Thanks to everyone for their reviews and I'm SO sorry that it took me this long, but (as I'm sure I've said before) college is a bit time-consuming and usually I'm too exhausted afterwards to churn out therapist-style crack. Regardless of what you may have been led to believe, I do not spend every waking hour working feverishly on this sort of madness. Thank you for being patient. This chapter belongs to Ichigo, so kindly pray for his soul. Spoilers for Soul Society and BEYOND that (like Rukia's zanpakutou), spanning up to the current chapters (204 or so), so be warned: DO NOT READ if you don't want to be spoiled.
This lovely chapter is dedicated to D-chan for her cute art totally inspiring me to finally get cracking on this and my DO crew for patiently listening to me gripe about the chapter and cheering me on regardless. They say you own the chapter... HA. THE CHAPTER OWNS YOU. Er, me? Yes, well, we had to cooperate. A lot. Hoo!
I own no one, sans Chiyuu and le ducklets. If I owned Bleach, "Barbie Girl" would play whenever Mayuri had an appearance.
"Um. Excuse me... Orange-san? Can you tell me where the counseling office is?"
Kurosaki Ichigo stared down at the pony-tailed girl in his school's uniform, who smiled innocently up at him. She couldn't have been much taller than Rukia, and her arms were firmly wrapped around at least ten manila folders and a few notebooks. He couldn't recall having ever seen her around here before; a new student, perhaps?
"Uh, yeah... but you were walking the wrong way." He took her by the shoulders and turned her around, pointing down the hallway. "Third door on your right."
She fidgeted, tugging down her skirt slightly. "Could you show me the way, please? I get lost so easily..."
As far as Ichigo knew, it took a great deal of skill to get lost in an area of no more than fifteen feet, but he humored her with a grumble, shoving his hands in his pockets and heading for the office. "Come on, then," he tossed over his shoulder, and heard her giggle before she ran after him.
He really should have suspected something when he opened the door for her and she all but pushed him inside, putting her back to the door and reaching behind her to close it.
Then she LOCKED it and Ichigo got the feeling that he was royally screwed.
"It's nice to finally be able to meet you, Orange-san," she said lightly, as if she hadn't just sealed him inside an office and wasn't blocking the door with arms and legs outstretched to either side of her body.
Ichigo scowled at her. "I'm not an orange. Move."
"No," she mused, not budging from her spot. "You're more like a strawberry, aren't you, Ichigo-san?"
Now the girl looked panicked, hopping from one foot to the other like a hyperactive flamingo. "You ARE Kurosaki Ichigo, aren't you? I'd hate to have done all of that research for nothing, especially when Waddle kept trying to eat my notes and you don't look THAT different from when I saw you last, but maybe you have a twin?"
Research? Notes? Waddle? Who was this girl? Ichigo gave his head a shake and grabbed her by the shoulders, holding her in place. "I didn't understand about half of that, but how the hell did you know my name and why are you studying me?" Was she like Hirako? Was she, too, trying to convert him to their side? "Look, whatever it is, I already told your buddy I wasn't going to join him, so stop bothering me!"
"My buddy? Studying you?" She gave him a bemused glance. "You're not making much sense, Ichigo-san."
"NEITHER ARE YOU."
"Then let's start over." She waited patiently until Ichigo had released her, then pointed to herself. "I'm Soujuku Chiyuu of the Fourth Division, and I'm your therapist and counselor for the rest of this week!"
"... You're my WHAT? But you're... you're a kid!"
Yep. Royally screwed.
"Is it really that hard to believe that I'm your counselor for the week?" The short girl looked at him with a wry smile. "I'm not as young as I look, Ichigo-san."
Ichigo didn't say anything. Ichigo COULDN'T say anything. Ichigo was too busy choking on the foot he'd inserted in his mouth.
"Oh, and we're going to have to do something about you skipping class to fight Hollows," she continued smoothly, tugging on her ribbon. "Honestly, you think Rukia-chan would have taught you that."
