More… stuff.


It had been close to a week since the team had gathered to take on the case of the Rokuban killer. Progress was slow, and the team was facing the same problems the previous investigators had while working on the cases of the previous victims. Even with Ishida's and Kira's processed evidence, they had little to work with and often resulted at a dead end. But what they found that was a working drive for the team was that this district of Karakura - where the police station the team had gathered at - was where the killer most probably resided, since the bars the victims were last seen in were a cluster of bars in the area. They had probably been killed nearby, only to be moved as far as the other end of the town.

Ever since he had overheard Urahara's conversation over the phone, Ichigo had been giving the man a little bit of the cold shoulder. The man seemed to notice, but did not question, and left Ichigo to his work. He did, however, reminded Ichigo to go meet the psychiatrist who would be giving them his report of a psychological profile of the killer. And that day was today, and Ichigo was getting a little nervous as he drove to the building where the psychiatrist's office was. He never liked them. For one thing, they were like Kurotsuchi Mayuri, who only viewed people as something to study. Another thing was that he'd gone there too often as a kid, and to relive the bad memories of his past…

Ichigo stopped delving deeper into his thoughts. It was too dangerous. He hoped what Urahara had said about accessing him was just his ears playing tricks on him. But of course it wouldn't be. Bad luck always haunted him. He willed all thoughts away as he got into the elevator to the 5th floor and walked towards the counter where the receptionist was. She was young and small-sized, had her fringe parted to the side and her hair in a bun.

"Hi, may I help you?" the receptionist asked with a cheerful smile.

"I'd like to see Dr. Aizen please?" Ichigo informed her. "I'm Detective Kurosaki… I need to collect his report." Ichigo added and flashed his police badge. The receptionist's smile faded a little but returned as she nodded and dialed on her phone.

"Aizen-san? Detective Kurosaki's here for your report… Yes, I understand," she put down the phone and told Ichigo. "You can go to his office now, which is the first door to the left. Please remember to knock first."

"Thanks," Ichigo said and the girl smiled again. Ichigo went to the door as directed and nervously, he knocked on the door that had the name 'Dr. Aizen Sousuke' on it. He heard the soft reply from behind the door and took another deep breath before he entered.

"Kurosaki Ichigo?" was the first thing Aizen Sousuke asked when Ichigo stepped in. The psychiatrist smiled, and Ichigo could tell straight away that it was just a façade. The way the man looked at him was condescending. It pissed him off. Ichigo tried to reciprocate the smile, but instead felt himself scowl harder.

"Yes, I'm the detective who's collecting your report on the killer," Ichigo replied. Aizen handed him the papers, the smile still sticking to his face. Ichigo wondered if he ever got a facial cramp from that.

"Your captain told me…"

"That I'm mad, am I right?" Ichigo cut in, his temper flaring suddenly for some reason. "That I'm like… I look like one of them, those killers." The psychiatrist's smile widened and Ichigo felt a little uneasy. Like the man was probing into his head.

"You don't look like them, but yes, you certainly give off the vibe a little, Kurosaki-kun," Aizen said calmly. Ichigo just glared at him. "Now, how do you feel about that?"

"Don't talk to me like I'm a patient, I never consented to this session," Ichigo snapped back.

"But if that is so, then why didn't you leave after I gave you the papers and after what I've said?" Aizen replied and Ichigo stopped. "It shows that you too want to know about yourself, don't you?" Ichigo didn't reply, but he stared back at the man with his fists clenching tighter.

Aizen leaned back in his chair and let his placed the tips of his fingers together. He gestured to the chair and for some reason Ichigo automatically sat down on it and looked at the man as he waited for him to speak. "I read up about you. You were featured in the papers a couple of years ago, for being one of the youngest detectives to enter homicide unit and that you're one of the best. You followed your father's footsteps, whom I learned to be an excellent detective as well and is now out of the country working on another case. You've grown a name for yourself over the years you've spent in detective work."

Ichigo said nothing, a little tired of hearing things that had been repeated a few times before from friends and strangers. They only understood him from the newspapers, but they didn't know him inside. Aizen studied him momentarily before he continued talking. "Now, Urahara Kisuke told me about you talking out loud to yourself, and looking like you're controlling yourself from doing something sometimes."

