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Substitute In Flames arc

"Focus your energy!" Harumi barked, catching Ahatake by surprise. "Oh shit shit shit shit shit shit shi-!" He fell straight from the air in his shock, colliding with the nearest car.

Harumi held a hand to her face while Kayla just laughed at her best friend's inability to properly control energy. How did this even start? Well, it was a few hours ago...

Show not thy face to the unsuspecting

"Ugh..." Ahatake was sitting up in bed, groaning. Kayla walked in, bringing him some food, and looked concerned. "Something wrong?" She asked, placing the tray on his lap.

"No...I'm not sure..." He frowned. "Was last night just..a dream?" He clearly remembered becoming a Shinigami and slaughtering that Hollow like an American's Thanksgiving Turkey, but the next thing he knew, he had woken up in bed. "Damn Shinigami...."

"Well...I'm not entirely sure..." Kayla sat down, mulling it over. "I remember a Hollow...but then I woke up here." She shrugged. "Maybe we had the same dream?"

"I'm not too sure..." Ahatake looked out the Window. He felt normal. He tried to tug on the soul of his drink. Nothing happened. "That's...weird, my Fullbring isn't working right."

"Really?" Kayla looked curious, and placed her forehead to Ahatake's. "Well....you don't have a fever or anything..." She frowned. "This must be unique. Check your flames?"

Ahatake obliged, creating a spiraling sphere of pure flames. "No. These are fine. It's weird..."


As Ahatake got to school, he groaned, setting his bag down by his desk. The fact that his Fullbring was failing to work was one thing...but for Harumi to just disappear was another. That woman...she shows up, gets Kayla and himself nearly killed, gives him powers, and then leaves. It was like bad sex, without the sex.

"Hello!" A cheery voice, girly called over to him. "I'll be sitting next to you today!" Ahatake turned and saw Harumi, clad in Yasuraka High School Uniform, standing next to him with a sickeningly sweet smile on her face.

"WHAT THE HELL!?" He immediately made a scene, jumping out of his chair at the sight of Shinigami. "Wh-what the heck are you doing here!?"

"Isn't it great Ahatake?" A boy slid over to him. "Muruiyama-san's gonna be a new student here. She just moved to Yasuraka from Osaka and she's just transferred here today!"

Ahatake's eye twitched. "You're...strangely happy about that, Saotome." He seemed definitely put off by this girl. "Hey, Harumi, what the heck happened last ni-OOF!" That was Harumi decking Ahatake in the gut, and dragging him out of the room. Kayla, who had been watching, giggled and followed.

"Last night?" Soatome muttered. "WAIT, AHATAKE HAS BOTH KAYLA AND THE NEW TRANSFER STUDENT!?" He suddenly seemed irritated, but it was comical to the point of ridiculousness.


"Why the hell are you here, Shinigami?" Ahatake glared at Harumi. "Don't Shinigami go somewhere when they're done slaying Hollows?"

Harumi looked taken aback. "Er...well...yes, we do. The Soul Society. But, I currently can't return. I don't have enough spiritual power. That's what I'm stuck in this." She pointed at herself. "A Gigai, a false body a Shinigami uses to recover their power when they need to."

Ahatake looked at her blankly. "So...that's how everyone can see you?"

"Exactly."

"A Gigai..." Kayla repeated the word. "That's cute."

"What?" Harumi looked at her, puzzled. "What do you mean?"

"I'm dead as well." Kayla smiled broadly. "But I can become solid, convert my body from spirit to solid."

"Ignoring that..." Ahatake cut off Harumi before she could ask Kayla how such a thing was possible, "how do you just lose Shinigami powers? They aren't lke clothes...or that Ring Pop I'd had in grade school that somehow just went missing."

"The problem is that all of my reiryoku was poured into you." She jabbed Ahatake in the chest. "I only intended to give you half my power, enough to destroy that Hollow and it should have been gone withtin a few hours. But you, somehow, took all of it."

