April 9th, 20XX, Daytime

"Whoever invented subways deserves a kick in the ass..."

A taller, orange haired teen ran a hand through his hair as he stepped off of a train that lead into the heart of Tokyo, or rather, Shibuya. He carried a dufflebag in his left hand, strapped over his shoulder, and a long case that was slung over his right shoulder which was covered in a crimson cloth.

They didn't have these trains in Karakura town, if only for the fact that the town itself wasn't large enough to constitute an underground transportation system. He was accustomed to taking the bus or walking to where he needed to get to, but these things were just too damn cramped for his taller, bulkier frame. It wasn't his fault that he stood a good head over the average person.

Some were muttering how he looked like a thug, but he didn't care. Granted, his clothes didn't help in others judging him. He wore a white, long sleeved shirt with a deep 'V', red vest with a large, black number '15' on the back, and a pair of jeans with black sneakers.

People bustled around him, some of them giving him sidelong glances as they passed while others were too busy, their noses in their phones to pay attention to their surroundings. A few bumped into him, but he wasn't perturbed by it. His taller frame gave him the strength along with it to not be moved much by those smaller than him.

The teen began to move up a nearby escalator, nimbly dodging other people's shoulders and stood in line to get to the top.

He pulled out his phone and tapped away at it, opening his map to see the way to his next train. He sighed loudly, annoyed by this whole situation.

After the war with Aizen...things hadn't really been the same. Since he had lost his powers, he admitted that he was in a bit of a slump. That was all over a year ago now, last February to be exact.

The others, Inoue, Chad, Ishida, Kisuke, and Yoruichi carried on the duties of protecting Karakura from Hollows and the like, but it just wasn't the same for Ichigo Kurosaki. He felt like a piece was missing from him.

He didn't care about power. Really, he didn't. It was just that power gave him the means to protect what he needed to, and he lost it. Zangetsu wasn't a just a means either, and in that facet he had lost a friend.

Ichigo stepped off the escalator and allowed himself to take in the big city life. There were hundreds, thousands of people moving around him, carrying about their lives while he had been forced here by circumstances that he almost growled thinking about.

So this is the famous Shibuya Square... he thought to himself as he shrugged his shoulders, adjusting his bags.

He felt his phone vibrate again and chuckled. Yuzu had been messaging him almost nonstop since his trip to Tokyo had started. Ichigo pulled out his phone again and blinked a few times as an app made itself known.

He blinked a couple times as it looked like it pulsed on his screen.

Well that's just fucking weird.

He had a high tolerance for odd occurrences. Nel and her little band of misfits, his entire tenure as a substitute Shinigami, and just about everything involving that life. He made to delete the app from his phone, only for it to not move from his screen.

Ichigo let loose a breath and tried to drag the app to his trash bin, only for it to not move again.

I also dislike technology. If only Karin didn't insist me getting smart phone. Flip phones were so much better.

He stuffed his phone back into his pocket and looked up, noticing the crossing signal had turned red and cars moving through the streets. The teen grumbled about 'technological inconveniences' before a flash of blue caught his eye.

Everything around him seemed to grind down to a halt as time slowed before the only thing he saw were blue flames.

Yellow eyes peered through blue flames and a perpetual grin were details he noticed from across the crosswalks, people, and cars. It was somewhat tall, about as tall as him, but he couldn't make everything out.

Ichigo blinked a few times and the figure was gone.

The crosswalk signals turned green and he swiftly began to move through the crowd to the next station.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope...

Yongen Station, Apr 9th, 20XX, Daytime

He had arrived just outside Yongen station.

No sir, nope, not it, no thank you...

He wanted nothing to do with the fuckery that ensued with whatever that thing was. He wanted to be normal for a while so that could at least find what it meant to be human again.

Ichigo wanted nothing more than to have his partner back, even the Hollow. But he refused to wallow in his self pity more than he had already. It didn't help that the only ones who interacted with him were from the Urahara Shoten, and his friends and family. Those from the Soul Society didn't even try to reach out to him, and to him it felt like they had just discarded a now useless tool.

