"Fortunately, no one has been able to do such a thing. Well… except you, that is."
"Huh?" I stood dumbfounded at Urahara's words. I didn't need him to tell me the intricacies of time travel theories, I just need to know how The Dreamer's powers really work and what Urahara's plan is. My intuition says he gave me all of that information to throw me off but everything he said only made me want to ask more questions to find out the truth.
"Are you saying I'm the very first person to travel through time? What about The Dreamer? Isn't that supposed to be his ability, manipulating time and stuff? You're the one who told me that my mission was to get rid of it to prevent him from destroying the flow of time! Okay, I get that you have to keep certain information for some reason but there's got to be some truth to what you told me. Please tell me this isn't all a lie for another underhanded scheme of yours."
"As I've said, Kuchiki-san, things are more complicated than it seems."
"Then uncomplicate them for me!" I growled as I stared at the man. He looked as if he was contemplating what he should and shouldn't tell me.
"Urahara, I'm sacrificing a lot by being here. I didn't tell Ichigo or Byakuya, or anyone in the Gotei 13 for that matter. I left Takeshi without saying goodbye because you said I was going to be back after a day. Now you are telling me I'm stuck here for at least two weeks to fight some arrancar that you can defeat with your eyes closed." My frustration leaked through my voice.
"Just tell me! Why am I here, Urahara?"
I took a deep breath. My aggressiveness would get me nowhere. Besides, despite everything, even with the whole hogyoku incident, I still trust Urahara. I know he has a good reason for this. What truly frustrates me is his hesitance to tell me. Well, at least not the whole truth. But for now, I'll take what I can get.
"Urahara," I tried to get his attention, and when he looked up, I directly looked him in the eye, "you don't have to tell me everything. But please… at least tell me something. I can't help you by going into this blind."
He sighed and looked up, making the shadow in his eyes disappear. This time I could tell that his emotions were genuine. Urahara was always serious with things, despite giving it off as a joke and maintaining a careless image, making us think he was just playing around. It was very rare and uncharacteristic for him to show that he was serious. For him to behave like this, it made me nervous. Just what kind of problem are we dealing with?
"Very well…" he sighed again.
"Thank you." I meant it.
"Before the war, when Aizen was still experimenting with hollows, he was able to create The Dreamer. As you've gathered, what I have told you was not completely true. The Dreamer does not manipulate space and time but rather, it can see through it by putting someone in a dream-like state. Aizen wanted to create an arrancar that could see anything in a person's past and every possibility in their future, allowing him to create perfect illusions. To have that amount of knowledge and power over anyone, even the Soul King, he would have been closer to his ideal to become God.
"At the time of its creation, it was too weak to bring any benefit to Aizen and it took too much of the hogyoku's energy to continue developing it to the level it needed to be. Though it was an arrancar, it looked and had the spiritual pressure of a baby, as if it was born from the hogyoku. Additionally, with the Espada being created, he felt that he didn't need such a thing anymore. He was confident that his army would win and that he will reach his goal without The Dreamer. He sent the hollow to the world of the living to eat some souls and most likely be defeated by a soul reaper.
"What he didn't account for was for The Dreamer's power to grow stronger as time passed even without the hogyoku. While everything happened with Aizen and Ginjo, all this time, it has just been in its own dimension—the one it puts a person in when looking through their past and futures. In your younger self's time, eight years before our time, The Dreamer will wake up from the long slumber as a fully grown arrancar. Two weeks from the time you are in now, he will approach me in the timeline you're in and show me a glimpse of the past with the information I just told you.
He is also going to show me a vision of the future, in which a powerful shinigami destroys Seireitei upon the death of the most important woman in his life, and rules all worlds with The Dreamer by his side. His request: Bring me Rukia Kurosaki and in exchange, I will provide you with the key to travel through time. That is the only way to prevent that future." Urahara bowed his head so that his whole upper body is parallel to the floor. "Kuchiki-san— No, Kurosaki-taicho, I apologize for causing you trouble yet again. I had you use the time portal to switch your souls because I know you can defeat The Dreamer with the power that your younger self, Rukia Kuchiki, did not possess yet.
I stared at Urahara's form as I absorbed all the information. There are still a lot of holes and I have a lot of questions. "Urahara, why do you need me to defeat him with my power? I can't even use my bankai at this form so I'm at the same level I was eight years ago. And even with this timeline, there are multiple shinigami who are capable of this. Ichigo, you, my brother… why does it need to be me?"
He did not move or speak. Ah, so he is still not telling me everything.
I sighed, "At least tell me if you know the shinigami in the vision." My heart raced as a dreadful thought came to me and I asked as I held my breath, "Is it Ichigo?"
