"Oh, HOLLOW Night"
I don't own Bleach but I do own the story in this fic and things that are non-Bleach. All the name of places, historical events and other things mentioned which you don't seem to know IRL, are products of my imagination. Any similarities with the actual thing are purely coincidental.
I'm surprised to see reviews, a few minutes after I uploaded this fic. OO I'm so glad that hollow-Ichigo has some fans. cries I'm so happy. Thank you. (BTW, I also would like to thank my regular reviewers who always take time to read my stories no matter where my fics were posted.)
You may not understand if you haven't watch Bleach.
For those who do know Bleach, expect spoilers up to what was currently happening in the manga.
I'll be adding a fictional concept of the true source of Ichigo's strength and his connection to Soul Society.
Chapter Two: "First Encounter"
"And you must be…" Rukia swallowed hard as she stared at his broad back. "…Ichigo's hollow self."
The man before her didn't reply. Instead, he kept on adjusting his pure white shihakushou with a distinct dark grin on his face. The raven-haired shinigami started to get nervous. Although, she sensed that the reiatsu was still somewhat like Ichigo's, the fact that it sky rocketed, troubled her immensely.
Why do I have to face him alone? She thought as she gripped the handle of her zanpakutou hard. What was Yamamoto-taichou thinking?
A shallow chuckle suddenly rang in the air. It came from the white hollow in front of her. He slowly turned around to face her. In that very moment, Rukia felt her heart skip a beat as she anticipated a possible attack.
"So…" Ichigo's hollow self started to say with an insane smile etched on his lips. "…are you my opponent tonight?" His voice echoed the snicker which seemed to continuously taunt her.
"Ah." She reservedly said. A trickle of sweat rolled down her temples. Her confidence was dissipating as she faced this individual with an enormous reiatsu.
A few blocks away from the Kurosaki house, two distinct figures stood behind the shadows. The first one wore a striped hat while the other has a medical coat casually draped on his back.
"So no one is at your house at the moment…except for Ichigo and Rukia?" The first man asked.
"Yeah." The second man answered. "I was kind of…predicting that something like this would eventually happen. Ichigo had been having successive bad dreams ever since he came back from Soul Society, though he tried his best to hide it from all of us, I'm his father, after all." He turned to other man with a smile. "Your methods are unorthodox as usual, Kisuke. I'm glad I was able to send Yuzu and Karin to summer camp before you placed that invention of yours inside Ichigo."
Urahara pushed his hat closer to his head and smiled as well. "Shouldn't you be…at least…a little angry with me? First off, I did have motives for training Ichigo when Rukia was sentenced to death back then, though, you and I had secretly known each other, like what you've just said…you are still his father, Isshin."
The other man laughed. "Haha. It's alright. He is my son. He has the strongest spiritual power amongst my three children. It is inevitable that he goes down this path. He needs to learn this sooner or later."
"He also needs to remember itsooner or later." Urahara remarked mysteriously.
This placed a wide grin on Isshin's face. "Yes. And that, too."
"Well, the subconscious mind can also be stored in one's hollow side…if applicable." Urahara pointed out. "…I bet Ichigo's hollow side has that memory stored somewhere in him."
"Probably." The doctor squinted towards the direction of his house. "But his hollow self needs to be reminded about something first, before it can connect to that lost consciousness."
The sandaled man cheerfully smiled. "Don't worry. Although, I did say to Ichigo that this will train him in controlling his hollow side and even make him realize what it is like inside him, he can't do that unless his hollow side earns back his life memories first."
Isshin smirked. "So this was all done to pull his hollow's side back into reality."
"Yup." Urahara nodded. "Ichigo's training was only secondary. This is…first and foremost…his hollow self's training."
"Hmmmm…" Isshin crossed his arms and closed his eyes. "I'm going to be in trouble once Ichigo's hollow self regains what he thought was lost to him."
Urahara grinned. "Yeah. He'll probably going to beat you up in a pulp."
The doctor chuckled. "You know what? All this time, I've been physical with Ichigo…punched him and kicked him in every opening I see…it is probably because I am trying to relive the old days…my old days with him."
"The old days…" Urahara bent his head. "…that sounds so nostalgic. But I would like to remind you that he isn't the same any more. He isn't the same Ichigo you've known in your shinigami days."
Isshin laughed. "Haha, I know that. That is why I am glad." Then, he looked at Urahara with unwavering eyes. "I am proud to say…that Ichigo had grown so much since then. Now all that's left is to synchronize that growth to his old self."
"To his hollow self…" Urahara remarked with a smile.
