Ichigo becomes a full hollow in the Shattered Shaft and then an Arrancar and an Espada
Kurosaki Ichigo sat in the middle of an Espada meeting. His orange hair fell in his face and caught the attention of his perpetual enemy Grimmjow. But Ichigo didn’t care. He had a difficult time paying attention while Aizen talked. Instead he would try to think back to his human life. He wasn’t sure why. As far as he was concerned his life now was immeasurably better than the one he had.
“As I was saying,” Aizen noticed Ichigo’s wanderings, “we have just captured a lovely young woman named Inoue.”
"Inoue?” Ichigo’s attention turned finally to his superior. “Inoue Orihime?”
"Yes.” Aizen smiled. “I understand she was a friend of yours when you were still a human?”
"In a way.” Ichigo never suspected that Aizen would kidnap one of his friends. His life had changed drastically once he had become an Arrancar and he had decided early on that he wouldn’t hesitate to kill a former friend. He only lived for Aizen now.
“Ichigo, I would like you to be the one to look after her."
"What?” Ichigo turned to him.” He smiled a little. “Of course.”
"Thank you. I knew I can trust you with this.” Aizen looked to the room. “This meeting is over. Thank you for coming, everyone.” Then he looked at Ichigo. “I will take you to her room."
"Thank you.” Ichigo stood and followed Aizen. They walked down the corridors of Los Noches and finally came to a door.
"She is in this room. Please, don’t hesitate to speak with her. I know you had a relationship with her. She is probably frightened right now. Comfort her.” Aizen started walking away.
Ichigo let out a breath. He opened the door and walked in. Orihime was sitting on the couch in the room. She looked up and saw Ichigo. “Kurosaki-kun?” She looked like she didn’t quite believe it could be him. “Kuro…” She stood up and walked to him, putting her hands on his shoulders. She looked at his face as though she were examining him. “It is you, isn’t it?” She glanced to the floor. “I…thought you were dead.” Tears fell from her eyes. “You’re not dead."
"No, I’m not.” He stepped back so she wasn’t touching him anymore. “Please, sit down.” It bothered him to be touched by her. He hadn’t really had that happen for a long time: contact. It just didn’t seem natural to him.
"Okay.” She walked to the couch and sat down, wiping the tears from her face. Then she looked at him. “What are you doing here?” She looked a little happy. “Are you here to save me?"
"Not quite.” He leaned up against the wall across from her. “I’m here to watch over you. To make sure that nobody does save you.” He sounded very serious. He knew this would upset Orihime but he had to tell her at some point. He was just a little afraid of the reaction."
"But…” She sat forward. “Why would you do that?” She looked a little scared. “And why are you wearing that outfit? It looks just like the one that other hollow was wearing."
He sighed. She was starting to get annoying. “Because, Inoue, I am just like that other Arrancar. I’m an Espada, now. I’m a hollow."
Her eyes widened in fear. She sat back on the couch. “No.” She shook her head. “No, it’s not true. You’re lying.” She buried her face in her hands. “It’s not true."
"Fortunately it is true, Inoue. It’s my duty to keep you here, protected, so that Aizen can utilize you as he wishes. I’m not sure what he wants but I’m sure he has a plan.” He pushed himself away from the wall. “Don’t worry, he won’t hurt you."
He already has.” She cried, looking up at him. “He’s taken you away from me."
"You can thank Urahara for that one, actually.” He smiled. “If it weren’t for him I’d still be some weak human, like you."
She shook her head again. “No, this isn’t you. This isn’t Kurosaki-kun. You’re not him, I know it."
"Sorry, Inoue. But it’s me.” He sat down on the couch next to her and moved her hair back behind her shoulders. She shivered. “I guess we’ll be seeing a lot of each other from now on. Lucky me."
She closed her eyes. “You’re not him."
He sighed. “I’m afraid you’ll have to get over that. You’ll soon realize I really am me.” He stood up. “I’ll have some food brought in here for you. I’m sure you’re hungry.” He started walking out. “See you soon, Inoue.” He opened the door and left, sighing."
"How do you like babysitting the babe?" Grimmjow stood outside Orihime's door.
Ichigo shut the door and looked at him. "Why is that any of your concern?" He walked past him. The least amount of conversation with Grimmjow was the best. It prevented fights and other negative occurrences
I do wish Aizen would have picked me to take care of her. We could have done a lot of fun things together while I was 'taking care of her.'" Grimmjow smiled.
"Do you want me to kill you?" Ichigo turned around. "Cause I will."