The former Shinigami growled to himself and shook his head, his scowl firmly in place and pressed on to the Yongen backstreets.

He looked around and checked the address again to make sure he was in the right area. He walked the streets and noticed a small store to his left, one that looked about as old as the lady that was standing in the center, assisting customers. This area wasn't near as lively as Shibuya but still had a fair amount of people walking about which was nothing like Karakura Town. Ichigo figured there was a reason Tokyo being the most densely populated city in Japan.

He noticed a woman walk past him clad in a doctor's coat, jeez those are big heels, and...dark blue hair?

Ichigo wasn't one to judge on appearances given his upbringing of being judged for his, but she definitely made herself stand out.

He huffed and admitted to himself that he was lost before tapped her on the shoulder, just inside his arm's reach.

Tae Takami blinked a couple times before she noticed that someone had tapped her on the shoulder. If it was that bastard was hounding her about her research again, she'd-!

"Scary look you got there, my bad," a voice called out a she turned around.

Tae didn't even realize she was scowling as she looked at the, so tall, man in front her. He had orange hair that threatened to cover his eyes and stood a good head and a half over her.

The doctor blinked a few times before she coughed and composed herself. "Apologies, I thought you were someone else," she said slowly as she looked up at the man.

He chuckled as he adjusted his bag and case again. "I'd hate to be the person you expected, then," he responded.

Tae allowed herself to smile at that remark and chuckled herself.

Ichigo brought himself back to the reason he had tapped on her shoulder. "Anyways, I'm a little lost. You mind giving me directions?" he asked her, getting straight to the point.

Tae had to admit, she thought he was going to hit on her like most men did nowadays, and was pleasantly surprised when he in fact did not.

"Sure, where are you looking for?"

Honestly, with his luck, Ichigo didn't expect it to be that easy but wouldn't question it. "Ah fuck, one sec. Uh, could you tell me where this address is?" he asked, getting his phone out to show her the address he had saved in his phone, not really expecting her to help him.

If she was bothered by his vulgarity, she didn't show it. Tae looked at the phone's screen and blinked. That was Sojiro Sakura's address. "It's a little ways down this way," she said, pointing down the street towards what he assumed was an old theatre. "Second right, only gate on that little walkway."

Ichigo was surprised she knew exactly where it was and nodded in thanks. "'Preciate it, I'll be on my way then," he responded, moving past her to his destination.

"He's probably in his cafe, though, since it's open. Cafe LeBlanc. Down this street," she pointed down the street to his right which made him stop. "You can't miss it. Across from the bathhouse," she explained. Ichigo peered down said street and sure enough there was a small cafe with a red and white awning that read 'Cafe LeBlanc.'

He whistled. "Damn, you really know your way around here. Mind if I ask you another question?" he asked her, deciding to be greedy for information at this point. Might as well risk it. What would the world do? Make his life more weird that it had been before?

Tae almost rolled her eyes. This is where he hits on me.

"You know where this place is?" he asked her, showing her a picture on his phone. It looked to be an almost run down, old shoten but she knew what he was talking about.

She blinked a few times, surprised as she pointed to a small building right beside the garage-sale shop they were near to. "Right there."

Ichigo looked and there was, indeed, an old shoten right beside the second-hand shop. It had tatami doors and a green awning above it, oddly reminding him of Urahara's current residence but a tad bit smaller. It also had a tin roof, same as the one Kisuke had on his shop. Guess some things don't change.

Ichigo nodded at her again and offered a small smile. "I really appreciate it. What's your name, by the way?"

Tae allowed herself to smile as well, pleased by his polite nature and at being proved wrong by not being hit on. He could work on his vocabulary, though. "Takami Tae. Yours?" she responded.

"Kurosaki Ichigo," he said, moving down the street towards LeBlanc. "I appreciate it again. See ya," He said, giving her a backward wave as he moved to the Cafe.

Tae nodded at him and began to walk her way towards her clinic. Odd guy. Nice, but odd.


