Chapter 15

They kept their reiatsu in check, not wanting the zanpakutous to be alerted of their presence. Ichigo, Kenpachi, Renji, and Shunsui shunpo'd towards the mouth of the cave where the zanpakutous were hiding.

Three days had already passed when Ichigo first woke up after Aizen's defeat. It was also already three days that Ichigo had to ignore the annoying gawks and worshipping eyes that many Shinigamis threw at him for being their 'HERO.' There were still those who were uncertain of his sanity and those who feared him, he was part-Hollow after all, but many almost grovel before his feet just for saving them. Ichigo always had to hold back the urge to roll his eyes. He never defeated Aizen because he wanted to save anyone. He did it for Juushirou. And yet, they still considered him the hero. Some low-ranked Shinigamis even had the audacity to approach him and ask for an autograph, which they saw celebrities did. When Ichigo asked what celebrities were, they said that those were the handsome men or pretty women that many people idolized in the living world. The teen couldn't understand why he was being compared to those celebrities when all he wanted was revenge.

Many unseated Shinigamis had gotten their zanpakutous back by now, though only a few high-ranking Shinigamis had their zanpakutous returned to them. Hell, they didn't even have the chance to fight their own zanpakutou because only the lower class ones appeared most of the time. Renji had the luck to see his own zanpakutou though and he had fought against Zabimaru yesterday. Zabimaru was also the one who told them of the zanpakutous' location after he returned to normal.

He told them that the soutaichou was also inside that cave, together with Byakuya Kuchiki, Muramasa, and the other Taichou and Fukutaichou-class zanpakutous.

Ichigo still couldn't believe that Byakuya would be on the other side. He now wondered what made the noble change sides like that. Maybe because he wanted to side with Senbonzakura? Or maybe not.

They all paused when they saw a beautiful woman wearing an elaborate kimono sitting on one of the rocks inside the cave. She had bones in her bun of violet hair and was looking at them amusedly. Beside her was a small expressionless girl with the same hair color but wore different clothing. She wore a skin-tight black suit that covered up to her nose underneath her kimono. She held two swords in both hands and was acting up as the woman's bodyguard.

"Katen Kyoukotsu." Shunsui voiced as he smiled. The woman snorted, an attitude so unlike her regal appearance, before the brunette Taichou turned to the others. "You go ahead. I'll handle this."

They all nodded and continued running until they reached the center of the cave. Soutaichou sat in the middle of a circle filled with binding spells. Byakuya stood beside the circle together with Senbonzakura and the other zanpakutous. A male stood on the other side.

"We meet at last, Ichigo Kurosaki." He voiced. And Ichigo immediately knew that he was Muramasa.

"Taichou!" Renji called out but Byakuya acted like he didn't hear Renji's voice, nor even saw them. Ichigo saw the pain in Renji's eyes and couldn't help but glare at Byakuya who looked at him as if they had never met before.

The orange-haired teen's eyes then turned to Muramasa, thoroughly disappointed in the noble and hurt by him siding with enemy. "Muramasa." He voiced. The zanpakutou had a brunette hair and light green eyes. He had thick eyeliner-like tattoos circling his eyes that it would look like he's wearing a Zorro mask.

"I want to see your power with my own eyes, Ichigo Kurosaki." Muramasa voiced before he vanished and appeared in front of Ichigo as he sliced the spot where the teen had been just a few seconds ago. Ichigo appeared in another spot only to be followed by Muramasa every time.

Kenpachi watched with slowly rising excitement until he could no longer contain it and immediately shunpo'd towards where Byakuya was. He fought against the noble with that manic grin of his which only managed to irk Byakuya even more. Renji had no choice but to fight/chase away the other zanpakutous, because he couldn't really fight them all-out. They witnessed what happened to a low-ranking officer's zanpakutou when it was beaten by someone else. The sword did not return to its master.

The zanpakutous had no choice but to leave, especially when the fight between Ichigo and Muramasa, and Byakuya and Kenpachi started to create quakes on the ground and ceiling of the cave because their overwhelming reiatsus were compressed in such a tight space. And they knew what that meant.

