Kurosaki Ichigo had always supposed that when he eventually died, it would be in battle. When he was feeling positive, he'd find himself picturing some sort of glorious last stand, giving his life in the defence of some ill-defined yet undoubtedly deserving innocents behind him. On his more melancholy days, he concluded that it would probably end with him face down in the dirt, choking on his own blood, like so many other would-be heroes. It wasn't that either option was something he particularly desired – he didn't have a death wish or anything – but the cynical side of him had always believed that it was somewhat inevitable anyway.

As it turned out, he was partially right. His death was swift and violent, but only the most perverse individuals could ever have identified it as a battle. One moment, he was walking through the streets of Karakura town, ignoring the early chill of winter in the air as best he could. The next, there was a blur of motion, the sensation of something shockingly cold biting into his neck, and suddenly he found himself looking down at his own corpse. Something thin and razor sharp had apparently torn out his entire throat and, indeed, most of his chin and upper chest. The blood already forming a pool around the corpse was faintly unreal in its sheer volume… a veritable lake of dark crimson.

Ichigo took a couple of steps backwards, his mouth half-open in uncomprehending shock. The severed chain dangling from his chest jingled slightly as he sat down heavily, unable to properly process the sight in from of him.

"Tch. Did it have to be so messy?" The voice came from behind him, horrifyingly familiar in its casually polite lilt. Slowly, Ichigo raised his head and looked at the speaker, already knowing who he would see. The attire was different, a pale white shirt and dark trousers rather than the pristine robes he remembered, but there was no mistaking that silvery hair, nor the smiling face it framed.

"You… you're dead…"

Gin Ichimaru dropped into a crouch, bringing his still-smiling face level with Ichigo. With slow deliberation he glanced between the stunned spirit in front of him and the bleeding corpse to one side. Then he brought up one hand and held it between them, studying the bloody sword he held in it as though it belonged to someone else entirely.

"What a coincidence." He said, ever so softly, pale blue eyes gleaming. "So are you."