It's been a long time for this story. Been slowly working my way through a lot of updates, there's a lot of stories that need to be finished. Trying to get as much done as possible before a busy summer and less updates, but at least this way you guys know that I'm alive lol. I'm predicting maybe three more chapters to tie this up. -TPP

Tipping the Scales

Chapter 7: Into The Deep

Urahara lay on the floor for what felt like a decade but couldn't have been more than half an hour. Whatever had been in his system was slowing, his muscles beginning to react. The worst part was that the pain was beginning to set in but he blocked it with every mental shield he could. He had to stay focused, alert. He needed to be practical right now, and once he was home he could break down in peace. He carefully continued to flex his hands and feet, moving his wrists and ankles in circles, testing himself. Eventually he started moving his neck in slow side to side movements, determined to get off of the floor. Once he'd managed to roll onto his side, he braced himself to get onto his knees. He knew it would be suicide to try and sit on his ass, so he crawled on his hands and knees to the front door, locking it with the deadbolt before crawling back to his cellphone. He closed his eyes and dialed, knowing there was no going back from this but nobody else he could trust right now. It rang once, twice.


Urahara sighed, hoping it didnt sound like a sob, "Starrk, im at the shop. Can you please come get me."

"Sure. Are you alright?"

"No. No I'm not."

It didn't take long for Starrk to arrive, and when he did, Urahara still had a hard time unlocking the door. He knew Starrk, he trusted him, but talking about it...he wasn't ready. And Starrk would have questions, worries. Urahara would have to give him the bare bones for his own protection. Starrk came in, his face betraying nothing. But his eyes. Urahara closed his own, trying to erase that look from his memory. It was almost worse than remembering Aizen's face.

"Can you help me stand? I can walk, i think."

"Kiki," Starrk breathed, helping Urahara slowly get to his feet. Kisuke hissed, a sharp pain running through his spine as he tried to stand straight. Giving up, he stayed hunched, starrk offering him his shoulder as he hugged him.

"Tell me."

Urahara breathed deeply, taking in the comforting smell of his oldest friend, gripping his shoulder tightly, "Just take me home first, please. I cant be here anymore. And then can you pick up Jinta and take him to your place?"

"My place? But why-"

"I don't think my place is safe anymore. He could be watching."

Starrk's eyebrows drew together, no doubt trying to come up with an explanation for all of this, and Urahara knew that he was drawing all the wrong conclusions.

"Starrk, please. I promise I'll explain, but for now, please."

The number of pleases must've made him finally crumble because Starrk said nothing as he helped him get to his car. Urahara slid in carefully on his stomach, redting his head on his arms as starrk drove. Kisuke drifted, the feel of leather beneath him a relief from the coldness of the candy store floor. Starrk parked and helped him up to the apartment, his face like stone as he helped Urahara hobble to the shower. He helped him strip, the words unspoken between them but he knew Starrk wouldnt leave until he was inspected. Urahara suddenly cringed, remembering the man hadnt used a condom. "Shower. Please. Please starrk, i need to get it off," he whined, his chest tight. Starrk helped him move, setting the dial for the water and stepping in with him in his boxers. Urahara spread his legs carefully, a sob building in his chest as he tried to wash himself, Starrk a steady hand on his hip. Nothing about this was sexual; nothing about this was even helpful, but it was comforting. Starrk carefully soaped Kisuke's hair, the touch soothing even though Urahara had heard about rape victims going months without touch after an assault.

"Im going to kill him," Starrk said darkly after helping Urahara settle into bed on his stomach, "Im getting my gun, Ki, and im going to find him."

Urahara reached his hand out, taking Starrk's hand in his, his grip tight enough to creak bones, "It's not what you think."

"The fuck it isnt-"

"It wasnt him. It was...somebody I've never even met."

Starrk was silent, clearly unbelieving. He wouldn't believe the story either.

"I swear on Jinta's life it wasn't Kenpachi."

"Then it was a friend of his."

"No. An enemy. A threat. Somebody we all need to stay away from," Urahara said, tapping a beat out onto Starrk's hand, "Run the store for the next couple of days. If there are eyes on it, I don't want him knowing he's won."

"Fuck the store, Kisuke."

"Youre the only person I trust right now. We will do this my way. I have no way of finding this man, but Kenpachi does."

"You still want to be involved with him? After this? You're insane."

"This was done to me as a message. I will deliver the message. Things are going to get bloody, Starrk, and i can't have u or Jinta involved. I cant. I wouldnt survive it."

