“How long has it been…?” Izaya Ketsurui whispered to himself, gazing up at the bleak, grey sky. It had been at least… 17 months since Aizen had been defeated… 17 months since his powers had left him… Though he could still see spirits, not once in the span of 17 months had he seen a Soul Reaper, Deputy or otherwise… The young Australian continued to stare skyward, his eyes watering as the memories of the Soul Society, of his friends and of his lover, Rukia, all came flooding back… He wished he could go back, he wished he could see the men of his Company, he wished he could hold Rukia in his arms once more… But those were all just hopeful wishes… Just the hopeful wishes of a now useless child. A loud shriek snapped Izaya out of his trance, his vision now shooting towards a giant, dragon like Hollow chasing a young spirit girl towards the edge of a river. He dropped his bags on the floor, chasing after the pair of spirits, tossing rocks and other objects to get the Hollows attention. His plan worked, of course, but now he had to keep a giant Hollow from any populated area. So he ran into the local rainforest, taking the evil spirit with him into the murky depths of foliage. Izaya stopped and turned once they had reached a clearing large enough for the two to fight ably.
“C’mon, you ugly fuck!” Ketsurui bellowed, “I ain’t got all arvo for this!” The young man taunted the malevolent spirit as he tossed a sharp rock into its left eye. This caused the monster to bellow and shriek in pain before growling angrily at the young man. He smirked smugly up at the Hollow, ready to fight the hopeless fight with the massive beast as it swung its giant claws. He ducked, quickly sliding under its legs and jumping onto its back, climbing up a bit to reach its neck. He drew his boot knife, repeatedly stabbing the dragon like monster in the back and neck, splashing its black blood onto the forest floor and onto himself. The Hollow quickly lost its patience, however, as it thrashed about, grabbing the human by the legs, smashing him into a nearby tree and crushing three of four of his ribs before smashing him into the ground. The young human lay on the ground, coughing and spluttering as blood gushed over his lips, the crimson liquid mixing with the Hollow’s blood. He gazed up at the bleak, grey sky once more, wondering if he’d meet Rukia in the Soul Society after this… Wondering if he’d become a Soul Reaper once more… The Hollow loomed over his broken and battered body, glaring down at him.
“C’mon, then… Finish it, you lump of… Shit! I do not fear what comes next.” He hissed through clenched teeth, more blood passing over his lips as he spoke harshly to the spirit. It just cocked its head to the side before raising its giant arms, readying to kill the former Soul Reaper. He closed his eyes, preparing for his imminent death. Ketsurui took a large breath in, and released it as he heard the Hollows hands come crashing down.
“Nothing comes next.” A female voice said, only barely audible over the Hollow’s bestial screaming over the loss of both its hands. The humans eyes split open, gazing hazily up at the small form of a… A Soul Reaper! Finally… A Soul Reaper… At least I could see one before I died… He thought as he smiled, finally relaxing as the mystery woman dispatched the giant monster with such ease, simply making it look like child’s play. After the woman was finished, she hurried back to the human’s side, coming within his view. He saw a young woman with short, partially fluffed hair worn in a sort of bobbed style and dark violet eyes gazing down at him. She wore the standard Soul Reaper shuhaksho, though the left sleeve was shorter than the right, and she wore a Lieutenants badge on her left arm. The young woman stared down at him, a small smile playing at the edge of her mouth.
“You’re an idiot, y’know?” She told him, smacking his forehead lightly. They both chuckled before the boy began coughing up blood. She quickly sheathed her Zanpakutou, and knelt down beside him.
“I know, Rukia…” He said softly, placing his hand on her face with tender care. He used his thumb to stroke her cheek softly as both of Rukia’s hands held his tightly. The pair of lovers smiled at each other, happy to be together after so long a time. But it was not to last… Not for much longer. He began to cough up more and more blood, causing worry to his lover.
“We need to get you to Urahara…!” Rukia said quickly, getting ready to pick Izaya up onto her shoulders. But a hand grabbed her forearm, causing her to stop. She quickly looked back, and saw it was her older brother and 6th Company Captain, Byakuya Kuchiki, accompanied by Captain Retsu Unohana of 4th Company.