Ichigo moved towards Cafe LeBlanc at a slower pace than his usual gait, not particularly excited over meeting his guardian for the next year.

Urahara had mentioned he met Sojiro in the nineties when he lived here previously, but that was the extent of detail Kisuke was willing to part with. Kisuke knew the guy and had set him up with this whole deal, so he'd give this Sakura dude the benefit of the doubt.

Ichigo knew he was on probation, and while he'd try not to get in as many fights at his new school, he wouldn't just accept this hand dealt to him. He'd take his lickings where they were needed, and that irritated him to no end, but he wouldn't roll over.

He ruffled his hair, again in irritation. Every single aspect of this annoyed him to no end.

The teen stopped in front of the Cafe and peered inside the older looking building. He could vaguely see a balding, older man with a pink shirt reading a newspaper sitting at the counter.

Pushing open the door, he had caught the tail end of the conversation he was having with an older couple sitting in a booth. He looked around and the Cafe was...quaint. It had a prevalent smell of coffee, curry, and and undertone of cigarette smoke. There were an assortment of beans on the shelves behind the counter, an old yellow pay phone on the end of the counter by the register, and a television on the other side of the room. There were also a few booths on the wall, giving it a more Cafe feel than just a coffee stop. It looked old though, as if he had been in business for a while.

"Vertical sure is an odd name for pearl fish..." Sojiro muttered to himself as he peered up from his newspaper and over to the older couple.

"You hear about the accidents that are happening in Tokyo?" the old man asked while Sojiro blinked a few times, finally listening to the television to his left.

"...Odd incidents throughout Tokyo are being described as nothing else but psychotic breakdowns. A few cars have run off roads into buildings while railway conductors..."

Ichigo had heard about the incidents all the way to Tokyo. There had been a string of them, beginning in the past couple months and had caused several railways to be delayed due to repairs to the trains.

Sojiro Sakura 'hmm'ed' to himself as he sat his paper down as the man and woman stood, finally finishing their coffee.

"I guess you don't really need to worry about car's crashing into your cafe, Sojiro. Anyways, thank you for the coffee. We'll be back tomorrow," the old man spoke as he made his way out the door, paying for the coffee on his way out, eyeing Ichigo as he did so. The older woman gave as large a birth to him as she could in the small walkway, passing by him as she followed her husband.

Sojiro sighed to himself. "Four hours for just a couple cups of coffee," he muttered while Ichigo stood in the walkway, slightly annoyed at feeling ignored.

Sojiro finally seemed to have paid attention to him as he scooped the money into his hand. "Right, that was today."

Ichigo nodded to him. "Kurosaki Ichigo," he greeted him politely.

"Name's Sakura Sojiro. So you're the one, huh?" he asked as he put the money in his register.

Ichigo shrugged, putting his bag down. "I guess so. I appreciate you taking me in."

"Just a favor for an old friend. How's Kisuke doing nowadays? Still running shops?" he asked as he leaned on the counter.

The former Shinigami rolled his eyes. "If you mean being a general asshat, the sure, he's still running shops."

Sojiro let loose a chuckle in response. "Well, he always was a strange one. He must be getting old now, though. Hard to see how he can keep running those things getting into his seventies."

Ichigo shrugged again. He understood what he meant, though. Kisuke had been kicked out of the Soul Society well over a hundred years ago so it made sense to him that other's didn't understand that he aged a lot slower since he was a spirit.

The older man crossed his arms. "Now it's my understanding that you're here on probation, yeah?" he asked, getting straight to the point. "I won't tolerate you causing any more trouble for me than what you've already done to yourself. I'll kick you out if you do anything to bring bad on my name. I do favors for friends, but this ain't no charity."

If it was one thing Ichigo appreciated, it was the bluntness of his words.

"You already look like an adult to me, so I expect you to act like one. You coast through this probation for a year, then you're out of my hair. Understand?"

Ichigo nodded. "Crystal clear."

"Alrighty then, follow me," he said while Ichigo picked up his dufflebag, following the old man to a set of stairs.

