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Surprises come in many sizes, shapes, colors and Ichigos.

Chapter Text

#B#

Rukia didn't really like assignments in the world of the living. They were stifling, and it was a pain in the ass to get actual lodge instead of sleeping in parks or not sleeping at all. She would have to keep a low profile, and humans were not good company –they couldn't even see her. So most of the time, she always strived to finish as soon as she could.

However, there was this one time that she found something peculiar. A change of pace was always welcome, so when she saw a scowling, orange-haired teen talking and actually interacting with a plus, well she was obviously impressed. It was entertaining for about five minutes, before a hollow roar rang through the skies, and she flashed away in her fastest shunpo. Seeing that the weird boy had made no gesture to show he had heard it too, she could easily theorize that while his reserves were high, they weren't high enough to see her or the hollow.

So she left with that impression and almost lost her life to a hollow they had named PointedJaw. It was a high level hollow on the verge of evolution, and so it was considerably higher than her own skill level. She was certain she would have lost her life had a blue arrow not flown an inch away from her cheek, in the direction of the hollow's skull.

Rukia knew that a reishi arrow meant a Quincy, but that arrow had looked fragile and weak, so she fell back and waited for her new chance to attack. She never got the chance though, because as the arrow pierced the hollow's skull, it burst outward and completely obliterated the soul. She quickly turned around to see her savior, and didn't know what to think when she saw the orange-haired teen from before.

Even over her shock, her manners still remained, so she quickly and efficiently bowed her head in gratitude before standing straight again.

"I appreciate the save, Quincy."

The orange-haired brat –really, he could only be a brat when put up against her 150 years – nodded as well before turning on his heel and leaving the way he came,

"Make sure to be more careful, Shinigami."

And so she had not seen him again.

Two days later her assignment ended, and she didn't think back to the orange-haired Quincy that had saved her life. He had not pried into her presence in town, and so she respected his privacy and left that incident out of her report.

However, half a year later she found herself thinking back to that faithful night when she saw that same teen walking down the streets in a deep blue kimono decorated with tiny fireworks splashed over the hems in red. He was casually strolling the first district, looking for all intents and purposes as if he belonged here with an arm lazily slung inside his kimono and the other holding a bag with fresh fruit.

She was shocked further, when two men wearing typical Shiba servant clothing ran up to the orange head, distinctively out of breath and relief splashed all over their face.

"Ichigo-sama!" one of the bulky men cried out "please don't leave the compound without an escort! What would we do if something were to happen to you?"

The orange head gives a smile in resignation and lets the other man carry his bag only after much debate and frantic pleas from the retainers. The teen continues his walk shortly after, but he has two shadows every step of the way like she has seen her ni-sama on a couple occasions.

Later on, in one of those formal noble parties she hates with a passion, Rukia finds out that the orange-haired teen is the current heir of the Great and Noble Shiba Clan. He's Kaien's little cousin, and the man has stated without a fraction of doubt, that Ichigo had been born for the position. Rukia has no doubt that her lieutenant is only half joking, which only makes it a frightening thought, because there is a difference between those groomed for a position, those born into the position and those born for the position.

The fact that Kaien dots on the orange head even though Ichigo gives him an annoyed scowl about 80% of the time makes no difference to the lieutenant. He still parades around singing praises about his baby cousin even though the orange head is most defiantly not a baby. Rukia actually remembers Kaien talking about his little cousin for as long as she could remember, but the raven head had never mentioned a name, or brought out a picture.

So there's a doppelganger parading the streets of the living room as an honest to god Quincy, or the pride and joy of the Shiba Clan is more than what meets the eye. The way he meets her stare one day, and a knowing smile curls the edges of his mouth makes her think it's the second option, and not the first.

Yet again she remains quiet out of respect for the others privacy, and the orange head doesn't approach her unless it's on formal business which is rarely the case and only because she usually stays glued to her Ni-sama's side.

It's confusing.

Then her world is turned upside down when on a mission to the world of the living she ends up giving her powers to a human girl and borrows a Gigai from the shabby blonde guy that owns a candy store… really, what can she say?

Karin and her clash more times than not, but they still forge a sort of camaraderie where she knows the teen will have her back for as long as she takes to get her own powers back. Her sudden Shinigami abilities was a god-send in the girl's eyes, and the fact that she was able to protect her little sister and parents is all the payment and debt she says she can never pay.

Then Renji and NI-sama come and capture her with the sole intention of bringing her back to sereitei for her own sentence –she's floored, really. Karin tries to stop them, but she pretty much gets skewered in the process. Rukia's only hope is that the shabby candy shop owner might find the Kurosaki before she bleeds out.

Time passes by, she overhears some Shinigami gossiping about some Ryoka and instinctively knows its Karin with her suicidal plan to rescue her. She curses the girl to the depths of Hueco Mundo and back as she pushes down the small spark of hope that starts growing in her chest.

She gets a couple visits during her stay at the 6th division cells, but once she's transferred to the tall white tower, she knows no one will be allowed to even get near her until execution day. Three days before that date her door opens, and in walks a young teen with vibrant orange hair on silent feet. He stands there and just stares at her for half a minute, before taking a seat on the floor with one graceful movement that makes her think the hard ground is made out of the softest of pillows –it's not, she can attest to that, but that single minded ability to make anything look like a throne is pretty much a basic ability of everyone from a Noble clan except her.

She's never talked to him, so she has no idea why he is here when no one is supposed to enter, and why he even came in the first place.

"You're a strange one." Is the first thing he says, and she instantly finds her eyebrow twitching.

"Did you come all the way here just to tell me that?" she throws away the decorum, he may be nobility but she's gonna die anyways so what's the point.

He doesn't bristle nor show a difference in emotion. He merely stares at her, and she almost finds herself overwhelmed by the intensity of the stare.

"I wanted to thank you."

Rukia really doesn't know what to say, this orange-haired teen has been a mystery since day one, so she's not disappointed when he continues to baffle her even further. Maybe it's a thing he does, or maybe it was genetic –Kaien-dono baffles her once in a while too.

"For?" she asks instead.

The smirk he gives her is just as annoying as she remembers, but he doesn't answer her question which irritates her even further. If she weren't versed on Kuchiki patience, she knows she would have snapped by now.

"I have a favor to ask." She just looks on, expression flat to convey her own confusion "Don't give up, no matter what."

Rukia can't help pointing out "How can I give up on something I'm already resigned to?"

Ichigo's smile only widens before he stands up in one fluid motion "My stupid cousin would be highly disappointed if I just let you get executed, so stay strong."

With those words as a parting gift he leaves, and Rukia is left to wonder why Kaien-dono, who's a Clan head and a lieutenant of the Gotei 13, has placed his faith on his younger cousin to do something he is apparently unable to do.

So she pushes her doubts to the side, and tries to forget the first real chat she had with the mysterious orange head.

Soon enough her execution comes along, and her heart constricts when she finds Kuchiki Byakuya among the crowd, looking for all intents and purposes as if he were not here to see his sister's death.

Then Kurosaki Karin is intervening, and next thing she knows, Renji is carrying her to safety. Of course that doesn't last long when Aizen Sosuke, the dead captain of the 5th squad kidnaps her and starts to monologue about his plans to take over the worlds and become spirit king in front of the captains and lieutenants. If Rukia weren't so confused herself, she would have felt some pity for Karin and the rest of the gang who look lost to the entire thing.

And then everything gets weirder.

Shiba Ichigo casually appears out of thin air, his usual yukata replaced by a black shihakusho and white haori. She's pretty sure he's not a captain, she couldn't have been that oblivious to his presence, but then he's standing in front of her and she sees the big black kanji for zero on his back and finds her eyes widening.

The orange head walks center stage with all the confidence in the world, as if a melodramatic pshyco wasn't threatening their entire existence. Aizen actually looks like Christmas came early, since Ichigo is pretty much a book full of all his answers before the orange head suddenly reappears inside the brunet's personal space and touches his left breast.

"See this, Aizen Sosuke?" he asks the shocked ex-captain "I have your beating heart in the palm of my hand and you did nothing." His smirk turns bone chilling "You just let me have it."

And so the man tries to make a strategic retreat but is dumbfounded when the menos grande that appear over the sky pretty much freeze instead of attack.

When Ichigo turns to the hollows and pretty much gives them a winning smile, they take their cue and go back the way they came which is pretty much the cherry on the metaphorical cake.

Aizen is apprehended, and when questioned how he knew of the master plan, the air around him looks even more mysterious and he whispers to those present.

"The hollows told me of course." The way he puts an index finger over his lips pretty much stops every and any question they may have, so they leave it at that, and just thank the spirit king that nothing worse happened.

Later, much much later, she questions him –she just can't let it slide anymore!- and receives more questions than answers.

"Who are you?" she asks.

"I'm a Shinigami captain, born from a Shinigami captain turned human, who married a Quincy infected with Hollow energy." He's defiantly laughing on the inside.

"What did you thank me for?" she tries something hopefully simpler.

"I may have died in the past, but being who I am, I know who my family was."

The way he says it makes her think that he's not talking about the Shiba clan; which is weird. He's nobility, born in Soul Society, and living in Soul Society. But he talks about death, and other families, at this rate, believing him might just avoid an even bigger headache.

So maybe Shiba Ichigo will forever remain a mystery no matter how much she asks, and no matter how much he actually answers. But one thing she knows for certain, Kurosaki Ichigo does have a nice ring to it.

Chapter Text

 

#IS#

Everyone knows Kuchiki Byakuya is the epitome of noble grace and stature. He’s composed, regal and knows the ins and outs of the entire political side of Soul Society. However, even the ever emotionless Kuchiki has his breaking points, even though he rarely shows it.

Rukia knows that her Ni-sama does not curse like mostly everyone else does. She’s even heard her own captain –sweet and kind Ukitake-taicho- curse through a particularly tall stack of paperwork when he was trying to finish on time after a bout of sickness hit –it had been terrifying to hear. She has heard her Ni-sama whisper things to himself when she thinks he blows –not like she can tell, his expression remains impassive- but the times she has been close enough to hear, she can only tell it’s in a completely foreign language.

Renji has also heard such episodes, some of them directed at him –he thinks- but like Rukia, he really can’t understand the rapid words uttered under his breath, and he’s not so sure he ever wants to know. Kuchiki Byakuya is scary on a good day, he doesn’t want to know what those –most likely curses, from the tone he has been able to catch- mean.

One day, Ichigo accompanies Rukia into the Kuchiki Manor to pick up some papers she had forgotten in her room. As they pass by the room where Byakuya was having a meeting with the Clan Elders –Rukia had told him- the stoic Kuchiki stalks out, muttering words that Rukia has maybe heard a thousand times –Dummkopf, that sounds like something her Ni-sama has said in the past… maybe.

Ichigo on the other hand freezes which makes Rukia stop as well and turn up to her friend to find him blushing as bright as his namesake. The orange head mechanically turns to the Kuchiki head who seems to have barely noticed their presence before stuttering.

“I-Is that e-even humanly possible?” Ichigo asks the raven head.

Rukia finds herself looking between the two curiously as Byakuya’s eyes widen almost unnoticeably. Her Ni-sama doesn’t say anything for half a minute, but soon enough seems to have finished rebooting his thought process and asks as composed as ever.

“Kurosaki Ichigo,” he begins as cold as ice to try and hide his curiosity “You understand German?”

Ichigo clears his throat to try and clear the blush dusted over his cheeks before nodding as slowly as possible. He looks nervous, and if Rukia weren’t so shocked herself –she finally knows what language that is!- she would have savored the expression on his face.

“And French.” He points out shyly which makes Byakuya raise an eyebrow “A- And Italian. And Chinese. And Latin, Portuguese, Spanish, Roman, Dutch, Swiss and Russian among others.” 

Byakuya comes to the slow realization that the Substitute Shinigami must have understood his fluent string of curses. The fact that he had mixed up his swears in German, French and Russian must not have fazed the teen if what he says is truth, and right now, he seriously cannot find it in himself to doubt the other.

“Huh,” Rukia deadpans, almost as if she’s just now realizing that Ichigo is never going to stop surprising them.

Byakuya cannot help mirroring Rukia’s shocked expression with a furrowing of his brows as well.

Ichigo’s blush returns full power. 

Chapter Text

"Do you think you can do it?" Ichigo asked the little orange head.

The boy stared intently at his prey with narrowed eyes as he tightened his grip on his knife. His eyes hardened in resolve before turning up to look at his father.

"I can do it." Ichigo's smile twitched upwards as he felt a bubble of pride grow in his stomach. He gave an encouraging nod, before a cocky smirk invaded his face.

"That's my boy, get to it then." He gestured "Remember, always keep your grip steady and be mindful of where you cut. A sloppy job will only make it harder." He instructed.

The little orange head blinked his big brown eyes at his father while he gave a confused scowl –honestly Ichigo called it a pout, but the little boy would always sulk if he mentioned it.

"But Tou-san, Isshin-ji told me you would always mess up." Ichigo spluttered in indignation "What if I end up inheriting that too."

He cleared his throat to try and keep a cool and collected expression. He was the adult, and he'd be damned if he didn't teach his little boy properly the fine art of cutting.

"I'm sure you inherited your mom's skills instead." He stated.

The little boy looked on, slightly doubtful before taking a deep breath. "I can do it." He tightened his grip on the hilt. "I can cut my own steak without Tou-chan's help!" he exclaimed as he rose his utensils and dug in with a war cry that made Ichigo beam in pride.

The little orange head sawed into his steak with fervor to try and cut it into bite sized pieces but the meat seemed to be a hard opponent who wouldn't submit to the blunt blade of the butter knife. The boy cried out in outrage before turning to look at his pretty-much-identical father.

"Tou-chan, the steak defeated me." Big fat crocodile tears started to form at the corner of his brown eyes making Ichigo panic.

He scrambled for something to say before brightening in eureka as he broke into a big grin.

"I know," he appeased the little boy "how about I take you with me next time I need to exterminate a hollow. I bet that'd give you a better perspective with chopping up things."

The little orange head sighed in resignation before scowling –cough *pouting* cough- at the older "Tou-chan, there I use a zanpaktou. Here," he waved the butter knife to emphasize his point "I use a flimsy, edgeless knife."

"Uh…" Ichigo stuttered "don't tell your mother?"

The unimpressed stare the little orange head gave him made Ichigo think of how his own wife would react if she ever found out.

He did not want to know.

Not to be continued...

Chapter Text

Like clockwork, almost silent steps resounded through the walls of the long hallway. Aizen turned his eyes towards the door, and almost expectantly stayed still as if afraid that the sound was a mere illusion.

The steps stopped at the foot of his door, and the shuffling of someone settling down was heard before a faint thump echoed through his small cell.

"Any news," he asked even though he already knew the answer "Ichigo?"

The orange head sighed softly from the other side of the door before relaxing his stiff posture and falling limp against the wall he had chosen to recline himself on. He sat there in silence, trying to make sense of his own thoughts with the small reprieve he was given.

"It is lonely." He states not for the first time. "I hadn't really understood it… back then."

Aizen closes his eyes slowly as he too relaxes his posture against his own piece of wall. He opens his eyes again, but they seem much dimer than they had been not half a minute before.

"Back then," he seems to whisper into the empty cell "do you mean that time I tried to become Spirit King?"

Ichigo nods from his position outside even though he knows Aizen couldn't see him. He still knows the man would have understood his silence, and so no verbal answer was really necessary.

"Now that I think back," he begins again "I had thought you had given up."

The orange head mulls over his words before scoffing lightly as if to show his own indignation.

"I actually had." He reveals causing the brunet to turn his head towards the door fast enough to give himself a whiplash.

He stares "But you came after me."

Ichigo hums in agreement before closing his eyes as scenes of that battle flash against his eyelids. He opens his eyes once his last attack against the very man he is conversing with happens, and quickly wishes he hadn't.

"Goat-face," he states as if he were really just figuring out a particularly hard puzzle "he insisted we go after you even though we both knew it was futile."

Aizen nods to himself as if already expecting that "Shiba didn't realize the difference in our strengths because he couldn't sense my power anymore. Humans tend to overlook their fear when they do not see what they are scared of."

Ichigo stays quiet, and for a second he almost thinks the orange head has left with a sudden mastery of silent walking. But then the orange head heaves out a giant sigh that has him raising a brow.

"I could." He reveals "I could always understand your reiatsu, even back then. Goat-face had been surprised, I just hadn't known why."

If Aizen hadn't been observing the metal door he would have done a double take. Even then he contemplates the orange head's words and tries to make sense out of them at the best of his ability.

"I was never really above you, was I?" he questions, almost as if it were directed at himself and not really expecting an answer.

"I hadn't known." Ichigo clarifies "He asked me what I was going to do?" he takes a deep breath as he glances up to the musky ceiling. "'Are you going to sit there and cry because you couldn't protect someone again?' That really hit the nail."

"And so you came after me stronger then before and brought me to my knees." He summarizes as he hums in resignation "You always overcame yourself and now…" Aizen trailed off, as if afraid of saying it out loud.

"Now our positions areflipped and my reiatsu is the one no can really understand anymore."

They both stay in companionable silence as the truth was laid out to them. Ichigo had really been the only one to understand how lonely Aizen was from a single clash of blades, while Aizen is the only one who knows what Ichigo is currently going through. They are their greatest enemies, yet the best of friends.

"I wonder," Aizen breaks the silence "why they let you come here every day, unguarded."

Ichigo snorted "You think they'd let me come in? They would think we're plotting world domination or something just as ridiculous."

"We could." Aizen points out "Make the world bow to our feet and overthrow those corrupt men from their pedestal."

The orange head thinks about it, even if only for half a second before the faces of his friends, family and even Aizen flash through his mind and thinks no. "That's not the answer." He says instead "We may be strong and above others, but the greater we are, the harder we will fall."

