This is not an actual chapter, just written for fun. It was stuck in my head so I wrote it out. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Bleach is not mine.

Interlude

The plastipaper image he held in his hands had faded with time, but the memories that swam to the surface of his mind as he traced his fingertip across the curve of her cheek were as fresh as the day they happened. His cheeks, rough with stubble, dimpled as his vision split between the picture of her in his hands, and the thousands he had in his head. He brought the picture to his nose and breathed, the scent of her lingering over the box of mementos. His eyes opening, he glanced down and felt himself falter.

Broken for a moment, far more broken than anyone realized, his hands quivered as he brought them to his mouth. Years of unshed tears gathered at the edges of his eyes, standing their silent, stalwart vigil. He'd long made peace with them, knew them well, welcomed them. Like friends.

I miss my home, Masaki. His eyes roved over the contents of the container. I miss my wife.

There was another picture, this one newer and still vibrant with the color of life. A picture of the five of them, tangled in enthusiastic embrace, the twins still young and his son, beaming. His son, smiling like nothing in all the worlds could be wrong.

His son, who hadn't smiled like that ever again.

"You were right, Masaki," he whispered, finding himself unable to replace the picture of her in the box, even as he reverently moved it to one side. Space wasn't a place to raise your kids she'd argued good naturedly, and it wasn't.

In fact, it was cold as hell.

There was another box in the furthest recesses in the storage bay, this one long buried and all but forgotten. Removing it was more excavation than retrieval, and once he set his hands on it, he could feel how utterly foreign its contents were now.

He made to replace the picture in its original box, but found he had tucked it securely in his breast pocket. The corner of his mouth slipped up, a shadow of a smile, and he simply patted the pocket gently instead. Steeling himself, he opened the lid of the final container and crouched. Drawing up the flight helmet from the top of folded material, he turned it so he could stare at the armored faceplate directly, the glassite catching the light and throwing his reflection back at him.

"I'm not the man they think I am." His fingers traced over one more thing, past the scuffs and scratches, sliding over a set of simple, stenciled letters. "No. No, no," he sighed, standing. When he received the encrypted comm, he could hardly have believed the man was serious. Isshin Kurosaki tucked the helmet beneath his arm and lifted an armored flightsuit from the container. His thumb traced over the callsign emblazoned on chest panel. He rolled the suit up and turned to leave, ready to reply to the comm.