Notes: This story is probably going to stay Gen, but if you have any suggestions for pairings you really want, I'll certainly take it into consideration. I will not, however, be shipping any of the three with each other.

Orihime tied her kosode and slipped her hakama on over her waist. The bright red trousers were so starkly different to the usual skirt uniform she was used to in school. She rubbed her hands down the side of them. They were a bit silkier than cotton, but not actually silk. She wondered what the material was. Uryuu would probably have known.

Orihime frowned sadly, thinking of her friend. He was alive now, wasn't he? He was just a young teenager at school, probably fighting off Hollows when he got the chance. She hoped he was having a good life. Maybe he and Tatsuki were friends.

Shaking her head to clear her troubled thoughts, Orihime looked around the small space that was her new bedroom. All she had was a futon, a small dresser that held her spare clothes, and some basic toiletries like a comb and feminine products. She wrinkled her nose thinking of those. The weird cloth pad things weren't nearly as convenient as tampons, but she'd figure them out when she needed to.

Ichigo had elected to share the room with Chad, not with her, which made sense. She might not have those feelings for him anymore, but the thought of sharing a room with him made her blush. She'd sleep in the same room with both of them on the run, but for the whole school year a little more normalcy—or as close to it as they could get in Soul Society—was nice.

Kneeling down, Orihime slipped on the sandals and slung her sealed Zanpakuto over her chest so that the sheathed blade rested across her back. She stood and checked her appearance one more time in the small mirror mounted to the wall. She'd put her long hair up in a similar fashion as the first time she'd been in Soul Society—with half of it pulled back and clipped together and the other half loose over her shoulders.

"Okay!" Orihime said. She grabbed the small bag that had been with the clothes Fukui had given them. It held a folder, some paper, a few old-fashioned pencils, and her schedule. Every school was basically the same and Orihime had always been a good student. Besides, taking notes on Kidou techniques would probably be more interesting than her old classes.

Orihime opened the sliding door to her room and walked into the common room. There was a tiny bathroom that led off from it which had a half-bath, a toilet, and a sink. The common room held a small table for them to do their homework on. Overall, the suite was plain but it was theirs for the next couple years.

Ichigo and Chad were already sitting in the common room waiting on her. Like her, they had their uniforms on—theirs in the color blue—and their bags and Zanpakuto swords slung over their shoulders.

"Yo, 'Hime," Ichigo said. "You're slow. We're gonna be late for the opening ceremony if we don't go now."

"Don't ever tell a girl she took too much time to get ready, Ichi-nii," Orihime said, huffing at him. "It's rude." She let the thrill of calling her brother set in again. She hoped she never got used to that, used to the happiness it gave her. "Good morning, Chad-kun."

Chad nodded to her. "Morning, Orihime."

Orihime smiled. She'd started using the nickname Ichigo had given Sado several years ago. He'd barely blinked at it the first time and had immediately switched to calling her by her first name, thus making Orihime the only other person besides Ichigo that Chad allowed call him that. He'd corrected more than one Shinigami who'd attempted to use the nickname during the course of the war.

Ichigo rolled his eyes at Orihime and led them out of the suite. They had yet to meet their neighbors, though they honestly hadn't tried. They'd made the pact to graduate in two years, after all, which meant they'd quickly be far beyond their fellow first years. That was okay, though, Orihime thought. They had each other and soon they'd be able to become friends again with the Shinigami already in Gotei 13.

The dorm they were placed in, Buyuda Dorm, was one of the smallest and it was situated right up against the inner wall of Seireitei. Shin'ou Academy was actually several buildings all clumped together inside the eastern wall. The welcoming ceremony was taking place in the largest building that held all the big lecture halls. Luckily, it was easy to find.

Orihime had to separate from Ichigo and Chad once they were inside since the students were divided by gender. She clasped her hands together, not liking being unable to see them amongst so many strangers, even if the girls surrounding her were future allies in the war.

"Greetings new students!" the man behind the podium said. "I am your headmaster, Ito Kateyoshi."

The headmaster was younger-looking than Orihime expected. He had black hair streaked with white and slicked back against his head. His eyes were a piercing garnet and he wore the usual black Shinigami outfit, but with a white vest over it similar to what the captains had—except the symbol on the back was the Academy logo, not a Division number.

