Author Notes:

Welcome to my second Fan Fiction. I hope you all enjoy it as much as you have my previous story. This story takes place in the world of Bleach and deals with Ichigo's journey through life after death. The story takes place after the defeat of Aizen, Touzen, and Gin at the hands of Ichigo's team.

You'll have to read the story to find out more. The first chapter sets the stage for the story quite well so you should all get a good idea of the plot from this.

So without further delay, I hope you enjoy Life After Death

Life After Death

Chapter One: To start a new life

By Cybergades

Ichigo lay on the grass beside the river taking short raspy breaths and trying desperately to cling to life in the hope that somebody would find him. His strong headed and loud mouth nature had got him into more trouble then he was prepared for this time and he cursed himself for it.

He had survived countless battles with Hollows, a war with the most powerful shinigami soul society had ever produced, and numerous battles with varying level arrancars and yet after all of that he was going to be done in by a damn human. Shot through the chest because of his big mouth and his protective nature of his dear friend's grave.

He could feel the end coming now and knew it would not be long before the long night claimed his mortal body and essentially ending his human life and leaving him to his Shinigami Life once and for all. His mind began to race over thoughts of the past, over his friends and family, all those that he would leave behind and the life that he would be giving up and as the darkness took him his thoughts were with his family and friends and the pain that they would suffer at his loss.

Rukia had been searching Kakakura for nearly an hour for Ichigo and there was simply no sign of him. She had just returned from Soul society after spending nearly a year there and had wanted to visit with her old friend. She had spent less then 4 months time in the real world since the death of Orihime. She had reached the Kurosaki household only to find out that Ichigo had been gone all day. She had checked all his usual spots and then remembered that he had mentioned to her on his last visit that he enjoyed visiting his friends' grave.

He had buried her beside the river where his mother had died because she had always said she enjoyed sitting on the hill and watching the stars from that spot. He had thought she would have been happy resting there and so he had placed her grave there for all those to see. The young warrior had died a few years back during their raid on Hueco Mundo to kill Aizen and the other traitors. She had gone with Ichigo while the others had split up to take separate routes and when the fighting had started she had sacrificed herself to save him.

Ichigo had never forgiven himself for her death. He was convinced that it should have been him that had died and not her. That if he had just fought a little harder that she would have lived. He hadn't quite been the same since that mission although things had gotten better recently. They had succeeded in the end and Ichigo himself had struck the killing blow to Aizen but not before torturing him for hours. Rukia and Renji had entered the throne room to find Ichigo standing over Aizen and slowly killing him in the most painful way he could think of.

The former Soul Society captain was begging for a release but Ichigo refused. He removed limbs, butchered his body and after what seemed like an eternity of torture finally finished with by taking of the corrupt captains head. They had been so busy watching Ichigo that they had failed to see the body of their friend of comrade lying off to the side with a large sword wound through the chest. Rukia had been the first to notice it and suddenly Ichigo's actions made sense.

They had given their friend a soul burial and sent her to soul society where she still resided. Ichigo had refused to hear any news about their friend and had effectively cut his ties with the blond haired young women claiming that he did not deserve her friendship. He had not been back to soul society since. He had committed himself fully to eliminating the increasing number of hollows who were making attacks on the real world and had essentially separated himself from his friends.

Even when they managed to get him to come out with them he seemed to be somewhere else. He was always so distant and just didn't seem to have the same spark in him that he had once possessed. Things had gotten better over the years and now he was basically back to his normal self although there were days like today where he would revert back to his old ways and would hide out from the world, lost in his thoughts.

Rukia suddenly stopped as she heard a scream from just around the corner that seemed strangely familiar to her. The screams slowly turned into sobs and chocked words that she could not quite understand. She was almost positive that it was Ichigo's friend Tatsuki. She couldn't remember ever hearing the girl cry before except for when she had found Orihime that day in Hueco Mundo. But what could she possibly be crying about now.

Rukia suddenly realized where she was and began to get a sickening feeling in her stomach. Tatsuki had gotten much closer to Ichigo after Orihime's death and they had become great friends again. Rukia began to walk faster before breaking into a dead run. She quickly rounded the corner only to come to a screeching halt at the scene in front of her.

A single tear began to run down Rukia's cheek followed closely by a second, and then a third. After a moment she had a steady stream of tears running down her cheeks. Tatsuki was kneeled down on the ground, and was clutching the body of a bloody orange haired boy who could only be Ichigo. The boy had hole in his shirt and there was a large pool of blood beneath the pair. Rukia didn't need to get any closer to know that it was already too late to heal him. She could feel the bonds between body and soul breaking apart within him. It would only be a matter of minutes before his Shinigami spirit broke free from his dead body and when that happened he would never be able to go back to his life again.

Rukia slowly walked over to her friends and kneeled beside the sobbing young girl before taking her in her arms and trying to calm her broken heart. That was twice in the past couple of years that she had lost her closest friend. And while she knew they were both alive in spirit form it did little to alleviate the pain that she felt for their loss.

