Disclaimer: I do not own the Bleach characters, manga, anime, movies, etc. They belong by copyright laws to Tite Kubo et al.
The Kurosaki Affair
There's No Party, Like a Shinigami Party
Kano stared at the mass of people filling the banquet room and felt a small shiver race down his spine. The majority of the people present had some sort of spiritual presence and he was getting the feeling that something was not kosher. Aside from the very powerful captain class groom and several high-level groomsmen, there were also the females on the bride's side and the bride herself. If he didn't know any better, he'd say this whole thing was a set-up.
"Kano-kun!" Yuzu called, a bright smile on her face and happiness in her voice. She came up to him and tilted her head, gaze turning serious. "Is everything in order? I haven't been able to check with the kitchen."
"We're good. Those new servers are mingling with the crowd, making everyone quite happy, apparently."
"Oh, dear, they're starting early. Try to keep the alcohol away from the blonde bridesmaid, please. She's quite flirty when tipsy…" the youngest Kurosaki trailed off. Yuzu tried to sound suggestive, as if chaos would descend if Rangiku Matsumoto were to get drunk. It wasn't far from the truth, but Kano didn't need to know that she could wield Haineko just as effective sober as she could on several bottles of sake.
"I'll tell that guy…um, Ginjo, I think his name is. He seems to be the most responsible," Kano hedged, his chest tightening with something akin to guilt when she smiled brilliantly at him.
Yuzu walked away, giving a little extra sway to her hips just to tease him. She felt the spike in his reiatsu telling her it had worked, and she went to find Nanao to report that her first mission was a success. She passed the man named Ginjo, giving a silent laugh when she heard him arguing with the lieutenant about her consumption of the free-flowing wine.
She found several Shinigami huddled in an antechamber, their faces set in stone and far more serious than she thought they would be, even with the enemies among them. "Ise-san?" she questioned, looking to the one person who still looked friendly. Even Toushiro looked like he wanted to chew nails.
"Ah, Yuzu-san, please close the door." Nanao pushed her glasses up, giving only a vague thought to the streaks she'd have to clean off of the lenses again. The mascara might be waterproof, but it was still leaving marks on her glasses.
"Sure. This looks serious, is something the matter?"
"Kugo Ginjo," Toushiro replied curtly. "He used to be a daiko like your brother but suddenly went AWOL one day and has been missing ever since. We weren't sure it was actually him until he showed up today."
"Do Onii-chan and Nee-chan know?"
"I have informed them," Soi Fon informed the princess. She gave the dress she was wearing a tug, frowning at how it restricted her movements. Yoruichi really needed to stop choosing her formal wear.
"Is he going to be a problem?"
"Probably. How is your boyfriend?" the dragon wielder asked, having heard lengthy stories from both Momo and Karin about her doubts.
"He pretended to not know Ginjo-san, but I could tell he did." Yuzu sighed, knowing she was going to have to confront him about his duplicity at some point. "I hate it when Onii-chan's right."
"Don't we all," Soi Fon muttered. "What do you want to do about him?" she demanded.
"I'm not sure yet. Just don't let me anywhere near a heavy skillet," the younger twin answered. The others chuckled at her words as they showed she was far more like her siblings than she'd like to admit.
"My men are ready to assassinate if that is your wish," the stealth commander offered. Yoruichi jabbed her protégé in the side. "A faithless man deserves no less," the shorter woman protested. "Speaking of faithless, where is the father of your baby, Lady Yoruichi?"
"Oh, he's around," the Flash Goddess answered. "I believe he's setting up the extra surveillance according to the Twelfth Division's specifications. On the sly, of course. Can't have the enemy figure out what we're doing just yet." Fangs appeared briefly in a grin before she turned serious. "We should return to the others, my dears. The wedding party can't be scattered when the meal is served; and I am quite famished suddenly."
Yuzu gave a start of surprise and opened the door behind her. "I'll check to see how close we are to serving. If you get faint, please let us know." She left her friends to stare after her and Yoruichi gave a breathy laugh.