"That means..." Ahatake seemed to be a bit slow on the uptake.

Harumi groaned. "That makes you a Shinigami, Ahatake! Which makes it your duty to perform the duties of a Shinigami until my powers return!"

It took Ahatake a second to register this, and he immediately cross his arms in front of his body in an X-formation, as if shoving Harumi away. "No way. Hell no. I'm not gonna go around in black slaying shit and pretending to be a hero! Hell, I'm not even rich, I lack a mask, and what animal motif do I have? No, I do not want that kind of crap on my shoulders."

Harumi's eye twitched. "Fine...if you want to play it the hard way..." She shoved a glove onto her hands and dashed towards Ahatake, smacking him hard across the face. Ahatake felt himself lurch backwards and skid across the ground. "What the hell was that fo-!" He stopped dead sentence, looking at his own body on the ground. Then he looked at himself. Clothed in dark blue, borderline black clothing. "What the hell did you do to me?" Ahatake growled.

Harumi snickered. "I removed your Soul from your body." She grabbed him by the hand. "Whether you like it or not, you're helping me out!" She started to drag him off, and Ahatake turned to Kayla. "KA-KAYLA, HELP ME OUT!"

Kayla smiled, almost detached. "Have fun Ahatake! I'll keep track of your body!"

"...WHY DOESN'T THAT REASSURE ME!?" Ahatake called as Harumi dragged him off.


"GWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!" A Hollow let out a massive roar, launching itself at a group of kids. The kids, not being spiritually aware, couldn't see it to literally save their lives. "GET OUT OF THE WAY!" Ahatake shouted, running towards them. Harumi chuckled maliciously. She knew dragging Ahatake out to where people were in danger would get his protective instinct rumbling.

"Strike it from behind!!" Harumi called to him.

"No one made you my captain!" Ahatake shot back, drawing his sword and slashing down at the Hollow's mask. The cut, however, only cut off a part of the mask itself. "Damn!" He growled. "Too shallow..." Shallow or not, the Hollow let out a roar of pain and vanished, but not before Ahatake caught a glimpse of something that made him shudder. Under the Hollow's mask was...

A human face.

Ahatake stood there for a minute, shaking. "So...care to explain that, Harumi?"

Harumi eyed him curiously. "Explain what? There's nothing to it." She was cold.

Ahatake turned on her. "I've been fighting these things off for years! Hollows, evil spirits!! I thought they were demons, I thought killing them was right, before anyone else got hurt! What the hell was this!? Under that mask was a human face! You couldn't have explained that yesterday, while you were making yourself comfortable in my house!?" He panted, the yelling having tired him. The fact that he had been going around and slaying transformed humans seem to disturb Ahatake greatly.

"What difference would it make!?" Harumi snapped icicly. "Even if you knew, what different would it make Hollows are creatures that must be destroyed, lest they consume other souls endlessly! Why do you think a Hollow is best attacked from behind Not merely because of the element of surprise, but so you never see the face of the Hollow under the mask! A Hollow's mask shields it's baser instincts from the outside world, reducing it to the soul-devouring beasts you see before you! And dry your tears! Killing a Hollow with your blade as a Shinigami isn't really killing it at all. It cleanses the beast of it's sins as a Hollow and allows it to pass into the Soul Society."

Ahatake took resolve in hearing this, and it was lucky for him he didn't decide right then and there to wonder what happened to Hollows he'd killed before, as a Fullbringer. "Right...I'm sorry for the outburst like that." The kids the Hollow had intended to eat were unaware any of this was happening as the Hollow manifested again, before Ahatake, it's mask still cracked and it's human eye visible. Strangely, it was wearing shades.

"You! Shinigami! You ruined my lunch!" So it could talk.

"Yeah." Ahatake pulled his sword over his shoulder. "What of it?"

"I'll devour you all!!!!!" It charged at Ahatake, mouth open wide.

