Disclaimer: not mine

Rating: K+

Pairing: none, at the moment

Warnings (edited as of 16th Sept): Ichigo's death. A lot of talking and thinking. Almost no action. OOC Ichigo (you'll see why). Some (three, acrually) female OC-s on the sidelines of the fic.

Also – I'm not good at updating.

Summary: Ichigo dies. Things happen after that.

Edited: 16th Sept 2008


Part One: Departure

The story started with a death. Well, no, actually it didn't. Or at least - it didn't start with this death. There had been a death at the beginning of the story, but there had also been many deaths since. So - this death did not in truth start the story - the story had already been going on for quite a while. But one can say this particular death started a new cycle in it.

Kurosaki Ichigo did not think about that. He did not think about much except fuck. Which he also said. Loudly. Not that anybody could hear him. Fuck was the best possible description of the situation, really, since he was staring down at a body. His own. With a bullet in its forehead.

It was idiotic beyond words. Karakura was a small town. A peaceful town. The rate of crime was at its lowest of the decade and showing all tendencies to drop further. Karakura didn't even have its own criminal family, instead there was a small branch office of the one in the nearest big town. And the "personnel" of it consisted mostly of those who had, for some reason or other, been sent away from the eyes of their superiors. It was unanimously decided by the law-abiding townspeople of Karakura that the reason for that meager staff's stay in Karakura was mostly incompetence.

Perhaps it explained the current cock-up.

From what Ichigo could understand from overhearing the frantically shouting men, his current state of being was the result of a misunderstanding - misunderstanding! - between the locals and a traveling group of Tokyo Jakuza. The aftermath of the misunderstanding was a corpse of an innocent passer-by (Ichigo) and three local criminals down with wounds of various levels of severity. To Ichigo's experienced eye none of the injuries looked life-threatening. In Ichigo's opinion this was deeply unfair.

The problem was, absurdity of the situation didn't make it any better.

Ichigo looked around. He could hear the sirens nearing and the ex-shooters were quickly gathering up their men and fallen ammunition, clearly intending to be off before the arrival of the police and emergency vehicles. Logical course of action for them, Ichigo supposed. But what should he do?

Strangely there were no Shinigami in sight rushing to preform soul burial. But then, none of the criminals had died and the feel of Ichigo's own presence had probably not changed enough to attract any attention. This was not the first time his soul was out of his body, after all.

But... Ichigo's brain finally registered the fact he had not noticed earlier: only once before had he been out of his body without his Shinigami attire and Zangetsu. Like he was now. Where was Zangetsu?

Ichigo frowned. Well, standing there was not giving him any answers. Also, he didn't really feel like waiting and seeing the doctors confirm his death. And calling his family as soon as they identified him. That though finally gave him a direction for the next action. One: finding his father and informing him of what had happened. Two: talking to Karin. Three: asking Karin talk to Yuzu. And then...
And then four: going to Urahara's and demanding some explanations. And, perhaps, a gigai. If possible.

Ichigo turned and started to walk down the street. He never reached the crossing, though.

"King, we have a problem!"

His partner's voice was uncharacteristically worried. Which was unusual. Nothing ever really seemed to faze Shirosaki. At least Aizen and his creations hadn't, not truly. Amuse or anger, yes, worry, no.


"King, look at your soul-chain."

Ichigo looked down and felt bile rising into his throat. The last links of the chain – and he hadn't even known he had any soul-chain left, he'd always kind of assumed it had all gotten eaten away in that hell-pit of Urahara's – eroding away. Fast.

"King, this is going to be the real thing. And neither I nor the Old Man can hold it off. You better find a Shinigami. Quick!"

Ichigo decided that for once questions (like – how was he going to turn into a Hollow when he was already at least partly one?) could wait. He started running. His father qualified, right?

"You're not going to make it, King."

Ichigo could see that himself. Could feel that himself. And the feeling was terrifyingly familiar.

"But there aren't any Shinigami around here," he panted. He tried going into flash-step and found out he couldn't. Fuck, fuck, FUCK!

"Typical. When they aren't needed, they're everywhere, nosing around in things that do not the least concern them. And when you need at least one..." It seemed Shirosaki could leave no chance to verbalize his opinion of Shinigami pass unused.

"Don't" gasp "you" gasp "think" gasp "it's not" gasp "quite" gasp "time..." Ichigo didn't finish his sentence, too concerned with breathing and running.

"It is just possible you are right, King. And you really aren't going to make it... Oh, k'so! nothing to do. I will not be eradicated!"

Without his will Ichigo's left hand suddenly shot up and hit his forehead palm open.

Between this moment and the next everything went dark.

A lone black butterfly disappeared into the skies above Karakura.

Kurosaki Isshin dropped the vial he had been holding, scaring the young woman who had come for her monthly check up.

Kuraosaki Yuzu sat down on the floor while her sister jumped up, her chair falling over with a crash.

All around the town several people suddenly paused in what they were doing and cast out their senses, desperately searching, searching, searching... and not finding.

Kuchiki Rukia landed next to the emergency vehicle just in time to see a doctor covering the face of the still body with a white cloth. She didn't have to look to know who it was. She screamed his name, in answer only hearing her own voice echo over the empty roofs of Karakura.

"This was not the best course of action."

"I didn't see you coming up with anything better. Or did you want to be become a part of a real mindless Hollow?"

"... there will be complications."

"It's the King. Of course there will."