"Don’t talk that way about a friend, Ichigo." Grimmjow caught up with him. "Just let me have a few minutes with her."
Ichigo grabbed the hilt of his katana. "You better be quiet right now, Grimmjow."
"Right, alright." He started walking away. "I'll see you later, then." He laughed and left.
Ichigo leaned against the wall and covered his face with his hand. This was too difficult. He should have asked to have someone else take care of her. Ulquiorra would be better suited to the task.
"Ichigo." Ichigo looked up. Ulquiorra was staring at him from twenty feet away. "What are you doing here?"
"Nothing. I just got done talking to Inoue."
"The human?" he asked.
"I'm supposed to be taking care of her." Ichigo looked towards her room. "But it's going to be a little difficult." He leaned his head back so that he was looking at the ceiling. Out of all the Espada, he felt closest to Ulquiorra and Stark. The rest just seemed annoying to him. Sure, some were tolerable, like Barragan. But pretty much they were all ridiculous. His true friend, however, was gone now. Neliel. She used to be his greatest friend before she disappeared one day. He still didn't know why that had happened. But when it did, he was given her rank:
"She really was a friend of yours?" Ulquiorra asked.
"Yes, when I was a human." Ichigo let out a breath. "If I was still a human I'm sure I would be trying to save her from this place right now."
"And will you try to save her, now?"
"Of course not." Ichigo turned to him. "I'll keep her here no matter what happens. I am loyal to Aizen-sama above all else."
"That's good to know." Ulquiorra started walking past him. "You should get something to eat. You look pale."
Ichigo was annoyed. Ulquiorra said that at the end of pretty much every conversation they had. Was it to pester him, or did he really always look pale? And who was he to talk? Ichigo walked towards his room.
When he got there, there was a tray of food on his small table. He sighed. Ulquiorra probably ordered it for him. He went up and took the piece of bread from the plate and walked away, taking a bite. What was he going to do? He would have to see her nearly every day, now. Would she make him remember how he used to be when he was a human? What would that do to him? This wouldn’t be good, what was Aizen thinking?
"Inoue…” He thought about how he used to see her every day at school. How he barely knew her, but that he still was her friend somehow. He closed his eyes. Then he walked over to the table and set his bread on the plate, looking at the food. He wasn’t hungry.
"Something seems to be troubling you.” He turned to the door. Stark was leaning against the door frame. “What’s wrong?"
Ichigo let out a breath and sat down on his couch. “It’s the human.” He brought his hand up to his face and covered his eyes. “I know her."
It sounded like it from our meeting.” Stark looked back outside of Ichigo’s room. “What are you going to do about it?"
"Nothing, I guess. Besides look after her."
Stark crossed his arms in front of his chest. “You could always ask Aizen to have someone else watch over her if it’s too much for you, you know."
"I couldn’t possibly do that. It would make me seem weak. I have to just do it myself.” Ichigo shook his head. “I can do it. I know I can.” He looked up at Stark.
"Alright. Just be careful.” Stark walked away.
A woman walked in. “Ichigo-sama?” She had long blonde hair and blue eyes. The remains of her hollow mask was a small ring that went all around her head near her forehead with small spikes protruding from it. It almost looked like a small crown. She sat down on the floor in front of Ichigo. “What’s wrong?"
"I need you to do something, Aya.” Ichigo looked at her. Aya was Ichigo’s fraccion. He wasn’t very comfortable with the whole idea of keeping fraccion, so he only had one. But once he got used to the whole thing it didn’t seem that bad to have one around.
"What is it?” She put her hands out on her knees."
"I need you to go and get some food for Inoue Orihime. I said I’d bring her some."
"The human? The one who was captured?” She put a hand on the ground and leaned back. “Why do you want to help her out?"
"She needs to eat something, Aya.” He stood. “Just go and get something for her and have it sent quickly."
"Fine, fine.” She stood and left.
After a moment he walked over to a wall where a mirror was attached. He looked at himself for a moment, trying to remember what he was like when he was a human. He was so different now. He put his hand on his chest where the hollow hole was covered by his clothes. He looked up at his face. The remains of his hollow mask weren’t very noticeable. A line of bone ran down his neck and to the middle of his collar bone. He covered it with his uniform. Most of the time he forgot it was even there. But when he did it still seemed so foreign to him.
"Something wrong again, Ichigo-sama?” Aya stood at his door. “I had them bring food to her ladyship.” She walked up and stood behind and to the side of him so that she could see herself in the mirror as well. She took his arm and pulled it down so he wasn’t touching his ear anymore. “Thinking about your past again?” She smiled. “Don’t.” She kissed his hand. “We’re your life, now.” She leaned her head against his shoulder. “I’m your life, now.” She smiled, softly.
