Disclaimer: Bleach is the creation of Kubo Tite.

Sleepwalker – Ishida, a hollow, and Ichigo. It's more than enough to be the breaking point of a relationship, but for some reason Ishida just can't bring himself to leave. Ichigo x Ishida, Hollow!Ichigo x Ishida.

Dedicated to Lumi-san as the promised bribery, although I have a suspicion that she's regretting it by now….

I posted this on my writing journal a while ago, and so I decided to unleash it on everyone else. :3 Many thanks to the people who read it and commented, but the most thanks to my beta-reader Sahara Storm for braving this mess first.

I guess you could say I'm jumping on the entire Hollow!Ichigo x Ishida craze, and I'm just pretending that this story is different enough to justify its sorry existence.

This story diverges from canon once Ichigo-tachi return from Soul Society. It also works under the assumption that Ishida, Inoue, and Sado don't know anything about Ichigo's hollow, since I don't really think they've realized it yet.

Oh, and to be frank, I have no idea what I'm trying to do here anymore.

Warnings: Shorter than it should be, longer than it deserves to be. Rated R for language, yaoi, sexuality, non-graphic non-con, and general strangeness all around.

Are you waiting for him?

It was not fair.

Ishida Uryuu knew quite a bit about this concept of unfairness, and indeed more than anyone would want to. But then, perhaps that was the point.

His father had always made a point of letting him know that life just was not fair, and there was no point in getting idealistic about it. But beyond the lectures Ryuuken had given him when he was young, there were always the more concrete examples of life's unfairness. The fact that his grandfather had died so that some twisted excuse of a shinigami could torture him in the name of scientific research had certainly been unfair, and the way he had lost his powers while gaining absolutely nothing in return was also a shining example of exactly how life was not fair. But just when he was under the impression that he had suffered enough from fate's twisted sense of humor, it had to drop another bomb on him.

He rubbed his wrist, glaring balefully at the abomination standing just a few feet away from him. A hollow. Kurosaki had a damn hollow inside of him, and of course after two weeks of a relationship that consisted mainly of arguments and occasional screwing, the other teen had apparently not found the time to inform him of that tiny fact.

Now, Ishida had been prepared to deal with the arguments, and the fact that really their personalities were not all that compatible. They were both stubborn and prideful, and neither would back down in an argument. But beyond that something about them had worked, and so he had decided that he was willing to accept the shortcomings of their relationship because it was just… better than it was worse. Yet right when he decided to be so accommodating, this had happened.

He said nothing as he watched the hollow, habit making his hands twitch to form the Quincy bow and blast the monster out of existence. But not only did that monster happen to be Kurosaki, it was not as if he had the capability to do such a thing to it. Even now, the hollow was inspecting the Quincy bracelet, almost ignoring the fact that Uryuu was glaring daggers at it. The chain had snapped when the hollow had pulled away from him, but its fingers had been so entangled in the chain that rather than try to get it off like a normal person, it had simply broken the bracelet.

Uryuu remembered the sound of the silver snapping. It had been much louder than it really should have been, considering how the hollow had been cursing up a storm after being kneed in the gut. Still in shock and working mostly on automatic, he had not tried to figure out the logistics of the situation, instead trying to pick up the bracelet but Kurosaki—no, the hollow—had gotten there first. And now here they were, a Quincy who had lost his powers and a hollow that was in the body of the person he regularly slept with, and the situation was starting to look worse with each passing second.

"Why do you keep this thing? You don't even have your powers anymore."

He flinched, but chose not to respond to that pointed observation. It was true that he couldn't use the bracelet to summon his bow anymore, but there was a sort of comfort that came from wearing it. He had worn it for so long, and although he had not really felt its loss when he had worn the sanrei glove, the loss became that much more apparent when he had returned from Soul Society without both the glove and his powers. He was not stupid enough to think that wearing the bracelet would somehow give him back his powers, but powers or not, he was still a Quincy.

No matter what the hollow had to say about it.

"So ex-Quincy," the hollow grinned at him as it looked away from the bracelet and returned its attention to him instead. He frowned, but said nothing as it continued, "That was not very nice of you."