They went up and Ichigo coughed slightly at the dust that had accumulated over the years in this musty room. It looked worse for wear if going by the cluttered desk, bags of recyclables, and tools laying about. Most of it was covered in a thick layer of dust save for the couple of cardboard boxes in the center.

"Kisuke gave you the key to his old shop, right?" he said, making Ichigo nod again, looking down at the shorter man. "Alright. This was were you were going to be staying, but thankfully I don't have to board you, too. Here's your things that were delivered yesterday," he added, poking one of the cardboard boxes with his foot.

Ichigo looked around again, thanking whatever deity that was looking out for him that he didn't have to stay in this dump. That did rise a couple questions, however.

"You need a helping hand around here, pops?" Ichigo as he looked back at Sojiro with an eyebrow rose.

Sojiro huffed at being called pops. The kid didn't seem too bad. He was polite if only a little crass and disrespectful along with vulgar...yeah, there were a few things he could work on.

"I ain't got the type of money to be hiring a part timer. Especially not one with your record," the old man responded making Ichigo roll his eyes.

"Wasn't looking for a job, just wanted to help. Jesus," Ichigo breathed exasperatedly. If this was how he was going to be treated by having this mark on his record then figured it would easier just to go to juvie.

...You can't think like that, Kurosaki. Just take your whippings even if this is all bullshit. Can't cause trouble...

Sojiro made to respond if the angry glare was any determining factor, but Ichigo quickly tacked on, "Anything to get some brownie points with my guardian."

The older man blinked before he chuckled, his expression softening. "Since you're honest, sure. I could use this place cleaned up. Don't expect this to change much, though."

Ichigo nodded, breathing a slight sigh of relief at not angering the man who was supposed to be his guardian.

Sojiro leaned against a table near the railing and crossed his arms. "Now, onto the probation. You understand what that means, right? Why'd you piss off someone so much as to get probation, anyways? Not like you don't look the part of being the thug..." he muttered the last part to himself.

Ichigo huffed. "Yeah, my pops explained it to me. Get it any more trouble and I'll be thrown in the brig. After my eighteenth birthday it'll be actual prison."

Sojiro nodded, noting that he didn't answer the last part of the question. "You were brought in for assault, right?" he asked, probing slightly to see if Ichigo would give him any misinformation.

He was surprised when Ichigo shrugged but nodded. "Assault with the intent to harm. Minors get off pretty easy for that, I've heard," he paused. "All I did was-."

"Don't wanna hear it from you. I read the reports, but thanks for being honest. All it takes in this world is pissing off the wrong people. You understand that now, right?" Sojiro cut him off.

Ichigo blinked away a rather blatant roll of the eyes at being cut off. In the end, though, he nodded. Sojiro didn't seem like a bad guy, just trying to protect what was his. That was all that Ichigo needed to understand where he was coming from.

Sojiro huffed and began to move down the stairs. "Clean up if you want. I'll get you some sheets for your other lodging. It'll be downstairs," he said as he turned the corner of the stairs, out of Ichigo's sight.

Ichigo huffed again and looked around the room. He sat his bags down on the table and picked up his boxes of belongings, getting them out of the way of the rest of the mess that was this room.

He looked at the side with the plant on it and began to pick up the recyclables, chanting a mantra in his head.

For the brownie points, for the brownie points...


April 9th, 20XX, Evening

Two hours had come and gone for Ichigo as he diligently cleaned the attic of Cafe LeBlanc. Mid way though the ordeal he had questioned to himself why he really wanted to earn said 'brownie points' with his guardian, but at the end of the day, the old guy looked like he needed a little help anyways. He was just too proud to admit it.

Ichigo respected that as well. He was trying to stay strong even though his Cafe wasn't preforming as best as it could. He was also getting into his sixties and still had the swagger of a man in his mid twenties, adding to his pride even more.

He didn't want to be burden, nor admit his problems which again, Ichigo respected.

The attic was much cleaner than it was before. The recycling was picked up and throw into its bin behind the store. The tools around the shelf were tucked into the closet downstairs and most of the general clutter was organized and picked up. The thick layer of dust over everything was gone as well so he could breathe clearly now.