"Welcome to Shin'ou," Ito continued. "I will not lie to you, most of you will take six years to graduate. Few among you may take only four. Perhaps one among you will graduate in three years." He placed both hands on the podium. "When you graduate, a few of you may go on to become ranked officers in one of the thirteen divisions. Your task is to work to become one of those few."

Orihime looked around her. She knew she was probably better at fighting than nearly all the other girls looking up at the headmaster and most of the boys on the other side of the hall too. She'd never wanted to become a warrior, but war had made it a necessity. She'd also remained the second best healer under Unohana-taichou, especially after Isane-fukutaichou had been killed. But she didn't know how her old power would transfer over from being a Fullbring to a Zanpakuto.

Orihime knew it wasn't likely that she, Chad, and Ichigo would be placed in the same division when they gradated. She'd make herself useful wherever she was placed, for them and for all of Soul Society. She wouldn't let Ichigo leave her behind again.

Headmaster Ito said only a few more words, thinly veiled references to the prodigies of the past, and dismissed them to their first classes. Orihime stayed where she was as the crowd pushed around her, not willing to get lost within it.

Ichigo and Chad found her a second later. She smiled and let them walk on either side of her. It was overprotective of them, but she knew better than to argue about it. Regardless, she could always put up a shield around them if she saw something coming.

Orihime shook her head. They weren't at war yet—they didn't need to be so cautious. At least, they shouldn't have to be.

"Doing okay, 'Hime?" Ichigo asked softly as they walked three-abreast through the throng of students toward their first class.

"Considering the circumstances," Orihime stated, and said nothing more. She knew neither of them had slept well last night either.

Chad brushed his arm against hers and she smiled up at him, before looking forward again. They were together and they had a second chance—that was all that mattered.


Onabara Gengorou, the instructor for the advanced class, was a no-nonsense sort. Chad found he liked the man and he could tell his two friends also approved of him. From the start, Onabara told them he would tolerate no slacking off.

"You're the advanced class," he said. "That tells me you have potential. That doesn't tell me anything about how you'll serve Seireitei and the Gotei 13. It's up to you to prove that through your hard work."

"Yes, sensei!" the class responded.

Onabara nodded and then launched into a lecture about the original and current purpose of the thirteen divisions. Chad dutifully took notes. He honestly hadn't known much of what their instructor was saying. Most of his experience within Soul Society had related directly to the war and, really, Seireitei had been in too much disrepair to function as it used to.

Chad frowned. He didn't know what he and Ichigo and Orihime could do to stop the war from happening. He didn't know if it was possible, even. All he knew was that it couldn't get as bad as it had. They wouldn't let it.

"Now," Onabara said, finishing up his lecture about the various functions of the thirteen divisions. "This is your first day at the Academy, but I can assume you've all thought about this some. Every kid in Soul Society has dreams about being a Shinigami." The man grinned. "I know I was one."

Chad glanced and Orihime and they both shared a smile. Neither of them had dreamed of that. They'd been content with learning how to deal with their own powers. It was strange being where they were now, he thought. He was only twenty and yet he felt like he'd lived five lifetimes. And here he was starting it all over again.

"We're going to go around the room," Onabara said. "Tell me your name, so I can start learning them, and what division you'd love to end up in." He paused. "Keep in mind, you have no guarantee you'll end up there and you might even change your mind in the next few years. That being said, I'm sure you have one in mind. So tell us and include your reasoning, whatever that may be."

Chad listened as the students of the class spoke up one by one as their instructor pointed to them. He didn't recognize anyone in the class, but then he—by association with Ichigo—had only really gotten to know the upper ranks of the Gotei 13, well, them and the Vizard.

It was Orihime's turn, sitting just in front of Ichigo and to Chad's right. "My name is Inoue Orihime." She glanced at Ichigo and bit her bottom lip. "I think I'd be most useful in the Fourth Division."

Someone in the class snorted and Chad glared. He agreed with Orihime.

Surprisingly, Onabara was also glaring. "That's an admirable choice, Inoue," he said, and then turned in the direction of the snorting student. "I don't want to hear anything bad said about the Fourth. They are the most hardworking division in Seireitei and will likely hold your life in their hands at some point. Show them some respect."

Chad nodded to himself at the words, remembering all the times he'd been laid in bed in the Fourth barracks, recovering from various battle wounds.

"Next," Onabara said.

"Inoue Ichigo," Ichigo said, also glaring at the student who'd snorted at Orihime. "I want to go to the Fifth."

Oh, Ichigo, Chad thought. He exchanged a glance with Orihime.

