It was honestly such a coincidence that I had to remind myself the Soul King was dismembered and incapable of making any affect on the worlds outside of keeping them from collapsing. I had been lounging on the grass by the river, enjoying the breeze and the feel of my mother's presence in the air. There was a mild chill from it being late at night in early fall, the sky dark with the stars twinkling up above. Overall, there had been a great atmosphere, I was halfway to falling asleep when I sensed a garganta opening. At first, it had been my full intention to let Shiro out to take down the hollow.

Then I realized I was intimately familiar with the reiatsu signature of the hollow in question. My eyes snapped open as I shot up into a sitting position, my head pointed directly in the direction of where the signature appeared.

'Is that!?' I had to ask my zanpakuto, needing the confirmation that I wasn't imagining things.

'Yes, that is indeed Grand Fisher.' Ossan's voice was low.

'And it looks like the bastard went and turned himself into an arrancar, too.' There was a feral glee in Shiro's tone, eager to deal out long-deserved punishment.

'Like it'll help him.' That glee was shared as I had already gotten up and was halfway to his location.

'The boost in power and his probable boost in ego will ensure that his crushing defeat will be all the more satisfying.' With that encouragement, I moved even faster.

The jackass seemingly was basking in the moment of returning to the Living World after so long. Sucks to be him. My shoe slammed into his nose and sent him flying back about three blocks. He recollected himself a bit faster than I thought he would, I was almost impressed. The arrancar snarled and looked up, his voice loud and haughty.

"You should have tried to kill me with that sneak-" His eyes widened as he registered who I was, before his face curled into a full bloodthirsty grin. "KUROSAKI ICHIGO! I don't have to go looking for you! What glorious luck I have, to evolve into an arrancar and have you come to me to be the first victim of my newfound power!" Oh, the invincible confidence in his voice was delicious. The fanged smile upon my face was sure to have made anyone weaker than a captain shit their pants.

"You're out of the loop, ya deformed hamster!" I called back. "You ain't the only one that got stronger since we last met, furball, and lemme tell ya, you're in for a beating." Shiro whispered in the back of my mind to use my Acero. The pleased hum from Ossan was all I needed to have the black talons form over my hands. Yeah, using Quincy powers wouldn't have the intended effect.

"Oh, but you do not even understand to what level I have evolved as a hollow! BEHOLD!" The no-longer-an-overgrown-hamster reached back behind him and very slowly drew the blade sitting there in a manner that was probably supposed to be menacing. "WITNESS THE-"

"Am I interrupting something?" Both of us snapped our heads to my left and caught sight of my Dad, in his Shinigami garb with a hand casually resting on the hilt of Engetsu. I immediately let my Acero drop as I brightened even further.

"Oh, hey, I didn't realize your powers came back so quickly!" He seemed touched at my words.

"I'm not quite at 100% you know, Kisuke told me it would take a couple more months for that, and I still gotta shake the rust off. It's been twenty years since I last picked up Engetsu, he's pretty grumpy about it."

"Yeah, I can sense your reiatsu level now. You're at, what, 60% right now?"

"Something like that." Dad tilted his head. "You're that familiar with my reiatsu without my powers sealed?"

"We never told you?" The man shook his head in response to my question. "You were part of the Front Liners during the Blood War. It was you, me, Chad, Unohana, and Kenpachi. We all handled the small fry so that everyone else could conserve energy and strategize."

"That seems pretty exhausting. Don't know if I'd wanna be in a position like that." I snorted at his complaint.

"Yeah, you said that last time. Kyoraku mentioned that you had some of the best stamina out of all the current and ex-captains, so we kept forcing you to join us until you stopped trying to run away."

"You couldn't give these old bones a break? I'm ancient! I need my beauty sleep!" A snort came out of me from his words.

"Unohana is one of the founding members of the Gotei, you have no ground to stand on."

"Counterpoint: Unohana-chan is scary though."

"What does her being scary have anything to do with-"

"YOU DARE IGNORE ME!" Grand Fisher screamed indignantly. "What fools you are! Pitiable Shinigami, unaware of how great the threat that stands before them! Need I remind you, I slaughtered every Shinigami that came to hunt me for fifty-four years before I evolved to the level of power I possess now!" The two of us stared at the hollow in surprise. My left hand lifted into the air.

"Uh, no you didn't." I pointed at myself with my left hand. "Case in point." The arrancar sneered, and whipped his blade around to create a gust of wind.

"A single mark that I will rectify now!" He lifted his sword arm high in the air with a broad grin. "BEHOLD! WITNESS THE SIZE OF MY ZANPAKUTO!" Dad and I stared in bafflement for a moment. Dad broke first, a snort leaving him that devolved into snickering, which I joined him in. "WHY ARE YOU LAUGHING! MY BLADE IS ENORMOUS!" I laughed harder, while Goatchin was able to collect himself enough to speak.