“There is no need. I have brought Captain Unohana.” He stated calmly, kneeling beside the wounded child, “Rukia is right. You are an idiot. But a Kurosaki like idiot. You have been missed in the Soul Society, Captain.” Byakuya said warmly, a smile at to corners of his lips. The young man chuckled as Byakuya finished his sentence, partially surprised at his statement.
“No doubt about it… I figured that at least Rukia missed me… Didn’t know everyone was sad about it…” He mumbled as Unohana began his healing treatment. The older woman chuckled at his response while Rukia sat beside her injured lover, holding his hand tightly.
“Your presence has been demanded by the Captain-General, my friend.” Byakuya added as he finished receiving a message from a Hell Butterfly. Both Rukia and the boy looked surprised, with the young Captain raising a brow at Byakuya’s statement.
“What’s the old fart want with a useless human like me?”
“We’ll find out when we reach headquarters, won’t we?”
The two men stared at each other for a few moments before the Captain nodded at his comrade. Unohana helped the injured human’s soul to his feet, placing a Gikon into the body as Byakuya opened the Senkaimon for the group to travel in. They stepped into it, wandering briskly through the far bleaker world of the Dangai before reaching the Soul Society. The Captain smiled as he passed through the doors of the Senkaimon and stepped into his much missed Seireitei. The group were met by a large crowd of Soul Reapers, perhaps the entirety of the Gotei 13, all of which were cheering loudly at the Captain’s return.
“I think they missed more than I missed this place…” He muttered to himself as he looked around, gazing at all the Soul Reapers come to welcome him. At the front of the crowd stood all of the Captains and their Lieutenants, most with smiles on their faces. Unohana made sure he could stand before returning to the cheering crowd along with Byakuya and Rukia. Old Man Yama stepped forward, slamming his cane on the ground. The crowd went dead silent as he did so, knowing a speech was coming.
“It is good to have you back, Captain. You have been sorely missed by everyone.” The General leaned forward and began whispering, “Miss Kuchiki more than most.” The two shared a quick laugh before the Captain Generals serious demeanour returned.
“It has been decreed by Central 46 that your powers be returned to you by any means necessary.” The young Captain gazed at the old man with a surprised look for a while before smiling lightly and bowing to his superior. The Captain General gestured for Captain Byakuya to come forward, and for the rest of the crowd to move back. Byakuya was carrying a bright blue, glowing blade with spirit energy visibly radiating from it.
“This blade has been infused with the spirit energy of all Captains and their Lieutenants in the Gotei 13 for the sole purpose for returning the powers of Deputy Soul Reaper, Ichigo Kurosaki, and former Captain of 5th Company, Izaya Ketsurui.” The General bellowed, the Soul Reapers surrounding the cheering loudly for a brief moment. “Step forth, Captain, and resume your post here with us.”
Izaya… It’s been a while since anyone called him that… He chuckled and stepped forward in sync with Byakuya, the latter pushing the spirit blade through former’s chest. As he did, Ketsurui felt his powers returning, the spiritual energy of his comrades and subordinates coursing through his veins. A small cloud of dust covered him for a moment before it dissipated, causing the crowd to wonder if it worked or not. And there he stood, the Captain of 5th Company, in all of his glory. He stood proudly, his Captain’s haori with his Company number emblazoned on his back billowing proudly in the artificial wind he had created. The crowd was silent for a few moments before erupting into a cacophonous cheer as he held his hand up high, signifying he was back and ready to serve. Rukia bolted forward, jumping into her lovers arms, showering his face with kisses. Ketsurui chuckled as he held her in his arms before pulling her into a deep kiss. After the two love birds had finished their moment, the other Captains and Lieutenants came forth and offered their welcomes after Izaya offered his thanks to all of them.
“Welcome back, Captain.” Rukia said, hugging Ketsurui tightly. Ketsurui hugged her back, gazing around at the Seireitei and its denizens.
“It’s good to be back…” He whispered.