Disclaimer: My ownership of Bleach should not be in question, I do have to wash my white clothes after all.

Shiba life Decree at the bottom.

#21#

Ichigo yawned widely as he kept his pace measured and calm. He was out of uniform today, lazily taking advantage of his day off as he made his way towards the outer edges of the 15th district. He was also out of clan head clothing, instead donning a red yukata with green leaves splashing the left edge and spreading its way up. Today he had agreed to visit his little sister Haruka and his brother in law Kazuki down at their orphanage and was making his way there.

The town was just waking up, so everything was almost as lazy as his current attitude of life making him unconsciously yawn widely and stretch languidly once more before slumping his shoulders with a sigh. He turned around the corner and spotted the red painted orphanage in the next block but didn't pick up his pace as he slung his left arm on the inside of his yukata and tightened his grip on the bag he carried with his right. As he neared the building, the noises of laughter and running feet started to get louder and more predominant in a way that had a smile twitching at the corner of his mouth.

A couple of orphanage kids ran out the building laughing as they chased each other before one of the smaller girls spotted him in the distance and yelled to gain the others attention. She pointed towards him, and wide smiles easily graced their features as they all waved him over while one of the older boys ran inside to get Haruka.

They always did this whenever he came along –which wasn't as often as he would like with all his duties- but if he ever had spare time, he would always try and make an effort to drop by no matter how short of a visit it was. It also helped that he would always bring sweets whenever he dropped by, even though Haruka would always give him an exasperated eye roll at his blatant bribe.

There have also been a couple kids that deign to join the Shinigami Academy, and he tries to make sure they all settle in when they move into Sereitei. The other kids sometimes ask him to pass on letters or tales onto their wayward friends, so he'd be inclined to theorize that the kids like him, and not just because he brings candy like Haruka insists.

"Ichigo-sama!" The smallest girl that spotted him first waves enthusiastically making the edge of Ichigo's mouth twitch upwards in amusement "Welcome back, Ichigo-sama!"

The orange head stops in front of the giggling little girl and crouches down to her level with a kind smile as the rest of the brats all laugh along.

"I came back, Kaho-chan." He states calmly as the small raven head stifles another bout of giggles behind her hands.

"Thank you." she intones strongly each syllable before she extends her arms upwards in the universal sign of pick me up that every child seems to master along with puppy dog eyes and an innocent smile. "Please?"

Ichigo makes himself look put upon but has trouble suppressing the mirth in his eyes. The other kids giggle, well-adjusted to the routine, which is pretty much his cue to do as requested.

"If I didn't know any better," he begins with an amused smirk "I'd say Haru put you up to this."

The giggles he receives all around is more than enough answer. He stands back to his full height, Kaho giggling along as he smiles at the other gathered kids and hands the bag to the oldest of the bunch, Amahiko aged 57 and looking like a thirteen year old in human years. He was one of the kinder souls, calm, soft spoken and a brotherly demeanor that makes the majority of the children gravitate under his warmth.

"Here you go Hiko-chan." The pale eyed boy huffs a bit at the honorific but gives a bright smile either way. "Make sure it's all shared among you, okay?"

The boy rolls his eyes as if to say he already knew the drill after so many times but inclines his head either way. "Of course Ichigo-sama." He agrees easily. "I will make sure to set aside some for the ones still asleep."

Ichigo laughs a bit at that as he makes his way towards the main building and past the orphanage gate. It was actually one of the Shiba properties that really doesn't see use since it is quite far from the closer districts where the majority of the Shiba live their daily life. When Haruka had asked if the couple could use it to house children, Ichigo had readily agreed and made sure to add in extra amenities to keep all the kids safe and happy in district 25. He likes to think that they have a way better life here, and while he usually doesn't have the time to make sure everyone is settled in, he does make sure to keep the orphanage running smoothly and sporadically assigns missions to his fellow clansmen to help out. They also sometimes scourge the farther districts for kids in tough situations and keep a very keen eye on any who shows sign of hunger. Being alone, on the streets and having to somehow find a way to get food is the worst thing that can happen to a child.

"I see you brought back your welcome committee." A voice dryly comments, the humor very badly hidden in a way that makes Ichigo snort at the tone.

"Of course." He answers Haruka while giving a cheeky smile. "It wouldn't do to leave all the kiddies outside where they can get in trouble."

