I own nothing.
It was finished; the Final Getsuga Tenshou had brought an end to Aizen. Its power had overwhelmed him, splitting him in half and ripping his spiritual body to pieces and destroying the jewel that had made him into a pseudo-god.
But as his vision started to fail and his spiritual body began to fall to pieces from his own power destroying him, Ichigo couldn't help but feel like something was wrong. He had won, hadn't he? But this wasn't what winning was supposed to be like.
To lose was for everything you hold true to be stripped from you, and to win was to hold onto what you hold dear and to protect those close to you. It wasn't like life and death. It was something far more important. Winning had always been absolutely everything.
Ichigo Kurosaki couldn't understand it. His family and friends were safe, the world would continue to spin, he had put a stop to Aizen's evil. And yet... he didn't feel like he had won.
He was dying. Why had living never felt so important to him until now? Living had only ever been an extension of winning. Of keeping safe his family, and his extended family, those who were close to his heart. He only needed to live long enough to save them.
He had died before. When he had lost to Captain Kuchiki, he had died. When Kenpachi had overpowered him, he had died. Ulquiorra had killed him twice over. He had always continued, pushing beyond the edge of death in order to protect those who he needed to protect. But now, everyone was safe, and his body was falling to pieces, far beyond even Orihime's powers to repair.
A true realization fell down on his head as he lay there, his body and sword disolving in the air. 'I don't want to die.' Something that would have been simple to your even most mindless creature hit him like a hammer. He had died to keep his family, but with him dead, he would lose them. This dying was beyond the normal state of death. His very spirit was falling to pieces. Reincarnation would be needed to put them back together. There would be no Soul Society for him.
'If... I had another chance... I'd make sure that... I would live.'
Complete oblivion. The lack of sight, sound or smell was suffocating. Ichigo was feeling himself go insane. So this was what total death felt like. Hell would have been better. At least in hell he would be able to fight, to struggle against the weight of reality pressing down on him. But in this vacuum, there was nothing left to fight. He didn't even have a body to fight with... no... wait.
He could feel his limbs. They were heavy and numb, but they were there. He had a sense of touch. A body that his soul was attached to. Sound... there was a compressing sound. It was somewhere nearby...
Ichigo pushed out his arms, trying to find where this sound was coming from. He's fingers touched a warm surface in front of him, his legs finding the same behind. 'What the hell...' He was suspended in a flood. "It's almost like I'm in a... am I in a... oh god...' The prison he found himself in was getting small and the former Soul Reaper tried to will himself unconscious as he was living through the most horrifying thing imaginable.
He was being born.
As his pale golden eyes struggled to open and he took his first breath, he gave a cry of pure terror. Those last few moments would haunt him for the rest of his new life.
Ichi Guo sat at the water's edge, his eyes were closed, and his breaths were steady as he focused outside himself to the world around him. He could feel them. The spirits of the individual fish swimming about in the water, but the sense was blurred. He was finding it impossible to untangle the mass of spirit ribbons, to track a single one to its source. To predict the fishes moments.
Letting out his breath, he squeezed his eyes shut harder, trying to get his sixth sense to sharpen. But rather than feeling the individual fish, he felt another presences standing behind him. It was someone he recognized. "Is there something you want, Uncle?" He said, not changing his position on the ground.
The elder of the village was informally referred to as 'uncle' in this land that he had found himself reborn into. Some kind of show of respect. Though it always felt unnatural coming from the boy's mouth and it must have sounded unnatural too, given how people usually reacted.
But the elder Chief, Juo Shin, wasn't one of them, he merely moved down next to Ichi Guo and sat beside him. "Why aren't you are your home? Did they send you away?"
Ichi Guo shook his head. "No, they didn't. But there isn't anything I can do for my momma. It is best for everyone if I am out of the way, even if I want to be there." He said calmly.
