AO3 set To Undo it All as Hidden for promoting myself, and I don't know how to do anything about that outside of contacting support and waiting for a response, so yeah.


Try as he might, Shinji was finding it difficult to keep his attention on his paperwork. He had been a Captain before, it wasn't as though he was unfamiliar with this particular part of the job. And, thanks almost exclusively to Hiyori, he was no stranger to distractions, so he realistically should be able to focus on filling out the reports. But, woefully, it seemed the sight of his new Lieutenant and Ichigo Kurosaki's Hollow/Zanpakuto/Doppelganger/Hellspawn sitting as they were was just too much for his mind to disregard. Hinamori Momo was serenely working on her own papers, the blonde Vizard was nearly certain it was some sort of collaboration the SWA and Seireitei Bulletin were cooking up. She was sitting at her desk, her legs spread out underneath the desk so that Shinji could see her feet bouncing to some tune unheard to him. A placid smile was upon her face as she leaned back into Shiro, who was cuddling her from behind. Rather than attempt to squeeze into the space her legs were inhabiting, the pale spirit's legs were on either side of her desk, and his arms loosely wrapped around her stomach. His head sat lightly atop her own, seemingly unbothered by the bun she kept her hair in pressing into his neck. The size difference between the two combined with their position meant that she was nearly being swallowed by his white robes. The once Ex-Captain couldn't help but liken the sight to the giant bean bag chair Mashiro frequently watched TV lounging on in the Vizard warehouse.

This arrangement had been made without any sort of fanfare, the morning having been completely normal until Shiro simply opened the door to their shared office. It had startled Shinji, though Momo had merely looked up at the intrusion, smiled, and continued with what she had been doing. At that, the zanpakuto had neutrally shut the door behind him, went over to the Lieutenant, and then got into the position they were in now. Not a word had yet been exchanged, the two content in their silence.

"The smoke machine would get ya outta budget." The Hollow announced, the first thing he had muttered since entering the room. Momo paused, her pen lifting from the paper so that she could reread what she just wrote.

"Shoot." She frowned after a moment. "Yachiru-chan has been really pushing for a smoke machine for an event. Nanao-chan and I have been trying to convince her otherwise, but you know how she is."

"This 's fer the Film Festival, yeah? What's she want a smoke machine fer?" Shinji's eye twitched, a little bit at the audacity to start discussing the logistics of the upcoming Film Festival in the middle of their office, a little at the slowly spiraling situation.

"She's absolutely dead-set on having smoke machines for the awards ceremony. She's mentioned it adds to the dramatic flair."

"Why not ask Tits? She can use Kitkat. Ya don't spend a dime."

"But Rangiku-chan's zanpakuto produces ash, not smoke?" She questioned. Screw it, he was right here, there's no way he's not gonna throw his hat into the ring.

"There's not much of a difference, in this situation." The blonde brought up. "She can control where it goes, right? You can get more flair outta that than some machines that just pump out smoke." The other two occupants of the room looked to him in surprise.

"I didn't realize you'd be interested in the Film Festival, Hirako-taicho."

"You're having this conversation five feet away from me." He irately explained. "And your demonic teddy bear is hard to ignore, anyway."

"That's rude, Hirako-taicho!" She pouted. "You shouldn't call Shiro demonic!"

"Do ya realize how racist that is?" Both Shinigami turned to the zanpakuto at his words.

"It is?" Shinji blinked. "I-I'm sorry, man, I didn't-" In the face of the blonde's sincerity, Shiro couldn't maintain a serious visage for long. He burst out laughing nearly immediately.

"Sorry, sorry, didn't think that'd get ya ta piss yer pants like that!" The yellow-eyed spirit cackled. "Was jus' fuckin wit' ya." He pat Momo's shoulder in comfort. "Don'cha worry, Witch, Reversey gets a D-word pass."

"Fuck you." More cackling sounded from the zanpakuto. "Why are you here, anyway? Don't you always have shit to do?"

"'M here cuz I fukken want ta, bitch." The Hollow grinned. "Witch 'n I hang out almost every day." She nodded in collaboration with his words.

"He usually takes naps by the Squad's zanpakuto while we do daily training, then joins me for whatever I happen to be doing for a couple hours or so. On Friday nights, we go to the bar with friends. I was actually thinking of inviting you to join us one of these days." A smile came upon the Vizard's lips at her offer.

"I'd be happy to join you guys, always hated having purely professional relationships with people. Who usually comes along?"

"Tits, Knuckles, and Panic Attack almost always join in, but recently we've been getting Pineapple, Midget, Snake, and Tryhard Emo." Shinji helplessly looked to Momo.

"In order: Rangiku-chan, Muguruma-kun, Izuru-kun, Renji-kun, Rukia-chan, Ichimaru-kun, and Hisagi-kun." She clarified. He nodded in gratefulness for the answer.

"At least I'm already on good terms with everybody but Ichimaru. I guess I could give him a chance with the knowledge I have now."

