Unnatural Selection

It's a Tuesday when his life takes a new, unsuspected turn. This time is not a tiny woman who brings the change, which is good as he doesn't appreciate much her explanations or her temper. However, it's still someone familiar as Kisuke is the one who does it. The ex-captain's got a penchant to mess with mind-shattering stuff and then include Ichigo in his planes without a by your leave. He's used to it by now. Or so he thought.

Still. Does he have to launch that weird paintball to his wall just to leave a message, again?

He glowers at the blood red paint slowly dripping on his wall but doesn't react in any other way. He simply waits for it to expand and show the message, hoping his dad is the one who sees this murder-scene-like message.

'Meet me at the store, immediately'

'PS. Your humor still sucks'

His eyebrow twitches.

"Doesn't look like a murder scene, my ass," he mutters with a defiant glare but does change from his pajamas to a more comfortable set of clothes. It's night so while he doesn't need to leave a message to his sisters that he's going to leave, he still does because he doesn't know when he will return and this month is supposed to be one to spend it with his family, not with whatever Kisuke wants him to deal with.

With a deep breath, he concentrates on the feeling of his reiatsu and jumps. He's used to the feeling of his reiatsu intimately, but it's still a bit difficult to use it while still wearing his body. In his spiritual form, it's as easy as breathing, but without it, it's... weird. Unlike his shinigami form, he feels the way his muscles ache at not doing any stretching before trying large jumps. It's not painful, just a bit uncomfortable as it is something he doesn't do often. The first times he couldn't even do a simple shunpo without breaking the floor he was standing on, but it's been almost a year since he started practicing, ever since Kisuker commented how he could do the same while wearing his gigai and rubbing it to his face. He's better now, if only so he could make the man eat his words.

He can summon his sealed sword, too, which is good but his body can't work with bankai without it hurting like hell. The human body was not meant to support that amount of spiritual pressure.

Not that it worries him; if he needs it, he can just ditch his body.

'You just jinxed it, king,' Zangetsu says with that creepy laugh of his.

"I did not," he says aloud, already close to his destination. It takes him two more jumps to reach the store. As soon as his feet touch the floor, the front door slides open. Kisuke standing is behind with his fan nowhere in sight.

"Finally arrived, I see. You're getting slower, Ichigo-kun."

Ichigo grumbles as he approaches, something along the lines of 'damned hat-wearing bastards' and 'not at your beck and call' leaving his lips. "You didn't even warn me, what I was supposed to do?"

The fan appears as the man lets him in inside the store. Its presence relaxing him. "My, my, Ichigo-kun, aren't we grumpy today? And I preparing you a gift for starting college."

He raises an eyebrow, unimpressed. "I started six months ago."

"Yes, well, you know how we old men are, always forgetting the important things."

"... Right."

With a roll of his eyes, he goes to the small living room. He takes the chance to glance at his surroundings, noting that anything hasn't changed, not that he expected it to change but it's been almost half a year since he went inside the store. When he reaches the small table, he sits on the tatami floor, legs crossed. "Well? What did you want to talk to me?"

The man sits in front of him, pulling out a paper from thin air. "As I said before, this is a gift, Ichigo-kun."

"Yeah, and I don't believe you," he answers back but accepts the paper. It's in English, something about a conference about diseases, in Stuttgart, Germany. There's also a ticket or something like that for a gala on a museum. It sounds interesting if he's honest with himself. Also, suspicious as fuck.

He looks at the date. "This thing is for tomorrow."

"Today, actually. It's already that late." He makes appear some other ticket the same way he appeared the other stuff. "Your plane goes out in two hours. Enough to take some clothes."

"If you're that sure that I'm going then you've got another one co-"

"Ichigo," Kisuke says, with that tone of voice that means that this is serious. His fan is nowhere to see again. It worries him and he tries to search for some reassurance in the man's eyes but he can't see his eyes because of the shadow of his hat. "It's a nice opportunity to broaden your horizons."

"Are we still doing this subtle manipulation shtick? Why you don't simply tell me what I'm needed for," Ichigo huffs, mostly for show as he tries to ignore the tightness on his chest at that thought. That they are going back to the old cloak and dagger stuff, hiding and not trusting.

Kisuke is silent for a moment, looking at him. The hat is still shading him but he can see how his gaze softens, eyes almost fond. He finally sighs, taking the hat off. "In this era of technology, I've many eyes around, Ichigo. I'd be surprised if something escaped my notice."

"Do you hear yourself when you talk? You sound like a creep, Kisuke," he says but there's a smile on his lips.

Kisuke smiles back, a real smile. It makes the tightness come back but this time is different. That thing about distance making the heart grow fonder? Seems to be true.

Of course, right when he thinks on how much he had missed this meddling old man, the show owner ruins it by looking down in what looks like exaggerated embarrassment. "Oh my, you flatter me, Ichigo-kun."

He rolls his eyes, exasperated. "Cut the crap. Tell me what's the problem."

Immediately, as if disregarding a cheap suit, Kisuke changes expression. Now, he's serious again.