"So, you do understand what is going on, don't you." Juo Shin said with a sigh. Juo Shin was old by the standards of this world's humans, being around sixty seven years of age. His hair was grayed and receding and a beard covered his chin. He looked like the image of a comical imprint of an elder from a cartoon rather than a real person. But rather than being the complaining old man, he was understanding and calm. Ichi Guo didn't know what kind of life the man had, but it had given him tired eyes.
"My momma is giving birth. I will have a half brother or sister if nothing goes wrong. Twins if fortune smiles." Ichi Guo said, he opened his eyes, trying to focus on the fish at the moment was impossible. "But things aren't going well. Most likely, momma will die and the baby too. It has only been seven months and two weeks into the pregnancy. Everything is happening too early, and momma has been showing signs of illness."
Juo Shin winced at the sound of the boy's voice. "Did someone tell you this?" He asked, Ichi Guo shook his head. The old man sighed. "You are the strangest two-year-old I have ever seen. But you're right, for the most part. You know, this might be the last chance you get to be with your mother in this life."
Ichi Guo bent inwards, pulling in his knees. "I don't like feeling helpless. How can I just stand there with her and watch her go through that kind of pain, when I can't help her?" He didn't want to have to watch a second mother die.
"Ichi Guo, you are young, so I don't know if you can understand this, but if you do not stay by her side right now, you could regret it for the rest of your life. Trust me when I say... that is a long long time." The old man said, he lifted up one liver spot covered hand and placed it on the boy's head. Ichi Guo closed his eyes again but this time it was to hold back tears that wished to form in his eyes. He didn't trust himself to speak so he just nodded. "Come now, I will go with you."
Ichi Guo could feel the man's free hand using his sixth sense and grabbed it without looking. It wasn't until he knew that the man's back was turned to him that he let his eyes open and let the tears quickly move before wiping them away. He felt a slight shift in the old man's spirit and a cane appeared in his hand as he walked forward.
Ichi Guo had long since gotten used to this world, though at first the sight of essence spirits had shocked him. And though its name, Soul Land, had earned a raised eyebrow from the reincarnated reaper, it did seem fitting.
In this world, every person was born with a spirit essence, which was either an object of some kind, or the spirit of an animal that was buried inside of them. And they could bring them out into the physical world at will, or in the case of the animal spirits, channel the power of the spirit into their body. The type was mostly hereditary and because of this, so was ones station in life, to an extent. Because if someone was born with a pot for a spirit essence, that man would become a cook, whether he wanted to or not.
Juo Shin had been a shepherd all his life, but his essence spirit, a shepherd's staff, still seemed rather fitting, now that he was the leader of the village. Ichi Guo had not gained his essence spirit yet, as it happened during a ceremony after the child turned six. But in his soul he knew what he would find; the slayer of the imagined god, Zangetsu. He hadn't heard a whisper from the old man since he was reincarnated, but he knew that the spirit was there, only waiting for him to be ready for it.
The village wasn't large, few people came this close to the forest, and most of them didn't stay for long. The people who lived there depended on the trade with those who ventured into the forest's depths to hunt essence monsters in order to get by. But this meant that it only took around ten minutes to walk from one end of the village to the other. Meaning it was only around five minutes until he started to hear his new mother's labored cries.
The house was nothing special. Just a single story with two small rooms, one for food and the other being living space. Usually Ichi Guo didn't even bother sleeping there, for two main reasons. First, it was drafty and offered no protection from the elements. The other reason was his step-father.
When Ichi Guo stepped into the house, his step-father, Lang Lee, was sitting at the table, with a frustrated expression on his face as his wife's screams of pain echoed from the living quarters, were the midwives were trying their best to save Ichi Guo's mother.
Lang Lee was not a built man; he was lean and had black hair. The man had been born with an essence spirit suited to combat, iron knuckle platted gloves, and power to go with it. The difference was like the difference between a normal soul in the Soul Society, and one that could produce spiritual pressure. No matter how faint, it made them stronger than the others.
Such people would train themselves to use their power and would become something called a 'Spirit Master' which was similar to a Soul Reaper, only less organized.