The police and ambulance arrived minutes later only to pronounce Ichigo dead at the scene. After an hour of questioning they were released. Rukia had left with Tatsuki to take her home and put her to bed. The poor girl was devastated and could barely walk by herself. After getting Tatsuki home safely Rukia switched to her Shinigami form and returned to the riverside to retrieve Ichigo's soul. She rounded the corner once more and found Ichigo lying on the grass right where he had died. His eyes were closed, his hands were at his sides, and he seemed to be at piece. She felt a pang of sorrow for her long time friend. He could never again return to the life which he had lost. His physical body was dead and so his choices were limited. Rukia Slowly gathered him up and returned to his home. She entered through the window as she always did and then walked down stairs to inform his family of the news.

She had told the police that she was a good friend of the family and wanted to tell them herself to try and lessen the blow. They had relented and allowed her this task. Rukia slowly approached the family who were just sitting down for dinner. Her head hung low, tears in her eyes, she stopped a few feet from the table and suddenly she felt their eyes on her.

Rukia raised her head slowly and meet the eyes of a his friends eldest sister. Karin stared at Rukia's face for a moment before her cheeks began to streak with tears. She shook her head back and forth repeating the same thing over and over. "No, No, it's not possible. NO" and with that she ran to her room crying. Yuzu, being the younger of Ichigo's two sisters took a moment to realize just what was going on. When she finally figured it out however she just stared blankly at Rukia and began rocking back and forth, slowly repeating her brothers name as her father wrapped her in his arms.

Over the next few hours Rukia talked with the family about what she knew and explained that while his physical body was dead that his Shinigami spirit still lived. She explained what the complexities and consequences of this were and was about to begin to discuss the options they had at this point when they heard a crash from upstairs. Rukia turned and rushed for the door of Ichigo's room. He had awoken sooner that she thought. The death of his body would have been quite the trauma on his soul. It would take him a while to regain his strength.

Ichigo awoke in his room later that evening to the sound of sobbing in the room next door to his. He instinctively moved to go to his little sister when he realized it was very difficult to move at all. He felt oddly tired and weak and his mind was fuzzy. He was having a hard time remembering what had happened, how had he got here, why was he in his Death God robes. A few moments later his mind began to clear, and his memories came to him in waves that threatened to overcome him with a sense of loss. He clenched his teeth and closed his hand so tight that he began to draw blood from his palm. He slowly began to run through the events that lead him to his current situation.

Ichigo sat on the edge of the river bank beside his friends' grave. It had been years since he had seen or talked to her. It was his own choice of course. He had chosen to separate himself from her after the incident that had caused her death and by the time he realized what a mistake he had made he felt that he had no right to ask for her friendship again after abandoning her so easily.

Ichigo sighed as he laid some flowers along the bottom of the grave stone and began to speak. "Yo! It's been a while since I've been here Orihime and I'm sorry for that. I'll be sure to make it up to you. It's been so hard without you here. We all miss you but I think I miss you the most. I just can't believe that I let you die like that and then I walked away as if nothing happened when you needed me the most. I just don't know what to do these days. I just don't think I can live a normal life knowing what I know now. I don't think I could ever fall in love and have kids. I would always be afraid of the hollows coming for them because of me. Oh how I wish I could talk to you now Orihime. You always knew just what to say to cheer me up."

Ichigo stared up at the sun and began to think back on all the times that they had spent together, the adventures they had gone on, and then the faithful mission that had ended her life. He was suddenly brought out of his thoughts by the sounds of a group of drunken punks stumbling along the river bank. The continued to walk along the bank, not paying attention to what they were doing until the larger of the 3 stepped right on the flowers that Ichigo had just laid down.

Ichigo jumped to his feet and pounded the guy in the face sending him flying backwards. "Oi! What the hell do you think you're doing? This is my friends grave you just stepped on you bastard." Yelled Ichigo. The thug slowly got to his feet and then threw his beer bottle at the grave stone chipping the corner and spraying beer and glass all over the stone. "That's what I think of your friends' grave." Sneered the Thug before getting up in Ichigo's face. "What are you going to do about it you orange haired freak."

Ichigo growled at the man before punching him in the face again and starting a brawl with all three of them. The fight last all of a few minutes and in the end Ichigo was standing above the three thugs who were bloody and broken on the ground. He turned his attention towards the larger of the three again as he climbed to his feet and was just about to pound him into the ground again to prove a point when the thug pulled a gun. "You little shit, this will teach you to fuck with me." And pulled the trigger.

Ichigo's eyes went wide first with shock, then pain as he felt the bullet rip through him and out the other side. He stumbled backgrounds a few steps before falling beside Orihime's grave and slowly bleeding out. He could barely breathe, he couldn't move, and he couldn't speak. He watched as the three punks walked off laughing, leaving him to die and he cursed himself for his stupidity.

Ichigo stubbornly sat up in bed despite his bodies protests and forced his legs over the side. He was going to go to his sister even if it killed him. He forced as much strength as he could into his legs and stood up. It took him less then a second to realize it had been a bad idea as his legs gave out and he began to fall forward in slow motion. His body felt incredibly weak and he couldn't bring his arms out to brace for the impact. A second later he slammed into the ground, knocking over various items from his desk which slammed and smashed onto the ground.

A few moments later his door flew open and Rukia rushed into the room to his side. He cursed his luck. How could he be so damn weak that he couldn't even stand on his own to feet. Once again he tried to force himself to return to his feet only this time he was forced to stop by Rukia. "Lay still Ichigo. You don't have the strength to move on your own, your only hurting yourself." She chided gently.

