Summary:Bleach-Golden Time Crossover. After bitterly accepting that she has lost her boyfriend Banri forever, Koko Kaga went with her friends for a wild night out in Tokyo to forget her troubles. The group ran into trouble with thugs and she thought that her life was over until Ichigo saves the day. Hilarity ensues as her stalker tendencies kick in to try to get to know her hero better. But as the couple gets closer will Ichigo's secret as a Substitute Shinigami derail their budding relationship? IchigoxKoko
A/N Yes, I know that a lot of you has been emailing me about the next chapters to my stories namely Bleach DxD and Fiance. The latest chapter of DxD has been extremely difficult to write considering that chapter 12 will be the end of the first light novel. Then there's Mario Kart for the Wii U…nuff said…lol…Then I discovered this little anime called Golden Time and it was so damn awesome that this little story came to be. Since this story idea won't let me go I might as well go ahead and write it to get it out of my system. It will be short and sweet maybe 3 chapters at the most. As for Fiance, I have already started it and has been stuck since. Don't worry though I still haven't given up on it and should regularly putting chapters for it again I hope…Anyway hope you'll enjoy it folks…
-And if you haven't watched Golden Time, this story has major SPOILERS for the show. You have been warned so I don't want to hear any complaints...lol
-Tell me how you like it. Read and Review as usual...
-That's it for now kiddies until next time...
chapter 1: From the ashes of despair came a strawberry?
Koko Kaga walked nervously towards the door of her ex-boyfriend Tada Banri's house. She was a stunningly beautiful young woman 18 years of age with light golden brown hair that terminated nearly to her waist. The ends of her silky golden brown hair were in curls and her long tresses were not tied down just the way she likes it. She had a white furry coat on and to complete her outfit were some tight blue leggings with black boots. Her bright hazel eyes were sad and her tears threatened to spill down her cheeks again. Koko bit her lip and she chided herself for being silly. She was only giving back a DVD that he left at the dorm but that wasn't the only reason she wanted to see him maybe for the last time…
The accident that happened to Banri during the last year of high school couldn't be helped. He was waiting for Linda on the bridge when someone on a scooter hit him and he fell some 30 feet to the ground below. The result of that freakish accident was that he lost his memory of everyone he knew. So he moved to Tokyo for a fresh start and away from parents and friends whom he can no longer remember. That was where they all met: Banri, herself, her childhood friend Mitsuo, 2-d-kun (Sato Takaya) and Miss Ultrasonic (Chinami Oka). Koko smiled, she and the gang had a lot of fun this past year. From the amusement park to the beach. To the Aka Festival in the University to Banri and herself being kidnapped by cultists. (Though she had to admit that was kinda scary!) If one summed up all their experiences they had in college, it was that they had fun. But now that Banri's memories have returned from the time of the accident while his memories of the past year and a half were nothing more but a hazy dream thus forgetting them all in turn. Tears threatened to overwhelm her again…
'Keep yourself together Koko! Banri has broken his promise and he has forgotten you! J-just give him the damn DVD and be done with it!' Koko thought sadly.
Koko never wanted to break up with him because she did love him after all! But when she saw that video of Banri just losing it like a raving mad lunatic, she couldn't stand seeing him like that! What was she suppose to do? How can she ease that pain that he's been suffering all this time? She was suppose to be his girlfriend right but in the end, she couldn't do a damn thing for him! So to cut her losses and to save herself the pain of being forgotten, she took the initiative to break up with him and wanted to become friends again. And besides, Banri -before his tragic accident - was in love with Linda-sempa anyway. He was waiting for her at the bridge for her answer when the accident happened. It is what is….
Koko arrived at the door and knocked. Banri opened the door. There was no recognition in his eyes as he said..
"Hello." Koko answered. She paused. "It's nice to see you again. I came to return the DVD that I borrowed from you."
Banri's brows knitted in confusion…
"DVD?" Banri asked.
Then a flash of inspiration….
"Oh I know who you are! You're her right? You were mentioned in the notes that I found! You're Chinami Oka right?"
Koko's facade of indifference nearly shattered but she smiled nonetheless…
"Hey Linda, Chinami Oka is here!"
Linda came over who it was and reacted…
"What's with that reaction?" Banri asked.
"It's nice to see you again Linda-sempai!" Koko greeted.
Linda couldn't answer and she sheepishly scratched her head…
"Don't mind me. I'm fine with this. I just came here to return a DVD that's all." Koko said. Then to Banri. "I'm glad that you were home."
"Don't you want to come in?" Linda asked. "Not that it's my house or anything."
"No thank you. This is all I came for…" she replied.
Koko lifted a pink bag and handed it to Banri…
"I can see that Banri is doing well and I'm glad that I came." Koko said. "There's a taxi waiting for me so I will take my leave. Here Banri, this is yours. It is all in your hands now."
Banri looked at her confused but didn't say anything…
"Oh by the way, I wanted to cross that famous bridge that I've been hearing about. How will I get there?" Koko asked.
"Oh you mean the bridge where I...fell?" Banri asked.
Koko hesitated for a moment before she answered…
"Y-yes… How can I cross that to get home?"
"You can't cross it by car so you have to get the taxi to let you out by the bridge and then pick you up by the other side…"
"Thank you. I will be leaving now." Koko said bowing.
Koko then caught Linda-sempai's eyes and her gaze lingered there for a moment. The golden brown haired girl then turn and walked to the taxi and entered. Linda could have sworn that she mouthed these words to her before she left…
"Take care of Banri for me…"
Fifteen minutes later….
Koko was alone walking the wooden bridge that Banri fell off from. It was peaceful and a chill wind has picked up. She shivered and hunched herself in the protective confines of her jacket. As she crossed the bridge, the tempest of emotions inside her were swirling in earnest. Koko didn't have any illusions of grandeur where suddenly her Banri would meet her in the bridge to sweep her off her feet, take her in his arms, comfort her and whisper in her ear that everything will be alright. Unfortunately this was the real world and as much as reality bites at the moment, she was glad that she was able to see him one last time before she lost him forever! The taste in her mouth was bitter sweet. It is a great comfort to her that at least he was doing well and that's all that mattered to her!
'I know Linda-sempai will take care of him."