Aizen stays silent as a small smile curves his lips. He had known the answer would be no, he just hadn't expected the reasoning. Honestly, Kurosaki Ichigo could never fail to overcome his expectations.

"Oh well," he drawls lazily "I guess we'll have to condemn ourselves with sharing a prison cell someday. You and I both know Central 46 well enough to predict their future orders."

"Someday," Ichigo whispers as he stands up and dusts his hakama pants "but when that happens, we both know what will happen."

The smile that curves the corners of Aizen's mouth was genuine, as it was expectant.

"That'll be fun to orchestrate." His smile widens "The day local hero, Kurosaki Ichigo says no more." He starts to laugh as Ichigo's steps become softer and farther "I would love to be a fly on the wall when Central 46 hears it."

Ichigo's smile widens with glee as he exits the hallway and closes the door with a resounding groan. His eyes brighten; he's actually looking forward to it.

Aizen must be seriously rubbing off on him.

Not to be continued...

Chapter Text

#AKC#

Rukia never really questioned why she had been assigned to the most spiritually active block when she received her assignment that day. Even if she had, she probably wouldn’t have received a real answer.

Be as it may, she didn’t question her orders, and found out how spiritually active Karakura town really was first hand.

First of all, it may be a hollow magnet, but the amount of hollows she got to defeat were actually few and most of them were weak. The times she had received orders on her pager to defeat stronger hollows, they would always disappear almost two seconds after.

The residents were also weird, many of them actually glanced her way, while others ignored her existence like usual because they could not see her –if only she knew that was not the full truth.

On her second week, she followed a trail of hollow residue to a calm neighborhood before losing her track in front of a two story house with a clinic attached. She found it easy to walk in through one of the open windows up until she had the surprise of her life.

Big brown eyes were actually starting at her inquisitively.

“What is a Shinigami doing in sacred ground uninvited?” was the first thing the orange-haired teen asked her, making Rukia stop her tracking almost instantly.

“You can see me?” she asked before shaking her head to clear her thoughts “Scratch that, you know what I am?”

The brat had the gall to give her a raised eyebrow in response before he crossed on leg over the other, making the simple office chair look like a throne.

“Of course I do,” he scoffed “More like you don’t know what we are.”

“Humans” she deadpanned.”

The orange head laughed out loud in amusement as if she had just said a great joke. Honestly she could not find the humor in her own words.

“Humans?”

Rukia rolled her eyes “Yes human, now I am a Shinigami who needs to do her job so get out of the way, and let me track the hollow.”

The human gave a smirk at her words before crossing his arms over his chest “You won’t find it. The trace ends here because this is where he stood the last time he breathed.”

She obviously understood what that meant, and maybe, just maybe he really wasn’t as… human as she had thought he was. She really couldn’t feel the hollow’s reiatsu, so the logical answer would be that the hollow was dead. And besides herself, only humans dwelled in Karakura… or did they?

Rukia cleared her throat “As you said, I’m a Shinigami.” She stood up straight and to attention “Un-seated officer of squad 13 of the Gotei 13. Kuchiki Rukia.”

“Hm, you’re a Kuchiki.” He stated in wonder, looking at her inquisitively like if she were a rare specimen “I’ve never met a Kuchiki that didn’t have a perpetual stick up their ass.”

Rukia was floored, even if her mouth didn’t feel like a dessert, she still didn’t think she’d be able to form words. Her brain took a hell of a long time to kick start back into action too, but once it did, she could only stare incredulously at the orange head. Because sure, the Kuchikis were well known for their mask and composure and perfect posture but humans were not supposed to know that! They shouldn’t be able to describe the very core nature of a Noble Clan in a handful of insulting words either.

“U-uh and you are?” she asked unintelligibly –her Ni-sama would be really disappointed.

The orange head leaned in excitably as a smug smile curled the corner of his lips –Rukia found herself wanting to punch his face and wasn’t that a first?

“Commander of the Round table of Archangels, acting Chief of planet Earth and 1st Heir in line to the Throne of the Heavens.” His smirk widened in amusement as her jaw dropped “But my friends call me Ichigo, it’s good to meet you.”

 

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

#WoF#

He backs up slowly as he comes to the realization that his charade is up. Ichigo looks like a smoldering volcano ready to explode, and Gin knows as certain as he is the sky is blue, that by the time the orange head is done with him, he’ll be lucky to remain in the mortal plain of existence.

The rest look surprised as well, as if they had never really seen Ichigo this angry, and maybe that might be the case. He may be laid back and pretty much let’s all the other gods do as they wish so long as they don’t do something wrong, but impersonating a god is a big no no, and Gin had known it from the very beginning.

Why had he joined Aizen in his overtake if he would need to infiltrate the god’s table?

Ichigo takes a step forward, his face is impassive –no usual scowl in place- and at this distance, Gin can actually see the orange head’s aura. Usually high-class Gods emit presence because of their age and power, but their aura and holy power is completely untraceable unless they intentionally lower it to their level of comprehension.

He really wished he would have never had the pleasure to feel it.

“I knew you were a demi-god from day one Gin.” He explains slowly as if trying to make a toddler understand.

Gin actually appreciates it, because this is news to him. He had thought he had completely fooled the high table two millenniums ago when he joined. The fact that Ichigo knew all this time is shocking, he should have been disintegrated into ashes a long time ago if that were the case.

“I also know that the reason why you decided to commit this crime was noble, even if the intentions were stupid, and the plan even more so.” Okay, now Gin feels he should feel offended by that but can’t. “I was going to leave you alone, but attacking the Queen of the heavens is not something I even want to forgive.”

Gin winces, he had known that. Masaki was the Goddess Queen and no one looked at her wrong and lived to tell the tale. He was honestly lucky he hadn’t really killed her, if he had, he knows there would have been no time between the act and his death. But he must continue his paper until the bitter end no matter what. There was still… hope?

Even the little Kuchiki seemed confused! She was altering her piercing glare between Ichigo and Gin as if trying to figure out what one of her best friends was talking about. Out of all the gods and goddess’ currently present, Kuchiki Rukia might be the only one to actually know what Ichigo’s talking about.

Her confused expression makes Gin doubt that.

“It’s judgment time.” The orange head calls forth making even Sung Fei wince. Judgment was not fun.

Ichigo brought a finger up pointing heavenwards, before looking expectantly at Gin with an expression that he honestly couldn’t understand. He still looked furious, but his eyes showed something else, something almost expectant.

It freaked him out.

“We shall begin.” Ichigo stated calmly making all the others shuffle into formation. The orange head nodded once again towards Gin, and for a second he couldn’t help his glimmer of hope increase.

“I can tell that you’ve never been true to me.” He began in a double toned voice “I can smell that you’re acting so fearfully, I can hear what you’re hoping I want to hear. I can feel the alarm bells are ringing in me.” A faint aura of blue on black started to emerge from Ichigo’s forefinger and the dread returned full force. That judgment spell was pretty much describing him! Accurately! “I can touch but I know you don’t feel a thing, I can pray but I know you commit a sin.” Ichigo’s eyes turned a golden hue and Gin knew he was finally done for, the God had seen all his crimes. “I can sense, now it’s all become clear to me. You’re no good, and you mean no good treacherously!”

Treachery! Gin thought in his mind, he was trialed for treachery?! That was Aizen’s main thing!

All of a sudden a blood chilling yell resounded through the holy grounds making Ichigo’s lips curve upwards. Almost instantly a man with shaggy brown hair and thick black glasses appeared collapsed on the floor holding his head in pain making Gin’s eyes widen in realization at what the orange head had really done.

That wasn’t just a judgment spell. That was the judgment spell. Holy shit, he hadn’t been judged!

Aizen tried to stand up under the pain and force but all he could manage was to tilt his head upwards “Ichigo,” he spat out like venom “I knew you would be a throne in my side.”

The orange head hummed in agreement as he struck a thoughtful pose “I’d be offended if you had even thought otherwise.” Aizen snarled “But now we don’t have time to chat.” His smirk widened “Judgment is still open.”

The snarl instantly froze in his throat as his eyes widened in horror.

 

I can tell that you've never been true to me

I can smell that you're acting so fearfully

I can hear what you're hoping I want to hear

I can feel the alarm bells are ringing in me

I can touch but I know you don't feel a thing

I can pray but I know you commit a sin

I can sense now it's all become clear to see

You're no good, and you mean no good treacherously.

 

Not to be continued…

 

Chapter Text

#DDR#

“Dance Dance Revolution?” Rukia questioned the orange haired girl as Orihime just looked on expectantly “Is that some sort of war?”

Tsatsuki rolled her eyes “I continue to emphasize the point that Shinigami need more human training before coming to the living world.” She pointed out before grudgingly explaining “Some people call it DDR for short, it’s a dance arcade game where you follow the pattern shown on the screen, supposedly to the rhythm of the song.”

“Please tell me you know what an arcade game is.” Ichigo deadpanned from where he was playing a shooter game with Chad. The Mexican teen was actually beating him, which made him honestly wonder where he had learnt the skill.

If only Ichigo knew, that his Abuelo had shown him to shoot Iguanas in the elder’s ranch. It was fun.

Anyway, back to Rukia. She kept on looking at the machine with a dubious eye before she followed Orihime onto the game pad reluctantly. Tatsuki smiled evily at her –or, well, she thought it was evil-looking- before inserting some coins into the slot.

The game flashed brightly with flimsy colors she would think was just for show before Orihime started to control the menu with the arrows. The raven head looked down at her feet and tried to memorize the buttons –those were big buttons, not like the T ve control- before Orihime brought her back to attention.

“All you have to do is step on the arrow shown on the screen once it overlaps with the transparent one.” She explained. Tatsuki never agreed to play these games with her!

“O-okay.” Rukia agreed before narrowing her eyes at the screen. She needed to concentrate,

Before she knew it, the game had begun and she found herself trying to follow the arrows on the screen. Her feet coordination had never been good, and to try and follow the speed it was going at! She’d be surprised if she didn’t accidently fumble and fall on her ass.

She looked to the side, and found her jaw dropping at the ease with which Orihime moved before trying to unsuccessfully follow her example. It just seemed she was incapable of playing this excuse of a fun game from hell, and if she never had to play again, it would be too soon.

Almost a minute after, the game stopped and it was obvious without seeing her score that she had really sucked. In her opinion the game had taken an eternity, and she’d be high tailing off the pad as soon as she could.

“Ha!” Ichigo laughed from where he stood beside Tatsuki –he had lost to Chad a minute into the song and had filed it away as a lost cause “I thought nobles were supposed to know how to dance.”

Rukia bristled as she instinctively kicked his shin which he narrowly dodged “Like you could do any better, I bet you have two left feet!”

Ichigo winced as Orihime brightened in glee making Rukia think she had won this round.

“Yes, come play with me Kurosaki-kun! It’s been ages since we last danced!”

Tatsuki and Rukia both did a double take as Ichigo tried to shrink in on himself. Almost instantly Chad appeared on his side and put a comforting hand on his shoulder –Chad wasn’t letting him escape!

“You an Orihime, go out and play DDR in your free time?” Tatsuki asked skeptically which made Orihime nod cheerfully, not catching the sarcasm.

“Uh,” Ichigo scratched the back of his head “Kinda?”

Tatsuki shared an evil grin with Rukia before the two raven head’s hauled the orange head onto the stage. Orihime just smiled in excitement before turning to the screen to choose the next song as the girls manhandled him to stay on the pad.

“Okay, so we’ll start with our usual, and speed up.” She stated, making the other three lean into the screen to see what the orange-haired girl had chosen.

“Pluto Relinquish?” Tatsuki rose an eyebrow.

Chad sweat-dropped “Isn’t that regarded as one of hardest songs on DDR?”

“She’s putting it on extreme.” Rukia pointed out, making the other two do a double take.

Ichigo just sighed in resignation before resigning himself to his fate and positioning himself accordingly as the song began.

Someone in the arcade choose that moment to turn and see what the fuss was about before brightening and turning back to his buddies “Guys, it’s the orange dance twins!”

The rest of the arcade seemed to have heard the shout, and soon enough the DDR was surrounded by the other customers. Even the employees and managers were crowding!

“Huh,”Tatsuki cocked an eyebrow “I guess they do come here often.

And now that she looked at the two, they were moving in tandem and seeming to sink more and more into the dance routine. As she saw the steps she realized the song wasn’t fast, but the amount of steps being crammed into every second was intense.

Almost a second after that song was finished –with full combo!- Ichigo started to scroll down and look for the next song as if going on autopilot. He even had a grin on his face now, making it obvious he was enjoying himself; Over the “Period”.

This song was faster, but once again they were certainly surprised at how Ichigo moved, like if he knew the steps by memory and with a grace his delinquent appearance belied.

“Guess the joke’s on us.” Chad pointed out needlessly as the crowd cheered in excitement making them jump in shock.

“What the hell?!” Tatsuki cried indignantly. It seemed the two orange head’s had even forgotten about the outside world!

EGOISM?” Rukia questioned the new song.

Tatsuki just face palmed as she saw her best friend move in tandem and share wide smiles with her crush while she would always stutter when talking normally. Did this not make her nervous?!

“Is that how they solve the sexual tension?” Chad pointed out.

The raven-heads winced. They.Did.Not.Want.To.Know.

 

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

#NaS-S#

“Hey Rukia?” Renji asked as they walked towards the Kurosaki household, already wearing the gigais Urahara had let them borrow. “What does Ichigo do in his free time anyways?”

Rukia hummed to herself as she tried to think of what she had seen the orange head do besides hollow extermination and homework.  She glanced towards the red head with a thoughtful expression as she rubbed her chin.

“Read.”

“What?” Renji deadpanned “You’re telling me that guy reads.”

“He said he likes to read things from this dead guy called Shakespeare.” She seemed to remember as they turned the last corner “I also recall seeing him listening to music or English classes.”

“Wow, never pegged him for a nerd.”

Rukia laughed at that as she recalled her own shock. “He is in the top fifty students, and that was after the whole shinigami thing started.” She smiles smugly at the dumbstruck expression on Renji’s face “And if Isshin-san is to be believed, when he was in middle school his grades always placed him in top 5.”

Renji seemed like he was on the verge of a panic attack if it weren’t for the fact that they had arrived at their destination. At least there’s a clinic downstairs in case the red head really does have a stroke. For now she turns to ignore the gurgling noises oddly reminiscent of a dying penguin and walks up to the door like she owns the place. She tries to knock but no one answers after the third time so she just turns the knob and strolls in when it opens.

Ichigo did know they were coming, so in theory it’s not invasion of property; she tells herself. Renji follows quietly behind her, and they both change into the guest slippers before making their way inside.

“Well it seems the family isn’t home.” Renji pointed out needlessly as they survey the empty living room and kitchen.

“They must have gone out.” She reasons calmly as she starts her trek up the stairs. Halfway there she hears a weird voice and stops mid-step to try and stretch her senses.

Renji furrows his brows “Why’d you stop?”

“Sh.” She reprimands “listen closely.”

Nani hitotsu hajimaranai de, nani hitotsu owaranai mama.

Renji leaned in a little closer and found himself raising a brow when he started to hear it too.

Kinou wo wasure, kasunderu yume no naka

Kaze ga ashita wo yuri okoshita...

“You’re right.” He realized as he restarted his ascend up the stairs “You think the strawberry’s listening to music, and that’s why he didn’t hear us come in?”

Rukia hummed to herself as she thought out loud “If we were anyone else, that would be dangerous.”

Kanashimi to yorokobi ga hibiki au karada no oku

She paused, wait a second!

Shinayaka ni nijimidasu iro   ao no MERODI- wa komori uta ni

That was not music, she theorized. There was no instruments in the background, and she really doubted Ichigo would listen only to the lyrics. And the voice sounded somewhat familiar, had she heard it during her stay before?

They both arrived at Ichigo’s room, and Rukia took it upon herself to open the door as silently as possible in hopes that maybe she could resolve the mystery. She gave Renji a look before they both strolled in and she found Ichigo sitting on his desk with his headphones on. Normal, but-

Kanashimi mo yorokobi mo kioku sae nemuri ni tsuku

Is he singing?! And he’s good at it?!

Yasashikute zankoku na iro   ao no MERODI- wo komori uta ni.

As the song ended, Renji seemed to snap out of his own shock –she was still in shock!- and backed up into the wall, Ichigo instantly heard the noise with the empty air of the song and turned around so fast she was surprised he didn’t get a whiplash as he gave them a wide-eyed stare.

“U-uh,” he stuttered “I can explain.”

Was there anything too explain?

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

#HT#

"Tsu-kun!" Nana called out cheerfully as she walked out the kitchen and into the living room where her son and his friends were playing video games for a change. They were always out playing rough, so it was a nice to see them unharmed on the couch.

"Y-yes, Oka-san?" Tsuna asked nervously as he eyed the bright smile on her face. That expression was usually followed by a visit from his Dad, and to be honest, Iemitsu could go screw himself and never come back for all he cared –that man left his mom crying at night alone far to many times for Tsuna to actually have any feelings towards the man he has only seen four times in his entire life.

Nana's smile widened "Your cousin is coming to visit!" she clapped her hands dramatically as Tsuna's eyes widened before his face broke into a smile so wide, that almost no one in the room had ever seen it.

"Ichi-ni is coming?" he questioned gleefully as he stood up from his position on the couch and repressed the urge to bounce excitedly like his mom was doing "I haven't seen him in two years!"

Nana nodded in agreement as she placed a finger on her chin thoughtfully "Oh I should cook a full spree tonight for dinner. And some chocolate cake! Ichigo loves chocolate cake!"