Shunsui came just right on time, carrying his sword. It appeared that he was able to win against his zanpakutou in a game that no one would even want to play.

Even before Ichigo and Kenpachi, or even Renji, could know what was going on, however, a sudden explosion immediately erupted throughout the center of the cave and a huge flame engulfed everything, turning the cave into a crater. The fire created a spiral and encircled them all, trapping them inside the cave.

Soutaichou's eyes opened and Muramasa smirked. "I knew I can count on you, Ichigo Kurosaki. And also you, Kenpachi Zaraki." The two looked at him. "Genryuusai Yamamoto had been bound by Inemuri, making him sleep. But your reiatsus have woken him up."

"What do you mean by that? And why do you look so happy?" Renji asked.

"Because I used a bakudo on myself, making me sleep so that Ryuujinjakka will not be involved in the rebellion." Yamamoto was the one who answered their questions. "My zanpakutou is now on rebellion as well." That statement made both Shunsui and Renji gulped. After all, Ryuujinjakka was considered the oldest and most powerful fire zanpakutou in Soul Society. Kenpachi didn't appear threatened at all by that fact and Ichigo, being too young, simply didn't know what Ryuujinjakka's rebellion would mean.

Muramasa held in his hand what appeared to be something like, Ichigo's eyes widened, the Hogyouku. "Thanks to the fact that you woke up, I am able to obtain this stone. The stone that will help resurrect him." It seemed Yamamoto sealed the Hogyouku in his inner world where Ryuujinjakka was the sole guard. But since the zanpakutou had already rebelled, it was already fairly easy for Muramasa to obtain the said stone. And after that, both he and Byakuya shunpo'd away as Ryuujinjakka made a way for them, leaving Ichigo and the others trapped.

"Sorry, Yama-jii. We originally thought that you're kidnapped by them so we came here to rescue you, and also bring an end to their rebellion." Shunsui sighed as they watched the old man's sword engulf everything in fire again. "But I guess things will not be that easy."

"We need to go after them though." Ichigo said after a while. The fire was hot and they were already sweating profusely.

"Before that, you need to hear a hundred year old story." Yamamoto voiced in his old but powerful tone. And he started his narration.

It was about a Shinigami by the name of Koga Kuchiki, the one who wielded Muramasa. Koga was both feared and respected because of his power. He wanted recognition from everyone and did everything to get stronger. When he became stronger, however, he used his zanpakutou for granted and became arrogant, making other Taichous fear him. After that, he was framed as a treasonous murderer by three Taichous and was imprisoned. Ginrei Kuchiki, the head of the Kuchiki clan at the time and also Byakuya Kuchiki's grandfather, defended him from the charges. Muramasa was so happy when his master was proven innocent. The zanpakutou wished a new life for his master, but Koga was so humiliated and enraged when he was framed that he sought out the three Taichous who framed him and killed them. But he didn't stop at that. He continued killing many other Shinigamis because he thought that all of them betrayed him. In the end, Yamamoto and Ginrei had to seal him away in a separate dimension because of his madness and crimes.

"So the real reason for the rebellion is not really for the better treatment of the zanpakutou, but to remove Koga Kuchiki's seal, right?" Shunsui asked and Yamamoto nodded. "So in the end, he's the one who used the zanpakutous as tools for his own advantage."

"So the reason Byakuya is siding with Muramasa is because they both want to remove Koga's seal?" Ichigo asked seriously. After all, Koga was Byakuya's family. Not that Byakuya had cared about family members before as far as he knew.

"Yes." Yamamoto said. "Although they have different reasons as to why they want to remove Koga Kuchiki's seal." Ichigo blinked at that.

"So, how are we going to leave here?" Kenpachi asked, obviously on the edge because his fight with Byakuya was interrupted.

"Only one will be able to come out for now." Yamamoto said. "We will need to combine all our reiatsus to be able to get out of here. And that someone must be able to either defeat Muramasa or Koga, or both, once the seal is broken."

"I'm sure Ichigo can do it." Shunsui said playfully and Ichigo scowled at him.

