Chapter I

Genryusai Yamamoto, the captain of the first division and the commander of the Gotei 13, let out a sigh as he viewed the captains standing before him. Yamamoto had served as the commander for over 1,000 years. He created the shinō academy years ago to train the next generation of shinigami and passed the job as headmaster to someone with more time on their hands. He sometimes quietly thought to himself that he gave up the wrong job. Shunsui Kyoraku was passing mischievous glances to his best friend since the academy Jushiro Ukitake who only glanced back with an indulgent look, Isshin looked like he was a moment away from falling asleep while the captain of the thirteenth division Kirio Hikifune seemed to be staring off into space muttering calculations about another failed experiment to create artificial souls. The recently promoted Yoruichi Shihōin was focused trying to display her usual cocky confidence despite her nervousness surrounding the other powerhouses in the room.

"Give her a few months and she'll be fine," Yamamoto thought. It seemed she and Unohana were the only captains paying any attention to Ginrei Kuchiki's report about the most recent mission involving hollows entering the world of the living.

Yamamoto was the oldest shinigami, as seen by his long white beard hanging down to his waist, and in that time he had developed a sense that could foresee when trouble was brewing. Letting out another sigh he opened one of his shut eyes to glance around. Only Unohana and his former students Kyoraku and Ukitake seemed to notice the change in demeanor. Kyoraku tilted his wide straw hat forward, ducking his eyes beneath the brim. Good, his apprentice was at least aware of his surroundings despite the persona he displays as a fool. A mask to hide his true self, just like himself, wearing the guise as a hunched over old man who needed a cane. Of course no one was fooled by Yamamoto's mask. The stories of his power have always circulated throughout even the farthest reaches of the Rukongai.

A sharp beeping echoed through the hall as Hikifune scrambled to pull out a device from a hidden pocket in her robes.

"What?" Hikifune barked into the device. The buxom, beautiful purple haired woman's face paled upon hearing the frantic response they echoed through the speaker.

"Distortion in the dangai?" She asked, eyes widening and voice raising, gathering the attention of all the captains. The dangai, the barrier separating the world of the living and the Soul Society, was so vast a space numerous worlds could be created, and when enough blank souls gathered together created something called a valley of screams.

"What about the cleaner?"

The cleaner was a fleshy train-looking vehicle that was the first and last defense capable of clearing out problems that arose within the dangai. While repair is possible should something happen to it, it would lead Soul Society vulnerable to more hollows and the countless other enemies they've accumulated over the last few millennia. Yamamoto tightened his grip on his cane as more shouting about readings came through.

He hoped there wasn't another threat approaching, they had just finished brokering a peace with the last few quincy families left. Their existence had threatened the balance of souls with every shot fired from their bows, it left a bitter taste in his mouth committing genocide, but the alternative was much worse. Shinigami were balancers, should anyone tip the scale, it was their job to correct it. It was a thankless duty only further exasperated with having to deal with those in the central 46. Traditionalist nobles who enjoy sitting in their seats of power.

Before Kikifune could ask another question, static seemed to coat the surface of the captain's hall. Hands reached for swords in wariness, they could feel it, something was coming. The sky darkened for a moment before suddenly a bright flash came into the room. Lightning flashing and curling back into itself in a ball before expanding and spitting out a young looking orange haired man dressed in a modified red, white, and black shihakusho. What felt like an ocean worth of reiatsu flooded the room shoving down on their shoulders. The younger captains gasped out before pushing a layer of their own reiryoku to the surface as a shield.

Yoruichi was the first to react, her clenched fist tightening even more as her feet slid into a ready stance to deliver the first strike should the intruder show any hostility. To the shock of all present though, instead of any form of attack, the young man started convulsing in pain letting out a shriek of agony. They watched in a mixture of confusion and horror as scars that littered his body seemingly reopened one by one. Captain Unohana rushed forward running a diagnostic scan of green colored reiatsu forming in her hands as she observed his body tearing itself apart. The anomaly happening before left her shocked for only a moment before attending to his worst wounds.

"Captain Unohana, do you know what is happening to him?" The head captain asked almost as if knowing her response.