It was better this way. Banri will be cared for by the woman that he loves before he ever met her. But it wasn't fair dammit! It wasn't suppose to end this way! She was suppose to be the one taking care of him. In sickness and health, through the good times and the bad right? Tears threatened to come but she mastered herself and continued to walk alone. Koko was deep in her melancholy thoughts when she bumped into someone.
"Oi, sorry about that, I wasn't watching where I was going!" the young man said.
Koko gasped in surprise as she nearly fell and the young man caught her before she took an embarrassing un-lady like fall on the bridge. She blushed furiously as he held her in his muscular arms and had an eyeful of his broad chest. The golden brown haired girl looked up and her breathing nearly stopped as she beheld a Greek God. He had an unusual spiky orange hair that was shoulder length and his bangs were covering his lovely brown eyes. The wild hair enhanced his handsome features which wasn't such a bad thing. He was maybe around 6 feet 2 inches and around 210 pounds. She can tell that he works out with the way his sweater was threatening to burst from his shredded muscular physique. There was an aura about him that felt strange to her but strangely enough she felt protected for some reason. He was strong in ways that Banri wasn't….
'Oh my gawd he's so damn hot!' Koko thought. Then she answered out loud. "I-it's o-okay…"
Kami that was damn lame, Koko!
The stranger smiled at her and her heart nearly melted…
"Umm, you can let me go now, you know!" the young man said chuckling.
"Oh I'm sorry. I didn't know what came over me!" Koko said sheepishly.
"It's ok. Well I'll cya around." He said. Then jokingly he added. "And TRY to watch where you going though I wouldn't mind saving you again."
Koko couldn't help herself but giggle and waved goodbye. Then when she processed what he said, Koko blushed furiously and when she turned around to see where he was going, it seemed that he mysteriously vanished. Thinking nothing of it, she walked the entire length of the bridge with no incident except for that encounter with Mr. Handsome. She smiled. Dammit she was so thunderstruck by him that she forgot to ask his name! Though the giddy feeling didn't last long before the realization that she has lost Banri forever has returned. The taxi was waiting on the other side as she has instructed and she opened the door. She looked back to the other side of the bridge for the last time. Koko sighed audibly and entered the taxi.
"Where to now miss?"
"Go back to Tokyo, please."
As the taxi drove away, Koko looked out the window. Her right arm was on the ledge and her hand was resting under her chin. The sadness returned and she let the tears that she's been trying so hard to hold back to fall freely on her cheeks this time…
Kurosaki Ichigo wasn't very pleased at the moment. He was on his way to Tokyo to pursue his degree in medicine when the damn bus he was riding broke down a few miles back and he was walking ever since. He figured he can take the rest of the way by train but he's been walking for miles already and this shit was seriously pissing him the hell off! Ichigo saw the signs for Shizuoka and since he was close there already, he figured he can get his bearings strait and go from there. It was nice being alone for a change. At least his goofball of a dad wasn't attacking him in the mornings anymore! So why did he decide to pursue his education so far away instead of staying in Karakura Town and go to school there instead? Soul Society insisted that's what happened! As a reward for saving the Gotei 13 (twice) from ego maniacal despots that tried to destroy it and rescuing the Spirit King, Kyoraku-san decided to fully pay for his education. Though getting a free ride for college was nice, the newly elected Captain-General has yet to decide how else to show the Gotei's 13's appreciation of his heroic efforts. Actually that indecisiveness was making Ichigo rather nervous to say the least. One can never tell what that flamboyant man was thinking…
Two years has passed and he has defeated that bastard Juha Bach and in many ways avenged his mother's death. Still the price of that victory was very high. He has lost a lot of friends in that stupid war after all. Chad and Orihime did their best to assist him but even with their powers, they still paled in comparison to the enormous power of the Quincies that tried to wipe out the Gotei 13 and end the world as they know it. Speaking of Quincies, as for Ishida, Ichigo did made true his promise to beat the shit out of him and then take him back. Although Uryu was stubborn about it, he did appreciate the strawberry's strong belief in him. The Spirit King on the other hand, saw the good that this young man has done for the world, for him and the Soul Society. In the end, he offered Ichigo a chance to become one of the Royal Guards. It was the first time that The Spirit King has asked a human who happened to be alive but a Substitute Shinigami for that prestigious honor. He saw the strawberry's full potential and in order to harness it for the good of the universe, the King needed to train him in his realm in order to fulfill that promising prospect. However, Ichigo humbly refused and his only answer was that he has yet to live his "human" life and the future is now an open book…
"Besides, who's going to protect Karakura Town if I go?" Ichigo asked. "I'm sorry but I think I'm needed there more so…"
"Ichigo you idiot, why the hell are you refusing THE Spirit King?" Rukia screamed. "Do you realize what honor it is for HIM to take interest in you and offer you to be a Royal Guard?"
"This got nothing to do with you midget!"
Rukia has heard that insult from the strawberry since the beginning. Although it may be true that she is vertically challenged and petite, the idiot had no right to point the obvious and in front of the Spirit King of all people! Needless to say, hearing such slander still never fails to piss her the hell off! And just as inevitable, the 13th Division Lieutenant of the Gotei 13 countered by hitting the great Hero of Soul Society on the shin who by the way jumped up and down and cursed her for being so damn abusive…
The Spirit King chuckled interestingly enough….
"But we both know why you refuse my offer Kurosaki Ichigo." The Spirit King said smiling. "It is because you couldn't leave your friends and family behind is it not?"
Ichigo looked at him scowling but didn't answer…
"It is alright my son. Though my offer of being a Royal Guard still stands but that will be for another time. Still I will give what ever you wish that is if it's within my power…"
For the longest time and for the life of him Ichigo couldn't think of what to wish for….
"Uh can I save it for a rainy day?" Ichigo asked.
"If you so choose…so be it. I look forward to what you wish for the most Kurosaki Ichigo. Until then farewell for now…"
The King of the Spirits vanished. Ichigo on the other hand fell to the ground exhausted from the brutal battle, his Bankai returning into two distinctive zanpakutos. Rukia who was dead tired herself had enough energy left to shunpo beside her best friend and catch him before he fell painfully to the ground. She smiled at his sleeping face and thought how proud she was of him…
Rukia turned around and waved at friends who ran to greet them….