Ichigo gritted his teeth and screamed at Rukia. "Leave me the hell alone. I don't need your help. I got myself into this mess and I can take care of myself so screw off." Rukia stared in shock at her friend before recommitting herself. He was hurt, upset because he already knew what had happened and as a Shinigami he knew what it meant. She grabbed his arm while Ichigo's father grabbed the other.

They slowly raised him up off the floor and put him back in his bed while he struggled vainly to escape them. He suddenly stopped his struggling and Rukia turned around to see what he was staring at. There in the door way were his too sisters. Tears in their eyes as they stared at their brothers form. In a few seconds they were across the room and crying in his lap as they clung to him for dear life.

Ichigo sat in his bed, holding his sisters and whispering in the ears to try and calm them down. It was not often that Rukia saw this side of him but she knew that he cared deeply for them. Ichigo brushed a stray tear from his face before looking up at his father and then to his comrade. He knew that the fact that he was currently in his Shinigami form meant that his body had died on that riverbank which meant that his life as he knew it was gone. There was nothing else he could do here. He would only have so many choices now and regardless of what he chose he would never be able to see his friends again, he would never be able to return to the life he knew.

Sure he could stay with his family, they would let him live there, they would feed him, and keep him company. His friends that knew his secret would still come around and he could continue being a shinigami here on earth. But when all was said and done he was still dead, as far as the world was concerned Kurosaki Ichigo had died today on the side of the river bank from a bullet to the chest. Even with a gigai he could never live a normal life. He would never be able to get a job, or marry; he would never be able to be part of his family. He was dead to the world and that limited his choices extensively.

He was brought out of his own thoughts as his father began to speak. "Ichigo… You know that you are welcome to stay here. You will always have a place in our home and our hearts. But you can never return to a normal life. I'm sorry my son." And with that he fell silent. Rukia was the next to speak up. "Ichigo, your place is in soul society now. They have been asking for your help for years and I'm sure that you would still be welcome with open arms. You more then anybody know that this war is far from over. Aizen was able to create an army of Arrancar before we killed him and their numbers have been growing much faster then they used to and they have been getting more aggressive over the past year." She paused for a moment before adding. "Soul Society is still short on Captains. We were able to replace Gin and Touzen but the Fifth division still needs a Capitan. You are more then qualified for that position Ichigo."

Ichigo stared into Rukia's eyes before replying. "Your right, my life here is finished and it's time that I accept that. But I'm not strong enough to do anything yet. Let me at least stay here until I regain my strength. I want time to say goodbye to my friends and family. And who knows, maybe I can even attend my own funeral. Wouldn't that be weird? All joking aside, when my strength returns we can leave for Soul Society. Now if you two don't mind I would like to spend some time which my sisters." And with that he turned his attention back to his two sisters who continued to cry silently into his robes as they hugged him close.

Rukia nodded and turned to leave but stopped to add one more thing to her previous comments. "It should take you a few weeks to get your strength back Ichigo. I have to return to Soul Society and inform them what has transpired here today. I'll return in 3 weeks. Take that time to put your life, or what's left of it in order. I'm sorry things had to turn out this way Ichigo. I truly am." Having finished what she wanted to say, she left the room and headed back to Tatsuki's house to grab her gigai before heading back to Soul Society.

The next three weeks went by quickly and without incident. Ichigo spent the majority of his time split between his two sisters and his best friend Tatsuki. The three of them seemed to take the news the hardest. Tatsuki at least knew that she would see Ichigo again fairly often as the team would be making trips to Soul Society on a regular basis to continue relations between the warriors of earth and the Shinigami of Soul Society. And of course there was always the times that they would fight together side by side that she was sure would happen again in the future. Despite all of this she was going to miss him terribly. Knowing that he would be leaving so soon made it even worse. Every time he would go to leave for home she would say good bye and then cry herself to sleep after he left. She wasn't sure how she would get through this without him. He had saved her from her sorrow when Orihime died, who was going to save her now.

And so here Ichigo sat on the last day of his vacation as he had come to think of it. A vacation from both his lives and at the end of this vacation he would only return to one. He looked over his room one last time to ensure that he had gathered up everything that was most important to him. He had packed a few pieces of clothing that he thought he could not live with out and left the rest behind as it would be useless in Soul Society. He packed his most precious pictures, one of his mothers, one of his family, one of him, Tatsuki, and Orihime at the local fair, and one of all his friends huddled together on his last birthday. He did one final run through of the room he had lived in his whole life and walked out the door closing it for the last time behind him.

Ichigo walked down the stairs to the living room, set down his bag in the hallway and looked around the room. The house had been busy today. The clinic had been closed for the day as the family and all his closest friends showed up to have one last bash to see off their good friend. Looking around the room he took in the familiar faces intently as if trying to etch them into his mind for all eternity. On the left there was the tallest of the group, Chad was standing still with his normal emotionless expression, and he nodded once when they meet eyes before Ichigo continued on. Next to Chad was Tatsuki, tears still in her eyes as they had been every time he had seen her for the last 3 weeks. He felt sorry for her, it had been him to provide her with the strength she needed when Orihime died, and he hoped that she would be able to turn to their friends for support this time.

Beside Tatsuki stood Ishida looking for once as if he was worried about something other then himself. He had been pretty much self-centered since Orihime's death, but this time it looked like he was genuinely sorry to see another friend leave this world. And finally beside Ishida was Keigo who had become part of their team years earlier when Ichigo left to retrieve Orihime from Hueco Mundo.