He knew that if he had any sense whatsoever, he would figure out a way to get out immediately. It didn't matter if he had no place to run to because he doubted the hollow would let him go so easily, but why wasn't he even trying? All he had done since the hollow had gotten off him was sit on his bed, staring at it as if he lacked the sense to do anything else.

"I told you to let go," he said, as if that was an actual answer. It was more than the hollow should have gotten anyway because there were so many questions he could have asked instead, but had not because it was as if he was still not sure of exactly what to do. Why wasn't he trying to get away? This wasn't Kurosaki, no matter how much the hollow looked like him. So why was he still here? Even Kurosaki would think he was a fool for staying, but for the life of him he did not think he could just… leave, no matter how much sense it made.

"You don't like hollows, do you? Why is that? Don't you think you're being rather prejudicial, considering how I've never done anything to hurt you."

"It is only a matter of time," he said quietly, even though a part of him continued to rage at Kurosaki for not preparing him for this situation. Speaking of which, "Why does he have a hollow inside of him?"

The hollow shrugged, not looking very surprised by the question. "You can thank Urahara Kisuke for that. Ou wanted powers, and that shinigami gave him that."


"Ou," the hollow said with an air of smugness. "But for how much longer remains to be seen."

He shivered slightly at that statement, but managed to cover it up by asking, "What have you done to Kurosaki?"

"You know," the hollow said in a conversational tone as it completely ignored the question. "He hates that you never call him by his given name. He thinks you are being, and I quote, 'a stubborn bastard'. What do you have to say about that, huh?"

Like he was playing twenty questions with someone who didn't need to play because it already knew a lot more than he did. He knew that it was pointless to ask questions, but what else was left to him now. He closed his eyes and because it was more efficient to get to the point than try to figure out answers that the hollow would not give, asked quietly, "What do you want?"

"What makes you think I want anything?" the hollow asked, but already it had let the bracelet slip through its fingers to land on the floor before walking over so that instead of being at a fairly safe distance, it was now way too close for comfort. The queasy feeling he was fighting to keep down seemed to increase twofold when the hollow let a hand brush against his cheek. It was a gesture that Kurosaki sometimes did when he was trying to be gentle, or at least that was how the theory went. Now though, and with those same hands it might have been the same but knowing that it was the hollow, he knew it was just mocking him. "And what makes you think you would be in any position to give it to me?"

"Just tell me what you want," he snapped, jerking back. Because it was better to just get it out rather than having to guess at the hollow's intentions, even though he knew that not only was he not going to like it, but the hollow was not even going to give him a complete answer.

It shrugged, "I'm bored. What with ou always fighting to keep me back, I never get to come out anymore. He spends so much time trying to keep me from coming out in a battle that he's forgotten to hold me back the rest of the time. So I thought I would say hello to you."

It was a gesture that he could have done without, but he bit his tongue to keep from saying that. "Is that all?"

"Oh, you would have liked that, wouldn't you? But no, of course not. You think that's all I wanted after I spent so much time trying to get here?" It leaned closer and brushed its lips against his neck, and he immediately tried to push it away. But then it caught his wrists and he could do nothing except sit there, frozen and almost afraid to breathe.

"The way I see it, ex-Quincy, I can give you a few choices. One is that you let me do whatever I want to you, and who knows? Maybe you can just close your eyes and pretend it's ou doing this to you. Or I can just take you anyway, and you can explain to ou exactly what he did to you."

"The only thing Kurosaki is guilty of is being stupid enough not to tell me about you," he hissed, even though the sinking feeling made it obvious that it was just a lie. "What makes you think he's going to-"

"Blame himself? Are you really listening to yourself speak?"

He fell silent at that, knowing that what the hollow said was true. Kurosaki was… he was stupid, to say the least, and tended to blame himself for things that he was not really involved in. What the hollow did would be the hollow's fault, but Kurosaki would most certainly blame himself for not being able to prevent it. And while that was understandable, Uryuu could not help but wish the shinigami could have chosen this as something to be a little less stupid about.

