Chapter 25

Ichigo has been back at the estate for a little over three weeks now and it was the 31st of December. Frost had covered the garden and the bite of winter was a constant presence. There was no snow yet, but Ichigo hoped there would be. He loved the snow because he had not seen it in so long.

He didn't know what he was supposed to do now. Akihiko had confined him to the room and garden. He had posted a guard that would check on him every hour, like clockwork. Sora and Shin were his most common companions besides his furry friends. Yoshi had stuck to his side like glue and refused to budge. Always dogging his heels and brushing his back against Ichigo's hands. He had not seen Tadashi at all and Sora avoided the subject, a guilty look in his eyes. Ichigo hated to admit it but he really missed having Tadashi's constant presence there beside him. Someone who was willing to talk to the both of them about anything and nothing at the same time.

Giving a sharp sigh, Ichigo slumped against the roof's support column that was connected to the outside walkway. He was bored and tired, to say the least. It was hard to sleep most nights, the nightmares plaguing him in the silence. His aches and pains had completely vanished a few days ago, and he was itching to do something, anything besides sitting around. Shiro and Zangetsu were not completely recovered and still slumbering away in his inner world. He missed talking to them, especially this time of year. It was during this time of the year when Rukia and her unborn children were killed. He blinked and her death reared its head.

Blood splattered snow filled his vision. A cold body splayed on the ground, pale purple eyes gazing sightlessly at the snow falling from the sky. Frozen tears trailing down her cheekbones. Sode no Shirayuki, bloodied and broken, clutched tightly in her hand. A last-ditch effort to protect herself and her children. Her abdomen covered in blood and still swollen with her children.

Blinking to try to remove the grisly scene, his right hand came up and covered his right eye which had begun to burn. The image of Rukia flickered like an old television, almost as if the connection was bad. Giving a soft hiss in pain, he dug his palm into his eye trying to remove the pain. A soft knock came from the door behind him. It was the same guard. Probably to check on him.

"Ichigo-sama are you alright?" The guard questioned hesitantly. Removing his hand from his closed eye, Ichigo waved it absentmindedly.

"I'm fine." A short gasp behind him. His hand froze midair at the gasp.

"I'm getting Akihiko-sama and the healer. Stay there Ichigo-sama." The guard ordered before rushing off with a clank of metal armor following behind. Pulling his hand back, Ichigo stared at it with his left eye. His right eye remaining closed due to the continuous burning sensation. His hand was covered in blood.

Shit.

This was going to set Akihiko off and into a frenzy. He would probably have a healer check on him every hour like the guard. Probably even demand that he have his own personal healer. Which was completely unnecessary. Not wanting to get blood on his clothing, he let his hand drop onto the cool wood with his palm facing upwards. The blood thickening in the cold December air. Yoshi came up to him, his nose twitching at the scent of blood. Giving a small whine, Yoshi nudged his fingertips gently with the tip of his nose. The wolf's concern blatantly obvious.

"I'm fine," Ichigo reassured at the wolf's unasked question. Content with Ichigo's reassurance, Yoshi settled himself by wriggling back underneath Ichigo's heels. His fur coat and body heat warming Ichigo's bare feet. At least someone believed what he said. Ichigo's peace did not last long. His bedroom door was wrenched open with such force that Ichigo worried about the door. The healer that had treated him last time hopped from the veranda and onto the frost covered grass. His socks probably doing little to keep out the cold. Akihiko followed behind, a worried expression covering his features. Blue eyes stared at the right side of Ichigo's face, more specifically his right eye. The young healer had a deep set frown on his face and his brows were furrowed in confusion.

"What did you do this time Ichigo-sama?" The healer questioned. His hands coming up to probe softly around the eye socket.

"I didn't do anything. I was… My eye started to burn. I rubbed it to help, but it just got worse. That's when the guard checked up on me and called you guys." Ichigo explained, resigned to his fate. Whatever it may be.

"Can you open your eye for me Ichigo-sama?" Peeling his eye open slowly, Ichigo wasn't prepared for the burning to start up again. Immediately closing it again with a hiss, he brought his hand back up to ease the pain. Only succeeding in spreading congealed blood onto his face. Akihiko grabbed his wrist pulling it away from his face. Even more, concern covered Akihiko's features.