On the opposite side of the room stood his family. His sisters looked a little sad still but they had at least stopped crying. Yuzu had worked hard all day to make sure that everything was just perfect for the party. Karin had acted rather girly for a change and really opened up with her brother seeing how it would be the last time she would see him for quite some time. His father had been strangely silent the whole 3 weeks while he recovered. No random attacks, no weird conversations with himself, no stupid comedic acts. He had acted like a normal father and had done his best to consol his daughters who were now all he had left.

Ichigo smiled brightly at his friends. "Oi, what's everybody look so shitty for. It's not like I'm never coming back. We'll see each other again. Let's just think of this as an extended vacation. I'm counting on all of you to keep things under control here. Soul Society may be helping out with the hollow problem here but this is our home, and it's our fight. Remember to show them who's turf their fighting on. Show them that we don't back down no matter the cost."

Ichigo looked around once more at his friends and smiled again as they all seemed to brighten up slightly at his little pep talk. For years they had followed him into the jaws of death and back again. From now on they would have to go forth alone. He wasn't worried though, they were the best human kind had to offer, they wouldn't let him down. He looked towards the middle of the room just as the gate to Soul Society began to open. Rukia stepped out followed closely by Renji and smiled at those gathered.

Rukia regarded Ichigo wearily and then spoke. "Are you ready to leave Ichigo?" she asked. He scowled at her and then replied. "As ready as I'll ever be. Let's get this show on the road." He walked back to the hallway and picked up his bag, looked across the room once more and then walked forward. He said goodbye to each of his friends, gave his sisters a big hug and his father a firm handshake before finally stopping at Tatsuki.

"I know you can make it through this Tatsuki. I may not be here to help you but the rest of our friends are. Don't let this beat you okay? Make sure you stay strong so that when we meet again you can show me how much you've grown. Good luck." And with that he crossed the rest of the distance to the gate, standing beside Renji and Rukia for a moment before casually stepping through. He didn't even look back. It was better that way. A moment later Rukia and Renji crossed the gate as well and the gate closed leaving Ichigo's friends and family standing alone in their thoughts and staring at the place they had last seen their dear friend and brother.

Ichigo emerged on the other side of the gate standing in the hall of a large building. He wasn't quite sure where he was, all these damn buildings looked the same to him anyways. He waited for a moment before Rukia and Renji joined him on the other side of the gate before turning around. "So where the hell are we guys. And what's next in my 'Oh so interesting' life." said Ichigo with sarcasm practically dripping off of the words.

Renji shook his head; this was the same old Ichigo. "We're currently at the head quarters of the 1st division. There's going to be a special meeting in a few minutes for all captains and vice-captains. It's to discuss your situation and determine what's going to happen with you next." Replied Renji in a casual tone as he began to walk down the hall.

Ichigo practically flipped. "You're telling me that in 3 bloody weeks you guys don't know shit yet. What the fuck?" yelled Ichigo as he chased after Renji with Rukia close behind, Rukia grabbed him by the arm and spun him around before he could clobber Renji. "Relax Ichigo. Everything is going to be fine. General Yamamoto has been reviewing your case with the captains for weeks. This meeting is just to announce their decision to you and to discuss the arrangements with you so that you know what's going on. It's not like we have been sitting on our asses doing nothing you baka." Chided Rukia as she shoved him forward again, getting him to follow Renji to the meeting room.

The continued to walk quickly down the halls, weaving this way and that until Ichigo was completely and utterly lost. Finally they came to a set of large doors which he presumed was their destination since both Rukia and Renji pushed by him to stand in front of the doors. They pushed open the doors and walked in with Ichigo following behind, standing tall and walking like he owned the place. it wouldn't do to come off as being weak in the presence of the most powerful shinigami's that Soul Society had to offer although he knew he could kick all of their asses 'except maybe that old dude at the front' thought Ichigo at the last moment.

Rukia took her place beside Captain Ukitake while Renji took his place beside Kira. For the first time since he had saw Renji he realized that he was wearing a captain's uniform. He smirked as he looked at his rival and then looked across the room. He spotted the other new Capitan and almost burst out laughing at the sight. There, standing lazily beside his vice captain whom Ichigo could not for the life of himself remember was Kisuke Urahara or Sandal Hat as he refereed to him commonly.

He held it in for a few moments before finally he broke out laughing. "Oh my god, now I have seen everything. Mr. high and mighty himself is back as a captain. Oh this is great. HAHAHAHA. Mr. 'I'm never going back to Soul Society even if they beg me'. I have never heard such a load of bullshit in my life. What a push over. HAHAHA…" and the taunts continued for a few moments while several other people in attendance smiled and held in giggles and laughs until finally the old man himself brought everybody to order.

"That is enough Kurosaki Ichigo. You can take some time afterwards to taunt your friends all you want but for the time being we have important matters to discuss." And with that everybody stood up straight again and looked towards their general. Ichigo stopped his taunting and looked towards the old man before standing up straight and putting his hands behind his to stand at attention.