"Don't worry about that." The lieutenant giggled. "He and Rangiku-chan will probably be too busy making lovey-dovey eyes at each other to cause any problems." His own laugh bubbled up from his throat.

"Is that right? Well, now I'm even more interested in joining. But we'll leave that for when it happens. I can't help but notice that your teddy bear avoided my other question." The Hollow groaned immediately.

"Why'd you have to remind me?!" He whined as he flopped onto his back, nearly causing Momo to fall with him before she brought a hand back to catch herself. "The training I've got today is so annoying." The resident Kido master straightened before turning to the doppelganger behind her.

"Did you come here to put off training one of the Arrancar?" She questioned, accusation in her voice.

"Yeah, 'cuz Pussy is a fukken pussy." He admitted without reservation. Her eyes rolled.

"Jeagerjeaques-san can't be that bad."

"He ain't even gunning for King's head in this timeline!"

"I-I don't see how that could be an issue." Shinji's eyebrows furrowed.

"Cuz, him never getting a hate boner over the idea of King thinking he's better than him means he hasn't been wanting to prove King wrong! And him not wanting to prove King wrong means he hasn't been training on his own, which means that he hasn't gotten Acero yet!"

"So, you're complaining that you have more work to do?" The blonde tilted his head, uncertain of how correct he was.

"Yes!"

"Well, you've immediately lost all sympathy from me." He nodded, adjusting how he sat so as to get back to work. "Have fun with that."

"Traitor!"

"Technically, you're not wrong."

"Don't you use my own schtick against me!"

"Too late, he already did." Momo smiled, also resuming with her papers.

"Not you too!"

"If we focus on the work, he's more likely to get annoyed and just go do what he needs to do." She informed her Captain, who grinned at the collusion.

"No!" He whined once more, his ultimate foil being used against him. The zanpakuto remained lying upon the floor for several more seconds, the only sounds in the room being of pens scratching at paper. In hardly any time at all, due to his awareness that the two Shinigami could now focus on their work without issue, he groaned loudly and rolled back into a stand. "Fine! You win!" Shiro spat, ripping open a Garganta and stepping through it.

Mere moments after it shut, Shinji and Momo burst into giggles, unable to contain their amusement at the childishness displayed.


Grimmjow's day had been progressing as normal, that is to say, boring. In Las Noches, Aizen had not given any care for entertainment, and Gin and Tosen had barely been better. Gin had gotten most of his own amusement at others' expense, via taunting and teasing. Tosen had brought a multitude of books, which had only piqued the interest of a very small selection of arrancar. Beyond that, the only ways for anyone within Las Noches to pass the time was to be the person observing the cameras for intruders or bicker and fight amongst each other. Hollows by nature were far from being pack animals, a game of survival of the fittest until becoming arrancar, and even then, the only thing that really stopped any of them was being ordered to by Aizen to not kill each other. After Ichigo had come around, explaining the situation and that he had killed Aizen, they had defaulted to Halibel as Queen. The shark took issue with infighting, but also seemed to understand that there was little else for them to do, and so had merely ordered that they were free to do so as long as they never reached the point of spilling blood.

This basically made no effect on Grimmjow's daily life, as most of his entertainment was acquired either by going out to slaughter any adjuchas he could find or watching his fracciones converse with each other. Nelliel and her pair of morons often came up with games, and had gotten at least some arrancar to be bored enough to join in. However, unless the purple-haired Shinigami joined in, the panther hollow couldn't be damned to play Tag. He was going to beat her the next time they played, he had just been caught off guard last time.

Looking for something to do, the Espada was trekking across the oversized sandbox Aizen had stuffed into Las Noches with his fracciones behind him. He had been tossing around the idea of butchering more adjuchas when a pair of feet slammed into his spine. Being bent backwards by the sheer force of the attack, he caught a flash of white before he was flung forward, bouncing along the sand before he was able to righten himself and bring a hand down to slow himself. Cerulean eyes locking onto the direction he had been hit from, he found his fracciones freaking out by the sudden arrival and drawing their swords at a delay. As much as he was going to admonish them first for being so slow, catching sight of who exactly dropkicked him caused him to switch tracks.

"That's Kurosaki's Zanpakuto, you idiots!" He bared his fangs. "Put your damn swords away, you're outmatched!" Several of them turned to him in shock, as the manifestation grinned widely.

"So ya have started calin' 'im 'Kurosaki'!" The doppelganger sounded ecstatic. "Man, King's gonna love that!" Drawing his own sword, Grimmjow began to saunter forward.

"Finally stopped putting me off, eh?" The Espada shouted. "That Segunda Etapa shit sounds impressive, can't wait to see the look on that bitch Halibel's face when I show her mine!"

"How did you know that I was putting you off?" The pale spirit complained, matching the panther's stride, but not summoning his own blade. "King sure as shit didn't tell ya." A bright blue eyebrow twitched.

"I was just talking shit, you were actually putting me off?!" He bellowed in rage.