"For Aizen-taichou?" Onabara guessed. "He's a popular captain to work under."

Chad discreetly balled his right hand into a fist. He saw Ichigo just give their instructor a bland smile. "Yes."

Onabara nodded and looked to Chad, who was next because there was no one sitting behind him. Chad straightened slightly in his seat. "Sado Yasutora. I would also like to join the Fifth, sensei."

"Very good, Sado-san." Onabara said, and moved on.

Chad saw Orihime give him a smile. Chad gave her a discreet nod. He wasn't going to leave Ichigo alone, no matter what. If Ichigo was going into the Fifth to keep an eye on Aizen, then Chad was following.

Ichigo huffed softly and rolled his eyes. Chad smirked at him and turned his attention back to the front as the last student finished and Onabara continued with his lesson.


Hisaishi Morotimo was one of the Hohou instructors at the Academy. He was a strange man, always smiling and laughing, even and perhaps especially when the students were lying exhausted on the ground from a day of brutal training. By the end of the first week, he seemed to have taken a liking especially to Ichigo who, he said, showed the most potential in Hohou since Ichimaru Gin learned how to shunpo within two months. Ichigo had been forced to bite his tongue when Hisaishi had mentioned that. He'd learned shunpo in a matter of days, after all, from the Goddess of it herself.

Only three weeks into their classes, Hisaishi announced that the first year students would be given a special treat.

"My sixth year class needs some confidence," Hisaishi said with the air of someone sharing a secret. "They'll all hopefully graduate soon and they need to realize how far they've come along and you, my first years, need to realize where you can get to with some hard work in my class. So for the next fortnight, during class, you'll be working with an assigned sixth year on your speed and agility."

Ichigo frowned, not excited about some sixth year attempting to show off to him. He'd never been able to stand for people boasting at him. He was twenty and supposedly had learned self-control at some point in his later teenage years, but truthfully he could see himself flash stepping just to shut up whoever he was assigned with.

Judging by the worried looks Orihime and Chad were throwing his way, they were worried about that to. Ichigo sighed.

"Inoue-san," Hisaishi said, motioning to Ichigo. Ichigo stepped forward and allowed the instructor to draw him aside. "You're by far the most advanced student in class right now."

"My sister and C- ah, Sado are just as good."

"Your sister has amazing agility, yes, but she needs to work on her endurance. Sado-san's speed has improved remarkably, but he's not as agile. In time, yes, they could be as good as you are, but they haven't yet reached that point." Hisaishi smiled. "Don't worry, Inoue-san, I'll be putting them both with two of my best sixth years to help them improve. However, there is no one in my current sixth year class who'd be able to keep up with you."

Ichigo shrugged. "I'll just work by myself then."

"Ah, well." Hisaishi laughed a bit. "I have a favor to ask, actually."

Ichigo scowled. Hisaishi's smile grew wider. Ichigo crossed his arms. "What is it?"

"I have a sixth year student who struggles with Hohou." He paused. "And Zanjutsu, and Hakada, really everything physical. Don't get me wrong, apparently he's brilliant theoretically, but I'm concerned with how little he's improved. He's not ready to graduate at this point and that's problematic."

"You want me to tutor him?"

"It's just for two weeks."

Ichigo huffed. "I won't go easy on him."

Hisaishi grinned and clapped Ichigo on the shoulder. "Knew I could count on you." He stepped back and addressed the class. "Alright, the students should be arriving in an hour or so. Until then—let's run!" The class groaned as one.

An hour later, Ichigo stood stretching his arms as Orihime gasped over her knees and Chad rubbed her back. Hisaishi was practically bouncing as he welcomed the sixth year students. Ichigo could tell that most of the students were giving them sympathetic looks, but a couple of them were sneering superiorly.

Hisaishi started pairing people off. Ichigo looked over the two he assigned to Orihime and Chad. Orihime's partner was a small girl Ichigo vaguely remembered seeing around the Thirteenth Division. She had braided pigtails and wide eyes and she practically shunpo'd to Orihime's side. Ichigo figured they'd be fine. Chad's partner was a male about Ichigo's size with dark hair and eyes. Ichigo didn't remember seeing him before, but if he was truly good at Hohou it was possible the Second Division picked, or would pick him up after graduation.