But he failed in his training, never breaking past the fifteenth rank, or level, on the scale of zero to a hundred, a pitiful score. So he stopped trying to advance as a spirit master and became a 'guard' in the small town, accepting both his wages as a spirit master and that of a guard, even though all he did was sit around scratching his ass all year, round as far as Ichi Guo could tell.
Lang Lee's mouth twitched at the sight of Ichi Guo, but he didn't say anything with the village elder in the room.
He hated Ichi Guo. The boy knew it, and he understood. The man only wanted his pretty mother; he didn't want to have to deal with a brat kid. Not to mention how strange that kid was. Ichi Guo hadn't lost a single ounce of the intensity of his last life's eyes, and he didn't act like a two year old child. It was the reason why he refused to let the boy take on the family name, and Ichi Guo had to make one up for himself. Something that he actually liked.
His given name being Guo was supposed to have been a slap at him, as the name referred to bones or worthlessness. But once he was able to choose his own surname, Ichi, it made his new name sound close enough to Ichigo for him. Especially since almost everyone always said the whole thing every time, unless they called him Xiao Guo, meaning junior in a familiar fashion, the same way Guo-kun would have back in his first world.
"Come on, Ichi Guo." Juo Shin said pulling him past his step-father and towards the door. "Ichi... if something goes wrong... you might be staying with me for a while." The old man whispered, it was his way of saying that, without Ichi Guo's mother about, he would more than likely not be allowed to live there anymore.
"I know, Uncle." Ichi Guo said back as the door opened as he walked into the room with the screaming woman and frantic midwives who couldn't even really call themselves healers.
Ichi Guo hardly recognized his mother, her face contorted with pain, the tears on her cheeks wronging her looks. The beautiful black hair she was so proud of was knotted and thrown about her as she kicked and writhed. Ichi Guo could see the blood dripping out between her legs. She was bleeding more than she should have been. By the looks of it, nearly a quarter liter had been lost already. Ichi Guo could feel her energy weaken by the second. Her spirit's attachment to the body straining. She wouldn't make it.
Ichi Guo closed his eyes and swallowed hard. He felt Juo Shin giving him a slight push on the back, leading him forward and making him grab onto his mother's hand. She didn't even realize he was there.
"She's been like this for three hours now. I can't think of anything to do." One of the midwives said. She was tired, physically and emotionally drained. Regardless what people said, the average labor is not to horrific an event, but when things went wrong... "We don't even know if the baby is still alive or if it has already died."
"She's alive." Ichi Guo mumbled. He could sense it, the baby's soul was clinging onto life much harder than the mother's. But at this rate, neither would live long. Old memories drifted through his mind. Memories of his father from his past life telling him about the medical profession.
During conception, blood is used to coat the surface where the eggs settle. It acts the same way as spreading out fertilizer in a garden. Usually, everything is fine, the amount of blood is trivial, and is washed out every month if the egg doesn't fertilize, 'that time of the month'. But occasionally the blood doesn't stop coming, it spreads over the wall of the uterus and can cause problems. Especially when it blocks the exit for the baby, or it cuts off the air supply. By the looks of it, both were happening, causing the baby to try to fight its way out before drowning in blood while the mother bled out between her legs.
All this knowledge came back to the child, but none of it did him any good. He was just a two year old, and this town didn't have a doctor that could remedy the problem. There had been a way for him to help, but he only knew a little theory behind it.
Kaidou, the way of healing, a branch of Kidou that uses spiritual energy to stimulate the body in such a way as to promote proper healing and the creation of new cells. It had to do with the natural flow of energy inside of the body, but Ichi Guo didn't know it. What a waste all his fighting in his old life seemed like at that moment. Why had he not studied medicine, or learned magic? Fat lot of good being able to break someone fingers did him in this situation.
He... he could try to sense the connections.
