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Bleach: Dark Intentions Arc: Smoldering is an article created by Achrones150. Use is allowed with the permission of the owner, with the exception of collaboration-created articles.

This article, Bleach: Dark Intentions Arc: Smoldering is the property of Darkrai.
It may not be used by anyone but the author or the co-author's in question.

Surprise Visitor[]

It was peaceful, the sun rising over the Yūrei Ōkoku. Several months had passed since the events in the Soul Society of Aether, and life was seemingly normal for the Kurosakis. Aoi, Kyūi and Taiki were still not back, but life was moving on. Adela was currently dating the parking attendant who worked at the hotel, so she was out of the house often. Midoriko rarely came home anymore, so it was just Miharu, Megami, Ahatake and Daisuke.

Oh, and Haiji.

"Meow." The grey cat was slinking through the house, slipping into Ahatake's room. It looked at Ahatake, who was asleep with his arms wrapped around Megami. The father of her master was an idiot. Haiji crouched, and then sprung, jumping towards the bed. He landed, sinking his claws into Ahatake's face.

Ahatake's roar of pain filled the room, as well as several streams of curses that issued from his mouth as he ripped the cat from his face, leaving several claw marks as the cat his the ground. Almost swearing he could see the cat snicker, it slunk out of the room. He turned to Megami, sure his shout of pain had awakened her from her slumber.

"Dah!"

A startled yelp came from Megami, and she immediately shot up in her bed. However, she immediately calmed down upon awakening, seeing as there was nothing really there. "What.... what happened?" She managed to ask wearily, rubbing her eyelids tiredly.

"The cat! That bloody cat!" Ahatake hissed, touching the claw marks on his face. "When Midoriko visits again, I am making sure she takes it. Or I'm killing it!"

"I think it understood you calling it insane...." Megami said tiredly, a sweatdrop forming on the back of her head. "Here...." She lightly reached over and touched the wounds. Healing Kidō flowed into the wound, and because of its lack of severity, the injuries were healed almost instantly.

"Thanks." Ahatake said, and he got up from out of the bed, wearing boxers and a T-shirt. Walking into the bathroom, he was grumbling, and as soon as he vanished, Haiji slinked back in, looking up at Megami.

Megami herself slowly got out of her own bed. She was wearing a purple night-gown, accustomed to doing so before going to sleep. She bent her knees, stooping down to Haiji's level. "You know that wasn't very nice...." She whispered chidingly.

The cat almost looks as if it was smiling; it's eyes were twinkling anyway. It turned and walked jauntily away. Ahatake sighed as he walked out of the bathroom, toothbrush in his mouth, and now wearing jeans and a faded black shirt. "That cat still lurking around?" He said thickly.

"No, it's gone...." Megami assured him, slowly standing back up and putting her hands on her hips. "And I'm gone too, straight to prepare for the day...."

"Alright." Ahatake said, walking back into the bathroom to spit out the toothpaste and gargle. "It's a weekend, so I'm free from work, thank the gods." He yawned. "Now I just have to figure out how to kill time today."

No sooner had he said this than he heard a crash downstairs, as well as the meow of the cat.

"Oh damn." He muttered. He might as well go check it. He dashed down the stairs to see Midoriko standing next to Haiji, and a broken lamp. Haiji was sitting perfectly still, almost like a statue.

"Midoriko?" Ahatake was surprised to see his eldest daughter. "Why are you here?"

"I came to visit, and when I walked in Haiji jumped and shattered the lamp.

"What's wrong with the beast now." Ahatake asked, looking at the statue like cat. At that moment, a figure entered the room, long red hair, and wearing a white shirt and jeans, similar to the outfit Ahatake was wearing.

"I'm not sure." Midoriko murmured. "It's like he senses an earthquake or a dark force or" She turned her to head to see the new arrival. "Hello Akiko, a vortex of evil."

Ahatake was even more surprised to see this woman. "Hello Akiko." He said, looking at his younger sister.

"G'morning Onī-chan." She said rather cheerfully. Ahatake frowned and dashed back up the stairs. He hoped Megami hadn't turned on the shower or something. He ran into the room and burst into the bathroom, speaking very fast.

"Megami, surprising news. Both Midoriko and my sister are here, and look at that it's not even 9:30 yet."

"Ehi!!"

He had simply burst in at the wrong time. The woman had already unclothed herself, sitting on the tub edge with her arms covering her chest. Her legs were crossed, and her limbs were in a position that Ahatake wouldn't see much. A red blush came across her cheeks, and she stared with surprise at her husband's sudden entrance. "O-ok, but... was it really so urgent for you to barge in like that?!" She exclaimed, unable to keep the dumbfounded tone from seeping into her voice.