Yamamoto looked over the room one more before brining the meeting to order. "Now that we are all here I bring this meeting to order. We are here today to discuss the position of Kurosaki Ichigo who from this day forth is now a full Shinigami. Kurosaki Ichigo, it has been decided that in 1 years time you shall become the captain of the 5th division. Until that time you're vice Captain Momo Hinamori will continue to run the daily operations of the division. It has been decided that during this year you shall attend the Academy and …" Yamamoto was unable to finish his sentence as Ichigo immediately spoke up upon hearing that he was expected to go to school.

"What the hell are you talking about; you want me to go to school to learn to be a Shinigami. Give me a break. I can run circles around everybody in this damn room and you know it old man. What could I possibly gain from going to your damn academy?" yelled Ichigo. Rukia was the first to speak. "Ichigo come on, give this a chance there is a perfectly good rea…" Rukia stopped when she felt Yamamoto raise his reiatsu. Ichigo looked back at the old man and looked eyes with the old general. "Now that I have your attention again I will continue to explain the reasoning behind your schooling." Said Yamamoto

"Currently you have no knowledge or formal training in the Demon Arts and could benefit from learning such things due to your unusually high reiatsu and ability to absorb information at an enhanced rate. However the more pressing reason for your attendance has nothing to do with your skill or knowledge and everything to do with your status as a ryoka. Many things have changed in Soul Society over the past several years where as previously nothing substantial had changed for hundreds of years. Once such thing is the acceptance of ryoka."

"Soul Society is used to things changing slowly over centuries not years. They are not prepared to be lead by one who they do not deem as their equal and they have not come to accept the ryoka as their equals as of yet. Those who know you and the other ryoka who fought along side you know of your power, they know you are worthy but that is a small percentage of the population of Soul Society."

"You have successfully lead people into battle before but those were people who trusted you and gave you their loyalty out of that trust. When you're a captain here you won't be leading friends who know you and know of your achievements. You'll be leading shinigami who may have never heard of you before much less worked with you. They will follow you out of respect for your position and status. As it stands now the other shinigami will look at you as just another ryoka. That standpoint will undermine your authority and could prove disastrous in a battle. By attending the academy you can build a reputation as being somebody that can be trusted and depended upon. You can give them something to think about you other then your status as a ryoka so that when you take your captainship perhaps they will be able to see past that status and see you as the powerful shinigami that you are. For that purpose a year seems like a small price to pay wouldn't you agree?" stated Yamamoto in a matter of fact tone of mine.

Ichigo clenched his teeth as he thought about what Yamamoto had just said. It was true; all of it but that didn't make it suck any less. He was going to have to go back to school again and it pissed him off to no end. "Whatever." Ichigo finally replied. Yamamoto took this to be a yes and decided to proceed. "The new term already started last week and as such it would not normally be possible for you to start until the next term started. Under the circumstances it is necessary for you to have a sponsor that can use his or her family's power to push you through into the academy as it would be suspicious if the order were to come directly from me or one of the other captains."

"A sponsor is responsible for the progress and status of the student they sponsor and as such it is normal for the sponsor to be somebody who has a past or a future with you. Seeing as how you have a past with Kuchiki Rukia it has been agreed that the Kuchiki family shall sponsor you and that Rukia will be the one to check up on you on a regular basis. She will also be made available to help you get settled into your routine and show you what is expected of you as an academy student."

"Rukia will explain the details to you but you should be aware that it is within our best interest that the student population remain unaware of who you really are. As such you will not be allowed to carry your soul slayer with you around the campus. You will be provided with

"If there is nothing else then I call this meeting to a close. Ichigo I expect you to commit yourself to this training and integrate with the student body as best you can. It is important that you become respected for your achievements within the school so that those same students can one day see past their bias for you." and with that the meeting ended. Ichigo grumbled to himself about his shitty luck and asked himself how he had managed to get stuck having to deal with Rukia and her egotistical brother.

Rukia walked over to Ichigo as the room cleared out followed closely by Hinamori. "Hello Ichigo-san… I know you will make a good captain and I look forward to serving under you in the future. I won't let you down." Said Hinamori. Ichigo smiled at the timid girl. He had seen a few times but never really gotten to know her. However everything he had heard about her told him that she was a hard worker and that she would indeed never let him down. "I'm sure we'll make a great team Hinamori, once I get finished with this damn academy bullshit that is. but you can bet that when I get finished there that the two of us will make the fifth division the best damn division in all of Soul Society." Said Ichigo.

Hinamori brightened at his statement and agreed before bidding him goodbye and leaving to return to her duties. Ichigo turned toward Rukia and regarded her suspiciously. "You knew about all of this didn't you? You knew it the whole time that this was going to be needed and you didn't tell me. You damn bitch. What the hell?" said Ichigo. Rukia just laughed. She had been afraid that his attitude would have changed after having to leave his family behind, but so far he was the same stuck up bastard that he always was. It was good to have him back again. It had been to long since they had really worked together in any capacity.

"Yeah I knew, what are you going to do about it? Come on. It's the weekend so it's the perfect time to get you settled into your dorm room at the academy. Tomorrow you start school and since it's already late you should get some rest." Said Rukia as they started to walk towards the academy. "By the way Ichigo you won't be using Zangetsu during your training. At least not at first. Your soul slayer is just to powerful to train with and besides that it's not normal for first year students to have soul slayers when they start, especially not ones as powerful as Zangetsu." Said Rukia.