They were quiet for a while, neither man willing to give in, but Starrk finally sighed, breaking, "I'll talk to Grimmjow, see what he knows. We cant let this fucker-"

"For now, we lay low. Until we know more about this man, what hes capable of, we do nothing. Jinta comes first. Always."

Starrk sighed, dipping his head against Urahara's forehead, pushing his hair out of his face like when they were kids, "I hate your intelligence sometimes."

"Its my most shining feature." Starrk didn't rise to the joke. Nothing was funny right now. Urahara understood. He, above all others, hated the feeling of weakness. Starrk climbed into bed beside him, saying nothing for a long time before finally releasing a sigh. "If Kenpachi doesnt find this fucker..."

"He will," Urahara said, clinging to the sheet around his body. Even if Kenpachi never wanted him again, Kenpachi never allow the man to spit on his honor, to take what Kenpachi had claimed as his. Urahara would have justice, even if... ...even if Urahara's heart would be ripped from his chest.

"That's all i know, I swear!" The man cried, holding his hands out in front of him, "Please, i swear, have mercy!"

Gin smirked at the crooked business man, "Mah, whats that?"

Without another word, Renji wrapped his large hands aroynd the mans throat, strangling him. The man kicked and struggled, but it was no use. Renji had done this mroe than once and his hold was firm, his eyes bored as he chewed on a toothpick. Gin knew it was a habbit hed developed after having hsi throat slit, the healing process not allowing for him to smoke

The man garbled, obviously trying to say something, the red veins in his eyes expanding. Gin nodded, Renji released the man, let him gulp in air,"And?"

The man continued to choke, rubbing at his throat before mumbling, "I know a safe house. I don't know where he is, but his goons come in and out of there twenty four seven."

"See? Was tha' so hard? Address."

The man practically spit it out, tears in his eyes as Renji held up a knife. "But i told you! I told you!"

"Ya also wasted our time. Two hours of it. G'night, sweet prince," gin said theatrically, watching Renji slit the man's throat. Gin watched renjis arm jerk at the last second, obviously struggling with the form of death. It was part of the job, made for easier cleanup than a gun, but gin understood Renji's own trauma would take time to get over.

"I would'a done it," Gin said quietly, watching Renji clean his blade. Renji said nothing, only stepping into gins personal space and kissing him softly on the forehead. It made gin sigh, knowing renji was as stubborn as they came and if he didn't want to talk about something, he sure as fuck wasn't going to until he was ready.

A lot like their fearless leader and his emotional constipation when it came to a certain shop keeper.

Renji and Gin worked quickly, the disposing of a body meticulous and boring work they were both used to. Grimmjow and Nnoitra were outside in an alley, smoking and talking quietly when Grimmjow's phone rang.

He smirked, picking up the call, even though he really shouldn't when he was working.

"Hey," he said quietly, ignoring the members of his crew to wander further down the alley to have a more private chat, "what's up, beautiful?"

"We have a problem," Starrk said, his voice stone cold. So cold it sent shivers running down Grimmjow's spine, and that was fucking hard to do in his line of work and the life he'd grown up in.

"What's goin' on?" he said, attention fully on the man on the other end of the line.

"Kisuke was attacked. Some kind of message for your boss. I haven't gotten full details, he's…it was bad, Grimm. I'm gonna fucking kill this fucker myself when I get my hands on him…"

"Whoa, wait, slow down. What'd'ya mean? Nobody would- "

"Somebody did," Starrk growled, making Grimmjow suck his teeth.

"Is he alright?" Grimmjow said, knowing heads were going to roll. Did Kenpachi even KNOW about this yet? The chances weren't likely, considering all their phones would be blowing up if somebody dared touch what was considered Kenpachi's personal property.

Nobody fucked with somebody that high up the food chain and lived to brag about it.

"Whoever this fucker is, this Aizen, I want in. I want his fucking blood."

"Wait," Grimmjow turned back to his crew, all of them looking at him curiously now, "That name. You sayin…"

"Aizen. He…he fucking…" Starrk's voice cut off, an angry snarl leaving his throat but it was almost choked, like he was trying not to cry, "I want him dead, GRimmjow. I'll do it my fucking self, I swear to Christ. He's not a fan of this Kenpachi guy, I don't give a fuck. Whoever he is or whatever he's done doesn't come close to what I'm going to do to him when I get my hands on him."

Grimmjow closed his eyes, taking a steady breath because even though he already knew the answer, he had to ask anyway, "What did he do?"