And he knew the hollow could do whatever it wanted to him. As much as he loathed that fact, he had no way of keeping it from doing otherwise. But his silence seemed to spur the hollow into continuing pointedly, "There's a third option too, if you want. I could leave as you obviously want me to do, go on a rampage in the town, and then you and your precious ou can have that on your consciences. So I guess it depends on how many people you want to be hurt. If you do it the easy way, nobody needs to be."

"You think that letting you do whatever you want to me is not going to hurt?"

The hollow grinned, "Considering the other choices, what would you say?"

That this was complete and utter crap. That the hollow didn't really want this, but wanted something else that was related to it. What was it? Why was it doing something like this, playing this game when both of them knew it didn't have to? The hollow was right; it could just take him, and he would not be able to do a damned thing about it. But it was giving him a choice, forcing him to decide what was going to happen. It made threats to guide him towards the decision it wanted him to make, but it was still a demand that he allow this to happen. Why?

"What do you really want?"

The hollow didn't even blink, looking completely unphased by the question, "You keep asking that same question. Can't you think of anything else to say or has your brain stopped working?"

"Why are you even giving me a choice?"

"Why are you stalling?"

He knew from that answer that he was not going to be getting anything out of the hollow. He glared at it, but at the moment he wasn't even thinking of other ways. There might have been, but what? No matter what he did, the outcome of this situation would only favor the hollow. But what was the hollow planning to do, beyond what it said it would?

And why was he stalling? Wasn't it obvious, or was the hollow just continuing to mock him? He didn't… he didn't think he could say it. Because he didn't think he could even do this. The only thing that kept him from saying 'no' outright was the fact that he didn't want innocent people getting hurt, and most of all he didn't want Kurosaki getting hurt either. But that didn't make it any easier to agree to the hollow. Not saying no was one thing, but saying yes? How could it expect him to agree to something like this so easily, as if he was giving up nothing? Self-sacrifice was such an easy thing in theory, but in action it was almost much more difficult especially when there was only the threat of harm rather than direct action.

So what was he supposed to do now? He didn't know anymore, and as his hands tightened around the blankets, he heard himself talking almost from a distance, "You can't leave any marks."

It wasn't a yes, but it was close enough to one. It was the closest that he could possibly get to one, and luckily it was enough for the hollow. He didn't think he could have pushed himself any further, especially when the hollow's grin widened and the already meager distance between them thinned to nothing. He felt the bottom of his stomach drop out as he was pushed down, and all he could do was try not to speak, try not to feel, try not to think. It was just so much easier to close his eyes and pretend that maybe, just maybe, this was not really happening.

I don't know what you are talking about.

"Ishida? Did I… did I just fall asleep?"

"… yes."

"Oh. Shit, sorry about that, Ishida."

"It's fine, Kurosaki." He hates that you never call him by his given name. "You've been busy."

"Well, yeah, but that's not an excuse, right? I'll make it up to you."

"It's fine."

"Shit… I really am sorry."

"I know you are."

"Are you pissed?"

"No. I said it's fine."

"You don't sound like-"

"It's fine, Kurosaki."

He hates that you never call him by his given name.

"… your hair's wet."

"I took a shower."

It had not helped. Reasonably, he had not expected it to. But just because logic said it wouldn't, it did not mean one could ever completely dismiss the voice of very desperate hope.

You're not, are you?

Reflecting on it after Kurosaki had left that night, Uryuu knew that it was not as bad as it could have been. He still was not sure what the hollow's intentions really were, but it was not as bad as he thought it was going to be. But then, his expectations had been dreadfully low in the first place, so that probably was not saying much.

It had not been pleasant, of course, and the hollow made no attempts to make it such. But it was not as painful as he thought it was going to be, and for the most part he was not really expected to do anything. There had been no point in fighting with the way the hollow always had his wrists pinned to the bed, and anyway he had given his word. Uryuu took that seriously, even if it was to a monster that would have no qualms of breaking whatever twisted agreement they had made.

He had spent most of the time trying to avoid eye contact. The hollow did not seem to mind and it gave him something to do—a careful avoidance of seeing Kurosaki because even though it was not really him, he did not need any reminders of what the hollow was doing. It was easy to separate the two even though they were really using the same body with no changes, but he did not want to have to look at those subtle differences that showed exactly who was occupying that body's conscious. It was just a reminder of how wrong all of this was, and that he never should have agreed to this. It did not matter what the consequences of his refusal would have been—at least it would not be this.

