[A/N: Huzzah huzzah for the new series has arrived. I hope you enjoy it as I put in a crapton of hard work for it. It will contain one or two lemons and as always feedback is always appreciated. I'll probably post this series really quickly just because I know a few of you have never seen Bleach. And I've got plans for the Three Kings arc I'm eager to flesh out. Sorry it took so long to post, but there were some large plot changes I made that I needed to fix before I got it up. Enjoy! Don't forget to review! I'll probably update this every Friday!]
[Special credit to my brother, XxJrHazardxX, for his help developing the plot. He is my walking, talking Bleach encyclopedia.]
Chapter One: Just a Kiss Goodnight
It happened two weeks after the first time I had dinner with Ichigo and his family and I was genuinely confused about the whole situation.
"You are the most overdramatic person I have ever met, which is saying a lot because you know how Kuwabara can get," Keiko told me.
I had wasted no time in trekking to her house after the incident, unsure of how to deal with the situation at hand and definitely not wanting Yusuke's input.
"I am not being dramatic, Keiko. You know these things don't happen to me," I said.
"Maybe it was an accident," Keiko said.
"Nope. Impossible. Ichigo is over half a foot taller than me," I said. "It was intentional."
The incident in question had occurred after another visit to his house after school in which Yuzu had again, like she had many times before coerced me into staying for dinner. Afterward, Ichigo had walked me outside like he always did because he was polite that way and as I was saying goodbye I gave him a hug, like I did occasionally because that's just the way things went. But then, I had just barely pulled away from him and he leaned down and kissed my cheek.
I froze, but Ichigo let go of me and said goodbye before walking back into his house casually as if it hadn't happened, leaving me standing outside his door in a mild state of confusion.
"Okay, so he likes you. He sounds like he's nice," Keiko said.
"Maybe he had a brief moment of insanity," I thought aloud.
"Stop being stupid," she said, whacking me on the top of my head with a pen. "He sounds nice the way you talk about him."
"He is. He's really nice. And he's smart and he's attractive, but Keiko, I am me," I said.
She shook her head. "I don't understand. Why is it bad if he likes you?"
"I am neurotic and crazy and sometimes a bad person. And he is very obviously too good for me," I said. "The last boy that liked me that was too good for me currently hates my guts."
"Well that's because you were stupid about how you handled things with Hiei," Keiko said.
"And then there's that asshole!" I said. Hiei was currently one of my least favorite people, once again. He'd been the next morning after I woke up and didn't reappear again that weekend, or any day afterward. I'd remained hopeful for a few that he'd show back up, but it soon became apparent that he'd found his answer the obvious question, and the answer was no.
Still, I had a soft spot for that asshole, and that worried me. "What if he just shows back up?"
"If he hadn't run off we wouldn't even be having this conversation about this Ichigo boy would we?" Keiko said. I shook my head. "Right because you told him you weren't going to wait around for eternity for him. And now there's a new boy who's not a jerk who actually likes you and you have a problem with this because why. . .?"
"Because you're being difficult, Kairi. You like him. I know you do because otherwise it wouldn't bother you so much," she said. I frowned. "Put on your big girl pants and stop being in so much denial when you like someone. It will make your life easier."
My phone buzzed on her desk and she picked it up, examining the screen. "Who is it?"
"Ichigo," she said clicking away on the keys.
"What'd he want? What are you saying?" I asked.
"He asked what you were doing tomorrow. I told him nothing," she said.
"Actually, I was going to go home and visit my parents tomorrow," I said lunging for my phone.
"Your mom won't mind if you blow her off to hang out with a boy whose dad is a doctor," she said, pulling it away from me.
That was logic I couldn't argue with.
My phone buzzed again.
"What'd he say?" I asked.
"He wants to know if you want to go to the zoo tomorrow," she giggled. "Why the zoo?" My phone buzzed again. "Now he said he's taking the twins and Yuzu wants you to join them. Who's Yuzu?"