--- Meanwhile in Soul Society ---
Kuchiki Byakuya stared out the open window. He was currently confined in one of the hospital's rooms located in the fifth floor. He guessed it was probably night time in the human world, and this thought made him uneasy with worry.
"It may seem a bit harsh and uncalled for, but I think it is best to just leave him with her for now and see what happens." Someone spoke near the door of his room.
"Yamamoto-taichou…" Byakuya riveted his gaze towards the newcomer.
The old man stepped closer to the hospital bed. "Kuchiki-taichou," He started to say. "I know that Soul Society's laws had been unfair to your sister, and that she had been placed to dilemmas she wasn't supposed to experience in the first place, but…this time…I am confident that no harm will come to her."
"Are you taking that woman's word for it?" Byakuya asked.
"Yuruichi-san's? Yes…I am." The old man nodded.
The younger captain frowned.
"You've made a promise to your wife that you will always protect her sister and I respect that, but you also have to consider that Rukia-san isn't exactly weak. She has much potential inside her if you will only allow her to."
Byakuya looked away. "I know that. I even told Ukitake-taichou to just go ahead if he wants to make Rukia a seated officer once she fully recovers, but…to face that kind of monster at this stage is a bit too much."
"I understand your predicament, but I didn't assign Rukia for this mission to fight Ichigo's hollow self." Yamamoto replied with ease.
"Do you absolutely think that that monster will yield before Rukia? It only knows of power…destruction…and nothing more."
"Yuruichi-san pointed out that Rukia isn't exactly someone whom Ichigo's hollow self would consider as its enemy." The older captain explained. "After some thought, I think she is right. Rukia does have some strong bond with Ichigo. And it is this bond which made that boy went all those lengths to save her back then."
"But this isn't Ichigo any more." Byakuya insisted. His usual calm tone was dissipating. "That thing is a hollow. It won't recognize any one. Yuruichi's judgment might be getting rusty. "
The old man closed his eyes and sighed. "For someone like us, it is rather difficult to comprehend. But I trust Yuruichi's perception. For all this time with what happened with Aizen, my own judgment had been cloudy, so for the time being…I will try her suggestion. There is no reason to doubt her."
"Her suggestions were probably from Urahara Kisuke." Byakuya remarked disdainfully.
"That might be true." Yamamoto nodded. "But still…that man is known to have always been responsible with the things he invented. Though, the last major one had grown out of hand, he still did his best to counter it."
"Even though you just said that, I would like to remind you that Urahara Kisuke had gone missing again."
"Yes. I am aware of that detail." The old man closed his eyes. "That is why…you may do anything to me, Kuchiki-taichou…if things go wrong with your sister in the human world."
Byakuya looked away. His normally cool and expressionless face, now held a deep set frown. "Yes…do pray that things won't go wrong."
--- Back in Karakura City ---
Rukia cursed under her breath as she landed with a thud on top of another house's roof. She was sure that Ichigo's neighbors were probably wondering as to why there were successive noises and barges on their properties.
I have to lure him away. She thought as she glanced behind her, only to see the insane-like white hollow shoot his energy in numerous ball-like forces. Every now and then, a piece of cement will crumble down as Ichigo's hollow self made his way towards her.
"Where are you going?" She heard him say. "You don't expect to escape from me now, do you?"
The raven-haired shinigami muttered another curse. She was already tired from jumping from one roof to another. She wasn't exactly someone who could perform shunpo. But for some reason, even in her pathetic speed, the hollow behind her seemed to be lagging. Surely, this wasn't the same hollow who defeated her brother? Her brother, after all, was a master in shunpo.
No, that wasn't it. Rukia thought. It was as if…he wasn't really using his real strength. But why?
That was all she could think of before she felt the tiles beneath her feet gave away. "Shoot!" She muttered as she tried desperately to land on two feet which she did but it cost her balance. She was panting as she tried to hold onto something to prevent her from being found in a more troublesome position. Her hand flung in the air and was able to grab one of the bars of a steel gate. She slightly jumped in surprised as she found two eyes looking straight at her. Then, she realized that the eyes belonged one of Ichigo's neighbors who was currently looking at the debris which just fell down from his roof.
"Good thing ordinary humans cannot see us." Rukia said to herself. "This is quite a difficult thing to explain."
Yet suddenly, that very same neighbor screamed. The raven-haired shinigami blinked. "What the-?" She followed the person's gaze and saw what made it so frightened.
The neighbor was staring at someone who just landed with one powerful motion in front of his house.
The person was looking straight in fear at Ichigo's hollow self.