The young healer riffled through his medical bag, pulling out pristine white bandages, water and a vial containing a green goopy paste. Opening the water, the healer took one of the bandages and got it wet. With the wet cloth, he gently cleaned the blood from his face and hand. The healer threw the soiled bandage onto the veranda and turned to the rest of the bandages and the vial with the goop. Uncorking the vial a herbal smell emanated from the container. Pouring the goo onto his hand, the young man smeared the slime over his eye and placed a folded bandage on top of it. The slime was cool against his skin and reduced the burning to a dull itch. His body gave a literal sigh of relief.

Grabbing the remaining bandage, the healer wrapped it over his eye as a makeshift eyepatch.

"This should help with the burning until Kirinji can take a look at it. I'll change the dressings in the morning and evenings. Don't touch it Ichigo-sama." He stated as he packed his supplies back into the bag. Akihiko sighed.

"Thank you, Isamu for taking care of Ichigo," Akihiko spoke to the healer.

"No problem Akihiko-sama. I am only doing my job." Isamu waved away the thanks. Akihiko scratched the back of his head, glanced at Ichigo before watching as the healer left, who closed the door behind him. Sighing, Akihiko remained standing beside Ichigo. His eyes were weary, exhausted and filled with concern as he looked him over.

"Are you sure you are okay Ichigo?" Akihiko questioned. He gave a hum in reply. His one eye focused on the frosted grass in front of him. Akihiko gave a sigh of defeat. "Ichigo I know that you hate being cooped up, but I just want you to get better. You know that right?" Fingers caressed his scalp causing Ichigo to jump and look up. Akihiko was looking at him fondly, one a parent would at their child, but the undercurrent of worry swirled in his blue eyes. Concern for him.

"I know, but you don't need to worry about me Akihiko-san, I will be alright." Akihiko's face filled with exasperation and his eyes looked upwards. Almost as if he was asking Kami-sama for patience. Probably was.

"That's the thing Ichigo. You are now apart of this family. You are my child. My son. Just like Shin and Kameko. My job as a parent is to care for my children and protect them. I will always worry." Ichigo stared at Akihiko, his honey brown eye wide in surprise. Something heavy blocked his airways. He could hardly breathe. His breath stolen away with Akihiko's statement.

Akihiko watched him, concern growing as he sat there frozen. Ichigo looked down. His gaze drawn to the grains of the polished wood. The tips of Akihiko's feet visible at the top of his vision.

"Why?" He asked brokenly. His voice catching because of the lump that settled in his throat. "I'm not worth it." The words came out in a harsh bitter whisper. The slender fingers moved away from his scalp. Ichigo knew it and now so did Akihiko. He was not worth the trouble of being cared for. He had a purpose and that was it. Ichigo would protect them and that was all. Something thumped against his forehead. Glancing up, Ichigo's eye meets with Akihiko's. Blue eyes so close he could see flecks of gold and silver in the iris.

Akihiko was kneeling in front of him, their foreheads touching. A hand touched the back of his head gently, cautiously so as not to startle him and then with a firmer comforting grasp. A sad, heartbroken smile ghosted across Akihiko's lips.

"Ichigo, you are not just worth it. You've become priceless to me and everyone else bearing the Shiba name. And I'm not just talking about your fighting prowess. You are more than that. We…I treasure everything about you. Everything from the scars you bare on your skin to your very soul. Don't you ever forget that Ichigo, because I won't."

Ichigo's breath shuddered in his chest, ragged and harsh. His eye slipped closed, he couldn't face Akihiko at the moment. Akihiko's words sent his emotions tumbling, a jumbled mess. He felt confusion, sorrow, anger, anxiousness, fear, giddiness, elation and the overwhelming relief of being alive. Alive to hear someone who says they value him, not the leader, not the commander, not the savior, just him.

"Ichigo?" Akihiko's voice whispered fearfully and laced with concern. Ichigo's right hand moved, the whole appendage visibly shaking. He clutched at Akihiko's clothing like a small child seeking comfort. Ichigo leaned into Akihiko, trusting the man to support him.