Ichigo looked at her like she was crazy before replying. "What the hell do you mean I can't use Zangetsu? What the hell am I going to use if I can't use my sword you stupid bitch. Besides I have control over my powers now. I can just tone down the power and everything will be fine. It's not like I'm going to blow the place up like I did with the execution grounds all those years ago." Rukia looked at Ichigo and realizing he was being serious caused a vein to pop out of her forehead before she punched him in the head.

"Listen here you baka. You heard the commander; you are supposed to be keeping a low profile. How the hell are you going to do that if you go walking around with that big ass sword of yours? Your not exactly unknown around here you fool. In fact it's exactly the opposite. Practically everybody has heard of the big brute with orange messy hair and a sword as big of him who beat the shit out of captains and vice captains alike without breaking a sweat. The shinigami who destroyed the Execution grounds single handedly and took out 3 vice-captains bare handed. The shinigami who single handedly defeated Aizen, delivering the killing blow and destroying the majority of his espada and therefore ending the Arrancar wars." Yelled Rukia.

"They don't know you by name for the most part except for the higher ups but they sure as hell know you by reputation and you can be damned sure that if you walk into that academy with that sword on your back that every single one of those students is going to instantly know who you are. You're practically a legend there. And while that is something we will want to capitalize on later you have to build up a new reputation first as being a normal shinigami that is not afraid of a little hard work and that is willing to stick it out for his friends. Be the leader that we all know you are and prove it to them all. Then once you have a reputation, and have hopefully made some friends then you can drop the bomb shell on them all and start showing off." Finished Rukia.

Ichigo grumbled yet again about his shitty luck and then continued after Rukia. "Whatever. So if I can't use Zangetsu then what am I going to use?" asked Ichigo. Rukia smirked knowing that she had beaten his defiance. "You'll use an Asuachi just like the other students who don't have Soul slayers. It's basically a Soul Slayer without a soul. And as such it's limited in its power. As for Zangetsu, I suggest you keep in him your duffle bag there until we get to your room at which point you can lock him up in your storage locker."

They approached the front gates of the academy and entered the grounds heading towards the dorm rooms. "Remember to keep a tight rein on your reiatsu while you're here. make sure that you keep it in line with others in the academy and try not to bloody well show off to much ok." Said Rukia. A few moments later they reached a door on the third floor of the dorm building. Rukia knocked loudly on the door alerting those within that a seated member was present and then entered.

Ichigo took two steps inside and then came to an abrupt stop. "YOUUUUU" yelled Ichigo. "YOUUUU" screamed Ganju. The other two occupants watched in mild interest as the two screamed back and forth at each other for a moment before embracing in the centre of the room. "Yo, Ichigo… it's good to see you. So you finally decided to join the academy eh? Well it looks like were going to be roomies." Laughed Ganju as he brought Ichigo into the room.

"Well Ganju I will entrust you to get him settled in. Ichigo I'll arrive tomorrow morning with your Asuachi and to show you to breakfast. Ganju will help you get a feel for the campus and we will proceed from there. Try not to do anything that will reflect poorly on me or I'll kick your ass." Chided Rukia before turning around and leaving the room. Ichigo turned his attention back to his surrounding and began to take it all in.

The room was a large apartment of types with 4 small rooms and a common area where you could study or relax. Like the majority of Soul Society the dwelling was very traditional looking complete with shoji doors and tatami flooring. He quickly realized that there were two other people in the room and decided it was time to meet the rest of his room mates. He was going to have to be living with them for a year. He might as well get to know them.

"So Ganju introduce me to our fellow roomies." Said Ichigo as he nodded his head towards the other two occupying the common area. Ganju looked over at the two individuals and then back to Ichigo before grabbing his arm and hauling him over to a chair. "This here is Roia. She's pretty easy to get along with but whatever you do don't tell her how hot she is or she'll kick your ass." Said Ganju who was immediately pounded into the ground by said girl. "Hello Ichigo-san it's nice to meet you." said Roia. "I don't mind be complemented, just not by this perverted bastard that's all. Since Ganju is too busy picking his ass out of the floor I'll introduce you to our last room mate. This is Akira." Said Roia as she pointed to the man beside her. Akira stepped forward and took Ichigo's hand. "Nice to meet you Ichigo-san. So you're new here eh. It seems like you have quite a bit of clout with the higher ups to be able to come in late like this. And if I'm not mistaking that was Rukia Kuchiki just a moment ago that showed you in. she's a seated member." Said Akira as he released Ichigo's hand.

"Yeah let's just say that they saw potential in me. As for Rukia, I see her around." Said Ichigo. Akira was about to ask something else when Roia stepped in. "Come on. Leave the guy alone. Why don't you grab a room? It's getting late and you're going to want to get some rest. Mornings around here are a little hectic." And with that she walked him down to one of the rooms. "This is your room. Make yourself at home. I'm right across the way, Akira's beside me and Ganju is beside you." said Roia as she turned around and left for her room.

Ichigo walked into his new room and set down his bag and looked around. Truthfully he was already feeling home sick but he shook it off and tried to think about what was to come tomorrow. A few minutes later Ganju walked through his door. "So how are you doing Ichigo? I heard what happened man. I'm sorry it had to go down like that. You know I'm here for you if you need anything. The academy isn't that big of a deal. I'll watch your back and make sure you don't do anything to blow your cover." Said Ganju, lowering his voice to a whisper for the last part.

