Disclaimer: not mine

Chapter 15

Rukia moved away to let the two Captains have their reunion, moving to where Ichigo was. She wasn't so sure about ex-Captain Urahara, there was just something about him, even if he had helped her Captain. Ichigo…felt safe, even if he wasn't Kaien. Would her niisama hate her for that? Ichigo had killed him after all, was the reason she'd been removed from the family and even her position in her squad. So why did she feel drawn to his side? He touched her shoulder and she shifted even closer.

"You okay?" Ichigo murmured, leaning down some to whisper to her.

She nodded, she was fine, just overwhelmed and so unsure of her future. Even as a child she'd had more faith in what would happen. She couldn't just stay at the base forever, could she? But how could she return to Soul Society? Someone there had been poisoning her Captain for longer than she'd been a Shinigami. The experiments that had created the Visored…what had been the point? It wasn't like they had some enemy they needed more power to face. Until the war had begun, they'd been handling the Hollows just fine.

She didn't want to join them…did she?

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Jūshirō was shocked when Shunsui appeared with Shinji in his sickroom. He wasn't shocked when he was hugged tightly, he must have been terrified with his disappearance. "I'm sorry," he whispered.

"It's not your fault," his oldest friend rebuked him with a shaky grin. "I'm just glad you're in one piece."

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Ichigo watched them for a few moments before slipping away since Rukia was okay. Seeing the two of them…so much like the men he remembered… he left the building and made his way to the roof, staring up at the sky, lost in thought.

"And what deep thoughts plague you today?"

Ichigo snorted but looked over as Kisuke joined him on the roof. "You left them alone?"

"We are sitting right above them, we would sense anything they tried," he shrugged.

Wow, he had high opinions of Ichigo's ability to sense things. "Do you think they will?"

"At the moment? No," Kisuke shook his head and then Ichigo could feel him staring. "Are they very different to the versions you know?"

He froze, feeling his inner spirits do so as well, knowing it was as good as announcement to the other man that he was right but unable to help it. This was why he had tried to keep his distance from his first Shinigami teacher.

"Well…that was one theory," Kisuke admitted, staring at him. "I see," he was actually rendered speechless for once and Ichigo didn't have any comeback.

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He honestly hadn't believed it would be possible, it had just been a wild theory. Ichigo was truly from an alternate world. It was the realm of fiction, of Orihime's imagination, not reality. And yet…it would explain so much about him. "What is your name Ichigo?" he asked quietly, setting up a barrier kido around them to ensure their privacy.

Ichigo stared at him, eyes wider than normal, looking poised to bolt.

"You are a Shiba, aren't you?" he asked carefully.

"Technically," the young man finally whispered, looking away. "Didn't meet them till I was fifteen, and I didn't know we were related for a while after."

"Oh?"

"Dad…took Mum's name when they married."

Kisuke closed his eyes briefly before staring at him. "You're a Kurosaki." That explained even more.

Sure enough, Ichigo nodded.

"Isshin and Masaki's son," he continued, and the boy nodded again. That explained why he hadn't met the clan till he was a teenager. Unless Isshin hadn't been in hiding? Though why else would he have taken Masaki's name? "How many of us did you know?"

"All of the leaders here. It's…strange. I went to school with Chad, Inoue and Uryū, we were the same age. And…my sisters are the age they were when I was fifteen."

"It is not so strange that time may flow differently between various realities when there can be time differences between the three realms, when they were separate at least. If you knew us all, does that mean the experiments took place in your world as well?"

"No, at least, not this way," Ichigo grimaced, shifting uncomfortably. "Do you really want to know?"

"Perhaps if we understand the differences we can find a way to solve our problems."

"Do you know what a Hōgyoku is?" Ichigo asked, and Kisuke felt a pit of dread…and curiosity.

"It is theoretical, I stopped the research."

That got a bitter laugh. "Wish the Geta-Boshi I knew had had that much sense. He didn't stop, not until it was too late. Except he wasn't the only one to make one…Aizen did too but his was incomplete."

Kisuke was not sure he liked where Ichigo's explanation was leading but he remained quiet.

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"The 'experiments' that created the Visored weren't sanctioned, it was his pet project. If you hadn't followed the team out into one of the further Districts, they would have all died," Ichigo explained what he knew of the Visored's creation and then Kisuke's banishment and escape to the world of the living. He spoke of how his Dad ended up there as well, his family and friends, her death…and then how he'd met Rukia.

It was hard, talking of happier days, not that he'd known they were back then. They'd all been so innocent, even some of the centuries old Shinigami…because they hadn't seen real war. He tried to gloss over his own parts because they just weren't important. Yeah, he'd often been the one to end things, but a lot of people made it possible.

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Hearing just how wrong Sōsuke could have gone was shocking in some ways but in others….not so much. It was intriguing that Sōsuke could have created one of those stones when they worked in such different areas. That he could have been driven so far…they had a reason to fight, their survival, the Aizen that Ichigo had fought for so long seemed to have had no real reason for starting a war. Had he truly become so power hungry?

The thought of Soul Society wiped out completely…he only wanted the government replaced or forced to peace. The general population did not deserve to be wiped out, most of them were anti-Soul Society themselves due to how they were treated by the government. Unfortunately, training them into an army wasn't an option.

"Will you tell your Father?" he asked.

"He's not my Father, mine is years dead," Ichigo denied. He rested his arms on his knees, staring out in the direction of what had been the centre of town. "What would it take to end the war?"