"Thank you." His thanks barely passing through his constricted throat and dry lips. The words almost inaudible to his own ears, but Akihiko heard him. The hand tightened behind his head.

"And thank you Ichigo. Thank you for being born into this world." The unfiltered joy and acceptance coloring his words. That joy causing his breath to hitch and then continue shuddering as he breathed. Akihiko pulled him closer, moving Ichigo's head to meet the juncture at his neck and shoulder. Fingers carded through his hair and another hand rubbed comforting circles on his back.

They sat there for a while. Akihiko providing silent comfort. No one interrupted them. Ichigo was grateful. He needed it to calm down and sort through his thoughts and emotions. He didn't cry. He hasn't in a very long time. The only sign of emotional distress was his shuddering, gasping breaths.

When Ichigo finally calmed down, he pulled away from Akihiko's embrace but continued to cling to the man. Akihiko's hand moved to his elbow as the other continued to move through his orange hair. Ichigo opened his eye and gazed at the man before him. Akihiko looked relieved and sympathetic to his pain, emotional or otherwise.

A knock at the door drew their attention. Ichigo released Akihiko, letting his hand slide off the yukata and land in his lap weakly. Akihiko withdrew his fingers from his hair and the other released his elbow. Staring at his limp hand, Ichigo was vaguely aware of Akihiko standing up and answering the door.

"Akihiko-sama, there is a guest for you waiting in the foyer. He says it's urgent." Ichigo heard Akihiko sigh.

"Okay, I'll be right there. Have Sora bring tea for Ichigo." The staff gave confirmation before disappearing down the hall. Akihiko remained in the doorway for a moment. "Will you be alright?" Ichigo gave a nod and turned to watch as Akihiko's back disappeared.

Taking a deep breath, Ichigo released it in a puff of vapor, rising and disappearing in the cold air. The sun had begun to set, turning the atmosphere a pink crimson and a darkening purple navy. Ichigo just stared at the frozen garden before him, his thoughts a thousand miles away. Sora came and went. Warm tea inviting and sitting at his side. He didn't touch it. Ichigo acknowledged the sun as it moved slowly downwards, crossing the line between earth and sky.

A presence appeared beside him like a ghost in the night.

"It's beautiful." He spoke, his one eye sliding to the uninvited guest on his left. "Isn't that right Reio-san?" The being beside him was unassuming in character. Plain brown hair and eyes. Average features. Average clothes. It was the reiatsu that gave the being away. Reio looked at him, curiosity and surprise in his eyes.

"It is. How did you know it was I?" Ichigo raised an eyebrow at the Soul King. How could he not know? Gauging his reaction, Reio waved away the question. "Never mind. I just came to sate my curiosity." Ichigo turned to face Reio, a deep frown set on his face.

"This is not a simple social call, is it?" He questioned. Ichigo's own curiosity rearing its head. The Soul King chuckled lightly, his eyes drawn to Yoshi, who had decided that he wanted to sit on the walkway as well. Jumping up, Yoshi settled himself against Ichigo's right side, his head on his lap and intently staring at the Soul King. Ichigo buried his hand in the thick fur on Yoshi's neck and shoulders. Silent thanks to the wolf's support.

"You do not exist in this world. I cannot see you. Your past, present or future. There is simply nothing. I dislike not knowing." Ichigo looked sharply at the Soul King. The hair on the back of his neck standing on end. Yoshi's hackles rose at the Soul King's subtle threat. His lips pulling back in a silent snarl, white teeth glistening with saliva in the fading light. Ichigo drummed his fingers on Yoshi's shoulder in a silent warning. Understanding his warning, Yoshi concealed his teeth but his hackles were still raised in agitation.

"I see, and what are your thoughts on my appearance?" Even to his own ears, Ichigo's voice was sharp and cold. Reio gave a silent hum of contemplation on the question and the possible implications of his final answer.

"That you are a mystery. One I have yet to decide whether is a threat or not." Reio glancing at Yoshi as the black predator gave a rumbling snarl. "However, I believe that I am more of a threat to you."