"No, I haven't seen this before, though I think I might have seen something similar to this in the library before." Hikifune had another device out performing her own scan before interrupting, "It seems like I was right. His soul is fighting against time itself. His soul is trying to adapt to the world as time tries to revert back to before he arrived. This was the warning my 3rd seat was calling me for. He must have gotten stuck in the dangai before being swallowed by the cleaner and spit out again.

"The last time this happened was when three unseated officers were sent into the dangai when a strange source of reiatsu was detected almost 800 years ago. They were run over by the cleaner and disappeared for a couple centuries before being discovered far out in the Rukongai. Their souls couldn't survive the transition though. They aged centuries in moments before turning into husks."

"But he isn't aging," noted Yoruichi. "In fact, it looks like he's getting younger."

Hikifune blinked in astonishment. Pressing a few buttons on her device until it gave off a flash of green light.

"According to the readings, his reishi says he is about 22 years old."

The captains shifted around at the news. Not only was he covered in scars, some from blade wounds and recognizably hollow claws and bites, there was also some signs of torture. There were the same puncture marks that were too calculatingly placed to be anything else, along with scars on his wrists. If they were to see his back under his clothes, they would have seen 3 scars made from a rather sadistic quincy wielding a whip and numerous burn marks.

A 22 year old is a child in their advanced aging process. In comparison to the human world, a teenager in the Soul Society would be someone in their late thirties or early forties. They all wondered what the hell had caused his body to age so rapidly. However, even more alarming was the sudden shift in his reishi. It started dropping rapidly as Unohana finished closing the largest wound, a fist sized hole that pierced through his chest.

"Head captain," Unohana started, "We need to transport this man to the med-center. He doesn't have long with the amount of blood loss he's experienced. Indeed, Yamamoto thought, there was an ever increasing pool of red pouring onto the white tiled floor.

"Captain Shihōin!" The head captain snapped. "Send word to the fourth that we have a casualty in transport and get a room ready for surgery! Have a squad assembled to guard against his possible escape. Regardless of injury, he is still an intruder. I want to know who he is and why he has come here." A short nod was his reply before vanishing to their eyes in a quick shunpo. Her title of Goddess of Flash was well warranted. Another beep came from the device.

"His body seems to have stopped regressing at age 19," Hikifune said with some relief. "If he is treated quickly, he should survive with minimal effects from any lingering reishi from the dangai. I'll have some extra scanners sent into the child's room as an added assurance."

Offering her own bow to the head captain before heading back to her own division to get the necessary equipment. Yamamoto watched as a stretcher was brought into the hall as the lieutenant of squad 4 arrived to assist her captain in saving the boy. The next wound they focused on was from a sword slash that almost bisected his waist. The only piece that seemed to still be intact was his spine. Turning to the other assembled captains, he dismissed them to return to their divisions and ordered them to remain on alert. The possibility that the boy was the only one to have arrived through the dangai was not an unreasonable assumption.

Shunsui walked over to Ishin, whose face was set in an uncharacteristic frown at the situation. Thinking for a moment, Shunsui's eyes brightened as a way to relieve some of the seriousness across his features.

"Oi Isshin, Jūshirō, care for a drink? I'm buying," he offered with a lopsided grin to his closest friends. Jūshirō let out a small smile.

"Are you really buying, or are you just saying so and planning on rushing out and leaving me with the bill again?" Shunsui's eyes comically widened before putting a hurt expression on his face.

"That hurts Juu," Shunsui whined. "How can you have such little faith in me?"

"Because I have been your friend for centuries and know exactly how you think. And I also payed the bill the last eight times we've been out," he finished with a dry tone.

"Isshin, back me up here," Shunsui pleaded. His only response was a boisterous laugh with a large fake grin.

"Jūshirō is absolutely right." Shunsui adopted a childish pout on his face.

"Jeez, what great friends I have," he huffed before turning around.

"Any chance I can join in?" the just returning petite form of the captain of squad 2 voiced out.

"Sure, more the merrier," Shunsui said, tipping his hat forward again.

