CHAPTER 1: PROLOGUE
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach...
He was an existence.
He had no clue who he was, what he was, where he was, or anything of the like.
He was void.
"Was it a success?"
"Is he alive?"
"We used the proper DNA, so all things considered, he should be just fine."
"What about a memory?"
"Use the data I secured in lab three."
"Does he contain the cure as well, Doctor?"
"I'll have to perform a few more tests to find out. If all was a success, then he very well should."
Several men silently left the bright room, leaving only two.
Kisuke Urahara coasted over to the tall, tubular tank situated in the middle of the large lab, and stared in fascination at his newest creation. Miracle was more like it, he thought as he studied the being floating inside the tank. It was filled with a synthetic amniotic fluid that would support the being inside until his body was fully matured. He had yet to develop the necessary coloring required, after all.
Urahara tapped the thick glass and smiled when the being inside twitched, eyes still closed and body curled into a fetal position, even though he was a fully grown male. Urahara brushed a lock of blond hair from his brow and let out a deep, satisfied breath as his partner and lover sauntered over, a blue clipboard tucked against his chest.
"This is your best achievement yet," the blue-haired man whispered, pressing a soft kiss to his whiskered jaw.
After two weeks of constant supervision to his project, Urahara had gained an impressive amount of stubble. He eased an arm around the shorter man and smiled, gazing lovingly into his mustard-colored eyes. "You think everything I do is remarkable. You're completely biased," he replied with a chuckle.
Mayuri snorted and rolled his eyes before stepping away from Urahara. "I am not."
Urahara's smile morphed into a wicked grin as he recaptured his lover in his arms. "Yes, you are, but I don't mind. Tell you what. How about we go celebrate in our quarters, ne?" he asked, voice dropping to a deep rumble.
Urahara grinned when he felt Mayuri tremble through his long, white lab coat, wrinkled, blue button-up shirt and creased, dark-blue jeans. "That sounds good," his lover whispered and after setting down the clipboard he'd been holding, hurried to the exit.
Mayuri disappeared from view, once he placed his palm against the gel-surfaced, security panel beside the handle-less door, making it hiss and slide back. Urahara waited until the blue-haired man was gone to return his focus to his creation. He studied the mouthpiece that connected to the breathing tube and apparatus that was keeping his creation alive as he floated obliviously in the tank. He was naked and completely unaware of just how special he was.
Urahara smiled again, this time stroking the side of the tank in a parental manner, his heart bursting with pride. He had succeeded where all others had failed. He would be able to live the rest of his life in peace with his lover at his side, all because of the beautiful being in this tank.
He gave the tank one last parting glance and moved to the other side of the lab, where he shut off the bright, fluorescent lighting, leaving the tank covered in an eerie, blue glow that was emitted from the bottom and top of the tubular structure. He moved to the security panel of the room and fit his hand into the gel, watching as it formed and molded around the appendage, ultimately recognizing him and letting him pass.
He would be back in the morning to check on his creation.
Ichigo lurched upwards in bed, face hot and body absolutely covered in sweat. His sheets were sticking to his skin and his hair was matted to his head. It was always the same dream, jerking him awake. He knew it couldn't possibly be real. There was no way his boss had handed him over to some scientist for "the good of mankind."
He swung his legs over the side of his bed and stared up at the ceiling. It read 6:34 in glowing, electric blue numbers, the mirror-like tiles shifting with each passing second. "Good morning, Ichigo," the computer in his home greeted. He sighed and grumbled a response, then scrubbed a hand over his face, still exhausted from the previous night's events. The guy had been interesting enough, but soon after Ichigo had fucked him, he'd felt the pressing urge to leave the short brunet's home, while the guy had still been sleeping. He couldn't take the morning after pressure, so he never stuck around, no matter how much he liked the person.
His feet hit the floor and as soon as they did, the iridescent surface warmed, making sure to keep the bottoms of his feet nice and toasty. No freezing cold floors in his apartment. Nope. Ichigo staggered to the adjoining bathroom, glad he'd left the door open and didn't have to go through the motions to do so. He stepped into the dark interior and grimaced, croaking, "Lights on," as he made for the toilet. The toilet chimed to life as soon as he stood before it, the filmy white material resembling milk pouring over a pearl. He relieved his bladder and immediately shifted over to the sink to brush his teeth, the toilet flushing behind him on its own. He approached the sink and the tap automatically came on as well, as he reached for his toothbrush and toothpaste.
This morning was shaping up to be the same as all the others. Routine, routine, routine. Being an officer in the Karakura Confederate – actually, their best officer – Ichigo had no choice but to become accustomed to waking up at ungodly hours, just to meet his partner, Grimmjow Jaegerjaques, who never held any personal qualms about invading his space. If Ichigo hadn't awakened by now and begun to get ready for his day, at precisely seven on the dot, his front door would have opened with the fanfare of a loud, deep, gruff voice, demanding he wake his ass up or else.
Coffee would be served, in Ichigo's case, Espresso, food would be passed around and then, his blue-haired partner would drag him from his home by his ears if need be. Sometimes, Ichigo wanted to thrash his partner. Six years of this madness was enough, in his opinion.
Sadly, Grimmjow didn't think so.
Ichigo stripped and gingerly entered his shower, wondering if his computer had finally gotten his request right. He hated climbing into the shower first thing in the morning and being blasted with a spray of ice cold water, so after scolding the computer several times, it had promised to get it right. He held his arms up once he was inside the translucent cubicle, as if to ward off the deathly chill, but amazingly, his computer had finally gotten it correct. A warm sprinkle of water hit him before it strengthened in velocity, making his arms fall to his sides and his shoulders sag in relief.