"I should…go see Inoue, now.” He pulled his hand away from hers and started walking away
"Just remember,” He stopped, but didn’t look at her, “She’s only a human. She’s nothing compared to me."
\He looked to the side. “I know that.” He walked out of his room.
As he walked down the hall he saw Nnoitra. Nnoitra smiled at Ichigo. “So, Ichigo…” Ichigo looked disgusted. He didn’t even want to know what filth would come out of his mouth this time. “How are you doing today? Especially now that you get to take care of a human. And one like her..."
"What would you know of Inoue?” Ichigo walked past him.
"She’s quite beautiful, I know that.” He smiled.
"How would you know that?” Ichigo shook his head. “You’ve never even seen her."
"Oh, I haven’t?” Ichigo stopped walking. “For your information, I just talked with her. What a cutie, huh?” Nnoitra leaned against the wall in the hallway, preparing himself for Ichigo’s fury. Ichigo was a pretty relaxed Arrancar, but Nnoitra wasn’t a complete idiot, he knew this wouldn’t be something that he would be happy about. But that was what he was counting on. He had been wanting to fight Ichigo since he had taken Neliel’s rank. Maybe he would get the chance right now.
"Oh, you did?” Ichigo tried to act casual. “And how did that go, Nnoitra?” He gritted his teeth. If Nnoitra did anything that upset Inoue...
"Just fine, I think. She seemed so sad, so I comforted her. You know…” In an instant Ichigo was in front of Nnoitra with his katana drawn and Nnoitra was blocking him with his own katana. “Oh, come now!” Nnoitra laughed. “You didn’t let me finish. Nothing happened. I just talked with her. You know how I love a good conversation.” Ichigo put more forced into his attack and his sword almost made contact with Nnoitra’s body. “I swear!” Nnoitra pushed back. “You need to take things less seriously.” He smiled. Then he kicked Ichigo in the stomach which made him fly backwards and into the wall behind him. “Misunderstandings occur when you do things like that.” He quickly ran to him and attacked, but Ichigo stopped him.
"I’d never trust you, no matter what you say.” Ichigo pushed Nnoitra’s katana away and slashed the front of his chest. Nnoitra’s eyes widened as blood dripped onto the ground.
"Damn you!” He lifted his katana got ready to attack Ichigo when they both heard a voice.
"Please…can we try to act civil?” Aizen stood not too far from them.
Nnoitra backed up and set the bottom of his katana on the ground, breathing deeply a little. He was angry that he was in pain. He was planning on kicking Ichigo’s ***, not the other way around. But it wasn’t like that had happened, really. They had just started. Things could have gone either way if Aizen hadn’t come.
"I apologize, Aizen-sama.” Ichigo apologized.
Nnoitra looked at Ichigo, then at Aizen. “Yeah, I’m sorry.” He looked away. “Tch."
"Thank you, Ichigo. Thank you Nnoitra. You do understand that you are both very important to me. I would hate to lose either of you. Please, be careful.” Aizen walked away.
"You’re lucky he came along, Ichigo. You’d be dead otherwise.” Nnoitra pointed at him.
"Sure I would.” Ichigo started walking away. “Sure I would…” Nnoitra yelled a few threats at him as he walked away, but Ichigo wasn’t listening.
When Ichigo got to Orihime’s room he opened the door and smiled. “Hey.” He looked at the tray that had been put in her room. The food hadn’t been touched. He let out a breath. “Why haven’t you eaten?"
"Not hungry.” She looked away."
He sighed. “You have to eat, Inoue."
"Hmph.” She crossed her arms.
"He looked at the ground. “Please?” He glanced at the tray then up at her, smiling."
"Why!” She turned to him. “Why does it matter? You’re all just going to kill me anyways!"
"No we’re not. Aizen wants you for something. If he does, then he wants to keep you as healthy as possible.” Ichigo leaned against the wall. “You’ll be fine, I promise."
"What does he want me for, then?"
"I have no idea. I don’t know too much about you. Sorry.” He shrugged. “Do you have any powers? I mean, you must if he brought you. What are your powers?"
"Oh. Well…” She brought her fingers up to her hair pins. “I have three powers."
"Three? That’s nice."
She frowned. “Are you making fun of me?”
"No, no.” He put his hands up in front of himself. “No, I’m serious. Three is a good number. What do they do?"]
"Heal, defend, attack.” She tried to look impressive.
"Really? So, if I were to get hurt right now you could heal me?” He looked at her.