Ichigo hummed and stared sharply at Reio for a long moment. His gaze tearing through any glamour Reio tried to put up. He saw what the being beside him truly looked like. Almost translucent skin flowing with reiatsu instead of blood, inside, his torso was moving and shifting in various shades of colored blobs. The skeleton visible and the color of ebony compared to the traditional ivory white. Empty, gaping eye sockets where eyes should reside. The sight would have sent Shiro into a bout of swearing and snarls with his own hackles raised and prepared to lash out at the entity. Reio gave a knowing, exasperated smile, almost as if he knew what he was doing.

"Indeed you could be a threat," Ichigo affirmed, "But, you know not to interfere lest you bring the destruction of the three worlds upon your shoulders." He warned the being beside him. Reio gave a hearty laugh, his head thrown back, skeletal mouth open wide in laughter. A disturbing sight to others who had not seen what he had.

"You are correct, I cannot interfere. However, I wish to extend an offer to you." Ichigo gave the entity an inquiring look, silently telling him to continue. "If you so wish, you may claim the throne any time for you are more worthy of the position than I." Ichigo's orange eyebrows shot up to nearly his hairline at the being beside him. Surprise evident in his expression.

"What is your reasoning for giving me this offer? How do you know I am more worthy than you?" He questioned. A thought niggled in the back of his head, just out of reach. A possible answer to his very own question.

"I am not sure you will understand," Reio said. Ichigo snorted and rolled his eye.

"Try me." Reio sighed at Ichigo's blatant challenge. His eyes flickered to his right eye briefly before addressing Ichigo's questions.

"Very well. For the residents of this realm, Hueco Mundo, and the others, you contain an element within your soul that has never existed and never will. The first and only of your kind. A hybrid. One who has knowledge of every kind within every realm. You may not feel it, but others can. Their own souls cry out in reverence to a completed soul. A soul so complete and encompassing, that regular souls yearn to even stand in your presence. Even I am not an exception to this." Ichigo blinked in surprise at Reio's explanation. His mind reeling at the information. Sighing, Ichigo ran his hand through his hair, trying to release some of the fatigue that had settled in his bones.

"I understand. There was always something in the back of my mind that said I was different, but I didn't care. I still don't. I'm just Ichigo. Just me." Reio gave a warm, happy smile, translucent lips stretched over black teeth. His answer obviously the one he wanted to hear.

"I shall take my leave. Thank you for your time, my curiosity has been satisfied. I hope that eye heals quickly, good evening Lord Ichigo. " Reio stood from the walkway, his hands resting in the sleeves of his robes, and gave a small bow towards him. With a sharp turn, the being slipped into thin air. His pale form vanishing between the blink of an eye. Ichigo stared at the spot where the being vanished. Yoshi gave a large huff, his whole body heaving with the exaggerated motion. A large huff of exasperation if there ever was one.

Giving a snort at Yoshi's action, he carded his fingers through the soft fur. His mind more at ease. Going for the tea that Sora had left for him, he found that there was none. Giving a huff of his own in aggravation at the casualness of Reio-san, Ichigo moved. His body protested at remaining still for so long. Bare feet touching the frosted grass, he moved into the gardens, following along no particular path. Yoshi trotted beside him, his tongue hanging out the side of his mouth, as he happily panted.

Staring dazedly at the cloudy sky, Ichigo suddenly wished for snow. No true reason for his wish. Maybe it was because of what had happened earlier and what he saw. It could be because he had not seen it for so long or that snow was something that blanketed everything, covered scars and provided a strange spiritual comfort to those who see it.

Contemplating the reasons why he suddenly desired for it to snow, he jumped when something cold brushed his noise. Refocusing, he blinked as he watched fat flakes of snow descend. Breaking out in a rare smile, Ichigo stood there watching the snow fall. His wish seemingly coming true. Yoshi sat beside him, leaning against his leg, providing warmth and support.

Not sure how long he stood there, he contently watched the snow cover the ground and fill the treetops. Changing the bleak empty garden into an entirely new landscape, one so light that any dark thoughts are swept away.

It was quiet. A good quiet. Ichigo enjoyed this time just to himself. With only his fuzzy stray thoughts and Yoshi as his company, he watched the snow fall.