"Okay?" He sounded rightfully confused. "You've got a-" He couldn't stop the snort of laughter. "A really big zanpakuto. Are we supposed to be intimidated by that?"

"You must be even more foolish Shinigami than I thought! The size of a zanpakuto is reflective of how much reiatsu its wielder possesses! Shrivel in fear as you realize how much my blade dwarfs the two of yours!" A wheeze squeezed out of my throat as I clutched my stomach.

"We're the foolish ones?" Dad was too incredulous to laugh. "Buddy, who told you that and left out the second half of it?"

"…What second half?"

"Hollow-san, you're correctly informed that the natural size of a shinigami's zanpakuto is reflective of their reiatsu, but if they didn't control the size of their blades, captains would be walking around with swords the sizes of skyscrapers!" I controlled myself enough to offer my input.

"I'd probably be dragging a blade half the size of Japan if that were the case!" I laughed.

"You-you're lying to get out of what's about to happen to you!"

"Are you seriously watching us break down laughing in front of you and think we're trying to confuse you?" Dad switched arms so that his right wrist was atop the hilt of Engetsu so casually most anyone would have missed it. "Here, let me show you-" I held a hand out in front of him.

"Hold on a second." Dad blinked, before realization came upon his face.

"Oh, is this guy important for something? Do we need to do something fancy to deal with him?"

"You couldn't have realized, your reiatsu sense having been sealed away until just recently," I turned to glare back at the monster, "but he's the guy that killed Mom." The switch from jovial to stone-faced was instantaneous.

"Oh." There was the ex-Captain of the Tenth and Clan Head of the Shiba Clan.

"Yeah." Grand Fisher made the mistake of smiling sadistically.

"Indeed I am, Kurosaki Ichigo, and who I presume is his father!" The arrancar cackled. "I am the one that devoured Kurosaki Masaki, and tonight I will dine on the rest of-" Both of his arms were separated from his body, Dad and I each having silently coordinated who would take what side. The bastard screamed in pain and began stumbling around.

"It's not good to harbor hatred in your heart, you know." My father commented. "Shibas are passionate. Passionate rage isn't good for anyone."

"I didn't stop you from going for a killing blow." I responded.

"No, no you didn't." He agreed. We each turned back to the murderer, each of us resting our blades on our shoulders. "So how far do we want to take this?"

"I know that his ability as a hollow was a lure that could take the image of people he's eaten, and he would use that to both bait his prey and torment them."

"Did he use Masaki to bait you or torment you?"

"Torment. I apparently became the first Shinigami that managed to hurt him after that, though." He nodded.

"Like I said, Shibas are passionate." He adjusted his grip on his sword. "The idea of having the first thing Engetsu's flames torch after so long be my wife's killer sounds pretty appealing, but that doesn't leave much for you."

"I've been wanting Round 2 for a damn long time." I agreed. "When we fought on the anniversary of Mom's death, he ran. Said he wouldn't lose a second time, but it sure felt like I lost."

"HOW?!" The murderer spat, having collapsed on the ground and floundered until he was facing us. "HOW DID YOU HURT ME?! I EVOLVED INTO AN ARRANCAR!" Neither of us were really in the mood to laugh at his stupidity anymore.

"Retired Captain." Dad grunted.

"Soul King Candidate." I decided to be visceral with my explanation. Both of us were able to smirk in dark satisfaction at how Fisher recoiled in fear.

As I contemplated what would be the optimal way to make him suffer for his crimes, my self-description echoed in my head. The Soul King was technically in charge of the transfer of souls from one realm to another, which made me start thinking about how I could fuck with his cycle of reincarnation. Using anything Quincy was obviously out, as the monster had definitely consumed a lot of souls and deleting all of them would not be good, plus my mom was one of those souls, and there would be no finishing that train of thought. We were naturally going to finish him off with our zanpakuto's, as that would purify him and all the souls inside of him. As eager to make him experience pain as we were, we weren't going to be stupid about it. I did have my own hollow abilities, which would freak him out something fierce. I could maybe introduce him to my hollow form, threaten to eat him, perhaps. But still, even though we clearly wouldn't kill him with them, I really wanted to use some Quincy powers on him, since Mom had-

…Huh. That…that was an idea.

'…Ichigo…I understand I inhabit your mind, but how…' Ossan, for perhaps the first time ever, was utterly dumbfounded by what conclusion I had reached.

'King,' Shiro was as flabbergasted as his other half, 'what the fuck?'

"Okay." I started, shifting on my feet and looking at Dad, not letting my zanpakutos' words get to me. "I might have an idea."

"Shoot." He encouraged.

"I've just gotta say: I truly have no basis whatsoever for coming up with this. Just so you're not concerned: absolutely nothing I have ever learned or been taught has suggested this is possible. I'm pretty sure Kisuke wouldn't come up with an idea like this."

