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Strawberries Life In The Soul Society

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Sousuke Aizen stood upon Sokyoku Hill, frozen between Division Two Captain Soi Fon, with her Suzumebachi stinging against his neck, and the Goddess of Flash, Yuroichi Shihoin, whose blade bit into his abdomen. His two subordinates stood close by assessing the situation.

"Well, that was flashy," Gin Ichimaru mused. "I wonder what I should do?"

However, before he could move, a hand captured his wrist as a familiar zanpakuto was pressed to his throat.

"You shouldn't even move," Rangiku Matsumoto hissed as Shuhei Hisage immobilized Tousen and the remainder of the shinigami captains and vice-captains arrived. Gin's eyes softened slightly before he called out in a teasing voice.

"Sorry, Captain Aizen, I got caught!"

Turning the attention back to the traitorous former captain, Yuroichi addressed him.

"This is the end," she began.

"What?" Aizen interrupted. "Did you say something?"

"Don't you understand, Aizen?" the werecat narrowed her eyes in annoyance. "There is no place left for you, no place for you to escape. It's over, Aizen."

Aizen glanced down at the woman before him, then around to the captains and vice-captains (and the ryoka brats, he noted) that had gathered. He let out a small chuckle.

"Heh."

"And just what's so funny?" Yuroichi snapped.

"I'm sorry to do this," he began, decidedly not apologetic at all, "but the time has come."

Yuroichi's eyes widened in surprise as a bright, yellow light began to surround Aizen. As she cried out for Soi Fon to get away, a vivid orange blur streaked by. Before she could yell for Ichigo to stop, the teenager was surrounded by darkness and a horrible scream tore through the air.

The darkness disappeared as quickly as it came, revealing Ichigo, covered in blood. The young man coughed once, then, fell to his knees as Aizen looked on in dark amusement.

"That was one of my own creations," he explained. "It was meant to bring instant death to those I use the technique on, though you have proved to be quite strong. Do not worry, you shall be dead soon enough."

Several shinigami rushed past the injured teen towards Aizen.

"STOP!" shouted Captain-Commander Yamamoto.

Everyone froze immediately, listening as the Captain-Commander could no longer be touched, or indeed themselves attack, as they ascended through the air towards the Menos Grande filled Gargantua above. Ichigo struggled to keep consciousness and stand as Aizen spoke to them one last time.

"Good-bye shinigami, and, good-bye ryoka boy. Even I have to admit that, for a human, you were quite amusing."

Ichigo's vision finally faded as he collapsed into Yuroichi's arms as the Gargantua closed, leaving no trace of the traitors.

Captain Unohana was organizing her division to aid the injured when Yuroichi urgently summoned her over to the ryoka boy's side. When Kisuke Urahara appeared with Isshin, everyone knew that the situation just became even more complicated.

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A stunned silence hung over those left standing upon Sokyuko Hill, gazing at the place where the three traitors had disappeared. Then all at once, the trance ended as the quiet was broken by the eruption of activity.

Yuroichi gently lowered Ichigo to the ground and quickly signaled for Orihime to aid her. Though the teen's external wounds were terrible, they were not the most serious of his problems. Yuroichi frowned, whatever technique Aizen had used had done a number on Ichigo internally. It was nothing short of a miracle that he was even still alive and spoke volumes on the strength the boy possessed. Sighing heavily, the shunpo master motioned for the girl to begin on his exterior wounds while she focused her healing kido on his shredded interior.

Retsu Unohana skillfully directed the Fourth Division to tend to the injured shinigami, while she personally saw to Captain Kuchiki's wounds. Having treated the most serious of his cuts, she had her lieutenant take over while she made rounds. Glancing over at the small group surrounding Ichigo, the gentle captain decided that Yuroichi and the ryoka girl had the boy's healing under control and moved on. Seeing that most of the injured had been moved to Squad Four barracks for recovery and arrangements had been made for the few that remained, Unohana began to make her way towards the Head Captain to make her report.

Yuroichi and Orihime did have Ichigo's wounds under control, just as Retsu Unohana had observed, but suddenly his body stiffened before beginning to convulse. The werecat's eyes widened in shock and poor Orihime looked terrified. Neither woman could find an explanation for this sudden reaction; both his external wounds had been closed and, the internal bleeding had stopped. Could Aizen's "death kido" possibly have another function? Yuroichi did the only thing that she could think of.

"Captain Unohana over here, please!"

Hearing the summons, the captain of the fourth division rushed to the seizing teenager. A frown marring her gentle features, she attempted to find what was causing the boy so much pain. Unable to discern anything, she quickly cast a calming kido then, turned to face his anxious friends.

"I'm very sorry Yuroichi-san, but I cannot see anything at the moment. I do, however, wish to move him to a room in my squad barracks for further observation."