"...See you in the next world." Ahatake replied, his eyes looking rather solemn as he swung his blade down, slicing the Hollow in two. It quickly vanished.

The Basics

"Oh, you're back!" Kayla hopped down from the railing she had been sitting on, Ahatake's body was still collapsed on the ground. She hadn't moved it at all, but she was standing guard vigilantly. "So, how was your time playing Grim Reaper?"

"Well..." Ahatake got back into his body as he told her about the revelation about Hollows. She looked at him blankly. "So...they're human souls..." She thought about it. "Still! It's better to kill them than let them than to let them run wild. They're lost souls, Ahatake."

"See?" Harumi jabbed her hand at Kayla. "Even the girl agrees with me. You can't back down from slaying Hollows now, Ahatake. Besides, you're in this for the long run."

Ahatake groaned. "Are there some sort of higher ups I can complain to This has to be illegal where you're from?"

Harumi flinched, but didn't seem to confirm that, holding up a Cell Phone. "Sorry, the higher ups are the ones sending me mission orders."

"Everyone's against me." Ahatake grumbled before heading back to class.


"So, where the heck do you live?" Ahatake asked. Satome, Kayla, Harumi, and he were all heading out of the school and he slung his bag over his face. Like she did when any classmates were around, Harumi was in "nice girl" mode. "Since you just moves here and all.

"Well..." Harumi thought it over and Ahatake groaned. The farce was getting on his nerves. "I don't have a place yet..." At this, Saotome's ears perked up like a dog.

"H-Harumi, you could come live with me!" He insisted, and kept repeating it like an blithering idiot. Ahatake hit Soatome on the head, leaving a bump there. "Man, be quiet."

"How about I live with you?" Harumi turned on Ahatake with a wide smile on her face, innocent no less.

"What!?" Ahatake snapped, looking at her sharply. "No way are you living at my place. You're not gonna mooch off of me!" He was firmly against this woman living in his house. She was already being an inconvenience by giving him the Shinigami powers and making him perform her duties. Having her at his house Hell no.

"Hic..." Ahatake turned on the spot and saw Harumi standing there, her shoulders quivering and her hands to her eyes. "A-Ahatake d-doesn't want to let m-me stay over....!" Ahatake couldn't believe it. In public, Harumi was putting on a display of fake crying. Saotome looked over at Ahatake, staring daggers. "Ahatake, that's not very kind. She wants to stay with you and she has nowhere else to stay." He rushed over towards him. "And while she's there, you could take advantage of her predicament and thr-GWOH!" Ahatake slammed his knee up into Saotome's chin.

"Calm your libido damn you." Ahatake snapped, and walked over to Harumi. "Alright Harumi! You can bunk at my place..."

Harumi's "crying" instantly stopped and she glomped Ahatake. "Thank you thank you thank you!" She was putting on a show of being energetic.

"I'll get you back for this..." Ahatake whispered to her.

"Try me." She whispered back.

Grow?

"Going out somewhere?" Ahatake looked up at Harumi from something he was drawing. It was one of his hobbies actually, when he wasn't out slaying monsters or being trouble by schoolwork, Ahatake quite enjoyed drawing.

"Yes, actually, and you're tagging along." She said, rather businesslike.

"iWhat for?"

"It's to train you, of course." Harumi replied, pulling her glove onto her hands and smakcing him upside the head, knocking him brutally out of his body and into Shinigami form. Getting much better with reflexes by now, he avoided crashing into his wall as he straighted himself up, moving his hand through his hair.

"You are really beginning to get on my nerves." He told her, glaring daggers.

"You'll get used to it." Harumi replied, draging him outside by jumping out of his window. Kayla, who had been quietly watching, following outside, following after them. 'Everyone wait for me!" She called, running frantically. Harumi took Ahatake to the nearest parking lot, which, considering it wasn't a big town, was easy to find and threw him into the nearest vehicle.

"What the hell!?" Ahatake complained as he caught himself on the car's left wing mirror.

