief.  The blond simply smiled and waved his god damn fan back and forth.

 

“Oh come on, Tatsuki-chan, or should I say Chisana-chan?  Don’t tell me you don’t like it!”

 

“‘Little Dragon?’  That’s the best you can come up with?”

 

“Now now,” his grin was even wider now.  “Don’t take it like that!  Chisana means many things.  This Kanji in particular means smart and beautiful.”

 

She couldn’t do anything but roll her eyes at the man, downing the small green pill he had handed her moments before.  It took a few seconds too long; long enough for her to see his eyes widen in slight concern, before she popped out of her body.  The mod soul didn’t react inappropriately at all, though she’d have to keep a close eye on it to ensure that it truly wasn’t Kon.  The azure-eyed female wouldn’t put it past the shopkeeper to pull yet another prank on her.  Before she could even open her mouth to retort, he spoke.

 

“Just as I thought.”  The confused look she shot him seemed to give him a cue to keep going.  “Your soul has been getting stuck in your body, no?”  At her nod, he continued, “I think it’s because of the age difference.  That is most certainly your body, but in terms of laws of nature, there’s no way it should be.  Your body can’t age faster; it’s too complex of a process.  But your soul…”  He trailed off.

 

“My soul?”  She questioned, her voice more exhausted than upset.  Honestly, this whole situation was ridiculous.  She’d travelled back in time instead of dying, so it only made sense that a whole bunch of shit was fucked up because of it.  She was just damn tired of the change.  Couldn’t things stay consistent enough for her to save the freaking world first?

 

He seemed almost disappointed at her reaction, or lack of one, but continued nonetheless.  “You look much younger, Tatsuki-chan.”

 

She walked towards the window and peered at the reflection she could barely make out there.  He was right.  Her hair was back in that stupid mullet thing, and the laugh lines that had formed on her face were gone.  She also just felt better.  Thirty wasn’t old per say but having gone through a few karate matches that had ended in broken bones had really put some wear on her body.  Those feelings had apparently imprinted on her soul or something, meaning that she had still felt the aches and pains in that soul form.  Thankfully, those were gone.  If she had to guess, she’d say that Urahara’s estimates were right.  She looked and felt about 18, maybe even a year or two younger.  “Well,” she said after a moment of silence, “I guess if the world got saved by a teenager last time, what’s stopping it this time.”

 

Silence permeated the room before she turned back to the blonde man and Isshin, who had accompanied her since Ryuken had been called into the hospital.  She hadn’t filled in either man on her plan quite yet, but she figured now would be a better time than ever.  She took a deep breath before stepping into the body that rested on the floor.  It looked quite similar to her thirty-year-old self, and she wondered if it would adjust as she settled in.  A quick glance back into the window verified that it had, stupid looking hair and all.

 

“I have a plan,” she began, “on how to defeat Aizen, but I need some help getting the… technological know-how done.  I also need some people that are stronger than me to help… convince some other parties to do their part.”

 

“A plan, huh?”  A new voice sounded behind her, as the door clattered open.  The blond came into view as she nodded.  A feral grin spread across his face, revealing is too-straight teeth.  “And I was just coming to tell you that we vizards were in, too.  Let’s hear about it, Tatsuki-chan.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 6: This is the Plan??!!

“But I know who to choose and who not to,” she argued back to both of the blond individuals, hand running down the side of her now thankfully adult face.  “Look, the hogyoku gives them back a piece of their humanity; it keeps them from being deranged.  And, Urahara-san, you just said that they’d be able to eat normal energy to get their food and not souls.  What’s the big deal?”

 

“From what you’ve said, they’re stronger than some captains, right?”  Isshin, thankfully serious for once, replied for the shopkeeper, not seeming quite against the idea, more speculating how exactly it would work.  “How can we know for certain that they won’t betray us?”

 

“Because they didn’t before.  I told you, Starrk didn’t even want to fight, Harribel only fought to protect her friends, so if we guarantee them safety, she’s on our side, and Nelliel and Grimmjow I’ve met a couple of times before.  I know how to handle the asshole; all you gotta do is offer some sparring with someone stronger than him that he can’t beat!  Ulquiorra is the one who kidnapped my best friend and, apparently, he was pretty alright too, just loyal to a fault, so perfect for us.  What other kinds of proof do you need?”

 

“I understand hollows better than anyone here,” a voice interrupted, doubt laced within it.  “They don’t have any control at all.”  It was the most serious she’d ever seen the buck-toothed blond, and she wasn’t sure if she liked it.  Logically, she understood why they were reluctant to believe her or even try out the idea, but it still frustrated her that they were shooting down her plan so quickly.  It was like she was back in her own time again, Ichigo shooting down her offers to help without even hearing her out first.  She didn’t plan on or want to be ignored again; as a matter of a fact, this time, she wouldn’t.  This time, she was the one with the information while they were all being left in the dark.  She had the choice of leaving them out of it, the choice of making them wonder if she was alright or ever coming home.