"How about this then?” He took off his shirt. She blushed, then she saw the hollow hole in his chest. She tried to ignore it. Turning around he showed her the bruise he got when Nnoitra slammed him against the wall after kicking him. “Could you heal that?"
"Yes.” She closed her eyes and nodded. “Of course. But..."
"But what?” Ichigo was holding his shirt."
"Oh, come on, Inoue. We’re still friends. You do know that, right?” He sat down next to her on the couch. She took in a breath. She was so close to him and he had no shirt on. It was like all her dreams were coming true, only…he was a hollow.
She coughed a little and looked away. “Do I know that? I don’t know..."
"We are. Of course we are.” He let out a breath.
"Oh, I’m not stupid Kurosaki-kun. I know you’d kill me in an instant if you had to. You’re completely changed. You only look like Kurosaki-kun. You’re not him anymore."
"That’s so mean to say stuff like that.” He tried to look sad. She couldn’t tell if he was acting or not, which of course he was. Finally he noticed her nervousness and leaned forward, putting his hand on hers, speaking softly. “Please, Orihime…for me."
She blushed and looked away. “I guess…if I could heal that other hollow’s arm I can heal you.” She pointed at him. “Turn around.” He did. She looked at his back. “It’s a pretty bad bruise."
[COLOR=black][FONT='Verdana','sans-serif']“Is that bad, does it mean you can’t heal it?"
"No, I can still heal it, I was just wondering how you go it.” She put her hand out and touched the bruise. On the right top side of his back was a small ‘3.’ She wasn’t sure what that meant, but she assumed it was a rank or something. All she really knew was that it was one more thing that separated the human Kurosaki-kun from the hollow Kurosaki-kun."
He looked at the door. “I fought with Nnoitra. He said that he had…did anyone other than me come to talk to you while I was gone?"
"Hmm? Oh, no. It’s only been you.” She brought her hand away from his back.
"Really?” He growled. So, Nnoitra only said that to bait him into a fight. Damn him. All of the sudden he saw there was a yellow glow coming around him. He turned his head.
"Don’t move. I’m healing you.” She had her hands over the sphere. “It won’t take too long. Just wait a few moments."
"Oh, okay.” He held his hands together. How could a human have the power to heal someone else? She must be very powerful. No wonder Aizen wanted her."
"Alright. We’re finished. You can turn around now, Kurosaki-kun.” She sat back on the couch."
He turned around. “Thank you."
"You know…if you want you can call me Ichigo. Everyone here calls me Ichigo. It kind of sounds weird to have someone call me by my last name all of the sudden.” He started putting on his shirt again.
"What?” She tried to comprehend this. Calling Kurosaki-kun by his first name? Could she even do that? She looked confused.
"It’s fine if you don’t want to."
"No…no I will.” She gulped. “Ichigo-kun."
"See, not hard at all.” He smiled.
"Yeah,” She laughed, nervously. “Ichigo-kun, you’re right."
"You’re not going to say my name every time you talk, are you?” He looked at her as though he were asking a very important question.
"No, Ichigo-kun! Definitely not.” She shook her head.
He sighed. It might have been better for her to just call him ‘Kurosaki-kun’ after all.
Ichigo didn’t know how many days it had been since Orihime had been captured. He went to see her at least once a day to check on her. Something about her amused him. Her emotions, her spirit. Her belief that, somehow, he was still good inside. He enjoyed showing her that this wasn’t true.
Ichigo looked up. He was in another one of Aizen’s meetings. Aizen took a drink of his tea and invited everyone else to drink theirs as well. Ichigo really could care less about these meetings. He didn’t like gatherings like these. They bored him. Mostly because he had to be in the same room with people like Grimmjow and Nnoitra.
Aizen set his tea cup down. “I have news.” Ichigo looked at him. “We have some very interesting intruders in Hueco Mundo.” He smiled. “But I doubt they’re anything to be worried about. I assume they are here for the girl.” He took another drink. “But don’t do anything rash like going to find them. They will come to us and we’ll take care of them here."
Nnoitra and Grimmjow looked happy at the prospect of killing living beings.
Ichigo thought about this. This meant that people that he knew were coming. That meant that he would have to kill them. He closed his eyes and thought of Rukia. Could he kill her?
"Everyone may leave, now.” Aizen stood."
Everyone left. Ichigo walked out, slowly. “Do you know the humans who are coming?” Ulquiorra walked beside him."
Ichigo looked at him. “I think I know one who might be coming."
"You’ll have to kill them if you see them.” Ulquiorra kept walking."