At this, Urahara raised his head and looked me in the eye with sympathy and something else I can't place. "No, Kuchiki-san." He's back to calling me the wrong name. "The shinigami who will destroy and rule over all worlds… is Takeshi."
I could not stop the gasp from escaping my now parted lips. "That's impossible! Takeshi would never— He won't do that! Ichigo wouldn't let him!" I looked at him with desperate eyes, wanting some type of validation. "How do you know it's the future and not just some illusion he showed you? What aren't you telling me?"
"Kuchiki-san, it is not my place to tell you everything. I chose to have you send yourself two weeks earlier than we agreed upon because I knew this was when I invented the device to reach people from different timelines. I revealed more than I planned today but I was not going to send you unprepared but I hope you understand why I had to wait until you're already there before disclosing this information."
I glared at Urahara, "Because you assumed I would refuse. How can you be so sure before even asking me? If it saves innocent people and people I care about, what makes you think I would say no?"
"Now, now, there's no need to yell." He's back to his usual cheerful self. "All in due time Kuchiki-san! I'm sorry to cut this short but we don't have unlimited minutes for very long distance phone call. I will contact you again soon. Please make sure to wake up my handsome younger twin who passed out and fill him in! The past version of the soul slowly weakens when in the presence of their future self, which is why I had to switch you and the other Kuchiki-san. Bye bye now!" ^_^
With that, the screen blacked out, leaving me with my thoughts. As the Urahara of this timeline stirs awake, I clenched my fists.
He stands up, "Kuchiki-san, what— OOF!" He groaned in pain, "What did I do to deserve this violence?"
I gave him a death glare, "Ask yourself in eight years, stupid shopkeeper!"
I stomped out of the store with a rollercoaster of emotions flowing through me. I have so much to think about. Hopefully, my dear husband, son, and younger self are doing better than me over there.
"DAAAAD!" An orange blur attempt to tackle me. He pouted, realizing he didn't do any damage, and looks up at me with his mother's eyes, "Is mom okay? She's been acting weird lately but I didn't want to bring it up and make her worry."
I sighed. Takeshi was as perceptive as his mother and like her, is disregarding his own feelings so as not to burden anyone. I pat him on the head and ruffle his hair, "Your mom is very strong Takeshi. I believe in her and I know she will handle anything that comes her way. And if she needs a hand, you and I will be by her side, so you don't have to worry, okay?"
With this, he brightens up a little. "That's right! I'm gonna protect mom! And I'll defeat anyone who's mean to her, even you dad!"
I smiled but held a serious tone, "I don't doubt it, kiddo. I'm glad you came to me about this but I want you to know that your mom and I would want to know when something is bothering you, even if it will make us worry. So don't feel like you have to put on a face, okay? Plus, if you asked your mom, she'd surely give hugs and kisses for thinking about her."
"Okay, dad!" He suddenly sprints.
"Hey! Where are you going?" I yelled at the retreating form.
"TO GET SOME HUGS AND KISSES!"
A few days later, my hollow pager woke me up in the middle of the night. Rukia was not in bed but her side was still warm so she must have gone to take care of it. I pushed down the immediate worry I felt. 'It's just a low-level hollow.'
That didn't stop the scowl forming on my face due to the fact that she didn't wake me up. My theory must have been right though since the signal disappeared. I stood up to make myself a cup of coffee, checking on Takeshi along the way.
After twenty minutes, I gave up all pretenses of trying to relax. I had Kon take over my body to watch Takeshi and put up a protection barrier around the house before flash stepping to look for Rukia. It's a nice trick I learned from Toshiro and I've been practicing a little kido.
I find her in Karakura High School, sitting on the edge of the roof top, legs alternately swinging back and forth, hair blowing in the wind. I stay back and watch her for a few seconds, admiring the masterpiece that is my wife. She's in deep thought and I know she is overwhelmed by this sudden knowledge of her future.
The situation pains my heart. I love all versions of Rukia and I will love her in any timeline but I still can't help but miss my Rukia. The one who's been with me the past eight years. The one I proposed to, said I love you to, married, and raised Takeshi with. I just don't know what to do right now and I need my wife.
Rukia's sigh breaks me out of my thoughts. I suddenly felt a pang of guilt. "Soul candy for your thoughts?"
I walked closer to her as I she jumped a little at my voice. I've gotten better at hiding my spiritual pressure the past few years and while Rukia Kurosaki would still be able to sense me, Rukia Kuchiki while deep in thought, was caught off guard.
"That depends. Does it come in a Chappy dispenser?" She gave me a small smile, hiding her inner turmoil. Ah, but I know her better than I know myself sometimes.