"Why can't I do it?" Kenpachi asked.

"Because you'll ruin everything with your brash attitude." Shunsui answered. "And Yama-jii is the only one who can put a stop to Ryuujinjakka so he's out of the question. Abarai-fukutaichou is no match with Koga and Muramasa together. Not to mention Kuchiki-taichou will be there as well. As for me… I still have a date with Nanao-chan after this so I'm out too!" Everyone glared at him and he chuckled nervously. One Kenpachi Zaraki was enough of a headache, combined with Ichigo, Renji, and Yamamoto, it would be suicide.

All of them, except the orange-haired teen, used their remaining reiatsus to create a path for Ichigo to leave from and he immediately shunpo'd to the direction where he could feel Muramasa and Byakuya were. He could also feel several reiatsus all over Seireitei. It seemed the zanpakutous' owners were fighting against their own swords now. He used a combined sonido and shunpo that Rojurou and Rabu taught him and he found out that he was way faster using it. He arrived just in time as Muramasa opened a gate that looked like a senkai though a bit different, leading to the dimension where Koga was sealed. The two entered and the gate immediately closed after Ichigo entered.

They all appeared in the middle of a clearing surrounded by trees that appeared a little eerie because of the moonlight. In the middle of the clearing was a lake with water that seemed to gleam under the light of the moon.

"What are you doing here, Ichigo Kurosaki?" Byakuya turned to him just as he drew out his sword. Ichigo's eyes narrowed as he drew out his sword too.

"You better take care of him while I do the incantation for master's revival." Muramasa said. "I don't want to be interrupted."

"Of course." Byakuya answered, eyes not leaving Ichigo.

Ichigo gazed at steel gray eyes that were still as cold as ever and face that still held a mask so firmly. Byakuya's raven hair looked even silkier under the moonlight. His pale complexion looked paler as well, the total opposite of his hair and Shinigami uniform. He stood stoically in between Muramasa and Ichigo and had his sword out.

Ichigo's eyes darted behind Byakuya and saw that a coffin emerged from the water and his eyes turned narrow. He was sure that this Koga Kuchiki had the right to be angry to the people who framed him. Hell, even Ichigo could relate to the part of wanting to kill those who made his life miserable. But for him to go to a killing spree so selfishly was something Ichigo couldn't forgive. Koga wasn't the only person with a problem.

"Chire, Senbonzakura." Byakuya's cool, guttural voice snapped Ichigo out of his musings and made him look at the older man again. Thousands of cherry blossom petals surrounded the night air and Ichigo could smell the strong but sweet fragrance of the flowers in the midst of the scent of grasses, water, and trees. "It seems we are up against one another again, boy."

"It seems so." Ichigo said as he locked his gaze on Byakuya's who was looking at him with equal intensity. He knew that Muramasa had started to utter the incantations while holding out the hogyouku that could make the process of resurrection faster.

Byakuya could see that Ichigo wanted so much to stop Muramasa from incanting spells for the resurrection of his master. Those chocolate eyes that gleamed in the darkness of the night were looking at him with silent curiosity, anger, and disbelief. The boy's tanned skin looked relatively pale under the moonlight and his bright orange hair looked darker. A breeze made his fringes cover some part of his face and Byakuya watched as the tip of the teen's hair brushed the skin of his face gently.

And without a word, he shunpo'd and attacked Ichigo, guiding his petals to corner the younger male. "You looked down upon me the last time we fought, boy." He said as Ichigo blocked his incessant attacks with Zangetsu. "I will not let you belittle me again."

Ichigo could feel Byakuya's warm breath on his face because of their close proximity, with only petals and sword in between, and he fought back a shudder. He had a more important problem than that. He struggled to maintain his balance. The grasses had dews and his waraji was sliding on their dampness. "I never belittled you, Byakuya. I never intended to really show anyone that side of my power. It just so happened that I had no choice when I fought Aizen."

Byakuya could feel and inhale Ichigo's breath from up so close as they clashed their swords but he didn't dare let his guard down just because of a sudden warm sensation on his stomach.