"I told you. We're here for your training!" Harumi seemed rather pumped up. 'If you're going to fulfill my duties, you need to get a grip on the basics. The fact that you've been swinging off your former power, a Fullbring I think you called it, shows you have at least some understanding of how to use reiryoku in attacks."

"To a degree..." Ahatake confirmed. Kayla had given him some of the terminology a month after their fighting Hollows had become a regular thing, so he knew what reishi was to an extent.

"As Shinigami, we're able to control reishi to a certain degree, even when it's not being used in our attacks as reiryoku, we can use it for other purposes, such as fast movement, or even standing in mid-air..which is what we'll be doing right now."

"I'm going to be helping." Kayla said, placing a finger to her cheek and smiling brightly. "The best way to learn is through experience, sooooo..." Her braid transformed into a hand of hair, shooting towards Ahatake and gripping him by the arm as she threw him high into the air.

"WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT THEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEELL!!?" Ahatake's cry echoed as he shot up like a rocket.

"Focus on drawing reishi from the air!" Harumi called up to him. "Focus them under your back to create a platform! It'll stop your descent!"

"Right!" Ahatake called back, falling rapidly. After a moment of silence, he then yelled out. "AND JUST HOW THE HELL DO I DO THAT!?" No one gave him an answer and he crashed into the ground like a falling meteor. Kayla walked over to him, looking at the minor crater he'd make, a look of concern on her face. "Are you okay?" She asked, helping him to his feet. He was bleeding from the head. "Did I go overboard?"

"No." Ahatake panted, the pain getting to him. "Do it again, I can do this!" Kayla obliged, however, the results were the same, time and time again, though, on the 15th try, Ahatake did actually manage to impede his fall with with reishi before falling.

Ahatake then decided to climb to the top of a building, and took Kayla with him. He took a stand on the edge. "Alright, now, Kayla, punch me as hard as you can!"

"Will this work?" She asked, but didn't wait for an answer before punching him hard in the gut, sending him skidding backwards onto the air. Grinning to himself, he knew that being forced onto the air in a standing position would be easier than falling.

"Just like that! Now, focus your energy!" Harumi barked, catching Ahatake by surprise. "Oh shit shit shit shit shit shit shi-!" He fell straight from the air in his shock, colliding with the nearest car.

Harumi held a hand to her face while Kayla just laughed at her best friend's inability to properly control energy, despite having just managed to it down.

"Are you really this stupid?" Harumi snapped as Ahatake got back up from the rubble agai, shaking blood off. "Even low-class Shinigami have this much control over reishi!"

"Shut...up..." Ahatake snapped, wiping blood off his forehead. "I'm not...anywhere near done!" However, before he could make any real continuation, they all shuddered as they felt the reiatsu of several hollows...and then it just vanished.

Harumi flipped open her phone, and was looking all around for the signal. "This...this is madness!"

"What is it?" Kayla looked over at Harumi, surprised by the Hollow signal vanishing.

"The signals! They're vanishing in the tens by the minute!" Harumi replied, obviously stressed. "This isn't something that should be happening!"

"Where is it coming from?" Ahatake seemed to be rejuvinated by the fact that something needed their attention.

"Sector 459, right in the center of Yasuraka Town!" Forgetting training at all, the trio made their way to where the signals were disappearing, to find a blonde girl in the center, slaying Hollows left and right until none were left. Ahatake was trying to process who the girl was, before he remembered when he'd seen her.

"Wait! That's the girl from a few days ago!" And his outburst caused her to look up at him.

Gaikou looked down at the group with a gaze of pure apathy. "....Hm? Oh, it's you and somebody new. Sorry, I tend not to associate myself with fools so I can't remember you all too well." Meanwhile, she nonchalantly fired a blast of spiritual energy into the air, notifying the group that she was quite possibly a dangerous threat.

"Impossible..." Harumi was shocked at what she was taking in. "She's a Quincy...."

END

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