With that last thought in mind she bustled back into the kitchen as Tsuna turned back towards his friends before his smile froze on his face as a sudden realization rushed through him like a bucket of ice cold water.

"Ichi-ni is coming!" he squealed in panic "You guys have to leave, now." He turned to his hitman tutor with a pleading expression which just made the raven head smirk evilly "Please Reborn, go visit Colonello, or Fon or, anyone else."

The baby hitman's smirk widened "No."

Tsuna tugged on his brown hair with a groan as his eyes swept the living room where nobody had even stood up "Please, before he-"

A large hand fell on his brown fluffy hair, and he instantly felt dread and happiness at the same time –how that's possible, he'll never know.

"Hey little cousin, what's this I hear about kicking out your friends?" The orange-haired man leant down playfully to his eye level with a cheerful smile "Afraid I'll embarrass you?"

Tsuna's eyes widen as he turned towards his favorite cousin before he disregarded his previous panic and gave the orange head a tight hug with a bright smile plastered on his face. "Ichi-ni!"

Ichigo merely returns the hug with a grin of his own "Yo!" his smile flatters however, as his eyes fall on the raven-haired baby hitman lazily sitting on his own couch.

Everyone looks on in apprehension as Ichigo instantly scowls at Reborn as if the man-turned-baby had killed his puppy. Reborn stares at the orange head as well, and he instantly looks on edge and ready for an attack.

Ichigo disentangles himself from his baby cousin before stalking towards the hitman with long strides as his scowl hardens.

"What's a half doing in this town, under this roof, with my baby cousin?" Ichigo snapped menacingly, making almost everyone jump at the difference in attitude.

Reborn's eyes narrow as well as he completely regales the orange head "And what's a Reaper doing in this town, under this roof, passing itself as a family member of my student."

Ichigo growled low in his throat making Tsuna squeak in surprise at the animalistic quality of the noise. "I asked you first."

Rebron gave the impression of shrugging without actually shrugging before helpfully explaining "I'm not really a half. I was cursed by a full-fledged, causing my presence to leak out a faint residue which makes it seem I'm a half." His smug smile widens "And I'm here to train the future tenth boss of the Vongola Famiglia."

Tsuna squeaked "Reborn!" he admonished unhelpfully "We agreed to not mention that to just anyone!"

The hitman merely raised an eyebrow as he glanced from the scowling orange head to his student "And this thing isn't anyone." He pointed out.

"Hey!" Ichigo yelled out indignantly "I am not a thing."

"You're a Death God, I don't consider Reapers as human beings."

The orange head bristled like a cat and Tsuna was oddly reminded of how Gokudera would sometimes do the same "You're not human nor demon, and you're saying I'm not alive?"

"Of course you're not alive, you're a Death God. You have to be dead." Reborn waved the retort off handedly.

Ichigo's eyebrow twitched as he glared at the baby hitman for all he was worth "And you think you can just stroll in here and say you'll turn my baby cousin into a Mafia boss when this roof is under my protection?" he questioned in mock threat "Do you want me to reap your soul and send you into the afterlife?"

Almost everyone in the room paled, and the silver haired teen that had looked torn between scowling at him, and looking at him in awe finally seemed to decide himself on fainting instead with a gurgled mummer of UMAS. Whatever that is, he thinks he really doesn't want to know.

Besides, it's not like he can just reap souls. But they don't know that's not how it works, so it could be used as well as any threat –maybe even better than saying he'll break the hitman's nose.

Reborn narrows his eyes "You wouldn't dare."

Ichigo's smirk turns smug as he crosses his arms over his chest "Try me."

Tsuna chooses that moment to interject as he clings to the orange head's arm with a pleading expression and trembling puppy dog eyes "Please Ichi-ni, just leave it be and don't kill anyone."

For someone who trembles at the mere mention of becoming a mafia boss, Tsuna seems oddly at ease with the mention of killing someone when it comes to his delinquent looking cousin, Reborn thinks to himself.

"Fine," Ichigo grumbles to himself as Tsuna beams like he has won the lottery "But that demon" he spats the word out like it's a curse "better behave himself too."

Rebron narrows his eyes when Tsuna moves his teary eyes towards him instead. He glances from the scowling orange head to his student before nodding. It's not like the Reaper will actually do anything if he likes Tsuna as much as he seems to show.

As the tension between the two drops, Tsuna's up-until-then-silent-friends chose that moment to put in their own two cents.

"What I would like to know," Yamamoto Takeshi begins with his usual grin "Is how Ichigo-san is a Death God, while still being Tsuna's cousin."

Everyone turns to the orange head with a questioning expression as even Gokudera choses that moment to revive and glare inquisitively at the man. Ichigo just scowls.

"My mom and Aunt Nana are sisters born into the Kurosaki Clan of Quincy –do not ask what a Quincy is, they're human and that's all you need to know." Even Reborn nods in agreement at that point "While my idiot Dad was a Death God."

Everyone keeps on staring at the orange head as if he were a rare specimen until Ichigo hardens his scowl.

"And I still don't like your criminal tendencies Tsuna, don't think we won't talk about this."

"Hiiee!" Tsuna squeals as Ichigo's wrath is centered on him instead. "I don't even want to be a Mafia Boss."

 

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

#KM#

“Phasing through walls?” Kisuke questioned curiously as he hid his disbelief behind his ever present fan “Usually Shinigami do not, or cannot, use this ability.” He explained calmly.

“Huh,” Ichigo hummed to himself as he tried to think back to that faithful night to see if he might have missed something. “I’m pretty sure Rukia phased into my room that day.”

Kisuke, ever unflappable kept on fanning himself as he pondered this new tidbit of information. His weary gray eyes stayed glued on the inquisitive expression Ichigo showcased as if it were a rare occurrence before snapping his fan closed to gain the orange head’s attention.

“As you said, it’s essentially phasing through solid objects in the world of the living. But this technique is mainly used in the Onmitsukidō as a stealth skill.” He expanded when it became obvious Ichigo would not let it go “The cadets call it Umbra, but its full name is Umbra Ambulatio.

Ichgio blinked in confusion “And what does that mean?”

Kisuke’s hat shadowed his eyes as he leaned forward with a serious expression that almost shocked Ichigo “The literal translation is Shadow Walking.”

The orange head gulped in nerves at the sudden thickness of air and the way the sunlight outside seemed to decrease little by little as if a cloud had suddenly decided to block the sun at this exact moment.

“I-is it like a secret, forbidden technique?” he questioned nervously.

Kisuke stayed silent as he let the moment stew. His eyes darkened, and Ichigo was momentarily reminded of that time the blonde had told him about their past and how the Vizard had been hollowfied ages ago.

“In reality-“ he began seriously.

“BUWAHAHA!”

“SON OF A-!” Ichigo fell backwards in shock until he hit a wall and rolled to a stop. “Yoruichi!”

Said person started to laugh out loud as she rolled around the hallway in unrestrained amusement. Kisuke also began booming with laughter as the two found entertainment in their little prank.

Ichigo merely reddened until he resembled his namesake “You two! I was being serious.” The two merely kept on laughing harder, making the orange head growl low in threat as he stood up to strangle the laughing pair.

 All of a sudden, he slipped under the rub he had unintentionally moved when he tumbled earlier and fell backwards again. This time though, instead of stopping against the wall, his body seemed to phase through the tatami door and he fell on the floor of the neighboring room.

Almost instantly the two shut up as they stared at the place Ichigo had stood before looking at each other in unrestricted surprise and sudden horrifying realization.

Shit,” Yoruichi cursed out as Kisuke nodded in agreement.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep.” He murmured when it became obvious Ichigo wasn’t even there anymore. “The suspension is gonna kill me.”

“Yeaaaaah,” Yoruichi drawled “I’m going back to soul society.”

Kisuke whimpered as he felt the breeze of a flash step before he found himself standing alone in the sitting room.

“Tessai!

#KM#

As Ryūken tidied up the paperwork in his office, he found himself snapping to attention as he heard a faint whoosh of air and a distortion in the reishi. As he looked up he saw his wayward nephew walking through the room as if he owned the place and could only stare at the strangeness of the situation.

“Oh,” Ichigo exclaimed as if shocked Ryūken was there. This was his office! “I didn’t see you there Ryūken-Jisan. Could you point me in the general direction of Uryuu’s office?” he asked casually.

Ryūken merely stared until his motor functions seemed to start obeying him again and pointed towards his left.

“Thanks!” Ichigo called back as he phased through the nearest wall towards the left.

Ryūken stared a couple minutes more at the now empty air where Ichigo had stood moments ago before going back to his work. If he erased it from his memory, it would certainly avoid an intense head-ache, better to act as if it had never happened.

It never happened.

#KM#

Hours later, Shiba compound…

GHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!” A high pitched squeal resounded through the entire clearing making the birds take off in fright “WHO CHANGED MY SAKE FOR CATNIP!?”

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

#CU#

“Ichi~!” he cooed to the little orange head sitting on the engawa with a bag of chips in his arms. The boy looked up to his crazy, annoying uncle and let out a long suffering sigh as if Kisuke was the child.

“Ki-jichan,” Ichigo began seriously with a downwards quirk of his lips. “Oka-san won’t let you baby sit me again if you’re trying to use me for one of your experiments again.”

The chocked sound the blonde made at the mention of Masaki made Ichigo sigh once again. Why his Uncle Kisuke was allowed to still see him was an honest to god mystery.

#CU#

“Ichigo-chan, I brought you some chocolate covered marshmallows!” Kisuke burst into the Kurosaki household with a bright smile on his face, and a giant bag cradled between his left and right forearms.

Ichigo merely looked up from where he was drawing with Tatsuki on the floor with a deadpanned expression before turning back to his work as if he wasn’t there.

Tatsuki mirrored his actions before asking “Who’s that?”

“Ignore him,” the eight year old advised “He’s just a crazy lunatic that freeloads off Oka-san’s godly cooking.”

The raven merely hummed in understanding as they both ignored the spluttering of the blonde standing at the doorway.

#CU#

“Leave me alone!” he yelled towards the blonde with a venom that Kisuke had never seen in his entire life. He couldn’t help but think that this was all new for Ichigo as well.

“Ichigo, come back home with your dad and the girls.” Kisuke pleaded, at this rate, he was not above begging.

Ichigo merely grabbed another rock from the bedside of the river and hurled it in the shop-keepers general direction with rage filled eyes. It missed by a longshot.

“Go away! I don’t wanna go back!”

“Ichi,” he said a little softer “Masaki is gone, but we’re all still together and we need you just as much as you need us. Come home.”

“I don’t-!” he tried to scream again before a sob chocked in his throat and he tried again “I don’t want-“ this time he couldn’t stop the tears from free falling and he tried to scrub an angry sleeve over his eyes “I don’t want to go home.” Ichigo cried, and this time he didn’t stop the tears that fell as Kisuke embraced him in a tight hug.

“Everything’s gonna be alright.” He whispered to his ear as the little boy sobbed into his shoulder and his haori became wetter ad wetter “We can go back to the Shouten with Yoru and Tessai. It’ll all be okay.”

Ichigo only nodded into his shoulder, but his grip was tighter than ever and he didn’t protest when Kisuke stood up with the little orange head in his arms.

#CU#

“I am not, under any circumstances, taking that book bag to school!” Ichigo yelled in indignation on his first day of middle school.

Kisuke mocked pouted as he lifted the normal blue book bag with an orange strawberry sowed on the corner. “But Tessai pulled an all nighter finishing it on time.”

He crossed his arms in front of himself as if to ward off the effects of Urahara Kisuke –it was a moot point, Urahara Kisuke was unescapable. “I don’t care! I’ll be the laughing stock of the school!” with that final proclamation he turned on his heel and walked towards the front door of the Shouten.

Kisuke was left alone in the living room with a bag better suited for a girl and a childish pout on his face. “Why is it that Ichigo hates me yet prefers to spend the night here?”

Yoruichi suddenly burst into laughter making Kisuke turn back to give her a petulant expression. “It’s not funny!” he whined.

Yoruichi just laughed harder.

#CU#

“So Plus are the normal ghosts that I see all the time, while those mask covered monsters are Hollows; Pluses that have stayed to long?” Ichigo questioned as he furrowed his brows while Kisuke merely nodded behind his fan.

“Exactly,” he closed his fan to reach for his own tea “and Shinigami are in charge of reaping the Hollows and making sure the Pluses go to the other side –Soul Society.”

Ichigo stayed silent as he stared at his cold tea as if it were the most interesting thing in the world. The fact that he hasn’t seen a Hollow up until now, has him questioning who has kept him safe for the last 13 years of his life –going on 14.

“You’re all Shinigami?” he pretty much states, and Kisuke freezes for half a second before placing his cup on the table again.

“Any particular reason for that train of thought?” he asks instead.

Ichigo stays contemplate before he heaves a long suffering sigh and turns up to stare into Kisuke’s gray eyes “You guys feel different. Even Goat-face, though he feels fainter. And Ka-san… was not a normal human either. Her air smelled different too.”

Kisuke snaps up to look at the boy so fast Ichigo’s surprised he didn’t get a whiplash. His stare is intense, and Ichigo almost squirms at the heat before the man relents his ferocity.

“I think… I need to call Isshin.”

#CU#

“Kuchiki Rukia.” Ichigo tastes the name on his tongue which gains him a curious expression from the petite Shinigami. “You’re from the main family?”

Rukia gives him an incredulous expression as she gapes like a fish out of water “You- How do you know about that?!

Ichigo looks at her like if that were a stupid question before blurting out “Uncle Kisuke of course.”

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

#SM#

"Stop following me!" he bellowed from the top of his lungs, making all the other Shinigami walking nearby run off in fear of his rage "Go back to your inner world god damn it!"

The two turned to each other with a conspiring look before the white haired albino broke into a wide smile.

"We don't want to~!" he sing songed, making Ichigo growl in irritation.

"I swear to god Zangetsu," they both looked at him with a questioning look "both of you. Go back into your inner world, or I'll find a way to keep you guys in there."

The Quincy side of his zanpaktou merely kept a cool and collected expression, while the Shinigami and Hollow side, hollered in laughter as if Ichigo had said a particularly funny joke. As always, anyone who passed by him in the street and actually knew who, or what the other two were, couldn't decide themselves between feeling awe or terror.

"You to expect to follow me around the whole town and into the meetings I have scheduled for the day?" he asked incredulously, more than a little annoyed.

"Of course!" answered the albino.

"That was the plan." Was the reasonable response from his down to earth spirit.

Ichigo threw his hands in the air to showcase his frustration. "I give up." He proclaimed as he turned around and continued his trek towards the first division barracks where he was programed to have a meeting with Kyoraku.

The two Spirits stayed behind for a second before shrugging to each other and following their dense owner.

"Do you think he'll ever figure out that he can control our materialization?" The white haired Zangetsu asked his counterpart.

The raven head kept his stoic expression before sighing and shaking his head. A couple feet in front of them, Rukia turned the corner and bumped into their orange-haired owner. She took a look at the two, before turning back to Ichigo and slapping him over the head as she began yelling.

Zangetsu –both of them- would bet anything that she was admonishing him for not being able to control them.

The albino turned to him and gave him an unimpressed stare. "Should we tell him?"

The raven head stays quiet as Rukia delivers a kick to Ichigo's shin. That's have got to hurt.

"No." he once again denies "No need to take away our amusement."

The wide grin the hollow gives him has Zangetsu questioning if it was a good idea or not. He's supposed to be the reasonable spirit, but well, staying cooped up, standing on a pole sideways all the time isn't fun.

"We could always stalk other Shinigami's so that he thinks we're inside." Zangetsu ver. White says evilly.

The glasses wearing spirit sighs again before admonishing "The gossip will reach his ears sooner or later."

The albino hums in agreement before wincing at a particularly painful looking punch delivered by the petite Shinigami. Honestly, Ichigo could take her down with his eyes closed, why he lets himself get beat up is a mystery.

"Maybe he's a masochist." He mutters out loud.

"A hardcore M." Zangetsu-Old man agrees.

"Ouch!" Ichigo yells before pushing Rukia out of biting reach "Calm down midget! Blame them!"

She growls, and both zanpaktou spirits can't help but think that their owner has taken one too many hits to the head if he continues to insult her height without restraint.

"Idiot Strawberry!"

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

 

#PiNmT;NiD#

“A… painting?” she questioned calmly as she tried to visualize what he was describing.

“Yes,” he nodded while trying to keep his brush steady so as to not ruin what he had already finished “I had started it before, but then with the whole winter war fiasco, and then I lost my powers and my image of everyone got hazier as the days went by, I left it half ways.”

“I see.” Rukia really couldn’t see. For one, since when did Ichigo paint? And second of all, she was standing in front of his easel, so she couldn’t see what he was painting anyways. “And you think you can finish it before we have to leave for Soul Society?”

“Of course!” he exclaimed as if it were some sort of insult to think otherwise “I’m just adding the finishing touches since so many people thought it would be a good idea to change their style in a year and a half I hadn’t seen them.”

“Hey!” she protested.

Ichigo snorted “I don’t mean it looks bad, it just makes my job harder.”

Rukia grumbles under her breath but doesn’t say anything else on the matter. She just watches as Ichigo furrows his brows in concentration and makes a little twirl with his wrist. She thinks it’s a painting thing, but she wouldn’t know, her skill lies in drawing.

“What about the drying time?” she questions curiously. Paintings need to dry right? She should at least have that right.

The orange head grunts as he makes an upward swipe before retracting his brush and turning towards Rukia “Its water based, so it won’t take much time. Besides, I can speed it up with a hair drier.”

“Won’t that damage it?” it should, right?

“If you know the technique, no. But you have to be careful. An amateur shouldn’t try it.” He points out as he dips the brush in colored water and takes a careful step back. His lips twitch upwards “Perfect.”