"Thanks Ganju. I'm doing fine really. I just have to keep thinking ahead and not look back. Because every time I think back I can't help but feel like I was robbed of my life. I can't help but worry about my family, and my friends and wonder if their going to be ok. It's hard man." Said Ichigo. He walked over to the wardrobe and began to put away his few items of closes before walking over to his storage unit and placing Zangetsu into the closest type unit. He closed the door and locked it.

Ichigo turned around to face Ganju before speaking. "So give me the run down. Who are these two room mates of ours, what can I expect from the classes were going to be taking and is their anything I should be aware of going into this." Asked Ichigo as he stared at his friend and rival. "Well you don't have to worry about our roomies. Their good people as far as I can tell. Roia is a fairly easy going chick although she can be a real beast if you piss her off. She seems to be particularly skilled in the Demon arts but not so much so when it comes to swordsmanship. She seems to have the math and science stuff down pretty tight too." Ichigo started at the mention of math and science. "Wait a second, did you just say math and science. What the hell do they need math and science for?" asked Ichigo.

"Well I agree with you about it being pointless it seems that it does actually have a purpose. It's mostly for the 4th and 12th divisions to find talented people that excel in those areas. Both those divisions deal with non-combat type shinigami mostly. It is pretty much pointless unless you want to work with those divisions so you can just slack off in the classes like me if you want. The areas you really got to excel in are Demon arts and Zanpaktou Training although we both know they can't teach you shit about your soul slayer." Said Ganju.

"Ok. So what about the other guy, Akira was his name I think, and is there anything else I should be aware of?" asked Ichigo as he leaned back on the bed trying to get comfortable. Ganju shook his head. "Nothing special about the other guy either really. He seems to have some skill the demon arts as well although not as much as Roia. And he seems to be fairly good with a sword as far as form goes. His reiatsu is a little higher then normal for his year and his control over it is pretty impressive. All in all we got two talented roomies. They both seem to be easy to get along with."

"There's nothing else really important to note. Just keep your head down like Rukia has more then likely already told you. Try not to completely blow the other students out of the water when it comes to working with soul slayers and keep your reiatsu under control. With the amount of reiatsu you have, half the students would probably black out from the pressure." Finished Ganju before turning towards the door.

Ichigo looked up at his departing friend and called out to him. "Thanks Ganju. I look forward to getting into the fray tomorrow. Don't worry, I'll keep what you said in mind." And with that he leaned back on his bed and fell into a deep sleep, dreaming about his past, present, and future. Ganju chuckled to himself at how easily he could accept things and continued to his room to call it a night. Tomorrow was going to be an interesting day.

The following morning Ichigo got up early and caught a quick shower which he found with little difficulty. He returned to his room and dressed in his Shinigami robes and was about to grab Zangetsu when he remembered that he wasn't allowed to use it. He turned away from the locker and headed out into the common area of his new home where he found his fellow roomies just preparing to leave for breakfast.

Roia opened the door just as there was a knock and found herself staring face to face with Rukia who in the better light immediately recognized her as Vice Capitan Kuchiki Rukia of the 13th division. She quickly bowed her head. "Good morning Kuchiki-sama" said Roia as she moved out of the way. Akira mirrored her welcome while Ganju just nodded his head. Ichigo on the other hand just looked at her with irritation. "So where's my sword." Rukia stared at him before laughing. "Same old Ichigo" she said before stopping herself from elaborating. She cursed herself for saying as much as she had. It had only been a day and she had already let the rest of his room mates know for a fact that they were old friends.

"It's right here. Now let's get going or your going to miss breakfast. You got a lot of catching up to do now that you're a week behind." Joked Rukia in a serious tone. Ichigo just snorted and laughed. "Yeah right, that's a laugh." And walked out the door leaving his two new room mates curious as to what he meant while Ganju just chuckled to himself. Ganju walked out behind the rest of them and closed the door. At this rate it wouldn't be long before Ichigo was found out. He couldn't believe they actually expected him to be able to keep a low profile. This was Ichigo they were talking about. He didn't know the meaning of the world subtle.

Rukia looked over to her right to look at Ichigo who was walking along confidently. She smiled; by the time his training here was done he would easily be the most powerful shinigami that Soul Society had ever produced. "I have a surprise for you when we get to the mess hall." Said Rukia as they continued to walk towards the mess hall. "What kind of surprise?" asked Ichigo. He was slightly curious now and wanted to know. Rukia laughed. "Well if I told you it wouldn't be a surprise any more. Just wait and see." Said Rukia as they approached the mess hall.

They rounded the corner of and walked into the largest mess hall Ichigo had ever seen in his life. The place had to be almost as big as his gym at his school. He was busy taking in the size of the place when a voice cut through his thoughts. "KUROSAKI-KUNNNN" called out the voice that seemed incredibly familiar. The voice stirred something within his heart that he hadn't felt for years. He quickly spun around to look in the direction the voice came from and froze.

There at the other end of the hall, running towards him was his friend. Just as he remembered her from all those years ago. His legs wanted to give out on him as he stared in shook at her happy face. How could he face her after all these years? How could she possibly still care for him after he had abandoned her like that. His legs held out of sheer determination and he stared into her eyes before smiling. Her smile was infectious. It always was. Her bubbly attitude had always had a way of raising everybody's spirits. It was one of the things he liked so much about her.