So why? Why had he not done that? Why did it matter so much that Kurosaki not find out what was happening; why did it matter if Kurosaki got hurt from the fact that Uryuu already knew the truth about the shinigami? Perhaps before… this, he could have. But now? How was he to explain this, what he had agreed to, what had been done? Kurosaki would… he knew that there was really no point in thinking about that because in the end, he simply could not tell him any of this.

And that was really all there was to it.

I don't understand.

"Does he know what you're doing?"

"If I said yes, would you really believe me?"


"If I told you that we agreed to share you, what would you say? If I said that he's letting me do this in exchange for something else, what would you do, ex-Quincy?"

He had no answer to that, and the hollow chuckled, "Exactly. You wouldn't do anything. And now what are you going to do? You gonna confront him about me? You gonna tell him what we just agreed to? You agreed because you don't want him to know. You don't want him to know that you know what he really is, or what he's allowing to happen to you. Telling him would make it all moot. So why are you bothering to ask such a stupid question?"

"Because it is better than doing nothing."

"If you have nothing to do, let me help you with that."

You don't think he's going to save you.

The hollow showed up whenever it wanted, an appearance that was at best unpredictable and extremely irritating. Uryuu had no idea why Kurosaki could not get a better grip on it, and he could not exactly just ask the shinigami. He had a suspicion that the thing was getting stronger, as evidenced by its increasingly frequent appearances. But there was simply no way he could say anything to Kurosaki, and so he chose to say nothing.

But things were changing. The shinigami still came over to spend the night frequently, especially when Kurosaki didn't want to deal with Isshin trying to catch him off-guard for getting home past midnight, but then Kurosaki never seemed to question that mysterious sleep he was always falling into. Uryuu wondered if perhaps there was something going on with the shinigami that he was no longer privy to, probably something to do with the hollows and probably information only for people who could actually do something about the monsters, rather than just….

He did not finish that thought and he did not bother to ask, not even when Kurosaki staggered into his apartment at two in the morning and asked if he could stay. He let the shinigami in wordlessly, not saying anything even as the shinigami dropped a shirt covered in blood on his spotless floor and simply wandered into the bedroom. It would not be long now, before Kurosaki was asleep. But would that be the end of their night, or would there be more? Uryuu did not really want to theorize on it, and instead picked up the shirt and took it to the bathroom, plugging up the sink and turning the water on.

It occurred to him belatedly that he probably should have snapped at Kurosaki not to be so messy, as it would be out of character not to be so anal about his apartment. But since neither of them seemed to have noticed it until it was too late to do anything about it, he just sighed and hung the shirt to dry.

It was pathetic, being reduced to this. Before he could have done something, and now he washed clothes. He knew it was more than that, that Kurosaki also needed to know that there was somebody he could go to at two in the morning. It did not make him feel much better, but it was something.

It was something that reminded him that even though Kurosaki was the one sleeping right now, he needed the other teen as much as Kurosaki needed him.

Does it matter if he does?

Whenever Uryuu thought he had started to reach the point where he could handle the situation he had found himself thrown into, life decided to rear an ugly head at him. It seemed that somebody—probably the hollow—always seemed to read his mind and make it a point to prove him wrong.

He had gotten up early that morning, leaving Kurosaki snoring in bed so that he could make breakfast. He did not bother waking up the shinigami to eat it when he had finished, instead settling down to a quiet breakfast on his own.

He was halfway through when he suddenly found himself being pulled out of the chair and thrown to the floor where the hollow took him rather violently from behind. It laughed when he let out a soft whimper from the pain, and it took everything in him not to retch.

Ten minutes after it had finished, he somehow managed to drag himself off the ground so he could clean away all traces of what had happened. It had not taken long after that for Kurosaki to stumble into the kitchen looking like hell had run him over, although whether that was from his night activities or the hollow taking over his body like that remained to be seen.

But while Kurosaki merely looked like shit, Uryuu felt that way, and he was disinclined to be sympathetic as he calmly explained to the shinigami that he really was not feeling well, and he needed some time to himself.

Kurosaki had looked at him for a moment before asking, "Is this my fault?"