"Karin and Yuzu are his younger sisters. They're 11. Karin is a tough cookie, but Yuzu is precious. I debate kidnapping her and taking her home to be my little sister every day," I said.
"So, you're going to the zoo tomorrow," she said. I frowned at her. "Come on. The zoo is fun and his sisters are practically old enough to watch themselves. This is totally just a ploy to get you in a new environment. Like a test run date."
"How do you know these things? Isn't Yusuke your only boyfriend? Should I really be taking advice from you?" I asked.
"I have your cell phone in my hand and the power to send some very unsavory text messages to your entire phone book. Now is not the time to question me," she said.
"I don't know how you allowed Yusuke to corrupt you, but I don't like it," I said.
Keiko smiled at me. "Tomorrow night you'll be thanking me."
As much as I wanted Keiko to be wrong, she had been right. Ichigo was still very chill about everything. He was mostly disinterested in the animals at the zoo (as was Karin) as Yuzu dragged us around the whole place. Mostly Yuzu kept her observations to Karin unless there was something she was really excited about (she was a fan of big cats).
So as Keiko had predicted, Ichigo spent the majority of his time in conversation with me and despite the fact that it was chilly that day and I didn't care much for the zoo I actually enjoyed myself.
I didn't take much convincing to hang out with him, sans the twins, the next day, and the rest, as they say is history.
A whole month had passed since then and dating Ichigo wasn't nearly the struggle I had thought it was going to be. In fact, all things considered, it was the best thing that had happened in a really long time.
And yet there was something amiss. And we could all tell.
The tunnel was closed. The SDF had vacated Karakura Town, we hadn't heard a peep from Sprit World or the Soul Society as far as any trouble went, but it became obvious as the weeks went on that something wasn't settled. With the tunnel having opened, flooding the already unusual Karakura Town with energy, the number of hollows had increased and Ichigo and his friends were kept busy all of the time. By now the energy from the tunnel was beginning to taper off, but the amount of Hollows was still steadily rising.
Which wasn't the only issue.
"If I, the least spiritually aware of the group, can see ghosts around, I know something's up," I said.
We were all in Kuwabara's room one Tuesday afternoon discussing the state of weirdness going around. At the best of times I could sense when there were ghosts around. It wasn't that unusual, especially being in Karakura Town all the time. What made it unusual was that I could actually see them, which wasn't normal, even for someone who was as spiritually aware as Kuwabara.
"Something is deepening their connection with the Living World. That's unusual," Kurama said.
"Even Keiko can sense that something's up and she's got no awareness at all," Yusuke said. "And tell 'em what you saw Kuwabara."
Kuwabara nodded. "There were these really weird ghosts I saw, walking around with these chains attached to their chests."
"Right in the center?" I asked. Kuwabara gave me a nod. "Those are pluses. We're not even in tune enough with the Soul Society to see pluses. The only reason we can even spot the Hollows is because they give off so much Spirit Energy, but you just see them walking around?"
"That's fucking weird," I said. "Although. . . Ichigo has been dealing with a lot more Hollows recently. It's getting pretty bad."
"That can't be a coincidence," Kurama said.
"I'm starting to think you're right," I said. "But what would cause all of this?"
Yusuke scoffed. "You got me."
"You don't think something's really wrong do you?" Kuwabara asked.
"I don't know. It's not like we can count on Spirit World to tell us if there is, but since this problem is obviously affecting the Soul Society as well if something was wrong they'd alert Ichigo, but I haven't seen any other Soul Reapers around but him, and the one they stationed here," I said. "But they can be unreliable with information too."
"So we just wait and hope nothing bad happens?" Yusuke asked.
I shrugged. "We're not the Spirit Detectives anymore. It's not our job to make sure nothing bad happens. We're just preprogrammed to care."
"Damn, I didn't think getting rid of that job was going to suck this much," Yusuke said.