No, that was stupid. He wasn't a genius, he had just been a hard working idiot who could throw a good punch. He wasn't Yoruichi, he wasn't Urahara, Uryuu, Rukia, dammit, even Chad had more skill in sensing and controlling energy than he did.
Even so, he had to try something.
Reaching out with his free hand he placed it on his mother's swollen belly and took a deep breath, trying to ignore how she writhed beneath his fingers. He needed to focus. He needed to push his knowledge and skills beyond the limits that held him back. He reached out, finding her fading white spirit ribbon, and then he slowly began to unwind it.
Failure after failure, each time he thought he had managed it, the delicate ribbon would tear and fall to pieces. But eventually he managed to hold the threads together, and the connections became clearer and clearer.
His mental eye worked on mapping it out and memorizing it as fast as he could. He might not have been a genus like Uryuu, but he had always had a knack for memorization. Then came the hard part, or at least, the part that would be hardest to explain later.
His small hand slipped out of his mother's crushing grip and he kept one finger extended, a finger that began to glow. "What the devil..?" The whisper hardly made it through the woman's screams and Ichi Guo disregarded it completely as his finger met the needed points.
First thing he had to do was stop the bleeding, reinforcing the blood pressure in important regions and cutting down the flow to others. Next would be delivering the baby by removing the obstruction and tension of the muscles that weren't ready for the child. Finally, he had to figure out how to stimulate the creation of more blood cells.
By the time it was over, the child's limited energy reserves were running out and he was struggling to maintain consciousness. It was only the soft cries of a baby that were keeping him awake. "Ichi Guo... would you like to say hello to your new baby sister?" The elder said, lowering a bundle to where Ichi Guo could see it.
Ichi Guo stared at the small baby. She looked so innocent. She was to be his sister. Memories flooded his mind, memories of Ichigo's family. Of the people he had died to protect. The ones who had given his first life meaning. This was to be his real new begging. Something for him to strive for.
He reached out and stroked the baby's cheek as it cried. "Don't worry... you're safe. I'll protect you..." The baby had yet to be named, and her parents would probably be the ones to pick it. But Ichi Guo wanted to have a name for his sister. He considered naming her after Yuzu or Karin, but that felt wrong, choosing one over the other of the twins from his old life. So he decided to name her after his unofficial sister. "...Rukia." He said before fainting in his seat.
One of the midwives went over to Juo Shin's side. "Elder. The boy used spirit control. A two year old." The woman said in shock.
"Hush." Juo Shin snapped as he put the baby into a waiting crib. The mother had passed out the moment the baby had been delivered and the father would be in at any second. The last thing they needed was for that man to know about his step-son. "Do not speak of it to anyone. There is still four more years until he turns six. Let him have some time."
Juo Shin moved over to the exhausted child and pushed a hand through his orange hair. "You really are something, Ichi Guo. You really are."
Those who were born with any spiritual power above others were not free. Not in the country of Terra Duo. They would take him away to be trained. They would turn him into a soldier for the Holy Empire of the Spirit Hall. Juo Shin wouldn't be able to hide it forever, but he could at least buy the boy a little time to have a short childhood before they found him. He would not let them take him from his family yet.
He didn't realize that childhood was something long gone to the boy. Nor that his mother would not remain loyal to her son, as she choose her husband's stable life over the boy, kicking him out of their house just months after he had saved her life. Beautiful as she had been, Lang Du, had been a whore, trading sexual favors for her livelihood. It was the origin of Ichi Guo and the reason she married Lang Lee.
However, this would not stop Ichi Guo and his half-sister from becoming close. She was to be his family, his reason for strength. The beginning of what would one day grow to be the legend of the Reaper Douluo.
I've been reading a Manhua (Chinese equivalent of a manga or comic) called Douluo DuLa or Soul Land, and thought it would be an interesting kind of thing to do a crossover for. Not that anyone would have read it. They don't even have it as an option for stories on this site as far as I can tell. But it is actually a ready good story and has like 160 something chapters up right now.
Go check it out.
It has a fanfic like premise, but in a good way.