"Always the little mother. Come now, everyone, there's a party to enjoy. And entertainment, too. Have you seen the look on those stodgy Kuchiki faces? They can't believe they're seated so far from the bride and groom."
"Serves them right," Toushiro muttered. He'd had the misfortune to run into a couple of them since coming inside and they'd been very vocal about the seating arrangements, as if he had a say in where people were put. Both the wedding planner and Lieutenant Ise had been given strict instructions not to move them even if they begged. Ichigo did not want them anywhere near his bride on her big day. It had proved somewhat amusing to watch Captain Kuchiki try to sooth ruffled feathers.
Making his way to his seat at the big table, Toushiro took a visual inventory of where everyone, friend and foe was located. Karin, Momo, and Yuzu had gathered together to discussed whatever it was young women talked about, their chairs angled so that they could keep their voices low. The rest of the bridesmaids were wandering around the room, chatting with people he only vaguely knew and others he couldn't recall at all. Ichigo and Rukia stood in the center, their path to the head table blocked by dozens of well-wishers who were both human and not. Neliel Tu was crying into a handkerchief as she spoke with the daiko, a very uncomfortable looking Grimmjow next to her. Since he'd arrived, the Arrancar had knocked back at least three bottles worth of sake. Clearly, he'd rather be anywhere but where he was.
Turning his attention to the groomsmen, he found them skirting the room, alert and waiting until they got the go-ahead to corner the enemy. Toushiro could have sworn they'd be the ones slacking but it seemed that they were all taking things rather seriously. Which only left Yachiru and Yumichika from the wedding party to zero in on.
After five minutes of fruitlessly searching the crowd, the ice captain did the one thing he probably should have done in the first place. He looked up. Almost directly over his head perched Yachiru rather delicately on a large chandelier, Yumichika nowhere to be found. How no one had seen her up there until now was a mystery, but it was only a matter of time before some human did and had a heart attack because the flower girl was some place she shouldn't have been.
"Lieutenant Kusajishi, get down this minute," Toushiro hissed menacingly. "I will report to Zaraki that you ruined your dress which he specifically ordered you not to do."
"I have not, Captain Shorty!" she hissed back, mutiny clear on her face. "Kenny won't believe you."
"Want to bet?" Toushiro returned, feeling a bit foolish for arguing with a child. She must have thought twice because she hopped down, narrowly missing his head.
"You made me give up a good vantage point," Yachiru told him sullenly. "I could see the whole room."
"No doubt, but we do have humans among us," he reminded her. "They would have been most disturbed had they seen you. Not to mention Kurosaki. He's been rather uptight today about certain things. You wouldn't want him to get annoyed with you, would you?"
"No. You're not really going to tell Kenny on me, are you?" He looked down at her pink head and noticed a loose seam on her dress.
"Depends, are you going to let someone fix that seam before it tears completely?"
"I ripped it?" she asked, twisting her neck to try to see what he did.
"Almost. Ah, there's Ishida. Ishida," he called, motioning the Quincy over while Yachiru began to bemoan her fate. The last time she'd been left to the archer's care, she'd gotten babied, and poked.
"Hitsugaya, is there a problem?"
"Someone's scouting has left her dress in need of repair. A small matter but I thought the creator of said dress would like to fix the problem." He showed the doctor what had happened, and Ishida gave Yachiru an irritated look.
"I cannot believe you actually got onto the chandelier," Ishida muttered, lifting her into his arms so that he could make sure nothing else happened to his creation.
"It had a good view. Those baddies have been circling the crowd trying to get close to Ichii and Lieutenant Shorty."
"I noticed. Where is Ayasegawa?"
"Feathers had to go freshen up. Something about not wanting to sweat."
"Idiot Shinigami. That could have waited," the archer growled under his breath as he sat Yachiru on a counter in a bathroom. Pulling out needle and thread, he eyed the strained seam a moment before going to work. "How many did you count?"
"Baddies? Five, plus that Kano guy. We're counting him, right?"
"Yes, but we'll leave him to Yuzu's tender mercies."
"She should whack him good." Amused, Ishida looked into her eyes and smiled grimly.