Words of protest instantly clamor among the younger kids while the older ones just laugh and take the joke in stride. Really, they are all good kids and rarely get in trouble but it's amusing to needle them.

"Spirit king forgive they ever do anything." Haruka laughed, her eyes crinkling along the edges in a show of the scatter wrinkles she has steadily been gaining as the decades pass.

Ichigo may be the 'oldest' of the Main branch Shiba siblings, but thanks to his enormous amount of reiatsu, his age hardly shows on his body, and only his age old eyes give him away. Haruka now appears to be in her early fifties, and while she is still undeniably beautiful and regal in her age, you can tell that the years have not been all that kind. Once she stopped using the reiatsu she had been taught to use and focused more on her own children, and later on the orphans, her aging had sped up. Wataru on the other hand, as he had a good amount of reiatsu and used it regularly as Ichigo's lieutenant, still looked like he was in his early thirties and definitely looked older then Ichigo who looked like he was in his mid-twenties and would seem to be staying that way until the foreseeable future.

"Of course," Amahiko smiles craftily. "We are always on our best behavior for Ichigo-sama."

Haruka snorts. "I see how it is now."

Everyone laughs as Ichigo smiles good humoredly and expertly removes his geta at the entrance and steps onto the engawa. Once he has completed his task, he looks down at the little girl still in his arms and raises an eyebrow.

"Do you wanna go inside with us, or will you play in the courtyard?" he asks her softly.

She giggles before wiggling one of her sandaled feet. "I wanna stay with Ichigo-sama."

Ichigo laughs but obediently removes her sandals and places them on the rack with the others. A couple of the kids follow inside while other separate and go back to whatever it was they were doing before Ichigo arrived. Haruka merely rolls her eyes but doesn't comment on Ichigo's soft spot for little girls before beckoning him to follow the engawa and towards the back area.

"I already had the tea set up in a back room where we can see the kids play." She tells him. "I know you like to watch, don't lie to me."

The orange head huffs but doesn't refute her comment as he dutifully treks behind her. Ichigo can hear kids laughing already, and if he strains his ears, he can also hear people moving about inside the household. Once they round the corner, they find themselves in a room with the shoji doors open and facing the playground where Kazuki was already sitting at the low table and nursing a cup of tea.

"Good morning Ni-sama." Kazuki greets enthusiastically, his tone as steady as ever with no quaver even though the man has greatly aged into what appears to be a sixty year old man since he hardly has reiatsu to speak of, and his reserves have never been used.

"Good morning Kazuki." Ichigo answers back kindly. "As polite as ever I see, how many more times will I have to tell you to drop the stuffy honorific?"

The man chuckles but diligently answers the rhetorical question. "At least one more time Ni-sama."

Haruka takes her seat on the man's right while Ichigo takes the seat across from her. Kaho is easily deposited on his lap, and she eagerly latches onto his kimono while the other hand grasps the cookie Ichigo automatically gives her from the plate.

"So," Haruka begins without preamble. "What brings you to this side of Soul Society? I don't think I have nagged you enough to copulate and take a day off, so there must be a reason."

Ichigo quirks a smile at that, he can't really deny that he doesn't take days off very often, and while he likes to come visit when he can, Haruka usually has to remind him at least a dozen times before he sets aside time to come.

"Well," he begins calmly while a hand comes up to grasp his warm tea cup. "While I do believe Wataru should be the one to tell you this, I also know he will be too busy these next month and I'm sure he won't want to tell you via Hell butterfly."

Haruka frowns slightly while Kazuki looks on in interest. "What's this about? Your visit is unexpected, and you didn't even bring Daisuke with you. Is everything alright?"

Ichigo snorts into his tea before putting it down. "Daisuke-kun has other, more important things to do than follow me around day in and day out."

"I disagree." A voice remarks from somewhere outside the room. "Ichigo-sama must be guarded at all times no matter what he may think."

Ichigo's shoulders slump, and he most definitely does not pout when Haruka chortles with laughter and Kazuki quirks an amused smile. "You're testing out another one of Ki-kun's reiatsu suppressing gadgets, aren't you?"

"No." comes the monotone answer. "This one is Sosuke-san's. I have been told this prototype will last twelve hours. It has been an asset in making sure I am able to complete my duties without tipping you off… Ichigo-sama."