The only things left to clean was the desk, another shelf full of books, and a few more boxes. But since he had to organize his stuff at the shoten, he'd come back another day to finish.

Ichigo wiped his forehead free of sweat and looked over to the staircase, hearing steps coming up from it.

Sojiro whistled, looking at the room. "Haven't seen it this clean in years. I appreciate the help. Don't think this does anything for you, though," he said, looking at Ichigo who had walked over to the table where his belongings were.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever, gramps. I'll come back to clean the rest another time. I still need to get situated in the old shop," Ichigo responded while picking up his bags.

Sojiro grumbled something about 'disrespectful brats' before he huffed. "Sure, sure. Come by in the morning for some breakfast. We'll be visiting your new school so be ready around 7 A.M."

Who the hell works on a Sunday... Ichigo thought to himself in annoyance as he nodded at his guardian. "Breakfast, 7, school. Got it."

Sojiro managed a lazy in grin in turn, happy the brat was actually listening to his rather than blowing him off. "You got your uniform, yeah? Didn't see you wearing it. Suppose I should make sure you got it."

"Yep, packed away in my bag," he motioned towards the dufflebag. Sojiro looked at him with a raised eyebrow. "What? If you think I'm coming all the way to Tokyo in that thing, you're crazy."

His guardian looked at him dumbfounded. "That uniform is expensive you know."

"And? I paid for it, doesn't really matter to me. I'll wear it when I need to."

The older man rubbed his neck, putting the comment that he paid for away for later. "Make sure you iron it, then. I'm sure it's wrinkled to shit in there. I'll lend you one for tonight, but I expect it back. You make off with anything of mine and I'm turning you into the cops, clear?" he snarked back while the orange haired teen sighed for the umpteenth time today.

"Roger that."

Sojiro nodded while Ichigo grabbed his bags and boxes before making his way down the stairs, watching his step as he carried his things.

The old man moved out of the way as he watched the teen move, carrying his bags and boxes with ease. He's strong, I'll give him that. Those things were heavy.

Ichigo stood at the door, turning to the side so he could see the man. "It fine if I come back for the iron?" he asked while Sojiro huffed but nodded. Ichigo muttered a thanks as he pushed the door open with his shoulder and moved to the old shoten.

There were considerably less people about as he moved back down the street towards the now closed garage-sale shop. He pushed the boxes up again as he stopped in front of the tatami doors to his temporary home. He inspected the doors and found them just about as dusty as the room he had just cleaned and groaned.

Ichigo sat his belongings down and fished the key to the place out of his pocket before opening the somewhat rusty padlock to the place.

He pushed open the door and stepped inside, pulling his boxes with him before closing the door behind him.

Can't see for shit in here, he said, noting that it was almost pitch black in the place.

"I own the place so don't worry about rent. I'll turn the electricity and water back on for it, too. It's the least I can do for you, Ichigo."

Ichigo pulled out his phone, fiddling with it for a second before turning on the flashlight to look for a light switch. Finding it near the door, he flipped it on.

The light in the center of the room flickered before it illuminated the area. Again, it was mostly the same as Urahara's shop save for the actual shop part. Ichigo sat his stuff down and walked out the doorway again, closing the door behind him. He put the lock on the door and clicked it shut before turning down the street of LaBlanc again to retrieve the iron.

He came to a stop at the door and noticed the lights off and sign flipped to 'closed.'

Ichigo groaned. "So much for brownie points," he muttered before he looked down at a table to see an iron sitting on it. Must be a good neighborhood to leave shit out like this, he thought, picking it up and coming back to the shoten. His shoten, he guessed.

Maybe I should get a hat and those shoes, he thought for a moment before he shivered, purging the rouge thought from his mind.

Ichigo turned and noticed a latch inside for the lock. He shrugged, locking the door before kicking off his shoes, adjusting them neatly to the side. There was a table in the center and a small kitchen to his right.