Yuroichi nodded in understanding and turned, preparing to transport Ichigo when she felt two new presences join them. She turned to come face to face with a grim Urahara and mournful Isshin.

"Kisuke?" she questioned.

"We have a problem," he answered quietly as Isshin bent down to gather his son into his arms, then followed Unohana away.

Yuroichi raised an eyebrow, "You mean more than three traitors who stole the Hogyoku, then escaped to Hueco Mundo? Does this have anything to do with Ichigo?" Kisuke nodded as she turned to watch the disappearing figure of Isshin.

"He won't be able to return home. Yuroichi, what happened?"

Isshin carefully deposited Ichigo onto the bed that Unohana led him to, then stepped back and tried to process all he had been told as she examined his son once again. He ran his hand through his hair and fought back a bitter sob. He had known that Ichigo had gotten involved in the life of a shinigami when Rukia appeared, he didn't even question when he left for the Soul Society to rescue his friend. He never in a million years would have thought that his son would never be able to return home. Aizen was a dead man just as soon as Isshin could catch him. The elder Kurosaki was shaken from his musings when Unohana stood up quickly.

"His body is changing," she informed him. "I'm not yet sure how or why, or even if I can stop it, but I assure you, I will do all I can to figure it out."

Isshin nodded to show that he understood, and Unohana left to give him some privacy. After some time, he ruffled his sleeping son's hair then left to find Captain-Commander Yamamoto. He had a favor to ask him.

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Darkness was all that he knew for the longest time. Then came the pain; intense and white-hot. Finally, blinking sporadically in and out through the haze of discomfort and dark, other sensations came into awareness. Fleeting, feather-light touches on his hands and face and soft voices whispering incoherently. Until… until, what?

"Well, King, don't ya just look like shit," a harsh and mocking voice finally broke through the veil.

At last, Ichigo became aware of laying on a hard, flat surface with rain beating down on his face. With great effort, he pushed up into something resembling a sitting position and opened his eyes. The strange, sideways city of his inner world slowly came into focus. As did the leering face of his resident hollow.

"Where's Zangetsu?" he asked, hoarsely.

The hollow tilted his head slightly to the side and raised an eyebrow. "Glad to see ya, too, King," he groused. Ichigo narrowed his eyes.

"Alright, zeesh. He's around. Ya know how he feels about the rain. And it's been pouring buckets since that damn bastard, Aizen, tried to kill you." Ichigo frowned, then nodded before falling back again.

"What happened?" he asked, tiredly, bringing his hand up to massage his forehead.

The hollow shrugged. "Beats the hell outta me, King. Some sorta kido or something."

Ichigo let his arm fall, too tired and in too much agony to continue. As darkness washed over him once more, he heard the hollow grumble to himself.

Rukia sat by her friend's bed, dejectedly. This was her fault. If she had been more vigilant, she never would have had to give the ginger-haired teen her soul reaper abilities and he wouldn't be in this mess now. Three months had come and gone and he was still unconscious. She reached out and gently took his hand.

"Come on, Ichigo. Wake up already," she whispered.

"Rukia."

She jumped and spun towards the sudden voice.

"Byakuya." She sat down again.

"Shouldn't you be at your squad barracks?" the stoic captain asked.

She shook her head. "No, brother. I'm still on leave."

"Then you should be at home, resting, not bothering the patients here. Come."

Rukia sighed. Standing up from her chair, she reached out and smoothed the longer, but still messy ginger locks from her friend's forehead, then turned to follow her brother home wishing Ichigo would get better soon.

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'It has been two weeks' Ichigo thought as he she sat drinking his her tea with the head captain who was going through the process of adopting her. "how are you adjusting Ichigo?" captain Unohana asked from her seat beside Ichigo, "I'm feeling better, other than the fact that I'm a woman now instead of a man." she looked out onto the seireitei "I'm sure that you'll get used to it soon, I'm just sorry that there's no way to revert what happened." Unohana sounded sympathetic. "But are you sure you're ready to start training so soon?" she asked apprehensively "you can wait until you're ready or we could send you to the academy if you'd like?" Ichigo shook his her head and smiled at her "No I'm sure that I'm ready my way of coping is to continue moving forward and throwing myself into training." he she looked mournful as he she continued "that's what I did when my mother was killed by a hollow when I was nine, but that made my family worried because I distanced myself from them and I know that this situation has to be hard on them as well."