"It doesn't change the fact that you didn't use your full power when you defeated me." Byakuya's voice turned colder. "I have my pride, Ichigo Kurosaki. I won't allow you to humiliate me by belittling me again." Ichigo sighed softly and Byakuya's eyebrow twitched when the soft breath made a shiver run down his spine.

The serene environment suddenly changed as an immensely dark and corrupted reiatsu covered everything within sight. The intensity was enough to make any normal Shinigami kneel on their knees and Byakuya was glad that he was covering Ichigo's smaller body with his own from Koga's sickening reiatsu, though he would never admit it. The two of them stopped their half-hearted sword exchange and looked behind the raven where the Shinigami had woken up.

Koga had short dark hair and eyes. And he looked like a zombie reborn because of his pale and yet dark skin that dead people had. He had a muscular built but the skin on his face was wrinkled from old age and his bones showed from under the skin in some places. Nevertheless, he appeared strong and brawny.

Muramasa looked ecstatic to see his master again. "Master!" He greeted happily, only to earn a huge, deep gash. When Koga saw him, the Shinigami immediately cut him using his sword. "Master..?"

"You traitor!" Koga shouted in a booming voice. "I called for you! But you never came! You sided with them, didn't you!? Get lost, you traitor!" Muramasa looked at a lost as to what Koga meant and that only infuriated Koga even more. Koga was about to receive another attack but Ichigo swiftly intercepted the attack by using his combined sonido and shunpo.

Byakuya's eyes widened when he saw how Ichigo moved. It seemed the boy always had something up his sleeves that could surprise the noble. "Ichigo Kurosaki, leave him to me. I am the current and the 28th Head of the Kuchiki Clan. And it is my duty to end his pitiful existence as a member of Kuchiki."

And Ichigo slowly understood. Byakuya was not really on Muramasa's side. He was simply upholding the family honor. And by being with Muramasa, he would be able to go and defeat Koga as the head of the family. Somehow, that fact made him feel happy inside.

"Kenseikan and the scarf of the Head of the family." Koga's eyes narrowed. "So you really are the head of the family right now." He shunpo'd away from Ichigo and into the other side of the clearing.

Muramasa didn't know what to do. He wanted to protect his master so much, and yet even now, he still couldn't hear Koga's voice.

Byakuya shunpo'd to where Koga was and the two started their battle. It was so intense that Ichigo didn't even dare interrupt them.

'Why can't I hear your voice, Master..?' Ichigo turned to Muramasa when he heard the zanpakutou's voice. He shunpo'd over to the zanpakutou who was obviously suffering and in pain right now, both physically and emotionally.

"Muramasa." Ichigo called. "So it's because you can't hear his voice that he thought you're a traitor." Muramasa, who was currently kneeling on the ground, looked up at him. From behind them, the two Kuchikis were in the midst of their heated fight. Koga was ridiculously strong even without his zanpakutou, and even Byakuya was having a hard time.

Muramasa looked at Ichigo in surprise for a while before recognition dawned on him. "You can hear me, of course."

"Let me heal your wounds." Ichigo was about to touch him but Muramasa slapped his hand away and shunpo'd towards his master. Ichigo watched sadly as Koga didn't even acknowledge the plea in Muramasa's voice, but the zanpakutou still fought together with him. Byakuya, who was already having a hard time with Koga alone, was now starting to lose. And Ichigo didn't even blink twice before he shunpo'd towards them and fought against Muramasa.

"Your help is not needed." Byakuya voiced when the teen thwarted an attack from Muramasa that was supposed to land directly on Byakuya.

"Your welcome, Byakuya." Ichigo said sarcastically as he pushed Muramasa back using his strength. The zanpakutou who had been asleep for almost a hundred year now and contained a deep wound on his torso had no more strength left.

Muramasa felt like he was all alone, fighting Ichigo. He couldn't hear his master's call at all. "He's not worthy of you, Muramasa." Ichigo said as he clashed his sword against the zanpakutou's again. "Though I have no right to say that because I feel that I'm not worthy of Zangetsu and Shiro either." He smiled.

