Author's note:

Hello, my name is Peter Stillman. Hello. Actually, its not, but obscure references aside, you can call me Rhiannon, I guess. This is my first foray into Bleach fanfiction, my second career after Dbz Yaoi fanfiction. I hope you will treat this work kindly, and enjoy it as much as I have writing for it.

None of the characters herein are used with any intent for profit, and are the property of Kubo Tite.

Chapter one: Boredom

Aizen was dead, and Ichigo was bored for the first time in two years.

The orange-haired shinigami sat on the roof of his home, his head in his palm as he looked out over Karakura town. For the first time since he inherited Rukia's powers, there was no one to fight. No crazy people-eating vampires or mask-decked Arrancars or even a simple Hollow. Rukia had been promoted to third seat and worked in Sereitei. The only other shinigami was that random guy with the afro whose name Ichigo could never remember.

And Renji...

Renji had been promoted to fifth division captain and while Ichigo was proud of him, he was sad for himself. Captaincy meant that his friend would likely never be allowed out to do minor shinigami duty outside Sereitei. Renji had finally earned the respect he had wanted for so long, and Ichigo knew that Renji's happiness was worth that.

It was nice to be back with the gang here, but after everything he'd been through, school seemed stupidly mundane and useless. On top of that, he was everyone's hero and he really didn't feel he deserved it. It had taken everything everyone had had to beat Aizen: he had simply played his role. And there was the unspoken pressure on all sides for him to date Orihime, because he had obviously saved her just to date her. But as much as he liked her as a friend, he didn't want to date her. She had no idea of what went on inside his head, what it felt like to be so powerful only as long as he was in control of his Hollow. That any day, he could lose that battle and kill them all. Kurosaki-kun this, Kurosaki-kun that...she thought he was going to break any minute and it drove him insane. So, in his spare time he hung out at Urahara's shop, sparring with Yourichi and the Vaizards so that he could be strong the next time the cherry blossoms hit the fan.

He was jerked out of his reverie as a hell's butterfly suddenly appeared in front of him before exploding into a tall, red-haired shinigami.

"Yo, Ichigo," grinned Renji, landing on the roof in front of Ichigo. The teen grinned, glad of the company. Renji wore the white jacket typical of the captain class, except his was sleeveless and ragged at the edges in the style of Zaraki, Seritei's original bad boy.

"Renji! Good to see you. The new Captain duds suit you."

Renji stacked his hands behind his head. "Yeah, but being Captain isn't as cool as I thought it would be. There's more paperwork, and less time for training. But, it is nice being finally on the same level as the others...not bad work for a stray dog from Rukongai."

"A stray dog with a pretty mean bite. How's everyone?"

Renji sat next to him, his jacket flaring out around him. He undid his hair, then rubbed his temples. "Damned headache. Well, things go on. They're currently deciding on who should fill the 4th Captain position, they're thinking maybe Kira. The bankai thing is no longer compulsory, and he is resourceful and intelligent, which counts for a lot. Byakuya is still talking to the picture of his dead wife, though more so than he used to. Rukia is thriving, she's loving the new duties of training the lower ranks. Um, Ukitake still looks like he's going to fall over and die any minute, but he won't retire while there's still such a shortage of captains. Zaraki keeps asking me to drag you there, he's bored and Byakuya won't spar with him."

Ichigo laughed, leaning back on his palms. "If I had a death wish, maybe I'd spar with Zaraki. But I can't be sure that he won't kill me in his over-enthusiasm. It would be nice to have my own senkai gate so that I can visit more often. It's so boring here."

"Actually, that's what I came to talk to you about." Renji fished around inside his jacket and drew out a heavy badge similar to Ichigo's substitute shinigami badge. "I had a chat with the Captain Commander, and managed to convince him that it would be a good idea if you had a proper Shinigami pass that would allow you entrance to Sereitei any time. Shit keeps happening, and we could always use your help. And I host wicked parties on the weekend in my barracks now to maintain group morale, and I want you to join. So, as captain of the fifth division, I present to you your badge. And stuff."

Renji grinned as he dropped it onto Ichigo's palm, the teen grasping it instantly. It hummed quietly with power and he looked down at it. "Wow, Renji...thanks. This is really awesome."

"Of course it is," said the captain. He stood, tying his hair back up. "I'd better get back...captains aren't really supposed to leave Sereitei because our energy levels sometimes excite Hollows, or help create them. Which sucks, because there's much more to do here."

Ichigo stood up. "What about mod souls?"

"They're okay, but they play hell with sleep and energy patterns for days after using them sometimes. I prefer not to use them. Anyway, I must ninja away. I expect to see you on Saturday night, and dressed up! Having a reincarnation party, 'come as you were'."

Ichigo grinned and punched Renji in the arm. "It's a plan. I'll see you then. Hey, can I bring some of the others?"

Renji scratched the back of his head. "I just have to make sure that you all come straight to my barracks and avoid being seen by the others. I'm sure you all can use some of the favour owed you by the Gotei Thirteen anyway. Bring Yourichi along, if you can. Soi-fon does love a good party, as much as she publically denies it, and she'd love to see her crush. It is always useful to curry favour with the captains," he said wisely.

"Alright, Renji. Thanks, man."

They exchanged goodbyes and Renji disappeared through a small senkai gate, waving as the doors slid closed. The teen sat down on the tiles again, looking at the heavy badge in his hand. Suddenly, new opportunities beckoned, and he was suddenly really grateful for his father's bizarre idea of parenting that granted this orange-haired shinigami total freedom.