Ahatake's face turned beet red and he coughed. "Um... sorry Megami. When you get out though, this would be a great chance for you to meet my sister." He quietly exited the room, making a mental note to apologize to her when she came downstairs. As he walked back downstairs, he saw Akiko throwing the lamp remains into the rubbish bin. He motioned her and his daughter to sit in the sitting room, he himself taking a seat on his favorite armchair.

"So, Akiko, what is it that brings you down here?" He asked, eyes on Haiji who was now staring at Akiko as though ready to pounce.

Akiko took a seat on the sofa, and crossed her legs. "Well, Echo's been out for awhile, and I sent Chūnori to a fancy little boarding school, so I've had alot of time to myself lately. So I decided to drop on in and see how you and Tereya are doing."

Ahatake chuckled, trying to imagine his nephew at a boarding school. Poor kid. "Well, I'm sorry to have to tell you this Akiko, but Tereya and I...divorced sometime ago." It hadn't exactly been a divorce so much as it had been a furious, flee-from-the-house-I-will-never-see-you-again kind of thing.

"I see." She murmured. "I'm sorry." She didn't sound it. On the contrary she sounded amused, something that was not missed by Ahatake.

"How do you know if Echo hasn't left you?" He started looking for things to pick at in a teasing manner. It had been so long since he'd seen his sister.

"W-what do you mean?" She asked, surprised, and they spent the next half hour bickering, Midoriko enjoying the sight of her father and aunt arguing. They only began to stop when Megami reached the bottom step.

"Hello everyone!" The red-haired woman exclaimed, giving everyone a respectful bow and a smile. "Nice to see some new faces of the family!"

Akiko turned to look at Megami. "Pretty woman, nice, long red hair." She turned to Ahatake. "Who is she Onī-chan?" She asked, though she already knew - or rather, guessed.

"My wife." Ahatake said, rather proudly. His eyes flashed an apologetic look to his wife, obviously apologzing for the earlier bathroom mishap. "Megami Kurosaki. Megami, this is my younger sister, Akiko Ichimaru."

"Hi." She said, smiling, though Haiji now hissed at her.

"Good to see you, ma'am...." After directing an acknowledging nod towards her husband, Megami immediately walked over towards Akiko and extended her hand to indicate that she wanted a handhsake. "And even nicer to meet you!"

Akiko smiled, shaking Megami's hand before rather quickly. Then she started to walk around Megami, as if inspecting her.

"....huh?"

Immediately, Megami was looking at her in confusion, only allowing her eyes to follow the woman. She let out a startled yelp when she felt the other woman's hands exploring her red hair. "W-what are you doing, Akiko-san?" She asked in a hesitant manner. Was she some sort of doctor who acted out on-the-job habits like this? Why wasn't Ahatake saying anything?!

After a few minutes, which included Akiko feeling Megami's hair, checking her eyes, and other actions, all of which could be considered a severe invasion of privacy, she turned to her brother.

"Onī-chan, I like her much better than the old one."

Ahatake chuckled. "Um...thanks?" He said, not sure how to respond to that exactly.

An unfortunate Megami was now a good distance away from Akiko, hand pressed to her heart, hand low, and a flush spread over her cheeks. That was far unneeded, even if she might have been some sort of doctor! "Is.... that how you greet all the people you first meet....?" She managed to ask, voice not being able to work straight due to the embarrassment she was just put through. After all, she was felt up.... right in front of her husband!

Akiko let out a low chuckle. "No, just people I'm especially interested in." She was obviously not concerned that her actions had seemed to make the woman uncomfortable.

Midoriko could see her step-mother was getting a bit "freaked" by her aunts actions, and the sword on Midoriko's waist emitted a faint glow, before a feeling of calm swept though the room. Midoriko was doing this in an effort to calm her step-mother down.

Ahatake looked at his daughter for a brief moment, and then to Akiko. "Akiko, you really shouldn't be so...so..."

"Forward?" The red-head supplied.

"Yes, that."

It was here that Megami's eyes caught the faint glow of her Zanpakuto. At a rate quicker than would've been anticipated, her heart began slowing down, her body temperature cooled, and her breathing steadied again. The flush dissipated from her face. "Woah.... whatever she's doing, it's working...." She thought to herself, looking over towards the girl to give her a slight nod and smile of appreciation.

Midoriko flashed her a smile back.

Akiko sighed. "So, did you guys have anything planned at all? I've got nowhere to go, and all day to get there."

Ahatake frowned. "Honestly, I don't have much planned. I'd like to just sit here, seeing as it is a weekend." He thought of something. "Megami, I hate to ask this of you, especially considering my little sister's recent actions, but would you mind showing her around the city?"

Megami sweatdropped. "As long as she keeps her hands off of me and to herself." She answered, giving a lopsided smile over at Akiko. "Oh.... and as long as she's not too much trouble."

Ahatake eyed his sister. "Will you behave?" He asked, eyes narrowed.

