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Small Developments

By Heather Campbell

Humor

Small Developments

Urahara yawned contentedly as he rearranged a shelf of goods. When he'd first set up shop, after more than a decade of running, he hadn't believed he'd ever get used to the mundane life that came with running a store; supernatural or not.

Truthfully, though, he'd become quite happy with his little out-of-the-way existence, especially in the years since the Winter War. To say that his relations with the Soul Society had improved would run similar to calling Aizen a meanie; horribly understated. He'd even gotten an offer to be reinstated as Captain (although he suspected that came from the fact that they hadn't been able to find anyone else to fill the last of the three positions left by the traitors).

The offer had come as nothing short of a surprise. He'd always known he'd never go back, but what had really shocked him was the fact that when he declined, his shop had come to the front of his mind. He'd actually grown attached to this life. The strangeness, once so normal for him as a Shinigami, only made the simplicity now that much more enjoyable

"Urahara-san!" a loud voice came from the doorway along with a very familiar presence.

"Kurosaki-kun!" The blond man pulled out his fan and snapped it open in front of his face, smiling. Think of the devil... "What can I do for you today?"

Even recently graduated from a police academy, the newly hired twenty-three-year-old never seemed to quite escape the second life he'd gained as a teenager. As far as Urahara knew, he still held his position as Substitute Shinigami, and rarely missed his daily hollow patrol. Because of this, whenever he dropped by the shop, it usually meant things had gotten interesting again.

Today seemed no different as he stalked down the aisle, looking far more nervous than the shopkeeper had seen him in a long time.

"Well I was...I mean...um...."

The blond man couldn't help but raise an eyebrow. "Nee, nee, I won't bite, Kurosaki-kun," he leaned forward with a smile. That should propel the man into actually saying what he'd come here to ask.

Surely enough, he stopped stuttering and glared at the ex-Shinigami. "Like you'd ever scare me, Sandal-Hat."

"Oh?"

The carrot-top sighed. "Look I just...can hollows reproduce?"

It had been decades since Urahara had heard anything quite so utterly ridiculous. He couldn't help but try to calculate what had spurred such a question from the man. Much to his surprise and displeasure, nothing came to mind.

Still, Kurosaki didn't often get the serious and almost desperate look in his eye. Urahara had many things; a death wish wasn't one of them. He decided to answer the question after a thoughtful pause.

"I suppose it would be possible," he mused. "Hollows were once humans and tend to have similar anatomy, even if they are reduced to basic instincts spurred by negative feelings. But when hollows seek others out, their goal is usually to become stronger by absorbing the others' powers. I've never heard of hollows breeding," he closed his fan and looked curiously at the Shinigami. "Why do you ask?"

Ichigo scratched his head, looking more than a little uncomfortable. This only made Urahara all the more curious. What would possibly have given the man that kind of a reaction? Perhaps he'd witnessed a birth? The shopkeeper couldn't help but blink at the implications. What kind of a hollow would be motherly enough to be able to give birth, let alone let her child live afterwords?

"Well," Kurosaki muttered, "I was talking to my dad...." Urahara had to suppress both a shudder and a laugh. Since when did Ichigo ever listen to his father, even after he'd learned of his Shinigami heritage? "Humans have human children, Shinigami and Souls have spirit children. One human and one Shinigami have a human child with Shinigami powers. I just wondered if hollows have genes too."

It was the 'one human, one Shinigami' sentence that tipped the shopkeeper off. Blinking, he lowered his fan again, slowly this time, and advanced incredulously.

"Kurosaki-kun...is your wife pregnant?"

Urahara had to stifle a laugh when Ichigo blushed more deeply than he'd seen in years. Honestly, he never changed.

"You're worried about what you'll pass onto your child."

"Yeah," he said softly. "If I can get Shinigami powers from my dad, what will my children get from me?"

The man shook his head, putting a hand to the green and white hat. "And you didn't discuss this with your family before?"

"It was an accident, okay?" His eye twitched like it did whenever he started to get a little frustrated.

Yep, perfectly consistent. The ex-Shinigami sighed with a smile. "I don't think you have anything to worry about, Kurosaki-kun."

The other man's face almost instantly lit up, despite his cynical next question. "Why not?"

Urahara shrugged. "The walls between hollow and Shinigami are extremely difficult to tear down. Without some serious circumstances, similar to your own, I'd say the chances that your children will have that problem are slim to none."

Ichigo thought about it for several seconds before he nodded with a satisfied expression and bowed. "Thank you, Urahara-san," he said. "I'm sorry to have bothered you." With that, he turned and calmly walked out of the building. Urahara blinked. Maybe he did change after all. Since when did Ichigo have manners?

The green-clad man stared at the door he'd left through for a minute before a deep voice behind him spoke up.

"He will not be happy when he discovers you lied to him."

Urahara shrugged, hiding behind his fan again. "Did I?"

"The fact that he has Shinigami powers says the possibility exists," Tessai insisted.

The shopkeeper just smiled and turned back to his work. "I guess we'll just have to continue to keep an eye on his family."

Urahara loved the calm, and would never again want to be rid of it. Then again, he loved interesting too.

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