Ichigo woke with a start, a throbbing pain in his head telling him this little nap hadn't been of his choosing; the faint taste of something resided in his mouth- presumably what ever had been used to sedate him. Unsure of his current location, more then a little groggy, and unable to properly put together a coherent thought while laying on what he assumed to be stone of some kind. Finally, after what might have been ten minutes or ten hours, Ichigo managed the daunting task of sitting up. Almost immediately he wished he hadn't; his head spun and his stomach heaved, emptying out what little had been in it before he had been...... captured, apparently. By who and why was beyond him. These thoughts ran through Ichigo's mind while he finished heaving then falling back down and passing out again.

-------

Ichigo woke again sometime later, however, this place of waking had changed dramatically- now instead of a cold walls and floors and stone, he found him self in a warmly painted room of beige, in what appeared to be clean clothing, and laying on possibly the most comfortable bed he had ever slept in.

Try as he might, he was unable to figure out where he was. After some time, deciding that he had allowed him self to lay there long enough, he raised him self into a sitting position. Now able to properly observe his surroundings, he glanced around the room. He was startled to realize he was not the only occupant of the room. A shorter man with pure white hair stood in the corner of the room peering at him intently with hard teal eyes that seemed to devour every detail of his person in a single moment.

After what felt like an eternity, the man finally spoke. "About time you woke up; I was starting to think we had killed you," he said in a bored tone.

"Wait, what do you mean 'we' had killed you?" Ichigo asked, "You're not a prisoner here also?"

"Not at all, Kurosaki Ichigo. I'm the one who brought you here," the shorter man replied with the faintest hint of an amused smirk tugging at his lips.

"Okay. Who the fuck are you, and how the hell do you know my name?" Ichigo asked ever so tactfully.

"Who the fuck am I?" the man asked, a ghost of a grin a pon his lips again. "Well, since you asked me so nicely, I suppose I'll tell you. I am Hitsugya Toshiro," he replied. "As for your second question of how I know your name, I've been watching you for some time now."

"Watching me? Why?" Ichigo asked, clearly not knowing what to think of this man Toshiro.

"You have been selected to become one of us," Toshiro replied, as if that explained and settled the whole matter.

"Okay... that's all good and great but I'm gonna need just a bit more then that to go on, then just 'you were selected'," Ichigo said in an peeved tone. "I mean, I've been a pretty good sport about this whole kidnaping thing so far, but your attitude is starting to piss me off," Ichigo continued, clearly not amused. Toshiro sighed, pushing himself off the wall, and settled himself in the lone arm chair in the room in front of Ichigo.

"It's like this, the organization that we're a part of is called 'Shinigami.' We, that is myself and everyone else in this compound, are specially trained soldiers.

The look of confusion on Ichigo's face spoke louder then any words he could have spoken, but he still asked, "Why me? I mean, I'm no soldier; I've never even held a gun before." "That won't be a problem," the shorter man responded "the members of Shinigami rarely ever use guns- only a select few of us ever do."

"What do you use then?" Ichigo asked, looking even more confused now then he did before he received the answer. "Zanpakutos, blades forged from the soul of the user. Our blacksmith takes samples of your DNA, then using it, forges a blade that matches your soul perfectly, but I digress and I haven't the time need to explain such things as the inner workings of one's soul, so I'll leave this explanation for another time," finished Toshiro. "Simply put Kurosaki, you were chosen from thousands of candidates, you are stronger, faster, more intelligent then any of the others, and it has been tasked to my partner and I to train you in all nessecary things, from here on out my partner and I are your teammates, friends, and family do not dissapoint me."

Toshiro said all this with such sincerity that Ichigo couldn't think of any thing to say to the shorter man. Finally, after several minutes of silence, Ichigo replied, "I understand."

"Do you?" asked Toshiro. "I really hope you do, I expect you dressed and in the hall in five minutes." With that, he exited the room.


Five minutes later found Ichigo following Toshiro thru a labyrinth of seemingly never-ending halls. Abruptly, the hall they had been traversing ended and Ichigo had to shield his eyes from a sudden blast of bright sun light. After his eyes had adjusted to the change, he was able to see where Toshiro had led him. They seemed to have entered an outdoor courtyard with trees and bushes spread thru out the enclosure, coble-stoned walk ways were the only thing breaking up the lush green grass that seemed to fill every square inch of the courtyard. Leaning against a tree, a few yards away, was a young woman who looked no older then himself. Noticing that she had company, the girl pushed herself from the tree and in four short strides closed the distance between herself and the two men, moving Ichigo noted, with a dancer's grace. "Ichigo," Toshiro began, "Meet Rukia Kuchiki, the third member of our little group." Violet eyes met brown when suddenly Rukia's eyes widened. "Kaien," she whispered in an almost breathless tone before fainting.

.............

Toshiro silently carried an unconscious Rukia back thru the maze of halls, while Ichigo did his best to follow and memorize the route they were taking. Finally arriving at the door of Ichigo's room, Toshiro motioned for Ichigo to open the door, and entering the room Toshiro settled Rukia onto the bed. He then pulled a vial from a pouch on his belt and pulled the stopper from it and waved it under Rukia's nose. Almost at once she came to, looking frantic for a moment before her eyes alighted on Toshiro's face and calmed down.

"Shut the door, Kurosaki, we have a lot to discuss." Doing so, Ichigo crossed the room and sat nervously in the arm chair next to the bed while Toshiro sat next to Rukia. "I'm guessing you're wondering who Kaien is and why Rukia fainted after seeing you." Ichigo just nodded, unsure what to say. "Kaien was the man with whom Rukia and I were partners with up until two and a half years ago; he was killed during a routine mission that shouldn't have had any chance of fatalities. In the middle of the mission, a group of men from our rival organization appeared; we were unprepared for it and Kaien fell protecting Rukia from sniper fire. It's thanks to him that Rukia and myself are still alive." Suddenly, Ichigo shot from his chair. "Wait a minute. You don't mean Kurosaki Kaien, my uncle?"

Rukia's eyes widened in surprise. "What are you talking about?" she asked with trepanation in her voice. Toshiro cut in before Ichigo could respond. "So you figured it out. I'm surprised you figured it out this quickly. May I ask how you realised?"

"I didn't think anything of the name Kaien, but then you mentioned that he was killed two years ago and it clicked, I've never met him myself, but I remembered my father getting a letter in the mail saying that his brother Kaien had been killed." Ichigo informed him with a frown marring his face.

Through this whole exchange, Rukia had been silently staring at Ichigo. Now she finally spoke up, "You're his nephew," she said, clearly shaken by what had just been reviled. Her violet eyes turned to her partner. "But how is that possible? His last name was Shiban."

"Allow me to explain," Toshiro started. "Kaien had to change his last name due to the fact that he had so many enemies and couldn't afford for them to target his family." As the shorter man finished saying this he hoisted himself from his seat on the bed and headed for the door with Rukia in tow, opening the door he glanced back at Ichigo "be ready for your training at 4am sharp", and with that he was gone.