"He threatened him in the store. Drugged him with some kind of paralytic that kept his pain receptors intact. He RAPED him Grimmjow, tortured him. I don't know how the fuck he's staying so fucking calm but if I don't get some answers soon I'm going to set the city on fire until I find this guy."

Grimmjow sucked his teeth again, rage pooling low in his gut. He liked Candy; he was a good man. This kind of slight was not going to go unpunished. Kenpachi had already been out for this Aizen's blood, now the execution was just going to come a hell of a lot faster.

"We're hunting him now. I'll call you when I have more information. I'll call Kenpachi. He'll get you guys somewhere safe."

"Fuck that. The last place we'd be safe is with him!"

Grimmjow breathed in through his nose, channeling all the anger management bullshit classes that Kenpachi had paid for, "Listen to me. I know you're pissed, but being pissed off makes us stupid. We can't be dumb right now, and the smartest thing is to be somewhere where that fucker can't find you. Kenpachi can disappear you guys for the time being; we have connections. I doubt he bugged your phone, but I wouldn't trust anybody else's. Toss 'em. Don't go back to Urahara's apartment. I'll send somebody to pick you guys up and get a message to Kenpachi."


"We're hours out, and if this information pans out, we're one step closer to killing this piece of shit. Text me from the burner phone I'll have brought to you and I'll call you with any updates. We'll be back in the city tomorrow, tomorrow night at the latest."

"I want IN on this, Grimmjow. You don't kill him without me."

"Babe, I love your fire, but this isn't your fight."


"You don't KNOW what this guy is capable of, alright? You think you do, but you really fucking don't. Nobody else is gettin' involved, this is family business. It's the way it is. You're lucky I'm letting you stay in the loop at all."

Silence. Grimmjow almost, almost apologized for his tone of voice, but he knew it wouldn't reach the man in his current emotions anyway. So he sighed, rubbing at his forehead with two fingers, "Look, when I know, I'll call. That's all you need to know right now, alright? Watch over Candy. Kenpachi is gonna have enough anger for all of us before the end of the day, I promise you that. He's not gonna let this fucker breathe another day."

"See that he doesn't," Starrk hissed, and the line went dead.

Grimmjow put his phone in his pocket, looking at his brothers who were all staring back at him with a knowing look. It was a look they all had when they knew serious shit was about to go down.

"Aizen attacked Urahara. Gotta call Kenpachi and get 'em moved before this asshole does something else insane."

"Jesus Christ," Gin said, pulling out his phone and texting, "Szayel needs to narrow this grid. Sending him the address now."

"Fucker's lucky to be alive," Nnoitra said off-handedly, lighting another cigarette, "Aizen's crew's been leaving decapitated bodies all over the country."

"We need to shut this down and shut it down fast," Grimmjow said, looking at the phone Renji handed him. It was set to the GPS ap, a residential-looking neighborhood on the graph, "What's this?"

"The squealer said this could be a safe house. Doubt Aizen'll be there, but let's see if any of his hired hands are up for a barbeque."

Grimm nodded, everybody headed towards the red Dodge Charger they were using for the weekend. It was the greatest form of camouflage they possessed at the moment, especially if they were about to drive by and possibly blow up a fucking safe house. Fidgety motherfuckers hopped up on god knew what while peaking out windows with automatics got extra twitchy when there were black SUVs or anything big or menacing-looking on the street.

"Nnoitra, drive. I gotta make a call," Grimm said, not looking forward to this conversation with his boss in the slightest.

"But I don't get it, why can't I go home?" Jinta said, staring at Starrk like he was crazy, "If dad's sick, I need to check on him –"

"Kid, I hate lying to you, and I swore I'd never do it, but some things are better left out of your hands right now, okay?" Starrk said, putting a hand on the top of Jinta's hair as a final, strong reprimand.

Jinta went quiet, studying Starrk's face, "Something happened. Something bad. What the fuck is going on?"

Starrk sighed, collapsing onto his couch and checking his phone again. Grimmjow had said somebody would come by to collect them, and Starrk had planned on going back and getting Urahara, but at the same time he hadn't been sure somebody wasn't watching Kiki, and the last thing they needed was to have these assholes knowing where Starrk lived.

Besides, Kisuke had made Starrk swear to keep Jinta as far away from this as possible.

"All I can say is that somebody is looking for your dad. Somebody really bad, and I need you to man up for a while, okay? Because to be honest, I don't know how this is going to play out."

"What? You mean like a debt collector or something?"