"…I hear voices," Ichigo began, and his eyes immediately looked elsewhere. He didn't like this guy, and he hated talking about himself, so why was he talking now? Was it because he knew he had to get help? Was Urahara doing the right thing sending him here? Was he doing the right thing by choosing to speak up?

"How many?"

"Mostly just one, but sometimes another one talks to me too," Ichigo said monotonously. His mind was blank as he spoke.

"Would you describe their voices?"

"The one that talks a lot sounds high-pitched and distorted. Annoying. Evil," Ichigo described slowly. His eyes just stared off into blank space. "The other one sounds like an older man. He's gentle, and nice. Like… a teacher or a father. He hardly speaks, but I have a feeling like he's watching silently."

"And when did you start hearing these?" Aizen continued to ask. He seemed mildly intrigued, but then again he must've gone through the same thing every session with his patients.

"I don't know. A long time. Since…" Ichigo stopped. He didn't want to say it.

"Since?" Aizen pressed.

"…My mother died," Ichigo said with a soft, cracked voice.

"Yes I've read that she was deceased… How old were you?"

"….Five," Ichigo answered. "…She died… right in front of me."

"How did she die?"

Enough, Ichigo thought. He stood up, his mind muddled with blurred images he didn't want to see. "I'm sorry I have to get back to work." He headed for the door but Aizen's voice stopped him for a bit.

"If you ever want to continue this, I'm always available, Kurosaki-kun," Aizen said from behind him. Ichigo didn't even nod and promptly got out. As he shut the door he paused and took a deep breath. He tried to keep his mind as blank as possible as he concentrated on his breathing. He stared at his trembling hand again as that undesirable urge took over him again and Ichigo pressed his palm to his face. Maybe it was just anger at the sudden confrontation of his past. Or maybe he just really wanted to rip that annoying face off that smiling psychiatrist.

"Um, Detective Kurosaki?" Ichigo looked up, mildly aware that he was breathing heavily and having cold sweat. The receptionist was looking at him with concern. Ichigo finally got a look at the name tag on her shirt.

"I'm fine… Hinamori-san. Just a migraine," Ichigo lied.

"I see, please take care of yourself," the girl said with a gentle smile and she bowed slightly. She went back to her counter and Ichigo gave her a last nod before he finally went into the elevator and exited the building with the profile report in his hands.

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"Kurosaki-san?" Urahara called. Ichigo was sitting at his desk, looking dazed and still clutching to the report ever since he got back from the psychiatrist's office. Ichigo turned when he heard his name and seemed to get back to his senses. "The report?"

"Ahh, right," Ichigo said tiredly. "Here." He passed the paper to Urahara.

"Are you alright?" the captain asked.

"Yeah, just didn't get enough sleep," Ichigo said.

"Look, about the psychiatrist…"

"It's okay," Ichigo told him. "I know you meant it for my own good but… just… tell me at least? It makes me think as if… you're scared of me. I mean, I know I'm mental and all –"

"You're not mental, Kurosaki-san," Urahara said. "You're just…" Urahara seemed to have a little trouble finding the correct word. "…Unwell. You're good at what you do and I trust you enough to keep you here." Ichigo stared back at the older man, not knowing what to think.

"Okay," Ichigo merely said. "Thanks, I guess." Urahara nodded sadly and took the report from him before retreating into his office. Ichigo went back to his work.

The investigation hadn't been very productive. Without much evidence, the whole case came to a halt. They had stretched their limits by hounding every eyewitness and related persons, interrogating suspects that fit in the loose profile they had come up with, and looking over the evidence and crime scenes again and again. Yet they came up with nothing. In the end they were left with theories that weren't good enough to follow. Seeing that the killer's pattern was laying out a kill either every six weeks or on a date with the number six, they were facing a worst case scenario of the latter. The next date of a possible finding of a victim was approximately another week from now. Ichigo sighed and buried his face in his arms as he rested on the desk top.

If only they had another murder… He felt bad for thinking that way, but if there was another murder, they'd have more clues to go by. The more the killer kills, the more confident they get when they don't get caught, and the higher the chance they'd leave something that would lead to his arrest. Ichigo felt conflicted as the feeling of anticipation for the next murder victim to come. No, he thought to himself. He shouldn't think that way. He got up and went to get himself a cup of coffee. If he had nothing to go by, he'll continue with his own investigation. As he sipped his drink and sat back down on his seat, Ichigo looked up at the clock and saw that it was a few hours before working hours were over. He planned to take action for his own investigation.