"What were ya expecting, me ta be just ichin' for an opportunity ta have ta deal wit' a Pussy like you?" Howling, Grimmjow lunged at the zanpakuto, his blade sparking against nothing more than Shiro's raised forearm. There was an excited gleam in the spirit's yellow orbs. "Man, I love it when we don' gotta waste time fukken talkin!" Before the panther could truly seethe over the method by which his attack had been blocked, the other Hollow's fist crashed into his nose. He was sent tumbling once more, head over heels uncontrollably. "What, not gonna use yer Resurreccion?" The spirit mocked. Stabbing the tip of Pantera into the sand to stop himself, the Sixth snarled hatefully, both at how he was bring thrown around and the running commentary from his opponent.

"I want to take my time teaching you your place!" He reasoned.

"Why tha fuck do ya think I'm tryna get ya ta use yer Resurreccion?" Shiro fired back instantly. "Shit won't even be a goddamn scuffle 'less yer pullin out all tha stops!"

"You really think you're hot shit, don't you?" Shaking with rage and a white-knuckle grip on his zanpakuto, the panther hollow was beginning to wish his day had remained boring. "So much for being a time-traveler or whatever, you don't have a clue who you're up against!"

"I know exactly who I'm up against." The manifestation cracked his neck as he popped his knuckles. "A yippy fukken Pussy too busy puffin up his chest ta realize he ain't all that."

"Stop looking down on me!" He shot forward in Sonido, his sword brought back for a heavy swing.

"Give me a reason ta." Silver metal sparked against bone white skin, Shiro adjusting his arm to wrap his fingers around Grimmjow's blade. Before the panther could snarl, he was slammed into the sand by the weapon in his grip. Grunting at the impact, he tensed to move only for his body to be swung around again, being slammed into the ground a second time. Then a third, a fourth, a fifth, finally culminating in his body being whipped around horizontally and released to be flung into a crimson pillar.

The pillar collapsed, cracking and splitting as chunks fell away from the sheer force the zanpakuto used to throw the Espada. The bluenet was buried in rubble, though that did not last long. With a scream of fury, he kicked the largest chunk off of him, sending it into the sky. Stabbing Pantera into the ground, he pulled himself up using it as a crutch, his jacket torn in several places. Bruises, scratches, and thin lines of blood covered his form, his pupils contracted to their maximum in hatred.

"DRAW YOUR GODDAMN SWORD!" He roared, the veins in his neck pulsing.

"Make it worthwhile 'n I'll think about it." Was the blasé answer, the manifestation looking over the nails of his right hand. His blood boiling, the Sixth thrust out his left palm, a bright blue orb of reiatsu growing into existence, crackling with energy. Still in the vicinity, his fracciones saw what he was doing and all rushed away at their fastest speeds, attempting to clear from the blast radius. The spirit remained uncaring.

"GRAN REY CERO!" He declared, before the orb of destruction became a beam, firing out with enough destructive force to eradicate any arrancar below an Espada in strength. It carved a path in the desert, a deep trench burning towards its target. The technique collided with the hollow, blasting past his form…splitting into several smaller beams as though striking an immovable object. Seeing this, Grimmjow canceled the ability, desiring to discover what caused such a reaction.

The answer, to his equal horror and aggression, was Shiro still standing in the exact same position as before, without even his clothes being singed. A pair of yellow orbs lazily swiveled up to meet cerulean.

"Didn't realize it got breezy in 'ere. Ya'd think Aizen would build this place wit' bett'r weather control." He drawled, clearly conscious of everything he was doing. Having reached his limit in record time, the panther hollow got into his favored position for releasing his sword.

"FINE! Remember that you asked for this! Grind, Pantera!" The Espada was immediately enveloped by a tornado, consisting both of reiatsu and summoned wind currents. Despite being aware of Ichigo Kurosaki's power, Grimmjow's fracciones couldn't help but stare in frightened awe, flabbergasted by Shiro's domination of the fight thus far. Though, that incredulity could only go so far…

"Hehe, he said 'grind.'" …In the face of the zanpakuto's demeanor. A challenging bellow was released from Grimmjow's throat, blasting away the hurricane around him and sending his subordinates skidding along the sand through the power of that alone. Shiro had to cover his face with his sleeve, though not due to having to defend against the air pressure. "Oi, the sand's gettin' in my eyes! Stop that, it's makin' my eyes water!" Ignoring the spirit's whining, the panther shot forward at his fastest speed, seeming to teleport to the eyes of his fracciones. Bringing one of his legs up high above him, the Espada brought down a heavy axe-kick upon the other hollow, his heel successfully connecting with the top of his opponent's skull. Another powerful blast of air pressure erupted, from the sheer strength within the attack, and causing an explosion of sand which obscured the pale zanpakuto's form.

The fracciones, off to the side, waited with bated breath for the dust to clear. They were conscious of the fact that Ichigo had slain Yammy with almost no difficulty, but they could never reconcile it in their minds that he had been the Zero Espada rather than the Tenth. Because of this, they were truly shocked to find the manifestation still in the exact same position as before, completely unaffected by their leader's strike.