Rukia tried to peer over the painting stand, but before she could make out more than the color black, Ichigo grabbed the chart and stalked out the room. “Give me an hour, I’ll see you at Geta-boushi’s!” he yelled back as he closed the door of his room.

Rukia was left in an empty room, full of paint and an empty easel with nothing else to do. “Uh… painting is not my thing.” She said out loud before turning around and jumping out the window. She wondered what Orihime was doing.

#PiNmT;NiD#

“Kurosaki Ichigo,” the old man began, when it became obvious that Ichigo needed something else besides getting permission to take Ginjo’s body back to the living world. “what’s your next point of business?”

“Uh,” Ichigo stuttered nervously as he scratched the back of his head “I know these kind of things aren’t exactly supposed to be said out loud. And in perspective, I guess it’s one for another and stuff like that but-“ he turned towards where Rukia and Renji were kneeling next to the clothed painting “I brought something to… give.”

This brought the attention of all the captains as they tried to see what he was grabbing. Ichigo grasped the painting before standing in front of the rows of captains and taking off the concealment.

The way even the captain commander rose an eyebrow and looked surprised made Ichigo smirk smugly in appreciation. Rukia and Renji couldn’t seem to help themselves and leaned further the most they could to catch sight of the painting.

“That’s…” Renji began.

“Beautifully done, Ichigo-kun.” Ukitake praised when it became obvious no one else had words to describe it amidst their shock.

It was a painting of a meadow, a couple trees in the distance and a large sakura on the right side. Under the tree were Yamamoto, Shunsui, Ukitake, Byakuya and Unohana enjoying tea and sake while the other captains and lieutenants all portrayed somewhere in the frame. Some of the lieutenants, including Renji, Izuru, Hisagi, and some of the vizard were drinking on top of a hill, their rowdy nature plausible even through painting as if it were a real moment caught live. To the left, Ikkaku was being chased around the meadow by a happy Yachiru and a sword excited Kenpachi. Even the special humans, Isshida, Inoue, Chad and Ichigo himself were in a corner of the painting having a heated debate with the Urahara group along with Soi-fong and her own lieutenant.

All in all it was a beautiful piece of art, completely realistic looking and breath taking.

“Well?” Ichigo asked nervously as he peaked over the frame to see Rukia and Renji.

Rukia burst out laughing, not really caring that she was in the captain’s hall.

“It seems you do know how to paint.”

Ichigo smiled, wide and relaxed in a way almost no one had ever seen before. “Thanks.”

It lit the room.

Chapter Text

“I need help!” was the first thing Isshin said as he burst into a captain’s meeting about two months after the quincy war.

Ichigo looked at his dad with an inquisitive eye before heaving a long suffering sigh and turning back to his papers “Denied.” He answered for all of those present even though he had the inkling that the plea had only been directed at him.

As expected, Isshin took no interest in decorum and walked right up to his orange-haired son and started to throttle him where he stood.

“Yuzu and Karin ran away from home and I can’t find them.” He cried, instantly making all the other captains stand to attention in preparation for the explosion Ichigo was sure to bring at the news.

Ichigo waved it off with a shrug “They’ll come back eventually Goat-face, I’ve told you time and time again to not over react.”

Everyone felt their jaw drop at the casual disregard the overprotective older brother showed. They had all been expecting the newly appointed captain of the eighth division to run out of the meeting room with swords raised and ready for action.

“Besides, if you’re so worried, why don’t you just track their reiatsu?” the orange head pointed out instead making Isshin whine.

He sniffed “They blocked off their signal.”

Ichigo sighed “What did you do goat-face?”

The exaggerated gesture of hurt makes it obvious that the raven head really had been at fault. He seemed to notice too, because almost instantly he deflated and looked the other way reluctantly “I told them to stop going out at night because it could be dangerous.”

Everyone looked on as they found themselves agreeing with the reprimand as Ichigo face palmed, as if not knowing what to do with a misbehaved child.

“We agreed-“ the orange head began.

“We agreed to disagree.” Isshin pointed out as he crossed his arms defensively “They’re my little baby girls, I can’t just get used to these things.”

Ichigo snorted as he turned his nose up as if Isshin had offended him in some way. “Here is me disagreeing.” He drawled “And at this rate, I’m running off with Yuzu and Karin too.”

“No!” Isshin panicked as he pleaded on his knees “Anything but that, just tell me where they are- if they’re safe!”

Ichigo looked down at his father with disdain as he ignored the other captains present. After a minute of debate he nodded in agreement and Isshin instantly cheered up with a little jump and whoop of glee that had him rolling his eyes.

“Great!” Isshin exclaimed as he took out a hairpin from his pocket “Follow the trail Sparky!” he yelled in exaggeration, making Ichigo growl low in his throat which instantly shut Isshin up who decided hiding behind Toshiro was a good idea.

“Off!” The white haired captain complained, and almost as soon as he had taken shelter, he was thrown center stage in front of Ichigo.

“Okay,” Isshin appeased as he rose his hands in the universal sign of placation. “No more doggy jokes.”

The orange head rolled his eyes but nodded in peace before he closed his eyes, took a deep breath and let it out as his body relaxed –something they had never really seen. Almost a second later, Ichigo’s hair extended to his waist, and a fluffy pair of orange ears seemed to stand to attention on his head. As Ichigo opened his eyes, they saw a glimpse of an equally orange tail wagging back and forth behind him and could only stare in undisguised shock.

“Hmm,” Ichigo hummed as his right ear twitched before he glanced towards that direction. He sniffed the air slightly, his gaze stopping on Isshin before he seemed to follow some invisible track that no one else could see. After a second of debate he turned towards the west of the room and nodded to himself as if to ascertain his own conclusion. “The twins took a trip to Tokyo.” He told him.

Isshin instantly brightened in glee as he walked towards his eldest son – who-was-a-god-forsaken-human-dog-hybrid. Why-hadn’t-anyone-mentioned-anything!?-  And stood straight to tower over Ichigo as he gave him a pat –a pat, WHAT!?

Ichigo instantly bristled –almost like a cat ironically enough- but seemed unable to move away from the touch as his tail wagged to showcase his real thoughts –obviously, this was followed by a deep red blush.

“Good job Ichigo, your mother would be so proud!” Isshin praised as if it were the most normal thing in the world “You’ve certainly gotten better.”

“Goat-face.” Ichigo growled “I’m gonna kick your ass if you don’t shove it, before I run off to Tokyo with the girls and stay there for a year!”

“Now, now.” Isshin placated, this time showing no fear as he scratched behind a fluffy ear. “How about we calm down and-“ a vindictive smile curled the edges of his mouth which made Ichigo’s eyes widen in realization “-sit.”

A quick thump was followed by that word, as Ichigo found himself sitting on his knees with his hands firmly pressed to the floor as he trembled in undisguised rage.

“O-ya-ji~!” he sing songed in suppressed rage as he grinded his teeth –were those sharp canines!? “You better run off to another dimension, because when I stand up, you are going to die!” Ichigo threatened.

Isshin merely laughed in mock amusement as he gave a cheeky grin while all the other captains couldn’t find it in themselves to not tremble in fear –the reiatsu that was emitting from the orange head was thick and strong, how in the world did Isshin not seem affected?

The raven head’s smile widened as he took out a bag of cookies he had intended to use as a bribe in case Ichigo hadn’t agreed to help, before moving it in temptation in front of the growling orange head.

“Yuzu’s chocolate cookies,” he pointed out gleefully “Go fetch!” he threw the bag out the window of the fourth floor, making Ichigo instantly brighten as he ran out –like a dog!­- to get the bag.

Everyone turned to Isshin with the same thought in mind as he boomed in laughter.

He is so dead.

Tetsuzaemon Iba, new captain of the seventh division, only looks on in shock and thinks –begrudgingly- that maybe being insane is a requisition for being a captain, and if so, he really has no place here.

The fact that no one mentioned why Kurosaki Ichigo has honest–to-god dog ears and tail, has him miffed.

 

 Not to be continued...

Chapter Text

#CC#

Kaien didn’t hate his dad, he really didn’t. But the way everyone would always compare him to his orange-haired father rubbed him the wrong way even though his dad always came to the rescue with retorts about how everyone was their own person. He didn’t even feel jealous of his dad either, because the things his pseudo aunts and uncles always lamented about their non-similarities were crazy things he didn’t even want to know about.

“Hm… your father could make the go- I mean the company, yeah the company, run around like headless chickens when he tried to inva- I mean, meet with the boss without a… meeting.”

What was there to be proud of that?

“Kurosaki Ichigo was a fast learner in comba- uh, combustion, yes… science.”

So dad had good grades in chemistry, big deal. He’s good at physics!

“Sword handling is a great skill to learn! Your father is- was –would be good at it?”

And people thought his Dad –a doctor, ha!- could wield weapons. Like, get real.

So no, he did not hate his dad, nor did he feel jealousy. He was happy to have a successful parent, head of neurosurgery since the tender age of 24 and most well liked doctor in the main hospital. His Dad was amazing, and he knows most kids say so, but he thinks his Dad is the best Dad in the world –not quite a super hero, but close.

Let it not be said, that he hates to disappoint his Dad. So when he one day gets in a fight –by accident, honest!- and his Dad has to come pick him up from the principal’s office, he was really ashamed.

Ichigo arrives with a face that Kaien can’t even begin to decipher. He doesn’t look angry nor irritated, yet he still has a bad feeling about the entire thing, and is obviously nervous when his Dad and the principal speak a couple of hushed words in between them before turning back to him.

He gulps.

“We’re leaving Kaien.” He tells him calmly, which only makes him panic further.

Even then he follows, and as they walk through the student infested halls –many of them shooting his Dad some awed looks and starry eyed stares- they easily make it to the high school gates where he sees the last person he wanted to see today.

“Well well,” the voice drawls pompously “if it’s isn’t the wittle Kurosaki boy and his pansy daddy.”

Kaien instantly bristles, because while he can ignore the taunts, he finds himself oddly annoyed at the jab against his dad.

Ichigo stops on his tracks as well, and merely glances to the side to raise an eyebrow at the bleached blonde teen with an uninterested look.

Kaien feels his respect for his dad raising, he pretty much deemed Oshima Ryuichi, the biggest thug in school a non-threat with a single look.

“Well!” the teen yells.

“Calm down Ryu.” A more mature, yet equally disgusting voice interjects, making Kaien turn to see an equally bleached adult with an odd resemblance to Ryuichi. “Let’s not get worked up by some scrawny little twit and his daddy.”

“Oshima Reiichi.” His dad calls out in wonder, and Kaien almost does a double take.

His prim and proper Dad knows this delinquent guy?!

Well, his dad isn’t prim and proper, but he’s a well-respected Doctor, way above in the food chain when compared to this guy.

The man looks on in confusion as he narrows his eyes before recognition seems to dawn “Kurosaki Ichigo!” he yells before a smile spreads across his face –they have gathered a crowd by now too “It’s been ages, hasn’t it, buddy.” He says sarcastically.

Kaien twitches at the tone, but stays glued to the floor as his dad scowls for all he’s worth.

“No wonder my Son got in a fight with yours.” The man continued as if undisturbed “He’s just as much of an arrogant bastard as you were in high school.” Reiichi cackles as he ignores the murderous aura starting to emit from his Dad –what? “Dying his hair like his Daddy, trying to steal my son’s style. I bet he wouldn’t know about fashionable if it bit him in the ass!”

Almost half a second after the last syllable was uttered, Reiichi was thrown back five feet with incredible force that Kaien could barely even think was possible. Reiichi wobbly stands up as if not knowing what had just happened before his eyes narrow on Ichigo who was barely retracting his arm from his previous punching motion.

“Talk all the crap about me you want,” Ichigo began dangerously making Kaien shudder “but the moment you bring in my boy was the second you signed your death sentence.” He growls low as his eyes narrow “I hope you’re ready, because the beat downs I used to give you back in our high school days, will look like a walk in the park compared to what I’m about to do.”

Oshima and Oshima Jr. looked ready to snap as the two charged at the orange head with a yell. Kaien belatedly thinks that maybe he should join in the fray too –you know, father-son duo against father-son duo- but his dad dodged their attacks like if they were snails, and he did an elegant looking side step that had the two tumbling against the loss of balance. He looked like he was egging them on, and before Kaien knew it, Ryuichi was knocked unconscious by a well-placed chop, and Reiichi was beaten to an inch of his life.

Kaien would have felt bad for the man if he weren’t so annoyed at what they had said about his dad too. He was about to call out to the elder, when all of a sudden Reiichi stood up with renewed vigor and took out a knife out of seemingly nowhere.

The crowd gasped, and Kaien found himself yelling to his father –who had his back turned!- but before he could even think, let alone move, his Dad did a back step and extended his hand so that the knife could pass neatly between his fingers. The grip on the fisted hand was intense –Reiichi was shaking and grimacing in pain- but before he could stutter out another curse, Ichigo jabbed him with two fingers on the right side of his throat making him crumble like a puppet without strings.

The street was silent as his dad let go of the wrist and dusted his hands before walking back to his side with a clam smile and not a scratch or dust on his white doctor’s coat.

The crowd roared to life again, and Kaien found his eyes widening in realization as his father started to maneuver him in the direction of the car.

His dad isn’t cool, he is a badass!

“Dad!” he exclaimed in glee “Teach me how to fight!”

Ichigo’s smile widened as he ruffled his hair in a way that made him feel embarrassed yet pleased at the same time even though he was 15.

“Sure,” he agreed “we can get your aunts and uncles to help.”

“Huh?” Kaien questioned as he slid into the passenger seat as Ichigo’s smirk turned smug.

“Yeah, and then we can talk about stories of how I invaded the afterlife, or how I learnt combat from a very young age, or even sword handling!” Ichigo cut in unhelpfully as he started to connect the dots of all things his aunts and uncles had tried to censor his entire childhood.

Scratch that, his Dad is a Badass Motherfucker!

 

Not to continued…

Chapter Text

#CitCiM#

"Watch... If I do this, my hand is almost instantly at your heart." Aizen muttered as he touched Ichigo's chest with his hand as the orange head's eyes widened in shock. "Let me ask you one thing, Ryoka boy. Why do you fight me?"

Ichigo turned towards Aizen, his eyes still wide as he tried to put as much distance as he could "What?!"

Aizen didn't turn towards Ichigo as he elaborated "Do you hold a grudge against me? No, you don't." he paused but continued when Ichigo remained quiet "The fact that you are here means that you've gotten Inoue Orihime back safely. And from the expression on your face, none of your friends have died." His smirk widened as he glanced back to look at Ichigo "Can you really hate me from the bottom of your heart? It's impossible."

Neither moved, but for some curious reason Ichigo's stance relaxed as if he weren't in battle and his previously shocked expression morphed back into a serious set face.

"Right now, you have no hatred." The brunet continued as if he hadn't noticed the shift. "You're just fighting out of sense of responsibility. You won't be able to reach me with that." Aizen absently turned as he took in the casual pose the orange head had adopted "The will to fight without hatred is like an eagle without wings. You can't protect anything with that. Your powerless friends only serve as weights to break your legs."

The two stared at each other, assessing the words laid out between them with no expression what so ever. On the inside though, Aizen couldn't help but feel slightly apprehensive at the way his jab had had no visual effect on the orange head.

All of a sudden, as the captains that had been previously downed were getting ready to attack and give an opening for the only Shinigami strong enough that had not seen Aizen's release, said Shinigami burst out laughing as if the megalomaniac had said a particularly funny joke.

Everyone stared, even Aizen seemed miffed.

Ichigo continued laughing "Oh my god! *hahahahahaha* are you seriously- were you really- *hahahaha* how could you think-!"

Honestly, it seemed he couldn't even form his own sentences thanks to his own out of control laughter. He was even holding his sides, before he slowly started to regain control of his motor functions and straightened with a sigh as he removed the tears from the edges of his eyes.

"That was a good laugh." He said calmly as a smirk remained firmly kept on his face "I was trying to extend my cover for as long as I could. I even acted all shocked and let you enter my personal space multiple times!" he exclaimed as if it were an accomplishment in itself "But this takes the cake, I cannot, under good conscious, stay straight faced through your crappy monologue."

They all stared at Ichigo as if he had gone crazy, even Aizen seemed baffled by this turn event as Ichigo merely lifted his arm and pointed a finger skywards.

"See this, Aizen Sosuke, the life you led yourself to believe, was a mere mirage I created to even out the battlefield." A glow of gold started to form on the tip of his finger before it exploded upwards in a bright pillar of light that pierced the clouds. Almost seconds later, what seemed like meteors fell around the orange head, making a cloud of dust cover the area.

After what seemed like ages, the air cleared and around Ichigo stood the much talked about zero division in their full glory. They stood tall and to attention before Ichigo turned back to give them a cocky grin.

"Yo," he greeted "what took you so long to find me?"

"Soul King-sama!" Ichibei yelled out indigently "you were masking your presence from the very beginning! And once you decided to drop the human act, we are landed in the middle of this silly war?!"

Ichigo waved a hand in the air "Semantics, it was my idea to leave an empty vessel upstairs and be born as a human." He pouted at the Zero squad who looked highly unimpressed "It's so boring staying in the palace doing nothing. And since I knew So-kun would be making his move soon, I thought I'd be a good means of entertainment."

Ichibei sighed, his expression resigned as if he has had to pass through this same dilemma many times. The rest of the Shinigami and Aizen himself just openly gapped. It seemed even megalomaniac, mass murder, puppeteer, master mind evil overlords could also be surprised by reincarnated, bored spirit kings hell bent on seeing his invasion as a game.

"So!" Ichigo exclaimed happily as he turned around to give the brunet a grin. "Let us get this party started."