"Ah, and last is Ichigo," Hisaishi said. "Ichigo, this is–"

Ichigo drowned the instructor out as a stared a painstakingly familiar face. Yamada Hanatarou still had his same blue eyes and bob-cut black hair, but he was noticeably younger, more nervous. Actually, Ichigo thought as he studied the short male, Hanatarou looked more like Ichigo had seen him when he first met the boy, back when Hanatarou had been knocked around by those Eleventh Division low lifes he'd been there to help.

Toward the end of the war, Hanatarou had been different. Small still and still with dull blue eyes, but he'd stepped up as the third seat of the Fourth, often directly beside Unohana and Orihime as they worked to heal whoever they could. He hadn't stayed away from the battles either, fighting to protect the wounded with a ferocity that had led him to being nicknamed the mother bear of the infirmary.

That Hanatarou had been Ichigo's friend and ally. He'd been able to count on that Hanatarou. This Hanatarou was too nervous, too weak, too much of a victim. Ichigo could tell that in one look and it make him irrationally angry. Hanatarou seemed to sense the anger, for he flinched back.

Fuck this, Ichigo thought. He looked to Hisaishi, who had an uncharacteristically serious look on his face. Ichigo nodded once and Hisaishi smiled before turning away. Ichigo looked back at Hanatarou.

"Come on," he said.

Hanatarou squeaked and then followed after Ichigo meekly as he walked them to the other end of the training yard. Ichigo spun and then spat another mental curse as Hanatarou flinched back. Ichigo was a protector, it was in his blood. He couldn't stop those instincts even if he wanted to. He'd known Hanatarou had it back in the past, known because Hanatarou had made references to how people hadn't liked how quickly he'd climbed in the ranks of the Fourth because of his innate healing talent, but he hadn't realized it had started back in the Academy.

Hanatarou was his friend, or had been. If there was one thing Ichigo made sure everyone knew, it was that no one messed with his friends.

"Okay, so we're gonna spar," Ichigo stated. "I want to see where you are with your Hohou and Hakada. I'm just going to defend, so attack me as hard as you can."

"I- but, Inoue-san," Hanatarou stuttered. "What if I hurt you?"

Ichigo couldn't help but smile. Hanatarou was a healer at heart, even if he didn't know it yet. "Don't worry. I can take anything you throw at me. And call me Ichigo."

Hanatarou turned red. Ichigo was displeased to note he was practically shaking as he took a fighting stance. Ichigo huffed. "Widen your stance," he stated. "Bring your arms up more. Honestly, who's teaching you Hakada? No, don't answer that, just fix your form."

Within the first minute of their spar, if he could even call it that, Ichigo had identified no less than five problems. "Okay, stop," he said, blocking another weak block. "Seriously, stop everything you're doing."

Hanatarou froze, his whole body stuttering almost comically. Ichigo scratched his head and then shook it. "We're going to start from the basics," he stated. "Come on, we're running."

Hanatarou squeaked and took a step forward, only to trip and fall flat on his face. Ichigo stared. Blinked. Stared some more.

Muffled laughter came from behind Ichigo's shoulder. He turned and glared as he saw the earlier sneering sixth years pointing at Hanatarou and laughing. Their first year partners were hesitantly joining it. Ichigo sharpened his glare and immediately the first years shut up. The sixth years, though, just kept laughing. Ichigo shook his head. He didn't have time to deal with them, not yet. He turned back to Hanatarou and held out his hand.

Hanatarou stared up at Ichigo with such surprise in his eyes that Ichigo wanted to march right over to those sixth years and punch them into next week. He hesitantly put his hand in Ichigo's and then tensed as if he expected Ichigo to throw him or something. Ichigo just held him to his feet and patted his shoulder.

"Ignore them," he said. "Like they've never tripped in their lives."

"No," Hanatarou said softly, surprising Ichigo. "I'm just really clumsy."

Ichigo scowled. "Well then get better. All it takes it practice and persistence. Chin up. You look like you're carrying the world on your shoulders."

Hanatarou looked down instead, taking Ichigo's chastisement and not his words. "Sorry, Inoue-san."

"I told you, it's Ichigo." He considered the small male for a moment. "What's a Shinigami's job?"


"What's the purpose of Shinigami?"

Hanatarou stared, but when it became clear Ichigo was just going to wait for an answer, he hesitantly said, "To protect souls."

Ichigo nodded. "And why do you want to be a Shinigami?"

"To… help, I guess."

"Help protect souls?"

"If I can."