"Goddamn." The blade breathed, truly stunned. "I knew ya'd be a bitch right now, but yer a bitch." With a swipe, he knocked the Sixth back, though the released arrancar had no difficulty landing on his feet. "I actually didn't fukken feel that. I was playin' it up 'fore, but fuck."

"Bull. Shit." The Espada seethed, which was waved off by the zanpakuto.

"'Mean, yeah, sure, I used Acero fer that last one, butI still should'a felt it. Yer an Espada fer fucks sake. 'N I know ya deserve it. Though," the manifestation brought a hand to his chin in thought, "I wond'r if yer only strong 'cuz most o' the other arrancar are even bigg'r bitches…"

Nearly instantly, Grimmjow was screaming unintelligibly as he rushed at Shiro. Sand was blown about every which way from shockwaves, the panther hollow practically flying into a berserker rage. He hammered at his opponent ceaselessly, whipping at him constantly with each of his limbs and even his tail. To his only increasing rage, the doppelganger made no attempts to block any of the strikes. He darted to and fro, trying to attack from every angle, in every place on his opponent's body, firing balas, ceroes, even his Garra de la Pantera in an attempt to even incite a reaction.

Being battered relentlessly, from all sides, by all manner of attacks, Shiro was only capable of sincerely grumbling over how comparatively weak Grimmjow was. The Espada was weaker than he had been when Ichigo had his final clash with him in their original timeline, and it was an immense disappointment. It was a running theme, Shiro was catching onto, that specifically those he was to train were starting in weaker states than they had been in the previous timeline. Momo was…obviously not in her best state of mind at the time. Chad, at least, made sense. He had been exposed to far less life-threatening situations this time around, therefore he had gotten fewer opportunities to naturally grow. But for Grimmjow, it quite literally boiled down to him just not having been passively insulted enough to train on his own. It was a joke, that the spirit did not find funny. Annoyed by the incessant screaming, the zanpakuto whipped an arm out, catching the Espada's throat in his grip. He did not want to be in this particular situation, he much preferred when the panther was strong enough to at least make him give some effort. Which meant it was time to actually proceed with the training.

"Hope that was 'nuff." He prayed before raising his voice. "Who's stronger?"

"FUCK YOU!" The panther spat, literally. Yellow eyes rolled, further irritation appearing in them as he lifted a hand to wipe at what landed on his shihakusho.

"Not my name." He sighed, loosening his grip on the arrancar's throat slightly before pounding a fist into the Sixth's stomach, right above his hollow hole. The Espada devolved into a blur, sling-shotting through one of the crimson pillars, pinwheeling along the ground, then crashing halfway through the second before he settled. Barely a moment passed before the bluenet burst out from the pillar, a crimson cero charging in his right palm as he thrust his arm forward. He had not been prepared for his target to instantly be in his face, a white hand entwining its fingers in his right hand and trapping the attack between their palms. Accepting the challenge without a single thought for doubt or concern, he unleashed the orb of destruction. Pain rocked along his arm as, between the two walls the attack was trapped in, it deemed its owner to be the easier one to break through. Cancelling the technique and attempting to pull back, he found his hand was still firmly wrapped in the other hollow's hold.

"Who's stronger?" Shiro repeated once more.

"STOP LOOKING DOWN ON ME!"

"Earn the right." The blade fired back without hesitation. Taking advantage of his grip, he whipped the released arrancar into the ground so that he was on his back. "Answer the question."

"GO TO HELL!" A single stomp was brought down unto the panther hollow's chest, a symphony of wet crunches cracking out from the blow.

"How many times ya want me ta repeat myself? We both find it annoyin'." Snarling loudly, the Sixth spat a glob of blood onto the ground next to him.

"I'LL KILL YOU!" The man screamed, though it was noticeably hoarse. A second stomp was brought down, in a slightly different place on the downed man's chest.

"Uh huh. Do ya happen ta like broken ribs, by the way? I'd rather not check if yer gettin' a hard-on from this." A deep, loathing growl curled out from the panther's throat.

"Isn't this supposed to be some sort of training?!" He demanded. "What kind of bullshit is this, ignoring all of my attacks until you decide to throw me to the ground and ask me stupid questions?!" Taking that as ignoring said stupid questions once more, a third stomp shattered even more ribs.

"Bullshit trainin' specifically fuckin' made fer ya. Yer runnin' outta unbroken ribs, just a heads up." Spitting out another mouthful of blood, Grimmjow hatefully looked up at the spirit above him, his teeth covered in his own blood.

"What does shit like that have to do with-" He was cut off by his own scream, as he had been unprepared for the blade to stomp the fourth time while he was mid-sentence.

"You'll find out when ya answer the goddamn quest'n." Cerulean orbs glared into yellow, for several long moments. His claws dug into the sand, dragging miniscule trenches along the ground.

"FINE!" He shouted, before his volume nearly immediately lowered. "Fine! …It's you." The foot on his chest shifted only slightly, the toes lifting upwards while the heel remained firmly on his bruising body.

"Say it 'gain, louder than a dyin' mouse this time." The unspoken threat was obvious.

"It's you." Grimmjow snarled. Shiro remained in his position.