"Yeah. I'm starting to get that feeling too," I said. "I was distracted from it before."
"By what?" Yusuke asked.
"Well, since the whole thing with Sensui happened we've barely seen you, but you've kept busy and you're not in emotional distress like we all thought you'd be," Yusuke said.
"You were pretty messed up about quitting afterward and then you seemed fine," Kuwabara said.
"It's probably because of your stupid boyfriend, right?" Yusuke said.
"He's not stupid, jerk. He's actually way smarter than me," I said.
"Not a difficult task to accomplish, to be fair," Kurama said.
"Fuck off," I said.
"But Kairi is right. He does rank 23rd in her year," Kurama said.
"You've been blowing us off to hang out with your boyfriend and he's a nerd?" Yusuke asked.
"I'm sorry, isn't your girlfriend second in your class?" I asked.
"Don't bring Keiko into this. She is not a nerd," Yusuke said.
"By what logic is your girlfriend not a nerd, but Ichigo is?" I asked.
"By my logic, because Keiko is perfect and I have yet to meet this Ichigo," Yusuke said.
"I told you that you have met him before," I said.
"And I told you I can't remember the face of every ginger kid I beat up, Kairi," Yusuke said. "I think you don't want us to meet him because you're ashamed of us."
"I absolutely am ashamed of you," I said.
"What the hell!" Kuwabara scolded me.
"I don't want you guys to scare him off," I said. "He's good people."
"And we aren't good people?" Yusuke asked.
"Kairi isn't even good people. Who knows what he sees in her," Kurama said.
"Thank you for your kind words," I said.
"Well, I'm still irritated that you don't think we're important now that you've got yourself a boyfriend. I still make time for you even though I've got Keiko," Yusuke said. "Bros before hoes, Kairi. Remember that."
"I'm sorry. I will introduce you soon. It looks like I might not have a choice about it anyway," I said.
"Yes, with the state of things, I'd say that it was bound to happen eventually," Kurama said. "In the meantime, Kairi, you should speak to Ichigo about what's been happening and have him inquire into the Soul Society about it to be safe."
"Will do," I said.
"We should have him come over this weekend," Yusuke said.
"Can't. Bulma is having her little shindig remember?" I asked.
"Oh, that's right. I still don't know how you roped us into that one," Kuwabara said.
Bulma was having a party this weekend at the Capsule Corp. compound. All her and my dad's old friends were going to be there—Krillin, Tien, Yamcha, Master Roshi, the list goes on. She insisted that since my friends had now joined the ranks of saving the world from destruction they all had to come.
"I'm only going because Bulma's a total MILF," Yusuke said.
"Please stop calling her that," I said.
"Hey! As a matter of fact, you should bring the ol' boy around," Yusuke said. "And Orihime and the rest of your little buddies in Karakura Town so we can meet them. And judge them."
". . . I'm not so sure about the judging, but it doesn't sound like a bad idea to be honest. Think of it as a networking opportunity," Kurama said.
"The last thing I need to do is introduce Ichigo to you and my parents and my brothers and the rest of my very weird close family friends all in one go. He will head for the hills," I said.
"Then he doesn't deserve you," Yusuke said.
"That's very sweet, Yusuke, but I actually really like Ichigo and he's not a piece of shit so I'd be pleased if this worked out," I said.
"We'll be on our best behavior," Yusuke said.
"That doesn't inspire much confidence," I said. "But I'm afraid of what drastic measures you might go to if I don't invite them."
"Yep, shit was gone get cray," Yusuke said.
"Don't talk like that," Kurama said shaking his head.
Kuwabara's bedroom door opened and Shizuru leaned inside.
"Hate to break up the party, Kazuma, but we've got visitors," she said.
"Who?" he asked.
"Come find out. All of you."
We walked down the hall to the front room of Kuwabara's house and, lo, standing there were Genkai and Yukina.
"Yukina!" Kuwabara cheered as he floated off to her and took her into a hug.