"Must be rooms in the back then," he muttered, seeing a few sets of doors on the opposite side of the room. It wasn't as cluttered as he thought it would be. It was a little dusty, but that was fine with him. He picked up his luggage and the iron and put them by the table before deciding to look around. He opened the first set of doors to notice a bed-room. It was empty but had a closet. He figured this would be his room, then.

Ichigo turned to next set of doors and quickly shut it due to a tsunami of boxes threatening to fall down.

"If I was a betting man, I'd be rich."

He groaned at the feeling of more cleaning and moved to the last set of doors, noticing another empty room with a rather nice, wooden desk. It lacked a chair, but there were quite a few bookshelves with a fair amount of books and another table in that room. There was a couple nightstands and figured he'd put them in his room once he actually got a bed. There was no way he was sleeping on the ground for a year. It killed his back.

The last room had an actual door which lead to a bathroom which sported a shower, sink, and a toilet. All of it looked relatively clean, so he'd take that win.

He checked his phone to see how late it was and nearly blanched, seeing at it was nearing 11 PM. He was cleaning longer than he thought...

The teen blew some air out of his nose as he looked at the boxes before picking them up and setting them in the bedroom, not really caring for unpacking seeing as how he'd have to iron his clothes.

Ichigo looked around room for an outlet as he opened his dufflebag, pulling out his uniform.

...Well damn, I guess I should've wore it, he thought to himself, looking for an outlet.

Hours passed before Ichigo laid down on his makeshift bed after turning off all the lights inside of the area.

He checked his phone.

Fucking bullshit. Couldn't get those wrinkles out til 2 A.M. Bullshit. All of it's as bullshit as Aizen's shikai.

Ichigo set his alarms on his phone and closed his eyes, not noticing the pulsing red-eye on his phone's screen.


The former shinigami breathed deeply as he was roused from his sleep to the sound of thunder echoing around him. His eyes slowly cracked open to see a cobblestone roof above him.

He blinked a few times. Am I dreaming? He thought as he sat up, looking down to see himself in an old black and white prison uniform with his wrists chained with large, iron cuffs. He looked to his left and right to see himself in a cell of some sorts with a sink and toilet opposite of the bed he was laying on. A prison? This has gotta be some dream...

A loud bang from his right tore him from his thoughts.

"What in the hell?" he asked himself as he turned to see two girls, both of which looked no older than ten, looking at him. One had an extendable baton on the barred door of his cell while the other had her arms crossed behind her back.

They two were standing side by side, both in what he guessed were an odd mix of guard uniforms combined with schoolgirl uniforms with large hats. The left had 'O.Y.O.O.' embroidered on her hat while the other had 'X.M.R.N.' Both had eye patches on the left and right eyes respectively, while made their golden, visible ones stand out more. The left one had a braid of pale hair while the other had twin buns.

He stood up and moved forward, meeting some resistance as he saw an large ball chained to his ankle. Ichigo scowled before kicking forward, sending the ball into the bars with little resistance. The two girls simply smiled at him, though the smiles held no kindness.

Ichigo walked to the bars and put his hands on them before he noticed a third being in the room. A flash of lightning came through the small windows that littered the ceiling before thunder followed. Rain pattered against the glass which caused Ichigo's scowl to deepen. Always rain...

His vision focused on the person in the middle of the room who was sitting at an ornate desk. His appearance was...unique, much like the two girls in front of him. He had a long nose, wide, unblinking eyes, and a large, perpetual smile. The two girls turned around, facing their master as Ichigo stared ahead, his mind trying to come to terms with what was happening.

"Hello, Trickster, and welcome...to my Velvet Room," the man spoke in a deep voice which echoed throughout the room, offering a hand to him, grinning the whole time.

"Glad to see you're used to carrying around your share of burdens, inmate," the girl to his right spoke in a condescending tone as they both turned back around.

"Yes, the will be useful for the future and it has been noted," the left one said, her voice decided softer than the other. "You are experiencing this as dream. In reality, you are fast asleep," she added, looking up to him.

"Where am I? And what's a Velvet room? Also, what the hell do you mean 'Trickster?'" Ichigo asked with steel in his voice, ignoring their comments.