Leading the way through the long maze-like streets of the Seireitei to a quiet alley where a quaint but comfortable bar was squirreled away. Shunsui had found the place a few decades back while on a small jaunt hiding away from his paperwork. It had a clean but worn down vibe. The captains sat down in a corner booth after ordering a couple bottles of sake. The booth had light brown leather seats that looked like they were on their last threads, but numerous patch jobs had been done to fix it. Two of the walls were painted a light cream and the others a soft blue. With the open shoji doors and small windows, the summer breeze wafted through the room bearing a small fragrance of flowers. Glancing out, Shunsui noted a florist shop across the street.

"Hmm. That's new" he thought. Fixing a stare at the others he finally asked the question they had all been thinking since the interruption to that boring meeting they were all suffering through.

"Did you notice who the boy resembled? If it hadn't been for that fiery hair of his, I thought that would have been our dear Kaien Shiba bleeding out on the floor." That brought a frown to all their faces. The resemblance was uncanny, he definitely had the blood of a Shiba in him. Isshin's frown was the worst at the thought of a member of his own family having been at the mercy of such horrors. Despite the wounds, the boy had been fit and had a lithe muscle mass. The single black asauchi lying at his side revealed him as a shinigami, if the clothes and former massive reiatsu didn't scream out what he was.

The Shiba family were a tight knit group who all lived and supported each other's dreams. If a member of their family had existed without them knowing, it was possible he could be a bastard child no one knew about. Or like Hikifune had said and he was someone who had disappeared from centuries ago. But it was odd. How did his age regress, when all others had previously shriveled into people even older looking than Yama-jii?

Casting off the thought, Isshin finally voiced his opinion, "The even stranger thing was how dense that reishi was. How did a child manage to accumulate such strength in only a few short years?"

Shinigami lived for centuries. The ability to grow came about over decades spent honing their power and skills. A twenty-two year old child having such a development was frightening. Everyone at the table knew that the soul grew fastest when it faced termination, so that meant the scars the boy accumulated were only the tip of the iceberg. Yoruichi thought for a moment before speaking, "Kisuke developed a risky procedure that forces your zanpakutō to appear. If you can manage to defeat it within a period of three days, you can unlock your bankai." The captains had a brief moment of shock before Shunsui started chuckling.

"Of course he did. That crazy kid can think up anything, can't he?"

"Just don't let him hear you say that," Yoruichi warned. "His ego is inflated enough." Isshin let out a small laugh, his dark brown eyes glittering in the setting sun. Raising his cup to take another sip of sake he relished the slow trickling burn as it went down his throat.

"What was the risk behind the technique?" Isshin asked casually, drawing the attention back to a fidgeting Yoruichi.

"If you fail to subjugate your zanpakutō in time you will never be able to acquire it or more likely, you'll die. The strain of maintaining your spirit is so great that it fractures the bond between the spirit and wielder. You'd be better off dying than being unable to commune with your inner soul."

"I take back what I said," Kyoraku teased. "Kisuke's an idiot." Yoruichi laughed, smacking a hand onto the table.

"That's what I tell him every day!"

The captains spent another hour sharing gossip and drinking, enjoying spending time together amongst friends. With promises made to do so again soon, Shunsui slipped out the door first on his trip back to his division. Jūshirō clenched a fist in annoyance holding the bill. He did it again, slipping away without paying. Perhaps he'll drop by the eighth division tomorrow to drop extra mandatory paperwork that needs a captain's signature of approval. Lisa would make sure he did the work. Letting out a small smile at his planned revenge Jūshirō started whistling on his own walk back to the thirteenth squad barracks to rest.

Bleary, warm brown eyes opened as swaying hair created an itch on his forehead. Brushing his orange locks to the side, Ichigo sat up blocking his eyes from the sun that shined brightly throughout his inner-world. The conditions of the world revolved upon his own mental state. When he is drowning in despair the world fills with rain and creates an endless ocean, when he is determined to follow his goals, the buildings tower over everything, with its glass glittering in warm rays of the sun.