Yes, he wanted to say. What he always wanted to say. Instead, it came out, "No."

It always came out that way.

Kurosaki still looked worried, but Uryuu was not in the mood to argue. The shinigami had enough sense at least to not try and change his mind, and once he was gone Uryuu had wandered into the bathroom and indulged himself as much as he possibly could.

He had forgotten the towels were being washed, and had ended up having to wipe any remaining vomit off with Kurosaki's still drying shirt.

You have very little faith in him, don't you?

Sometimes he wondered why Kurosaki did not just tell him, especially when the shinigami was stupid enough to keep asking him if anything was wrong, if it was something he had done, if there was anything he could do. Because it just tempted him to snap back that yes, there was something wrong but it was not because of him, but somehow he always managed to keep those hateful words from coming out. It was a continuous close call though, especially when he could not help but be slightly bitter that Kurosaki would not tell him that one thing that needed to be said.

But then, he had not told the guy when he had lost his powers. Kurosaki had to find out on his own, and he had been quite angry that Uryuu had apparently not trusted him enough to let him in on that information. Perhaps it was the same thing, and they were both being extremely hypocritical in expecting trust when they obviously did not have enough of it of their own.

Or was it not trust, but something different from that? Although he would be hard pressed to admit it, part of the reason why he had not told Kurosaki about the loss of his powers was… there was resentment involved, most definitely. He'd had to tell the other teen that he could not protect himself, something Kurosaki certainly would not understand. The resentment of having to tell somebody who has what you want, and should he confront Kurosaki on the shinigami's hypocrisy, Kurosaki could have said that he had something inside of him that Uryuu didn't.

Most of the time anyway.

I am not going to do this.

He rather lost it the day the hollow showed up on his doorstep and grinned at him. "Yo."

For a moment, he simply stood there gaping at it, completely stunned to be seeing the… thing standing there so casually. As soon as he got his composure back together, he hissed, "What do you think you're doing? I thought-"

The hollow held up a bag, cutting him off effectively. He glared but did not continue because he knew that the words were for the most part, empty. It did not matter if they had an agreement—the hollow could break it without repercussions while he could do nothing but adhere to the obviously bad terms. They both knew that, and that might have been part of the reason why the hollow could grin at him like that.

"Relax, I didn't do anything." It shook the bag slightly, as if to indicate it for the first time. "In fact, I bought something for you."

With little ceremony, it shoved its way past him, tossing the bag over to him. Uryuu caught it with the air of someone being asked to take a fistful of fresh animal intestines, and what was in it was about as welcome as he slammed the door and pulled out his gift.

He paused, staring at the thing. Then he looked up from it and at the hollow instead, struggling to find something to say but coming up with absolutely nothing as he simply stared at it, slack-jawed almost. It was probably an amusing sight but he didn't care anymore, especially when the hollow pointed at it casually and said, "That shinigami girl was thinking that ou should get that for you as a one-year anniversary joke gift, but really I thought. Why wait?"

The only response he could come up with was to throw the handcuffs at the hollow's head. It caught them easily and he expected no less, but it still brought forth another surge of anger as he snapped, "No."

The hollow was still smiling but it did not seem quite as amused as it had been before. He did not have much time to elaborate on his statement and exactly what the hollow could do with its damn gift because then the hollow had grabbed his wrist and was dragging him towards the bedroom. And for the first time he really did try to pull away but it didn't work, and suddenly he was forced to realize exactly how strong the hollow was, and really how… gentle it had been all along. Gentle was probably the wrong word, but… it certainly had not used its strength to force him to do anything that he had not technically agreed to.

Until now.

It hurt, trying to fight back, and it got him absolutely nowhere as the hollow forced him to lie down and easily restrained him with the gift. Gift, it had called it. Gift.

For a moment he wanted to laugh at the sheer… idiocy of the situation, but it got lost on its way out and came out as just heavy gasps as he tried to get the hollow off of him without the use of his hands. It didn't work, of course. Nothing would work now, and yet he continued to try because somehow, his inability to achieve anything didn't seem to matter anymore. He wanted this to end, and if he couldn't do anything he would most certainly try because he just couldn't do this anymore, pretending that everything was fine. It wasn't, it never had been. Just because it didn't hurt as much as it could have didn't make it any better, and he was tired of pretending that it was.