"... What the hell ARE you?"
"Your therapist," the condemner repeated. "Oh, don't look at me like that; you're a shinigami, I'm a shinigami and, as a shinigami, it's my duty to help other shinigami with their problems."
"I don't have any problems!" Ichigo snapped, bristling at what he felt was an implied offense. "You're wasting your time here!"
Chiyuu didn't bother flinching. "I never waste my time," she assured him. "I'm here because you need help. And before you glare at me again and tell me you don't need help and go away before you lose your temper..."
Ichigo turned away, already determined to ignore her.
"I know that you have a Hollow inside of you."
His determination swiftly changed to shock and he whirled back around, brown eyes boring into hers. "How do you know about that?" He hissed, his mind still racing to catch up with his mouth. She'd said she was a shinigami and he felt her muted spiritual pressure now, so she wasn't lying. However, it didn't explain how she knew about the other presence inside of him.
"You traveled with Yamada Hanatarou-kun during your visit to Soul Society, didn't you?" Chiyuu spoke up, almost as if she had sensed his bafflement. "He's in my Division and he told me about the cracked Hollow mask that he'd found with you. Not only that, but Kuchiki Byakuya-san mentioned a startling change in you when you fought him that had nothing to do with your Bankai. You became a different person entirely and the mask had returned. It wasn't that hard to figure out once I heard that." When Ichigo gaped at her, she shrugged lightly and added, "When you're a therapist, you tend to hear a lot of things from your patients." Whether they're forced or not... "Some of it's trivial, like how Byakuya-san is actually a good mother and very protective of his children or that Ren-kun occasionally steals Rukia-chan's Chappy doll to sleep with, but other tidbits are more vital than you may realize. Your Hollow case is one of them."
"...Wait, Byakuya's a MOM?"
"Of five!" The therapist chirped, grinning up a storm. "And they're all very good swimmers!"
"Except their socializing skills still need a little work. Quack still likes sitting on people's feet and Kanoko's somewhat vicious towards Ikkaku-kun. She's bitten him twice in the past week... although I think that's because she's been hanging out with Yachiru-chan."
What kind of psychotic mother would name their child QUACK? Actually... Ichigo shuddered. The fact that Byakuya was a mother at all was disturbing enough.
Chiyuu suddenly clapped her hands, making him start and look at her suspiciously. "Well, that's it for now; I'm probably keeping you from an educational experience, so on with you! I'll see you after school!" She unlocked the door and stepped away from it, gesturing him out with a very dramatic flourish of her arm. "Bye-bye, Ichigo-san!"
She expected to see him after school? He'd rather skip through a field of pansies and butterflies hand-in-hand with Ishida, complete with dorky giggling, than lay eyes on that strange therapist ever again.
Unfortunately, he had no clue about the type of person he was dealing with. Soujuku Chiyuu's motto was "Perseverance" (that, and, "There's nothing wrong with a little humiliation"), and she wasn't about to let him get away that easily.
The instant the bell rang, signaling their liberation from class, Ichigo shoved himself out of his desk and hurried out of the classroom with a terse "Bye" in response to the questioning stares of his friends.
The sight of the short girl with the long ponytail waiting outside of the school gates made his blood freeze in his veins. Maybe if he took a different exit... or pretended he hadn't seen her...
"Ichigo-saaan!" Doom spotted him and came traipsing towards him, as happy as a prancing pony, or whatever simile one might use to describe the unholy glee on the face of such a nasty entity.
... Oh, SHIT.
"If I didn't know any better, I would've thought you were trying to avoid me," Chiyuu remarked sweetly once she had reached him, rocking back and forth on her heels. "But I told you I'd see you after school, didn't I? Silly Strawberry-san!"
Dammit, weren't all Fourth Division members supposed to be whimpering wusses like Hanatarou? This one had enough of an attitude to land herself among the crazies in the Eleventh Division (she seemed to have the "stupid nickname" aspect of their vice-captain down pat, as well).