Muramasa felt deep awe when he saw Ichigo smiled at him. Koga used to smile at him like that in the beginning too. But when the Shinigami became stronger, he had forgotten his kindness to his zanpakutou. And now, a total stranger was the one who could hear him, the one who'd smile at him like that, despite the fact that he's an enemy.

Ichigo stopped as well when Muramasa stopped. He watched the contentment in Muramasa's eyes before the zanpakutou fell on his side to the lake, though the teen was fast enough to catch him before he fell but wasn't careful enough to watch where he was stepping. Both of them fell to the lake and Muramasa let himself sink under the water. If his master didn't need him anymore, then he had no right to live. If his master thought that way, then so be it.

Koga, Byakuya observed, was the type to start a fight using his full power to intimidate the enemy, full of arrogant strength and power, and then would resort to using Muramasa's ability in case he was starting to lose. And that was the case now. Koga's power was starting to diminish and he called Muramasa.

But the zanpakutou was currently fighting with Ichigo and could not even hear his voice. The raven saw Ichigo and Muramasa fell to the lake and Byakuya's breathe hitch for some unknown reason. He turned to Koga's bloodied form and watch in utter annoyance as the guy tried to call for Muramasa again.

"Muramasa! Muramasa! You traitor!" He shouted on the lake. "Come forth, now! How dare you betray me again!"

"You sicken me." Byakuya said and he earned a Kuchiki glare from Koga. "A man as lowly as you does not have the right to carry the Kuchiki name."

Muramasa closed his eyes, already prepared to embrace death. He gasped and opened his eyes again, however, when instead of death, warmth embraced him, and tightly. He looked at Ichigo for a while before he remembered to struggle against the hold, even though he wanted to just succumb to the warmth. But he knew he shouldn't, because it would be like betraying Koga.

Ichigo's grip tightened when Muramasa started struggling against him. He would have let the zanpakutou on his own if he could not hear Muramasa's true wish. He wished his master would give him another chance. Muramasa, inside, didn't wish to die…

Ichigo resurfaced just as Koga fell on the other side of the lake. He sighed as Muramasa floated beside him. The zanpakutou saw the death of his master and he felt his whole existence lose its meaning. He wanted to help his master so much, but he couldn't even gather enough strength to swim away from Ichigo's hold. "I told you I'll heal you." The teen lifted the zanpakutou to the ground and laid him on his back.

Muramasa gazed at chocolate eyes above him that were so intent on using a healing kidou on him. He knew that Ichigo sucked at it just from the way his reiatsu kept fluctuating, telling the zanpakutou that it might even be the first time he would use it. And he was awed that Ichigo would waste his time just to treat a nobody like him. Ichigo's eyes were dark and cold, and distant, when far away. But now that he saw it so close, he found out that the teen's eyes were warm, though sad and pained.

Ichigo cursed under his breath when he saw the extent of Muramasa's wound. He now wished he listened more on Kaien's lesson about healing kidou and did not try to run away every time the older male was looking somewhere else.

He looked at Muramasa when a cold hand touched his cheek. "You don't have to heal me, Ichigo. My master is dead. There is no place for me here anymore."

The pain in Ichigo's eyes almost choked Muramasa in their intensity. Those chocolate orbs' gaze held so much grief and he felt like a really worthless zanpakutou for bringing such sadness on the teen.

"Let me heal him." Ichigo looked up at Byakuya who appeared beside him. "I'm more skilled at healing kidou than you are." He nodded before he let Byakuya sat beside him and started to heal Muramasa by placing his palms close to the wound and releasing warm green colored reiatsu. Ichigo watched as the older male let his reiatsu heal Muramasa's wounds. And he knew his respect for Byakuya had grown once again. The man was not as heartless and apathetic as Ichigo originally thought.

"Why are you healing me?" Muramasa asked, though the question was addressed to Ichigo rather than to Byakuya. "I told you, I don't have any purpose anymore. Now that my master has died…"

"Don't you want to be a free zanpakutou?" Ichigo asked innocently, and Muramasa almost chuckled, almost.