The orange head sighs before shooting Haruka a scowl that has her instantly clearing her throat and trying to sober up her amusement. Ichigo does not believe for a second that she will let this one go.

"Anyway!" he bulldozes on as he tries to forget the untimely interruption. "Everything is fine and nothing is on fire so don't worry so much or your blood pressure will rise." Haruka huffs but doesn't interject to avoid getting sidetracked again. "What I wanted to tell you, is that you are about to be an aunt, congratulations." Ichigo deadpans without any fanfare.

Haruka startles, her eyes wide as she stares at Ichigo for all he's worth.

"Oh no. What poor soul decided it would be a good idea to let you procreate? And out of wedlock too! Ichi-ni I didn't even know you were dating!"

Ichigo groans when everyone turns to him with surprised and or disapproving stares.

"No! By the Spirit King Haru, I started this conversation talking about Wataru, of course I meant that he's going to be a father, not me!" he corrected vehemently.

"Oh." Haruka muttered, her brow furrowed before she gave him her best unimpressed stare. "Seriously? Well while it's definitely good news, and I'm happy for him and excited to finally be an aunt, I would also like you to know that I am getting tired of waiting."

Ichigo blinked in confusion as he glanced to the rest of the room's occupants to see if anyone would give him any hints as to what she was saying. Everyone looked just as confused as he did, so he turned back his query to his sister with a raised eyebrow and questioning eyes.

She huffed as if everyone was so troublesome before elaborating. "I mean, when are you going to settle down and have kids? I'm not getting any younger and I would like to get to see my little future nieces and nephews while I'm still kicking you know?"

He pursed his lips before answering in his most dry tone. "One moment you are upset about the idea of me having children, and the next you harp about me not having children. Make up your god damn mind!"

"I was caught by surprise, okay! But seriously Ichigo, think about the clan's future!"

Ichigo rolled his eyes. "You and I both know that the clan is more than secure with Yasahiro as Clan heir. You're pulling at strings here."

"Okay, yes that's true. But you can't tell me the clan wouldn't be thrilled to see their treasured Ichigo-sama settle down and have pretty children."

"You mean handsome, right?" Ichigo pointed out.

"No." Haruka deadpanned. "I meant pretty. Face it Ichigo, you are a feared captain and everyone respects you, but your innate grace and your long hair makes you look pretty."

Ichigo bristles, a flush creeping up his neck while Kazuki coughed into his hand to hide laughter. "I am not feminine."

"Never said you were." She discredited. "I said you were a pretty boy, which is totally and utterly different. No one would ever confuse you for a women, you don't have the body even though your hair is enviously soft."

Ichigo face palmed. "I don't need to hear more. Just forget about me settling down, that's not going to happen. I'm married to the Clan, the end, no more comments. Let's focus on our new future niece or nephew, okay?"

Haruka rolled her eyes but graciously dropped the subject. Someday she hoped Ichigo stopped being such a workaholic. At least he had Yasahiro, Isshin and all the other kids he seems to have somehow brought under his wing to distract him. Making sure Isshin doesn't cause mayhem in his new division must be a tiring chore indeed.

#21#

"I don't want to do paperwork anymore!" Shunsui loudly complained from where he was sprawled over his desk. "Why can't I get rid of all these forms? Why do I have to approve a change in lunch menu? A Captain shouldn't have to look through these non-important forms!"

"Taichou!" the voice of his lieutenant piped on queue, please stop whining and finish your paperwork!"

"But Love-chan, I've been sitting in this office for the entire morning, I need some fresh air."

Aikawa Love huffed and instantly pointed at the open window. "You get more than enough fresh air. Please finish all the paperwork, remember there is a meeting scheduled for this afternoon and we need to be free by then."

Shunsui sighed over dramatically before picking himself off the desk. "Ju-chan will be here soon to go get lunch, why can't we stop now?"

"All the more reason to continue working." Love bellowed. "Once Ukitake-Taichou comes, I'm sure that your productivity will drop even further."

As the brown haired captain was opening his mouth to respond, and amused chuckle cut him off and made him turn to look happily at the doorway. "I see how it is now, I'm a distraction."