"There's no if you can. You can. You're here, aren't you? You're going to be a Shinigami. So why are you hesitating?"

Hanatarou looked a little shell-shocked, so Ichigo switched tracks. "Actually, I think we should work on your balance. It's all about knowing your center, your core." He reached forward, patiently waiting as Hanatarou automatically flinched. Once Hanatarou was looking at him again, he took the small sixth year by the shoulders and moved him. "Stand on one foot."

Hanatarou complied. Ichigo settled Hanatarou's shoulders over his foot. "Like that," he said. "Does that feel stable?"


"Good, I'm going to let go." As soon as he did, Hanatarou wavered. Ichigo caught him by the shoulders before he could fall. "Suck in your stomach," he said. "And straighten your shoulders. Keep looking at me."

It took Hanatarou another couple seconds that time before his trained cowering, and therefore slouching, had him unbalancing himself. Ichigo kept him at it relentlessly, until Hanatarou's right leg was shaking. Then he had Hanatarou switch the other leg and keep going.

By the time the class ended, Hanatarou was actually keeping his back straight and his chin up, even when he was back to standing on two shaky legs. Ichigo gave him a proud smile. "Good job," he said. "Keep doing that. Whenever you're standing in line for something or waiting or whatever, just pick up a leg. It'll really help your balance, and in the long run that'll help everything else."

"Thank you, Ichigo-san!" Hanatarou said, giving Ichigo a shy smile.

Ichigo shrugged away the thanks. "Thank me by being better next class so we can work on other stuff."

Hanatarou bowed, shocking Ichigo for a moment. "I will, Ichigo-san. I promise."

"Yeah yeah," Ichigo muttered as Hanatarou walked away.

Orihime and Chad came to his side. "I didn't know Hanatarou-kun was so young," Orihime murmured.

"Me neither," Ichigo said. "I knew he was younger than a lot of ranked officers, but not this young."

Chad crossed his arms. "You're going to help him." Ichigo knew Chad meant in more ways than just what Hisaishi had asked for.

"Of course he is," Orihime stated before Ichigo could. "He's Ichigo."

Chad smiled and nodded. Ichigo looked between the two of them and rolled his eyes. "Well, he's my friend."

"Then he'll be our friend this time too," Orihime said. "You should invite him to eat with us after next class, Ichi-nii."

Chad nodded.

Ichigo smiled. "If you two are sure."

"Of course we are. He was my friend also, you know. We worked together a lot." Her eyes grew haunted for a moment, as they always did when she remembered the victims of Aizen's war.

Ichigo threw an arm over Orihime's shoulder, tucking her in close. "Then I'll ask," he said. "Until then, let's get some food now."


Much later that same night, Chad was walking back from the supply store. He'd ruined his sandals during running that day. His sixth year partner told him he apparently put too much weight on the balls of his feet when he ran.

Swinging the new sandals over one shoulder, Chad took a short cut through one of the outer training yards, only to stop as he heard the now familiar voice of his Hohou instructor.

"I think I've got another prodigy," Hisaishi was saying.

"Oh?" another voice asked.

Chad froze. He recognized that male voice, recognized it just as well as he recognized the female voice that could also come from that same person.

Holding himself as unobtrusively as possible, Chad crept around the corner and peered into the yard. Hisaishi was sitting on the ground, his zanpakuto in his lap. Sitting across from him was Yoruichi, her sleek black cat form barely visible in the night light.

"His name is Inoue Ichigo," Hisaishi said. "But that's not the most interesting thing about him."

Yoruichi flicked an ear, a signal Chad recognized from his time training under the cat as indication to go on.

"His hair is orange, but if it weren't for that… he'd be a copy of Kaien."

Yoruichi jumped to all four paws. "Hisaishi."

"Trust me, some of the other teachers have commented on the same. He's probably not related. I mean, he has a sister and she looks nothing like the Shibas, but if I didn't know better I'd say that boy was part of the clan."

Yoruichi sat again, her tail twitching. "And he's a prodigy at Hohou?"

"Not just Hohou, or so Gengorou says." Hisaishi leaned forward. "It's a shame. If it weren't for him, his sister and their friend would be considered the stars of this first year group, but he certainly outshines them."

"Too flashy then, for Soi Fon to recruit into the Onmitsukido," Yoruichi stated.

"Maybe," Hisaishi agreed. "I'm not sure he'd want to, anyone. According to Gengorou, he wants to go into the Fifth."