"…Well, Shibas have always been a little crazy, too." He preemptively tried to justify.

"So, a Hollow's dominant personality is just whoever has the strongest soul, right?"


"And Mom had been hit by Aushwallen right before we were attacked, so she was just a normal human when he ate her, which is why she didn't immediately become the dominant personality."

"That and why he didn't spontaneously combust." He followed along.

"It also stands to reason that her soul is naturally attuned to Quincy reiatsu, having been a Quincy and all."

"I know nothing about Quincy biology but that sounds like it would make sense." The ex-captain paused for a moment. "Son, I'm fairly certain trying to feed Grand Fisher Quincy reiatsu will just erase him."

"Under normal circumstances, that's absolutely correct."

"And how do you plan to change those circumstances?"

"By eating him."

"…What?" There was the incredulous look I was expecting.

"Hear me out." I held up my hands to ensure he didn't interrupt me. "I'm part hollow, so I can eat people."

"Wait, have you-"

"We'll discuss that later." We were not going to have that conversation here. "What I was thinking, was that if I very, very carefully eat him, while simultaneously very, very carefully inserting Quincy reiatsu into what's left, there might be a non-zero chance that Masaki's soul will be drawn to it and grow stronger though it."

"…That is the single craziest and most nonsensical thing I have ever heard."


"Let's do it." Like son, like father, I guess?

"Hey, Grand Fisher!" I shouted over at the writhing body.


"This is going to hurt a lot!" He tried to flee. It failed miserably. I looked over at Dad while holding the arrancar by his ankle. "We're gonna need to move somewhere private. I need to release my Shikai in order to do this right, and we can't afford to let the Wandenreich know I can use Quincy powers." He hummed in response, holding a hand to his chin.

"If this does work, then I don't want to do it in Kisuke's basement, I'd like to not have his presence hanging over my head. What areas aren't watched by the Quincy?"

"Nowhere that Kisuke didn't build." Another idea came to mind. "But we can create a blind spot with some Kido. Let's go to where Mom died. I've always felt her presence there, maybe it can help the process?"

"It's not like we're working with any conventional sense of logic," he shrugged, "let's go."

Setting up a box of camouflaging Kido that would comfortably hold all three of us was pretty easy, though the reiatsu blocking Kido I layered on top of that so that the Quincy wouldn't investigate why my reiatsu seemed to be sitting in a spot that appeared to be uninhabited took some effort. Once that was done, I silently released my Shikai and sat atop Grand Fisher's chest.

'Alright, this needs to be done perfectly to even be hypothetically possible, so I'm gonna need your guys' help. I'll control the flow. Ossan, you need to watch his reiatsu for any fluctuations, it's not like we have any idea what we're looking out for, so point out anything. Shiro, you deal with whatever is coming in. And warn me if we accidentally start absorbing him, I don't want this piece of shit in my soul.'

'…Fuck it, sure.' Ossan appeared silently resigned.

"Okay, I've never done this before, so don't hesitate to tell me what it feels like, okay?" I asked the arrancar beneath me.

"What are you going to-" He screamed as I drove both of Zangetsu's blades into his chest in a reverse grip. Once that easy initial step was complete, I shut my eyes and began to focus as I started the flow. Through my Quincy powers, I was able to pull Fisher's reiatsu towards Shiro's blade, which then began to slowly nibble at the energy, carefully prodding each iota of spirit energy in an attempt to check that we didn't accidentally eat Mom. In opposition, Ossan's blade began to slowly leak my Quincy reiatsu, with a gentle hope in my mind that the fact that it was my reiatsu would make the process easier, if not possible.

Thankfully, the murderer didn't have enough limbs to really struggle, so I didn't have to also focus on keeping him in place, and just directed my attention towards both ends of the flow. Furthermore, under the incredibly intense focus that practically functioned as a microscope, I was able to exceedingly roughly decipher the miniscule nuances of his soul that probably indicated another soul that had been transmuted into his overall being. In all honesty, I had no idea if Shiro was able to tell which soul was Mom's, but I had faith that he had the capability to. Grand Fisher was also screaming something fierce, and describing a burning sensation that was probably from the Quincy reiatsu.

My eyes snapped open and all three of us paused in our actions when we felt a part of the arrancar come close to the Quincy reiatsu and feed off it. I lifted my head to smile sunnily at Dad.

"Grab the twins." His eyes widened in response to my words, and a brilliant grin of his own came upon his face.