"Yo Inoue." He called out as she flew into his arms nearly knocking him over. "HAHAHA. Just as full of energy as you always were eh." Said Ichigo as he set her down after swinging her around once. "You look exactly how I remember you. It's been to long Inoue. I'm sorry I left you like that. I should have been there for you, but I was too stubborn." Said Ichigo as he lowered his head slightly.

Orihime just stared at him for a moment before laughing. "What happened to you? You were never like this before. You always had that big scowl on your face. Now you have the look of a lost puppy." Laughed Orihime again. Ichigo looked at her for a moment and then laughed with her. It was true after all. He had always been the strong one over the years. "It's good to see you again Inoue. It really has been to long." And with that she walked with them over to an empty table and began talking amongst themselves while the rest of the hall stared at the new student for a moment longer before going back to their business.

Akira and Roia on the other hand continued to stare at their new room mate out of surprise. There room mate seemed to be a giant mystery. For all intents purposes he was nobody important and yet he had the attention of the Kuchiki house, seemed to be on good terms with Kuchiki Rukia, who was the vice Capitan of the 13th division. That in itself was a surprise. But now he seemed to be very good friends of one of the most popular students in the entire academy. Inoue Orihime was known to be one of the earth warriors who had served in the Arrancar wars, it was a fairly well known fact that she was expected to graduate within the next year or so which would make her one of the fastest graduating students in the history of the academy and she was also one of the ryoka who broke into Seireitei years earlier and rescued Kuchiki Rukia from execution.

It was said that she was very good friends with the leader of there group, a orange haired shinigami with immense power and a soul slayer as big as himself who was able to single handedly defeat several captains multiple vice captains and dozens of lower ranking shinigami before eventually saving Kuchiki-sama from her execution in front of nearly a dozen high ranking shinigami. Roia looked at Ichigo once more and shook the though from her mind. There was no way he was that shinigami. The only thing that matched as his hair, it was just a coincidence. And yet she couldn't shake the feeling that he was special somehow.

Akira had been thinking along the same lines and had come to mostly the same conclusion. He obviously had some impressive connections, and something felt special about him but there was no way he could be that shinigami from the stories. Breakfast finished quickly and Rukia excused herself to get back to her duties. Orihime said goodbye as well before leaving for her first class and the rest of them stood and started to head towards their first class of the day.

Ichigo looked down briefly at his timetable before looking back at the training field he was standing in with his 3 roommates. Their first class was Zanpaktou training and Ichigo was looking forward to it. Even if he didn't have Zangetsu he could still beat every one of these punks with his skills. He wasn't even sure the sensei could withstand him. Of course he had promised to keep a low profile so he was only going to do just enough to make a name for himself as being a skilled swordsman. Nothing too out of the ordinary. After all he must have had something interesting about him if he got picked up by the Kuchiki family or at least that was going to be his excuse when Rukia bitched at him about it later.

Their sensei had finished introducing him as a new student and had been having them practice some basic stances and attacks for the past half hour or so when he finally called a stop. Ichigo had performed the stances and attacks almost perfectly as if they were second nature, which they were but he had just brushed his sensei's comments off by saying that he had practiced particularly hard on the basics. "Alright were going to do a few sparing matches to see where you all rank in relation to each other. You'll spar each class with me and then once a week we will evaluate your performance and rearrange your order in the class so that you can all keep track of your progress in relation to your peers. First up, Kurosaki Ichigo and Akira." Said the teacher before stepping aside to let the two students begin their spar.

The spar lasted less then 5 minutes as Ichigo quickly got bored with dancing around and blocking and decided to show just the tiniest fraction of his power. Akira had been on Ichigo the entire match and was beginning to think that he was nothing special. He didn't seem to be able to get out from behind his attacks to mount one of his own. Of course that was what he was thinking right up until the moment that Ichigo had smiled at him. Ichigo had just suddenly planted his feet firmly and smiled widely at Akira and in that moment he knew the match was over. He didn't know how he knew but somehow he knew that it was over. and over is exactly what the match was, in less then 30 seconds Ichigo had knocked Akira's sword out of his hand and placed the tip of his blade at his throat.

The rest of the class looked on in surprise as it happened and then Ganju laughed. "You were just playing with him the whole time man. That was great. Did you have to waste so much time though? I mean the first couple minutes of that fight were boring." Said Ganju as he continued to laugh. Ichigo stepped away from the center of the field and back to his roommates' side. The rest of the class had taken their turns at sparing and in the end Ichigo had been ranked number 1 while Akira was ranked number 2. Ganju and Roia ranked 7 and 9 respectively.

They left class and proceeded with the rest of their day which preceded much in the same fashion. They attended Math, Science and finally physical education. Ichigo brushed through math and had a little difficulty with Science before relaxing in physical education while still doing more training then anybody else in the whole class. Ichigo was quickly finding his school career to be the most boring thing he had ever experienced. He had yet to find something that provided any kind of sufficient challenge for him and didn't think he could handle having to put up with such boredom for a whole year. Hell he didn't think he could handle it for a month much less a year.

The day ended finally and their small group made their way back to their dorm where they relaxed after a day of hard work or in Ichigo's case relaxed to try and get his mind off of the boredom that he had felt all day.