 

Hours later saw Ichigo in one of the empty training rooms at the Squad 8 barracks with Kūkaku seeing as she was family as far as he she was told. "Alright, I'm going to be teaching you in the arts of jujutsu and  Naginatajutsu starting with jujutsu!" Ichigo looked apprehensive at the thought of being taught by his her cousin. "jujutsu is the art of using the opponent's force against them so you need to learn how to strike, off balance, throw, and wrestle your opponents. You'll eventually learn how to incorporate your zanpakuto into your technique." Kūkaku smirked at him her as she started going through some basic stances "Your going to be in so much pain when I'm through with you." 'well that's ominous...' Ichigo thought warily.

 

After three hours of training, Ichigo left the squad 8 training room to go find Rukia and the others for lunch. After ten minutes he she found Renji and Rukia eating with Rangiku, Ikkaku, Yumichika, and Shūhei. "Wow looks whos finally walking around!" Renji crowed "you're looking better Ichigo." Rukia said warmly making Ichigo blush slightly.

 

She smiled at the group and sat down to eat. "I'm starting to get used to being female, but it helps the Kūkaku was training me  today, that will keep me busy for a while." Ikkaku and Yumichika looked towards her "what is the training you on?" Ichigo hummed as she chewed her food, "she's teaching me jujutsu right now, and when I'm comfortable with it, she's going to have me incorporate my zanpakuto into my form." they looked thoughtful as the group asked, "can we come with you to your training?" he she hummed "it should be fine with Kūkaku" after they finished eating they went with Ichigo to the squad 8 barracks training room and settled in while Ichigo went through his her reps.

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Kūkaku was watching Ichigo as she started to add her zanpakuto into her jujutsu form and she thought of how the child had changed. She stood at a good 5'81/2" still and weighed the same most likely, and what was short orange hair that spiked up is now long thick strands that flowed down to her waist, which was roughly 29" and was at least a D cup. She looked healthy that was all that mattered after what happened but her reaction to her hair was quite amusing, Rukia Kuchiki ended up helping her brush it all and braided it neatly, but mostly left it in a ponytail. The girl in question was just finishing up 4 hours of training when she stood before Kūkaku panting but smiling. "I think you've made very good progress with the jujutsu so next time we're going to move on to the Naginatajutsu and I will explain how you will learn this seeing as Zangetsu is not a naginata."

 

Ichigo nodded to Kūkaku as he she left the training room, going to find the head captain seeing as he she was staying with him for the time being. She finally reached the squad 1 barracks and made her way to head captain Yamamoto's office. "good afternoon gramps!" she murmured happily as she made some tea for the both of them and sat down. "hello Ichigo how did your training go today?" Kūkaku said that I could start learning Naginatajutsu tomorrow seeing as I have almost fully combined using Zangetsu with the jujutsu, but I don't understand how I'm going to learn Naginatajutsu when Zangetsu is more of a Khyber knife than a naginata?" the old man hummed

 

"So I take it that she didn't speak to you of family matters?" Ichigo shook her head and sipped her tea "then I shall explain. Do you know the reason why you were able to hold miss Kuchiki's power?" Ichigo look confused "your father used to be the captain of Squad 10, but an incident in the human world caused him to seal his powers away in order to save a human woman from being devoured from the inside out by a hollow." Yamamoto took a sip of his tea before continuing "this woman was your mother Ichigo and is the reason why you hold some powers originating from the hollows inside of you, but the part of you that you still don't know about is that fact that your mother was a pure blooded Quincy that saved your father from a unique hollow but in the process the hollow tried taking over her body." Yamamoto sighed

 

"Your mother was going through the hollowfication process when your father sacrificed his soul reaper powers in order to bond their souls together thus making the hollow part of her soul wait until you were born to pass on and only started making an appearance when you yourself gained soul reaper powers." Yamamoto paused to let Ichigo think about what he had just told her. After a few minutes of munching on crackers and finishing her tea Ichigo asked: "I understand why he never told me but still why am I to learn the Naginatajutsu?" the door opened and her father walked in and threw something at her "that is the reason why you're going to learn Naginatajutsu." in her hand was a pack of small metal cylinders "Uryū used something like those once I believe. What they do is hold your Reiatsu and when you release it, it comes out like a sword, in this case, these appear as a naginata." Yamamoto watched her inspect them "you are going to be carrying a bunch of these on you from now on seeing as you are a literal being of the three realms."

 

Ichigo was startled by that comment but realized it was true she had the powers of a hollow, the powers of a soul reaper, but was human. "Wait if mother was a Quincy does that mean I have a chance of having those powers as well?" Isshin smiled "that is what we're going to find out. I've asked your friend Uryū to help you try and form a bow with your Reiatsu." She looked shocked at the thought of him helping her cause she knew he still wasn't fond of her being a soul reaper "he was okay with teaching me how?" Isshin smiled "yes, as soon as me and his father explained that you're distant cousins and your situation." she smiled looking happy "I'm glad that he knows he seemed so lonely before he started helping Rukia, Chad, Orihime and I fight hollows."