Ichigo groaned, rubbing his forehead. "What'll it take to get you to go away?"
"Therapy." Then, after a pensive pause, "Or I suppose you could ask politely, and I might decide to leave on my own."
The two shinigami locked eyes... and Chiyuu giggled. "But that would make things too easy for you, and I've discovered that when things are easy, it means you're not improving. Look, Ichigo-san, I didn't come all the way down here just to make your life miserable. I came here to help you. Can't you trust me just a little bit? The sooner we complete your therapy, the sooner I can leave and make sure Shuuhei-kun hasn't torched my office or Byakuya-san hasn't tried putting curlers in duck feathers yet. Really, I think that'd be some form of animal abuse, because I don't think you can curl feathers without causing pain to the bird..."
"Ah--wait--you--" Ichigo's headache had returned. "Damn it, slow down for a minute! What're you--"
"We're starting your therapy now," Chiyuu told him crisply. "If I keep trying to explain things, I think that confused scowl on your face would freeze there and that would wreak havoc on your love life, nonexistent as it may be. We have one week to handle this." Before Ichigo could get out another word, she had grabbed him by the wrist and hauled him after her with considerable strength.
"Ow! Let go! What the hell? Where're you taking me, you maniac?"
The therapist didn't loosen her death-grip on his hand as she sped up. "We're going to bond with your family, your mod soul, and your blade, we're going to talk about some important issues, and we're going to do it all... once I figure out where your house is. Ne, Ichigo-san, do I take a left or a right here?"
"...Or do I need to ask Urahara-san about the time you woke up with Tessai on top of you and the circumstances leading up to tha--"
"LEFT! TAKE A LEFT!"
"I HAVE CONFIDENCE IN SUNSHIIIIINE!" Keigo and Isshin warbled along with Julie Andrews, while Rukia, Yumichika, Chiyuu, Mizuiro, and Yuzu hummed along quietly and Karin and Ichigo sat mutely on the couch, brought together by their abject horror.
"I want to help you," she had said. "Bond with your family," she had said.
"I HAVE CONFIDENCE IN RAIIIIIN!" Renji and Ikkaku took up the challenge to bellow even louder, both of them grinning like fools and not giving a damn that two of Soul Society's biggest punks were singing along with a movie that musically spoke of personified HILLS and lonely goatherds.
That damned therapist had never said ANYTHING about watching the Sound of Music with a bunch of shinigami-turned classmates and classmates alike who had just invited themselves over for no particular reason(although Ichigo could have sworn he'd heard Renji mutter something about getting his very own Ballad).
This wasn't bonding. This was very unique torture that could only be contrived by an evil mind. A very evil mind.
"Come on, Rukia-chan, you and the others sing too!" Isshin encouraged, beaming broadly and slinging an arm over Karin's shoulders—which resulted in her yelling at him to back off and flinging him over the couch.
"I have confidence that spring will come again..." Rukia sang hesitantly, looking up at Yuzu to see if she'd sung it right.
The youngest Kurosaki sibling rewarded her with a nod and a big smile. "Bunnies come in spring!"
"Bunnies?" Rukia perked up.
The drama continued.
"MY LITTLE GIRL HAS GROWN UP! DADDY HAS DREAMED OF THIS DAY FOR A VERY LONG TIME NOW! THE LOVING STING OF KARIN'S FEMININE FOOT UPON MY RUGGED FEATURES--"
"Shut up and die!"
"This is rather beautiful in its poignancy," Yumichika mused to Chiyuu, who smiled proudly at him and patted his hand.
"BESIDES WHICH, YOU SEE--"
"Take it away, Ichigo!" Keigo yelled, making everyone turn towards the orange-haired teen expectantly.
Ichigo sat frozen... until Chiyuu scooped a pillow off the floor and hurled it at his head, just as Ikkaku and Renji gave him challenging grins.
"Besides which, you see," Yuzu repeated softly, gazing up at her big brother.
