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Bleach 532: Kurosaki Isshin - The Man
Scene opens in Soul society. You can see the remnant of a recent explosion some distance away. A solid mass of smoke and dust has coalesced and is churning together. You observe it from slightly higher ground and even this distance is not diminishing the size of it.
Isshin appears skidding on the ground for a few feet until he comes to a stop on his ass. He sits up coughing and wiping his hands against each other.
Ryuken: it seems like you're having fun.
Isshin tilts his head slightly to see Ryuken and Uryuu standing a few feet behind him. He spits out some dust from his mouth.
Isshin: pah, I didn't think he'd be such a fool as to use that soo close. He took out two of his own bunshins.
Uryuu: There's only one of him at the moment, he's managed to avoid the blast and is somewhere on the other side. He'll probably come looking for you soon.
Isshin: it's ok, I've masked my reiatsu for the moment, and this is a good distance away.
Ryuken: I didn't know you're flash steps could go that far, maybe you're not all that rusty at all.
Isshin tilts his head to look at isshin once more.
Isshin: pfft rusty? From what I remember you're only beating me 3-2 and I've been on a handicap. If you can lose twice against me then who's the one that's rusty.
Ryuken just takes a long drag on his cigarette and smiles without responding. Isshin looks back over at the mass of smoke his face all serious.
Isshin: you've noticed as well haven't you...
Isshin: This is not what we were expecting,
Uryuu:... what do you mean?
Isshin: Bach is very knowledgeable about the Gotei 13, their captains and the remaining quinces out there.
Isshin: Someone of his caliber does not do things rashly, especially after a thousand years of planning.
Ryuken: we may not understand why he hasn't destroyed soul society or hueco mundo already but that can still be considered as a part of his plan.
Uryuu:...and if it was a part of his plan then why hasn't he prepared a better counterattack.
Isshin: exactly, either these thousand years have made him incompetent and none of us is going to be that lucky
Ryuken: or this isn't the counterattack yet.
Isshin stands up patting himself down, getting the dust off of his clothes.
Isshin: [sighs] I guess the time for fun and games is over, we don't have time to waste anymore.
Ryuken: That time was over long ago, but you'll never change will you.
Isshin: Bad habits die hard, you should understand that Mr 40 a day.
Ryuken: heh, ok fine, show me the skill that the bearer of "that" title now has.
Isshins face grows even more serious and sombre as he turns away from them. He speaks softly almost as if he's speaking just to himself
Isshin: It's not a title I ever expected to hold in my lifetime...nor did I ever want to.
Isshin flash steps away leaving Ryuken and Uryuu alone.
Uryuu: shouldn't we go help him?
Ryuken: no, he doesn't need any help from us.
Uryuu:?? But you said
Ryuken: yeh [sighs] I lied. I just wanted you to hurry up and find the medallion so I could see him fight for real.
Uryuu:...but he can't use his bankai! And he's not had any real battle experience for all his time on earth, he'll be even worse off than the captains.
Ryuken takes a long pull from his cigarette and gazes far off into the distance as if remembering something.
Ryuken: The problem with him is his personality, its very deceptive and leads us to make assumptions about his strength. When I only just came to know Isshin and Masaki I fell for the very same deception.
Ryuken flashbacks about 20 years ago, he's in his office at the hospital. Masaki is there as well sitting on a chair in front if his desk.
A much younger looking Ryuken is standing looking out of the window, his face has a slightly frustrated look on it.
Ryuken: of course I'll help him Masaki, he has some skill so I'm sure it won't take him long to get his medical licence... But...
Ryuken: I just don't get it Masaki!! Why would you do so much over such a...goofball!!
You see outside the window he's looking through, far down below in the hospital garden you see Isshin, apparently running around chasing pigeons.
Ryuken: I just can't understand what could have drew you to him, you stand above him in every sense, looks, status, power, position. In every way you were mismatched and above him and...
A slight redness appears on Masaki's cheeks as she blushes.
Masaki: I'm flattered Ryuken, I had no idea you felt that way about me.
Ryuken looks over at her, and then surprise and shock jump on to his face.