Ichigo rubbed his head for a moment trying to piece together why he was in here. He didn't remember entering jinzen, a technique that allows a shinigami to enter their inner world, nor did he remember much of the previous day.

"What happened?" He thought suppressing a groan. "Come on Ichigo, retrace your steps: I woke up to Goat-chin screaming out his usual morning welcome during my visit back home at the clinic, then had breakfast with Karin and Yuzu, Goat-chin left early to meet Ryūken about an complication with a patient he had late the previous night, Orihime had wanted to stay over but was pulled away by Tatsuki about having a shopping day, then just after lunch I received a call from Urahara reminding me about the memorial/anniversary celebration for the end of the Blood War with the quincy, leaving my body to rush over to Kisuke's shoten I found a blushing Orihime staring at a box in her lap, she said about it being for later that night, and sneaking a peek into the box when she was speaking to Yoruichi I saw a set of white lace lingerie, Yoruichi collapsed laughing at my expression before I hurried down to Urahara's secret hatch to head over to the Soul Society with Orihime, everything started out normal during the trip before suddenly Orihime tripped towards the restrictive current. She quickly created a shield to act as a barrier but the wall seemed to shudder when it came into contact. Her abilities acted around rejection, and Dad said that time was a lot slower in the dangai. The wall was about to swallow Orihime before I rushed in just managing to push her out of the way. Suddenly the cleaner came bursting out of the wall. Orihime created another shield around me just as I was sucked into the cleaner, and then everything was hazy. It felt like my body was splitting apart before instantly repairing. It must have been his hollowfied zanpakutō-"

Ichigo paused. Why couldn't he say the name of his zanpakutō? They had been fighting together for years. He finally felt at peace within himself. The stability of his Quincy abilities mixed with his hollow powers while being held in check because of his shinigami heritage. The months spent under Hachi's and Tessai's tutelage in trying to suppress his reiatsu, which required well beyond a herculean effort. Searching for the familiar warmth, Ichigo was startled to find his reserves practically empty.

"What the hell did the cleaner do to me?" Ichigo thought. He couldn't see or sense any presence of his inner spirits at the moment.

"They'll be back," he assured himself. "I just need to get enough reiatsu for them to materialize here." Ichigo glanced up at the flagpole that his quincy spirit would usually stand on and took a deep breath to gather his courage before his consciousness retreated out of his inner world. Just before he left, Ichigo swore he saw a mirage of two figures standing side by side offering him a shadowy smile.

The first thing Ichigo noticed as he awoke was the pain. It felt like he went a couple dozen rounds as Kenpachi Zaraki's sparring partner without the use of his own sword, then run over by truck, and then having Yammy in his unreleased form belly flop on top of him. He gasped out in shallow pants looking around the room. It seemed like he was in the squad 4 healing ward. So he made it out after all.

"Rukia is probably going to come over soon to kick my ass for being late to the celebration," Ichigo thought. Looking down at the bandages that wrapped around his body, Ichigo thought he almost looked like a mummy. Clenching his hands and wiggling his toes, Ichigo was happy to realize that he hadn't lost any limbs during his trip of being run over by the cleaner.

His attention was grabbed as a silver haired woman wearing a lieutenant's badge slid open the shoji door carrying a metal bowl filled with more bandages. She looked startled at seeing him sitting up.

"Oh, you're awake. Captain Unohana wasn't expecting you to wake up for another couple days given the state of your injuries." Isane Kotetsu explained with a smile splitting her face.

Ichigo froze for a moment. Unohana? She was dead. Kenpachi said he killed her when he was fighting against her to acquire his bankai; and to settle their old feud from a thousand years ago when they left each other with scars as a reminder of their fight. The day Yachiru Kenpachi gave up her title and became a healer under the tutelage under Tenjirō Kirinji before he joined the Zero Squad, also known as the Royal Guard, to protect the Soul King. Was this a dream? Had he been put under an illusion or was he hallucinating? Pinching his arm, Ichigo concluded that he wasn't dreaming, so that meant either he was in an illusion, or perhaps there was an imposter? Or that cleaner did something to him? Ichigo shelved those thoughts temporarily to answer Isane,

"Well my father always said we were too stubborn to die or lie around waiting to get better."