"I have confidence in me," he grumbled, unable to resist the three-way attack.
"Someone recorded that, right? PLEASE tell me someone recorded that!"
"ICHIGO! JOIN YOUR FATHER ON THE FLOOR FOR TRUE MUSICAL BONDING! COME INTO DADDY'S OPEN EMBRACE!"
He was going to kill them ALL.
---Day Two of Seven---
"Mod souls deserve a lot of appreciation, too," Chiyuu stated, plopping herself on Ichigo's bed and giving his room a sparing glance. "They didn't have the start that the shinigami or the humans do, but they're still alive. They didn't deserve to be destroyed like that... but I'm glad yours survived. He's so cute!"
"...You're kidding me." Ichigo raised an eyebrow at the gleefully cackling plushie with his face currently buried in the shinigami's chest. "He's a pervert."
"But he's a lion!" The girl protested, hugging Kon even closer, much to the mod soul's delight. "I love cats! They're so cute and... they have tails and whiskers and fur..."
"I know what a cat is. That's not a cat. That's a pain in the ass."
Chiyuu looked at him, the vaguest twinkle of amusement lingering in her brown eyes. "Ichigo-san, I said you're bonding with Kon-san, not insulting him. As true as it may be," she added pointedly, seeing him open his mouth to refute that statement.
"Ichigo's always so mean to me, Chiyuu-neechan," Kon whined, snuggling against her breasts with a happy whimper. She didn't have the heavenly bust of Orihime, but at least there was SOMETHING there that he could squish. "It's going to take a lot of comforting to be able to forgive and forget all he's done to me!"
"Kon-san..." The smile on her face didn't waver, as she continued, "While I love cats and plushies, if you continue to try devouring my chest, I'm afraid I will have to inform Hitsu-chan that you were eyeing Hina-chan in a most lecherous manner, and then you might find your head separated from your body, and that would be most unpleasant, would it not? Furthermore, all comforting must be given to you by the patient, as HE is the one doing the bonding. I'm just the supervisor. So..." She thrust the mod soul into Ichigo's arms. "There you go. Snuggle and comfort away."
"..." said the two males, both deeply unhappy for two very different reasons.
"We'll start off simple," the therapist began, deliberately disregarding the glares they were giving each other. "Ichigo-san, I want you to hug Kon-san and tell him what you appreciate about him."
"I'd APPRECIATE it if he DIDN'T read porn while he was in MY--OW!" Ichigo winced, rubbing his head at the spot where Chiyuu had just whapped him with her clipboard.
She shook her head with a small sigh. "I didn't ask you what you'd appreciate, I asked what you APPRECIATED. Try again. And HUG him. Holding him at arms' length hardly constitutes an embrace."
Ichigo echoed her sigh (with a bit of long-suffering pain added in the tone), and practically flattened the plushie against his chest. Ignoring the traumatized wail of "FLAT!", he tried again.
"I, uh... appreciate that he's got powerful legs... uh... he's... determined... dammit, this is hard!"
"Keep going," Chiyuu said calmly.
The boy rolled his eyes. "He keeps Yuzu happy, even if he hates the clothes she puts him in... he didn't make a sound when Karin used him as a replacement soccer ball..." Afterwards, however, had been a different story altogether. "And... it's cool, I guess, how he values life so much, even if it's something like an ant. Plus, he's helped protect my family a lot of times. He knows how important they are to me. And he doesn't keep secrets from me, either."
Chiyuu studied the lion after that last remark, having thought she had seen him flinch. Secrets, hm? So Kon knew something that Ichigo didn't... she decided not to comment upon that, hopping off the bed and wandering over to the teen. Kon was looking a little bit dingy, and that gave her an idea.
Clearly, Ichigo disagreed with it, especially when it involved hot water, a screeching plushie, and lavender-scented bubbles.
"Nothing says bonding like bubble baths!" Chiyuu assured him with wide eyes, kneeling beside him while he viciously scrubbed at the soggy lump of cotton. "And it gets him clean, too!"