"Hello, Kazuma," Yukina said as he released her. "How are all of you doing?"
"Great," I said. "But what are you guys doing here?"
"Yukina was getting a little stir crazy living the life of a hermit, so I decided to leave her with you folks for a while," Genkai said.
"All right!" Kuwabara cheered.
"Honestly though, we're not really that entertaining when we're not beating people up," Yusuke said.
"Not to mention we're in school all the time. Well, at least I am," I said. "Though that has a lot to do with a certain relative of mine threatening violence on me if I don't go."
"Well, surprise. She's going to school too," Genkai said.
"Really? How did you manage that?" Kurama asked as Yukina dug into the purse on her shoulder. She pulled out a tiny pink wallet and hand it to Kurama. He opened it and examined the ID she had inside. He chuckled. "Look, Kairi."
I leaned over and had a glance at it. Then I looked up at Genkai.
"You had Grandpa make her a fake ID?" I asked.
"What's the point of having your brother be ruler of an entire city if you can't fake an apparition's way into humanity every once in a while," Genkai said casually.
"Wait, your grandpa rules an entire city?" Yusuke asked.
"Fire Mountain Village," Kurama and I said unison.
"That's all the way out in the boonies," Yusuke said. "Is there any part of your family that's actually from civilization?"
"No, we're all wild," I said.
"But anyway, Yukina, welcome to West City. Sariyaski High sucks by the way, but they'll probably love you there."
"She's not going to your school," Genkai said.
"Aww, why not?" Kuwabara whined.
"Because, they wouldn't let her in," Genkai said.
"They said I did fine on the placement test, but when they saw my recommendation letter was from Kairi's grandpa they said they weren't ever going to let anyone in there under the recommendation from anyone in her family on principle," Yukina said.
I sighed. "I left my mark good on that school."
"So you're going to Karakura high instead I assume?" Kurama asked. Yukina nodded.
"They placed me into class 2A," she said.
"Yay! We're classmates!" I said.
"Good. Maybe you'll be able to get some sense into her head. Lord knows how she passed ninth grade," Kurama said.
"Trunks," I said.
"But I'm doing better now, especially since Orihime decided to sit me down that one day at lunch and tell me I was stupid," I said.
"Orihime told you that you were stupid?" Yusuke asked.
"What she said was 'It's a good thing you're pretty because you're not bright' and then I got back a math test that wasn't graded except for the giant red question mark my teacher put on the front of the test. And then I thought there might be some merit to what she said," I said. "And anyway, I'm only bad at math and science. I'm doing fine in history and English and PE and art. They even hung up the picture I drew in the hallway."
"Well, I'm actually really good at math. Maybe I could help you," Yukina suggested.
"Maybe. Ichigo keeps trying to help me, but one of these days I think I'm just going to end up making him cry," I said.
"I thought Uryu was your tutor?" Kurama asked.
"He was until he flipped that desk over in a fit of rage and the principal got involved," I said.
"Oh, right, and then he wrote 'moron' on your forehead in dry erase marker," Kurama said.
". . . School sure does sound interesting," Yukina said.
"Trust me, it'd be worse of you were going with these bozos," I said motioning to Yusuke and Kuwabara. "And-."
I paused. I sensed something outside. I walked past Genkai and went to the front door. I open it and looked around. Everything was deserted and the presence I had sensed was gone.
"Everything okay?" Yusuke asked.
"Yeah, fine, it's just. . . Just now I got the feeling we were being watched," I said.
"By who?" Kuwabara asked.
"I don't know," I said.
"Do you think it's Hiei?" Yusuke asked.
"If it was Hiei we definitely wouldn't know about it," I said. "That's kind of what he does."
"All the weird shit happening and we end up with a stalker," Yusuke said. "Color me surprised."
"I'm a big girl, I can take care of whatever it is," I said. "Ain't no one fucks with a Super Saiyan. Ain't no one."