When Ichigo woke up one month later, the entire Gotei 13 was there waiting. Urahara though had bad news and because he wanted to get the un-pleasantries out of the way, he dropped the bomb on the strawberry. Hat-n-clogs then explained to him that he cannot ever go back to his body again because his soul will incinerate it as soon as he returns and his nigh infinite reiryoku will drastically affect the World of the Living in ways that they could possibly predict...
"Mah, what's with that look Kurosaki-san?" Urahara asked covering his face with his fan.
"Dammit you know why Geto-boshi!" Ichigo growled. "What the hell am I suppose to do? I still have a life to look forward to! I still need to protect Karakura Town and everyone in it! I still need to hang around with my friends and to see my little sisters grow up!"
"Is that how you feel Ichigo?"
"Don't fret then, I'll figure something out!"
Indeed Kisuke did try to solve Ichigo's little problem. Using a special spiritual limiter of his own invention, Kisuke was able to reduce the strawberry's massive spiritual power but the measure was not enough as it only cuts his tremendous power in half. Soul Society also had a hand in this little project and the Twelfth Division was able to devise a limiter similar to Kenpachi's energy sucking eye patch but inevitably that too failed. Eventually between Urahara and Kurotsuchi working together (begrudgingly of course), they were able to combine both their respective inventions into something that actually succeeded after countless trial and errors that is. When they were finished, Urahara gave Ichigo a pair of metal wrist guards that covered his entire forearms. The former Twelfth Division Captain told him that under any circumstances that he not remove them unless it's necessary.
"Why is that?" Ichigo asked while he adjusted the leather buckles under his sleeve.
"Think of them similar to a dam. Just as the dam traps the water on the other side of the wall, the wrist guards do the same job. However, if you remove them then there will be nothing left to stop the super massive tsunami of reiryoku from returning to you in the most explosive and destructive manner possible…"
"What do you mean?"
"In other words, imagine the dam breaking…."
Ichigo's eyes widened. The destruction that his power would cause would be catastrophic…
"I see that you realize the consequences from the way you look. Good I don't need to emphasize what's at stake here then. Now relax will you and let's party!"
Ichigo crossed a wooden bridge and he didn't noticed the stunningly beautiful woman walking the other side, so deep they were in their thoughts. When he finally did start paying attention, she bumped into his massive form and she nearly fell. But before she could hurt herself, he was already there to break her fall. His eyes widened, it was as if he used shunpo but he was in his body! The strawberry never realized he can move that fast in his corporeal form nor believed that it could be done. Was this some unforeseen side effect from his spiritual gauntlets that he's wearing in his soul form? He's going to have test the theory when he gets the chance…
Ichigo had to admit that the young woman was very attractive. Sure he knew a lot of good looking women in his life but for some reason, this fragile woman stood apart from them. Whoever she is she has a grace and beauty about her that speaks volumes but at the moment that radiance was somewhat diminished. Whatever circumstances that kept her from shining bright must have been very significant. Ichigo could tell because there was a sadness that was palpable and it showed on her beautiful face. Still he didn't have the right to pry into her business and Ichigo had to squash his confusing feelings. That was why he told her a joke and he was glad it made her smile at least for a little while….
After saying his farewell to the woman, he continued towards the small city. He ate at a restaurant for lunch and asked the waitress for the nearest train station. She told him to get a train to the Tokaido Shinkansen and it should take him about an hour to get to Tokyo. The strawberry gave her his thanks and smiled at her causing her to blush in embarrassment. Ichigo looked at his watch and it was 3:30 pm, if he hurried, he can probably check in his dormitory by 5 pm and get settled. He was informed that his luggage was already there, courtesy of his weird dad! Well he guessed the old man was at least good for something right? Ichigo walked to the train station contemplating the life ahead of him and fleeting thoughts of the sad woman he met on the bridge…
Tokyo - 8pm
"Oi waiter, give mhe another round of beer!" Koko drunkenly demanded. "And make it snappy dammit!"
The poor waiter complied to her request and ran to the back to fill the order….
"Hey Koko aren't you going a little over board?" Mitsuo Yanasigawa asked.
"Shut up Mitsuo, it's my party and I'll get drunk if I want to!" she said pouting.
Indeed, Mitsuo was surprised that Koko wound up calling him first and bullied him to go with her to the bar. Miss Supersonic and 2-D-kun came to meet them a few minutes later. Chinami was still wearing her beanie over her short salmon hair. Mitsuo never did get why she cut her tresses so short in the first place considering that he thought that her long hair was lovely. But that was when he had feelings for her. His attentions nowadays was for Linda-sempai. However, it seemed that avenue was closed to him forever since Banri - or more like the old version of him - was in love with her. His annoying childhood friend did mention though that she asked the older woman to take care of her ex. Which was kinda appropriate considering that their old friend didn't even remember who they were and what he meant to them…
"Koko-chan ish right!" Sato Takaya declared. "We should all get shtinking drunk!"
Chinami was silent. She didn't know how to feel about the situation. Banri despite what they all went through the year didn't remember who they were? And all because he finally recovered and found himself again? Was it fair to think that she wanted to have "their" Banri instead? The salmon haired girl knew that Koko was devastated. Getting drunk was her way of coping with the situation. Her eyes wondered towards Mitsuo and she felt daggers in her heart! But why should she feel sad, Mitsuo was fair game now that Linda-sempai was out of the picture! She told Banri the same thing only a few days ago and now it felt like a part of her - no more like their souls were gone…
"Sheee, 2D-kun agwees wit mhee!"
"Idiot, of course he's going to agree with you!" Mitsuo replied. "He's piss drunk too!"
"Oh and you're not, mishter alwcoholic?" Koko countered. "I'm not da one who hogged all the beer!"
Koko glared at him and stuck her tongue out. Chinami never realized that Koko-chan could be so difficult when she's inebriated. She sweat dropped as the two childhood friends continued their alcohol induced spat. Well not as if that was any different either! No the only thing that changed was that Tada-kun wasn't here. She couldn't believe it. They were together for an entire semester hanging around and getting into all kinds of trouble! She figured she has all the time in the world to make up for being cold to him but she wasn't even granted that luxury...