"One more time, for the people in the back." Gritting his teeth, the Espada tried once more.

"It's you! Now why the fuck are we doing this?!" It was loud enough for his still watching fracciones to hear him, and it brought the zanpakuto to lift his foot.

"Now who else?"

"Who else what?!" The panther hissed as he slowly started climbing to his feet.

"Who else, is stronger than you?" The manifestation clarified as he crossed his arms over his chest.

"Why does it fucking matter?!"

"Just answer the question."

"No! You answer mine!" A single yellow eye twitched, the only indicator before a white fist crashed into the arrancar's jaw, sending him straight back to the sand.

"You ain't in the position to make demands."

"Fucker, I am the King!" Grimmjow twisted so that he was facing the other hollow, his face contorted in boiling fury.

"The hell you are."

"You MOTHERF-" Shiro's foot connected with his ribcage a fifth time, vacuuming all air from his lungs and causing him to vomit blood onto the ground.

"You wanna call yourself a king? Stop being ignorant. Stop talking shit like there ain't nobody who can hand you your ass."

"I'm an Espada!" He had reached the point that he no longer cared for the blood pouring out from his mouth with every word. A pale hand fisted his hair and pulled him up so that he was eye-to-eye with the zanpakuto.

"And guess what? You're the weakest one still alive." He made sure the panther could not ignore his words. "You're the bottom bitch of the top dogs. And that's if we're only counting the other Espada."

"I've never fought the other Espada. You don't know."

"Yes, I fucking do. Each of them could beat you black and blue, and half of 'em won't even need ta use their strongest forms ta do it. We're makin' some progress, don't go back into denial on me now." He was thrown back onto the ground, a sandaled foot returning to holding him down by stomping onto his chest.

"Fuck! Fine!" He coughed and hacked, the hatred in his eyes never wavering. "I'm the weakest fucking Espada! You happy now?!"

"Great, you're admittin' it. Now, if you're the weakest Espada, what does that hafta mean?"

"It means…" He already knew the answer to this one. Shiro could only be referring to one thing. "…that I'm not the King."

"Why?"

"Because the King has to be the strongest!" He explained.

"And what have ya been doing so far to become the King?"

"Devouring every hollow in my path. Dominating every fight I found myself in. Evolving as much as I could. Getting as strong as I could become."

"Ya didn't fit the bill, so ya worked at yourself as much as ya could."

"I was determined. Nothing was going to stop me. I was going to become the King and I wasn't going to let anyone get in my way."

"And yet you're still not the King. So, what are you gonna do about it?" Realization filled Grimmjow's eyes, as he finally understood the point the other hollow was trying to make.

"I'm gonna keep getting stronger. I'm going to train, and eat, and evolve, until I'm the strongest Espada, the strongest arrancar! And then I'm gonna get strong enough…" He snarled as he brought his hands up to try shifting the foot on his chest off him. "…to grind your face into the dirt!" Yellow eyes brightened as Shiro's lips curled into a wide smile.

"That's the spirit!"


I was walking to an arcade with Keigo and Mizuiro, my hands in my pockets and a lackadaisical swing to my step. They were talking about something, a recent video game, I think, but I wasn't paying attention to it. Not because I couldn't focus, rather that my focus was elsewhere. It was becoming an idle curiosity, observing the reiatsu signature that had been following me the past week or so. It was barely seated officer-level, so I wasn't concerned about whatever their plans were. Not that it was a good thing that a reiatsu signature I didn't recognize was stalking me, but I had already crossed out any possibility that would leave me concerned. It wasn't a Quincy signature, nor Shinigami. There were traces of Hollow in it, which left me a little confused, but not as much as the distinct Human tinge did. They've been following me for a bit over a week, always maintaining a comfortable distance, for them. Often, they left when I went to sleep, probably figuring that I was unlikely to leave my house after I went to bed, then returned come morning. Outside of that, they watched me constantly, always within a two block radius of myself. Never closer than one block, of course, they didn't appear to be stupid. So far, all they've done is watch, which is why they were capturing my interest now.

The signature was right next to a human one in such a way that it was clear they were talking. They were a block and a half away, I could probably listen in if I really cared to, but Shiro was working on Grimmjow today, so I was trying to be restrictive with my reiatsu use. I was content to let myself be surprised anyway, I could do without added stress. Just as I had that thought, the human signature started running towards me, with the unique signature holding off for a moment before matching their pace. Interesting. They came within a block and…

"Stop! Thief!" A male voice shouted. Right after, the human rushed by my right side, a young guy in a hoodie clutching a duffle bag in his arms. I barely even had to think to reach out and grab the hood he wore. He choked for a second as his feet flung out in front of him, the neck of the hoodie digging into his throat. Once his momentum stopped, his body fell to the floor, a pained grunt escaping him. I was going to leave it at that, but he quickly let go of the bag and pulled out a knife as he started to climb to his feet. Maintaining my uncaring visage, I swung out a leg and kicked him across the face. He met the ground a second time, and did not attempt to get up after that. Keigo and Mizuiro had both stopped and turned by now, silently watching as I bent down to pick up the bag. Turning towards my stalker, I waited for a man who looked to be in his late-20's to jog up. He had slicked back black hair, and wore a black leather jacket with a white fur collar over a white shirt. There was a silver necklace over his shirt, a tilted cross hanging on it, and black pants and sneakers completed the look. Brown eyes wide with genuine shock blinked as I held his bag out towards him.