"Ichigo-sama," Oetsu Nimaiya called out calmly "I believe that the Soul King would be overkill in this case."

"Don't worry about the small details." He waved off handedly as he snapped his fingers and his shinigami garment shifted into his original clothing. It was a simple black shihakusho like any other shinigami, but he held a flowing green robe thrown on top lined with gold embroidery. He also ported a diamond stub, and he had a crown a top his head that looked more like an Arabian Crown in style than an actual gold crown.

The sword God sighed "Whatever you say then, your majesty."

Ichigo scoffed at the endorsement before turning his attention back to the fuming wanna-be King with a smirk on his face,

"Now, how about we get this wrapped up in the next 30 minutes?"

"YOU-!" Aizen began.

Ichigo sighed again as he absently picked on a hangnail "Yes me, and if you're gonna monologue again go ahead. But make it quick, I want to go get lunch."

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

#S#

Today was a nice day, Ichigo decided as he walked down the street with his left hand in his jeans and his right holding an open book. There had hardly been any hollows, and Goat-face hadn’t been that annoying today either. The sun was covered by the clouds in the perfect way that gave sunlight, yet procured shade for his side of the path. The teachers hadn’t called on him today, and his relatively peaceful trek to Geta-Boushi’s place had been undisturbed.

However, as he walked up to the shabby looking candy shop, he heard a loud crash and a muffled outcry from somewhere inside. It seemed, that while he had had a great day, someone else was utterly miserable.

He easily ignored the disaster and walked in like he owned the place before placing his book in his back pocket. Ichigo followed the noises to the back room where he knew Urahara kept his inventions –he had been warned away from that room- before throwing the door open when it became obvious only the blonde was home and he had no other option but go inside.

“Oi, Urahara-san?” Ichigo called out as the smoke started to escape the room through the door. He ignored it, and merely stalked inside without a single preoccupation “You should get some vents in here.”

“Kurosaki-san?” Urahara called out from… somewhere to the left. “I thought I had mentioned the lab was off limits.”

Ichigo waved off the complaint as he did every time he did something he wasn’t supposed to do before walking in the general direction he thought the shop keeper was. The fact that the smoke had started to clear helped him greatly, and soon enough he found the blonde man kneeling by a weird contraption that looked oddly reminiscent to a portal.

“I’m not gonna go on a rampage and destroy your gizmos.” He proclaimed sarcastically as he rolled his eyes.

Urahara looked up from the panel and gave him a stupid pout Ichigo knew was all for show. “You never know, and I invest hours in some of these things.”

Ichigo sighed but didn’t refute the point. Instead he concentrated on Urahara’s new project as he scanned the papers and parts lying around on the floor, desk, boxes and other inventions.

“And what are you working on?” the orange head asked instead to diverge the attention.

“Glad you asked!” Urahara perked up happily as he went back to tweaking with some wires “This is a mirror into alternate realities. It lets us take a peek into other worlds in the same attractor field!”

“Hmm,” Ichigo hummed as he kneeled down next to the blonde to see what he was doing “Is it restricted to parallel points, or can it see past or future points of those other lines?”

“Well-“ Urahara paused as he turned to Ichigo with an incredulous expression.

Usually, Urahara likes to answer questions with a little of technicality because it is fun to see others fidget and not understand a word of what he had said. Usually, it always works, and Kurosaki Ichigo had been no exception… though the boy tended to ignore him instead of actually paying attention, now that he thought about.

So really, when he had answered Ichigo’s question, he was expecting a confused huh? Not interest and intelligent questions on further description!

“You-“ he tried to begin again before Ichigo out stretched a hand to point at one of the wires.

“And you’re doing this wrong.” The orange head stated as if he was chastising a child. “If this is what I think it is, then the control panel should be set up in a way that connects the main power energy to the proton generator and the particle splitter, otherwise you’ll just get glimpses of the same place, in another universe.”

Urahara stared as he alternated his wide eyed look from Ichigo to the wiring. He had been about to connect it to the proton generator only and… that would have caused what the orange head said, he would get an image of his lab… in an alternate universe. But if he connected both!

“Thank you for pointing that out, Kurosaki-san.” He said honestly after he had picked up his jaw from the floor “I hadn’t noticed that… I wouldn’t have expected you to notice that either.”

Ichigo snorts as he tried not to roll his eyes “You may not know because you don’t exactly have a complete file on my studies lying around somewhere, but after the Shinigami business started I was still 23rd place in my year grade over all.”

Urahara continued to stare.

“And before that happened, I had more free time to study, so I would be 1st place and my grades were always outstanding in a way that had the teachers debating for a while if I should skip a grade or two.”

He continues staring.

“Oi,” Ichigo waves a hand in front of the shop keeper’s eyes when it becomes obvious he has frozen from the shock “should I go get Inoue?”

“…No.” he finally seems to snap out of his trance “I had never had the chance to read your school file, so I guess it was a negligence from my part, my apologies Kurosaki-san.”

Ichigo sighed, typical of Urahara to have his file lying around somewhere.

“I guess,” the blonde starts again as he turns back to his project while weighing his words carefully “I wouldn’t mind you coming into my lab from time to time.”

Ichigo merely gives him an unimpressed stare as he passes a hand through his unruly hair. He really shouldn’t have expected anything less from the man, he always takes advantage of any situation that might benefit him.

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

#RcbR#

"Renji, we have known each other for ages -since we were little kids in Rukongai- and you have done many stupid things. But this, this takes the cake."

Renji makes a pained noise from the back of his throat as he sends Rukia a panicked look. He hadn't meant to start a fight with what seemed to be the top gang of the area. But the guys were ogling a little too much, and really, it was just a gang, it's not like they could beat a trained Shinigami.

So the gang had actually been prepared and obviously trained, well fuck.

And really, as Rukia and he were guided inside a non-descript building that was most likely their base of operations, he wasn't surprised to see Ikkaku, Yumichikia, Matsumoto and Captain Hitsugaya being guided in too. Figures they'd stand out when on patrol, now they just needed Ichigo to be caught too and the whole gang would be together.

"Oh great," Captain Hitsugaya rolls his eyes from where he is being pushed inside "I thought Kuchiki was at least reasonable enough to know not to pick a fight like these morons."

"Captain~!" Matsumoto complained, but was widely ignored.

"All of you walk!" the leader of this particular group growled "Until boss decides on what to do with you, you're all staying here."

Rukia sighed for what seemed to be the nth time as she looked around the hallway. There were many other thugs walking around, and surprisingly enough, a lot of people in suits and lab coats as well. It seemed that while this base was obviously intended for a gang, it wasn't a small time group. Most likely Yakuza.

In reality they could escape, but the ruckus they would make would be noticeable and their cover would be broken. At this rate they would have to make a deal with this boss, or leave by force –at least civilians wouldn't be involved in here.

As Rukia was going to bring her attention back to their group, a blur of orange passed by the hallway to her left which she barely caught from the corner of her eye. She turned, but whoever had passed was already gone, and might have been an act of her imagination. All of a sudden, she saw the previous person do a backtrack, and was honestly shocked to see Ichigo just standing there, peaking over a corner of the hall with a deadpanned expression.

She just wondered what he was doing here and why he wasn't being escorted like they seemed to be.

"You have got to be kidding me." He complained as he scrubbed a hand over his face.

Rukia's eyes just widened as everyone else turned towards the direction of his voice.

"Ichigo?!" more than one of them yelled.

Ichigo sighed as he stalked towards their group, briskly followed by a man in a suit. He gave the thugs a glare that had them easily shrinking under the ferocity.

"I'm gonna take a wild guess in the dark, and say group H did not attend the emergency meeting that was called?" he asked the men.

"I-Ichigo-sama, we- we couldn't l-leave the streets unprotected." The leader stammered.

Ichigo did not take kindly to his excuse and growled "There is a reason why these meetings are urgent, usually brief, and important." The thugs flinched "Yesterday morning I told the entire clan that we had new people in town: a white-haired elementary school brat with aquamarine eyes, a red-haired hippie wanna-be with tattoos everywhere, a strawberry blonde who looked like she was trying too hard to dress like a prostitute, a bald guy with tattoos around his eyes carrying a wooden stick, a purple-haired she-man with feathers as eyelashes, and a raven-haired violent midget with big violet eyes. I told everyone they were under my protection."

The assembled men, group H Ichigo had mentioned, looked like they had been slapped by a dead fish as they alternated their wide eyed gaze from Ichigo to the described group.

"We-" the same man from before tried.

"I even provided mug shots in case some other freak case resembling the aforementioned waltzed into town!" he yelled, making the entire group flinch again.

They seemed to take at least two minutes to get their brain back in working order, but once they did, they bowed waist level and stiff as a board and chorused.

"We are so sorry, Ichigo-sama!" they yelled.

Ichigo scowled, but soon enough huffed in resignation and waved them off. "I expect this to not happen again." He advised.

"Of course not, Ichigo-sama!" the leader yelled again as they all straightened "What is our punishment for disobedience of direct orders, sir?"

The orange head thought about it for a second before turning back to give the suited man a look and turning back.

"Yamanaka will supervise you, I want 45 suicide runs before the day is up, and then you're on guard duty for the rest of the month."

The entire group looked like they wanted to whine but refrained from doing so as they stood up straight and saluted "Yes, Ichigo-sama!" With that last yell, the group marched out the hallway, quickly followed by the man that was standing behind Ichigo after they had shared a pointed look and nod.

After the hallway was emptied, Ichigo was left alone with the shinigami and he outwardly winced at the awkwardness of the situation.

"Okay," he began nervously as he tried to form words when they all just stared at him incredulously "So I think I should start with saying that should not have happened."

They continued staring. Usually when it came to this group they couldn't stay quiet to save their life. Then Renji, ever tactless, blurted out with a pointed finger.

"You're a Yakuza boss!"

Ichigo blinked "I thought it was obvious, there're rumors flying all over the place."

"I thought they were just rumors!" cried out Rukia as she looked around as if still trying to understand what had happened "And I don't appreciate you're descriptions!"

There were nods all around, and Ichigo just rose an eyebrow.

"You're hung up about that? Not the kidnapping, not the fact that I kept this a semi-secret. You are upset because of the way I described you all to the clan." He intoned as if he couldn't believe his very words.

The unimpressed glares he received all around answered his statement.

Ichigo sighed, again.

Shinigami.

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

“Ha!” Renji called out in glee as Ichigo growled menacingly under his breath “You snooze you lose! I get to choose the punishment!”

The orange head gave Renji his best scowl, but it did nothing to deter him in his path to humiliating Ichigo. Rukia, who was sitting on the engawa watching everything patiently took a sip of her tea that hid her evil smile. Served the strawberry right.

“You cheated, I know you did!” Ichigo declared in a vain attempt to avoid whatever crazy thing was going on in Renji’s brain.

“Nop!” Renji declared happily as he placed his hands on his hips, a wide smile firmly planted on his face “I win, so I declare that today, for the rest of the day, you must… uh…” he stopped to think as Ichigo looked on apprehensively.

Almost by pure fate, at that very moment Byakuya strolled into the Kuchiki compound, the prefect mask of composure firmly planted on his face like every single day as he stalked towards the main entrance where they were loitering around.

“Ni-sama.” Rukia greeted calmly, as Renji scrambled to make his own excuses before a light bulb turned on over his head.

“I’ve got it!” he stated enthusiastically as he disregarded the Kuchiki “For the rest of the day you have to act all noble, prim and proper like captain or you’ll get a tattoo of my face on your ass!”

Everyone looked horrified, and after a second, Renji seemed to realize what he has said in front of his captain and froze in horror too. As Ichigo’s brain started to work again, he turned from Byakuya, to Renji and then Byakuya again before nodding.

“O-kay…” he began nervously “I’ll go with the Byakuya idea.”

Everyone still stared in silence, and for a minute Ichigo thought Byakuya would actually explode before he caught the tell end flicker of amusement on usually impassive gray eyes.

“I believe I can help with your bet, Kurosaki Ichigo.” He intoned calmly after what seemed like an eternity.

Oh no. Ichigo thought worriedly as he tried to not run in the other direction. But he would stand his ground, he would not, under any circumstances, even if he was asked to kiss Kenpachi, going to get a Renji tattoo on his ass.

“O-kay…” he repeated nervously “Start?”

“Uh,” Renji stammered nervously before nodding “On the count of three?”

Ichigo nodded.

“One.”

He took a deep breath as he closed his eyes and concentrated. He tried to focus on his core, find his inner peace to avoid losing his composure throughout the day.

“Two.”

He exhaled, his reiatsu mirroring the notion as it seemed to spread around him like an embrace before settling down into a peaceful hum in the background. He heard Rukia make a surprised sound, but ignored it as he concentrated,

“Three!”

Ichigo snapped his eyes open calmly and slowly as he made sure his posture stayed straight and stiff. He gave a barely there smile, before inclining his head in the Kuchiki clan head’s direction.

“Apologies for not doing so earlier, but excuse my intrusion in your home, Kuchiki-dono.” The orange head intoned calmly in a tone of voice that had them thinking it was made of honey.

Shocked silence before Byakuya caught himself and nodded respectfully as well.

“It is no bother. I may have not said this before, but you are welcome in this household anytime, Kurosaki-san.” The raven head answered back with a practiced efficiency even though Ichigo could tell the man had actually meant it.

Ichigo’s smile twitched ever so slightly, but his mask remained firmly in place “Much appreciated, but I am afraid I must correct you Kuchiki-dono. My proper name is Shiba Ichigo; Kurosaki is my human surname.” He explained to the raven head, completely ignoring his shocked audience.

“I see.” Byakuya didn’t even twitch, as if this hadn’t been a surprise to him as well “Am I to presume your Cousin is making preparations?” he rose an eyebrow questionably.

“Of course,” Ichigo agreed placidly “the main compound is being cleared off, so we’re moving back into Sereitei as well.”

The raven head nodded in understanding “And I imagine –since she has no children to call her own- that you are stepping up as heir to your clan?”

Ichigo’s smile widened ever so slightly, but it remained politely on his face with no trace of malice. Rukia and Renji kept on staring at the two nobles, their shock evident in their face as they tried to process the fact that this straight faced, respectful orange head, was their brash, scowling friend.

“I assure you it was not my idea.” Ichigo commented ever so hesitantly, as if he was placing a lot of trust on the Kuchiki Head to have said that out loud.

Byakuya hummed in agreement as if he had expected nothing less before turning towards the entrance of the building with his usual composure.

“I’m about to settle down for tea with some of our clan elders.” Byakuya informed them “Maybe it’d be a great opportunity for the Kuchiki Clan to extend their formal friendship towards the Shiba Clan?”

Ichigo’s smile didn’t even twitch, but the tell-tale gleam in his eyes told them all he was more than agreeable to the idea.

“Of course,” the orange head drawled expertly “Please lead the way, Kuchiki-dono.”

While the two entered the manor as if it were a common occurrence, the two lieutenants stayed dumbstruck in their positions as they watched the two interact like pleasant acquaintances.

“Did that just-“ Renji tried to point out lamely as he shared a wide eyed look with the raven head.

“It never happened.” Rukia agreed as she tried to get over her own shock “Ni-sama and Ichigo did not just become tea buddies. It. Never. Happened.”

The redhead blinked in shock as he tried to delete the scene from his memory with little to no success before a voice interrupted his thought process.

“Oh, and Abarai-san,” Renji turned towards the rich voice and was visibly pained to see Ichigo standing by the door once more with a pleasant and polite smile that Renji was now willing to dub let-us-happily-bond-over-a-detailed-examination-of-your-entrails. “I wasn’t able to resist in mentioning-“ the smile grew a quarter inch “-Your wit never ceases to underwhelm me.” He gave a slight nod and turned back inside “Good day.”

“It never happened.” Rukia whispered venerably.

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

The first thing that leaves Ichigo’s lips when he burst franticly into the Urahara Shoten is something Kisuke had expected and yet was completely unprepared for. When dealing with Kurosaki Ichigo, one should be resigned to expect the unexpected always.

“I need a favor!” he barges into the room looking frantic and at the verge of a panic attack.

The shop keeper hums to himself as he keeps calm and continues working on his latest project while giving the orange head his attention. “Does it have anything to do with the piñata I found in the living room?”

Ichigo looks horrified for half a second before denying “No!” he hesitates “Well yes, but the important part is the baby Renji left in the fridge.”

This makes Kisuke pause if only for half a second to wonder why he hadn’t realized there was a baby in his fridge. Then he continues his meticulous work as if Ichigo hadn’t blurted out something completely and utterly insane.

“I wonder,” the blonde begins in mild curiosity “where freeloader-san even got a baby.”

The inquiry makes the orange head grimace as if the story visibly pains him before heaving a fortifying sigh and squaring his shoulder as if preparing for another war.

“So, as you would know if you weren’t holed up in your lab all day, yesterday we had my bachelor party.” He elaborates as if Kisuke weren’t already aware of this; which he obviously was, he just decided to not attend for the sake of his limited sanity, looks like he had made the right choice. “So we went out drinking but somehow things went out of hand and to be honest I hardly remember what happened after Ikkaku brought out a chicken from who knows where and Shinji thought it’d be a good idea to go for a piñata after Chad mentioned them from one of his stories from when he still lived in Mexico but I also vaguely remember Byakuya arriving with some Koi fish in a bag as a gift or something but that might have been a dream except there were Koi fish in my sink this morning and-“

“Your rambling Kurosaki-san~” Kisuke interjected lightly when the young adult looked like he was going to pass out from lack of air as he said it all in a single breath.