Love grimaced and looked slightly horrified at the impression he had given. But before he could even say a word in edgewise, Jūshirō rose his hand in placation. "Don't worry Love, I know you don't mean it that way. I'm just teasing Shu."

Shunsui pouted but didn't refute Jūshirō's words which was more than enough answer. Instead he stood from his desk, tossed a withering glare at the papers before focusing his entire attention on his white haired best friend.

"So lunch?" he asked.

"Of course." Jūshirō answered with a smile. "Though it's just the two of us since Ichigo is still visiting Haruka and Kazuki."

Shunsui sighed but dutifully followed Jūshirō outside the office and towards Seireitei proper where they would find the stands and restaurants. "Why does he get a day off but I don't?"

"Because he delivers his work on time?" Jūshirō answered with a raised eyebrow. "I thought that was already obvious."

The brown haired Captain laughed and rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. Jūshirō didn't believe him for a second, Shunsui would go back to trying to get out of paperwork before the hour was done.

"Love-chan should do a lot of those forms, I don't know why they want Captain level approval." Shunsui refuted.

"There are." Jushiro agreed. "But remember that the division always likes to keep their Captains informed and in agreement, so I suppose that's their way of making sure we get the news of the going ons in the division."

"I guess." Shunsui acquiesced petulantly. "And soon I will have to get a new lieutenant too. Love-chan is really close to getting Bankai and I have no doubt that Yama-ji will want him for the vacant Captain positions."

Jushiro hums agreeably before sending him a sidelong glance. "Shinji-kun is stepping up as Captain of the 5th today, and besides the 7th, the 3rd also lacks a Captain right now."

"The 9th got Kensei-kun last year too, so that's two divisions with Captains retired and being replaced with Shinigami that have less than a decade of experience in bankai and two empty divisions." Shunsui elaborated. "Not to mention that the 7th just got their lieutenant Kotsubaki Jin'emon when Isamu-Taicho passed way."

"That was sudden." Jushiro pointed out while pausing outside the stand where they would get their lunch. "But at least we have quite a couple retired Captains. Not to mention both our fathers."

Shunsui felt a shiver go down his spine. "That crazy geezer, he looks like he's on death's door but he can still kick my ass when he pauses his tea drinking."

Jushiro waved a hand as if to disregard the comment. "Yes well, the original Gotei 13 was a feared thing even today. While I do think we can get back to that strength in a couple decades, I believe right now we are in a precarious position of power balance. I think this is what Ichi wanted to avoid when he passed that bill for Captaincy requirements."

The 8th division captain nodded. "It's too bad that the C46 can stick their nose in it if the position has been empty for more than a decade. I think that's why Yama-ji preferred placing Shinigami with bankai and potential to become a power house in the position."

Jushiro sighed. "True, not much we can do about that now."

They were just about to enter the ramen stand when two first division runners flashed into existence in front of them. Instantly, their good humor disappeared and they turned towards the two kneeling figures to give their full attention.

"Reporting in." One of them answered. "By order of the Captain Commander, Yamamoto Genryūsai Shigekuni, Captain of the 8th division, Kyōraku Shunsui-"

"And Captain of the 13th division, Ukitake Jūshirō-" the other added. "Are to report immediately to the first division barracks for an emergency meeting."

Shunsui and Jūshirō shared a look before nodding in tandem and racing towards the first at top speed. Almost instantly they left the messengers to lag behind and made their arrival in record time. They had already had a meeting scheduled for later, the fact that it could not wait a couple hours was worrisome.

#21#

Ichigo was smiling at the ridiculous antics the kids got up to while drinking his tea. He had moved the cushion to the engawa and was watching some of the older kids run around with wooden sticks playing at being Shinigami and some of the younger kids trying and failing to emulate them. Kaho still stayed with him, but she was sat in her own cushion on his right while Daisuke sat at his left.

He was about to refill his cup when he noticed a quick silver flash of reiatsu in the vicinity that hadn't been there half a second ago. He felt it again in another three timed successions that had him instantly on alert.

"Daisuke." He called up to his already standing attendant. "Could you?"

He nodded instantly. "Of course Ichigo-sama, I will return momentarily."