"My, my," a voice sounded out causing both occupants to jump at the intrusion. "I hope you didn't mean you were about to get up from bed and leave without my permission," Captain Unohana said with closed eyes and a sickeningly sweet smile on her face tilting her head to the side with her palm on her cheek.

"No ma'am," Ichigo squeaked out. What the hell, he can battle against an impossibly strong enemy like the Quincy King Juha Bach, with his completely bullshit ability to see every possible future which allows him to pick and choose whatever outcome he desired, but he was still terrified of the woman standing by his bedside.

"Good," she said, still smiling. "I much prefer patients who are cooperative. I would hate to have to discipline such a handsome child like you." Ichigo twitched at the comment of being subjected to whatever Unohana called discipline. He also blushed slightly at the handsome comment. He had started dating Orihime only the year before, so he was still unused to praise from the opposite sex. However, being called a child certainly annoyed Ichigo. He had fought in two wars, responsible for defeating the masterminds behind both of them, and still came out intact. He was even stronger for it. Until now that is bringing a frown to Ichigo's face.

"Captain, what happened to my reiatsu? It feels like a spark compared to my usual reserves." She grabbed a chair and sat beside his bed.

"You appeared from a portal in the middle of a captain's meeting from an anomaly in the dangai. Your exit seems to have regressed your body by a few years. Somehow all of the wounds you've acquired in the last few years reopened all at once. It took me almost the entire first night healing the wound around your waist. The slash cut through many of your internal organs. Your stomach was cut open and your stomach acid only aggravated even more of your wounds. While I have healed the damage, you will be unable to eat solid food for another three days. I will be administering yet another healing session in a few hours to treat the rest of your wounds."

Unohana paused for a moment before she said, "You have been in my care for three days. I would appreciate it if you did not undo all of my hard work by reopening them," she paused deliberately, "again," she said with a smile. "As for your earlier question though," she said, bringing Ichigo's attention back as he internally forgot his question at the shock of what had happened to him whilst he was unconscious, "Your soul was being rejected by time. Your reiatsu acted as a barrier to protect you and as a result, you've been reduced back to a state where you have only the strength of a high plus soul. However, that brings me to my question," she said, turning even more serious. At her gesture, Isane finished with her task and left the room to leave the two alone.

"Who are you?" Unohana asked. Ichigo's dread skyrocketed. Ever since Unohana and Kotetsu stepped into the room, she showed no sense of familiarity. While they hadn't exactly been friends, Ichigo was still someone who had gotten along with Kotetsu, she had even insisted on being called Isane. Ichigo wasn't stupid despite what Ishida, the midget, or anyone else who called him an idiot would say, he still came in the top 30 in the school rankings before graduating high school while still fighting against hollows and through a war. He was still in the middle of Med-school before he found himself waking up in the healing ward. All of the evidence came together for him to conclude a few outcomes: one, he arrived in a parallel world through the dangai, two, he somehow arrived in the past, or three, he was erased from the minds of everyone in Soul Society. He didn't know what outcome would be the worst off, dealing with those old friends of Rukia with the parasite-hybrid-hollow-scythe thing really sucked. The entire Gotei 13 went back to calling him a ryoka and tried to kill or capture him.

"My name is Ichigo," He finally revealed to the best healer in Soul Society. "Before I answer any more questions though, may I ask one in return?" he asked. She tilted her head in acknowledgement. "Is Yama-jii still the head captain?" Unohana looked at him oddly for the question. "Yes, Yamamoto-dono is still the captain commander, as he has been for almost the last 2,000 years," She said. "2,000 years?" Ichigo thought. "That means I'm still relatively close to when I left. Just to make sure though," he paused before asking aloud, "What year is it exactly?"

"I am not sure of the exact date, but I know the Edo period started over 150 years ago," Unohana said.

""150 years," she said," Ichigo thought. "That means the year is somewhere between 1750 to 1800. That's 200 years before I was born! I really did travel through time! The only question left is this my earth… er Soul Society?"