Deciding to check on Ichigo before Sora brought him his supper, Akihiko entered an empty room. Stopping and blinking at the lack of Ichigo, he moved on to the veranda. Ichigo was not here either. Panic bubbled in his chest. Forcing himself not to panic, he calmly examined the gardens searching for a spot of orange. He passed it twice before his eyes zeroed in on a sliver of orange hidden by snow-covered shrubbery and laden branches.

Returning inside, he grabbed a thick haori and dashed out into the garden. The fresh snow soft and cold beneath his socked feet. He slowed down and stopped 20 feet away from his adopted son. Ichigo was standing there in bare feet, coved in a light dusting of snow and gazing contently through the unfurnished treetops. The stress lines had vanished from around his eyes, and a soft smile curved his lips. Akihiko recognized how young he looked. Frowning, Akihiko questioned how old Ichigo actually was. Ichigo acted so much older than his age. There was no telling how old he actually was.

Akihiko shoved that thought away for later when he noticed that Ichigo gave a small shiver. Berating himself internally for his own stupidity, Akihiko approached his son. Those words sent a rush of happiness and pride through him. Happy that the man before him was his son and pride at how strong he was. With those feelings came a rush of despair and helplessness, two feelings a parent should never associate with their children. Despair at what happened to the young man and that there was nothing he could do to help ease that pain. All he could do was be there to support him when he needed it.

Suddenly aware of how cold it actually was outside, he dashed up to Ichigo. His breath coming out in puffs of fog.

"Ichigo! What are you doing outside in the snow? You'll catch your death out here." He said, throwing the heavy winter haori over Ichigo's shoulders. Dusting the snow from his son's face and hair, he stared at Ichigo as he blinked owlishly at him, surprise apparent. "What?"

Ichigo blinked again before shaking his head and looking down. A small smirk flashed on his lips, but he did not give an answer. Huffing, Akihiko dusted the snow from Ichigo's shoulders from underneath the white haori, not wanting the snow to melt in between the layers. He continued to fuss over him, continuously dusting snow from his orange hair and rubbing Ichigo's hands to warm them.

"You idiot! What were you thinking not wearing any winter gear? You'll get sick." Akihiko reprimanded, his fear and parental being replaced with horror. "I could lose you because of it, and I don't want to lose one of my children."

"I'm sorry." Ichigo looked anywhere but at Akihiko. Looking at Ichigo's face, Akihiko knew that he had understood what he was trying to say. The guilt on the boy's face said it all. Now that he was up close, Akihiko could see a heavy dark circle underneath his eye. Akihiko wondered how much sleep Ichigo had gotten lately, it might explain how emotional he is currently. He pulled the boy into his side and guided him back home, Yoshi leading the way.

"It's okay, just don't it again. Okay?" Ichigo nodded against his shoulder, his entire frame wracked with small shivers. Moving his arm, Akihiko began to rub firmly against his son's cold skin, desperately trying to warm him up at least a little bit. Sighing at how troublesome his eldest son was being, he continued. "You are going to be the death of me. I'll die from worry at this rate. I might need someone to watch you constantly to make sure you don't get into trouble." Ichigo made a small noise in objection at Akihiko's implication that he was trouble and that he needed a babysitter. "You don't get a say in this, so no protesting."

"What about Tadashi?" Akihiko blinked and looked down at Ichigo.

"What about Tadashi?" He asked in response before he realized what Ichigo intended. "You are wondering why Tadashi is not with you right?" Another nod from Ichigo, Akihiko exhaled and ran a chilled hand through his hair, internally relishing the heat radiating from his scalp. "To be honest, Tadashi has been confined to his room at the moment," Ichigo looked up his eye wide in surprise and his mouth opened to question him, Akihiko pushed on before he could speak. "The reason for this is because of what had happened at the clan meeting five weeks ago. I know that it was my fault that Tadashi had acted in such a way, and now that I know he doesn't fully trust you, I can't trust him." Ichigo stopped and stepped away from him, a large scowl present on his face, his arms coming up and crossing over his chest.

"That's not for you to decide." He said sharply, Ichigo's brown eyes bright in anger.

"Yes, it is." Akihiko hissed lowly, his own anger rising in challenge. Deep down he knew he shouldn't argue with Ichigo, but he didn't seem to get it. Every choice he made was for him, to protect him.