"Yes Onī-chan." Akiko replied, rolling her eyes. "Besides, what will you do to me if I don't? Tell Tō-san?"

"It's not a bad idea." Ahatake muttered.

"All right, Akiko...." Megami started to walk away in the direction of the door, stopping when she pressed her hand on it. She turned her head to give Akiko another smile, only this time it was more genuine. "Whenever you're ready, we'll be going."

Akiko walked towards her sister-in-law. "Alright then, let's get going." She said cheerfully, and they walked out of the door. They walked in silence for a few moments before Akiko spoke up.

"So, Megami-chan? What is it you like about my brother?" She asked curiously. It was disturbing to note that as they walked, birds began to take flight from the trees.

"Well...." As she walked, Megami turned her head towards Akiko. Her hands were folded behind her back. "He's pretty cute. He has his moments of lapse.... but in the end, he's really devoted and strong. I like that in a guy, y'know?"

Akiko looked thoughtful. "Yeah, I know. You could say I feel the same about Echo, though there's something else besides his looks and strength. I'm not sure what though." She frowned deeper, and the calls of fleeing birds became more animated. Was anyone noticing this? "D'you have any kiddies?"

"....?"

Megami looked for a moment at the cries of the birds before she looked at Akiko again, not able to help the strange look in her eye. "Well.... yes, we have a daughter. Her name's Miharu."

"Oh?" Akiko's face lit up. "Is she-" She stopped herself. She had been about to ask "Is she taken?" but then remembered her promise to behave. "Is she more like you or Onī-chan?"

Megami chuckled, smiling toothily. "You should know by now how kids are! She's got a little bit of both of us...."

"Oh?" Akiko's eyes lit up again. She'd have to meet the girl when she went back. "So, Megami-chan, what is there to see in this place? It looks more like the World of the Living than the Soul Society."

Megami nodded, directing her gaze around. She motioned with her hands. "Yeah.... it's pretty much an after-life version of the World of the Living. It's one of the more modern civilizations existing, so that's why it possesses much more advanced technology. I'm not sure how far it stretches, but this is just the capital city."

"I see." Akiko was looking around, not paying attention to stray dogs which were now forming into packs and running as she approached. "Hmm. I wonder though, why is it that people are more commonly sent to the Rukongai then?" She asked the question as if she really hadn't noticed the dogs. "Is anyone naturally sent here, or do they move here?"

"They're naturally sent here, bound by the Soul Societies of their nationality." Megami explained.

"Oh, I know that much." Akiko replied. "But, aren't the Japanese normally sent to the Rukongai? Everyone here seems to be from the Japanese section of the World of the Living as well."

Megami nodded. "America has a diverse nationality, having people that originally came from different parts of the world. That's why there's more than one piece of culture existing within the city."

"I see." Akiko was now looking around at the buildings and was able to see the castle in the far distance. "So, who lives there?" She asked, pointing at the castle.

Megami raised an eyebrow. "Haven't you read your fairy tales?" She asked, frowning a little. "No one lives there other than the King himself, as well as his assistants. There's also a military outpost connected to it, one of many in Yūrei Oukoku."

"So this place is run by a king." She murmured. It wasn't a question, she was merely talking to herself. "What's he like?"

"Hmm...." Megami closed her eyes and thought about it for a moment. "I can't really say. I never did meet the guy in person, after all. People like that are hard to reach, of course."

"Strange, I'd figure Onii-chan would make sure to acquaint himself with important people." She said, looking wistfully at the castle. "Does Onii-chan know him?"

"Mhm!" Megami nodded immediately, having been ready to answer. "They rarely meet, but in the times they do, they get along really well. He even fought alongside the King in a revolution to overthrow the previous ruler, and that guy was quite a tyrant."

Akiko's eyes widened with shock, and her mouth became a surprised O. "Really? Onii-chan fought against a king?" She started grumbling to herself, and the words "writer" and "miss everything" were intelligible in her murmurings.

"Hm...? What's wrong?"

"Nothing, it's just ever since I got married, I'm seem to miss everything." She replied, sounding sad for the first time. "He divorces hot wife one, I miss it. He marries a wife who's both hot and nice, and I miss the wedding. He overthrows a government and I miss it." She started grumbling again.

At least Megami knew she was blunt.

Megami smiled, slightly embarrassed at the "hot" comment. "Well, maybe you should come by more often?" She suggested, leaning over and tilting her head to the side.

"True. I never have anything to do with Echo out doing whatever it is he does for days on end, and Chunori won't be back until Christmas." She smiled. "I think will come by more often. So, is there anything else I've missed?"

"Other than incidents where we had to serve for the better of the city, there's really nothing you've missed." Megami answered, lightly shrugging.

"Danger just seems to be drawn to the family, doesn't it?" Akiko chuckled, as if she found the fact that her family was a magnet for evil very amusing. "Can you fight?"