After a quick shower, Ichigo hustled back into his room and stood in front of his closet, the doors sliding back with a hiss and the racks slowly revolving on their own. Ichigo perused the hangers and grabbed his black, short-sleeved uniform shirt, matching black pants, belt and shoes, then proceeded to stuff himself into the clothing items as neatly and quickly as possible. Grimmjow was due to arrive in...
"YO! KUROSAKI! HOPE YER ASS IS AWAKE, ER ELSE I'M COMIN' IN THERE AN GETTIN' IT IN GEAR, YEAH?"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm almost done!" he shouted back, making sure his partner heard him, lest the man come tromping into his bedroom to see for himself.
Ichigo could imagine his tall, inhumanly muscular partner settling himself at the kitchen table, where he would place his gift in the form of coffee and pastries. Grimmjow ate junk food like there was no tomorrow, but would never gain even an ounce of fat. Candy ranging from licorice, taffy, sour shit and powdery shit, was all consumed, but Ichigo assumed the man burned off the energy before it could be converted into fat. That had to be the reason Grimmjow stayed the same enviable weight and stature all the years they knew each other.
Had to be.
Ichigo finally finished dressing to his standards, which were just past acceptable. Hell, he wasn't known for his immaculate appearance; he was known for getting the job done, no matter what the cost or means. So what if his pants were a little baggy and his shirt never seemed to stay tucked into his belt? He was a damned good officer and it showed in his work, although the Commissioner often called him on it, claiming he was representing the entire Confederation and should act like it.
Ichigo sucked his teeth at the thought. Sometimes, he hated his job.
He left his bedroom and traveled down the long hallway to his kitchen, the scent of something sweet and covered in frosting, tempting his olfactory receptors. As soon as he entered the stainless steel room, his eyes were immediately directed to the 6'3" man seated at the table, scowling across the surface at Ichigo's gray, Russian Blue cat, properly named Smokey.
"Ay, Kurosaki. What's up with yer cat? Why don' he like me?" Grimmjow grunted, mouth full of jelly doughnut.
Ichigo shrugged and instantly went for a Boston Creme and one of the tall cups of liquid savior. "I'own know," he mumbled, after taking an unnecessarily big bite of his doughnut.
Smokey glanced in Ichigo's direction, then dipped his head and licked a paw, rubbing that same paw over his right ear, cleaning himself and essentially ignoring the two men in the room. Grimmjow broke off a piece of his doughnut and tossed it over to Smokey, who stopped what he was doing for only the briefest of moments, then promptly continued cleaning himself, his aura dignified and above that of the scraps of a meager jelly doughnut.
Ichigo chuckled at the look on Grimmjow's face. Grimmjow and Smokey had had an ongoing dominion war for the past years of his and Ichigo's partnership and Grimmjow had yet to win any of the battles. "That's like a million for Smokey, now. Grimm, ya gotta do somethin' or you'll never catch up," Ichigo teased, knowing it would peeve the blue-haired man.
"Fuck that cat," Grimmjow said in annoyance as he rose from the table.
"OI! That's my fuckin' cat, asshole!"
"Jus' makes it worse, in mah opinion."
Ichigo wouldn't even give his partner the satisfaction of seeing him upset over something as small as insulting his cat. Grimmjow sauntered over to him, wide, maniacal grin plastered across his face and black, uniform hugging his godly body. His bright blue hair fell across his brow and stuck up in untamed waves all over his head and his smile was wide and scary, with extra prominent canines. However, if Ichigo hadn't known the man for as long as he had, he would have totally fallen for the guy a long time ago, but Grimmjow was an asshole with a capital ASSHOLE. He didn't care about anything, other than his sweets, his job and Ichigo and that was only because they were partners and had had the same, evil, old biddy as a drill sergeant in Academy. Ichigo often wondered if his partner – and grudgingly admitted best friend – was insane or something. Grimmjow didn't seem to have all his dominoes lined up at times.
"Commissioner specifically requested us fer a new case," Grimmjow said, once he was within Ichigo's personal space and crowding it like only he could.
Ichigo took a step back, overwhelmed by the sheer force of his partner's personality, even after so many years. He coughed and rubbed his nose before asking, "Yeah? What case is that?"
"'Member the uppity bitch that called the station the other day?" Ichigo frowned, but nodded anyway. "Well, turns out she was making a missin' person's report. Can' find her kid, er something like that. I ferget."
Ichigo shook his head, knowing there had to be more to the story if the Commissioner was requesting the two of them, and took a gulp of his Espresso, groaning in delight afterward. It was hot, filled with enough caffeine to power Karakura, and even wake the dead.
It was heaven.
"Guess we gotta go, then, eh?" Ichigo stated absently, not really expecting a reply as he made his way for the front door, Grimmjow following right behind him.
"Didja leave food fer the hairball?" Grimmjow asked, throwing Ichigo off.
"Yeah, the computer takes care of that."
As soon as the words left his mouth, the sound of hard, kitty crunchies hitting the inside of a silver dish sounded throughout the kitchen. Grimmjow grunted and shrugged his shoulders when Ichigo gave him an incredulous look. "I feel like the asshole's mine, too. Even if he don' like me."
Ichigo snorted, still finding it hard to believe, and waited for his front door to open. When it did, the sun streamed over him and made him blink while fitting a pair of dark shades over his eyes. He stepped outside and ambled over to the wheel-less, Confederate cruiser parked at the curb, waiting impatiently as Grimmjow swaggered over to the driver's side.
Another day on the grind.