He was met with another bang as the girl to his right swung her baton on the door again. "Quiet! Our Master wishes to speak with you. Stand up straight as well!"

Ichigo growled as he looked back at the other man in the room. The strange being laughed. "I'm pleased to see that you're as lionhearted as the times you invaded the Soul Society and Hueco Mundo," he said making Ichigo's eyes widen.

"Who the hell are you, and how do you know about that?!" Ichigo growled but was only met with a chuckle.

"I've been watching you for some time, Trickster. We wouldn't have been having this conversation if you weren't currently at your lowest point. You've been forced into a corner by corruption and currently all that awaits this word is ruin."

Ichigo scowled again, this time in thought. What the hell is he talking about? Ruin?

"Moving on, this place exists not in the reality that you know of. It is between mind, between matter. Only those bound by a 'contract' may enter," he continued. "This is a manifestation of your own heart, no different than your 'Inner World', I suppose. But to think it would be a prison surrounded by torrential rain and storm. You must have truly hit your lowest low. You really are a prisoner of your own fate."

Ichigo looked away, finding no fault in his word. He shook his head before looking forward once more. "You didn't answer my question. Just who are you?" he asked, this time with less edge in his voice.

The man chuckled again. "I am Igor, the master of this Velvet Room, while those two are your wardens. To your left, Justine. To the right, Caroline," he explained while Ichigo looked down at the girls again.

"Wardens, huh?" he muttered, still coming to terms with, well, this.

"Now, onto the more important matters. In the near future, there is no mistake that strife and ruin awaits you. For you to challenge this, you must become rehabilitated."

Ichigo leaned against the bars, putting one arm above his head. "What do you mean, rehabilitation? And what's with this 'ruin' you keep speaking about?" he asked which only got a chuckle in response.

"I know you are no stranger to ruin, young Shinigami, and this is much like the scale in which you had encountered before. So, ask yourself, do you really not know the answer to your own question of what ruin actually is?"

Ichigo's mind raced. Who was this guy? And how did he know of his past? Then again, it seemed like none of this was normal, even for his standards...

"For you to oppose this, you must seek freedom. Do you have the resolve to face this challenge in this distorted world?"

Ichigo looked down. "I'd rather avoid it, actually..." he muttered, thought it seemed Igor heard him.

Igor chuckled once more. "Then allow me to observe you in your endeavors."

The girls turned to him, preforming an about face to turn towards the cell door. "We are your wardens," Justine spoke. "We protect the inmates, but we are also your collaborators."

"Facilitators, if you will, inmate," Caroline added. "All of this hinges on your obedience, however. So don't get any ideas on escaping."

Seconds passed before a shrill alarm sounded through the prison. Lightning cracked and thunder boomed in response. "It seems our time is up. I shall explain more at our next meeting. We will surely meet again. Eventually."

Ichigo didn't give a response to the man, his mind reeling from this experience. He thought he'd feel angry, but now he was just confused.

Caroline saw his expression and stomped her foot. "The master is done with you now, inmate! Off to sleep with you!"


April 10th, 20XX, Early Morning

Ichigo groaned as he heard his alarm go off. Some dream... he thought before rubbing a hand across his face.

"Anyone get the number of the truck that hit me..." He groaned as he stood and began his day.

For my new readers, welcome to the fresh hell that is my writing patterns.

For my returning readers:

All I can say is, is that I finished Persona 5 Royal. And that there were waifus. And Ichigo would be a way better protag to write about in my humble opinion than another Trickster OC.

Sue me.

Harem, obvi (What else do I write?). I'm taking it a different route than my other stories. There's a couple set pairings, but I'll see how the others pan out as I write them.

I've decided to accept that there's little leeway with what's believable in this type of setting regarding other avenues of approach that can be explored, but I've got a few ideas. All of this really hinges on Ichigo's known attitude and behavior. Or maybe I just don't have an active imagination lol. We'll see.

That's really all I got.


09-13-2020: Fixed some small typos issues.