"Now Ichigo, can you please recount to me how you ended up here? What happened in the dangai?" Ichigo explained how he and his friend Orihime had been traveling through the senkaimon before Orihime touched the restrictive current with her power of rejection, the dangai identified her as a danger and reacted by sending the cleaner after them. Ichigo was enveloped in her shield as it ran over him. The combination between rejecting damage and the cleaner's properties caused a chain reaction sending him here.

"I see," Unohana said. "Why were you coming to Soul Society?" Ichigo fidgeted at the question. If he revealed that he was coming to support Rukia as she mourned for captain Ukitake and to celebrate the defeat of Juha Bach and the Wandenreich, he didn't know what that could do to the future. What possible repercussions would happen if he told the Gotei 13 about the Quincy, and then the Quincy decided to attack early before many of the captains were strong enough to face off against them. What would happen to him if his parents never met? If Isshin never went to Karakura to defeat that hollow and thus be saved by Masaki? What if Aizen never experimented on that hollow White? Would Ichigo get hollow powers?

Ichigo's powers are a trinity that feed and fuel each other. His quincy powers draw in reishi, his shinigami powers act as a filter and turn it into reiatsu, and his hollow side devours it. They were what allowed Ichigo to bridge the gap in power and skill to Juha Bach. Taking a deep breath, Ichigo realized he didn't really have much of a choice. Unohana was treating him because she was a healer and upheld her beliefs in healing anyone that needed it. However, that was all she was offering. He would get no protection from her or the Gotei 13, much less the Central 46 should they learn of him. That caused another bout of worry within him. Ichigo had hollow powers, something that the current government punished with the death penalty. For the first time since he awoke in the hospital, Ichigo was glad he lost his powers, it made it difficult for everyone to determine his true nature. Ichigo also just didn't want to lie. Not only was he also a terrible liar according to Hat-n-clogs, but he just didn't like the thought of lying to those who would be his closest friends in another two centuries.

After the war, Ichigo came to visit Shunsui for lessons in dual wielding whenever the new captain commander had time. While Shunsui did become more mature in doing his duties, it most certainly didn't mean he wasn't willing to pass on his paperwork to someone else if a "reasonable" excuse was offered to him. And beating Ichigo's ass into the dirt over and over again until he was deemed acceptable in Shunsui's eyes was a reasonable excuse should anyone dare question the two. Well, he would actually tell them that he was ensuring Soul Society's future by training someone who would become a powerful captain one day, but…semantics.

Having finally gathered the courage, Ichigo said, "Unohana, while I wouldn't mind telling you, can you give me your word that you won't tell anyone else?" She somehow stared at Ichigo intently without opening her eyes before she said, "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I can't. I can keep your medical history private should you wish, but I am obligated to reveal anything that would threaten the Soul Society," She said, frowning.

"It's fine if you tell Yama-jii, all I ask is that you don't tell Central 46," Ichigo insisted. Unohana's eyes opened a crack to bore into his eyes, judging him for a moment before closing them once again and then letting out a genuine, small smile. She offered a nod.

"I am from 200 years in the future," he said. If Unohana was shocked, she didn't show it. "I was coming over to visit Rukia, uh she's Byakuya Kuchiki's adopted sister, she was promoted to be squad 13's new captain after Jūshirōu died during the war."

Unohana tensed at his words. Shunsui and Ukitake were the first students who had graduated from the academy and become captains. While they were Yamamoto's apprentices, Unohana had also gotten to know them very well over the centuries, especially once they started overseeing their own divisions. To hear that he was going to no, had died, felt crushing. She thought of all the times he and Shunsui would come barging into her office bemoaning their treatment from training under the head captain. Sometimes they'd come boasting about who had gotten the new technique they were learning first, sometimes trading playful barbs, insults, and backhanded compliments, and sometimes just to check in with her when she had spent far too many hours healing injuries, from idiotic shinigami who believed they were immortal, to just relax for the three to enjoy a nice cup of tea together.