"I'll take my time." The man's voice was warm and gentle, almost humming the words rather than speaking them. My mouth started to hurt from how widely I was beaming. He promptly left, in a quiet, relaxed stroll. I refocused and doubled my efforts in the reiatsu transfer, vigilantly increasing the rate and watching how everything reacted. The soul that was taking in the Quincy reiatsu was swelling pleasantly, taking up more room and steadily taking a shape. There wasn't any physical changes, but I pegged that as due to Fisher still being the dominant soul. I continued the process, keeping it slow enough that I didn't seem to harm anything, but still going as fast as I felt I could otherwise. Which was why I had been so caught off guard when the soul all of a sudden yanked on the drip of Quincy reiatsu and the arrancar began spazzing out, his eyes blank. It was immediate to increase the flow of reiatsu and the body beneath me glowed a pure Quincy blue before exploding. Zangetsu was pulled out and I stepped back, kind of wanting to keep the transfer going for safety but not wanting Mom to wake up with swords impaled through her chest. In my impatience, I couldn't wait for the smoke to clear, swinging a blade to blow it all away.

And lying on the grass where the murderer had been, was Mom. Wearing the exact same pink sweater, magenta shirt, and purple sundress that she died in. Zangetsu was sheathed instantly, and I cautiously stepped up to her. Her eyes fluttered open, the color of hot chocolate, locking onto me instantly. The briefest, tiniest, infinitesimally small flash of confusion passed through her gaze, before she saw my hair and was a third of the way off the ground with her arms open to hug me. I met her halfway, each of us hugging the other tight enough that neither of us could breathe, and we didn't care. Tears burned at my eyes and I let them flow. Her embrace was as warm as I remembered, as completely enveloping, despite that her arms couldn't wrap around me as much as they did all those years ago. My own circled around her with room to spare, a dramatic difference from my memories, and one I couldn't ever mind. She was drowning in my robes, her body so much smaller than I realized. We did nothing more than hold each other for many blissfully long seconds. I felt my clothes grow wet, but I knew there was nothing to be concerned about. She shifted a little so that her mouth wasn't blocked by cloth.

"You're so big now." Her voice was watery.

"I am." I wetly agreed. "I'm really big now."

"I love you, so much." The words erupted from her mouth like nothing in the world was more important. Nothing was.

"I love you, Mom." She sniffled, and her arms slid from my back. I pulled back in her hold, and we wordlessly agreed to keep a hold of each other while at arms length.

"How," she seemed to fumble with her words for a moment, looking me over in amazement, "you're wearing Shinigami robes!" She settled on, a shining smile on her face. A wet laugh escaped me, and I was caught up in the joy.

"Don't worry." I was going to show her with my hands, then realized I didn't want to let go. Instead, what was visible of my chest glowed blue with Blut Vene. "I got a little something from you, too." Mom's face shifted to overjoyed awe, and her own hands slid around to ghost her fingertips over the highlighted veins. A beautiful laughter sang from her mouth that made me laugh in turn. Her tears did not end, and her eyes glistened with those tears as she raised her hands to hold my face. Neither of us cared that my tears poured over her hands, and both of us knew it. I nuzzled into her touch, and she pushed her hands in all the more.

"How," she spoke breathlessly, her tears still streaming, "how am I here?" My lips quirked down a little, but my smile persevered.

"By accident." I explained. "Grand Fisher came around again, and I had the craziest idea about pumping Quincy reiatsu into him in the hope that it would make you the dominant soul." A sweet smile came from her.

"It's good that you tried it out," she sniffled, "but-" My own hands came up to hold her face as I tilted her head so our eyes met.

"I know." The announcement came out in a breath. "This is just to get what we didn't get the chance to have." Her eyes widened as she understood, and her mouth wavered before she slid her hands behind my neck and pulled me in for another hug that I welcomed wholeheartedly.

"My baby boy." Her voice was tight with emotion. "You're so mature." Delving into that statement would ruin the mood, so I left it untouched.

"Mom." Both of us paused to take in how good that one word sounded in this moment. "Can I introduce you to my zanpakuto?" They would never have considered it a possibility of meeting her face-to-face, and that was why I asked.

"Your father said that's difficult for Shinigami to do?" I smirked at her concern and let Blut pulse through me again.

"I'm not like most Shinigami." I could see the glee in her eyes at the reaffirmation of my Quincy abilities. I opened my mouth, ready to warn her of Shiro, then decided against it. I knew how she would respond, and nothing would be able to change that.

"Then I'd love to meet your zanpakuto." They resisted a little, each scared in their own unique ways of how she would react. At the gentle reminder that they weren't 'abandoning their fear', I felt the usual light tug that came with the manifestation of Zangetsu. Shiro was sitting on the ground to my right, Ossan a few feet behind us. The hollow had his head down, his body language meek and hunched in. I couldn't see Ossan, but I could tell he was just as anxious and worried of rejection, or even worse, rage. Shiro flinched when Mom reached out and passed her fingers through his hair, wherein she brushed her hand down until his chin sat in her palm and she lifted his face. He offered no resistance, and met her eyes. Spheres of hot chocolate widened, then softened, and she quickly fisted the front of his shihakusho before pulling him forward, wrapping an arm around each of us. We were tucked in so that each of our heads were over her shoulders. My hollow half tensed, before he curled into the embrace and we each held her tightly.