'At least I was able to apologize to him before I was...forgotten!'
Chinami did her best to keep the tears from falling but she couldn't help it any longer. She felt water came down her cheeks and she was surprised of its emotional intensity. Banri was her dearest friend and now he didn't remember her nor anyone in this table. It was out of their hands now. There was no way that he will remember them and even if he did stay in school, it would only serve to remind them the painful loss of a friend who didn't know them anymore. Fate has dealt them a cruel hand and in her opinion that was not fair. She looked at Koko and her heart goes out to her. Chinami couldn't imagine how she is feeling right now and the only thing that she can do for her friend was to be there and listen….
"I would like to propose a toast." Chinami said. "To Banri, may he finally find peace of mind at last and may he live a full life."
It was an end of an era as they all talked about the good times all night….
Six months later….
Ichigo left his last class of the day and was on his way to work. A semester has come and gone and summer was in full swing. To make up for lost time, the strawberry decided to go to summer school. Ichigo has gotten used to the life in fast paced Tokyo and things for him were looking up. His classes in Tokyo University were really hectic but it was fulfilling and challenging. Now that he didn't have to worry about fighting Hollows everyday- 24/7- was kind of refreshing and he was able to put his full attention to his subjects. Oh he occasionally got the "itch" and did some patrols once in awhile to break up the routine monotony of going to class, attending after school clubs, the part time job and working out to keep his edge as sharp as possible. The frequency of Hollows attacks in Tokyo were not as severe as it was at Karakura Town and that helped his studies and kept him from pulling his hair out from hunting them down.
The Substitute did find something interesting though. As Urahara, explained it, apparently the wrist bands -even if did block his spiritual powers - couldn't possibly suppress his enormous spiritual power as they hoped. The reiryoku that managed to escape was so potent that the spiritual residue that bracelets couldn't hold back affected his own body. The exposure to his own pure reiryoku explains why he was able to use shunpo while he was still alive. However, using Shinigami powers - which were meant for spiritual beings to use - definitely took a toll on his mortal body. It was thus that he took up martial arts again and joined the Kendo Club. He figured getting in shape would help him and preserve his body from breaking down easily but discipline only kept him from abusing his powers anyway. Oh the temptation was there alright however when he feels like he got run over by several buses after using shunpo non-stop to get to class was any indication of the limitations of using his powers, then he'd rather do things the old fashioned way!
Ichigo arrived at the book store he worked at and began his shift till closing time...
Meanwhile earlier that day...
Kaga Koko woke up that morning feeling refreshed and if she still had hang ups with her break up with Banri, she wasn't showing it. That or she's getting better hiding her feelings to the world. To those people who knows her best -namely her parents - it was unusual for her to be so enthusiastic in the morning and figured something was up if she was acting...normally. She has been depressed for awhile now and suddenly she just did a one eighty, behaving like she always did even before she went out with him and had that unhealthy obsessive fascination of marrying her childhood friend, Mitsuo.
"Is there something wrong Koko-chan?" Her father asked.
Actually her father did know what was wrong and ever since she broke up with Banri, she's been a mess. He would occasionally hear her crying in her room but he left it alone. Koko needed to figure things out on her own and he wouldn't want to be accused of butting in on her business.
"Why do you ask Otou-san?"
"Oh nothing just wondering if there was something bothering you that's all." He explained.
"I'm fine really!"
Kami she smiled! He had to admit she hasn't seen that girl smile or let alone in a general good mood since her break up and he's wondering if there's something wrong with his little girl?
"Who are you young lady and what have you done with my daughter?"
Koko was mildly scandalized...
"Otou-san, stop making fun of me!" Koko pouted. "Okaa-san make him stop!"
Koko's mother was virtually a carbon copy of her daughter except that she's wears her hair shorter -about shoulder length- and is currently wearing square glasses that makes her look like a hot librarian instead of a doctor...
"That's good dear, now eat your breakfast or you're going to be late!" Her mother said. "And stop making fun of your daughter anata! Are you sure you're alright Koko?"
"Yes...It took me this long to realize that I need to move on that's all. I mean I will always love Bandi but this is Kami's way of saying that we weren't meant to be. So I just got tired of feeling sorry for myself and decided to move on."
"That's good for you dear, I'm sure you'll meet the one who's meant to be with you." Mother said smiling. "Take your Otou-san for example, he might be a pain in the butt half the time but I ended up marrying him right, anata?"
Koko and her mother started giggling at Otou-san's expense. Embarrassed, he cleared his throat and added...
"Yes your mother is right. Just don't scare whoever this new guy away with your brand of craziness..." Otou-san added.
"Honey stop teasing your daughter. And as for you Koko-chan, don't be late, ok."
"Yes ma'am." The both of then said simultaneously.
"Now off you go!" She turned to her husband. "I'll see you at dinner later tonight yes?"
"Now, now love don't be like that. You know you want to see them after all these years..."
"What are you talking about Okaa-san?" Koko asked curiously.
"It's just a little get together with some old college classmates way back in the day..." Okaa-san replied nostalgically. "Now stop asking questions or you're going to be late for work!"
Koko was on her way to her summer job at the mall. She was planning on saving a few bucks so that she can be one more step towards independence. There's nothing wrong with having money saved up for a rainy day and she really wanted to get a place of her own. She didn't want to rely on her parents forever, after all. But she was in a good mood for the first time in months. It was true what she said to her parents back in the house, she just got tired feeling sorry for herself and she had no choice but to let it all go. In one of the hundreds of lectures she had to suffer through from her parents, these 6 words managed to butt in to the conversation every time...
"It's all a part of growing up..."
Koko thought that she wasn't going to be able to smile again considering the circumstances. Still here she is grinning from ear to ear and feeling cheerful for the first time in awhile. She was determined not to give up especially on her love life. Though she might not be ready to just jump the first guy she sees, Koko believes that she's ready to mingle with people again. Now that she thought about it, she hasn't been hanging out with the gang lately. Wouldn't they be surprised that she got out of her funk all on her own?The golden brown haired girl took out her cell phone and called 2-D-kun...