"You can trust me, but you can't trust Tadashi who has been here longer than I have. Besides, you assigned Tadashi to assist me. Isn't that what you want, someone to watch and treat me like a child?" Ichigo questioned, his voice rising higher in anxiety. The sound banishing any anger remaining at his child's distress.

"No, Ichigo. I don't want anyone but me to treat you as a child because you are my child. But I don't want you to be alone ever because I know that I won't always be around to protect you." He reasoned quietly. Akihiko watched as anguish filled Ichigo's face.

"I don't need to be protected. I can take care of myself." Ichigo quietly refuted, his shoulders slumping. Akihiko approached slowly, gently enfolding the young man against him. Resting his cheek against his orange hair, Akihiko just stood there silently for a moment.

"I know you can, but as a parent, it pains me to think that you would ever need to fight for your life or anything at all. I don't want to fight you on this and I trust you. So Tadashi can be your assistant again, but if he does anything justifiably untrustworthy, he will be gone before you can argue. Deal?" Akihiko questioned. Ichigo's arms came up and tightly clutched at the back of his yukata, his head snuggling deeper into the juncture of his neck.

"Thank you." The words a light whisper in the air. They stood there for a long moment, Akihiko couldn't help the small, bitter smile that adorned his face. He was so exhausted both physically and emotionally, that Ichigo had fallen asleep standing. Careful not to move too much, he lifted his son into his arms, delicately cradling him against his body, making sure that the haori was wrapped around him. Ichigo gave a small mumble but otherwise did not stir at the movement, his head resting heavily on Akihiko's shoulder. Yoshi gave a stressful pant accompanied by a high pitched whine. Akihiko gave the wolf a harsh glare at the noise.

"Shush." He commanded, in response, the wolf gave a nonchalant yawn at his order. Giving himself a shake, Yoshi dislodged a mass of snow from his dark fur before he continued towards the house, his paws leaving meager impressions in the snow. Akihiko rolled his eyes at the animal and followed after it.

It didn't take long to get back home. Sora was waiting for them at the garden door to Ichigo's room, a concerned look crossing his features when he spotted Ichigo in his arms.

"Don't worry, he's only asleep," Akihiko reassured as he carried Ichigo straight into his bedroom. Sora quickly followed, passed Akihiko and headed directly towards the futon. He swiftly pulled back the top layer, allowing Akihiko to instantly place Ichigo in his bed. Gently tucking the young man in, he couldn't stop the smile that grew across his lips. This feeling of pride and joy bubbling in his chest at the content expression on his eldest son's face, resting peacefully for the first time. Not resisting his fatherly instincts, Akihiko began to card his hand through Ichigo's orange hair, gently removing the few tangles that there was.

"Sora, bring Tadashi to me." He spoke, quiet and demanding, all of the power of a captain and clan leader behind his tone. Sora instinctually straightened his spine and gave a deep bow to Akihiko, long strands of black hair slipping down from his shoulders. Sora left to retrieve Tadashi, leaving just the two of them and Yoshi, who decided to nestle against the right side of Ichigo's leg.

The door opened and Tadashi walked through the doorway, his eyes flickering nervously about, first landing on the objects around the room, to Yoshi, then him and finally resting on Ichigo. An immense look of relief filled Tadashi's brown eyes and his shoulders lost their tension. Apparently relieved that Ichigo was okay. Tadashi did not make a move to come closer, content to stand where he was feet away.

"Do you know why you were summoned Tadashi?" Akihiko demanded, not looking away once from his hand in Ichigo's hair. Tadashi fidgeted in place, his hands wringing themselves. When he received no answer, Akihiko looked up and stared directly at the nervous man. "Well?"

"You are going to relieve me of my position as an assistant in the Shiba household," Tadashi spoke clearly, his gaze and voice never once wavering, decidedly resigned to his supposed fate.

"I was going to do that, however, Ichigo convinced me otherwise. You, Tadashi, are being given a second chance. For this to work, you must swear to me here and now that you will do everything in your power to protect, serve and care for Ichigo, no matter what, and any deviation from your task is a forfeit to your life. Do you understand?" Akihiko questioned assertively, his eyes narrowing and burrowing straight through Tadashi, looking for any hint that he would lie. The man refused to back down and gave one solid nod and kneeled down with his face turned to the floor.

