Ichigo had been at Kisuke's for about a week. Shirosaki seemed to be doing much better, personality wise, but his wounds hadn't healed and he was still scared to death of anyone other than Ichigo.

Kisuke had a theory that Shirosaki simply recognized Ichigo's presence, and so he sought comfort from familiarity. But Ichigo questioned that theory when after a week Kisuke still terrified Shirosaki.

Shirosaki had also gained a couple pounds of weight, going from 123 pounds to 127. Ichigo knew it wasn't enough. Shirosaki was supposed to mirror him to the exact detail, which meant there was a long way to go to get Shirosaki back to 185 pounds.

"Are you ready?" Kisuke questioned from the door way.

Ichigo stood and nodded. "Thank you Kisuke, for everything."

"It's not a problem Ichigo-san!" Kisuke waved his fan in mock embarrassment. "Oh, and there's one more thing I want to give you before you go."

"What's that?"

"A gigai for Shirosaki-san!" Kisuke seemingly pulled the gigai out from nowhere. It matched Shirosaki near perfectly, only the eyes were a little… "They're off, I know, but nothing I did could match his!"

Ichigo didn't quite look convinced. "It's fine. Really. It's far better than nothing. Though I'm going to have a tough time explaining this to my family, especially my dad…"

"This gigai was built like the one I gave to Rukia. Rather than supressing his power, it'll convert it to a human's presence. Other Shinigami will sense him as you, and other hollows will think he's just a normal level human and won't go after him."

Ichigo turned to Shirosaki, who was sitting on the floor. Ichigo crouched down to Shirosaki's level, holding out his hand. "I'd like to give it a try, okay? I promise I won't let it hurt you."

Shirosaki was shaking when he took Ichigo's hand. Ichigo helped him stand, the carried Shirosaki over to the gigai. Shirosaki looked to Ichigo with fear, but a kind smile made all of Shirosaki's doubts vanish. He closed his eyes and relaxed as Ichigo placed him in the gigai.

Shirosaki slowly opened his new body's eyes. His black sclera had become white, his irises a soft yellow. His skin had also gained some tan, though it remained relatively pale. Ichigo's smile widened and Shirosaki returned Ichigo's smile, sensing the happiness in his reiatsu.

"I can't sense a thing," Kisuke commented.

"Me neither, but I'm not good at that kinda stuff…"

"That you aren't." Kisuke slid open the door. "I can give your family a call and let them know what's going on, hmm? Say you found 'im bruised and beaten in an a-"

"Thank you, Kisuke, for everything." Ichigo bowed, and then sighed. "But I think it's time my family knew the whole truth."

"In that case, I'll ask to speak to your father." Ichigo slid his arms under Shirosaki's body and gently lifted him into his arms. Shirosaki buried his face in Ichigo's neck, practically inhaling the calm aura Ichigo had. Kisuke smiled and thought to himself, My, my, Kurosaki-san, how you've grown.

Ichigo started for the door, but Kisuke suddenly stopped him.

"Oh! And one more thing," the shopkeeper called. Ichigo looked back over his shoulder. "I'll come check on Shirosaki-san tomorrow to see how he's doing. Sound fair?"

Ichigo nodded. "Yeah, sure."

Kisuke unhooked the phone and started dialing Kurosaki Clinic's number. He spared Ichigo a small smile before Ichigo finally left the shop. As the orangette walked a thought occurred, How does Kisuke know our number?

He shook it off. Looking at Shirosaki, Ichigo asked, "Do you think you're ready for this?"

Shirosaki tilted his head like he didn't understand. His grip tightened on Ichigo's Shihakusho as he sensed worry sink into the orangette's reiatsu. Ichigo sighed and whispered, "I'm so sorry. I should've seen what would happen if I pushed you away, but I couldn't, and…"

Shirosaki stared into Ichigo's eyes. He looked like he was begging, begging for Ichigo to be happy, to smile, to not cry. The hollow pulled Ichigo's Shihakusho and lifted himself up. He nuzzled his face beneath Ichigo's chin, saying without speaking that he didn't like it when Ichigo was sad.


Isshin was waiting out front when Ichigo arrived. He was in his Shinigami attire, arms crossed and looking dead serious in the dark shadows of early morning. Ichigo gulped, Shirosaki shifted uncomfortably at Ichigo's nervousness and Isshin continue to stare.

There was no conversation as they entered the house. Ichigo placed Shirosaki down on the couch, the latter reluctant to let go of Ichigo. Once the Shinigami had managed to get his hollow half to release his Shihakusho, he turned to his dad.

"Dad-"

"Ichigo, why?"

Shirosaki looked to Isshin before staring worriedly back up at Ichigo.

"Why what?"

"Why are you sheltering that thing?"

Ichigo felt anger take root in his heart. "Thing? Dad, he's a part of me, and he's a living being, so don't you dare call him a 'thing'!"

"Ichigo, it's a hollow! The same thing that killed Masaki! The same thing that hurt Karin and Yuzu! And the same thing that nearly destroyed you!"

Ichigo could feel his hands unwillingly ball into fists. "I know exactly what he is. I'm telling you now, I've made a huge mistake, and I need to fix it."

"You're right," Isshin said, annoyance clearly written on his face. "You have made a mistake. And on the path to fixing it, you can start by getting rid of that thing-"

Isshin was cut off as Ichigo's fist collided with the side of his face. Isshin fell to the ground. Ichigo was fuming. His shoulders heaved up and down with his heavy breath. "Don't you dare let me catch you doing anything that'd hurt him more than he already is."

Ichigo turned to Shirosaki who was cowering in fear.

Instantly Ichigo dropped his knees by Shirosaki. He stretched out his hand, but Shirosaki jerked away.

"Ichi-nii? Is that you?"

Ichigo looked up. "Yuzu?"

"I can't see you. You're all blurry!" Yuzu called in slight panic.

"What are you talking about?" Karin asked from the stairs, yawning and rubbing her eyes. "He's right there Yuzu. How can you not-? What on earth are you wearing!?"

"Uhh…" Ichigo scratched the back of his head nervously, looking down at his Shihakusho. "It's kind of… a long story…"


Ichigo's explaining everything to his sisters. What will happen once they know the truth? And what will their reaction be to Shirosaki?

I need to stop asking questions like some narrator on a TV show…