"We were supposed to pay our respects and then join up with some other friends of mine at this nice bar out in the northern 2nd district. We've gone there every year to destress and… just appreciate being alive, I guess. Then I usually catch up with Kukaku and Ganju to tell them about my younger sisters." Unohana watched as his voice and features softened from his usual scowl into a sweet smile. She could see his sisters meant the world to him.

"Captain," Ichigo's voice wavered. "What am I supposed to do?"

"It looks like the realization of being 200 years in the past was finally settling in,'' Unohana noted in her head. She had to handle this gently. Landing centuries in the past was daunting for anyone, much less a child only 22 years old.

"Ichigo, I don't really have a satisfying answer I can give you but, know if there is anything you want to talk to me about, my door will be open to you. There will be a difficult journey ahead for you and I can't give you any guarantees, but know I will do what I can. The Gotei 13 still sees you as an enemy. If they are to change their minds, we have to give them something. Why don't we begin with you telling me about your family? Who were your parents? Can you describe them to me?" She asked warmly.

Ichigo closed his eyes. The thoughts of his mother were a mix of love, guilt, and regret. Knowing the one responsible for her death wasn't some weak, sadistic, weasel hollow called Grand Fisher, who she would have destroyed without a second thought, but the two egomaniacs who threatened the balance, Sōsuke Aizen and Juha Bach.

"My mother's name was Masaki Kurosaki. I inherited my hair color from her, you know," Ichigo's voice was only slightly tinged with grief, but the fondness in his voice was unmistakable. "She was the center of our world. I was nine when she saved me from a hollow; she took the blow made for me. I was knocked unconscious and when I woke up she was lying over me. She was still protecting me even after death." Ichigo's eyes were glimmering with unshed tears. Ichigo had felt responsible for her death for almost a decade, even knowing her murderers were in the ground didn't suddenly absolve him from that feeling.

"She had this smile that lit up the room whenever she walked in. Both of my parents were doctors who'd treat anyone that walked into the clinic. Even if the patient's couldn't pay they'd try to find some way they could make it up. She was one of the few surviving pure-blooded quincy left. My father on the other hand, is someone you are probably very familiar with. Who is the most annoying captain you have to deal with?" Ichigo asked with a grin.

"Isshin Shiba," Unohana said without missing a beat. A mischievous chuckle was in her voice. "Captain Shiba is your father?" Ichigo cracked a smirk that someone else agreed that he was one of the most infuriating people to deal with.

"Yeah. I wouldn't exactly call him the best dad, he was always better with my sisters, but he was there when it mattered. After my mom died, he was always joking around trying to get us to smile. He would come running up the stairs in the morning screaming for me to wake up and kick me out of bed if I was too slow to react. I lost track of the amount of times my window had to be replaced after he flew through it."

"It sounds like he won't change at all in the next two centuries," she sighed. "I was hoping he would mature a bit, but alas, my wish was in vain." There was a slight pause before they both chuckled at her overdramatics.

"Ichigo," she asked, "What happened to Captain Ukitake? You said something about wars. Who were we fighting?"

"Juha Bach," Ichigo said gravely. "The king and father of all quincy. He performed some technique that drew Mimigami out of his body up to the King's Realm. He absorbed it into himself and it seemed there was nothing I could do… he was so strong. Everything I threw at him was either shrugged off, missed, or absorbed. He grew more powerful with every quincy slain."

For the next few hours Ichigo spoke about the Winter War against Aizen and his Espada creations, and the Thousand Year Blood War against the Wandenreich. The sun was beginning to set when Unohana had finally decided to let Ichigo rest. Collapsing back into his pillows, Ichigo fell asleep from the physical exertion of speaking all day and the emotional roller coaster about finally saying it out loud. He realized that to someone else, his actions might have been seen as admirable or foolish depending on who's asking, but Ichigo always tried to follow his heart in his decisions. There was a relief in revealing his struggles to Unohana because she had such an unflappable attitude and didn't jump to conclusions or judge his actions harshly.