"For once, we agree. Try not to let anything happen again, Lieutenant. I only have so much thread on hand."
"Ok, can I go now? The food is coming out and I'm hungry."
"Yes. Just don't forget to sit where you were assigned. It's important for the mission."
"Right. Won't those baddies be surprised." She left him standing in the bathroom alone, a Kuchiki elder staring at him through the open door.
"A quick repair job on a child's dress, nothing to worry over, elder. I should have made the seams thicker on hers." Tucking the sewing kit away, he moved passed the woman without another word. He took his seat at the table, glad to see that Ichigo and Rukia had made it without getting caught by any of the Fullbringers.
"Is everything all right?" Ichigo asked. "I noticed you take Yachiru out of the room."
"She's fine. There was a little problem involving her dress and a chandelier, but I fixed it." Ishida smirked at his friend's dumbfounded expression and Rukia chuckled.
"So she was up there," the raven-haired lieutenant said. "Not surprising, it would make a good vantage point. That, and she likes high places."
"Takes one to know one," Ichigo muttered. "I'm just glad none of the regular humans noticed her. Is everything a go?" he asked, picking up his water glass. Looking out at the gathering of his friends, family and co-workers, he tried to think of anything that they hadn't covered. His parents, Yoruichi, Urahara, Tessai, and the two kids they'd help raise all sat at the table closest to his while some of his old classmates from both high school and college sat at another almost opposite.
There were enough of the good guys scattered to help any of the noncombatants if it came to that but he'd rather he didn't draw his mother into a fight if he didn't have to. She might be an Academy student, but she hadn't been learning how to be a Shinigami that long and probably didn't hadn't even heard her Zanpakutou yet. "Ah, hell, he actually showed up," the Soul Prince exclaimed, drawing everyone's attention to the tall grey-haired man being seated near some of the Kuchiki elders.
"You invited my father?" Ishida asked incredulously.
"I was told to," Ichigo retorted. "I didn't think he'd actually appear." Tempted as he was to bang his head against the table, the daiko settled for running his hands through his hair. As he'd predicted, Ishida's attempts to tame it hadn't last through the ceremony.
"Who told you to invite him?" Rukia asked, knowing she hadn't done anything of the sort. The elder Quincy would not like being surrounded by so many Shinigami. That he'd come was a question for another time.
"A senpai. Said it would help my cause or something because apparently I needed brownie points with the boss."
"My father will never like you. I'm surprised he tolerates you."
"Kinda figured that so why is he here? And can he be counted on to help if the need arises?"
"To protect the living, yes. To help Shinigami, no." Ishida sighed and glared at his elder from across the expanse of the dance floor. His father raised his wine glass mockingly at him and began a discussion with the Kuchiki elder to his left. "Should we warn the others?"
"By the death glare Ise-san is giving me, I'd say they already know," Ichigo gulped. The boss of the operation was clearly not happy he hadn't told her that an interloper might appear.
"We'll just have to hope he either stays out of the way or at least goes with the flow," Rukia sighed and looked to where her brother was taking his place at the table with the elder Kurosakis." It was the signal that the food could be served to the guests and that the battle plan had commenced. They figured that the Fullbringers would let them begin their meal but not finish it, a way to lull them into a false sense of security. If the Gotei and company allowed that much but never actually relaxed, they'd have the upper hand once the attack began. Soul pills remained close at hand but hidden, part of the plan to appear in soul form en mass to create a moment of confusion so that they could get into exactly the right spot to take down their opponents.
Thanks to Yachiru's impromptu chandelier swing, they were able to establish just how many Fullbringers had crashed their party. They had a basic idea of what the enemy's powers were, in part thanks to Urahara's investigation as well as Nanao's kido bugging of Kano's phone.
"First course," a deep voice intoned, and the bride and groom looked up simultaneously to look directly into Ginjo's eyes. "Teineina-san insisted that you be served first. I hope you enjoy your meal," the ex-Substitute said before walking away.
"He basically just dared us to figure out what was going on," Ichigo commented, gazing distractedly at his meal.