Ichigo took a deep gulp of air before nodding as he absently passed a hand through his hair. “Right, so for some reason when I woke up this morning I was lying on the ground in Ryuuken-Ji’s house –which, I may add, he was none too happy about- so when I went looking for everyone else it was all a disaster, I have no idea how we all survived.”

The blonde gave an amused huff as he finished the last touch on his invention and turned to look at the pale orange head. It was glaringly obvious he had a massive hangover.

“So going back to the baby in the fridge.”

“Oh, yeah,” Ichigo scowled as if suddenly remembering the situation that brought him barging into Kisuke’s home. “So I followed the trail of disaster and found Renji passed out inside the fridge –which I feel I need to say, was totally unplugged- with a baby in his arms.”

“Ahah, and you need my genius assistance to…?”

He grimaced again as if his next words visibly pained him “I need your help finding the baby’s parents.”

Kisuke smiled as he stood to his feet and secured his hat on his head “Well I can think of worse things to entertain my day with. And I may just know who the baby belongs to.”

 

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

One of the first things that Ichigo noted, once the entire Ginjo fiasco had been wrapped up and he had finally had the opportunity to greet everyone in Soul Society, was that the Shinigami in general, and the upper hierarchy in particular seemed oddly lax now in days. Like if they were all just languidly enjoying life without a care in the world seemingly content to believe that now in days, the only terrors out in the worlds were hollows easily dispatched.

At the beginning, he had thought he was missing something. Maybe everyone was just taking it easy trying to catch up on the lost time since he had last seen them all. Maybe it was a slow season and they would pick up the pace soon enough. Maybe the trained like crazy and prepared for the battles to come when his back was turned.

They didn’t.

They just… didn’t do anything out of the ordinary Shingami duties and it was frustrating for Ichigo to see that they had gotten complacent. What in the world were they thinking?! Why wasn’t the Captain Commander doing anything? Why were they all living life as if in blissful ignorance? And why was Ichigo having to worry over people who had centuries on him?

His answer came easily enough. When Ichigo finally got around to asking Rukia about any training plans for the future and only received a confused stare, then, and only then, did he realize that they didn’t know.

Once he got rid of Rukia for the afternoon, he had made a beeline for the first division barracks, stared down the first Lieutenant for half a minute, before being granted an audience with the Captain Commander and then threw his grievance at him.

“The Sealed King,” Ichigo didn’t feel the need to beat around the bush. “Why haven’t you been doing anything to plan for it?”

The Captain Commander had given him a narrow eyed gaze before picking up his tea and settling back into his chair.

“You are referring to the Quincy King, yes?”

Ichigo’s frown only deepened before nodding.

Yamamoto sighed. “I fought him 1,000 years ago, I imagine you have heard. Once he failed to resurface, we have all concluded that he succumbed to his injuries.”

Once it became obvious that this was all the Captain Commander had to say on the matter, Ichigo let out the breath he hadn’t realized he had been holding before nodding to himself and trying to steady is heartbeat. He hadn’t known all this until he had gone rummaging through his mom’s old stuff this past year. But now with all the information together, now knowing that his mother was not a simple human, a lot of the things she taught him no longer seemed innocent.

“There is a story,” He began ever so hesitantly. “A lullaby really, passed down generation after generation of Quincy. Mom used to tell it as a bedtime story; sometimes she would even just sing it, but it’s the same message.”

Yamamoto is gazing at him impassively, the only telltale sign to show that he had been momentarily surprised being the twitch his mustache made when Ichigo mentioned the Quincy. You didn’t need to be a genius to know what he had been implying. 

“After 900 years of being sealed, He would regain his pulse; after another 90, He would regain his intellect; and after 9 more years… He would absorb the power of every impure Quincy to make their abilities his own.” Ichigo’s jaw tightened as he said this last part, the “impure” part being decidedly spat. “That is when Auswählen shall fall.”

“Auswählen.” Yamamoto pronounced carefully, his accent thick and nowhere near as perfect as when Ichigo had said it. “You said it was a story.” His tone reflected an assertion, yet Ichigo knew it was more of a question.

“My Mother died when I was nine.” He explained over the small knot in his throat. “I was tricked by a hollow and she jumped in to save me. Any other day she would have been fine, she was a Quincy, and a talented one too. The Kurosaki Quincy Clan was one of the last surviving Echt at the time. She would have been fine against that hollow but the Auswählen happened, and I know it is also the reason why Ishida’s mother died as well.”

The Captain Commander looks just as impassive as he did at the beginning of the importu meeting, but there is now something weighing him down, as if he has suddenly aged another couple centuries before Ichigo’s very eyes and he was at least partially responsible for it.

Even then, he rather bring the old man stress then let them continue to live in blind peace.

“Do we know when the Quincy King will be coming?” He puts his tea down and leans ever so slightly forward “And will you stand with us?”

Ichigo takes a moment to think about it. Not the first question, but the second. Because while a big part of him rages and aches over his mother’s loss, a smaller, more calculating part of himself reels in that impulsiveness and makes him think more analytically.

The Sealed King was not only the beginning of the Quincy, he was the source, and if his mother’s notes are to be believed, he may even have the ability to take his shared power on a whim and control his perceived subjects as he wishes. He would never join the man on his free will, but it’s a good idea to stop and think of the possibilities.

Just in case.

“I won’t stand with Him.” Ichigo answers at last. “My mixed heritage should make it impossible for him to control me, but there is still a slightest possibility that he may be able to rob me of some of my power if he tries, though that is only an inkling, and not a certainty.”

Yamamoto nods, seemingly pleased that Ichigo had stopped to think instead of just bulldozing over the issue as he is prone to do.

“And my first question youngling?” He presses.

Ichigo purses his lips before sighing. “We don’t know. But when the time comes, we will know, The Kaizā Gezangu will play like a hymn for war, and We will all know the time is near.”

“The lullaby?” Yamamoto guesses and Ichigo easily nods. “Then we must start preparations at once. The Quincy King was a formidable opponent and I barely survived when I was at the peak of my power, now, if he was gotten more powerful, we may have an issue.”

Ichigo is momentarily surprised that the Old man is willing to show such weakness to him but quickly sobers up. If there is anyone who knows how formidable the King is besides Yamamoto himself, it would probably have to be Ichigo who pieced together the puzzle left by his mother and the blood flowing through his veins.

“I will try and isolate my blood to gain a better insight, but at the moment, training and growing stronger for the upcoming hurdles is definite a must.” Ichigo agrees.

The Captain Commander nods regally before flickering his reiatsu ever so slightly in a quick double succession that has the lieutenant, Chōjirō Sasakibe entering the wide spread office almost instantly.

“Yes sir?” he asks promptly.

“Send out the runners.” He orders “I want all captain and lieutenants assembled in half an hour for a meeting. No exceptions can be made, their presence is mandatory.”

Sasakibe easily nods and flash steps away to go do as he was told. In the meantime, Ichigo turns back to the Captain Commander and wonders, if only for a second, whether he can get a raincheck.

The way the old man looks at him, one eyebrow ever so slightly raised and his eyes open the barest minimum to scrutinize him, makes Ichigo think that the Captain Commander has other ideas.

He finds it mildly terrifying, to say the least.

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

He had not been expecting it.

 

Up until this moment, he hadn’t really understood when one could be at the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s strong, he can easily beat up anyone who comes up to him looking for a fight, more so when his enemies are humans that he can beat with his fists. For Soul Kings sake, he had been trained in Karate since young and then Shihoin Yoruichi herself had taught him more than enough Hakuda to be a menace to hardened officers from the second division.

 

Humans weren’t even as sturdy!

 

But really, one would think that’d mean that Ichigo was ny impossible to kill in a straight up fist fight –okay, he could handle a knife fight too If he was being honest. But a gun, and a gun when he hadn’t been expecting it? No, his death probability would rise. Then again, he’s fast, his reflexes are inhuman –which yeah, that makes sense!- and he might have been able to dodge the bullet, but this hadn’t even been a hit on him. He had been at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

 

Renji was gonna die laughing when he heard. He just knew it.

 

He had been in America for a literature conference. Nothing new really, he was a teacher at a University, continuing to gain knowledge of his area of study was pretty much part of his job anyway. It hadn’t been the first time that he had come to America, and it wouldn’t have been the last. His English major meant he could fend for himself, and usually people only gave his hair a casual look of disinterest before continuing on their busy lives so he didn’t even stand out that much. This case really hadn’t been different.

 

He had been walking back to his rental car, he had parked it a block away from the hall because he hated having to look through rows and rows of cars in the underground garage and it really was just easier to park a road down in his opinion. It was after dark, and the amount of pedestrians amounted to close to zero. People really didn’t seem keen to walk around much in this country, and well, with everything so big, Ichigo couldn’t blame them. So he was walking alone towards his car, his pace languid and relaxed when a women had come barreling out of an apartment complex, looking frantic and scared out of her wits. She had crashed into Ichigo, and he had automatically steadied her while she mumbled a jittery apology that he hadn’t even had the time to brush aside before a man –a psycho really- rushed out the same door, a gun grasped in his hand and waving manically as if it were something docile before zeroing in on the women and Ichigo with pinpoint accuracy. Ichigo was barley moving to push the women behind him when gunshots rang in the silent air, the multiple bangs more than attention grabbing.

 

He had felt a weird sort of numbness and realized belatedly that he had been shot –more than three times, maybe- when his knees buckled under him and he spat out a mouthful of blood. In the distance he could hear shouts and sense the women falling to the ground too and then a heavy set of footsteps  that had Ichigo turning in the direction of the man. He hurriedly jumped into a car and turned on the vehicle and rushing like if the hounds of hell were on his heels.

 

The last coherent thought Ichigo had before the darkness swallowed him, was the license plate and the man’s ugly mug.

 

-

 

When he awoke next time, he was standing beside his body, the area was surrounded by police, two ambulances and more than a few gawkers. He was not happy. At. All.

 

“We found his wallet.” One of the men in a trench coat and a badge said softly. “The IDs I found were in an Asian language, but we found a badge in his bag from the Conference Hall down the street. Name is Ichigo Kurosaki.”

 

The man butchered his name so bad, that Ichigo would have been hard pressed to sucker punch the guy in the face if he was corporal.

 

“Hm,” the other guy looked pensive, his eyes sharper and more analytic. He reminded Ichigo of Kisuke, and once he made the connection, he couldn’t decide of that was a good thing or not. “We will need to find out where he came from and who to contact. We don’t even know what happened.”

 

“Crime of passion?” The idiot offered hesitantly.

 

“Not exactly.” The smart one countered. “While the women has twelve gun shots, this man only has four. Critical for sure, but it almost looks like he was just collateral damage.”

 

Ichigo growled low in his throat. “I’ll tell you what happened.” He answered in frustration. “That psycho wanted to kill her” he pointed an accusing finger at the women “and killed me for good riddance!”

 

As expected, the detectives didn’t even twitch.

 

“Ugh!” Ichigo turned in frustration, his hands coming up to yank at his hair before he took in a deep breath and exhaled softly. He needed to cool down and figure out his next course of action.

 

Maybe he could leave signs to the detectives? Problem was he had regained conscious too late, if the authorities weren’t here yet, Ichigo could have written the license plate with his blood or something. By now, the entire scene should have been cataloged and any new evidence would be taken with a grain of salt –blood writing was not something you just missed.

 

Really, he should just leave. Open a Garganta and make his way back to Karakura to tell his family the bad news so they wouldn’t be surprised when the police found a phone number.

 

He should.

 

“Okay.” He told himself with conviction. “I need to find a real medium, plant a pamphlet or something in my hotel room, and herd the detectives in the right direction.”

 

The idiot laughed, his eyes zeroed on Ichigo’s discarded suitcase. “Shakespeare! What a nerd.”

 

“That means he’s probably into literature, maybe the latest conference at the hall can give us clues.” The smart one reasons. And really, Ichigo is totally entitled to the face palm he does.

 

This is going to be an agonizing task.

 

Not to be continued…

 

Chapter Text

At first he thought he had imagined it. The final Getsuga Tenshou was supposed to deplete all his reiatsu, leaving him powerless and unable to reach his Shinigami powers. It was a price he had been prepared to pay, and even now, he really doesn’t regret it.

Now, months after that faithful showdown, everything is seemingly back to normal. He has just started his second year at high school and all his friends and family are safe and happy now that the threat is over. Since he doesn’t have to go chasing after hollows either, he has time to catch up on his studies and so in no time he is top of the year once more. Uryuu seems to take offence when the mock midterm’s exam results are posted, and Ichigo is certain that the Quincy is going to study like crazy for the sole purpose of never losing to him again. When the actual midterms come in, they tie for first and the resigned huff Uryuu makes when they see this means that he’ll acquiesce to share the position for now, but Ichigo knows that the moment he slips, Uryuu will destroy him.

It’s something to look forward to.

Everything seems and becomes so normal it’s boring. One day Ichigo is lying down in the park, a book in one hand and the other lazily pulling at the grass when it happens. He’s mildly focusing on his latest literature when he hears an eerie and familiar cackle. The hairs on his arms stand, and he instantly jumps to his feet, eyes searching and franticly looking for the source of the noise when he notes that no one is there. It’s unnerving, that cackle is reminiscent to the one his inner hollow likes to do, but he obviously doesn’t have an inner hollow anymore so where did the sound come from?

He never finds out, so he files it as an act of his overactive imagination and tries to forget.

He doesn’t.

Next time he’s eating dinner with his family. Goat-face is being his usual annoying self, Karin is putting the man down with well-placed jabs under the table and sharp words while Yuzu tries to mediate between the two. This is nothing abnormal, and really, it’s pretty much routine for their meals so Ichigo isn’t overly worried and is only observing the alteration over the brim of his rice bowl.

When Goat-face looks a second away from throwing himself at Mom’s poster and Karin looks half a second away from throwing the man through the wall, Ichigo sighs in resignation and opens his mouth to stop the inevitable when he hears a soft whisper that he really shouldn’t have heard with all the noise at the table.

“Ichigo…”

He sucks in a startled breath and starts choking on his rice. The rest of the family instantly settles down and Yuzu is frantic in her worry while Karin shoves a glass of water in his general direction. Goat-face fusses for the next five minutes even though Ichigo has stopped coughing a lung out, and by the time he’s in his room and settling down to start his homework, his heart is still making a frantic tattoo in his chest and his hands have yet to stop shaking.

That had been the Old man’s voice, he was sure of it. But even now, with two incidents happening one after the other, Ichigo still questions if he is imagining things or if these are real.

It says something of his life, that if the crazy voices in his head are real, it’s not an indicator that he should go look for a psychologist. 

When he goes to bed that night, his thoughts are too loud in the empty night and he ends up staring at the ceiling for two hours before he gives up and climbs out his window to the roof and decides to stare at the stars instead –it’s definitely a better sight.

As the days progress he starts to hear the voices more often, and while one part of him is itching to ask someone in case he is really going mad, another part of him doubts and questions and can’t help but feel hopeful that his connection to his inner world is slowly but certainly repairing itself.

He’s given himself a time limit though. If by the time school breaks for winter he hasn’t made contact he will reach out to someone. A part of him can’t help but stop to think, whether someone should have sensed his reiatsu by now if he really was regaining his lost powers.

It’s a week before his self-established due date when it happens. He’s having another one of those sleepless nights lying on the roof of the house when, between one breath and the next, he feels two bodies materializing on each side. He doesn’t tense though. Doesn’t jump in shock or bolt upright or any other variation of shock. He just takes a deep breath and feels a reluctant smile quirk the edge of his mouth.

“Welcome back.” He whisper to them as if they couldn’t understand and hear every emotion he will ever feel or say.

“We’re back.” They both answer because they know and feel all his thoughts and emotions and understand that he needs to say it outload to believe it.

So they –he returns.

As the days progress the three begin to merge once again. When he had mastered the Final Getsuga Tenshou, it had all been about becoming Getsuga- becoming his Zanpaktou- mastering himself. He hadn’t really understood it at the time, he had been too busy trying to defeat master mind megalomaniacs at the time, but now, with every day passing and nothing really interesting to take his time he starts to understand and process everything.

His inner hollow really had never been only his inner hollow, and the Old man –Zangetsu his heart supplies easily even when he was barley understanding how his knowledge had seemingly done a one eighty flip- was the representation of his Quincy side. They were all a part of his power, a part of who he was, and so as time flew he started to assimilate all their knowledge as his own and started to understand even more who he was and who he needed to be.

Outwardly he really didn’t change, but Ichigo was certain that if he stepped out his body he would be changed. He didn’t need to though. His reiatsu was completely and utter indistinguishable to pretty much anyone and everyone who could have known what to look for and so hollows did not swarm him, and his friends did not question him either.

He wonders if he should let them know that his powers are back. But he really doesn’t see much of a point in it, and when he occasionally crosses a spirit he easily Konsos them with a mere thought. He is a Zanpaktou, his Zanpaktou, he is who he is and so they are he and he are they and… it can get confusing, so he- they don’t like to think too hard on it.

When he assimilates the prophecy of the Quincy King he pauses in mild terror at finally understanding what happened to his mother all those years ago while simultaneously freaks out at the attack –war, it will be war- that will surely come when the King comes a knocking.

That thought soon disappears though, because while it may sound cocky and like he’s too full of himself, he also understands on some level, that the King will not –cannot pose a threat to him when he has transcended.

Months continue to go by, and little by little he also starts seeing a silhouette over Goat-face’s shoulder as if a blurry ghost were following the man. But Ichigo is certain that it’s not a ghost, he can see those more than fine on his own, and so he wonders and wonders until one day the silhouette gains shape and color and definition. One look at the man wearing a knight-like armor with fire seemingly pouring out of every crevice and he realizes that he is now seeing other Zanpaktou spirit- the other half of the coin he now is.