Unohana strolled in the direction of the first division to speak to Yamamoto. His reiatsu, burning hot but excellently suppressed, was a balm to the healer as she arrived in his office. Yamamoto was sitting behind his desk sipping a cup of tea made by his attentive lieutenant Chojuro finishing the last few reports on his desk. A large stack of completed papers was on the edge of his desk to be sorted and delivered the next morning.

Unohana sat down at his prompting, relaxing into the opposite chair awaiting him to finish his report. His office was sparsely decorated, but also had a soothing quality. The top half walls were painted a soft blue and wood lined the bottom half of the room.

"Do you trust him?" Yamamoto started, asking Unohana.

"Yes, Ichigo Kurosaki, son of Isshin Shiba, age 22, born July 15," she paused, "1985." Yamamoto's bushy brow rose high on his forehead.

"You believe him? That he is from the future?"

"I asked him many questions about various captains and their personal lives. He also knows many secrets we buried centuries ago. Either he is the best intelligence gatherer, or he's telling the truth."

"Someone else could have accumulated the knowledge and passed it on to him," Yamamoto disagreed. "Did you activate the kido?" He asked.

Unohana retrieved from her pocket a device created from a mix of technology and kido that could record sound. She had turned it on the moment she sat down at Ichigo's bedside. With a not small amount of guilt she played the conversation back for the head captain to listen to. After listening to his tale, the captains agreed it would be foolish to disregard everything he said, but would take it with a grain of salt. They would do their best to make preparations for the coming war, but they couldn't take Ichigo's words at face value, regardless of his good intentions.

"We'll keep a rotation of guards to watch him. Until he proves his worth, I won't trust him. Edit the recording to only mention the parts of war and his parentage. We'll have another captain's meeting to discuss this tomorrow," Yamamoto ordered. "Get some rest, Retsu." Sharing a weary smile they looked into a quiet corner of the ceiling. Standing up before delivering a swift bow, Unohana finally retired back to her rooms for the night.

Yamamoto also stood to his feet, walking to observe out the window as the stars peeked through the night's cloudy sky. The knowledge he learned that night was indeed a worrying one. It was not his death that Ichigo spoke of that caused his anxiety, but knowing that Soul Society had, would come, to be almost destroyed by the very man he sealed away over eight centuries ago.

"Did you enjoy eavesdropping on our conversation Captain Shihōin?" Slinking down from the ceiling, the petite captain let out a sheepish grin.

"Eavesdropping would imply that you both didn't know I was there," Yoruichi countered. Letting out a huff Yamamoto turned to face the Princess of the Onmitsukido.

"You know," Yoruichi began, "Once the Shibas learn Ichigo is their blood, he'll be under their protection. You know how they view family. After all, the Gotei 13 is unable to interfere with the affairs of the Five Great Noble Families." Yamamoto remained silent, shifting his gaze to once more look out the window.

"Can you keep an eye on him should this come to pass? I can't order you given your nobility, but nothing says you can't spend time around the boy. He's dangerous."

"Yachiru Unohana, the first Kenpachi was dangerous, and yet she eventually became the greatest healer in soul society. She transformed the fourth division into a true healing division instead of simple patch job medics running around without a clue. You think he's a bigger gamble than you asking the most notorious criminal to become a founding captain?"

"I think that his mindset of only helping those he cares about is dangerous," Yamamoto corrected. "He's a headstrong individual who refused to follow orders and it endangered the balance. He let his personal feelings get in the way of the job and it was the world that almost had to pay the price."

"You say that, and yet it seems like nothing was ever properly explained to Ichigo. You heard him, we led him around like a dog with a treat in front of his nose, all we had to do was point and he took off without thinking about what dangers it would entail. Make no mistake, we are responsible for what he went through. He was given the bare minimum of information and training all because he wasn't a "true" shinigami," she said with a sneer.

Given her occupation, she was meant to keep secrets, but not telling essential information to a soldier going into battle is the same as giving the enemy a loaded weapon and hoping they don't fire it.

"Just do what you can," Yamamoto conceded. Vanishing in a shunpo Yoruichi left the office.

"Why do I feel like this boy will be the cause of the greatest headache I'll ever have?" With a quiet sigh, the head captain rubbed his temples before making his own preparations for bed.