"Keep pretending ignorance," Rukia ordered. "And eat. Yuzu worked really hard to make a menu that we'd all enjoy."
"Of course, dear wife. As my princess commands." Ichigo laughed quietly when she narrowed her eyes at him in warning.
"Geez, Ichi-nii, can you not be a dork today?" Karin asked, having heard the conversation from her place down the table. The rest of the bridesmaids looked at him in consideration before shaking their heads in unison.
"Not possible," Tatsuki commented before tucking into her own meal. Her childhood friend groaned good-naturedly and the tension at the table lessened.
They made it to the main dish before something in the air shifted. A silence fell over the room and several people paused what they were doing to glance up. The servers had dwindled in number, leaving only the Fullbringers to attend to the guests. When Ichigo surveyed the room, he noticed that the doors leading out into the hallway were closed. They'd purposefully left them alone, as the bathrooms had been in the hall just outside them and if they were shut, it would give them the signal they were all waiting for.
"May we have your attention, please?" Ginjo called from his place in the center of the room. "We would like to make a toast to the bride and groom. May they live happily ever after… bound on the end of my blade!" A sword that rivaled the size of Zangetsu appeared in the man's hand, but the Shinigami were already changing form and spreading throughout the room. Even as the Fullbringers were calling their powers forth, they were being confronted by more than one Shinigami.
Startled, the less experienced of Ginjo's soldiers floundered, trying to distance themselves from their enemies so that they could regroup. Nanao's plan was going smoothly, despite the loud cries coming from the human's not in the know. Ichigo's friends and family played guards to those who needed protection, leaving him free to concentrate on the traitor.
Neliel and Grimmjow looked on in interest, not sure whether this was entertainment or an actual fight. "Yo, Kurosaki, if you'd told me there was going to be fighting, I would have left off the alcohol. Can't aim a cero correctly drunk, you know."
"Not like you wouldn't try," Ichigo shouted over to his old rival. "Sorry, Grimmjow, I was under orders not to say anything unless I had to. Can you make sure none of the Kuchiki elders bite the dust?"
"Think of it as a wedding present to the future Soul Queen. They're a bunch of bastards, but they are her relatives."
"We'd be honored, Ichigo," Neliel responded for her compatriot and moved like lightning towards said people. Grimmjow simply got up and moved, shoving a hapless human out of the way as he went.
Ryuuken Ishida merely sat where he was and watched the whole thing with disinterest. He hadn't been told any of what was going to happen either and had decided to leave everything to the plethora of Shinigami running around the hotel. Glancing over at Masaki and Isshin, he gave both a barely perceptible nod and bided his time. His job would be to intercept anything going to hurt the humans and play doctor if the need arose. Figuring the group of Gotei leaders had things planned out, he knew there wouldn't be much he'd have to do in the end.
Isshin and Masaki moved to form a barricade around Yoruichi, Urahara and the others spreading out to create a net to prevent the Fullbringers from escaping. "You act like I'm fragile," the former captain snorted. "This gigai has a special barrier around it already. I'll be fine, you two…no three. You too, Soi Fon?" Yoruichi sighed.
"It is my duty to protect you and your unborn child, my lady."
"Fine, fine, but might I suggest that at least one of you go after Yuzu and Karin? That Kano kid just dragged Yuzu off when everyone was focused elsewhere. Karin went after her but Orihime hasn't noticed yet."
Both Kurosaki parents looked toward the head table and gaped briefly before Masaki rushed forward without thinking. At the same time, the Rikka wielder discovered her charges weren't where they were supposed to be and shot off after them, a quick wave to her fiancé telling him to let her handle things. Knowing that his daughters were in capable hands, Isshin returned his attention to the looming fight. He might have doted on them in the past, but his daughters were a lot stronger now.
It was about time Kano found that out for himself.
Yuzu yanked her hand out of Kano's grasp when the entered the kitchen, turning on a yen to confront her former beau. "What do you think you're doing?" she shouted at him. Her normally soft tones were no where in evidence, making Kano frown.