A huffing frown came over Megami. She folded her arms across her chest, looking at Akiko skeptically. "Of course I can! My Zanpakutō isn't just for show after all....." She answered, a bit miffed that the woman had even asked the question. "Why do you ask?"

"You don't look the type." Akiko replied, chuckling again. "You seem more the type of woman to stay home and watch the house. Then again, I can't say I look like much of a fighter either."

"When the time comes for it, you'd change your opinion of that...." Megami answered, smiling. "But it's true. I mostly stay home and watch how things are going."

Akiko smiled back. "Well, with my family's luck, I'll be seeing your fighting skills soon then."

The signs[]

"It's just odd Ryūka." Ahatake was saying. He and Midoriko had gone to the Injiki house after Akiko went on tour of the city with Megami. Miharu said she was going on a date with Daiyaku, so the house was empty. "I normally get some sign when my younger sister is in town. Dogs forming into packs, blood weeping down the walls. Or that one memorable occasion where the seas began to churn and the birds took flight from the trees."

"....do you even listen to yourself?"

Ryūka was listening with a cocked eyebrow. Clearly, he found the Kurosaki's calm talk about such events a bit surprising.

"Yes." Ahatake replied. "I know it sounds hard to believe, but it's true. Whenever she goes anywhere, something nearly always happens. Hell, one time she was coming to visit, before I even knew, I had a dream I was climbing up a volcano that was spewing ice instead of lava. Then I wake up to find her at my front door."

A heavy sigh. "All right, I'm just going to push these wierd, apocalyptic signs past my mind and move onto the present. So Mister Misfortune didn't come to help her rain on your parade today. I don't see what's wrong with that..." Then, he turned his gaze to the side, folding his arms across his chest and looking pretty skeptical. "Then again, whenever you have feelings like this and someone else dismisses them, more than one of us gets screwed over in the process."

"Now you're thinking right." Ahatake said, working to suppress a chuckle. "I could just be going senile, but I have a feeling something big is about to happen." He placed a hand to his head. "I just wish I knew what." He was putting alot of emphasis on several words as he spoke, his eyes wide.

A slight smile came across Ryūka's face. "Tell me something new around here instead, how about it?"

This time, Ahatake couldn't swallow the chuckle, it escaped his throat to his surprise. "Well, I want to know, if this does come down to yet another battle, are you gonna be ready for it?"

"Ahatake...." That made the Inijiki frown. "Now why would you ask such an obvious question? Of course I am."

"True, it was a stupid question." Ahatake nodded. "Maybe something's messing with my brain."

Ryuka's frown turned a bit skeptical. From the way his eyes were positioned, they were clearly expressing slight disbelief. He simply shook his head sagely. "And it took you this long to find out?" He asked dryly, settling back onto the chair he was sitting in. "God help your primate soul...." Though his tone sounded apathetic, his words held a rather joking manner to it. It was his own way of teasing his friends.

Ahatake couldn't repress a grin as he got up. "Well, I'm going to check around the region. I've got time and I want to make sure there really is nothing wrong. If there is, I'll probably come straight to you. No point in troubling His Highness over another problem that's come looking for the family."

"Mhm...."

Ahatake quickly exited, leaving silence in his wake. This silence lasted for only a moment. Suddenly, the entire room began to feel calm, and it was soon evident why. Midoriko had entered.

"Hey Injiki." Midoriko said, looking like she'd rather much be back in the room she'd just come from. "I felt Tō-chan's spiritual signal leave. Where's he off to?"

"He said he wanted to check around the region for something." Ryūka had his eyes closed, and his finger jerked in the direction that his friend had left. "If you wanna follow him, he went that way."

"Nah, I was just curious to where he went." She said, and then left the room, the aura of calm leaving with her.

Outside, Ahatake was currently running along the streets, his feet glowing with Bringer Lights as he moved. A frown stretched across his face. While his sister's visiting was unexpected, rushed even, he couldn't help worry. The lack of a sign relating to her visit worried him deeply. He frowned, making a huge leap into the air, and then Fullbringing the air to accelerate. He still was getting used to these Fullbring powers. Shunpo had been easier...

He had been moving for a bit, heading around the region in an effort to search for some clue, some little sign. After a moment, he felt a vibration in the air, and skidded to a stop, right outside the region's forest.

"What would this be?" He murmured, walking up to where he felt the vibrations. He placed his hand up in thin air, making to grab something. After a moment of feeling around, his hand caught onto something. It felt like cloth, and he pulled, revealing a portal, unlike any he'd seen. "What...is this..?" He was surprised, placing his head into the portal. Inside it was nearly pitchblack, but under the darkness, he could see shifting purple material, much like the Dangai Precipice World. "This..." Ahatake backed away, stumbling. This wasn't anything he was familiar with. It was cold, and it made him want to run. Suddenly...