"You too!" Mom called out to Ossan, who silently stepped forward, but remained standing. "Come on, there's room enough for three!" I felt it, his shock at her instantaneous acceptance, like he didn't make the connection that she saw him as an aspect of myself and therefore deserving of her love. Pride filled me as he kneeled down and I felt his arms encircle the three of us, and it felt complete. Shiro purred, and her addictive, bubbly laughter filled our ears again. Ossan pulled away, never having been the sort for physical affection, and Shiro and I shared a grin before we adjusted ourselves. A surprised noise came from Mom, before she saw us shift back and lean forward, then the shine in her eyes returned full force as she folded her legs under her. We laid back to back, with our heads resting on her thighs, and her fingers wove through our hair to create bliss.

"Isshin is coming with Yuzu and Karin." Ossan announced for the three of us. "They are taking their time so that we may enjoy this privacy together."

"That's good. I want to spend some time with each of my children." She hummed happily. "How old are you now? And don't say 10, you'll give me a heart attack." Laughter came from both Shiro and I.

"26." I answered. "But the twins are both eleven. Some stuff happened that caused the gap to widen, but it's fine now. Everything is alright." I took measure to warn and soothe in the same breath. She took an audible breath.

"If everything is fine now, then okay. What do you do for a living?"

"I have a really high position in the Gotei 13. Higher than where Dad was before he left. But I live in the Living World, in the clinic with the rest of the family."

"You'd have enough money with a job like that to buy your own house, wouldn't you?" She didn't sound accusatory, just curious.

"I do." I agreed. "Not interested right now." There was a pleased hum from her.

"You have a lot of friends?"

"Yup. All three of us do." A beautifully excited inhale came from her.

"Well, don't leave me in the dark! Tell me about them!"

"I ain't friends wit' a lotta pe'ple. They don' deserve it." Shiro hummed. "But I got Witch, Knuckles, Tits, and Pineapple." A giggle came from Mom.

"So you like to give out nicknames, huh? Who are they?"

"Pineapple's a dumbass that's got 'is hair done up like a fruit. But he's protective, 'n dumb in a funny way. We play games all the time. Tits is a big flirt, but she ain't a floozy. She jus' likes the react'n. If she can get a back'n forth goin', that's jus' as fun for 'er. She 'n I prank pe'ple a lot. Knuckles is like a real good cookie. Hardass grump on the outside, but nice ta hang wit'. We like ta spar, 'n he uses me as a test dummy for 'is grillin'. We also like ta scare the piss outta pe'ple." He, of course, smiled at that. "Witch is my fav'rite though. Looks all cute 'n unassumin', but she's a Lieutenant that deserves the position. Real good with kido, anytime Tit's 'n I need some punch ta our pranks, we go ta 'er. She's a li'l shaken up, but our crazies work together. Witch's like a third sister ta me." Mom's smile was practically made it the middle of the day.

"What about you?"

"I enjoy having discussions with Chojiro Sasakibe over tea. We often like to talk about tea, though we also frequent his interest in Western culture."

"Not one for a lot of words, are you?" She teased. Her hand passed through my hair, and I took that as my turn.

"I've got friends from all over." I let a lazy grin come over my face. "Friends from high school, from Soul Society, from Hueco Mundo, even. Never really mattered to me what you are, just whether you're a decent person or not." Pride radiated from her. "There's Orihime, a sweet little airhead with a passion for mixing ingredients together. Chad, the silent giant-type that's always got my back. Uryu, Ryuuken's kid. He's all tsundere about our friendship, and he's amazing with a needle and thread." She laughted, no doubt seeing all the similarities between him and his father. "Keigo, a goofy dumbass that's perfect anytime you need to raise the mood. Mizuiro, always on his phone but with one ear on whatever we're talking about. Still friends with Tatsuki, she made 2nd place national recently."

"Good for her!" She cheered.

"Rukia is the one that more or less got me started with my powers. I will always be grateful to her for giving me the means to protect. Zaraki is a bloodthirsty nutjob, but we both like to fight and we both have little ones that we'll fight anything for. Shinji is sarcastic and loves to do everything as confusingly as possible, but he's like an uncle that watches out for me where he can. Yamamoto is a grumpy old fart that's perpetually tired of my shit because rules are something to actively do the opposite of." Mom's laughter filled the air. "Nel is kind, and has a crush on me that I unfortunately don't reciprocate, but she always tries to resolve things by talking it out. Halibel is the Queen of Hueco Mundo, she's really diplomatic and actually cares about the safety of those under her watch. Grimmjow is an angry pussycat whose head isn't screwed on right, but have a little patience and he's just fine."