"I had to get you out of there. Master and the others will take care of the Shinigami and then you'll be safe." Kano tugged at his collar and tried to wipe the sweat from his brow. He'd known something wasn't right when all the spiritually powered people had basically ignored the strangers in their midst. Not all of the Fullbringers were as good at hiding their presence as he was.
"I was safe," Yuzu ground out, her frustration rising. Where was a wooden spoon when you needed one? "Those people are my friends and family. Onii-chan will be their king one day. I have nothing to fear from them. You on the other hand…"
"No! I would never hurt you, Yuzu, never!"
"I did not give you leave to call me by my first name," she hissed, appalled by his rudeness.
Kano felt his heart pounding and wondered if he was going to have a heart attack. How could he make her understand? "You don't understand," he began, not noticing how her eyes narrowed at his words. "Master was betrayed by them. They can't be trusted. They'll turn on their king too."
"You know nothing about them! Leave! Go now before my brother or one of the captain's come. I don't ever want to see you again," she stated with a finality that broke both their hearts. Yuzu made to move passed him, but he grabbed her arm again and she acted without thinking.
Grabbing the nearest object, she put all of her limited spiritual power into it and swung. It hit him with a sickening thud, and Kano collapsed in a heap onto the floor. Yuzu stared in horror at the frying pan in her hand, noting absently that it was cast iron. Giving a sound of distress, she glanced up to see her sister, mother, and Orihime staring back at her. They all had various weapons at the ready, obviously about to come to her aide if she'd needed it.
"I think I killed him," she whispered in horror and burst into tears. Karin put down the knife she'd drawn from a conveniently placed butcher block, Masaki dissipated the kido spell she'd begun to summon and Orihime brushed Tsubaki aside in favor of calling for Shunō and Ayame.
"Nah, just knocked him out of his body," her sister tried to reassure her, letting her mom comfort her twin. "You were defending yourself, anyway. Wouldn't have gotten in trouble for that," the elder continued. "Besides, Orihime will heal him just enough to get him conscious again."
"Oh, my poor dear. I'm sorry you had to go through that, but you handled it brilliantly." Masaki squeezed her daughter tightly, watching Orihime work her magic. "Putting him back together will suffice, dear. Can't have a disembodied soul with powers walking around. He should go straight to jail for what he's done to my girl."
"I could run him through," Tsubaki offered.
"Thank you, Tsubaki, but the nice concussion Yuzu-chan just gave him will get the message through. Besides, with a hit like that, he might even have brain damage. That would last a lot longer than a hole."
"Why don't I get to have any fun anymore?" the flower spirit whine.
"You get to have plenty of fun," Orihime scolded lightly. "There, that should do it. Kurosaki-san, do you know any binding kido? We don't want him getting away."
"I know several, allow me a moment to think." While Masaki pondered which one to use, Yuzu dried her eyes with the tissues she was handed by Karin. "Ah, that one should work. We're going to have to think of some way to keep them from using their powers to escape afterwards."
"Perhaps we can destroy their powers," Orihime mused, picking up the frying pan from the floor. No use leaving it around for someone to trip on. A patch of red on the back of it caught her attention and she pulled it closer to get a better look. Property of the Urahara Shoten. The flame and skull design rang a bell and she showed it to Masaki and Karin.
"I will consult with Isshin about that," the elder woman commented before laughing. "Ah, Yoruichi, you devil. I bet she left this here on purpose. Well, let's bind him and take this out to the other room. It might come in handy." There was a murmur of agreement from the other women. They left Kano lying in pain but alive on the floor and returned to their family friends.
They returned to chaos.
Windows were shattered, tables overturned, and flowers strewn all over the floor resulting in a very disordered reception hall. Some humans were huddled in a corner, terror written all over their faces. Others were lined up getting first aid treatment from a nervous Hanatarou who, while having been told the plan, had not been given a precise role. Ishida and his father worked on others, slight bickering filling the horrified silence.
"Where is everyone?" Masaki asked, stunned that so much had obviously happened while they were away.