"Wow, I was not expecting you to be so efficient!" He praised, taking the bag gratefully.

"One of my friends practices her karate on me." I shrugged, going for an excuse anyone would accept. "That guy looks to be just a common thug, so he shouldn't harass you anymore. Have a good afternoon." If he left it at that, then he was likely just trying to gauge my abilities using innocent methods. However, if he pushed, then he probably manufactured that so he could start a conversation without me finding it suspicious.

"Wha- Hold on, now!" He called right when I turned to continue walking. "That guy was about to run off with all my stuff, I've gotta show my appreciation for you stopping him!" Great, now time to play the part of a version of myself that was unsuspecting. I lazily waved him off without turning to face him.

"Gratitude's felt." I drawled like I was annoyed that I was being interrupted. "No need to make a big deal out of it."

"I'm not trying to! Let me just treat you to a meal, that's all I'm asking!" The man offered. "I have some personal stuff in here, I have no idea what I would've done if you hadn't stopped that guy!" If I refused too aggressively, then he would have to back off so that it wouldn't start seeming abnormal, which would take away my opportunity to find out why he was stalking me. Sighing exaggeratedly, I made a show of shaking my head.

"You're going to keep insisting on this, aren't you?" At my false exasperation, he paused for a moment, clearly adapting his response to reflect mine.

"Well, kindness deserves kindness, don't you agree?" I turned my head to see him with a 'what can ya do' smile. "There's this bar a few blocks away. I'm friends with the bartender, he'd turn a blind eye to a youngster and he's a great cook." He suggested. That wasn't auspicious. Shrugging my shoulders, I turned to face him, waving for Keigo and Mizuiro to continue on. They each gave me a thumbs up and did so, likely unsuspecting of this guy's actions.

"I don't think I'll have anything alcoholic, but if you're going to vouch for the guy, I might as well check it out. Name's Kurosaki Ichigo, by the way." Best to keep the act up for now, at least until I was able to figure out his goal.

"Nice to meet you, Kurosaki-san! The name's Kugo Ginjo." I had to consciously stop myself from tripping over my own feet. My eyes widened, and I was thankful that the man was facing forward instead of looking at me. There was no way. We had started looking out for a 'Ginjo' a month ago, after Chad's training with Shiro. It had so far yielded no reward, then the man seeks me out?! I shook my head affectionately, already rethinking my plans.


Ginjo took me to an apartment building, in a quiet area of town. From the outside, it looked the same as any other building, nothing special about it. We went up a couple floors and up to one of the doors, an unmarked one with a keypad next to it. He typed in a code, then swiped a card before the door unlocked and he stepped inside, holding it open for me. Following him in, my eyes adjusted quickly to a lowly lit room, far larger than it should be for not being the top floor. Beside that little tidbit, though, it was nothing Ginjo had not told me to expect. There was a well-stocked bar with an older man behind the counter, dressed sharply and with an eyepatch covering his right eye. A woman in all leather was sitting at one of the stools before the bar, sipping at a drink. Atop one of the many couches, I could spot a large hat covering a head of blonde hair, with the distinctive noises of a video game emanating from whoever that was. A girl was sitting at a bar table, magenta hair done in twintails under a fluffy white hat with two extensions streaming down from it along her back. She wore a dark outfit and boots that went up to her thighs, I couldn't make out any more since she wasn't sitting close to any of the few lights and she was facing away from me.

"Kurosaki-san!" Ginjo started, loudly enough that I could tell he was warning everyone that I was present. "This is Xcution, my favorite bar." The last two words had heavy emphasis, clearly a way to let everyone else know what story they were supposed to follow. I wonder how long they were going to keep up the act of being completely normal people. The blonde off to the side didn't seem to react, continuing to play their game. The woman at the bar gave an idle glance back to us, shrugged uncaringly, and turned back to the counter, while the bartender picked up a rag to wipe at the counter.

"Another teenager, Ginjo?" The bartender sighed. "You remember that it's still illegal to serve minors alcohol, I'd rather you not make this a habit." He was playing his part well, I was tempted to congratulate such an expected response.

"Another?" I questioned dumbly, as though I hadn't already pegged the girl in the hat to be younger than my friends. "You bring teens to bars often?" I aimed that at the man with the slicked back hair, who tensed for natural reasons.

"Okay, I get that sounds really bad, but hear me out." He immediately turned to me with his hands up placatively. "Giriko is a good guy, and I just couldn't live with myself if I saw a stray on the street and let them be. I see someone down on their luck, and I figure: Giriko will take care of them, I can bring them over and they'll learn of a place that'll keep them dry and fed."