"Can he…see?" Rukia watched the person's reaction in confusion. "But…he didn't show any signs of seeing me…then, how come…" She shot her gaze towards the white hollow.
Ichigo's hollow self just stood there with smirk on his face and white zangetsu in hand. His disturbing eyes taunted the poor person which made the human unmoving. He chuckled.
"Boo." He said which made the man scream louder in horror and ran inside his house.
Rukia stared at the white hollow unblinkingly. "That person…can…see you?" She said in a small tone. "How is that possible?" She asked once more, forgetting that this thing in front of her was the one chasing her. "You are in your shinigami form. I mean…" She pointed at Ichigo's hollow self's white shihakushou.
Ichigo's hollow self scoffed. "You are quite slow, aren't you?"
He straightened his back and leaned on his white zangetsu. "Tell me…when I suddenly changed in front of you; did you see anything separating from me? Or any body lying around without a soul, for that matter?"
Rukia just stared at him wide-eyed. "No." Her answer was almost a whisper.
"Then, there's your answer." He grinned menacingly.
"But…you are too dumb to notice right from the start." Ichigo's hollow self finished for her. "Hmph…" He gripped the end of his zanpakutou and lifted it up in one smooth wave. "…shall we continue on where we have…" It looked like he was about to give Rukia a direct blow but he suddenly halted when the petite girl suddenly stomped towards him and touched his torso.
"Oi." He was taken a back at the unexpected action.
But the raven-haired girl just continued on touching him and even started pulling his upper clothing. "This…this is solid…" Rukia continued to say. She tugged here and there.
"Oi." But he was completely ignored as Rukia went on ahead in her little study. She tiptoed and started patting in random places from his chest area up to his neck. She even smacked his forehead with the end her palm as if expecting his soul to come out.
---sfx on Rukia hitting his head: BOING…BOING…BOING… ---
"You…" His voice echoed and snatched Rukia's wrist with one free hand. "…what do you think you are doing?" He pulled the girl up until her feet no longer touched the ground.
Rukia stared at him with bloodshot unbelieving eyes. "You're using Ichigo's human body."
"Yeah…so?" The white hollow arched a brow and smirked at her. He seemed amused that the petite girl was oblivious of the fact that she was in a dangerous perimeter; being this close to him.
"But you are wearing a shinigami uniform!" She tugged his upper clothing once more with her free hand, and then glanced at the white zanpakutou his other hand was holding. "And you have that out in the open. Shouldn't you be in spirit form? I mean…" She grasped his shihakushou hard which enabled her to ease herself more squarely towards him. "How is that possible!" She exclaimed.
The white hollow blinked for a moment at the sudden reaction of the raven-haired shinigami, but eventually snickered. "And you call yourselves 'shinigami'." He remarked in a sarcastic tone. "You don't even know this technique? This is something very basic to me."
"Eh?" Rukia continued to stare with wide-eyes.
"It is a form of reiatsu materialization." He tilted his head haughtily. "Normally, the technique was used to give a shinigami a projection of his body which he can use in the human world. But since I am a human at this very moment, there is no restriction in reversing the process and attaining a shinigami form." He scoffed. "Sheesh…my girlfriend is so lame. Can't Ichigo find a more suitable and competent partner?"
This seemed to have brought Rukia back to her old self. "What! What girlfriend?"
"You." Ichigo's hollow self raised her higher until she was in his eye-level. "Aren't you Ichigo's little girlfriend?"
Rukia's mouth dropped open. "What! Where the hell did you get that!"
"Eh?" His smirked never left his face for a second. "What are you getting so worked up with?"
She started to frantically kick him even though she was suspended in midair. "COZ I AM NOT HIS GIRLFRIEND, YOU ASSHOLE!"
The white hollow doesn't seem to be affected by her small attacks. "Oh? I really find that hard to believe."
"WHY WOULD YOU FIND THAT HARD TO BELIEVE!"
"Hmmmmm…?" He tauntingly leaned closer until his face was only inches away from Rukia's. He stuck zangetsu's blade on the ground and used his free hand to capture her chin. "…aren't you the one who Ichigo went all that trouble to save in Soul Society? Aren't you the very same girl he had risked his life many times with?" Then, he mischievously smiled at her. "Don't you sleep in the same room as him whenever you are in the human world?"
"Wai!" Her face was getting flustered. "I don't exactly sleep with him! I don't sleep in the same bed! I sleep inside his closet, for crying out loud!"
"A closet…how cozy." Ichigo's hollow self snickered. "Tell me...can two people fit inside that 'closet'?"