"They took the fight outside after Ginjo blew the windows out trying to escape. Grimmjow followed hoping for some action. The rest of us have been trying to provide medical attention to those who are injured," Ishida explained, rising to his feet. "Chad and I stayed in case anyone came back."
"And my husband?" the Academy student asked, not seeing Isshin, Urahara, or Yoruichi.
"Being drop kicked by Captain Soi Fon and Yoruichi-san for being a pest. Urahara and Tessai went to make sure anyone who got hurt fighting received medical attention. Ururu and Jinta are outside watching the action."
"Fools, the lot of them," Ishida senior put in, taping together another cut. No one bothered to correct him but continued to discuss what was happening.
"I see," Masaki murmured finally. "We must get this situation handled shortly. Surely by now the police have been called. An SAT will surely be breaching those doors shortly."
"They won't be able to get in with Ise-san's kido in play, but I do agree this must end quickly. They'll be able to come through the garden soon, though." Ishida glanced over at Tatsuki, the heavily pregnant woman arguing lightly with Chad. "I don't think Chad can win against Tatsuki in the long run either."
"Mad about being kept out of the fight?" Karin guessed.
"Yes," the archer answered just as a loud crash echoed through the room. Everyone turned towards the broken windows, seeing Ichigo in bankai mode standing over a now prone Ginjo. He could see others still outside, having littered the ground with the bodies of the other Fullbringers.
"Say, Ishida, can you destroy their soul sleep and soul chain? I want these bastards to go to prison for attacking everyone, but I don't want them to be able to escape." Ichigo glanced around the room at the others who were there. "If that's all right with you guys."
"I think that's perfect, Ichigo, dear. I was going to ask your father about that as that Kano kid is currently tied up with kido with one nasty concussion. He tried to take Yuzu away and she hit him really hard with a cast iron skillet." Masaki was tempted to laugh at her son's expression, the complete shock a far cry from the warrior he'd been a moment ago.
"I have no problem with that," Ishida said, summoning his bow. Their friends nodded, in complete agreement.
"What about you lot?" Ichigo asked the Kuchiki elders who were huddled together at the only table not in shambles. They shook their heads in tandem, clearly wanting the day over. "Have at it," he said to the Quincy archer.
"In the meantime, we will begin setting things to rights," Nanao said from behind him, making the daiko jump. "Inoue-san, we will need your flowers' assistance. I will begin changing the memories of the humans who are not aware of our world and preparing for the entry of the police."
"I leave it in your hands, Ise-san," Ichigo said and went over to his mother and sisters. He studied them for several moments before embracing them quietly. "Glad you're okay," he said after a while and drew up a chair to stay by their sides. Rukia joined him shortly after her opponent was taken care of, resting a hand on his shoulder to show her support. He reached up and squeezed the appendage, their reiatsus melding together briefly.
"I'm sorry about your wedding, Onii-chan," Yuzu apologized.
"Ah, don't worry about, Yuzu. The ceremony went off without a hitch, that's the important part. Rukia and I knew something like this would probably happen. We weren't sure who'd make the bigger mess, but we were kind of expecting this." Ichigo turned his head towards the windows, seeing Grimmjow leaning against one of the broken frames. He'd found an unbroken bottle of wine somewhere and was swigging it nonchalantly.
"Yo, Kurosaki, you Shinigami throw a pretty good party."
"Well, you know what they say about us. There's no party like a Shinigami party," Ikkaku said, his sword laying against his shoulder. "You should come to the next one," he invited magnanimously.
"Maybe I will." Feeling good, the Arrancar grinned at the collected company before passing the bottle to Neliel who had been looking on with quiet alertness the whole time. She frowned at the bottle briefly before unearthing a glass and pouring a generous amount in to the chipped vessel.
"Right, cause that's just what the Seireitei needs," Ichigo groaned. He couldn't fault Ikkaku for his words. He'd long since learned that a party thrown by at least one Shinigami was a far cry from a human one.
There really was no party like a Shinigami party.
A/N: The SAT, or Special Attack Team, is the Japanese equivalent to our SWAT/SRT teams here in the U.S. They're in major metropolitan police forces and over seen by Japan's federal police agency.