"No, it comes in an Ichigo dispenser." I wink at her and she blushes. "B-baka! Don't say embarrassing things like that."
I sit next to her on the ledge. "I know this is all really weird for you, us being married and having a kid together on top of this whole time travel business, but you can still talk to me. Even though I look a little different than you're used to and a few years older, I'm still the Ichigo you know. I may have married you in this future but I'm still your best friend."
She hesitates, "Takeshi came to me a few days ago and it scared me. In my timeline, gosh it's so weird to say that, I haven't even allowed myself to want this future. Every time I thought about it, I pushed it down because it doesn't make sense. You're human and I'm not. I—I can't allow you to throw away your chance at a normal life. You've already lost and sacrificed so much and I just want what's best for you. But coming here, experiencing all of this, it's so bittersweet. I feel like this life is being dangled in front of me; this life that's not mine.
"And I don't know how to feel because I don't even know if this is real, if this is going to happen in my timeline, or if this time travel thing will mess it up and then I come back there with this tiny glimmer of hope that this might be what my future looks like only to have it crushed. How can I go back and pretend like I don't want this with my Ichigo after living this life, even just for a moment?"
The look on her face reminds me of the night she told me not to follow her, after Byakuya and Renji came to take her back to Soul Society.
"Rukia," I cup her cheek with my hand, "I really want to kiss you right now." Her eyes widened but I continued.
"I'm not going to because I'm reserving it for my younger self when you see him again. I'll let him tell you how stubborn you're being with this human and shinigami narrative among other things." I slide my hand to grab her chin softly. "What I will tell you now is that no version of me out there wants a normal life if it means not having you in it. And if you go back and your Ichigo doesn't get his crap together and finally ask you out, feel free to come back here and drag me over there so Mr. and Mrs. Kurosaki can knock some sense into him."
I stopped there, trying to lighten the mood. I've loved her since I was fifteen so I doubt whatever is happening in that timeline right now will change that, but I know where she is coming from.
I pushed the stray bang out of the way and gave her a light kiss on the forehead. "Let's go home, Rukia."
She smiled shyly and punched my shoulder, "I'll race you, strawberry."
Meanwhile, in the dream dimension, a space not affected or limited by any construct of time, two dark purple eyes snap open as the hole in the center of his body glows, darkness filled with light, but only for a few seconds.
"It's almost time. I just need a little more strength and I can make my move." A human-like figure stretches its limbs as if waking from a long slumber. "The day I change fate is near. I will erase that future no matter what it costs!"
The figure steps out of the shadow. It's a tall young man with long black hair tied at the ends with feathers hanging by the tips. His outfit would cause people to mistake him as a quincy except he has a gold stopwatch wrapped around his wrist instead of a cross, he has a hole in his chest covered with thin chains akin to strings, and most prominently, a broken hollow mask that he wears as a hat.
"I can feel her. It's faint but there's no doubt it's her." The man—no, The Dreamer smirks, "So the shopkeeper made her use the time portal to travel here as I had predicted. Not that it matters. As long as it happens in this timeline, whatever version of her soul is here will not affect anything."
The smirk transforms into a full-blown smile. "I can't wait to see you again and this time, I will kill you the right way and at the right time, mother."
-To be continued -
A/N: Hello! Thank you for reading. The last update before this chapter was Dec 28, 2014 and I will say I have done a lot of growing up since then. I have not read a fanfiction in YEARS but when they announced the anime release date of TYBWA, I got sucked back in because I still love Bleach as much as I did when I was a kid.
The funny thing is I actually found this story while browsing for IchiRuki fanfics and when I read the description, I was like "Wait, this is me. How did I forget that I wrote this?" After figuring out my old log in information, I decided to attempt to finish this story. I honestly don't remember what my plans for this story were so I am going off of the chapters I published before and am hoping it turns out good enough.
DISCLAIMER: It has been a long time since I've watched Bleach or read the manga or wrote any story but I will try my best. Also, I read the entire story and noticed some minor inconsistencies but I currently do not plan on revising any of the older chapters since I want to focus on closing this out properly. They are not huge inconsistencies in my opinion but I may come back to fix them when I complete the fic.
Lastly, when I started the story originally, it was set some time after the Fullbringer Arc because it was the last episode released at the time so anything that happened after that in the canon storyline will not apply to this fic. I will give kudos to my younger self for speaking Capt Rukia into existence though.
Hope you enjoyed this longer chapter. Remember, reviews are free! I would love to know what you think, your theories, if you're still reading this after all these years, and if my writing got better or worse haha! :)