"Ichigo Kurosaki, it seems you don't understand the extent of Soul Society's rules." Byakuya said. "Rogue zanpakutous are to be sealed away immediately to not cause any problem."

Ichigo's eyes widened. "Don't tell me you're going to seal him away, Byakuya."

Byakuya didn't have to look at Ichigo to see the pain and the grief in the other's eyes. He could feel it in Ichigo's quiet, barely readable reiatsu. He continued healing the zanpakutou but didn't answer.

"Byakuya!" Ichigo insisted.

"Haven't I told you not to call me so familiarly, boy?" His voice turned colder.

Muramasa looked at the two Shinigamis before he looked at Ichigo. What he was thinking would be impossible. Ichigo might be a very kind person but he was not so kind as to let Muramasa…

Ichigo was thinking of something, though he didn't know if it would work. Actually, he feared that it would backfire against him. He watched as Byakuya finished the treatment and sat up straighter.

"Now, Ichigo Kurosaki, what will you do?" The raven noble asked as he looked at chocolate eyes.

Ichigo bit the inside of his lower lip. He didn't know if his plan would work or if it would make him an exile. But he did know that it would save Muramasa. But the zanpakutou loved his master so much…

'It's okay, King.' Shiro grinned.

'I just hope you won't regret your decision.' Zangetsu voiced. 'Remember, comes with great power a great responsibility.'

"I know, but is it alright with you two?" Ichigo asked his inner spirits.

'The question is not if it's alright with us, King.' Shiro said. 'It'll be, is it alright with Muramasa, and everybody else for that matter.'

He looked at Muramasa for a while before he spoke. "I… I mean, you…" He exhaled. "You can live in my inner world, but only if you want." Muramasa's eyes widened as he gazed at the teen, and Ichigo knew that Byakuya had the same expression even without glancing at the noble.

"Ichigo Kurosaki, it will bring you a lot of trouble." Byakuya said coolly.

Ichigo sighed as he looked at Byakuya. "Can you please not call me by my whole name? Call me Kurosaki or Ichigo, but not Ichigo Kurosaki. It gives me goose bumps." Byakuya blinked at him and he ignored the noble and looked at Muramasa.

"Byakuya Kuchiki is right. You'll only get yourself in trouble if you let me inside your inner world." Muramasa said. As much as he wanted to see Ichigo's inner world, he knew that it'd be a problem for the teen. He'd been an enough problem for Soul Society. And if Ichigo were to protect him from others, Muramasa wasn't sure what it would do to Ichigo.

Ichigo could feel that Muramasa was saying it for him and not for himself. "And you think I will not be in trouble if I let you roam free and then they seal you away and then I might go against everyone because I think that you deserve to be free?"

Byakuya's eyebrow twitched. He learned from Rukia that Karin was Ichigo's younger sister. And if they were really blood-related, then it wasn't impossible to think that Ichigo would go and rescue a zanpakutou even if he had to make an enemy of the whole Gotei 13, just like how Karin made an enemy of them just to rescue Rukia. And with Ichigo's strength, Byakuya doubted any of them could stop the teen, except perhaps the soutaichou.

Muramasa thought about it for a while. Or at least, he tried to think about it for a while. From the start, it had been the same idea that he had thought of. But when Byakuya spoke of the possible consequences, he immediately doubted if he would still want to be with Ichigo. He looked at chocolate orbs again and he knew he couldn't take it if Ichigo was punished just because of him. The teen had been so kind to him.

"Muramasa, I think we don't have a whole day." Ichigo arched an eyebrow as he waited for the zanpakutou's answer.

"Don't make me be haste in my decision." Muramasa's eyebrows furrowed. He wasn't in much pain anymore and he found out that it would be better if he sat. And he did. He closed his eyes and knew that a connection was formed between him and the teen the moment he felt the teen's reiatsu in the cave where his sword form had been buried for a century. Ichigo had been able to hear him from the moment he first talked to the boy, and now, that same boy had somehow managed to dig him up from the suffocating loneliness and pain that he had buried himself in. Though he still loved his master, he knew that a new opportunity was being given to him, to live again and live well.