Starrk rolled his eyes and Jinta smacked him on the arm, "What? What else could it be? I know we're in a lot of debt and –"

"I don't know, Jinta. Honest. All I know is this guy is dangerous and he's willing to kill. You're sixteen now, I can't treat you like a baby."

Jinta's eyebrows flew together, "Damn, Uncle Starrk. This is like a movie or something."

"Try a nightmare," Starrk said, rubbing his hands over his face. He was exhausted and tired of worrying. He was still worked up with rage, but now it was a low-burning flame from his loss of energy, "Just know that for right now, this is the safest place for you. My friend is sending somebody to get us, and they'll take us somewhere safer. Your dad is coming too, I promise. We'll work this out, however long it takes."

"We going to get this crazy guy arrested? What does he even want?" Jinta asked, firing off too many questions, "What did my dad DO?"

"Nothing," Starrk said, trying to distract himself with the television, "Nothing at all."

It took everything in Kenpachi not to crush the life out of his phone as Grimmjow talked, low and hushed, an edge of certainty and anger to it that made Grimmjow one of his top enforcers.

It made something like pride swell in Kenpachi's chest, but that feeling was overrun by an incredibly terrible rage that was threatening to put him into a berserker mode.

Because what he was hearing couldn't be true. How this Aizen fuck knew him well enough to track Kisuke, to…

"I want you to find him, and I want him alive," Kenpachi said quietly, slowly, articulately, "You bring him to me, alive, so that I can take him apart myself."

"We're heading to a potential safe house. We'll do whatever it takes to make these fuckers talk."

"You bet your fucking ass you will. Kill them all," Kenpachi ordered, already heading to his bedroom and pressing in the combination, "Set it on fire. All of it. You find dope, burn it. You find money, burn it. Whoever you find, make them fucking sing. I don't give a fuck what you have to do to them, you make 'em talk. You make them fuckin' break. Then execute them. Leave 'em to rot, you understand?"

"Yes, buchou."

The line went dead. The safe clicked open.

Kenpachi removed two Sig Sauer P22s, checking the clips and safety before tucking them into his shoulder holsters. He grabbed a leather shoulder bag and started stuffing it with the stacked, unmarked bills in the safe. Fifty thousand, not even a dent in what he had at his disposal, but it was more than enough for necessities for Kisuke and his kid for the next bit of waiting time. He texted some underlings to get their asses to his estates, check them down, inch by inch. Full bug work, especially the property he'd had Kisuke at not too long ago.

Just thinking about Aizen having access to that property, the potential for him knowing the kind of intimacy Kenpachi found with Urahara there, made him want to demolish it and strike that patch of land from the earth. He called the leader of a lower-tier gang that had allegiance to him, letting him know that the territory was in jeopardy with a blood feud. The conversation was short, clipped, Kenpachi barely able to keep functioning as a logical human being. He made too many phone calls, getting things put into place. Kuchiki showed up at his door before he was done making all the stupid fucking calls, but he had to be responsible.

"Kuchiki. I've got business to take care of. You're my voice until I say otherwise," Kenpachi said without preamble, "You're the only fucker in the family who's smart enough to smooth over any issues we might have from the fallout. The Old Man gets wind of this, lie your fucking ass off. I'ma be gone for a bit but I'll be back tomorrow, maybe the day after. The boy's'll check in with me but report to you until further notice, got it?"

"Yes, buchou," Kuchiki said, bowing formally, "Do you need anything else?"

"Call the valet. Have one of my cars pulled around. Use burners, I don't trust anything or anybody right now 'cept family. Closed circuit, you unnerstan'? You answer to nobody but me right now, yeah?"

"Of course, buchou," Kuchiki said, his eyes getting a steel edge to them.

Kenpachi nodded, storming out of the penthouse, too much blood pounding in his brain.

Urahara hugged Jinta to him, running his hands through his bright red hair and willing himself not to cry. Two men in suits had come to collect him at his apartment, Starrk and Jinta in tow. They'd been rushed off and onto the highways, taking what felt like a hundred different roads before they were calmly asked to get out and switch cars before starting another drive. Jinta had been bursting with questions, but Urahara just kept shooting him looks that told him to think better of speaking.

They finally arrived at a non-descript residence, a simple three bedroom family home with only a few windows. It was the first thing Urahara noticed walking up to the front door, how few windows there were.

They were brought inside and offered food, one of the men insisting they all eat something. Urahra couldn't keep anything down, so he went to take another shower.