Daisuke skillfully flashed away, and soon enough the previously flickering reiatsu smoothly and softly came back into existence and easily met up with Daisuke's deeper and stronger one. Ichigo kept half an ear on the playing children while the rest of his attention stayed on the two signatures meeting up a couple feet away behind the walls surrounding the orphanage. It only took half a minute before Daisuke was coming back, and the other signature disappeared from existence again even though Ichigo could easily track the small trickle of presence the other could not hide now that Ichigo knew it was there.

"Ichigo-sama." Daisuke leaned down to whisper in his ear. "There has been an emergency meeting called at the first. Your presence is required."

Ichigo grit his teeth to avoid cursing out loud before standing calmly so as to not scare the kids. He turned down to the little girl blinking curiously up at him before sending her an apologetic smile.

"Sorry Kaho-chan, something came up at home and I must leave earlier than expected."

Kaho tilted her head slightly before nodding. "It's fine." She reassured him. "I'm just happy I was able to see you today Ichigo-sama."

Ichigo's smile softened further and he bent down to quickly ruffle her hair before walking back towards the entrance at a brisk pace. As he was putting back his geta, Haruka came out the side door and looked at him with a quizzical and raised eyebrow.

"Going somewhere?" she inquired.

"Emergency meeting, I'll tell you later what I can Haru." Ichigo responded without fanfare.

Haruka's expression instantly fell into something more serious before she nodded. "Of course, be safe Ichigo. Daisuke, please take care of him."

Ichigo huffed and Daisuke instantly responded. "Of course Haruka-sama, always."

Without waiting to hear more, Ichigo quickly fell into his fastest Shunpo and raced towards the first division, his ever present shadow following a step behind and keeping pace. It took a bit to reach the first district, and from there, he only paused long enough to get quick clearance into the Seireitei walls before he was running along the roof tops and passing by the Shinigami patrols without them even noticing. Ichigo would have been worried if it weren't for the fact that really no one could track his movements when he was going at top speed unless you were a Captain class Shinigami. By the time he was rushing into the first division barracks, a good twenty minutes had passed since his summons and he was not shocked to see the meeting hall's doors closed. Daisuke quickly and efficiently took up position outside the entrance and Ichigo only spared a brief glance and strode into the room without fanfare.

Almost instantly he gained the attention of all the Shinigami in attendance and wasted no time in taking his position so that Wataru, who was momentarily filling in, could step back with the rest of the lieutenants.

"I'm sorry for the delay." He apologized, a couple of the Captains shot him an amused look at his civilian clothing but no one commented. "I was out in district 25 when I got notice."

Shihōin Tsukiya, captain of the 2nd division snorted at that. "Anyone else would have been later."

"Indeed." The Captain Commander easily interjected before slamming down his cane to gain everyone's attention once more. "Now that we are all gathered together, we can focus on the reason for our importu meeting." Everyone straightened, and Ichigo distractedly noticed that Shinji had already stepped up in his official capacity as Captain. They must have done a brief initiation while they were waiting for him. "One of our reiatsu sensors in Hueco Mundo picked up a worrisome signal. We have been keeping track of all the Vasto Lord level Hollows since the seals were developed, and as of 45 minutes ago, one of the signatures morphed into an even higher level that we had not been aware existed up until now."

Many mummers ran amok in the hall, and more than one lieutenant paled at the news. Ichigo merely pursed his lips and waiting for the room to fall silent again so that the Captain Commander could continue. He had a feeling he already knew what this was about.

"The sensors cannot pick up any more information without further data, the only thing we know for certain, is that it seems to be an evolution." Yamamoto surveyed the room with critical eyes before continuing. "Because of this, we will be sending out a small squadron. We are being cautious and so one of the senior Captains must head this mission along with a junior Captain."

This was troublesome, Ichigo couldn't help but think. A captain was only considered senior after a century in the position. Out of all their Captains, seven of them could be considered senior, but the Captain Commander would not go, Retsu could not leave the 4th without their best healer, Ginrei had a capable lieutenant, but Sojun has always been a sickly child and grew up to be a sickly adult who could take a turn for the worse at a moment's notice, it would not do to leave the 6th without a leader. Going up, Shunsui could go, as could Ichigo while Hikifune Kirio could also be considered but may not have the skill set necessary for the mission. Jūshirō was also applicable, but he didn't have a lieutenant at the moment, and leaving his division would be the height of foolishness.