"Those sound like wonderful friends." I could hear the gentle upturn of her lips in her tone. "You have anyone you're interested in?" That second sentence was a bit more teasing.

"I do." The words came from my mouth easily. "I'm in a three-way relationship." My own lips curled into something knowing. She would know just from this. "The two of them are my suns." There was no need to look to be aware the smile on her face could melt the Arctic. The way her hands parsed through mine and Shiro's hair was much more loving.

"That's good." She breathed, just loud enough for us to hear. A trio of footsteps entered my hearing range. Zangetsu disappeared instantly, a startled noise coming from Mom at the action. But before she could question my zanpakuto's sudden disappearance, Yuzu, Karin, and Dad entered the area. I semi-reluctantly rolled off Mom's lap and let her jump up and run to the twins. While sitting on the grass, I looked over and embraced the warm feeling that manifested in my chest at seeing the three women of the Kurosaki family wrapping their arms around each other. Taking a quick glance, I could see Isshin felt the same way. I turned so that I was facing the river and looked back at them before patting the ground next to me. The four of them quickly joined me, Yuzu to my left, Karin on her left, then Mom, and finally Dad. Having already gotten my chance, I allowed myself to mostly phase out from the conversation and give Yuzu and Karin the floor.

The smile on my face was unending as Karin steadily became more and more passionate about describing her soccer games to Mom. To the point of gesturing with her hands, and miming kicking the ball, even. Yuzu and Mom entered a feedback loop of beaming happiness as they talked about cooking, and Yuzu was given a recipe Mom had always wanted to pass down as a family secret. My cheeks hurt as they talked about grades, as the twins were teased about boys, as Karin complained about the painting in the living room. There was laughter abound as we talked about Dad's goofy antics and Karin and I's response to them. Karin stifled a yawn, and her head was almost instantly gently pulled into Mom's lap.

Ossan quietly informed me of how long he suspected we had. Once again, my lips quirked, but my smile refused to go down. There was one thing I wanted to do anyway. I looked meaningfully at Mom and Dad. They met my gaze and both silently nodded. Yuzu was drowsy at this point anyway, it being incredibly late for both of them, so I picked up the twins. Winking to Dad, I made sure to walk home at a leisurely pace. I caught his smile before I turned away, and that said all that needed to be said.

When we got home, Shiro appeared to pull my keys from my pocket and open the door so I didn't have to adjust my grip on the girls. All was silent as I went to their room and carefully deposited them into their beds so they didn't wake up. I succeeded in the endeavor, and went to the kitchen immediately after.

"Ichi-kun? What's going on?" Yoruichi asked, coming down the stairs. "Your reiatsu's been in and out."

"Honestly? Probably the craziest idea I ever had, worked." I explained as I pulled open a cabinet and moved some stuff out of the way from what I wanted to grab. "That's why Dad grabbed the twins, and why I put them to bed." Golden eyes blinked in surprise at what I pulled out.

"You told me that's only for extremely special occasions. On the level of your mother's anniversary."

"Yup." I confirmed.

"…I'll leave you to it, then. Just make sure to tell Unohana-chan and I in the morning."

"Don't worry, I will. Goodnight." She came close and pecked me on the lips.

"Night." She locked the door behind me as I continued my relaxed stroll. It took me another fifteen minutes to return to the Kido barrier. When I entered, I found Mom and Dad leaning into each other, their heads resting atop the other. They both looked up when they heard my feet atop the grass. Isshin blinked.

"…When did you get that?"

"My ID still says I'm fifteen, so I got Yoruichi to buy it for me a few weeks ago. I like to keep a small stock of it for special occasions."

"That's…" Mom breathed. I nodded.

"Dad told me a few years back, my time. That's why it's only for special occasions." The two of them smiled fondly. I stepped over and let myself fall back onto my ass on Mom's right, Dad still taking her left. Without needing to be prompted, I pulled a can of Sapporo off the six-pack and handed it to Dad, then a second that was taken by Mom, and a third I kept before sitting the last three down on the dirt in front of us. We shared a look, popped the tabs in unison, and wordlessly toasted before taking a swig of Mom's favorite drink. I smacked my lips a little, it having been a couple years since I last had it, before opening my mouth.

"You know, the shit I just pulled with Grand Fisher definitely sits at the top of craziest ideas I've ever had, but I've had a lot of crazy ideas." Goatchin tilted his head, clearly wondering what I was doing.

"Like what?" Mom asked.

"Well, the first time I encountered a Menos, I had absolutely no idea how to tackle a thing that big. Going for the mask had been ingrained into me pretty well by then, but I was still pretty green with no idea how to stand in the air, so I had no way to reach its face."

"And your arrows probably would have been too weak to do anything that far away, huh?" She smirked.