It was almost as if he was realizing for the first time that what was happening was… he might have agreed but there had been no real choice, and no matter what the circumstances, he did not want this. It might have been better than the alternatives, but it didn't change that simple fact. And for so long he had been able to ignore that, concentrating on Kurosaki and the hollow and not really thinking about his own role in this, what was happening to him. He lived with it but then he did not because he refused to acknowledge it for what it really was that this truly was the first time. And the words seemed to deaden something inside of him, and he realized that none of this really mattered.

It did not work. He had not expected it to. But with the metal biting into his wrists as he strained against them because it was all he had left, there wasn't much left for him anymore.

So he screamed a word, and he did not know what it was.

Do what?
He could not look at Kurosaki the same anymore. At first, he had thought that perhaps… but now he knew that was just not true.

It was not that he blamed the shinigami. Try as he might, and as angry and bitter as he became, he never really did. But even knowing that he could not look at Kurosaki the same because somewhere inside of him was that hollow which knew more about him than even Kurosaki did, it seemed.

After the incident, it never got better. It could not, not with Uryuu knowing what he did. He could not turn back the clock and return to being… ignorant, perhaps, of the true power of the hollow and what this meant in his case. Perhaps that was why he had to suppress a slight shudder whenever he saw Kurosaki, when the shinigami touched him. Was it him, or was it the hollow? It was not a question he should be asking, it was not a question he wanted to be answered.

He did not want the hollow to be a part of his life. It had forced its way in, and the only thing he wanted was for it to remove itself. But there was really only two ways for that to happen. One was out of his control, and the second was out of the question. He had not gone through this for nothing.

It hurt, in a way, that this was changing his relationship with Kurosaki. Not to the point of being… destroyed, but different nevertheless. It was inevitable, of course, but it was not something he could so easily accept. Even if Kurosaki managed to control that hollow for good, things could never really return to what they were before. Ignorance was bliss, was that how the saying goes? Sad that a cliché could explain his life, but truly, if he had never known about that hollow, he could have been much happier.

But now that he did know… it was not really something he could leave alone. Well, he was not quite being given a choice in the matter, but there was something more involved. He was not quite sure if he was succeeding in doing… whatever that something more was, but he had to reach the point where this was not just on the hollow's terms. He had to get something out of it beyond escape from a guilty conscious, something to make this worth it.

He was starting to understand what that was, although he was not sure if it actually made sense.

There were a lot of things that were not quite making sense, but there were others that did. It was difficult to separate the two because often they seemed inextricably linked, but Uryuu was starting to get the hang of it. Understanding these things did not make his meetings with the hollow any easier, but it was something to help him pull himself up each night.

Pull himself together, so Kurosaki would not see what was happening.

Wait to be saved.

"This is going to be our last night together," the hollow announced without any real warning. Uryuu blinked, unsure of exactly how he was supposed to respond to that when it elaborated, "Ou is finally going to do something about me. Or at least he hopes he will. What do you think?"

Uryuu forced himself, for the first time since that time, to look at it. "What does it matter?"

"True," the hollow said, sitting down next to him. He immediately stiffened, but instead of pushing him down, the hollow just looked at him with a slightly odd expression, "After all, you're not expecting him to save you."

"And that's what you want, isn't it?" he asked. "Something to use against him."

"Perhaps," it grinned viciously, but it did not quite erase the slight… what was it? Not discomfort, but there was still something there that seemed to mar the hollow's apparent victory. Still, whatever it was, it did not stop the hollow from continuing casually. "It's just a matter of power. I'm not going to serve under someone who is weaker than me. If he can't even control me from doing what we've been doing for the past few weeks, how the hell is he going to beat me? I'm stronger than him—he has no right to ride on my power and pretend that he has the ability to truly win. So I'm going to show him that, and get him off my back forever."

"Why are you bothering to tell me these things?"

The hollow scoffed, "What the hell are you going to do about it? Besides, maybe I just wanted you to know what your role is in all of this."