"That sounds like you just force people on a guy trying to run his business." I commented while wandering around, looking over the furniture and aiming myself towards a selection of recliners surrounding a wooden coffee table. My stalker casually kept close to me, his hands in his pockets.

"How very astute of you, Kurosaki-san." Who I presumed was Giriko hummed, clearly appreciating the barb sent Ginjo's way.

"Bah, you love it." The man waved off.

"Most certainly, Ginjo, I always love running the risk of my bar being shut down if the wrong person were to walk in at the wrong time."

"Idiot, that can't happen unless someone is invited!" The girl spoke up, her voice high pitched and haughty. "You need a card and a passcode to get in here, it's not like someone's just going to walk in!"

"Actually, I was meaning to ask about that." I announced as I stopped right next to the coffee table. It wasn't in the main path from the door to the bar, but it was just off to the side so that it was as close to the center as I could reasonably get. "What kind of bar demands both a passcode and a keycard? Either one would put a damper on business, both is sure to kill it outright."

"It's a pretty selective bar." Ginjo explained, coming up to stand at my right shoulder. Perfect. "Xcution is real careful about who it allows to be members, hell, there's only one member right now who isn't in, though that's because he's testing a potential new guy." My head bobbed in acknowledgement.

"That's good to know." Hummed out of my throat, before my right hand snapped up to palm the back of Ginjo's head and slam his skull into the coffee table. There was enough force put into it that the entire table shook, the distinct sound of cracking wood filling the air. At the same time, my left hand shot up to the back of his throat, my smaller blade manifesting in blue light in a reverse grip. "I know what to expect if things go wrong."

It was only after I finished speaking that the group reacted, which told me everything I needed to know about what I was dealing with. Not that I couldn't tell anyway with Ginjo's reiatsu being the highest out of everyone present. The man in my grip froze up, any pain from being slammed into a table ignored in favor of feeling the edge of a blade at the back of his neck. The woman at the bar stood up in a panic, the stool she had been atop of falling to the floor and kicked away. Giriko's right hand shot to his vest, and the girl shrieked in surprise as she turned in her chair. The person playing games did not shift away from what they were doing, which brought me to narrow my eyes. Reiatsu levels meant that I was bound to win a fight, but I didn't even have a general idea of what their abilities could be.

"If a single thing in this room changes, Ginjo's going to suddenly find himself having a lot in common with a Dullahan!" I shouted. Worst-case scenario and they didn't have any personal relationships, they should understand the strategic disadvantage of losing one of your allies right as the fight started. Thankfully, almost all of them immediately stilled. Almost. I could hear the cautious, slow presses of controller buttons. "That includes you, Gameboy!" The eyes of everyone else widened and the button presses ceased.

"N-now, I'm sure we could come to a peaceful agreement, right?" Ginjo hoped, his hands held out to his sides so that I could see he wasn't reaching for anything.

"I positively agree." I kept my voice loud, ensuring that the entire room could hear me clearly. "Just a little game of Twenty Questions and all any of you are gonna be is a little frazzled."

"I think we can all agree to that, right everybody?" It was easy to tell by this point that my initial guess was correct and he was the leader. The others all gave their own uncomfortable hums of acquiescence.

"Don't worry, I'll be fair about it. It doesn't matter to me who answers, as long as it's truthful and not misleading. And we can alternate questions, I'm sure you've all got some to ask."

"Those sound like perfectly acceptable terms." The jacketed man awkwardly smiled.

"Great to hear you're so cooperative. First question:" With a gentle turn of my arm, the edge of Zangetsu was even closer to his throat, whispering along his skin. "Why were you stalking me for the past week and a half?" The man's brown eyes widened, and I could tell my query got all of the others to tense up even further. Likely concerned for how I would take a lack of response, Ginjo quickly began stammering.

"W-w-well, I wouldn't really call it stalking, per say-" Blood formed from a shallow scrape my blade made on his neck. "B-but I can see why you'd call it that, so let's just say it was stalking! Uh, well-"

"The longer it takes for you to answer, the more I'm going to think you're trying to trick me even if it's the truth." I stated, all pleasantries gone from my tone. There was no need to finish the threat.

"We were waiting for an opportunity when you weren't surrounded by Shinigami." The woman in the leather quickly input.

"Thank you…" I clicked my tongue. "This doesn't count as a question, but could everyone introduce themselves?"

"Jackie Tristan." The woman supplied.

"Giriko Kutsuzawa." The eyepatch-wearing bartender expanded on what I knew.

"Yukio Hans Vorarlberna." The voice from the couch was that of a teenage boy.

"…Riruka Dokugamine." The girl finished, either the most uncomfortable, or the worst at hiding it.

"And the guy that's out?"

"Tsukishima Shukuro." Ginjo was the one to provide that answer.

"I figure you all already know my name, so now we're all on the same page." A false smile flashed from me before I smoothed out my features. "Since I got my answer, you all get to ask your first question." A dense silence resonated through the room, the members of Xcution trying to wordlessly communicate what they wanted to start with.