He gulped as he opened his eyes again. Ichigo was still watching him. "Alright." He smiled a tad. "I'll probably follow you around anyway because I have no more connection to my master." Ichigo blinked. "You won't like it, being constantly stalked by a rogue zanpakutou." And he immediately vanished, just as a sword appeared in his place.

Ichigo closed his eyes and when he opened them again, he was already in his inner world. Or at least he thought it was his inner world. Then what was an ocean doing here? The buildings were still there, horizontal and everything, but now, there was a clear sky and clouds. And there were stones in between the buildings and not far from where he was, there's an ocean looking so blue and serene.

'Ichigo,' He turned around and saw Muramasa standing on one of the buildings. The teen smiled at the zanpakutou.

"Do you like it here?" He asked, and he immediately felt relief when Muramasa nodded. "Though there is someone who likes to fight day and night."

'Did you call for me, King?' Shiro appeared just beside the teen and startled Muramasa.

'Don't worry, he might look like he will eat souls but he's actually harmless, I think.' Zangetsu appeared on Ichigo's other side.

'You have… a Hollow inside you.' Muramasa voiced, but he immediately added some few words when he saw Ichigo's hurt expression. It seemed the teen thought that Muramasa disliked the place now. "I like it here, even if there's a Hollow. Actually, it's good that there are three of us here." He assured Ichigo. It seemed it worked well because Ichigo's stiff shoulder relaxed.

"This is Hichigo Shirosaki, by the way. My other part." Ichigo voiced as he introduced them. "And this is Zangetsu, my zanpakutou."

'Nice to meet you.' Muramasa smiled at the two of them before he turned to Ichigo. 'Thank you for letting me live here.'

"Nah, it's fine." Ichigo shrugged. "It's way too big for just two spirits anyway."

'Just so you know, I can occupy it all if I want to.' Shiro said as he smirked.

"Yeah, yeah. Convince yourself." Ichigo waved before he looked at the three of them. "I hope you three get along." And then he looked at Shiro and narrowed his eyes. "Don't get too excited there. Don't go fighting Muramasa." Shiro merely snorted in answer.

He closed his eyes and when he opened them again, Byakuya was already standing far away, readying for the exit. Ichigo took the sword counterpart of Muramasa and put it on his back together with Zangetsu.

Byakuya, a little earlier, watched as Ichigo meditated and went to his inner world. The teen had a relaxed expression and his normal scowl was not present. It was a… nice expression, to say the least. And he immediately shunpo'd away when he felt that Ichigo was about to open his eyes. He cursed inwardly, not used to doing it aloud, because he felt like a child wanting to hide from his parent because he had done wrong. But there was nothing wrong in saying that Ichigo looked better without the normal scowl, right? He immediately shuddered inwardly at the thought.

The noble opened a Senkai gate on the way back and Ichigo followed in silence. They didn't talk on their way back, but it wasn't an uncomfortable silence. They were both not the type to babble and they both hated blabbering endlessly. Though Ichigo was used to have people blabbering endlessly, he was not that type of person. He had lived in isolation for sixteen years now and only had a little number of friends before he went to Seireitei.

Byakuya glanced sideways at Ichigo and saw, to his amazement, that the teen measure only up to the raven's neck. He thought Ichigo was taller than that. Well, he appeared taller in battle. Then the noble's eyes darted at the sword behind Ichigo, and he knew that it once again made Ichigo stronger without the teen knowing. Ichigo might think that Muramasa would only live in his inner world, but it meant that all of his power would also be Ichigo's. And the moment the two of them agreed that Muramasa should live inside Ichigo, they already formed a contract.

The noble sighed inwardly as the teen became even more troublesome than he already was.

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.tbc.

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Ren-sama's Note:

I so like Muramasa. It's a pity he died in the anime. It would have been better if Ichigo acquired him. Please review!

Yeah, still not enough ByaIchi moments. But still, it's getting there, right? (Or so I hope.)