"He can take his own damned baths from now on!" He retorted, dunking Kon underwater. "Stop squirming, the soap's not all out yet."
"I think that'd look a little odd, if someone else walked in on a stuffed animal doing laps around your bathtub."
"He'd sink first. He'd get too waterlogged to stay afloat." Ichigo hauled him out, giving him a brief shake.
"What's your deal, trying to drown me? You heartless monster! You damnable fiend! You orange-haired bastard! CURSE YOUUUU, ICHI--" SPLASH. Blurble.
"Nope. Still dirty."
---Day Three of Seven---
"This is an important step for all shinigami, not just you," Chiyuu had told him. "If you don't have a good, solid bond with your blade, it'll come back to haunt you in the end. Kenpachi-kun, for instance, is still trying to learn his zanpakutou's name. He never gave it any respect, nor did he ever try to discover its name, and I believe that was a major disadvantage for him when he fought you. You've learned your blade's name, but you can always go further in bonding with it."
"...I am NOT giving Zangetsu a bubble bath."
That made the therapist laugh, one hand covering her mouth until she could trust herself to speak again. "He would rust, and I don't think he'd like that very much. As said before with Kon-san, we can start off simple."
Ichigo had never wished so heartily for a Hollow to stay away like he did then, but it was inevitable. A Hollow appeared, he, Rukia, Orihime, Renji and Yumichika went to face it, and it was demolished within a short amount of time.
Orihime's three fairies returned to their hairpins, Rukia sheathed Sodeno Shirayuki, slid back into her gigai-- and Ichigo, grimacing, gave Zangetsu a pat and muttered, "Good job, Zangetsu! I'm very proud of you! Let's continue to fight side-by-side!" And then he hugged the blade (carefully).
"Um. Ichigo..." Rukia, remarkably, was at a loss for words. "Did you just... embrace your... are you feeling all right?"
"I can heal him!" Orihime volunteered, hands flying to her hairpins, but Ichigo shook his head.
"I'm fine! It's just part of my... my..."
"Therapy," Renji and Yumichika said in unison, nodding to each other knowingly.
"It'd have to be, if you're standin' here hugging your blade like that," Renji added, snickering. "And TALKIN' to it all sweet-like!"
Rukia elbowed him sharply. "Shut up, Renji. I know for a fact that you hold conversations with Zabimaru all the time." She deepened her voice. "'Hello, Zabimaru! Did you have a nice sleep? I made sure you got the pillow this time and I didn't hog the blanket!'"
"Rukiaaaaa," her friend growled warningly.
"'Look, Zabimaru, I got tattoos so I could look JUST LIKE YOU! You're my heroooo! I wish I had a snake for an--'"
"At least I don't play ribbon dancer with my zanpakutou!"
"I DO NOT PLAY RIBBON DANCER WITH SHIRAYUKI! You're the one with the giant snake whip!"
"Hmm... bonding with your blade? That's not a bad idea," Yumichika pondered, rubbing his cheek against his sheathed sword. "You're so beautiful, Fujikujaku! Just as beautiful as your wielder! Isn't that right, you precious, lovable little beauty? Who's my pretty little sword? Who's preeetty? Fujikujaku iiiis!"
"He's still going through therapy," Renji muttered confidentially to Ichigo, who could only nod.
---Day Four of Seven---
He stood sideways on a skyscraper, meeting the solemn gaze of his zanpakutou, the latter's eyes obscured by dark glasses.
"Ichigo," Zangetsu finally spoke, his hollow voice ringing throughout the world he occupied.
"What is it, Old Ma--er, Zangetsu?" Ichigo buried his hands in his pockets, peering at the wild-haired man. "Why did you call me here?"
Silence answered him. The boy shifted, fidgeting slightly as he waited for a reply, and struggling not to break that unwavering stare that Zangetsu had a penchant for doing so often.
"I heard your words."
"ALL--" Ichigo swallowed. "All of them?"