"The Tesseract is a weapon of immeasurable power and it was stolen. I've a clue of what the thief is going to try to do as he needs a couple of things to accomplish his goals. And one of those things is iridium, which can be easily found in the gala you'll be attending."

Ichigo looks at the tickets. "And the conference?"

The fan is back.

"Why, to pass the time, of course!"

Ichigo punches him on the face. He's so satisfied to see his nose bleed, "No jokes, Kisuke!"

When he finishes nursing his nose, he adds. His voice coming out muffled. "What I said about being a gift is true."

"And how do you know he will appear at the gala and not before? Anyways, why are you involving yourself with all of this. I thought you were more interested in spiritual matters."

The blood disappears, his nose magically healed. "The thief is arrogant, he will want to make an entrance. And to answer your second question, well, that's complicated."

"Make it less complicated then."

Kisuke sighs, looking at him like he is a cute puppy bashing its head against a wall, repeatedly. It disturbs him. "The thief is not from this planet, Ichigo. And when I say that, I mean, he's from a world not connected to ours, unlike Hueco Mundo. The Tesseract is also an ancient object, or at least I'm sure it is. I'll need to study to confirm my theory."

"If it's so important, why am I the only one being debriefed?"

"Shinigami can't intervene in the deals of the living, you know this. But you're alive, aren't you? That's a nice loophole, don't you think so?"

So, it's something that has nothing to do with the Shinigami. He doesn't know if he should feel reassured or not at that blatant confirmation. He goes for no, because if Kisuke is trying to reassure him and that means this is no joke.

"That means if I should act it has to be in a way that doesn't involve Soul Society at all."

He sees one of his eyes twinkling in a creepy way. "How lucky you are, then. Being able to summon your zanpakuto at will even with your body running interference."

He narrows his eyes. He doesn't believe for a second that is luck. Most likely Kisuke knew something was going to happen. After all, he was the one that mentioned the idea to him. "Yeah, lucky. Don't you think this luck of mine will make you talk a bit more, do you?"

He receives an enigmatic smile in return, one that says 'What would be the fun in that?'

He knows him too well. So, with a sigh, he says, "Two hours, huh?"


And the fan is back, again.

This is going to be a long day, isn't it?

The conference goes well, suspiciously enough. He's tense as a bowstring all the time, ready to attack at the slightest provocation. It makes it hard to enjoy or learn anything but he manages to pay enough attention to learn a couple things. The gala is next and that too goes well, too. It's more of an exposition which makes it less awkward for him as the best clothes he brought were enough to pass as formal. A simple white dress shirt and a pair of slacks.

Things turn less pleasant when the commotion starts. He calls it a commotion because that's how it begins. A man is the one who screams first, a woman coming next, both yelling for someone to call an ambulance.

Ichigo runs towards the sound as panic spreads, hand going to his spiritual phone, the one which thanks to Kisuke can make calls from everywhere free of charge. Thankfully, the number for ambulance is always the same as it always configures itself depending of the place. His German is non-existent so he hopes they speak in English.

He receives an answer just in time to see what's all about. The spirit he sees close to the body of a man lying on the floor tells him they won't be of much use but he still explains the problem. Luckily the lady on the phone understands him. Not so luckily, someone died on his watch and that's inexcusable.

Looking around he realizes there's no other injured person on sight, which just means he needs to locate the culprit. He thinks of first scanning the place to investigate if there is a path of spirits that could lead him to the killer, but it's easier than that. There's a great number of spirits, all congregated on someone alive and walking.

For a brief moment he considers ditching his body but it's only a fleeting thought. Shinigami can't involve themselves on the affairs of human as Kisuke has told him and while he also knows it'll be almost impossible to find someone to believe him when he points to the killer… well, he's never said he's stopped being reckless.

He's again running but this time he's going outside. And this time it's worse. There's no panic but it's mostly because everyone is paralyzed in fear, there's a miasma of pressure surrounding the place not unlike killing intent that has made everyone stop in place. A small group of people are kneeling, all in front of the... man.

No, he's not a man. Kisuke said he's an alien. And he can see what he meant. Not because of his strange clothes and helmet, but for his reiatsu. It's different, dense like a shinigami's but not. His spiritual ribbon is a whitish blue with hints of gold, which is a first.

If he were Kisuke, he would be curious, intrigued of this new specie.

He's not, so the only thing he has to worry about is controlling his anger. Because that's what he feels right now.

He doesn't know what this alien is saying as he can't hear him well but he can see the fearful looks of those around him. He's thinking in how to approach the situation in a way that won't reveal his powers when an old man stands up, posture defiant in a way it's painfully familiar to look at.

The horn-guy is lifting up a scepter, pointing at the old man's direction, energy rolling off of its tip in preparation of an attack. He's thinking 'fuck it all', ready to shunpo when he senses another presence falling down to protect the old man. A circular blue and red shield stops the attack. A man dressing oddly is the one behind it.

It takes him a moment to realize the uniform he's wearing is a Captain America outfit. Which is… well.

He shakes his head.

Not the time.

Some type of plane comes down and a feminine voice comes out of it, "Loki, drop the weapon and stand down."