"It was easier to swing a sword around like a moron than practice forming a bow or aiming, so I wasn't confident in being successful using my Quincy powers." I wrote off. "So since I was shit at range, and couldn't get myself over to its face, I figured the next best idea was to get its face over to me."

"Did you trip it or something?" She giggled. I barked out a laugh.

"Of course not, that sounds smart. I had the bright idea of just chopping it like a tree, cutting its body down piece by piece until its head was at ground level." Both my parents burst into laughter. "The funny thing is, I didn't even get a chance to try it! It fired a cero at me, so I used my hollow powers to absorb the reiatsu through my blade and fire it right back. Uryu was right next to me, staring at me, and I had no idea that stuff like that was seen as impossible, so I just told him that meant I won our hollow-slaying contest." Mom's laugh continued, and I saw as Isshin finally made the connection.

"Oh, but Ichigo doesn't even know what happened afterwards!" He continued the story. "Ryuuken called me up after our two boys finished up that little game of theirs, and of course he was all:" Isshin did his best to recreate Ryuuken's facial expression. "'Kurosaki, your son is infecting mine with stupidity'. And I was all:" He began alternating between his own and Ryuuken's expressions. "'How do I know your son isn't infecting mine with stupidity!' and he went 'Because your entire family is crazy.' And I couldn't do anything but pout and agree." Mom and I both laughed into our drinks.

"I went to Ryuuken for training in how to use my Quincy powers." I explained. "So I went over to the Ishida mansion and knocked on the door. I guess he happened to be close-by, because he's the one that opened the door instead of one of the servants, and as soon as he saw it was me, he slammed the door shut and dropped the deadbolt. Before he walked away, I heard him ask me through the wood 'Please don't break my front door.' Of course, he forgot it was a Kurosaki asking, because, while I agreed to his request, I have manners, I just came to the mansion and asked for training every day for two weeks before he eventually said yes."

"Was he smoking on that last day when he accepted?" Mom giggled.

"Of course he was, the reason he smokes is because he has to deal with us." All three of us paused to laugh.

"Hey, sometimes I need to smoke, so it's not like we're the only ones that cause chaos." Isshin defended.

"Oh yeah? Like who?" There was a vested interest in Mom's eyes. Dad took the opportunity to point at me.

"His friend Chad!" A bellow of laughter shook my chest, as I knew exactly what he was talking about. "Tall boy, towers over me. Built like a steel wall." I couldn't help but raise my can at that. "He comes into the clinic, holding a parakeet in his hand and his back soaked with blood. Ichigo, thankfully, is in the house, and he recognizes Chad on sight. We get him to put the bird on a table, and get his shirt off. While I start dressing the wound, Ichigo takes him through his paces, asking about everything that's happened in the past few days, and this kid? He walked off a motorcycle slamming into him, an I-beam falling on his shoulders, two car crashes, and though he didn't know it, it took a hollow clawing his back to finally put him down. Ichigo leaves to deal with the hollow, and I barely finish with cleaning the wound before Chad puts his shirt back on and tries to leave. And to top things off, he succeeded the second time!" A snort came from me.

"He didn't just manage to leave the clinic, he ran around town while being chased by a hollow he couldn't see, and eventually got someone spiritually aware to tell him where it was so he could pull a telephone pole out of the ground and swing at it." I furthered. "And he's the sane one of the group." Mom was having difficulty breathing.

"He's the sane one?" She cackled.

"Orihime absolutely adores red bean paste. She adds it to every meal she physically can."

"I love the girl, she's like a third daughter to me," Dad agreed, "but she wanted to help provide for patients in the clinic once and made sandwiches of red bean paste, salami, butter, banana slices, and grape jelly on wheat bread. We were afraid to touch them. One patient was undergoing anesthesia and got a hold of one when we weren't looking, and she said it was delicious right before collapsing."

"Well, she's creative!" The woman laughed.

"Uryu, while fantastic at sewing and possessing a great fashion sense, is also determined to put a Quincy cross on everything he puts together." I paused to take another sip of beer. "I stumbled onto a mod soul, and agreeing that he deserved an opportunity to live, I found a lion plushie for him to inhabit."

"Mod Souls can inhabit plushies?" She asked.

"We shoved him into one, and it worked." I shrugged. Her laughter was all I needed to continue. "Either way, he got banged up, I forget how, but I knew Uryu was good with fixing stuff like that, so I asked him for help. Uryu sewed a dress onto him that made him look incredibly pretty, and made sure to sew a Quincy cross both on the back of his head and as the primary pattern for the embroidery." Isshin gasped.

"That's why he looks like that?!"

"What did you think happened?!"

"I thought it was so you could give him to Yuzu!"

"Yuzu stealing him from me was a happy accident. It was sheer coincidence that I received a Spirit Badge from Ukitake at the same time she did."