"Hey it's me. I get off work at 6pm. Why don't you gather everybody and let's go to a bar and get a drink?"
Later that night...
"I apologize if I couldn't make it tonight. I had an emergency at the hospital today and I needed to attend to it. I'll come visit you'll on a weekend sometime once my schedule clears up ok?"
"You better Ryu-kun or I'll be mad at you forever!" Okaa-san pouted.
Ishida Ryuken managed to sweat drop as Kaga Mika fuzzed at him on the phone...
"Duly noted, Mika. Give my greetings to your family and that fool who's on his way there apparently..."
"Ok I will. Bye Ryu-kun."
Ryuken hung up the phone and Mika put away hers in the purse...
"He's not coming is he?" Otou-san inquired.
"Ryu-kun said he had an emergency in his hospital so I guess it can't be helped." Mika said.
"Well he is the director of his own hospital after all. You know as well as I do that being a director of one's hospital is a big responsibility."
"Oh well, at least one of them is showing up."
"And you know I wouldn't miss this get together for the world!"
Husband and wife were startled and looked astonished as one of their college friends made an appearance seemingly out of nowhere...
"It's I-kun!" Mika said happily.
Mika stood up and hugged her friend while he shook her husband's hand...
"It's been awhile Isshin. Looking good."
"Being settled usually does that to you." Isshin replied. "So how are you two kids been doing? I haven't seem you guys since what graduation?"
"Oh I-kun don't be silly. You were at our wedding too remember?"
"That's right..." Isshin said. "When was that like 18 years ago?"
Mika and her husband nodded as they reminisced about the good old days...
"What happened to Masaki-chan? I would have thought that you would bring her..."
Isshin looked away sadly and said...
"She passed away a few years ago..."
"I'm so sorry!" Mika replied.
"My deepest condolences my friend."
"Thanks and don't worry about it Mika-chan, you didn't know. No one did..."
Mika was silent and a somber atmosphere hung over at the table. Awkward silence ensued until Isshin decided to break it...
"My time with her was amongst the happiest days of my life and I wouldn't trade any of it for anything in this world. If it wasn't for her sacrifice my eldest wouldn't be here today..."
Otou-san held his wife's hand from underneath the table as tears streamed down her eyes. He looked at his friend Isshin and it was astonishing how he looked so calm telling them the most traumatizing thing in his life with a strait face. He couldn't even imagine the breadth and depth of loss his friend was feeling and he can tell that after all these years the pain is still as raw as the day that he had to bury Masaki. He cannot say how he would react if he ever should lose Mika to a tragedy but he knew that she would defend Koko's life even at the cost of her own. Just as he would lay his life on the line for his family. Parents, aren't they such wonderful people?
"Enough, if you're going to shed some tears Mika-chan, cry the tears of joy. It's suppose to be a momentous occasion not a pity party for me!" Isshin said grinning.
And just like that, Isshin's somber mood transformed to his usual toothy grin, the melancholy feeling that they sensed a few minutes ago was gone and replaced by the demeanor that they have always seen him when all of them were going to college. They talked for hours as if nothing has happened...
"So how is Ichi-kun by the way?" Mika asked. "I haven't seen him since he was still a baby."
"Ah that ungrateful son of mine..." Isshin said dramatically. "He's doing well..."
"That's good..." Otou-san replied.
"In fact he's going to school here in Tokyo at Todai."
Otou-san's brows quirked and found himself impressed of the fact that Isshin's son is going one of Japan's most prestigious schools...
"Oh, what is he studying?" Mika asked curiously.
"He said that he wanted to be a doctor." Isshin replied. "He didn't go home this summer because he's going to summer school."
"That's good for him I-kun. At least he's taking the initiative trying to get ahead."
"Personally I think he just wants to spend time with his girlfriend!" Isshin said conspiratorially.
Mika looked intrigued while Otou-san chuckled at his friend's antics...
"Oh and how do you know he has a girlfriend?" She asked.
"I don't. I just like to think that he's hiding one! I kinda think it would be impossible for him to give me and Masaki our grand children right?"
Husband and wife looked at Isshin and then at each other and sweat dropped. Then Mika suddenly had a brilliant idea...
"Well, if Ichi-kun is single then maybe he should go hang around with Koko-chan. She just broke up with her ex a few months ago and I think it would be good for her to meet other people. And if...it so happened that they hit it off then good for them."
"Mika-chan are you suggesting to hook our kids up?" Isshin asked.
"Why yes I-kun I believe I just did!" Mika replied grinning.
"I'm glad that you approve!" She replied. "I'll go ask her to show him around town as soon as I see her."
"Wait you guys are serious aren't you?" Otou-san said sweat dropping.
"Of course we are dear. Just think we will be soon related to I-kun and we will be all one big happy family."
"I'm not worried about that. What I'm concerned about is will our crazy daughter drive Ichigo-kun nuts?" Otou-san said blandly.
Mika and Isshin exchanged a look and promptly replied...
"Trust me, Ichigo is made of sterner stuff..." Isshin said rather seriously.
"So you don't have to worry dear!" Mika added.
Otou-san sweat dropped as Mika and Isshin shook hands and "sealed" the deal. Then they proceeded to discuss the potential names of their future grand children. The last time he checked, Ichigo and Koko were promising pioneers of the next generation and were not considered cattle. As hours go by, he heard his wife excitedly discussing some medical procedure while Isshin listened with interest and asked her inquiring questions. If he described his wife Mika then he would reply that she was a serious consummate professional. This giddy cute childlike behavior that she exudes now only appears when she's hanging out with the old gang from school. Now she changed topics to her future grandchildren again. Koko must have inherited her mother's exuberant love for life but he gotta admit that she's just plain damn weird! Otou-san shook his head and prayed to Kami to prepare Ichigo for the torture that's to come...
Ichigo covered his nose and mouth with his shoulder as he sneezed. Hopefully he wasn't getting sick because that would be an inconvenience. Then he wondered if someone was talking about him...
"Bless you, Kurosaki-san!"
"Thanks!" Ichigo replied. "And it's Ichigo, I don't do that formality stuff."
"Then you have to call me Misao then!"
"Deal!" Ichigo said smiling.