Yoruichi stayed silent. Chad held his breath.

Hisaishi drummed his fingers on his knee. "There you go again," he murmurs. "Why is it that you get so quiet when I try to bring up the Fifth? Not just the Fifth, but the ex-Captains and Lieutenants that mysteriously disappeared the same time you did."

"Drop it, Morotimo," Yoruichi hissed. "You don't want to get involved."

"Don't I?" Hisaishi hissed back. "I was one of your officers for years, Yoruichi-sama. Soi Fon has done what she can, but she's not you."

"Is that why you left? Why you're wasting your talents teaching children instead of helping Soi Fon run our Division?" Yoruichi started pacing back and forth, her tail still twitching in aggravation. "I did what I had to, Morotimo."

Hisaishi scowled and looked away, except that away happened to be in Chad's directly. Chad froze, but it was too late. Hisaishi had noticed him. Chad turned as if to run, and immediately he was met with his instructor, who'd shunpo'd behind him.

"If it isn't Sado-san," Hisaishi said, his eyes hard. "Eavesdropping on your instructors is hardly nice."

Chad felt more than he saw Yoruichi walk up on his other side, still in cat form. It hardly mattered, Chad had heard enough that, had he been a different person, he could have incriminated both of them to Central 46.

"That was stupid," Chad stated, because he'd always been blunt and had grown to be even more vocal about it during the war. "Don't have such private conversations where anyone could walk by."

Hisaishi continued to just stare at him. Chad shrugged. "Don't worry, sensei," he said. "And Yoruichi-san." He turned around and looked down at the cat, who stared up at him with familiar eyes. "You're not the only one with secrets."

"And what exactly do you mean by that?" Hisaishi asked coldly.

"That you can trust us." That was Ichigo. Chad turned and glared slightly as his orange-haired friend shunpo'd to his side.

"Inoue-san," Hisaishi stated.

Yoruichi walked over to stand by Hisaishi. "You're right," she said. "He does look like Kaien."

"Sorry, I'm an Inoue, not a Shiba," Ichigo stated. He turned to Chad. "You were taking too long, so I came to find you."

"And 'Hime?"

"She's still at the dorm."

Chad nodded.

"Explain," Hisaishi said. "Now, if you please."

Ichigo gave their instructor an exasperated look. "We already knew that Yoruichi was the one to help Urahara and all the hollowfied captains and lieutenants escape a hundred years ago. We found out a long time ago. Don't worry, we haven't told anyone and we won't."

There was silence for a moment.

"I believe him," Yoruichi stated. "There's more to the story, obviously, but he's telling the truth about that."

Considering how good Yoruichi was at reading people, Chad wasn't surprised when Hisaishi relaxed just a little bit.

"Damn kid," Hisaishi murmured. "So, you already know shunpo, huh?"

Ichigo scratched his head. "Uh, yeah, sorry. Please don't tell anyone?"

Hisaishi shook his head. "As if. I'll be having you demonstrate for class."

Ichigo winced and Chad hid a smile behind his hand.

"There's something about you," Yoruichi said then. "Something familiar." She peered up at Ichigo. "It's not just the Kaien thing. Something about how your reiatsu feels."

Chad looked at Ichigo, worried. He wasn't sure what exactly Yoruichi was sensing—perhaps Ichigo's hollow or his connection with the Kurosakis, but either way it wasn't good.

Ichigo scowled. "Look, we're on your side. That's all you need to know."

Yoruichi bared her fangs in a mock smile. "Sure." She flicked her ears toward Hisaishi. "Well this has been fun, but I have things to do and people to see. I'll talk to you later Morotimo. Don't get killed before I return."

"As always."

The three of them watched the cat bound off, and then Hisaishi laughed, his usual cheerful demeanor coming back. "She's going to spy on you like no tomorrow now, Inoue."

"I'm not that interesting," Ichigo stated, his usual scowl still prominent.

Chad and Hisaishi exchanged commiserating looks. "Right," Hisaishi said. "Well, I'll see you two in class tomorrow. Try not to go eavesdropping on any other instructors. They might not be as lenient as me."

There was a threat in Hisaishi's words, just daring either one of them to say anything about what had happened. Chad nodded and Ichigo followed suit a moment later. Hisaishi smiled wider and waved goodbye before wandering off.

Chad looked to Ichigo. Ichigo looked back.

"You're explaining this to Orihime," Ichigo said finally.

Chad winced and nodded.