"I will fight by your side... but sleeping alongside you, shinigami form or not, is not fighting."
Silence on his part this time.
"You salivated on my bandages."
He was going to slaughter Renji for even planting that idea in his head, and Chiyuu for blatantly encouraging it.
---Day Five of Seven---
"You dyed my hair."
"It'll come out," Chiyuu promised, ruffling the ivory spikes that once been a vibrant orange. "This is as close as I can get to recreating your Hollow self, anyway."
Well, that explained all of her questions the day before. She'd asked him when he had first conversed with the Hollow, and he had grudgingly told her he had seen it in the world where Zangetsu lived. Chiyuu had continued to inquire about the looks, the similarities, the differences, and how it had acted. Then she had said no more, only murmured something about checking back with Soul Society and left. And now she was back, having taken advantage of his absence (he'd been fighting another Hollow) to dye his body's hair. Brat.
Kon didn't seem too bothered with this information that Ichigo had a Hollow inside of him, stretching his (Ichigo's) arms and grinning. "It suits you much better than orange!"
"I LOOK LIKE A FRICKIN' DANDELION!"
Chiyuu gave him a brief, apologetic smile. "Like I said, I did what I could. Now listen carefully, Ichigo-san, because I want no complaints on this one. You're still in shinigami form, and Kon-san is in your body. He'll be acting as your Hollow self. I want you to confront him. It may not be the real thing, but it'll prepare you for the day when you actually have to confront him. From what I hear, he's been growing stronger, and suppressing him is only going to grow more and more difficult."
Ichigo could find no argument with that. The sardonic voice kept echoing in the depths of his mind, laughing and whispering beguilingly to let it take over whenever he fought. The idea was simple enough, but would it WORK? It wasn't really his Hollow self...
"It's like fighting yourself, either way," the therapist spoke, almost as if she had picked up on his thoughts. "That Hollow is a part of you now that you'll have to face, so fighting your own body's a good start."
"Wait a minute!" Kon protested, beginning to have doubts about this whole thing. "Fighting? He's not actually going to HURT me, is he?"
She shrugged. "If he has to, he has every right to. But remember that I'm a healer first and foremost. If the body is damaged, I can heal it. Ichigo-san, are you ready? I realize this may be a little hard at first, but we have to start somewhere." Rising on her tiptoes, she tugged on Kon's sleeve, getting him to lean down so she could whisper something in his ear.
With a grimace, the mod soul straightened and faced Ichigo. "You're such a wimp, Ichigo," he sneered, contorting his face into something sinister, lips stretched wide into a mocking smile. "You should just let me take over, before you make an even bigger fool out of yourself!"
So startlingly accurate were the words and that LEER that Ichigo froze for a moment. Then his eyes narrowed and he let out an animalistic yell, throwing his fist at Kon's face.
It's sort of like Hina-chan and the Aizen dummy all over again, Chiyuu couldn't help but think. But if Kon-san keeps this up, then Ichigo-san will...
"You're NOTHING without me!" Kon continued to yell."... even if you hit really hard! You're WEAK!"
Ichigo stopped then, a strange ripple crossing his face and making him almost unrecognizable for a fleeting second. "Go... away..." He whispered hoarsely—not to Kon, but almost as if he were speaking to himself. "Go away..."
He will be drawn into the real confrontation...
Sure enough, the teen's eyes glazed over and he swayed, starting a slow forward fall towards the carpet. Chiyuu moved forward rapidly, letting out a small "Erk!" as the weight of his larger body almost made her topple over. She braced herself, grabbing his shoulders and keeping herself rooted to the spot, letting him sag against her.
"It's this part... about being a therapist... that I really hate," she murmured tiredly, just thankful that his family was out for the day and wouldn't be back for another hour or two; she didn't know how well they could see shinigami, and this would look strange either way, especially since she was in a gigai and either holding up Ichigo (if one could see him) or air (if one couldn't).