"I know that, believe me.” Ichigo smiled at Ulquiorra. “Don’t worry, I will kill them."
"Good.” Ulquiorra started walking away. “I knew you’d do the right thing."
Ichigo walked up to Orihime’s door and opened it. She smiled. “Ichigo-kun!"
"Hello, Orihime.” He walked in and shut the door. As she had started calling him by his first name he had started calling her by her first name. She had made sure this was how it was. She said it wasn’t fair that she addressed him informally if he still addressed her formally. So, he agreed and now called her ‘Orihime.’ “How are you doing?"
"Better now.” She stood and hugged him. Orihime had been so lonely in this room by herself all day long. The only contact she ever had was with Ichigo or the people that brought her her food. She was completely alone. So, when she was able to see Ichigo something inside of her came to life again."
He looked awkward. That was the first time she had hugged him. In fact, this was the first time he had ever hugged Orihime. He wasn’t hugging her back. He was just standing there, his arms at his side with her arms around him. She stopped hugging him and stood back. “That was a pathetic hug, Ichigo-kun."
He sat down on the couch. “I’m not used to hugs or things like that anymore."
Orihime sat down on the couch next to him. Ichigo thought about what to say. Should he tell her that people were coming to save her? She would find out eventually."
"People have invaded Hueco Mundo."
"Invaded Hueco Mundo? Why? Are they humans?"
"They are probably humans. And they are probably here to rescue you.” He turned to her."
She closed her eyes. “Really?” A few tears fell from her eyes. “Oh, that would be wonderful.” She brought her hands up and covered her face. “I can’t believe it."
Ichigo was a little annoyed. She seemed relieved, happy. She didn’t understand that it didn’t matter if people came to save her, it wouldn’t work. They would be killed, even if it had to be himself that did it."
"What’s wrong?” Orihime looked at him."
He shook his head and sat back, grinning a bit. “It’s just…you’re so happy. I don’t know why. Do you honestly think we’ll let them even see your face? Orihime, we will kill them, and you’ll stay here, just as you should."
Orihime stared at him for a moment before looking away. “Ichigo-kun, can I ask you to do something for me?"
He sighed. “What?"
"Take me home.” She turned to him. “You want to go home, too. See your dad, see your sisters. Please, Kurosaki-kun, let’s go home."
He looked down with his eyes. “Home."
She smiled. “Yeah."
He looked up at her. “I have no home.” He ran his hand through her hair. “And I would rather die than take you back to yours.” He stood and began walking out of the room.
"Who?” Orihime stood. Ichigo stopped. “Who came?"
He turned back to look at her. “No idea. Though I assume it would be Rukia and anyone else she could find."
"Ichigo smiled. “What, did she find some new idiot to do her bidding?"
"Ichigo, Rukia’s dead. She was executed in the Soul Society."
His expression dropped. He stood still for a moment. “She’s better off."
Orihime looked hurt. “But..."
He tightened his hand into a fist. “She’s better off not being with weak friends who can’t even protect her.” He looked into her eyes. “You have powers, don’t you? Ishida, he’s a Quincy. Why couldn’t you save her?"
Orihime held a hand up to her chest. “We went, Sado-kun, Ishida-kun, Yoruichi-san and I. But…we weren’t strong enough. I’m sorry. We tried, but we barely made it out ourselves. You weren’t there…so there was no way we could have won."
"Did you count on me to do everything?” He walked up to her. “Are you that pathetic?"
"And now you’re counting on your friends again, knowing that you’ll be the cause of their death. You useless human!"
"I’m sorry!” Orihime backed up and hit the wall. “I tried!"
He walked up and took her wrist in his hand. She looked into his eyes, scared. “Because of you, Rukia is dead. And the rest of your friends will be as well.
"She breathed in, “why do you care so much?"
He leaned forward. “What?"
"You…care so much about Rukia dying. And you care about everyone else dying, too.” She closed her eyes for a moment. He was so close to her and so frightening, nothing like she had remembered. She felt like she had to tell herself to breathe.
Ichigo let go of her wrist. “Wasteful. Rukia’s death was wasteful. And your friends are idiots to come here over someone like you.” He walked out of the room.
Orihime looked at the door for a moment before falling to the floor. She held her arms across her stomach and breathed in. She closed her eyes, tightly and whispered, “don’t come.” She took in a breath and looked out of her small window, the only contact she had with the outside world. “Just go. Don’t rescue me.” She looked at the ceiling. “Please, don’t come."
I'll be posting the second chapter tomorrow. ]
Please review if it strikes your fancy!@
Thanks guys - Linds