He'd never forget that encounter at the scene where the organs were found. Unfortunately, memory had failed him and the features of the man were all but fuzzy as the days passed by. Ichigo thought he'd recognize him at least if he ever saw him again. Sure, it was just a gut feeling that told him that the man with the beanie who grinned at him was the Rokuban killer, but when a gut feeling gets this strong and even his killer instinct recognized a fellow predator… It just had to mean something didn't it? All he could really remember was blue. Sharp, cold blue eyes that pierced right through him.

Blue… blue.

Was it just him or did that have something to do with the blue haired man? It probably didn't mean anything, but again, his gut feeling was nudging him in that direction. Or maybe Urahara was right, he was just excited and it was leading him to wild theories. But if one doesn't have any leads, he'd have to depend on his instincts, right?

Blue eyes, blue hair… the voice spoke with interest. Even it was poking him in that direction. It definitely had to mean something.

Ichigo decided to visit the bars the victims were last seen in since the blue-haired men had been seen in at least two of the involved bars that might give Ichigo a chance of learning more about the possible suspect there.

From both his private and main police investigation, Ichigo had learned that the bars where the victims were last seen at were foreign. They had Europeans names and were usually catered to the Westerners, though some of the patrons were local. The entire investigation team didn't think the victims need to be of a specific race – they just had to be men who looked capable of fighting or defending themselves. So far all of them were locals; it would be troublesome if they were foreign. Besides, most of the foreigners were in Karakura would be tourists. They wouldn't look like someone who would be able to put up much of a fight.

Ichigo had thought that the suspect was probably a foreigner who perhaps took residence in Karakura. The combat knife was one clue - military combat knifes were extremely rare in Japan, especially a foreign one. The suspect could have bought it online but all goods that are shipped in would be checked, and such a weapon would definitely raise alarm once it tries to get clearance. The other clue was the choice of bars he chose to visit. As the investigations had shown, the bars were more catered to Western patrons where foreign alcohol could be easily acquired. It was possible the killer probably felt a bit more at home in these bars, especially where the patrons around him were foreigners too.

Other information he found out involved the locations of the bars. Though the bars were littered all over Karakura, they were close to shady parts of towns and situated near networks of back alleys that were isolated and quiet where people hardly walk through, including the alleys where the latest body and organs were found. That was how the killer probably easily killed his victims – no one could have seen them.

Ichigo pondered over the questions he would ask the bartenders as he walked towards the bar where the latest victim was last seen at. Ichigo was dressed in something a little more casual than usual, preferring to dress this way than the stuffy shirts and coats he always had to wear to work. Besides, he was going to a bar to gather information, not to have a good time. A pair of pants, a tee and a smart jacket was enough. He also reminded himself to cover his hair which was always too bright for its own good. He knew it stood out wherever he was, and people would surely recognize him from the papers that he appeared in occasionally, thanks to those blasted reporters. Ichigo put on his fedora that covered most of his orange spikes and stepped into the bar.

What initially put him off was the amount of people in the place. It was pretty crowded, and most of them were foreigners. Some of them had crazy colored hair and it appeared that the unique hair colors didn't seem weird to them. He'd seen some platinum blonds, some green-haired and others even pink-haired. The strange thing was that they appeared to be the natural color. No wonder the blue-haired man could go unnoticed. Though it was comforting to know there were other-colored-hair people, Ichigo still wasn't comfortable enough to remove his fedora and got back to work mode. He approached the female bartender at the counter, who was talking to a group of three women. She turned to him when she noticed him approaching and raised a brow in interest.

"You're a strange looking one," the female barkeep said. Ichigo frowned and would have returned the comment if he wanted to be rude, but thought better of it and kept it to himself. The woman was older and taller, but was an exotic beauty nonetheless with her large plump breasts as an added plus. Her dark skin contrasted with her short bright yellow hair and sharp turquoise eyes. "What I meant is you're new here. And that you have hair unlike the locals."

"Uh, yeah," Ichigo was a little surprised by the apologetic tone. And she could see his hair color and tell that he was local. Well it wasn't really hard to tell, but she had a poker face on and that had Ichigo not knowing how to react. "Anyway, I'm here to ask some things."