At first Engetsu doesn’t realize that he can see him, but when one day he finds Ichigo staring and stares back, well it’s not that hard to signal the spirit to follow him up the stairs where they can speak in private.

Engetsu is calm and composed, the complete and utter opposite of the person Isshin usually portrays himself as. But when Ichigo stops to think about that day with Aizen and remembers how Isshin had acted and behaved well, Ichigo can now see the similarity.

Somewhat.

If he squints.

When Ichigo asks if he will keep it a secret from Goat-face, Ichigo only has to give the spirit a pointed look and pleading eyes for Engetsu to agree. While Ichigo doesn’t think Engetsu will lie to Isshin, Ichigo also thinks Engetsu won’t mention it unless he desperately needs to.

They day Ywach descends upon them, Ichigo knows right away. It would have been a normal and otherwise un-noteworthy day if it weren’t for the Quincy stalking his moves and attacks the moment he realizes Ichigo knows he is there.

He dodges and tries to bring the fight away from the city and ends up looking like he is fleeing. With all the racket, Uryuu, Orihime and Chad easily find him and try to protect him, but once they are out of the town, Ichigo discards his human flesh between one step and the other before seeming to transport himself into the Quincy’s range.

Ichigo enjoys the way the Quincy’s eyes widen in shock before reaching out a hand and brushing against the attacker with the barest of contact. The man’s breathe hitches, and before he can even open his mouth to scream, he disintegrates amidst the searing pressure of Ichigo’s power.

While it is true that no one can really feel- comprehend his reiatsu, Ichigo can definitely use it’s vastness to affect people if he wills it. When he turns to give his friends a smirk, all three are looking at him in different degrees of shock plastered on their faces. Ichigo’s grin widens, and as he puts a hand on his hip and cocks his head cockily, he can’t help but relish in being out of his cage- his body.

As he is now, he’s maybe two or three inches taller. His hair is as long as it was when he used Mugetsu way back then, but not black and still orange. While his shihakusho looks like it’s made of black flames again, he is wearing top and bottom. His eyes are red. He can’t see his face, but he knows they are, and his left arm is black with spiraling color crawling up his shoulder and towards his torso like a living tattoo. From where his collar can be seen, there is a Quincy cross seemingly embedded itself smack in the middle, pulsing with blue energy in slow intervals and sucking in ambient reishi in a way that is not noticeable to anyone but Ichigo.

He knows he cuts an impressive picture, and while his friends will definitely have questions, Ichigo easily cuts them off with raised hands and calm words.

“I need to get to Soul Society.” He tells them in a matter of fact tone. “The Quincy King is getting ready to appear and I will have to be there.”

While Chad and Orihime really don’t know what he is talking about, Uryuu pales and looks about five seconds from fainting as he gives Ichigo an incredulous stare.

“I don’t have time to explain right now, but if you decide to come, I can fill you in on the way.” They don’t even stop to think about it, only nod and trek alongside him on his way to Urahara’s shop. When he gets there, the man is more than a little shocked to see him standing there and obviously out of his body. Ichigo easily tells him they need a Senkaimon and adds him into the explanations so as to move along as quickly as possible.

The man tries to hide his expression as best as he can, and while Ichigo knows that Urahara is surprised at how he regained his powers, he is very crafty and is committed to not be caught unawares again.

By the time he finishes his story they are all on their way to Soul Society and all Ichigo has the time to do is breath before they step into a war zone not unlike the one from two years ago.

People are surprised to see Ichigo, but no one stops to question him, and more often than not, they are just so happy to see more help that they shrug it off and fall into battle with fervor.

When Ywach comes into the battlefield, it is not Yamamoto that meets him head on, though he is also there and keen to take on the enemy. No, it’s Ichigo at his most powerful as a human, a Shinigami, a Zanpaktou, a Quincy and Hollow –really he’s none of those things, but he really is at the same time. He takes a step forward and his determination must show because no one stops him and Ywach only furrows his brows before shifting his attention to Ichigo.

Ywach doesn’t stand a chance, and it is only then, that everyone else seems to understand what it means to be a transcendent being as they stare at Ichigo over powering the enemy and making the feared man gasp and flay under the power no one else can feel.

As Ichigo is now, with fire burning in his eyes, he can make kingdoms fall and monsters wish they had never been born.

For that was the thing about him, he kept on surviving, whether being cleaved in half, holes in his lungs, scars on his back, dying, reviving, having his soul teared apart and together again, he never let anything get in his way –resilient, a fighter, not by choice, but a warrior at heart.

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

Being the King of Hell… had its ups and downs. On one side, he knows easily who he can trust. As the days went by he could begin to tell the level of sins every soul has committed and judge if they were beyond damnation evil, or if they were pencil stealing kind of evil. It certainly made it easy for him to be even wearier of Captain Kurotsuchi who was born in Soul Society and whose soul would undeniably go into Hell the moment he died without even a chance at living life.

On the other side, the feeling he got from people’s souls could be… disgusting. He remembers -only vaguely because he was too busy trying to avoid losing his breakfast- walking past a man on his way off the train when he had been going out of town for the day and having goosebumps run down his spine at the sensation he had felt from the man. It was as if he were beyond Hell evil, the kind of evil that was only talked about in hushed whispers as if afraid of summoning bad luck upon you. He couldn’t really know without further analysis exactly what he had done to give off such a slimy feeling, but he knew without a doubt that this went beyond theft or a murder. This was a soul the kicked puppies before lunch and planned cold blooded torture and murder with glee.

Once he was back home in Karakura, he had laid down on his bed, sunk into his inner world and tried to get his thoughts into some semblance of order.

“We should just go and run our sword through him!” His inner Hollow exclaimed, his eyes sharp and murderous in a way that would have been spine chilling if men like those didn’t exist in the world. “He’s a sick fucker, no one will miss him King, let’s gut him!”

Ichigo had been tempted, very tempted, but he knew he shouldn’t do it because that was ridiculous. Kill one, all is well, but there are more people out there who do evil, why would it matter if he removes one single one from the equation? Yet it did matter, it mattered to him but he also didn’t want to become like that man and start murdering left and right.

“We can’t” he denied somewhat reluctantly. “But we can figure something out.”

Old man Zangetsu had only nodded proudly as if Ichigo had made the right choice. While Ichigo and his white doppelganger were no longer at odds after his defeat, they were still not really friends and so even now, he rather go along with the Old man then the white haired hollow.

“Kill a killer and the amount of killers in this world stay the same.” The Old man intones, his voice grave and full of untold wisdom.

“Then just kill two!” The Hollow growls, his vocal cords deep and maniacal.

As if there was ever a question of who he would listen to.

#24#

Asking one of the demons in the palace had been his best bet. He usually didn’t like going into Hell much in case someone came looking for him and noticed that he was not in the Human World but sometimes it could not be helped, he needed to make regular trips to Hell to keep things in order and make sure no more riots occurred because Hell hadn’t had a ruler in centuries.

Really, Ichigo could do without the job, but after he had conquered his fears and saved his sister from Hell, the choice had been taken from his hands and he had been crowned without his say so.

Asking Satan, Prince of Hell and Demon of witchcraft should be his best bet, but that guy was an asshole and Ichigo knows the demon only humors him half the time because they both know that if Ichigo really got angry with him, Ichigo could and would banish him and/or Kill him if he really wanted to. That’s how far Ichigo’s power went when it came to his sovereign over Hell. His Shinigami powers may still be in process of being powerful, but his Hell given powers, his Demon powers, his inherited powers from the previous King Lucifer, were outclassed.

So he could ask Satan, but he’s an asshole who wouldn’t care, so no.

Going down the Hierarchy, Leviathan would be his next choice, and though the Demon of Heresy and Envy could be a dick too, at least his loyalty was unquestioning and he usually only acted like a dick towards others and not Ichigo.

Leviathan was easy to find and even easier to convince, and before the day was up, the two were sitting in Ichigo’s private dining room –and seriously, what the fuck- and they are both enjoying a meal that Behemoth cooked for them.

“It’s seriously unfair, how Behemoth only exclusively cooks for you and his Crown Prince Satan.” Leviathan was whining into his wine.

Ichigo sighs for what feels like the umpteenth time before giving the demon a lazy glare. “Behemoth is the Night watchman- that is his main job and his priority.”

The demon pouts. “Well yes, but he is also Satan’s cook.”

“It was a joke.” Ichigo protests hotly.

And it was supposed to be a joke. When he had barley started understanding his duties and how things worked, he had jokingly mentioned how Behemoth always seemed to stop any task he was doing whenever Satan asked him to cook. And while it certainly wasn’t something that happened often enough for it to be a problem, it was still noticeable that Behemoth only cooked when Satan asked.

So Ichigo had jokingly remarked on this, and since he was the only one who could really get away with it, Satan had not gotten mad and Behemoth had offered to cook for him too. He had brushed it off, jokingly said Behemoth’s job as the Night watchman and Satan’s cook was what mattered and accidently renamed the stocky Demon without meaning to.

He hadn’t known his words held power like that. Ugh.

Even then Behemoth had made a habit to cook for Ichigo whenever he dropped into Hell and stayed long enough to dine, so the exclusivity had added him.

“Anyway.” Leviathan brushes it off. “Our deal has been settled, one meal for the information you needed my Liege.”

Ichigo cringed at the name but didn’t correct him. It was an impossible task, he had already tried and given up a long time ago.

“While every soul has an expiration date, these are based off of natural death only. Which means, that if something out of their control happens, they can and will die.” He explains.

“I already knew this.” Ichigo rolls his eyes as he reclines himself on the wing backed chair. “I’m asking if there is a way to… expedite the damned’s fall to Hell.”

Leviathan eagerly claps their hands. “Already thinking of ways to improve your ruling and grow your subjects; as expected of my Liege.”

Ichigo sighs tiredly before giving the demon a glare that could –and would, if he let his powers reign free- freeze Hell over.

“Alright,” he huffs. “No need to resort to violence. The best option could be setting us on these souls.” Leviathan explains as if resigned that he would have more work by the end of the day. “You know us demons make contracts with humans and reap their souls, so if we make sure to approach these humans and trick them into selling their soul before their time, we get more power and souls are taken off circulation quicker. Simple.”

Ichigo thought about it for a bit before nodding and looking up towards the second Prince of Hell. “Can all demons feel how damned they are? Or only high level ones?”

“No lower than a Marques my Liege. And really, the only one who can see the expiration dates and sins perfectly is you. But the rest of us can see enough to know who to target.” Leviathan purred, his smirk cocking up at the thought of all the humans he would get to fool.

He nodded, and while the satisfied smile on the demons face gave him pause, it was a neat and satisfactory solution so he had finished his meal, dropped into his office, made sure Baal-Berith, Secretary of Hell and Demon of Blasphemy took a break from all the paperwork and drafted his… royal decree.

Once the order had been sealed and cemented they had all burst into flames and instantly transported towards the recipients. Already Ichigo felt better about his excursion.

#24#

He hadn’t really stopped to think back to his order much. He didn’t have the need to do so. The demons were happy to have a target and since they were all higher level demons, no one really had silly questions about his command.

Ichigo would only sometimes wonder, if a bit distractedly what with all the Arrancar and Espada dropping in, whether it was a good idea or not, when he would sense a demon nearby. Once he had followed the presence to a non-descript two story house at the edge of the high class area of Karakura just to make sure, he had left with his jaw clenched and his eyes set when he felt the clammy sins of the female who had found pleasure in hitting her children behind her husband’s back and had this twisted idea of bleeding the kids dry to bathe in their blood and regain her youth.

Ichigo had cursed her with one of the mean easy spells Satan had taught him and left on his merry way content with the fact that one of his demons would have her soul by the end of the day and in the meantime she would be miserable.

By the time he was in Hueco Mundo trying to rescue Inoue, he had found out that his demons had not been restricted to live souls and found it amusedly interesting that even Hollows –sentient and not- were being targeted. Another thing he noted, somewhat distractedly, was that many Shinigami had come into Hueco Mundo to help –late, but better then never he supposed- and that Kurotsuchi was actually being tracked by a demon. It was Olivier, prince of hell and demon of cruelty, and if Ichigo had ever doubted that he didn’t fit in with all the demons as the King of Hell, the twisted sense of glee at the thought of what Olivier would do to Kurotsuchi more than confirmed it.

He got back to Karakura for his showdown with Aizen, and when he had finally found out that Aizen was trying to make an Ouken to reach the Spirit King, he could hardly restrain the laughter that wanted to break free at the mere thought of the stairway in his bedroom at Hell that connects to the Spirit King’s palace.

Once he arrived onto the battlefield he finally met face to face with Aizen for the first time since he had ascended to the throne and couldn’t suppress the cringe at the feel of the man’s soul. He had done many questionable things, Ichigo could sense that clearly enough, but one thing that that stood out like a beacon was the sheer amount of souls this man had permanently eradicated in his little experiments.

That was the last straw.

“Okay,” Ichigo huffed out once he regained his bearings “we can do this the easy way, or the hard way. Take your pick.”

Aizen’s expression didn’t change, but Ichigo could tell that he was not as unemotional as he liked to portray himself. “What nonsense are you talking about?”

Ichigo sighed in resignation before flicking his zanpaktou back into shikai and then going further and sealing the cleaver-like blade into a katana. The stares he was getting were ranged between confused to enraged, but before anyone could yell at him for putting away his weapon when the enemy was right in front of him, he extended his right arm, the silver katana gleaming in the sun as he put two fingers on the edge of the blade and painted the steel in his blood.

“Diverbero,” he whispered, the words uttered as if he were speaking to something delicate. “Zangetsu.”

His power burst outward and dropped onto everyone heavily as if it were water. While Ichigo had marginally attempted to keep his power under wraps to not injure his comrades, he still knew it was not a pleasant feeling. Once the clouds of black on red cleared and his appearance was visible again, he heard gasps and shocked mummers and knew that they were securitizing his change.

He was wearing a black kimono with red trimmings and a haori on top. The haori was also black but had stitching of koi fish, branches and a red moon hanging above them. His hair was long and twining with the wind, and the only thing keeping it out of his face was the silver and gold circlet settled on his brow with the large red ruby nestled on his forehead. As he opened his eyes, he knew they now shinned with an unnatural red color eerily reminiscent of the color of his black on red Getsuga tenshou. He didn’t have the full body armor he had manifested that day he became king of hell, but his left arm was wrapped in it, and the barest of gold color peeked from under his kimono’s collar.

“So,” Ichigo began ruefully. “I pretty much left the task to all my demons and didn’t really need to intervene since they were doing such a good job.”

The wide-eyed stare Aizen had been steadily giving him was a great pleasure. And as comprehension started to fill those pale brown eyes, Ichigo’s lips started to quirk upwards at the corner.

“But I think I will indulge myself into stealing your soul and bringing it with me to hell the next time I go and check on my throne.” He mused, his eyes full of mirth as fear started entering Aizen’s expression.

“What the hell is going on here?” someone murmured as if in prayer, and Ichigo bit his lip to not burst out laughing.

 

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

Taking Rukia’s powers had been an honest to Inari-sama mistake.

After beating up those punks that had spilled over the flowers left for the little ghost girl, he had gotten home, avoided the flying kick his father threw his way and retreated to his room. Once he was in the privacy and relative safety of home and den he had felt it. If he hadn’t been used to it already, he would have momentarily freaked out at the sudden loss of control over his transformation and the weight of his tails languidly moving behind his back, as it is, the added weight of a fifth tail had been an unexpected surprise.

Just like every other time he had gained a tail, he felt sleepy and tired so he didn’t fight the feeling more than necessary and lapsed into his full Kitsune form before twirling a couple times on his mattress and finding his most comfortable position. A couple hours later, the sensation of someone invading his den made his hair stand on end and he automatically shifted to his full human form and tried to process the weird girl in his room.

He wonders, if only for half a second, whether she noticed his kitsune form but brushes it aside when she seems to be completely focused on something else. Gaining her attention is hard, and once she starts explaining about Shinigami, pluses and hollows, Ichigo comes to a sudden and brain halting conclusion. He had a reaper in his den and he hadn’t even noticed. It was at that moment that he remembered the fifth tail he had gained earlier and how it’s pretty common to have dulled senses for a while after a new appendage manifests.

Ichigo cursed his life.

Later, when it became obvious that his powers would not come back conveniently to save his family and the Shinigami on time, he grit his teeth and took the sword the girl offered to plunge into his heart.

Somewhere out there, Inari-sama was certainly laughing her tails off.

The next morning when he awoke, bright and early with the first rays of light, he had gotten ready for school and made a beeline to his sisters’ room. Yuzu usually woke up early enough to make breakfast, but Ichigo always woke up earlier then that thanks to his ingrained instincts so he was expecting to having to wake them up, and was only vaguely apologetic to do so.

“There was a Reaper here last night.” He tells them seriously. “A hollow broke through the seals so we need to replace those, and I wasn’t able to burn it down because my powers were being weird last night.”

Karin gives him a glare that looks ten times more frightening then usual if only because she has just woken up and Ichigo was the one responsible for it.

“You gained another tail.” She says without preamble, and Ichigo only winces slightly at the spark in the twins’ eyes before nodding in agreement. “Your powers only fluctuate when you gain a tail Ichi-ni.”

He ends up telling them about his acquired Shinigami abilities so they know why he suddenly feels weird and promises to teach them the new seals he will be implementing around the house now that he has a new tail to put even more power into the barrier. By the time they finish their conversation and Yuzu has had her full of petting his new tail, they are all downstairs and back on normal human topics for when Goat-face wanders down.

The Kitsune blood flowing through their veins is something they inherited from their mother, and while their silly father would undeniably not care, it has been an engraved instinct to not tell the man that he has a five tailed Kitsune for a son, and twin two tailed Kitsune for daughters.