"Bloodlust!" Ahatake's senses snapped him back into action, his hand setting ablaze. He turned, the flaming energy on his hand slamming right into an energy of equal force, but it was cold. Ahatake looking right into the eyes of a white-haired man. He looked like Taiki. From their two palms, steam began to rise, and Ahatake was stumbling over the words he was about to speak.

"T-Taiki? No..." His eyes narrowed. "Your is different." The white haired man didn't speak, but broke the contact between their attacks, and jumped over Ahatake, turning to stare at him. There was something in this man's eyes that was familiar to Ahatake.

"Better reflexes than I originally thought..." The white haired man murmured. He jumped backwards into the strange portal, and it closed before Ahatake could process what happened.

Report[]

Ahatake was back in the Injiki house, now describing just what he'd seen. "Ryūka, I'm telling you, I was right. As I was running through the area to check things out, I stumbled across a portal. It was strange. Trust me, even you would feel fear if you looked inside it." He took a breath, remembering the cold he'd felt, and he shuddered. "Then, as I stumbled back, I was attacked. My reflexes kicked in, and I was able to block." Ahatake held up his hand, which seemed slightly burned. "It was a white haired man, about my age. He looked like Taiki. When I spoke, he ran into the portal, and it closed before I could do anything."

If it were anyone else, Ryūka would've immediately regarded it as something to be aware of.

However, he simply closed his eyes and folded his hands behind his head. He had crossed his legs, top leg hopping a little. He had heard of and experienced such situations many, many times beforehand. Ahatake's situation wasn't really concerning to him. Why should it be? "Well, that's good for you, I suppose...." He answered boredly, lifting a hand in front of him to check his fingernails.

"Good for me?" Ahatake repeated, surprised, his gold eyes widening. "What about any of that was good for me?"

"....I was being sarcastic, Ahatake." Ryūka frowned skeptically, cocking an eyebrow and shaking his head.

Ahatake frowned, the liquid gold of his eyes becoming somewhat more solid. He'd have to learn to recognize sarcasm one of these days. "So? What do you think of that anyway? I was right. Something is up."

"For now, I really think you shouldn't think too much about it..." Ryūka said dryly. "If the guy just swung at you and then ran off, then what's the use of trying to follow him? But if you really must, wait to find him again, and then try to find out what you can. Simple as that..."

"That makes sense." Ahatake agreed. "And he didn't "just swing at me", I could feel the bloodlust coming off him with that attack. If I hadn't reacted, I'm sure he would have killed me." He frowned. "So, I'm going to have to sit around while I wait for a lunatic to have another go at finishing me off. What a way to spend an evening."

Ryūka twitched his neck to the side for a moment. "Well, at least it lets you heighten your reflexes, doesn't it?" He asked jokingly, giving a smile in his direction. He wasn't worried - Ahatake could definitely handle himself, considering the power he had recently gained. He had more than enough power to be a match for anyone that stood in his way.

Ahatake thought about it. "True." He said, running a hand through his hair. "I might as well consider this training."

"Glad to see you agree...." Ryūka muttered. "Now, if you'd be so kind, do you mind giving me some quiet time? I'm thinking about something...."

"Alright." Ahatake said, getting up from the floor. "Wouldn't want to disturb the mysterious inner workings of the Injiki mind." He easily crossed the room to the door, opening it and swiftly exiting the Injiki household. What was so important for Injiki to think about that Ahatake would have to leave? He shook his head. He should at least tell his wife what he was planning to do in case this white-haired individual somehow did kill him. He turned on the spot, vanishing in a burst of flames, appearing in his house.

The house looked empty at first, and Ahatake figured Megami was still out with Akiko, who must be causing some trouble by now. He chuckled inwardly, feeling guilty about pawning Akiko off on his wife. He'd make it up to her when she came ba-. A sudden noise caught his attention. Light footsteps moving throughout the house.

"The cat?" He thought. "No..." He started to walk, his legs seemingly carrying him instinctively instead of really thinking about it. He could feel spiritual pressure coming from the source of the noise. The question was, could it feel him?

Downstairs, there was a young woman walking around the house, her eyes closed, and her hand in the air, glowing. This action would lead one to assume she was blind, but it soon became apparent that she wasn't when her eyes shot open towards Ahatake who had entered the room.

"It's him." She though, her red eyes becoming like cold hard rubies as she looked at him. "Shit. He won't be pleased. I wasn't supposed to make an encounter with this one!"

Ahatake glared at her, his gold eyes like glinting citrine. "Who are you?"

She frowned. It was best to answer. Talk her way out of it. "I'm Run." She said slowly.

"And why are you here?" Ahatake said, walking towards her as she backed off.