But the rest of the night they sat around, the tv a comforting noise in the awkwardness. Jinta had eventually flopped on his side on the couch, a half-hug to his dad as he mumbled that he didn't know what was going on, that he was a little freaked out, but he was glad they were together and safe. Urahara almost started crying right there, but he didn't. Instead he ruffled his son's hair, telling him to put on a movie.

Starrk and Jinta had conked out before the funniest scene, but Kisuke wasn't in the mood to laugh. So he sat there, stroking his son's unruly hair as he willed his body to be tired enough to sleep, but he was a live wire, his brain too active even though all he wanted to do was to stop thinking.

Urahara heard the front door open, followed by hushed conversations. He turned his head to look over the couch and froze, not expecting to see him again so soon.

Kenpachi stood there in jeans and a hoodie, his hair down, his body rigid. Kisuke had the strangest urge to run his hands over the man's cheekbones and down his jaw, like he could soothe that stress away from his face.

He slipped out from Jinta carefully, not wanting to wake the exhausted teen but not sure if he was ready to face Kenpachi. He was still walking gingerly, but he would heal. Starrk had checked him for tearing, and although he'd been terrified of infection, he was put on antibiotics immediately and if he got a fever he'd head to a clinic. There really wasn't much else he could do except pray that Kenpachi cared about him enough to continue to keep his family safe.

The two men that had been guarding them all day continued to sit in the front room, a couple others having showed up somewhere in the late afternoon to guard the back of the house. Kenpachi walked right up to him, staring down at him before gesturing towards the stairs with his chin, "We need to talk alone."

Urahara nodded, averting his eyes and making his way to the stairs. Climbing the stairs was slow going, but he appreciated Kenpachi not wanting to discuss things in a house full of mobsters and his sleeping family within earshot.

Kenpachi didn't rush him, he was patient, a gentle hand at the small of his back that almost made him start crying again for no reason other than the fact that there was no fucking way Kenpachi wanted anything to do with him now that Aizen had…

He was damaged goods. Useless now.

Urahara made his way into the first bedroom, clicking on the light while Kenpachi closed the door quietly behind them.

"I would'a come sooner," Kenpachi finally said, pulling his unzipped hoodie over his shoulders. Urahara didn't flinch at the shoulder holsters as they were taken off. He didn't even flinch when Kenpachi pulled another piece out of the small of his back before approaching Kisuke and pulling him into his chest, crushing him in a hug that took all the air from Kisuke's lungs, "But I couldn't calm down. I'm angry. So fucking angry."

He pulled back, running a hand over Kisuke's face, staring at him with a serious expression, like he was important.

And that, right there, was what brought the tears, Kisuke letting out a broken whine as he buried his face into Kenpachi's chest, hiding.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry…" kenpachi was soothing a hand down his back, but it was like he couldn't catch air, his breath coming out in short, sharp pants.

"Shhh, nah, come on, don't do this to me, okay? Fuck," Kenpachi murmured, running his hands carefully and slowly up and down Kisuke's back before wiping tears from his face, "Fuck, I'ma fucking kill him. You unnerstan'?"

Urahara clung to him, his breathing a little more steady but he was feeling dizzy, "Can we sit down? Please? Can you just stay with me?"

"Yeah, yeah I'll stay," Kenpachi answered, pulling Kisuke towards the bed. He got him under the sheets, Kisuke molding to his side like an eager octopus. He felt touch-starved, which was ridiculous considering what had happened to him, but it was like he needed Kenpachi to breathe.

"You're not angry with me?"

Kenpachi kissed him on the forehead, running a hand through his hair, lulling Kisuke, "How the fuck could I be mad at you? I'm mad for you. This happened 'cuz of me, 'cuz of some beef he thinks is gonna end with him on top. No. I'ma end this shit, and I won't let anything else happen to you ever again."

Kisuke wiped his face with a hand, taking in slow, deep breaths, now suddenly more than exhausted, "You'll stay here?"

"Not goin' anywhere, babe. Just rest."

Kisuke nodded, fingers like claws as he stuck to Kenpachi's shirt, taking in his smell, "I didn't think…I thought you wouldn't…"

"What? You gonna say somethin' dumb? That I wouldn't want you anymore? You crazy?"

Kisuke let out a strangled laugh, "Well, yes, you dick."

"I ain't that shallow. Stop thinkin' crazy, you get me? You're mine. You stay."

Simple words, but they warmed Kisuke up, made his body finally relax.

What had happened wasn't okay, not by any stretch of the imagination, and he doubted some cuddling and sweet words would fix everything, but at least for the moment Kisuke knew he could rest and the nightmares wouldn't come for him as quickly.