"And that's why he keeps running to your room! It makes so much sense now!" He awed.

"No! He keeps running to my room because that's where he keeps all his porn mags!"

"Those aren't yours?!"

"I have Yoruichi and Unohana! Why would I keep porn mags?!" Mom was wheezing to death between us. Dad's mouth flapped for a bit as random noise slipped from his throat.

"I don-I don't know, I just thought it made sense! What can Kon even do in a plushie anyway? What does he get out of porn mags?"

"You think I'm supposed to know? I'm just as confused as you are!"

"Does he like, store it all in the back of his mind and let it all out whenever he's borrowing your body?" Rage popped inside of me.

"Don't even say that! I had no plans one weekend and he deserved the chance to go outside, so I stayed with Chad and let him have my body for the weekend. I came back Sunday afternoon and he presented me a list, A LIST, of places that I am now banned from because of shit he pulled! I didn't even give him any money!"

"Like where?" Mom had tears in her eyes from laughing.

"He went to four different strip clubs! I don't even know where they are!" I complained. "And he told me that he got like six rounds of drinks from bar owners because I had built up a reputation across town for beating up gang members! I wanted that, but then he got banned from those bars!" Both of them were having difficulty breathing.

"Wait, wait," Isshin begged, "I think I know what weekend you're talking about! Three people that night had to get their stomachs pumped for alcohol poisoning, and everyone was talking about some guy that was having a night on the town leaving a trail of pissed off women and restraining orders behind him!"

"Yeah, that was the one!"

"You know, that night reminded me of the chaos that was your middle school dance." I groaned into my palm as Mom's eyes shined.

"Oh, god, that dance went so wrong!"

"See, at his middle school dance, Ichigo decided to break all social norms and ask Chad if they wanted to go together, purely as friends of course. Neither of them had anyone they were interested in, but they didn't want to be all lonely in the corner, so they went together. Everyone heard that Ichigo and Chad were going to the dance together, so of course some of the more unsavory gangs made plans to crash the dance and send a message using those two. Ichigo first, publicly announced that he and Chad weren't an item, second yelled even louder that there was nothing wrong with people of the same sex liking each other, then third worked with Chad to systematically pummel every single one of the four gangs present. And when they were done, Ichigo shouted for the band to continue playing music and the two of them went back to enjoying the snacks and punch like nothing had happened!"

"I knew at that point that everyone was basically leaving all decision making to me, so I figured that if I just tried to keep the dance going, they would follow along!" I cried. "But instead, everyone just clung to the walls staring at us and I had to pretend I didn't feel their stares while I ate chips. You didn't help matters!"

"Hey, I was the only doctor on site! Someone had to take care of them and make sure they weren't banged up too bad!"

"We did nothing but punch and kick them, how bad could it have been?" I reasoned.

"Chad was involved!" That excuse bounced around in my head for a moment.

"That's fair. At least that was a recognized event, though." Dad laughed again.

"Well when the hospital starts getting called once a week to pick up gang members with busted faces that line up perfectly with you coming in late to school with your hands stained in other people's blood, it kinda becomes routine. And when things become routine, they become boring."

"Well, at least you and the girls didn't join the betting rings."

"What made you think that? We started them." I whipped around at him, and he glanced at me out the corner of his eye with a smirk. Both of us froze for a long moment, before we burst into laughter.

"I guess that tracks, makes more sense now how Karin was able to get more soccer equipment and Yuzu, more kitchenware!"

"Hey, I upgraded the clinic, too!"

"You put childproof locks for a week, got frustrated that you couldn't open them, then took them out in favor of uniforms for the twins!"

"They looked cute in them!"

"People kept asking why they got uniforms and you just slapped a spare doctor's coat on me!"

"You never got the hint to buy your own uniform!"

"What, so you provided for them, but not me?"

"You worked odd jobs! You had your own source of income!"

"You knew I was taking English classes and transcribing Shakespeare into Japanese!"

"That's not an excuse!"

"In what world is a son taking extra lessons out of pure ambition not a valid excuse to provide for him more?!"

"When that same son gets into fights with gang members once a week!"

"Not by choice! They hunt me down!"

"That's your fault for winning!"

"So I'm not supposed to win?!"

We continued like that for the next few hours.

Our laughter filled the night.

Our tears streamed down our faces.

Our smiles burned our cheeks.

And nothing but an empty can of beer sat between us.

For those that didn't make the connection, even with Masaki being the dominant soul, the overall being was still a hollow. Ichigo having both eaten a significant part of Grand Fisher and filling the empty space with Quincy reiatsu meant that the body was slowly dying. We're just going to say that a little bit of Shinigami reiatsu slipped in by accident while Ichigo did the transfer, which both made it so that Masaki was not in pain and that she was purified at the end of it.

Next Chapter: Fade to Black