"I swear Akihiko-san, on my life, my honor and my name as a Shiba that I will not deviate from the task you have given to me. I will not fail a second time." Tadashi spoke, his head still turned toward the floor, his entire body subdued and compliant to his will. Giving him one last long look, Akihiko gave a hum in agreement.

"No, you won't," Akihiko said, the order clearly stated behind his words.


A shout out to:

CallmeCrazylol: There are even more hugs in this chapter for you to enjoy!

Ongaku: Sorry its taken so long for us to update, but the mysteries are growing. It's good to hear that you are well. These fictional doggos were inspired by our doggos. One of us actually has a black lab named Yoshi. ;) Tadashi is addressed in this chapter. We hope you like his reaction. Yuko is coming in the next chapter, along with the four musketeers(Hikaru and company). Let us know what you think of this chapter.

3terna1Y0ut4: Thank you for the wonderful thoughts. There will be more loving interactions in this chapter as well, this time between Ichigo and Akihiko.

Reverentwolf: Bonsoir! Don't worry, we won't rush the ending. That is something we never want to do on any chapter. As for character death, we can't guarantee anything, but the story will have a nice ending in our opinion. Let us know how you like this chapter

Scarease: Yes we are back! Thanks for the offer, but we are okay on OC's. We will let you know if we need any.

Adelene900(Pt.1): Another update for you! If you have any more questions, just ask, and thank you for the luck. We are going to need it.

(Pt. 2): We reread our story as well and we are glad that you love it so much that you reread it over and over again. Please be patient with us we'll try to update more often now.

The Apex Predator 01: Thank you for the compliments on the previous chapter. Let us know what you think of this one.

Laesk: Thanks for thinking that our story is different, that was what we were aiming for. As for the next update, here it is.

V01dSw0rd: Hello to you too. Yeah, spell check is like that sometimes. It took them so long to notice that he could actually see them was because he could follow their movements by their reiatsu. They got used to him being able to follow them despite being blind. We try to use Italics when Ichigo speaks with his Zanpaktou but sometimes things slip through or don't transfer properly. As for the reason the old man is still there despite Yawach not being born yet is because, Ichigo is no only in the past, but a slightly different universe. He may not be born in this universe, but he was in Ichigo's. As for the wolves relating to Komamora, you'll have to wait and see. Sorry can't spoil everything for you. Let us know what you think and ask about anything that is unclear to you.

Kyouki no kitsune: That is true about at least catching up. Your addiction was our aim. We have you trapped in our web now(muahahaha). Let us know what you think.

GRR7997: Akihiko does know that Ichigo can see now, we just didn't want to get weighed down by writing a reaction for everything. We wanted to keep the story going. We are glad you love Yoshi. In case you didn't read our other shout outs, the fictional Yoshi is based of one of our dogs, a black lab named Yoshi. A sweet dog that likes to cuddle and hang around us. As for Shin's character development, THERE WILL BE MORE! Tell us how we did.

Cimorene21: Welcome to our little story. There will be more overprotective moments for Ichigo. Give us your thoughts on the chapter.

Guest #1: Thank you for ranking it so highly.

lara5170: Akihiko knows, but there won't be a written reaction to it. We wanted to move the story along, besides Sora would have told him if he hadn't figured it out. We hope this update answers your question about it being continued.

kevban: Chapitre 26!

FallStar13: Lots of people are reading our story in an entire day, we are starting to see a pattern here. Thank you for the beautiful compliments on our characters and the details of our story. We want you to feel along and sympathize with our characters, otherwise the story isn't fun to read. We hope you enjoy this chapter as well and let us know what you think.

Trioxid: The next chapter is here.

Random: It's not the last chapter any more.(Takes a bow).

YeTianshi: It is continued.

All right everyone. It's good to be back from the dead. We hope everyone has enjoyed this chapter because we agonized whether it fit with Ichigo's character or not. Let us know what you think. We'll try to update in a couple of weeks. See you all soon.

- The Crew :)