That left them with two logical options, and the glance Shunsui and Ichigo shared more than confirmed that he was not the only one thinking this. They needed more front line Senior Captains for sure.

"Shiba-Taicho." The Captain Commander called out suddenly. "Can you depart within the hour?"

Ichigo hummed in thought, not at all surprised by Yamamoto's request. He was also Clan head, and while his duties to the Gotei were more pressing, if there was any kind of turmoil he needed to attend with his Clan and there was a viable alternative to take his place, he could turn it down.

"I should be able to make it work Sensei." The orange head nodded. "What size should the squadron be?"

Yamamoto huffed at the manner of address but didn't waste time complaining it as he usually did. "A five person team, you will take point, add a junior Captain of your choosing, two lieutenants and a healer."

"Okay." Ichigo sighed as everyone looked at him expectantly. "Shinji-chan, you're coming with me, let's get some battle experience in you."

Shinji pouted, his form slouching slightly from where he stood next to the empty positions where the 3rd and 7th division captains would be if they had any. Kensei, who stood on the other side of the empty 7th division in his own 9th division position seemed to sag in relief. One could not blame him, the man did not have a lieutenant at the moment while Ōtoribashi Rōjūrō, aka Rose had been used to being without Captain and could survive for the duration of their mission.

"I'm a captain now, why am I still -chan." Shinji grouched slightly.

Ichigo rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. "Because you're still a brat and I can. Now, Retsu-san, can I borrow your 3rd seat?"

Retsu quirked a smile in his direction and Ichigo was glad to see that it was not her terrifying smile. "Of course Ichigo, I will tell Kotetsu Takashi to meet you in the gate room in an hour."

The orange head nodded his head in thanks before tilting his head thoughtfully. He had two lieutenants to choose and depending on what kind of mission it may turn into, he needed to pick carefully.

"Ichi." Shunsui called from his left. "If it suits your needs, can you take Love-chan with you?"

Ichigo quirked an eyebrow before turning to look at Love who was a bit shocked to be put on the spot like that. Once he noticed Ichigo staring at him, he bowed respectfully before straightening back to attention.

"If Shiba-sama will have me, I would be honored to follow you in this mission."

Shunsui looked playfully irked at the way Love showed Ichigo respect while all Shunsui ever gained were exasperated glares. Ichigo knew that the only reason why Love was being so formal, was because the Aikawa's were one of the retainer families that Shiba had taken under their wing.

"That's fine by me." Ichigo flicked a wrist. "I think I'll take Yo-chan with me too, that way we'll be a speed-strength team. Sound good sensei?"

Yamamoto nodded in agreement. "Make sure to keep open communication. Report in every twelve hours. Meet up in one hour at the gate room. Kuchiki-taicho, have your squad prepare supplies for the team and ready within that allocated time."

"Understood sir." Ginrei agreed, his eyes turning towards Sōjun who nodded once and flashed away to get started.

"Dismissed." Yamamoto banged his cane, and instantly everyone broke rank.

Ichigo started towards the door and Wataru quickly came up to his right side while Daisuke expertly took the other. Ichigo only paid half a mind to his shadow before turning towards his brother. "Wataru-chan, go get the kids and bring them to my Clan office, I'll go change and meet up there for debriefing."

Wataru snorted but didn't mention how ridiculous Ichigo sounded. Instead he quirked a quick smile before jumping out the nearest window and making his way towards the 10th.

The moment he was gone, Shunsui and Jūshirō took up his empty side and accompanied him towards his Clan compound. Ichigo didn't bat an eye, but did turn to Shunsui with a puzzled expression and a disbelieving tone.

"What was that with Love? I thought you needed your lieutenant so you could slack off."

The 8th division Captain rolled his eyes before shooting a betrayed look towards the chuckling white haired Captain. "Love may be a pain in the rear, but he's my lieutenant and it's my responsibility to make sure he is up to notch. Once he gains Bankai he'll be in the spot light and I don't know about you, but I don't want another Kensei who was thrust into the position with little field experience. At least you trained Shinji like crazy, he's a bit more prepared for it then Kensei was."

"Don't remind me." Ichigo huffs but doesn't refute the point. Battle experience can only be gained in dangerous missions, and now in days, missions like those seem to be in low demand. It's a good thing, but it's also a bad thing.