"I musn't fight him. I have my orders." She thought, her ruby eyes darting towards every possible exit. If she couldn't get to one, she'd have to make one. He wouldn't need to pay the repairs anyway, not soon. An excuse... she needed one. "I was just looking around. I'm searching for someone, and I was told I'd be able to find a clue to what I was looking for here." It wasn't a complete lie.

"Oh?" Ahatake's golden eyes narrowed in suspicion. "What would make you could find something at my house?" Ahatake asked slowly, watching her own eyes dart from door to window to wall.

She didn't have an excuse ready for this one. She had not choice. Before Ahatake could react, her knee slammed right into his stomach, winding him and causing him to fall to his knees. She immediately darted for the open window, turning to look at him. "You have my apologies, Ahatake Kurosaki." She said before she dashed out the window.

Ahatake, working to breathe, glared at her as he clutched his gut. It was only a few moments after that Megami and Akiko walked downtairs, both having felt the strange spiritual pressure flare up as the woman had attacked Ahatake.

At the very least, Akiko was walking.

Megami, however, had other ideas.

She re-appeared right beside the fallen Ahatake, placing a hand onto his back and rubbing it in an attempt to soothe his lungs. "What happened?" She asked immediately, skipping reactions and whatnot. She already guessed that he had been attacked - but the one who had done it had long gone.

"Attacked...by...a strange woman..." Ahatake said between attempts to breathe. "She called herself...Run."

Akiko had just gotten down the stairs, looking at Ahatake. "Oni-chan, you look rather pathetic."

"....not needed, Akiko...." Megami muttered, shooting a slight glare of disapproval at the said woman.

Ahatake let out a small chuckle. "Trust me." He said, making an effort to sit up. "I'm used to her remarks by now Megami."

Akiko grinned.

Ahatake frowned. "This is the second time I've been attacked by a stranger today."

Megami slowly moved back in order to give him some space. At the same time, she folded her arms across her chest and gave Ahatake a worried look. "Second? What happened the first time?" She asked, a bit of slight agitation in her voice. It wasn't towards him, but towards the fact that someone apparently wanted her husband dead. There had been too many who had that very same wish!

"Well, since there was no warning of Akiko's visit." The girl grinned again. "I went searching for something. I've had far to many experiences with my little sister visiting to know something always happens. Blood pouring from faucets, dogs forming into packs, blood weeping down the walls, etc. None of that happened this time she came along, so I went investigating and I came across a small portal. I went inside to inspect it, and, upon discovering how cold it was, I stumbled out, shuddering. At that moment, a white haired man who looked alot like Taiki chose that moment to attack me."

Blinking once, Megami cocked an eyebrow. "...you sure it wasn't actually Taiki?" She asked uncertainly.

"No." Ahatake shook his head. "The spiritual pressure was far too different. Taiki's is nowhere near as cold as the spiritual pressure I felt emanating from my would-be assailant."

"Well...." Megami looked off to the side, a frown forming on her face. "Whoever it was, he and this other assailant might be after you. Might be a follower of Takahashi who wants revenge, or just someone who's just heard of the fights we've been into and seeks you as a form of brute entertainment. I'm certainly not going to stand around and let them do what they please with you...."

Ahatake chuckled. "Megami, I may not be a Shinigami anymore, but I'm not helpless. I am capable of fighting. That Run merely caught me by surprise."

"That doesn't mean I'm not going to do something about it." Megami answered firmly. "I'll do my best to help you, like it or not. Got it?"

"Of course." Ahatake said, nodding. Rule number one of married life. Don't argue with the wife. "Ryūka had an idea. He thinks I should do something like a stake-out. Just wait in the same place where I was attacked in hopes the attacker might return. Are you for or against that?"

"....he's going to know that you're aware of him." Megami allowed her tone to lighten up, eyes looking over him in slight concern. "You need to keep that in mind."

"I know, I know." Ahatake said. He sighed. "Megami, Akiko. Would you two care to tag along?"

"I'd be glad to, honey...."

"I haven't got anything better to do." Akiko said cheerfully. Ahatake still wondered exactly who in the family she got her personality from. Definitely not her mother. Father was more laid-back, so probably from him. "Alright, let's go." He walked upstairs, for he needed his Reason Carving Knife, the object of his Fullbring. It only took him a second to get it, and he came back down to find Daisuke walking into the house, carrying Miharu in his arms. Miharu looked up at her father, who was clutching the knife.

"Tō-san?" She looked surprised, eyeing the knife. "Where are you headed?"

Ahatake frowned. "Let's just say I'm going hunting with your mother and aunt." As if on cue, Akiko and Megami entered the room.

Megami's eyes were the first ones to catch the position Miharu and Daiyaku were in. Her cheeks turned a slight pink, and she couldn't help but smile at the sight. One of her eyes closed in a wink. "And where might you two be headed like that?" She asked playfully.

