Okay! Just a note from the author: I’m not so sure, in relation to the actual Bleach anime, when all of this is taking place. All I know is that it’s after Ichigo saves Rukia and learns how to control his inner hollow. I guess the whole Aizen incident could be completely resolved, but it doesn’t matter either way.
BLEACH: DARK DOUBLES
CHAPTER TWO: THE OTHER ICHIGO
PROTAGONIST SWITCH: ICHIGO KUROSAKI (…the real one)
LOCATION: KARAKURA TOWN
TIME: 7:24 P.M.
“Thanks for dinner, Mr. Kurosaki!” Rukia says cordially, bringing her plate over to Yuzu who’s begun to wash the dishes.
“Not a problem, Miss Kuchiki,” my dad says. “It’s not too often that my son brings home a girl.”
My face turns bright red and I stick my tongue out, freezing up awkwardly. Rukia is not my girlfriend. I still can’t decide if I like girls or if they’re still…well, you know, weird.
“Oh daddy, you made Ichigo turn red again,” Yuzu comments.
“I’m just glad both of you were on time for dinner,” my dad continues. “Dinner at this house is at seven o’clock.”
“Yeah, I think I know that now,” I say. He still surprise-attacks me if I come home late.
“What are you kids gonna’ be up to after dinner?” my dad asks, suspiciously.
“What? I don’t know!” I say, flustered. Man, so many questions. I really feel like we’ve gotta get out of the house. Otherwise, we’ll never get any privacy. Everyone is too excited. It seems best to act like I don’t know what we’re going to do. In part I don’t. However, there is a reason as to why Rukia is here. She said she’s got some news for me—interesting news. I’m guessing that overall, it isn’t going to be good.
Sensing my indecisiveness, Rukia suggests with a smile, “Wanna see what Chad and Orihime are up to?”
“Sure,” I say, lowering my head with determination. Maybe they need to hear this too.
“Be back by eight-thirty!” my dad calls as we exit the door. Karin and Yuzu both look at him accusingly, and he laughs, chuckling, “Kids…”
Once we’re outside, we start walking in the direction of Chad’s house. “So, Rukia,” I address, stopping in my tracks so that we can talk, “what’s all this about?”
She keeps on pacing forward, saying, “I’ll tell you once we meet up with Chad and Orihime. It’ll be easier to explain this just once.”
“It’s bad though, isn’t it?” I ask, following her.
She looks over at me, “Yeah, I don’t know if I’d call it ‘good’.”
There are a few people out on the streets, and fewer cars. A couple walks towards us, and two girls exit a store. The sky has grown dark, and I think I hear the sound of thunder rumbling. Everything looks rather gray. Wind sweeps up around us, rustling our clothes and hair as we continue silently towards Chad’s house. The quiet is both peaceful and epic; a storm may be brewing, but just the fact that something so simple as a storm can bring about a bit of excitement—maybe that’s what makes it peaceful. Little things making my life feel exciting. Little things making a positive impact.
I hope that whatever Rukia has to say doesn’t disturb this peace too much.
Thunder rolls through the clouds, louder this time, and I stiffen. I suddenly sense something, and I feel like I see something on the roof above me at my right. I glance upwards. Nothing there. Huh, maybe I just imagined it. We keep on going forward, and I get the feeling we’re being followed. I don’t like it. Something feels wrong. I look over my shoulder. Nothing there.
Then Rukia grunts and says in an annoyed voice, “Ichigo, what are you doing making your spiritual pressure fluctuate like that? It’s starting to get annoying.”
“What do you mean?” I inquire, confused.
“Exactly what I said,” Rukia states. “Are you trying to send out some sort of signal?”
We both stop walking, standing beneath the awning of a diner. “I’m telling you, I’m not doing anything,” I say, starting to grow frustrated. I’m an easily angered person. Rukia probably knows that better than anyone. But it’s true: I’m not raising my spiritual pressure. I can do that at will, as I’m a soul reaper. Usually, spiritual pressure increases whenever you’re fighting someone, or when you’re…well, expending the energy of your soul. I’m not doing that right now. I’ll admit, I’m about as crappy as ever at detecting spiritual pressure. I’ve never really been good at that. But I think I would know if I was increasing my own!
Then I feel it too. It’s big. The effect of massive spiritual pressure—it’s hard to explain. It feels like your about to be lifted off your feet, and at the same time, like the air is being sucked from your lungs, and your body becomes weak and frail in comparison to the energy rushing through and around you. At first, the shock of experiencing another’s surge of spiritual pressure intimidated me. It put me on edge, like I was in the sights of a deathly hungry lion. Like I knew someone was near me, staring at me, and they wanted to kill me. As I thought before fighting Kenpachi Zaraki, a soul reaper Captain of the Soul Society, the intent to kill can be so powerful, it feels like you’ve already been stabbed.
Only this is different. I don’t necessarily feel like someone is about to attack me. But whoever it is, they are powering up, and making their presence known.
Rukia doesn’t even have to ask if I feel it. Our eyes widen, and my hand drops down to my belt where I keep hidden my Substitute Shinigami Badge, a token given to me by the Soul Society. It enables my soul to exit my body immediately so I can act as a soul reaper.
I wait before turning into a soul reaper…I don’t want to unnecessarily freak out any of the people around. Once I become my soul alone, my body becomes utterly lifeless. It can cause some people to panic. So I wait.
There’s another flash of movement, this time above me on the buildings across the street. And I see a figure standing there, lingering in the shadows. Wind tears around me, and thunder tumbles once more through the skies. I raise my eyes to the figure, and he slowly emerges from the shadows, saying in a voice that I know too well, “Hello, Ichigo Kurosaki.”
I know the voice because it’s mine.
I stiffen, gazing up at the person atop the building across from us. Squinting, I peer at him with suspicion and amazement. “Ichigo…” Rukia says in a breathless voice.
“Rukia,” I say, “stay back.” Rukia is no longer powerful. Being reduced from a soul reaper to an average human by Sousuke Aizen, she can only cast a few spells. I’m the one with all the power. “Just who the hell are you?” I shout at the person.
“I came here to ask you the same question!” he yells back. “I want answers.”
“Look, I don’t know who you are, but why do you look like me?” I ask. It’s true; the same hair—only his is interestingly black—, the same eyes, the same face shape, the same body, the same voice, the same…everything.
He seems to sigh, and he drops the challenging, mysterious attitude. “Look, I just want to talk, for now.”
“Then come on down here,” I say. I haven’t dropped my guard.
He leaps down from the top of the building, soaring down to me and Rukia. I grunt, and freeze. Rukia sticks out her tongue and looks away, blushing. At first, I can’t help staring, and then I quickly flick my head to the side, shouting, “WHERE THE HELL ARE YOUR CLOTHES?!”
Maybe I shouldn’t have shouted that.
A man walking down the street across from us yells, “Hey, don’t you have any shame, boy! Just what do you think you’re doing?”
Then the woman that runs the diner comes hurrying out of the restaurant, broom in hand, exclaiming, “Go on! Get out of here! Get! Get!”
“You clown…” I growl at the other me.
“Come on, let’s get out of here!” Rukia says, still not looking.
Instead of running for Chad’s house, we run to the place where we know we can talk and get some explanations: Urahara’s shop.