Before long, they entered the compound and made their way towards the main building. Once inside, Ichigo stood at the first hallway intersection before pointing towards the left. "You guys head on to my office, I'll meet you there."

They both nodded, and Ichigo turned on his heel towards the right and to his private rooms without missing a beat. "Daisuke-kun, you will be staying here." The orange head ordered, his tone leaving no room for arguments. "You'll be shadowing Hiro-chan, am I understood?"

Ichigo stopped and Daisuke similarly paused with him. Sometimes Ichigo wondered if the other knew everything Ichigo was going to do before he even knew it himself. He ignored that thought though, and instead focused on giving him a steady and amber eyed stare to show he was being serious.

Daisuke met his stare head on, and really, if he was any other Clan head he was sure they would take offense to an attendant being so 'out spoken'. After half a heartbeat, the raven haired teen huffed in resignation before quirking a smile. "If that is what Ichigo-sama requires of me, then that is the role I will fulfill."

Ichigo rolls his eyes good naturedly but doesn't refute the point. Instead he turns back to his rooms and strides towards his closet. Daisuke stays outside as he's supposed to, and in two minutes flat Ichigo is changed into his Shinigami attire. He turns towards the stand mounted on the wall where Zangetsu had been resting for the day. Really, the only reason why Ichigo doesn't take his Zanpaktou with him on his day off, is because he can instantly call his blade to his side if he has need of it.

He grasps the pitch black scabbard and unsheathes the blade slightly to stare at the Shiba Clan emblem engrained on the flat side of the steel. He remembers of a time that seems like eons ago when Chichiue had had his Zanpaktou engraved. A blade that had protected his precious son from numerous dangerous situations and that should be cherished as such; Chichiue had called his Zangetsu. Ichigo had agreed then and agrees now that he could never hope to repay both Zangetsus for all they have done. He stores his Zanpaktou back in its scabbard with a click, and easily slips it onto his obi at his waist. Now was not a time to think about those sentimentalities.

Once in full Shinigami regalia, he strides out his room and starts to make his way towards his Clan office. While on the way there, he hastily ties his hair up into a ponytail to keep it out of the way and makes sure he has his haori secured and in place. As he enters his office, he blinks in confusion at all the occupants before turning to Wataru to give him a deadpanned stare.

"I brought all your chicks!" Wataru crows cheekily, ignoring the glare more than one person throws his way.

Ichigo sighs and pinches the bridge of his nose but doesn't make a move to shoo anyone out which is an answer in itself. Instead he turns towards Yoruichi who is smirking at him, Kisuke who looks eerily curious, Yasahiro who looks mildly worried, Isshin who looks jumpy and excited, Sōjun who looks irked at being dragged along when he had obviously been busy with something else, and Sōsuke who just looks plain confused.

Ichigo thinks back to Haruka and her teasing about getting settled and having kids before a chill runs down his spine at the realization that he somehow, for some reason, seems to have adopted all these 'teens' and without even noticing. The thought is mildly terrifying. Half these kids already call him Ji-san or some variation of it, and the other half is too formal to do so but still turns to him for advice.

Holy shit.

To be continued…

Decree# 57 of Shiba Life: Dance battles are perfectly respectable ways of solving a disagreement and are not restricted by the designating fighting areas.

I am alive! Muhahahaha. Special shout out to my friend from aGnamZer0. See? Now you know why I found your PM so funny when I read it. I had already finished typing this in case you were wondering.

For everyone's reference, here is how the Gotei 13 looks at the moment:

1. Yamamoto Genryūsai Shigekuni / Sasakibe Chōjirō

2. Shihōin Tsukiya / Shihōin Yoruichi

3. EMPTY / Komamura Sajin

4. Unohana Retsu / Sugimoto Hanako

5. Hirako Shinji / Ōtoribashi Rōjūrō

6. Kuchiki Ginrei / Kuchiki Sōjun

7. EMPTY / Kotsubaki Jin'emon

8. Kyōraku Shunsui / Aikawa Love

9. Muguruma Kensei / EMPTY

10. Shiba Ichigo / Shiba Wataru

11. Kenpachi Kiganjō / Kurokawa Masaru

12. Hikifune Kirio / Nakanishi Shigeo

13. Ukitake Jūshirō / EMPTY