In the end, Ichigo ends up having to help the Shinigami with her duties while her own powers recover, and while one part of Ichigo would like to just put up a bunch of barriers to keep hollows out of Karakura, another part of him cringes at all the attention they would attract once it became obvious that hollows were avoiding an entire town.

Rukia also moves into his closet, and while it is only mildly annoying to have to hunt down hollows at odd hours of the day, it is very annoying that he can’t shift forms in the safety of his own den with the female reaper constantly in his presence.

Two- three weeks later, they become closer. Ichigo tells her about his mother and she tells him about her old lieutenant and somehow Ichigo feels like this girl that just barged into his life is someone he can tell anything to, and that thought is only mildly frightening.

The next night, while she sleeps calmly in his closet and Ichigo concentrates on feeding power to all the seals he placed all over town but never activated until this point, he also looks up at the stars and tries to find the answers he needs from the heavens. He has his five tails out and an incense is burning next to him. The smoke is swirling and playing with his tails and hair as if the air itself were caressing Ichigo.

By the time the sun rises, he is content with his decision and decides that telling Rukia won’t be a problem.

She is shocked, unnecessarily so if you ask him, but Rukia can’t seem to get over the fact that there are other mythical creatures out there besides Shinigami and then she coos over his full Kitsune form and bugs him to transform into his half yokai half human form and instantly glomps one of his big orange tails as if it were a giant pillow.

He’s flustered and spluttering by the end of the conversation but she promises not to tell a soul and somehow inexplicably Ichigo believes her.

His den is his home and in his home his pack lays. With this bright eyed Reaper sleeping in his closet, and consequently, his den, Ichigo knows without a fraction of doubt that she is now pack whether she likes it or not.

The only thing he makes sure she understands, is that Kitsune are not overgrown magic foxes. Kitsune are dangerous and you should never, never enrage a Kitsune.

“Tales are passed generation after generation of Kitsune.” He tells her carefully. “The last Kitsune who fell into her rage was centuries ago when her human lover was killed by her father who did not approve. She called forth the power of all her ancestors and they all answered to her anger and helped eradicate the foolish person who stood in her way.”

Rukia had seemed frightened, but it was sinking in that Kitsune were not cuddly foxes and that was good enough for Ichigo.

“You must know Rukia, that Kitsune are said to be as clever as the devil, and twice as pretty.” Ichigo ended with a quirk of a smile and it had instantly relaxed Rukia into petting his tails once more.

Fast forward two weeks and his world gets turned over once more.

By the time he regains conscious in Urahara’s shop, he is raging and boiling with pent up anger at the loss of one of his pack mates but puts a lid on his tempest and focuses on his plan to save her instead.

He lets the crazy shop owner butcher his soul to regain his Shinigami powers and trains like mad before going home to rest for a day and see how his sisters are doing. Once he walks up the door and trails up the stairs to his room he stops and notices, perhaps for the first time consciously, that while Rukia is now gone, the smell of Reaper still remains. He shakes off the feeling and tries to ignore it but by the time they are all sitting at the table for dinner, the room instantly floods with the faintest of smell of Reaper when his father comes in and- well, Ichigo can put two and two together.

He doesn’t say anything though, because they have their own secret, and if the old Goat wants to keep one too, well who is he to judge? Also, he now has a valid reason for that paranoid feeling he got whenever the thought of telling their father crossed their mind.

So now he knows where his Shinigami powers come from –and they really are his, surprisingly enough- so he continues to train with fervor and masters his two bladed shikai before it’s time to go and he’s invading Soul Society with three other teenagers and a… cat.

That had been a conversation.

The moment Yoruichi had met him, she had hissed and he had jumped back and barred his canines at her as if she had just offended his pride. There had been yells, Ichigo vaguely recalls, and by the time he and Yoruichi had come to an agreement, Ichigo had been half choking her to death, half trying to maw her arm off, while she had been attempting to claw his eyes or heart out- could have been both.

They are dusty and Ichigo is in his full Kitsune form while Yoruichi had grown in size to match his own. Both sat on their hind legs, fiery amber meeting eerie yellow before she had burst out laughing and Ichigo had felt a smile curling at his lips –if his grin somehow looked more like a barring of teeth, Ichigo knew the feline would appreciate it more.

There had been a bit of an explanation to the humans, and while Ichigo hadn’t told Urahara-san to keep his Kitsune form a secret, Ichigo had met his stare head on and had seen an unspoken promise reflected.

Yoruichi is a Bakaneko, and while most of the time Kitsune and Bakaneko don’t mesh well, Ichigo can reluctantly appreciate Yoruichi’s power and presence. Ichigo also knows Yoruichi appreciates his own power and presence which is more obvious in his five gleaming tails then it is in her own- hidden and subtle.

They finally find their way into Soul Society after a couple hurdles and eagerly make havoc. Ichigo attacks his enemies head on when he feels the power gleaming off of them, but mischievously walks amongst them with a new face and body when all he senses are weak Shinigami. He has his fun shifting into women or men with different eyes and statures as if he were completely different people, fooling people left and right while simultaneously being fed, clothed, and general hospitality from right under the noses of those he is invading.

When he battles Kenpachi and ends up a smear on the ground for a couple minutes while he heals himself, he huffs an involuntary sigh and pouts for a couple seconds before catching himself and scowling for all he’s worth. Yoruichi finds him while he’s still knitting himself together and as she makes a great effort to avoid laughing out loud, Ichigo knows she is bursting on the inside.

So Ichigo trains again and curb stomps his Zanpaktou into the ground before they finally, finally acquis to teach him bankai. Shiro-Zangetsu –his mirror image in half yokai, half human form all white- and Old man Zangetsu –black shoulder length hair, facial hair, flowing black cloak with the same half yokai, half human form as Shiro- look only marginally okay with this scenario- and the only reason Ichigo feels they agreed in the end, is because Ichigo had somehow gained two more tails away from home.

When a Kitsune gets tails outside of their comfort zone, it is a sign that the Kitsune is now growing powerful enough to not need that relative safety of home that younger kits need.

He barley makes it in time to stop Rukia’s execution and gains great pleasure in throwing Rukia through the air for Renji to catch while he distracts the lieutenants and captains as best as he can.

Battling Rukia’s brother is interesting if only because Ichigo feels the man must have some Yokai blood somewhere in his family tree. Maybe Tengu blood, he wouldn’t have been surprised. But if Byakuya has Yokai blood, the man is unaware of it and Ichigo is not about to tell his enemy about a potential power he can learn.

He defeats Byakuya without using his Kitsune powers if only marginally and because he made sure to keep his bankai Shinigami only with no presence of his other powers so as to not tip his hand. He has his pride, and while defeating an enemy in itself is satisfactory, defeating an enemy at its own game is even more so.

That thought, is unceremoniously thrown out the window when he meets Aizen Sosuke.

He’s gained an eighth tail after saving Rukia from certain death, and he can feel something as he stands in front of the deceiving, two faced lying piece of crap in front of him.

Sure, Kitsunes are playful, like to do pranks on people and deceiving is pretty much part of their blood, but he is a zenko (善狐, literally good foxes) and his pranks are always harmless, he’s not a yako (野狐, literally field foxes, also called nogitsune)!

This asshole, is going down.

As Ichigo purses his lips and grits his teeth, he looks back at Rukia and makes sure his eyes are serious.

“Rukia,” he calls out into the tense silence. “Remember that day after grand fisher?”

The way her eyes widen ever so slightly make him think she knows exactly what he is talking about.

“Of course I do.” She answers unnecessarily from where she is sprawled behind Renji.

“Good” Ichigo nodded. “Now would be a good time to remember.”

He unleashes his real bankai, and makes sure everyone else will know from now onwards.

Those that believe that Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, have never had the displeasure to meet a Kitsune scorned.

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

Ichigo had thought, at the time, that invading Soul Society would be the most difficult thing he would ever do. Maybe thinking back to even before he met Rukia, getting good grades to get into a University of his choosing was probably the hardest thing on his mind. Case in point, the invasion and grades were definitely not the hardest thing he would ever do.

As time passed and the years progressed, things kept on popping up. Invading Soul Society became a side note once the Arrancer and Espada started waltzing into Karakura as if they were coming for a BBQ. After that, gaining control of his inner hollow and invading Las Noches seemed to take a higher place on his list, and by the time he returned to Karakura –fake, not real, not where it counted- those hurdles seemed like a walk in the park compared to evil Master Mind Megalomaniac Aizen Sosuke.

He won that fight too- kinda, with help.

Afterwards, once he had gotten back into the habit of normal human life, he would review all the things he had done in the past year and wonder ‘holy shit, how did I do that?!’ because so many of these challenges should have killed him –some of them did kill him. Yet here he stood, breathing and living and enjoying life once more as if he wasn’t battling for his continued existence last winter.

It was surreal. So he tried to just ignore it instead.

And so he continued to live and beat up thugs and walk his sisters to school and drop kick Goat-face and do many other normal human things that he had been doing in the past when he had been a normal human caught up on normal human things.

It sucked.

He tried not to let it get to him though, and he actually had marginal success with ignoring the way his chest would tighten when Chad, Uryuu and Orihime would rush out the classroom, or the way Karin would not look him in the eye when Ichigo asked her what she had done that afternoon. He attempted to forget and somehow clawed and kicked his way towards those first agonizing months on his own before he got some semblance of balance back and started to look forward instead of back.

By the time the Fullbringers came a knocking, he had been close to not caring anymore.

So now he had his powers somewhat back, and as he learned of deceptions and of the crazy world he had suddenly been dumped in, he easily broke down with all the pent up emotions and feelings that had been brewing in his heart ever since that faithful battle.

But then… things had not panned out as he had dreaded.

He got his powers back- for real this time, he could hear his spirits!- and did a splendid job at defeating –killing, you killed him!- Ginjo and putting an end to the latest threat.

Things went back to normal –his real normal, the one he actually, somehow, crazily loved. He could see ghosts now, taste, smell, hear, feel the reiatsu around him and it was exhilarating. Ichigo could defeat hollows now, and before he knew it, he was back to his routine of keeping Karakura safe with his friends.

When the Qunicy dropped into Karakura with cocky smirks and thinly veiled insults, he wondered, perhaps ignorantly, whether this would be another crazy hurdle, or something to think back on fondly.

It was neither really, it was on its own league, the prelude to his epilogue.

He defeated the enemies in Hueco Mundo, found his way back to Soul Society, broke his bankai, learned about his parents past, regained his real Zanpaktou and found his way back to the battlefield once more.

He somehow, unexpectedly killed the Spirit King and battled Ywach as cautiously as he could, because he didn’t want more collateral damage and while he probably could easily defeat the Quincy King, he may accidently destroy this plane of existence if he wasn’t careful with how much power he output.

In the end Aizen helped defeat Ywach, and by the time everything had been wrapped up into some semblance of order, he was ready to just lye for a nap and wake up next week.

When Urahara waltzed in, his annoying fan out and his hat still perched on his head even when it was in tatters, Ichigo knew he would hate whatever the man had to say even before he opened his mouth.

He was right, of course he was right. How did putting Ywach’s corpse on the throne in any way sound like a good idea? Sure, he was the previous Soul King’s “son”, but that should not have even crossed anyone’s mind as a valid strategy. The worlds were crumbling to pieces, and the throne was empty awaiting its next owner anxiously. But the throne was greedy and only those with the blood –the power of all races could sit on it successfully.

Ichigo wondered, if only for a fraction of a second why no one had yet to ask him to sit on the throne. Then he realized that the only ones who really knew that he could, were people that would never ask him to take that burden.

So when Urahara moved once more towards Ywach’s cooling corpse, Ichigo gave the man one last steady stare and let him see the resolve reflected in his eyes. He wasn’t stopped when he flash stepped away and towards the palace, but he was followed.

When he gazed upon the tattered throne he started to hear it –the whisper of the worlds, the threads that kept them all together, the smell of the power flowing through the air, the taste of everyone’s reiatsu heavy on his tongue- and that was when he realized, that this throne had already called out to him before, back when he had first regained his powers.

Ichigo stepped forward, and sat on his throne.

Not to be continued…

Chapter Text

She had been looking forward to her day off for the past couple of days now. Somehow, inexplicably, a bunch of unseated officers had made a huge mess in one of the filing rooms while looking for the timelines of promotions. While Rukia was sure that it had not been their intention to start a disaster, once other Shinigami from the division noticed what they were doing, it became and riot with two thirds of the thirteenth crammed in a very enclosed room. They may not be the eleventh who loves and thirsts for battles, but it’s still an organization of trained people who use pointy weapons for a living- honestly it was a miracle no one had been sent to the fourth.

After the entire debacle had been over and everyone had gone back to their activities, there had been a clutter of papers everywhere on the floor and more than a couple filing cabinets turned over. It took forever to get everything organized again, and even though Kiyone and Sentaro had definitely helped, once she got back to her desk, there had been a mountain of paperwork ready for her.

By the time the day was over she was resigned to the fact that it would be a long week.

And it was barely Monday.

So really, Sunday could not come sooner, and in a bid to get away from all the craziness in Soul Society and avoid being in easy reach in case of another mess, she had ran off to the Human world, dragged Renji along for the ride and started making her way towards the Kurosaki household.

A day being lazy and human with her two favorite boys was exactly what she needed. No expectations, just the three of them, chocolate ice cream and crappy TV.

Even before she had made it to the front door, she knew that would not be the case.

There was a vaguely familiar reiatsu signature -strong but only noticeable up close- invading the house, and Rukia would have been more worried if it weren’t because Ichigo’s reiatsu, while undeniably… prickly, was still calm and steady.

Once they made their way inside and put their shoes on the rack, the yells and banging easily reached their ears. Renji made a confused expression, and Rukia only shrugged unceremoniously before trekking in the general direction of the voices and catching the tail end of a heated conversation.

“-always end up eating it before I finish making everything!” Ichigo was yelling in frustration, a noise of metal against metal muffling his voice slightly even though they had no trouble hearing him.

“Well you take too damn long anyway!” the other person growled impatiently. “What’s the point of eating tasty food if it’s going to be cold by the time we sit down?!”

As they rounded the corner, Rukia and Renji paused as they were met with the oddest picture of Grimmjow fucking Jaegerjaquez sitting at the kitchen bar, one arm perched on the counter while glaring towards the kitchen area for all he was worth. The blue haired arrancar did not turn to look at them upon their entrance, and for all intents and purposes seemed to be ignorant of their arrival.

“It won’t be cold. I don’t take that long anyways, you’re just being an annoying asshole.” Ichigo retorted hotly, and at this close up, they could hear the sizzling of something on the stove to accompany the noise of clutter.

Grimmjow huffed, a fisted hand digging into his cheek as he reclined his head on his arm. As he did this motion, Rukia finally noticed that the he was definitely missing his hollow mask fragment and was apparently in a gigai!

“There’s no good food in Hueco Mundo, and when I take things from here and try to cook, it always ends up tasting like crap.”

Ichigo made a choking sound, somewhere between a chortle and a laugh. “Grimm, you can’t even cook when I tell you what to do.”

The blue haired arrancar instantly bristled in indignation and slapped a hand on the counter. “Maybe you just suck at giving instructions!”

“Sure, put the blame on me!” Ichigo drawled sarcastically. “I won’t feed you next time we finish our monthly spars!”

“Fine!” Grimmjow spats. “I’ll just steal your cereal instead!”

“You can’t even do that right! What kind of person puts the milk before the cereal?! Clearly someone with issues, that’s who!”

“Oh shut up!” Grimmjow growls while standing from his perch. As he turns towards the table full of food, probably with the intention of eating food while Ichigo is distracted with whatever he’s doing in the kitchen, he finally notices the gobsmacked Shinigami standing at the doorway who had been listening to the byplay and then promptly freezes.

Fuck.” He hisses, and the sharp tone easily attracts Ichigo’s attention since he seems to drop everything and quickly moves out of the kitchen before stopping at the sight of Rukia and Renji.

“Fucking hell.” Ichigo mirrors the expression before wincing harshly and bringing his hands up as if in sign of peace. “I can explain.”

“You-“ Renji begins before choking himself off and alternating his wide eyed expression from Ichigo to Grimmjow. “You have an Espada in your dining room.”

Grimmjow growls. “Ex-Espada pineapple head.”

Ichigo winces but shifts to dig an elbow into the blue haired arrancars side as he keeps a cautious eye on both Shinigami and arrancar. “Shut up Grimm, don’t make it worse.”

“By the Spirit King.” Rukia breaths as she finally seems to catch herself and the entire surreal-ness finally sinks in. “Why do you always have to make friends with your enemies Ichigo, why?”

Ichigo shrinks in on himself before shrugging. “Rukia it’s not-“

“And you’re feeding him!” Rukia bristles, her tone indignant now that she has gotten over her shock. “You’re giving him food like a stray cat!”

“Hey!” Grimmjow exclaims.

“Shut up.” Ichigo and Rukia echo while leveling a mean glower at the blue haired arrancar that instantly makes him snap his jaw shut.

Ichigo!” Rukia intones as if it were a curse. “What the fuck, why didn’t I know you could cook?”

Ichigo groans and face palms. “And that’s what you’re hung up on.”

“Why would I care who you invite over in your free time?” Rukia hedges on without preamble. “What I do care about, is that you knew how to cook all this time and you never told me! I mean, look at all this food, it smells amazing!”

“Well someone had to cook in this house, and it definitely wasn’t going to be Goat-face.” Ichigo huffs. “Who do you think taught Yuzu what she knows?”

Renji cackles while Rukia continues to glare and Grimmjow gives him an unimpressed raised eyebrow. “You’re friends are weird.”

Ichigo bristles. “Like you’re one to talk!”

Not to be continued…