He blinked, but could not bring himself to do anything else. After all, the only surprising information was that Kurosaki was going away, and for some reason coming from the hollow made the information seem less… important. It would sink in eventually, but for now all he could do was stare at the hollow as if he was rather surprised that it was expecting anything else. Which in a way, he was. Still, the hollow looked almost disappointed by his lack of reaction, and so it shrugged, looking rather irritated.

"I'm done here," it said contemptuously. It was finally enough. "Enjoy your last night together. We'll have plenty of time after, won't we?"

It did not give him time to reply although he probably would not have anyway, instead drawing back and abruptly leaving Kurosaki in its wake. This was not an uncommon occurrence although the hollow's appearances did not usually last so shortly, and perhaps that was why the shinigami was still awake when his consciousness returned. Kurosaki blinked, looking confused for a moment, and Uryuu waited patiently for him to say something before finally taking pity and asking, "You wanted to tell me something, Kurosaki?"

"Er… yeah." Kurosaki still looked slightly confused but he was able to get over that quite quickly as he scratched his head, the confusion turning to a slight nervousness as he said, "I… I need to do something. It might take a while but I don't know how long I'll be gone so… this might be the last time we can see each other in a while."

Uryuu knew he should at least try to feign surprise, but he was expecting this and found that he just couldn't manage it, instead settling for, "I see."

"… you see?" Kurosaki looked momentarily stunned before it quickly turned into a look of anger, probably at the decided non-response. It was so Kurosaki that it almost made him laugh because of its predictability, especially after he had spent so long not knowing what was coming next. And perhaps he did not know what would be coming after this, but he had a pretty good idea what it was.

So before Kurosaki could retort angrily and create an argument, Uryuu decided that he needed to cut the other teen off before he said something completely unnecessary. And not to mention idiotic, especially considering the circumstances.

"I need to tell you something too, Ichigo," he said quietly.

The fact that he had used the shinigami's first name was enough to stun Kurosaki into blessed silence. That made it… easier to say what he knew needed to be said before it was too late for both of them.

Because there was no way in hell he was going to be used as an excuse for Kurosaki to give up against that damned hollow. He had not wanted to wait to be saved. He had not expected it. Because this was his problem, and it was one of the few things he could still do for the shinigami.

He had not wanted it. Of course not. But it had happened, and the only thing he could do now was to make sure that it had happened for a reason. And not for the hollow's purposes, but for his own. Why had he done it? Why had he allowed it, and never said a word to Kurosaki although the shinigami probably did know that something was very wrong.

Uryuu sighed, and closed his eyes, trying to figure out the best way to say it. It was why he had not wanted Kurosaki to have to save him. It was why he had not left. Because even though this was a hollow, he could never completely dissociate it from Kurosaki, and he could not leave it without leaving Kurosaki behind either. He could not walk away from this situation without the consequences going further than he wanted them to go.

He wanted the hurt to end with him. It was more than enough. Much more.

"I never blamed you."

I don't want you to be hurt anymore.

Kurosaki does not get it yet; he can see it in his eyes. But he is not going to expand any more on that, as there is really no point right now.

Although it is not much, Uryuu can still hope that Kurosaki—idiotic, stubborn, and guilt-ridden as he is—can remember those words when it matters. Because although he thinks that it is fairly obvious, he knows Kurosaki will not see it that way.

So he hopes that when the time comes, Ichigo will be bothered to remember that he would not have stayed, that he would not have gone through all of that if he did not care for the other teen as much as he did.

Are you waiting for him?

I don't know what you are talking about.

You're not, are you?

I don't understand.

You don't think he's going to save you.

Does it matter if he does?

You have very little faith in him, don't you?

I am not going to do this.

Do what?

Wait to be saved.

Ending Notes:

I wish I could say that… this is complete in its entirety. It's not. I know it isn't. I cannot help but feel that it's missing something, and either I can't put my finger on it or I just can't bring myself to write it. I really don't know. There is, however, the possibility of a one-shot sequel, dealing more with the hollow and Ichigo. I haven't really decided yet because there are other fics I'm working on right now. But I'm open to the possibility; just not at the present moment.


Finished: April 2, 2006
Edited: April 15, 2006
Posted: April 25, 2006