"Ask away, detective," she said calmly and Ichigo was getting annoyed for some reason. The woman was too cool and she seemed to be able to tell who he was so easily, or was he just being too obvious? Ignoring his own questions in his head, Ichigo proceeded.

"You know of any blue-haired guy?"

"Blue?" the female barkeep looked thoughtful with the slight furrowing of her brows, though it wasn't that different from her previous expression. "I'm not entirely sure, but I might have."

"What do you mean 'might have'?"

"As you can see, my patrons are a whole rainbow range of colors," the barkeep nodded her head to the direction of the people sitting at a nearby table. Ichigo admitted she had a point. "But if I'm not sure of him that means he either is not a regular or keeps himself hidden at a corner where I don't see him. I'm pretty confident in recognizing and knowing my customers."

"Well, thanks," Ichigo said, but sincerely. He gave her a small smile and gave her his card. "Please call me up if you see any blue-haired man around. Or blue eyed, for that matter."

"Blue-eyed?" she asked and seemed to be thinking again. Ichigo stopped and stared at her expectantly.

"You know of any?"

"What kind of blue are you asking for though? There are many blue-eyed customers, but I've seen a shade that was just bright enough to possibly glow in the dark," the barkeep said.

"I guess that could be it. Something like a cobalt blue."

"Yeah it might be him."

"You know him?" Ichigo quickly asked, getting impatient. The barkeep shook her head.

"No, but I've seen him come here once or twice, or maybe as I said, he hid himself at a corner somewhere where I can't see him," she said.

"What does he usually wear? What time, with anyone, anything you can say about him?" Ichigo took out a scrap of paper and pen, ready to write whatever information the barkeep would tell.

"Nothing much. In the few times I've seen him, he wears casuals like jeans and a hoodie. He wears a cap as well. He always come here alone usually after 10, and exits alone too," she told him and Ichigo wrote it all down. It may not be the guy Ichigo was hoping for but from the description, the female bartender might be talking about the same one. But she said he exited alone, but it could be that she didn't see the possible victims getting out with him.

"Great, thank you," Ichigo said. The woman smiled at him for the first time and Ichigo returned it. He doubted the guy would visit the bar again, so he decided to leave first. He'll go visit the other bars and see whether the bartenders have the same descriptions. If they do, then he'd have a target somewhat. Ichigo realized it would take more work to really narrow in on the guy to at least get his name. With a name Ichigo could get so much more on him, but so far, he had nothing.

He decided he'd have to do whatever it takes to catch the killer.

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He had been busy all this while. The orange haired detective's face wouldn't get out of his head. Those eyes, especially. He could stare into them forever. He fleetingly wondered what it was like if he brought the man's secret out of those eyes, or drain the life out of them, and he couldn't decide which would be better. Perhaps the former? He hadn't come in contact with a fellow predator before. A first time meeting would be exciting.

But no, it was still too soon. It was only a week since he first saw the orange lion cub. As an experienced panther he was more patient, waiting silently in the shadows was the norm. He'd watch the young King and see how he'd grow. If he were to remain as a cub then he'd be prey. But what if he grew into a lion? What should he do to him? He himself didn't know. There couldn't be two predators in a single territory; there was no such thing as two Kings in one kingdom. One would have to leave, and it sure as hell wouldn't be him.

He felt conflicted though. The orange haired man was too interesting to kill off, yet he wanted to feel the satisfaction of extinguishing his life. It was those eyes he saw that day. They were an intense brown, an innocent color that hid a monster inside. He swore he could have seen gold in those orbs when the younger man had blinked, but it was only for a brief second. That was what he wanted to reach. That was what he wanted to bring out and that was what he wanted to kill.

"Kurosaki Ichigo…" the name rolled off his lips smoothly. It was easy to find the identity of the detective, especially since he was quite favored by the police and the media. A unique name, but terribly ironic. His name meant 'protector', but it was clear in the young detective's eyes that he wanted to do the opposite. Destruction, however, was his forte. He was born for destruction. If the kid wanted to rival him and try his hand at destruction, he'd best learn to release that monster in him.

And he knew exactly how to bring that monster out.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxx End of chapter 3 xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

The internet here in Philippines is slow. Or maybe it's just the wired connection at where I'm staying. Well internship's gotten me busy, so I might not be able to write or update as much, sorry ): But the story is still going on, no worries.

Comments on how the progress is so far or any improvements that can be made is greatly welcomed & appreciated. Thank you!