 

Tatsuki took a deep breath, clearing her mind of such thoughts.  It wasn’t the time to get angry.  Logically, they had a point.  They just didn’t have enough information to understand all of hers’.  “Look, hollows are chaotic and destructive, right?”  She waited for the men to nod, pacing back in forth in her much more comfortable body.  “What the hogyoku does is give them a human element.  Basically, it makes them calmer and more reasonable.  Sure, it makes them more powerful, but it also makes them more controllable.  And, that’s the only option we got.  The Soul Society patrols everywhere else, so if we want to get some sort of army ready to help stop Aizen and defeat Yhwach, it’s all we got.  Especially since the old man’s being such a dumbass about it.”  She had a point, and she could see in their eyes that they knew it too.  “Look, I’m not asking that you turn ‘em all at once; I’m asking that you let me turn one, just one, and see how they react provided they’re willing to.”

 

“Which one would you pick?”  Urahara seemed more interested than concerned now, a creepy light flickering in his eyes that could only come from a scientist with a new and challenging problem to solve.

 

“Harribel.”  Her answer was immediate.  “Starrk will be too powerful for your liking; the hogyoku actually made him weaker in the first place.  She’s the calmest and the most likely to even want to cooperate with the Shinigami and Quincy in the first place.”

 

They nodded at her reasoning, not necessarily agreeing with her idea or the plan itself but seeing the reason behind it.  To be honest, it was the best idea that she could come up with.  They’d need numbers on their side to defeat Aizen; maybe that would get the Soul Society and old man on their side, but if it didn’t, they’d need even more to defeat the Quincy King and save the Soul King.  Hollows were apparently poison to Quincies anyway, so using cooperative hollows couldn’t do anything but help.  The biggest problem would be seeing whether or not the particular hollows she had in mind were actually, for a lack of better terms, formed.  She knew their spiritual pressures of the ones that had been in fake Karakura Town during the battle, and she also was able to pick up Ulquiorra’s off or Orihime once her friend had returned home.  Grimmjow, the ass, had visited several times in gigai form, so that meant she could recognize all that she trusted.  She just needed a way to get there and a pretty convincing speech to get them to agree to help them out.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

She rarely entered her real body anymore; it was easier to train using legs and arms that fit what she was used to using.  Uryuu-kun was used to it as well, though the boy did seem to have difficulty at first recognizing that she, someone that he had thought to be his own age, was actually much, much older.  Spiritually, at least.

 

Ichigo had started training with them.  By borrowing the sweatband she had bought from Urahara, he was able to pop out of his body into a Shinigami form; apparently, he had already had those powers this young.  All Rukia did was help him out of his own body the first time.  He was working on flash step and communicating with his zanpakuto as well as a few Quincy tricks that Uryuu was all too happy to teach him; the lucky kid had the best of three worlds when it came to powers apparently, especially since mastering his inner hollow would be much, much easier as a child.  She herself, having been proclaimed a good enough archer by both Ishidas, had been working on moving faster.  Yoruichi had shown up at some point in cat form to watch and make fun of her speeds until Tatsuki had shown herself to be a fast learner.  Since, the purple-haired woman had taken over her training in a way, teaching her the art of stealth and speed, which was something Tatsuki herself predicted she’d need.  The Vizard showed up from time to time to practice with them as well as hammer out a few more details about her grand plan, if they could ever get past the trial phase.  Aizen she had heard plenty about defeating; she’d been a part of it, after all, but Yhwach was a guy that no one liked talking about.  Apparently, Ichigo had just brute forced his way to victory, yet again.  Since she was trying to surprise attack the guy, there was no way she was going to wait around for the kid to be old enough to defeat him again; she was going to protect her friends at all costs this time.  The fact that she knew so little unsettled her, and it also unsettled everyone else.  Even Ryuken didn’t know much about the guy; only that they were related, and he was where his powers came from.

 

A rather loud sigh left her lips as she settled against a rock.  The brunette brought her wrist up to her face to once again inspect the strange shield-like Quincy cross on her wrist.  She finally had a chance to help her friends, and she was basically useless.  The only good things that had come out of it so far was ensuring that the two mothers didn’t die needlessly this time around.  Beyond that, all she’d done was speculate how to defeat the bad guys.  She settled down upon the ground, legs crossed as she absent-mindedly entered her normal meditation pose.  She didn’t want to be Ichigo.  She really didn’t want to be just like Ichigo.  But, something she’d said herself was bothering her; why did she have these powers?  Wouldn’t it have made more sense for her to have Shinigami ones?  She knew from Rukia that Shinigami often had to meditate in order to figure out what their katana-zanpakuto thing was called.  She was pretty sure she wasn’t a soul reaper, but it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot.  If she didn’t have the powers, she wouldn’t be surprised.  But if she did… well, maybe they’d help her protect her friends this time around.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~oOo