Kuroda Misao was a young entrepreneur who owned the shop. She has black shoulder length hair, brown eyes and a heart shaped face. She was short -well compared to Ichigo anyway - about 5 ft 4 in. She was skinny as a rail and Ichigo jokes her that she needed some meat on her bones on occasion that she complains to him about her weight. Misao graduated with a degree in business and the shop was a dream fulfilled. Considering that she was only in her early 20's and owns her own business things were quite looking up. Her little store doesn't just sell books though. By popular demand she started adding manga, magazines, toys, figurines, games, and movies in her repertoire. Overnight her humble little store turned into a profitable hobbies shop. Business was booming so much that she actually needed help keeping up and that was when she hired Ichigo by necessity...
Seeing the strawberry smile at her made her blush furiously...
Ichigo was so much better compared to her exes. He might be younger than her by 4 years but there is something about him that makes him very attractive to her. There was a gravity and maturity she sees in him that stands out and it just make him so damn sexy. And he is so damn hot that there was an itch inside her that desired to run her hands on that shredded and chiseled physique. Uh the things she would do to him!
"What the hell am I thinking?" She thought frantically. "Calm yourself girl! BAD Misao!"
"Misao you ok?" Ichigo said waving his hands at her.
Misao blushed again...
"Oh it's nothing Ichigo-kun. Nothing at all. Ah ha ha ha!"
Privately she wanted to slap her forehead for being so damn awkward in front of her prized employee...
"Okay whatever you say." Ichigo replied. "Don't worry about taking inventory tonight. I already finished and ordered stock we needed. Here's a list of what we have and what we're missing from storage. Oh and I rearranged your files in alphabetical order and yes it was that boring tonight..."
"But Ichigo you didn't have to do that."
"Eh, like I said it was slow night and I needed something to do so..."
"No problem. Did you need me for anything else?" Ichigo asked.
"No, I should be fine, thank you." Misao said. "Are you working tomorrow?"
"Yeah, I only got one class so I should be able to come in early if you want me to."
"Will you please? It's getting hectic in the mornings lately. I would really appreciate it." Misao replied.
"Sure thing boss lady!" Ichigo teased.
"Mou, how many times do I have to tell you not to call me that!"
"But Misao,YOU are my boss!"
"Well it makes me sound like I'm an old maid or something!" She said pouting.
Ichigo sweat dropped. How the hell she associated being called something to getting old apparently flew past him. He looked at her half lidded and when she realized that the strawberry was stating at her, she blushed and stuck her tongue out at him...
"Right, anyway you have a good night ok?"
"Ok, Ichigo-kun I'll see you tomorrow..."
Misao heard the chimes on her door ring as Ichigo exited the shop. She then noticed that he left one of his notebooks lying around on the counter and she quickly took it went outside thinking that she could catch up to him. When she went outside for some odd reason, the sidewalks were empty from both directions. She scratched her head. How could he have vanished so quickly when he only left about 5 minutes ago? If anything at least he would have been half way down the block as soon as got out the door. Now that she that about it, she doesn't know anything about him and he's been working for her for 3 months now. He was polite and didn't cause any trouble. In fact, he intimidated the people who would cause trouble and on a few occasions he stopped the store from being robbed. Ichigo after all was an imposing figure and his infamous scowl sends shivers down the spines of those unfortunate enough to be the receiving end of the that glare.
However, the store was equally popular with the opposite sex considering that her little helper so happened to be one fine piece of ass! She noticed all the types of women -whether they be school girls, high school, college or middle aged mothers - would come in the store gawking, giggling and trying to strike up a conversation with the strawberry who annoyingly enough obliges them. Though the most common thing that all the female customers were that when the get a glimpse of Ichigo's body or when he occasionally flashes them with a rare but genuine smile; they all turned into a blushing mess or they drool rather messily like sex maniacs as they undress him in their minds and do unspeakable things to him in their imaginations. That was just so damn annoying!
Then she realized that her head was in the gutter as she too started imagining him in all manner of compromising ways. At that point she blushed and gotten a nose bleed as fountains of blood shot comically in a wide spread area...
'Bad Misao! You can't just think of your star employee like that!
After Misao calmed down a bit she walked back to the store and closed the door...
'Well I guess I can give it to him tomorrow so I might as well keep it.'
Seeing that everything was squared away, she did one last sweep of her store and left locking the door behind her...
Ichigo reappeared out of nowhere and he casually walked as if nothing has happened. He didn't really meant to vanish on Misao like that but he sensed a Hollow nearby and he needed to get to it quickly before it devoured a poor soul. After performing konso, he decided to walk for a bit before he went home and get dinner at the Chinese restaurant around the corner. It was a quiet night but his thoughts were interrupted when a body flew past him and hitting the post hard. He looked at the blond haired kid critically and it looks like he's not getting up anytime soon. By the entrance of the alley two thugs were kicking another person underneath them, his broken glasses were to the side. Instinct took over and he whistled to distract the thug in front of him...
The thug turned around and his face met fist. Blood and a couple of teeth flew out of his mouth as he staggered backward and hit his fellow from behind. Ichigo then grabbed a handful of the guy's hair and slammed his face on the wall. There was a sickening crunch as the thug slid down to the pavement.
Ichigo ran deeper into the alley and because of ingrained war instinct he moved his head to the side as a knife wielding thug lunged at him. As his hand moved past to his side, the strawberry grabbed his arm in an iron grip that made his opponent scream and drop his knife which clattered down the cement. The Substitute then pulled the guy's arm towards him making him lose his balance and butted the thug in the face. When he fell down, Ichigo's eyes widened as two more of the bastards were pinning down a young woman on the ground. Her blouse was in ruins and dumped to the side with only her bra remaining. The thug holding the woman's arms while the other loser was trying to lift her skirt up. The woman screamed again and valiantly tried to fight the much heavier assailant off her with no success. The man on top slapped her across the face and this was when Ichigo started seeing red, a rage he hasn't felt since the war...
"GET OFF HER YOU BASTARDS!"