Ryuken: no, I...what I mean to say...I mean I wasn't trying to say
Masaki: but i'm afraid you are wrong in every way.
Ryuken:?! what do you mean Masaki?
Masaki:... You have been a good friend to us Ryuken, much better than one we could have hoped for, so I don't mind telling you this.
Masaki: but I would ask that you not repeat this to anyone else, not even Isshin...I'm sure he suspects that I know everything i'm about to tell you but there's never been a need for us to speak about it and I would never shame him by bringing it up.
Ryuken walks over towards her and sits down in the chair next to hers listening intently.
Masaki: We both met and grew up together in the Rukongai, it feels like such a long time ago. I can't tell you how many years passed just laughing and playing. Even our poverty didn't dampen our spirits when we were together. I think he fell in love the moment he saw me, though it took me a little bit longer [gives a small laugh]. Then we were found and conscripted into the academy, Isshin never wanted to join, he hated the idea of fighting. If it had just been him he would have left but I really wanted to go on. Maybe it was the kurosaki blood in me or maybe something else, I can't say, but I had that fire in me to become someone.
Masaki stands and walks over to the window and looks down at Isshin fondly
Masaki: For him, it was enough to just be with me.
Ryuken: Masaki you don't need to-
Masaki: Ryuken, you said looks, status, power and position didn't you?
Masaki: House Kurosaki had no status then, it didn't even exist anymore so I guess he wins on that count.
Masaki: looks, well I guess that's more of a personal preference and maybe I'm biased because I love him soo much but I find him the most handsome man I've ever met.
Masaki: position. We were both aware of how the 13 squadrons functioned and their hierarchy. I don't believe he ever tried to achieve or excel at anything in Soul Society. He didn't care about rank, status or any of those things. the only thing he cared about was being with me. Therefore he just made sure to get as far as joining the 13 squads and joining my squad and that was all he cared about. He didn't try to rise any higher or become too popular because he didn't want to be noticed by anyone else.
Masaki: even after I left, he just drifted amongst the lower echelon of soul society despondent and not caring about anything until Aizen took an interest in him.
Masaki: so technically you would say that I'd take that point too...but for one thing.
Masaki: Power. Being naive as I was and not truly understanding anything I used to worry about him, about his lack of drive, ambition and even his skill.
Masaki tilts back her head and laughs.
Masaki: Isn't it surprising how even a captain of the Gotei 13 can be such a foolish girl. Even then I didn't truly understand how much he loved me. So, because I worried, I used the excuse that I needed to train more, to practice, develop and refine my skills to train with him in order to help him improve.
Ryuken: even then you were helping him out?
Masaki: [small chuckle] oh Ryuken, you've completely missed the direction I'm taking haven't you?
Masaki: my plan was to increase the intensity of the training to find out what his limit was and to push him from there on so he could improve.
Ryuken: ...that would be a sensible method of training in my mind, did something go wrong?
Masaki: [small chuckle] you could say that.
She looks over towards Ryuken and walks back over and sits down on the chair she was sitting in before. She looks straight at him, the smile and softness of her face all gone replaced with cold hard seriousness.
Masaki: To this day I have been unable to find his limit.
Masaki: He was able to match me stride for stride, strike for strike. I pushed him as far as I could without a killing intent Ryuken and I can tell you one absolute truth.
Masaki: Captain Kurosaki Masaki of the Zero squad has never once felt that she can defeat that man.
Masaki reaches out and takes Ryukens hand and holds it between hers.
Masaki: Tell me Ryuken, am I really doing soo much? Is it that hard to understand why I am completely and absolutely in love with him?
Masaki: what more can any girl ask for than a man who will sacrifice everything he is, everything he can be just so he isn't parted from the girl he loves?
Ryuken comes out of his flashback and gazes into the direction of the explosion.
Ryuken: you doubt him as easily as I once did, you can watch and see how mistaken we both were.
Ryuken: for a long time now I've wanted to see this battle
Ryuken: For a long time I've waited for when I could see this man truly fight, this man that the captain commander himself had afforded the title of having the second strongest flame type Zanpaktou at his command.
Bleach 533: Kurosaki Isshin - The Shinigami!!