So the guy's name is Loki, he briefly thinks as he sees the bastard shot at the plane a type of energy he's unfamiliar with. The Captain-dude starts attacking at the same time and a battle between both of them starts. It gives the people around the chance to escape and they take it, running out in clear fright.

It makes his choice clear.

Making sure there are no cameras near, he cloaks his body with a thin layer of reiatsu. It's a perfect technique for him because it doesn't need control, just a stupid amount of power which he has in spades. it'll make him disappear for a couple seconds, enough for what he wants. However, the spike of energy seems to have brought the attention of Loki as he turns his head to his direction. Luckily for Ichigo, he's already on the sky thanks to a reitasu-powered jump.

Before he can get a good look at him, the Captain-dude takes the opportunity to ram his shield on the other's chest, distracting him away from him. Taking advantage of that, Ichigo holds a hand on top of his face in a claw-like fashion and pulls out his hollow mask.

The brief pulse of energy that comes out, and he still can't control, makes everyone stop, probably in surprise, before he can rein the amount of power output from the technique.

The layer of reiatsu covering his body shatters like glass because of it.

Taking out zangetsu's sealed sword, Ichigo goes to where Loki is pressing his scepter on the head of Captain dude and parries it away. It makes Loki back off, no quite tumbling back. Ichigo presses the lack of footing with a slash to his torso but the other is capable enough to block it.

He doesn't seem surprised by his strength as he thinks he should be, oddly enough, but that doesn't deter Ichigo. He pushes him back with the flat of his sword and follows with another strike.

That's when the music starts.

He's for a second caught flat-footed but he recovers quickly enough to slash the body behind him. It ends being an illusion. Without a glance back, he blocks another attack, annoyed. He hates illusions.

Then iron man appears in all his red and gold glory, surprising Loki with a blast of energy coming out his hands. Ichigo uses that chance to use Hado #1: Sho. He tries using the least amount of energy possible to it as he doesn't want to overpower it and break his arms but it seems that he still uses too much as the alien's arms snap sharply to his back, a painful grunt escaping him.

"Oops," he breaths out, placing Zangetsu on his sheath.

(He has a sheath now. A year has passed since it first appeared and it still weirds him out.)

"Nice moves there. What did you say that was your name?" Iron man aka Anthony Stark says. It makes him turn around to have a better look of the man.

"I didn't say," Ichigo answers, his voice coming garbled and echoing as it always does when he's using his mask. The sound is foreboding, instantly creeping out whoever that hears it. Ironman acts like others who hears it for the first time. That is, by stepping back, hands up in a way that makes clear he's prepared to attack.

Ichigo lips twitch behind the mask in amusement.

"That's a... nice voice you've got there. Did you create it?"

There's honest curiosity in his mechanical voice so he most likely thinks Ichigo's own voice is made like his own.

"No. It's natural."

"Natural, right, buddy. I'm Tony Stark, by the way. Call me Tony."

Before the other can say more, a voice calls out. "Stark."

Stark tilts his head in the direction of captain-dude, his eyes never leaving his though. "I'm making friends here, capsicle. All good on your side of things?"

"Agent Romanoff is taking care of things." Captain-dude never lowers his shield from his side, but he at least holds his hand out for him. "I'm captain Steve Rogers, son. And you are...?"

He thinks about it. He's not that reckless to reveal his name but he doesn't know how to introduce himself either. He's a lot of things. So while inwardly shrugging, he takes his hand and gives it a shake. "I'm a Vizard. Nice to meet you."

"No name then?" Asks Stark while Rogers mutters with narrowed eyes, "Vizard?"

"I don't think I'm allowed to disclose more," says Ichigo looking around, at the people that are slowly surrounding him with phones out, cameras registering everything. He shakes his head. "I should go, but..."

He looks at the man still trapped in his hadou. If he can be called man. His reiatsu is completely different to what he's used to. Not to mention the color of his ribbon. "He's not human," he ends up saying.

Steve's eyes sharpen. "How do you know that?"

He shrugs, trying to find a way to explain reiatsu without saying the word. "His... spiritual energy is odd. Alien."

Now it's Tony the one giving him an odd look. "Spiritual energy, huh?"

"His soul is denser, different texture, color. Others would know how to better explain it."

A petite, deadly woman walks close. "Rogers, Stark. We need to go." She then looks at him. "You should come, too. The director wants to talk to you."

He shouldn't go. He knows shinigami don't mess with the affairs of the living for a reason. A good reason.

… He doesn't remember the reason.

Not that it matters much. He's alive and he's given up his substitute shinigami title. He's not involved in shinigami matters, anymore. Not until he dies, at least.

He glances at the plane, the one containing Loki and thinks of all the souls still following the man around, filled with rage and a step away from turning into Hollows.

Looking at the woman, agent Romanoff, he nods. "I'll go."

Tony pats his back. "Good to have you, smiles."

A/N: What's this? Another story? You bet your ass. Though it's mostly a plot bunny. I only have two chapters done, so. If someone wants to adopt it, I'm game.