That got his attention. It was tempting, he could tell the younger male was downplaying his role, his power, but how could they let him take on such responsibility? "Ichigo."

"Central 46 I assume. Would Yamamoto allow peace talks or would he want us all wiped out too?"

"Ichigo, no, this is not your responsibility."

That got a chuckle. "And that's a difference to the Geta-boshi I knew, he was quite happy to send me off to the front lines time and again." He stood up and stretched. "I should check on Rukia."

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Ichigo stared up at the bunk above, hearing the slight shift as Shinji moved in his sleep. Now that he'd voiced the idea, he couldn't ignore it. Take out those idiot aristocrats would solve a lot, they wanted power and control and yet did not understand war or anything of battle. The Soutaichou he had known would possibly consider peace, likely after someone beat it into him. Would this one?

Could he do it? Should he? He knew he had the skill and power but did he have the right? This wasn't his World…but he'd already interfered by saving lives and taking others. How many lives would be spared if he could end the war? With the leadership gone, this Aizen could move his people in to take over. The remaining Captains would hopefully fall in line or retire rather than try to fight.

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Shinji frowned when he found Ichigo's bed empty, he hadn't been there the night before so just when had he slept? With two Captains in camp things were rather hectic and he knew Ichigo was doing a lot of work with Kisuke to help Jūshirō…but he still needed his sleep. He needed to talk to him about overworking Ichigo. He left their building and headed for where he could sense Kisuke, but not Ichigo….come to think of it, he couldn't sense him anywhere in camp… he changed course for the main office, finding Gin slouched in a chair.

"Was Ichigo sent on patrol?"

"Good morning to you too," he drawled.

"Gin," Shinji snapped, and Gin straightened up.

"No, he was taken off patrol to work with Kisuke and the others."

"I can't sense him," Shinji admitted.

"Ya don't think…"

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Kisuke heard the news and began mentally swearing since the kids were around. He hoped that Ichigo hadn't gone to do something rather rash…and yet he was fairly sure he had. He had to tell Sōsuke and Shinji the basics at least, so that they would understand. There was no one who could catch up to him in time without giving him away. Ichigo would need stealth if he was going to survive what he was doing.

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Isshin dropped his cigarette in shock, Ryūken nearly dropping the cup of tea he'd been drinking, hearing a few cries of fear from within their clinic. They didn't need to speak to split up, moving to comfort those who were overwhelmed. Was Yamamoto finally taking the field against them? No…it lacked the fiery feel of his Reiatsu, it was…tainted…Ichigo? That was when he felt the Soutaichou's unmistakable power rising to meet the boy's….and not overwhelming it. What was going on?

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Sōsuke stood and looked out the window, Kisuke had been right, Ichigo had gone to confront Soul Society. He glanced at a pale and very serious Gin. "Get a team, Captain level only, we're going to back him up." This could be their one chance to end things.

Anyone below Captain would be instantly flattened, even a lot of Captain's would struggle with the power they were throwing out. After all, they were feeling it in the living world and right in their camp.

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Genryūsai stared at the boy before him. Where had he come from? How was it possible for anyone to have concealed a youngster with such power? He'd wiped the Central 46 out before anyone had even realised he was within their walls, that was not meant to be possible. Even the Second Division did not have such access to their chambers. The boy had massacred them and been half way to his own Division before any kind of alarm had been raised, due to pure speed or stealth?

This had to be the boy his men had spoken of, the one who had killed Kuchiki Byakuya so effortlessly. He did not agree with the what had happened to the man's sister, she had been wise to retreat from him. He could also see the very surprising resemblance to the Shiba clan, especially the deceased Kaien. He was far too old to let such things influence him in battle though.

He did wonder what lies the rebels had filled the child's head with in order to get him to fight for them, to allow his soul to be twisted into what they called 'Visored'. Even without the reports, the mask over his face made it obvious what he was. It was a pity, he could have been a powerful Shinigami, now his fate was to be destroyed.

It had been shocking to be forced to go into shikai, he hadn't had to do that in so long. Even more shockingly…he may need bankai to defeat him, the flames not seeming to bother the child.

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She stared towards where the fight was, before forcing her attention back to her Division. Many were struggling with the massive energy levels the two fighters were putting off. She'd sent out those who weren't to help in the other Divisions and in the closer Districts. It was tempting to go and see who it was that had caused Yamamoto to release so much of his iron control. And they were continuing to become more powerful as they clashes. Would the old man actually be forced to use bankai? The very idea was…exciting.

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Shunsui kept an eye on the activity, seeing just who was gathering, able to sense the power coming from Soul Society. He didn't know how Jūshirō could sleep through it. And…he was torn over what to do. He should be at Yama-ji's side and yet…everything he'd seen in the camp proved that they'd been fighting a pointless war. The Visored weren't monsters at all, there was no reason they couldn't have remained in Soul Society, couldn't have been accepted after some time to adjust. He was ashamed of himself for not digging deeper and just accepting things.

He glanced at young Rukia, kicked out of her family and Division for such ridiculous reasons. If Kaien were alive or Jūshirō not so ill he wouldn't want to be in their shoes when they got revenge for her. But that was why it had happened, because she no longer had anyone to stand up for her. And how many others were abused by the system?

He stood up and brushed his hand through silvery hair. "I'll be back soon," he promised before leaving to find Aizen with the other Captain level fighters. They wanted a better government and that was something he agreed with.

TBC…

Small update but drowning in essays.