"For the purposes of answering your question, shall we say bed?" Daiyaku replied, smiling. Miharu turned slightly red.

"!!"

That was enough to change Megami's mood immediately from playful to shocked....and then to motherly anger. "W-wait a minute, you are not doing what I think you are about to do!" She protested indignantly, folding her arms across her chest and giving them a stern glare.

"Yes Ka-san, we are not doing what you think we are about to do." Miharu said, smiling a smile that looked identical to Daiyaku's, except it was worn on a feminine face.

"Well, what I think is that you're wanting to do something most indecent.... in our house, of all places!" Megami said sternly.

Miharu placed a hand to her forehead. "Ka-san, you think to much. Her hands hadn't been too visible before, but now it was clear she was holding a book in one hand. "Daiyaku-kun and I are going to read this new book I bought. My room is the most comfortable in the house, and we don't intend to sit on a chair and read it." Not all of the book's title was visible, but the part that Miharu's hand wasn't covering read "...Dawn".

Daiyaku nodded, laughing.

"...." Megami continued to regard them suspiciously for a moment. If that had been the case, then why hadn't the girl just said that instead of avoiding the question? She closed her eyes and turned away from them. "Very well. But don't expect me to just let this particular conversation slide."

"Yes, yes, whatever you say." Miharu said, Daiyaku rushing up the stairs. Miharu murmured something unintelligible to the trio downstairs.

"That was certainly entertaining." Akiko said, and Ahatake let out a chuckle.

"....ok...." Megami's eyes drifted towards Ahatake. "Sorry about that interruption. I'm ready now."

"Let's move." Ahatake said, and flew out the open door, Megami following close behind, Akiko last, pausing only to close the door. She was grinning for two reasons. One, a possible fight was on the way. Two, she knew that Miharu and Daiyaku had been lying.

Ahatake placed the knife in it's holder and kept moving. His movement was different was Akiko and Megami's. He was using Fullbring to move, therefore, his feet were glowing under the darkened sky. If he moved any faster, he would appear as a blurring glow to passerby.

"So, on the subject of business." Ahatake said, fullbring the air to accelerate slightly. "If we, or, probably I, am attacked on this, should we go in for an instant kill? Or make an effort to subdue and interrogate?"

"....I honestly don't know...."

Megami's hair whipped behind her as she maneuvered herself, thoughtful eyes on Ahatake. "I was always used to knowing a target's overview before I go after it. Here, we know little about the people who attacked you. So I can't explain how we're going to go about with this...."

Ahatake frowned. In his mind, charging in for the kill was always the best option, no matter who injured one got. His wife favored a more cautious approach. Akiko's battle style depended on her mood. He sighed. Not the best battle party, but he had to do what he had to do.

"Let's go with the subduing approach." Akiko suggested. "If this guy is out to kill Onii-chan, he has to have a reason."

A frown crossed Megami's face, and she turned her face to look forward in disdain. "No one has the justification to kill another...." She thought to herself bitterly. However, she kept it only to herself. It was a personal thought, and it wouldn't help on the matter at hand.

Ahatake sighed. He didn't like it. "Fine, we'll go with that. Megami, objections?"

She would have to do her best to re-assure herself. She put on a weak smile at him to mask the uneasiness. "None at all." She answered readily.

"Excellent." Ahatake said as they skidded to stop in the exact spot where Ahatake had been attacked. "We have a game plan." As he landed, he began to feel around again, much like a blind man who couldn't see.

"What are you doing?" Akiko asked curiously.

"Feeling for where the portal was." Ahatake replied, his hand beginning to glow. "Things like that always leave traces, sometimes very distinct traces." His hand stopped. "Here we are. Now, if I just to this..." He forced his hand forward and it disappeared. He turned it like one would a key, and the very same portal he'd seen opened, the feeling of coldness and emptiness rushing out.

The effects on Megami were immediate.

The light in her eyes immediately vanished, and she involuntarily took a step back from the portal he had opened. Her hands grasped the sides of her arms, a chill running down her spine. "W....what in the world is that....?" She asked quietly, not wanting to look directly at it.

Akiko merely tilted her head. "This is it?"

Ahatake sighed. "Only you little sister." He turned to his wife. "This...I have no idea what it is. It's a portal, like a Garganta, but with the foul aura spilling out of it, I'm not sure anyone can traverse it. This is the portal that man who attacked me fled into."

Megami lowered her head, hair overshadowing her eyes. "Then we can't follow him straight in...." She murmured softly, unconsciously tapping her finger against her arm. "Might....as well close it b-back...." Her breathing was somewhat hitched as she spoke, despite her efforts to keep herself calm.

"Hm? Of course." Ahatake placed his hand back into the portal, once again turning it like one would a key, and it closed onto his hand, which disappeared into nothingness before he pulled it back. "I can only assume he will come back through this portal at some time, so, we will wait here, concealed with Kidō. Akiko, you're Kidō is rather strong, can you manage a camouflage barrier?"