Ichigo grabbed the thug on top the woman by the collar and tossed him aside. His then smashed his foot on the man's face, the force of the blow lifting his entire body and smashing onto the wall behind him. The Substitute then got tackled from behind and ran into the wall. He felt pain briefly from his side as the other thug slugs away at his unprotected sides. Ichigo slammed his entire body back giving himself room so he could go to the slightly to the side and grabbed the man's arm and then slammed an elbow on his stomach, grab the guy's head, flip him over, and slammed his fist to the man's face leaving him unconscious. He then turned towards the sobbing girl to see if she was alright...
"Shh, it's ok. It's over you're safe now."
The golden brown haired woman immediately went to him and cried on his broad chest. Finding the situation awkward, Ichigo blushed as she grabbed his shirt and sobbed uncontrollably. It didn't really help that she was beautiful even if she was a in a dirty disheveled state and that she was half naked! He didn't know what to do with his hands as had them up in the air so that he wouldn't do something inappropriate!
The strawberry awkwardly enclosed her in his embrace. Having calmed herself down after awhile, Ichigo just held her until she finally stopped crying. She let him go on her own accord and looked up to gaze at her hero who was looking up trying not to look at her for some reason and was blushing up a storm...
"What's wrong?" The woman asked curiously.
Ichigo pointed down at her while he covered his eyes...
'He's so cute...' Koko thought.
Then she realized that she only had a bra and the remnants of her skirt, she blushed and tried to cover herself...
The woman then looked up and it was her turn to blush furiously. He took off his buttoned up shirt and offered it to her. The sweet gesture however wasn't the only thing that was bothering her because she can't stop looking at his divine physique. She has never seen anything so hot and sexy in all her life. She nonetheless took his shirt and immediately wore it. It was a little big but at least she wasn't half naked anymore...
"Keep the shirt. Looks like you need it more than I do at the moment!" He said chuckling.
"No problem glad to be of help." He said. He then turned towards the entrance of the alley and saw the blond guy and and the guy with glasses putting themselves together. He also heard sirens as the police blockaded the entire area. A short salmon haired girl came running towards them.
"Well it's about time Miss Supersonic!" Koko said.
"I ran here as fast as I could!" She protested. She then noticed the stranger, stopped looking dumbstruck, and she too blushed furiously at his body. "Oh my..."
"It's ok Chinami, he's the one who saved our lives." Koko said smiling.
"Thank you for saving my friends, sir!" Chinami bowed.
"Not a problem." Ichigo said scratching his head.
After getting interviewed by the cops and hauling to thugs to jail, Ichigo went to the group who were being treated by medical personnel...
"Oi, you guys alright?"
"We'll live..." Koko said smiling.
The guy with the glasses -who was wrapped in bandages - from head to toe got up and mumbled something. He struggled and unwrapped the bandage covering his face...
"Thanks man, you were so damn awesome!"
"Um 2-D-kun you're like bleeding?" Chinami said blandly.
Blood was indeed squirting like a fountain in the side of his head. He started to go pale and fell unconscious...
"Uh, is that guy ok?" The orange haired man asked sweat dropping.
Then 2-D-kun suddenly got up and addressed them again...
"Yeah man, it takes more than this to take me down!"
"Alright, you need your rest there superhero!" The paramedics said.
"Ma'am were going to take this one to the emergency room and from the looks of things you and your friend there needs some medical attention as well."
Koko nodded and she went in the ambulance where Mitsuo was lying on a stretcher. According to the report apparently her childhood friend suffered a mild concussion and he too was being rushed through the emergency room for a evaluation of his injuries. Before she went up to Ichigo and without thinking, kissed him on the cheek. She was rather pleased when she looked at him again that he was blushing.
"What was that for?"
"I may never be able to repay the great debt I owe to you but I will try. Think of this as a down payment! Thank you very much for saving my friends. Thank you for saving my life..."
The orange haired man smiled and seeing it made her heart flutter and skip a beat. He was so damn gorgeous! His brown eyes hard and fierce like a proud warrior but the same time she could tell that there was kindness in them as well. Koko tried her best to just gaze upon his eyes but instead her roaming eyes took in his muscular physique and found herself mesmerized by its beauty, it's flawless proportionate perfection.
Koko found herself gawking at him...again. Embarrassed she stammered an apology...
"S-sorry, my mind just wondered for some reason..." Koko said sheepishly.
"It's ok, I think you have the right to do whatever you want after the ordeal you had today." The man replied.
"Ma'am we'll be leaving soon."
Koko said reluctantly. She then turn to him again and sneaked a peek at that sexy hot body one last time.
"Go on, go with them. You're friend needs you more than me." He said. Then in a playful manner. "Besides, I think I can take care of myself, considering I saved you and all that."
"My goodness. Look at the pretty Angel smile!" Ichigo complimented.
"Stop you!" Koko replied blushing.
"Common seriously you should go with the paramedics and get yourself looked at."
Koko felt the last vestiges of her feelings for Banri evaporate. She can't really say that this was love at first sight and she really didn't believe in such nonsense! But being with this kind handsome stranger who just saved her life made her think otherwise. She wanted to get to know this person better. Koko wanted to know what it's like being with this person. What are his likes and dislikes? What are his favorite foods? What does he do for fun and if she found out what it was, would she learn to like it as well? What does he want in life? His aspiration? His dreams? Is there something that scares him? But Koko knew that was a stupid question considering he single handedly took out five thugs with ease. A person like that wouldn't have the word fear in their vocabulary, right? In the end, she wanted to see if the feelings that she felt inside were justified. It has been half a year since she and Banri broke up and getting used to being without him by her side was torture of the most highest order. Still this was her reality and if she thinks at all that she has any chance with this man then perhaps she needed to rise up and stop being sorry for herself and make a leap of fate. Nothing will happen if her time stood still. Then she realized that she didn't know his name...
"So umm, what was your name again?"
In all the chaos Ichigo realized that he never did introduce himself to her...
"Kaga Koko, nice to meet you Kurosaki-san."
"Just call me Ichigo. I don't do that formality stuff."
"Then I will insist that you call me by my name as well!"
"Alright fair enough." Ichigo replied.
"So will I-I ever see you again?" Koko asked in apprehension. "I still need to pay my debts to you for saving my life and Kaga Koko likes to pay her debts!"
"I'll be around. I go to school here so there's a chance that I'll run into you again."
"Do you have a phone?" Koko asked suddenly.