Sea-coloured eyes observed the newcomers carefully as they ceased walking upon the sky and settled upon the sand, much like her and her girls.  The men had her on alert; in Hueco Mundo, it was rare to find a female as powerful as herself.  She had been forced to band together with any other surviving females to protect themselves from the monstrous appetites of the men, and while she had never seen this type of man within Hueco Mundo before, she had heard whispers of their existence; figures who hunter creatures such as herself in hopes of cleansing them of their sins and recycling their souls into the next life.  However, she wasn’t sure if she agreed with their methodologies and tactics; after all, she could remember a great deal about her past life, and she wasn’t sure what sins she herself had done.  Plenty were done to her, for certain, but she had never done any herself willingly.

 

Their hiding place was perfect; she and her girls had become masters at repressing their spiritual powers; not even the most advanced of hollows could sense them.  They were also perfectly hidden from view; they could see out, but one would have to know the hiding place exactly in order to be able to see in.  Soon enough, the strange figures would find what they were looking for and leave.  She was about to turn when she noticed something strange; a much, much weaker spiritual pressure was with the other two.  Not that it was the weakest she had ever felt, she supposed.  Simply that it felt… undeveloped.  It wasn’t the fact that the woman’s spiritual pressure was weak that astounded her, though.  It was the fact that she seemed to be… in charge of the two, much stronger men surrounding her.  In Hueco Mundo terms, it just did not make sense.  The two men should have devoured the much weaker soul already, or at least killed her for her insolence.  She was suddenly grateful that her girls were sleeping behind her; there was no way that the trio would have remained silent if they had seen the sight.

 

Lost in her own thoughts, she didn’t notice the female approach, alone, until a soft voice spoke near her hiding place, startling her back to attention.  “Tier Harribel,” it began uncertainly.  The woman ran a hand through almost black locks, trembling slightly.  “I would like to meet with you to make a proposal.  To protect your friends.”

 

Green-blue eyes narrowed in suspicion as she held her breath.  No one knew her name besides her girls, and even they were hesitant to speak it when others could here.  It was a way for them to protect themselves; if you enemies didn’t know your name, they couldn’t plot together against you, a simple enough concept considering that even the most powerful hollows that she crossed were seemingly stupid.  She stayed silent, hoping that the woman was just taking a wild guess, that she didn’t know she was there.  The woman, a short one too, shifted from foot to foot for a few moments before speaking again.


“Harribel-san, I know you’re there.  I can feel your spiritual pressure, even if you’re trying to hide it.”  The hollow glanced back at her sleeping pack.  “I just want to speak to you,” the brunette continued.  “I won’t hurt you at all.”

 

The men were coming closer now, and she felt her mental hackles rise; was this… human thing just bait so that the men could figure out where her pack hid in emergencies?  Or was she speaking the truth?  She highly doubted the second; why would a human bring a Shinigami and pure feeling soul with her to speak to a hollow, a sinner?  Had she unknowingly consumed the soul of some relative and now they were seeking revenge?  To her surprise, however, she glowered at the two men and shooed them away, asking them to stand a sizeable distance away from herself, so far that any conversation had would not be able to carry to them on the wind.  This human was certainly bold; either that or naïve.

 

“There is a man coming.”  This human’s voice was shaking in obvious fear.  It made the blonde want to protect her, take her in.  Didn’t she too know the fear of men and their violence?  “He is the Quincy King, called Yhwach.  He wishes to destroy all life except for those he chooses.  He wishes to kill the Soul King and mess up the balance of the world.  If he succeeds…” a pause, “If he succeeds… he will kill us all.  Human, Shinigami, hollow, he doesn’t care.  He’ll kill everyone.”  Blue eyes stared at feet covered in some strange type of black covering.  “I need your help to stop him.  He is going to be gathering some incredibly strong soldiers to fight for him.  I want to get to him first; surprise him with a group of our own to keep him from killing us all.”

 

Tier considered the words.  They seemed genuine; the human was obviously afraid of this man and had some sort of history on the subject.  She just didn’t know what to think about the human herself.  “I can make you stronger, evolve you in a way using a special stone so that you appear more human.  With that, you’ll be able to protect your friends better.”

 

“Why me?”  She finally spoke, though her voice was seemingly a whisper.  She was most curious, however.  She was a female, weak within this society with three others with her.  Leaders in general had to be tactical, and she couldn’t see the benefit in recruiting someone such as herself.

 

“Because you’re a good, level-headed leader.”  She replied.  “Because, you’re the Queen of Hueco Mundo.”