"…You seem oddly calm for someone who allowed themselves to be led into a random building by a stalker. What tipped you off?" Jackie was the one to ask, she seemed like the most logical one.

"I sensed Ginjo's reiatsu almost as soon as he started stalking me. I was content to let him come to me, so it was a pretty obvious setup when I sensed him talking with a normal Human right before 'his bag got stolen.'" The man under my blade winced, already beating himself up over being caught basically instantly. "So, second question. Why were you specifically waiting for when Shinigami weren't around?"

"Well," Ginjo had no problems being the one to answer, "it coincides with the reason why we were interested in you specifically. You caught our attention that one night when you and that other Shinigami chased each other around the city, yourself overflowing with hollow reiatsu. It was just a matter of finding you after that." One of my eyebrows twitched.

"We both know that didn't really answer my question, but you know what? I'll accept it. Your turn."

"Since Ginjo brought it up," Yukio raised his voice so he could be heard clearly, "what happened that night?"

"I was protecting a noble from assassins, ended up having an err in judgement. Lost my shit, had to have some friends of mine to calm me down before I did something I was bound to regret." If they were going to give me non-answers, I was going to give them non-answers. "Third question: Why do you want me so much?" Once more, Ginjo took the wheel for that.

"You're young, and you've got a distinctive human tinge to your reiatsu. You're alive." He concluded. "I was a little warry about bringing this up so early, but it doesn't look like I'll have a choice, so I'll be out with it: Before you, I was a Substitute Shinigami." It was clear that's all he was going to say for that one, but I had no issue with that this time. It was certainly surprising, but nothing I hadn't wondered about before. "What are your thoughts on the Gotei 13?" Was the third question.

"Could be better." I cryptically answered. It was open enough that it could be taken in any way, and would force them to step up with their own opinions. "What are yours?" His eye narrowed, uncertainty in his gaze as he grit his teeth.

"They used me, you know." The man said instead. "Had me patrol in the Living World so they could save labor, then tried to have me killed when they felt I used up my worth. They put a monitoring device on me without my knowledge, a limiter just in case I got too strong. I'm just worried they might do the same to you." There was genuine emotion in his words, in his eyes. He was speaking the truth there, most of it, at least.

"Trust me, they wont." I soothed gently. "They might me a little worried about me, but they know I'm an ally." A frown marred his face.

"Every morning, they drop a stack of paperwork at your doorstep, keeping you bogged down with signing papers. You've got two Shinigami that are around you nearly all the time, almost never leaving you unsupervised. I've seen you go over to the Soul Society twice in one week, and you spend half your afternoons in the shop of another Shinigami. On Sunday, you went over to a warehouse that an entire group of Shinigami is hiding in and spent a few hours there. Hell, a Mod Soul went to school using your body while you were stuck inside your house." The man brought up, softly, like he was afraid I might react badly. I blinked.

"Oh, I think I see the problem."

"So you do see it, that's-" Relief filled his features, only for him to be cut off.

"You think I'm still just a Substitute." I finished, causing him to choke on his own spit.

"W-What?!" He rasped, his voice slightly hoarse from coughing.

"My position in the Gotei 13 is War Preparation Leader." My words incited a whole new silence over the room. "I'm in charge of all preparations for war throughout the Gotei, that's the paperwork I get every morning. My going around to the Seireitei, to the Vizard Warehouse, and to Kisuke's shop is to check in on people's training, as well as a little bit of fun on the side. At least this week, Kon went to school for me because someone convinced Kurotsuchi that whatever that psycho shit he does to his zanpakuto is something he has to report. And I spend so much time around Unohana and Yoruichi because they're my girlfriends." I let go of the man and stood straight, allowing Ossan's blade to dissipate in blue reiatsu. By this point, I had figured there was not going to be any problems. Ginjo remained lying upon the coffee table, a flurry of emotions passing over his features with shock being the only constant. "Depending on the situation, I outrank Yamamoto, and I have it on good authority that if C46 wanted to do something about me, the Gotei would refuse to obey their orders."

"What the hell did you do to get such a high position?!" Riruka all but screamed. I didn't want to outright break them, since they were definitely all Human and less accustomed to bullshit, so I decided to give them a reason they would accept with less issue than time travel.

"I'm strong enough to kill the Soul King, and they'd rather I be their trainer than their enemy." They all stared at me in abject horror, so I decided to keep pushing forward. "Since your goal was trying to keep me from being screwed over by the Gotei, I figure you'll enjoy knowing that outside of wartime, most decisions are made by Central 46. They're the corrupt ones who are afraid of their power being taken away from them, and I'm currently working with several of the Captains to organize a coup." The horror morphed to stunned disbelief. With them clearly struggling to process the information I just dropped on them, I decided to give them some time to let it settle.

"So, last question, then I'll leave you all to let that sink in: I have two friends that are Fullbringers, would you mind if I sent them your way for training?" Ginjo, still lying on the table, tilted his head to get a better look at me, allowed his body to go limp, then wordlessly held a single thumb up. "Thanks so much! I'll be in contact!" I called as I left through the front door.


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