"If you think I can't for even a minute, you are insulting me." Akiko replied.

Ahatake turned to look at Megami, who looked slightly sick. "Are you alright?" He asked, concern in his voice.

"It...was that p-p-ortal...." The red-haired woman muttered, taking in a deep breath in order to slowly calm herself. "The chill got to me, that's all. I can shake it off...."

"Alright." Ahatake said, not looking away from Megami as he spoke to Akiko. "Now."

She nodded, snapping her fingers. With that snap came a field that covered them, surrounding them in a mass of rainbow like light. "Done. We can see out of here, but no one can see in. We need mask our power though, since it's easily detectable in her." As she said that, her spirit energy began to lower, and Ahatake mimicked her.

Megami followed immediately after, managing to regain her senses just enough to do that. Then, she allowed herself to sit on the ground, propping up her knees so that she could rest her arms on them.

Ahatake waved his hands over some of the grass, starting a large, but contained fire. "To drive away the cold you're feeling." He said to Megami when she gave him a questioning look. "Besides, we may be here for awhile."

"It's fine...." Megami said softly, lowering her head a little so that her mouth was hidden behind her arms. Her eyes held a more serene look to them, and she found herself looking into the flames as they flickered across the grass.

Ahatake looked into the transparent beyond. "I can only assume in case there is more than just the one that attacked me the first time, you each will want to take one on if you can?"

Akiko nodded. "Duh."

"It would help keep things stable in combat...."

"Alright." Was Ahatake's simple reply as they waited out the return of the man who had attacked him.



Night had nearly fallen, and still nothing was happening. Akiko was asleep on Megami's shoulder, and Ahatake was nearly as still as a statue. "Nothing, nothing at all." He thought, irritated. "Now I know what it feels like to be a fisherman..."

"Megami, do you think we should pack it in?" He said, yawning and turning to look at his wife. Had he not been so irritated at the lack of results, he would have found Akiko sleeping on his wife's shoulder funny.

Megami had done the exact same thing.

Her head was lightly resting against Akiko's, and she was breathing lightly. Her eyes were closed, and she didn't make a move to respond to Ahatake's question. It seemed they had both gotten bored and had knocked themselves out before anything could even start.

Ahatake let out a short, bark-like laugh. "Oh the money Seireitou would pay to see something like this." He thought to himself. He stood up, pressing his hand to his wife's shoulder. He thought about the easiest thing to say to wake her up.

"Megami, wake up! We're under attack!"

"AH~!!!!"

Instinctively, Megami brought her arms back in a panicked attempt to stand up.

SMACK!

This caused the unfortunate effect of her elbow striking Akiko's face. In her dazed and panicked state, Megami hadn't noticed and instead pushed herself up, looking around with widened eyes. "What?! Where are they?!" She babbled, unaware of the fact that there was virtually no one around but them.

"Ow!" Akiko yelped.

"No one at all." Ahatake said, surpressing the laughter that was rocking his body. "It just seemed to be the easiest way to wake you up."

"Oh...." Upon not noticing the supposed enemy, Megami breathed a sigh of relief. "For a minute, I honestly thought that we were going to be--"

Then, she realized what her elbow had smacked. She stopped herself mid-sentence, turning around and placing her hands to her mouth. "Oh my God, I'm so sorry, Akiko!" She immediately exclaimed, stooping down to her level for a moment. "I didn't hit you too hard, did I?!"

"No, no." Akiko grumbled. "Trust me, I've had worse."

Ahatake sighed. "Anyway, I think we should pack it in. They're obviously not about to show, so I figure it's time to go."

After checking Akiko over quickly (she couldn't help it, Akiko did sound like she had gotten hit a bit harder than normal!), Megami stood back up and let out a sigh of her own. "Well....if you insist...." She relented, folding her arms across her chest. In truth, she was hoping that their efforts would've been fruitful.

"Akiko." Ahatake said. No answer. She was still rubbing her face.

"Akiko!" He repeated, louder.

"What?" She asked, ceasing the face rubbing. "Can't you see this stings?"

Ahatake sighed. "Just get down the barrier."

Akiko snapped her fingers, the barrier began to fade back, seemingly storing itself in her sword. "No luck?"

"No." Ahatake replied. "This must be how fisherman feel after a long day of fishing with no bites."

"We'll just have to try again with a different plan." Megami said lightly and optimistically, folding her arms behind her back and closing her eyes for a moment. "Don't worry, I'm sure we'll solve this problem as quickly as possible."

"Yeah." He agreed as they started to walk off. As soon as they were only a few minutes away, the portal that Ahatake had shown them opened.

This time, out stepped a girl a young girl.

Who was this, and what business does she have here?

End

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