"Yeah why?" Ichigo asked puzzled.
"Common just give it to me!" she insisted.
Koko dialed some numbers on his phone and immediately her cell phone rang. She then quickly went to his menu and added her name to his contacts. Ichigo couldn't believe the audacity of this girl but he had to admire her cleverness and tenacity.
"So here's my number so if you want to talk or hang out, just call me 'kay?"
"I'll keep that in mind..." Ichigo said amused. "Now go get yourself to the hospital and I'll talk to you later ok?"
"Promise?" Koko said pouting.
Koko hugged him for the last time and Ichigo assisted her to get on the ambulance. He closed the door and waved goodbye. Immediately he got a text...
'Thank you again for tonight! Goodnight! ;)'
Ichigo smiled. It was weird receiving text from a girl. Hopefully she will be alright...
'Let me know what happens ok? Goodnight.'
Ichigo put his phone in his pocket and stretched his arms wide while he walked home...
The next day…
'Good Morning Ichigo! You should go watch the news as soon as possible. Now you're famous! Can I have your autograph...lol'
When the strawberry got that text this morning, he didn't understand what the hell she was going on about. He was going to find out exactly that when he got to school later that morning. Ichigo couldn't help his brows twitching in annoyance. For some reason all the students were whispering as he walked past. The Substitute didn't know if he somehow got himself mixed in with the local gossip or it was nothing and that they were chitchatting about someone else. He's suppose to get used to the stares of suspicion and disapproval but being treated like he's some kind of delinquent just because of his hair color was really getting old! That was why he never socialized with any of his classmates outside of the school grounds other than being classroom or Kendo Club related. Otherwise he couldn't care less of nor does he gives two shits what they think.
Ichigo happened to pass the t.v. on the corner and then stopped at what he saw. There in bold letters: HERO OF TOKYO SAVES YOUNG WOMAN AND HER FRIENDS WHO SINGLE HANDEDLY TOOK DOWN THUGS! Somehow without him knowing someone took a video of him taking his shirt off -earning a few whistles and screams - and giving it to Koko. Then he saw Koko and himself walking as he held her protectively as the police arrived and hauled 5 individuals in police cars and drove off. At that point everyone were making cat calls and ladies were squealing like little school girls as his gesture of kindness seemed to have tugged at their heart strings while blushing furiously. Ichigo slapped his forehead. Really? He's been under the damn radar for 19 years and suddenly he becomes a celebrity as unintended as it may be? That's just swell dammit! Things got even more awkward when the newscaster interviewed Koko and her friends whom of course sang their praises of him. Koko especially saved the sweetest and heartfelt words for him. It actually made the ladies in the audience cry for some reason and it made Ichigo sweat drop to no end. Not wanting to attract anymore unwanted attention, he tried to casually walk away…
"Is that him?"
"Yeah, isn't he dreamy?" one girl said. "I never realized that a hero goes to our school!"
"I wonder if he has a girlfriend?"
Ichigo sighed and tried to hide his blushing face as he walked past the giggling women who waved at him…
Though it seemed the news of him rescuing Koko had instantly changed his reputation. He got a few friendly slaps on the back from strangers who used to frown upon him in the past and noticed people were giving him the thumbs up. The women who used to be rather intimidated of his "perceived" dangerous presence did a one eighty and suddenly they were trying to get his attention with all manner of feminine wiles that were available to them. He wondered though if the flirting and the accolades would stop after his five minutes of game was over? It would be nice being just a student in Tokyo University again and he rather become another anonymous face in the crowd. Then the inevitable happened as people he knew bombarded his phone with messages. Ichigo ignored his phone and just went to class as if nothing happened…
Koko emerged from automatic doors that closed behind her and was flanked by her parents. Her mom was crying mess when she got the call from the police. Otou-san however was a miraculous face of calm and serenity. Although she knew her father was just as distraught as Okaa-san was, she knew he expresses his feelings in a much more reserved manner. Still Koko knew she had a lot of things to be thankful for. If it wasn't for Ichigo intervening as he did then circumstances would have ended differently and she shuddered to think if he never arrived. She smiled and Koko couldn't help herself. She was thinking about Ichigo ever since the incident yesterday and she couldn't get him out of her mind…
"You seem to be happy about something…" Otou-san observed.
Koko blushed as she got caught but her embarrassment didn't diminish the happiness she felt. In a way, this potentially tragic situation led her to meeting Ichigo. It was inevitable or perhaps it was fate. Regardless of coincidences, it was the one thing she was glad that happened despite the incident.
"Maybe…" Koko said coyly.
Mika looked at her daughter and quirked her eyebrows…
"So Koko-chan tell us about this hero of yours!"
Koko told them - as she best remembered the events - what happened. She told them how he took down five guys with brutal efficiency, how he gave up his shirt - which she was still wearing - to save her from potential embarrassment and scandal, and how he stayed and kept her company while she and her friends were getting patched up. She described how fearless he was taking the thugs down. How sweet and thoughtful giving her his shirt. How she felt warm and protected as he held her in his strong muscular arms but she kept this thought privately and instead said about his thoughtful kindness as he urged her to go the the hospital with her friends…
"Seems to be an upstanding young man." Otou-san observed.
"He is an Angel and you should be thankful for him being there Koko-chan!" Mika said.
"There are no words to describe how thankful I am Okaa-san." Koko began. "I am already thinking of ways how to pay a debt that I know I can never repay."
"Just don't drive him nuts like your other boyfriends, ok?" Otou-san said in a strait face. "Don't want the poor guy get scarred for life because of your craziness!"
Koko appropriately enough was scandalized. It didn't help that Okaa-san was giggling as well…
"I-I did not drive Mitsuo and Banri nuts!"
"Actually dear, you did…" Mika replied.
"Okaa-san you too?"
"Sorry but it's true…" she said. "Oh don't worry, I'm sure that if he can beat a bunch of thugs then I'm sure he can handle you fine dear!"
Koko walked a little faster with her cheeks puffed up while her parents made fun of her. But despite their teasing, she knew that if she was going to love again and perhaps mend her broken heart. Maybe Ichigo would be the one to try…
'Third times the charm as they always say!' she said smiling.
To be continued...