Ichigo stared down at the paper, twirled his pencil, chewed his bottom lip. He did not think about this. He did not even see this coming.
His teacher had handed out these "evaluations" earlier that day. "Please return these when you're done," she called out cheerfully.
Everyone else in the classroom jotted down their answers with no difficulty. Keigo was boasting to other people about his career choice: becoming a TV celebrity. He was undeterred by the groans and "yeah, right"'s.
Ichigo glanced at his friends Chad and Orihime. Chad didn't seem troubled at all. In fact he was already handing his to the teacher. Orihime was frowning slightly, but it wasn't due to indecision but due to concentration. Tatsuki peeked over her shoulder and Orihime covered her paper, blushing wildly.
And of course, Ishida was pushing up his glasses in that princely matter of his and neatly finishing up his answers.
Ichigo sighed. He decided to just write down the typical answer. "Go to university."
He could imagine though the teacher going, "Which one?"
Ichigo didn't know. Let's just say that with all the Menos Grandes, Arrancars, Vizards or whatever Shinigami stuff taking over his life for the past two years he hasn't had time to really think about universities.
But what could he write down? Surely not, under future plans, "Try to stay alive while killing Hollows and helping dead people when I can."
They would drag him off to an asylum for sure.
Ichigo was starting to have an epiphany. He couldn't go on doing what he's been doing forever. For one thing - killing Hollows doesn't pay a single cent! The Kurosaki clinic's been doing alright so far, but what his dad's been making isn't nearly enough to put Karin and Yuzu through university. And Yuzu wants to be a lawyer (it was a weird goal for her but she's been adamant about it ever since watching an inspiring drama about prosecutors). Law school tuition isn't cheap! And even though Ichigo wasn't sure what Karin is thinking (he never was, that sister of his is sure one tough nut to crack), it will likely be expensive. For all he knows she might want to be an astronaut!
And what about Ichigo himself? Does he really want to do this pain-in-the-ass job that doesn't pay a single cent forever? It's not like Sereitei really needs him anymore anyway. Aizen's caught and holed up in his prison, Afro-dude can keep the Hollows in town under control well enough (and if he can't, that's Urahara's problem, not Ichigo's), and if Ichigo quits his Shinigami gig then none of his friends will be in danger of being kidnapped. It's a win-win situation for all.
No more crazy spanish-speaking monsters chasing him down... no more leaving Kon to inhabit his body and ruin his reputation while he goes off risking his life... no more annoying strangers picking battles with him left and right...
Ichigo snapped out of his reverie.
"Nice to see you joining us," said the teacher. Everyone laughed and there was a chorus of 'ha, you were drooling.' "QUIET!" she yelled.
"As I was saying," she said to the class brightly. "Today we have a new student to introduce. She just transferred from another school so I want you to be really nice and welcoming. Come in, come in," she waved at someone standing in the hall.
"Yes, it's a girl!" whispered the guys while the girls rolled their eyes.
"Ok, everyone," said the teacher as the student entered the room. "This is..."
"Rukia. Kuchiki Rukia."
Ichigo fell out of his chair.
"What is with you today, Kurosaki!" cried the teacher. Everyone again laughed. Ichigo, however, was too busy staring at the new transfer student with bugging eyes.
It's Rukia! Wait a minute, something was weird... Like, um, deja vu?
"Watcha staring at?" snapped Rukia. "Get yourself together! It's time to beat up some Hollows! C'mon!" She threw a flying kick into the side of his head. She had on her special gloves. On her head was a Chappi hat - wait, what?
"Kurosaki has his retarded face on," the guy sitting in front of Ichigo remarked, turning around. Wait a minute - that's - Renji?
"He does," agreed the teacher. Who wasn't the teacher - but - Byakuya?
"Give him a break, guys," the student who sat behind him said. Ichigo turned to see - old man Yamamoto?
"No way, he's forgotten us," another voice spoke at the window. Hitsugaya? Another face popped behind him. "Oh taichou, I can't believe he did," pouted Matsumoto...?
"ICHIGO! YOU STILL OWE ME ANOTHER FIGHT!" Oh god, there's Kenpachi...
"Hey, are you even listening?" said Rukia, slapping Ichigo's cheek. "Hey, hey, are you, like, dead?"
" - HELLO? EARTH TO ICHIGO!"
Ichigo opened his eyes to see a foot placed on his mouth.
"WHAT THE F&*^sdf" He pushed it away and gagged, scrubbing at his lips with... his pillow.
"Hmph, about time you woke up," grinned Papa Kurosaki. "I KNEW YOU COULDN'T WITHSTAND MY NECK HOLD OF DEATH - "
Ichigo punched his dad in the nose. Ignoring Isshin's injured whines, Ichigo gathered in his surroundings.
He was in bed. In his bedroom. So... it was just a dream.
He chuckled at himself. Because, duh. From the beginning he should've realized it was a dream. One of the biggest plot holes should've been glaringly obvious.
Because like he had fantasized in his dream, he wasn't a Hollow-killing-substitute Shinigami anymore... He really, literally, had quit this job that didn't pay a single cent.
He really wouldn't ever be chased down by Spanish-speaking monsters.
Or get his friends kidnapped.
Or be off risking his life while a perverted mod soul frolicked around town in his body.
Or take up battles with annoying strangers left and right.
That chapter of his life was in the past now... because Ichigo hasn't had his spiritual powers for 16 months and 29 days.
Not that he was counting.
And needless to say, he hasn't seen Renji, Byakuya, Hitsugaya, Matsumoto, old man Yamamoto, or Kenpachi in those 16 months and 29 days.
Not Rukia either.
"Get dressed," Isshin was saying, rubbing his nose. He threw something heavy at Ichigo; Ichigo caught it. "Did you have a nice dream?" Isshin asked, smiling creepily. "I heard you saying someone's name..."
Ichigo jabbed a finger at the door. Isshin went, dejected.
Ichigo looked down at his bookbag. When Isshin threw it in midair a piece of paper had gotten loose and was now fluttering in Ichigo's lap. He turned it over. On it read, "Future Plans Evaluation - Fill out and Return!"
He skipped down a few lines to where it said, "What do you wish to do after graduation?"
Beneath it, "Go to university" was written but crossed out. Next to it was scrawled in a hurried hand, "Try to stay alive while killing Hollows and helping dead people when I can."
Beneath that was written, in smaller handwriting, as if on afterthought, "Be with my friends. Even the death god ones."
He couldn't wait to see the expression on his teacher's face when he turns this in.