 

Isshin stood up "well it's time to eat so let's go find some food" they walked out and met with some of the lieutenants and captains "hey everyone!" Ichigo smiled as they walked into the room "good afternoon Captain Ukitake." Rukia was giggling as Ichigo sat beside her. Ichigo blushed slightly as her captain turned towards her and smiled 'I'm screwed.' she thought as the smile made her want to kiss him.

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The next day found Ichigo going through the basics of kido at the Squad Four Barracks and learning how to try to keep her Reiatsu at a level where she didn't have it constantly flowing but it didn't seem to be working so Urahara made some pieces that acted like Kenpachi's eye patch. These were bands that wrapped around her wrists.

 

She was having a hard time remembering the incantations but Unohana realized that her kido was very strong so she could practice enough that she wouldn't need the incantations. "why are the incantations so long?" Unohana smiled "the words and Reiatsu mix together to form the needed element for the kido but with enough practice, you may not need the incantation."

 

Ichigo continued practicing until she heard a voice echo 'oi... King or should I be callin ya Queen now?' the voice asked mockingly she sighed "what's wrong Ichigo?" Ichigo turned towards Captain Unohana "I need to go speak with Zangetsu for a bit." Unohana nodded and let the girl get comfortable on the floor.

 

Her inner world appeared before her eyes tall buildings stretched out as far as she could see. She turned towards the pure white figure that stood a few feet away from her.

 

She sighed "what do you want Shiro?" the being smirked, still looking male "aw... Ya wound me, king.." he giggled maniacally and Ichigo just sighed again "alrigh' alrigh', no need to get your taco in a twist. You know how the old man told you about your powers righ' ?" she frowned but nodded "well old man "Zangetsu" isn't actually your zanpakuto he's the manifestation of your Quincy powers."

 

Ichigo looked shocked at the revelation "but if he's the manifestation of my Quincy powers does that mean that...?" she trailed off and Shiro nodded "ya got tha' righ' king I'm your true zanpakuto but I'm also the manifestation of ya hollow powers."

 

She was so confused "how is that possible?" he cackled "the two fused due to who ya parents are." he smirked "now the question is will you use us the way we were meant to be used, what will ya decide king?" with that Shiro left and she left her inner world.

 

She thought of what her apparent zanpakuto told her "is something wrong Ichigo?" she looked to captain Unohana and hummed "yeah Zangetsu just gave me some surprising information that's all." she was worried she didn't want to use her hollow powers but she knew she should learn how to control that side of herself. "captain Unohana is there somewhere I can train by myself?"

 

Unohana looked startled at the question "well not really, you can ask people not to accompany you but other than that.." then Ichigo remembered the training ground under Sōkyoku Hill "hmm can someone send a message to Urahara Kisuke? I need to ask if I can use his training ground and if he has any hints to help with how I got my powers in the pit." Unohana looked concerned at the vague way the girl was speaking but nodded "I'll have the message sent along but you're sure he knows what you speak of?"

 

Ichigo smiled "yeah he'll know what I mean its nothing too important I just need his help with my zanpakuto training." Unohana nodded "very well, but it seems training is over for today, go get some food Ichigo." Ichigo stood up and left Squad Fours barracks walking to where her friends normally ate.

 

Ichigo smiled as she walked in and saw that everyone was there today "hey Ichigo how was training today?" Renji yelled across the room she laughed as she sat down between Captain Ukitake and Rukia "it went well. Learning kido is difficult but I'm slowly getting the hang of it."

 

She paused as she ate "it's learning the incantations that kicking my butt right now.." Rukia laughed "yeah Renji had trouble with that too he always added an extra word or forgot a word and it would blow up in his face!" Ichigo giggled at Renji's indignant face "that makes me feel better. Though you've obviously gotten better at that haven't you?" she smirked towards Renji. "Che... Who do you think I am of course have!" she shared a look with Rukia who was laughing into her hand. 'awwe king what good friends ya have, an' they don' even know what your hiding..' the spirit cackled her eyes narrowed slightly 'shove off!' she replied.

 

Captain Unohana walked into the room "Ichigo Kisuke said that he'll be here tomorrow." she nodded in thanks "oh why is Kisuke coming?" Captain Ukitake asked "ah I've asked for his help with some training with Zangetsu." the group nodded "Man you sure are taking your training seriously Ichigo!" Shūhei said seriously "yeah with what happened with Aizen I don't want to be caught off guard again." that made everyone look proud of how the girl was doing with her situation.

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Sorry for the lack of updates but I've hit a block with this chapter but I am still writing for my stories don't worry and hopefully I will have a new chapter soon. I have a few stories that I could post as an apology instead of a new chapter but idk yet, might wait sorry again and hope you've enjoyed so far.