It took some help from Kon to move Ichigo to the bed, and he looked questioningly at the therapist once that had been accomplished.
"Chiyuu-neechan... what happened? Was that part of your plan?"
"It was a possibility," she replied, glancing down at Ichigo and frowning as he occasionally twitched and groaned. "I thought all of this would awaken that Hollow but, in the end, it was the Hollow's choice to make itself known that brought us to where we are now. If that happened, I wanted to prepare Ichigo-san for that. I can't help him right now."
"So he's fighting it on his own?"
Chiyuu looked vaguely surprised at that. "On his own? No... he's never alone there. He's gone to the place where no shinigami is ever alone. He's got his zanpakutou with him." Still, that weariness from before remained evident in her tone... until she blinked and glanced up at Kon. "I have faith that he'll do just fine, but we should probably heal you and wash that dye out before his father gets home and wonders what could have happened in a day to age his son so fast."
She looked down at Ichigo once more, closing her eyes briefly and bowing her head. "Hang in there, Ichigo-san. There's more than one step on a path, and you've still got a long way to go before you reach the end."
---Day Seven of Seven---
"He"s not gone entirely, you know," Ichigo said quietly. "Even with Zangetsu protecting me, he's still there. He's just quieter."
"It takes a lot to make a Hollow go away," Chiyuu pointed out, having returned after a day to speak with Ichigo again. "And I'm sorry that I made you go through it. But you know, Ichigo-san, the more you confront that thing and let it know that you're not giving up, the better your chances are at winning. Just ignoring it won't help. Letting it take you over is not an option. Therefore, you have to face it and keep facing it until you completely overpower it. Remember that you've been you a lot longer than that Hollow has, and you're not going to give into it now."
He studied the petite girl pressed against the fence on top of the roof, managing a grin. "You're a strange one. One minute you sound like a little kid, and then you're spouting off advice like some wise old sage."
"Such is the life of a shinigami. Or a fortune cookie, whichever you prefer." Chiyuu laughed, back to her normally exuberant self again. "I'll just tell you that I'm older than Hitsu-chan and Yachiru-chan and younger than Shuuhei-kun and Byakuya-san and leave it at that. But..." She turned away from the fence, smiling at Ichigo. "You'll be pleased to know that your therapy is over, Ichigo-san! You bonded with your family, you appreciated Kon a little bit more, you and Zangetsu have grown closer, and that Hollow inside of you knows now that you're serious business! Plus, I think you've learned that you CAN subdue that thing, with enough determination. Now, I just have one thing to ask you..."
"Eh? What's that?"
She winked at him, lowering her voice. "Do you perhaps think that you had more of a reason to save Rukia-chan than just the feeling of owing her?"
"Oh, wait, I forgot... you haven't really discovered hormones yet. It's a shame; I think she likes you."
"Rukia-chaaaan!" The shinigami chirped, bouncing over to the door that led off the roof and flinging it open. "Can you show me how to drink from that juice package? I think I stabbed the wrong end!"
"Get BACK here, you brat! You can't just leave it like that!"
"Mouuu, Ichigo-san's getting confusing again!"
"THAT'S MY LINE!"
"Yell at me later, I'm off to go be haphazard!"
"YOU'RE HAPHAZARD ENOUGH AS IT IS!"
Ishida Uryuu knew something wasn't right. Alas, he had no idea that he was to be the next fated victim of therapy torture.
Uwaaaaah, I had no idea it would turn out this long! This was one of the more serious chapters, since it dealt with Ichigo and his Hollow self (I'd originally planned to write that in, but then this thing would've been 16 pages instead of 12, and that's just crazy), but I tried my best to insert some therapist-style crack in there as well. So basically, I had fun with this chapter, even if it took me so long to complete, and I still think I could have written more. Feel free to roll your eyes at me if you must. Anyway, up next are Ishida Uryuu and Inoue Orihime! Don't even ask when that's coming out, because I really don't know. x.x
Thank you and reviews are always welcome, no matter how strange they may be!