"You're sick!" Rukia exclaimed and tried to wriggle free from his grasp. She succeeded in removing his hand from her face but she still remained captive by the one which held her wrist in midair. "I can't even think of such a thing!"
The white hollow's smile widened. "You can't, but have you ever wondered if Ichigo could? He is still a guy, after all. And a very particularly 'attached-to-you' type of guy. "
"HE WOULDN'T DARE THINK OF SUCH A THING!" She shouted.
"Are you sure?" Mischief was all over his face.
"Then, why are you blushing?" Ichigo's hollow self grinned triumphantly.
Rukia was speechless for a moment. Her face does feel…rather hot.
"Kawaii." The white hollow remarked with a spark of interest in his eyes.
She blinked a few times before scowling. "DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT!" She exclaimed and punched him hard on the face.
She seemed to have mustered a large force without knowing it, and caused the hollow to loosen his grip of her. Rukia quickly jumped backwards, away from him while rubbing the wrist which he held a while ago. That's going to leave a mark. She thought.
Now back in her old self, she stood bravely up against him. Her midnight eyes glared immensely.
Ichigo's hollow self rubbed his face but no pain illuminated from him. In contrary, he was laughing…laughing himself out. The way his shoulders moved in coherence seemed endless until finally, he peered between his fingers.
"I was observing you all this time." He began to say. "And I might say, I am disappointed with your skills. I can't even classify you as a worthy opponent. Yet, I wanted to know why Ichigo particularly shouted with all his might that I better not hurt you. I wanted to know why this person named 'Rukia' held so much importance to him, enough for his will to carry on inside me."
Rukia just stared at him. She has no idea where his little speech was leading to.
Then, he suddenly shot her a creepy smile which caused goosebumps to go up her spine.
"But now…I think I know why." His smile widened.
Rukia narrowed her eyes. "What are you planning?"
Ichigo's hollow self slowly removed his hands from his face and placed his white zangetsu on his back; sheathed with its white strands of cloth. This action made the raven-haired shinigami relieved. She was relieved that he seemed to have no intentions of using the weapon against her. But the look which he threw towards her direction disturbed her greatly.
"Anything that belongs to Ichigo is also mine." He started to say.
"Everything." He stressed darkly. "He and I are the same. We are one person."
Rukia frowned. "The two of you are not the same!" She said vigilantly.
"Oh, but we are." He insisted. "No matter how many times he denies it, that is the truth, and he has to live with it."
He tilted his head. "That is why, having his consciousness and my consciousness in the same body is going to be troublesome. We have to decide who is going to finally reign. But…" He paused to look at her with a serious expression for the first time. "…at the moment…I am willing to share. I find this little rendezvous of ours, quite amusing." Then, his demeanor riveted back to his smirking self. "So given Ichigo's and my current situation, it is only right to say that he is me…and I am him…and what is his…is also mine."
"Where are you leading at?"
"Oh…it is quite simple, really." He grinned wider. "In my book, you are Ichigo's girlfriend."
"Why are we back to that girlfriend thing!" Rukia exclaimed. She was about to throw some counters when Ichigo's hollow self continued.
"That will make you…my girlfriend as well."
"WHAT! ARE YOU CRAZY!"
But the white hollow just smiled. "Yeah." He said.
"I can't believe this!" Rukia stomped her feet. "How many times do I have to tell you that I am not his girlfriend! Our relationship is completely platonic! PLATONIC, YOU HEAR!"
Ichigo's hollow self chuckled evilly. "Then we should start changing that."
"Don't worry…there is no need to rush things."
"I can't believe I am hearing this from a hollow!" Rukia barked. "Aren't you supposed to just destroy things and kill people in your path! Why do you have this kind of logic and reasoning!"
"Because I am that man's hollow." For a second, his face looked peaceful. Then, he closed his eyes and a frown crept on his forehead.
"Oi…" Rukia didn't know why there was a sudden change in his demeanor, but it seemed to be troubling him.
"Sorry…got lost for a moment." He said.
He suddenly turned to face her once more. "So…" This time, his usual smirk and taunting smile was back. "…will you play with me?"
"Eh?" She blinked.
"Let's have some fun." His voice was full of mischief.
But he didn't answer her. She saw him change his position. It didn't take her long to realize what he was about to do.
"Oi! Wait! Where are you going!" She remarked as she saw him do shunpo.
"Somewhere." He replied as he suddenly vanished and reappeared on top of an electric pole.
"But…but…you can't just go around like that!" Rukia jumped and landed on top of the pole beside where he stood.
"Why not?" He arched a brow.
"Because I'm supposed to watch over you!" Oh shoot! I just said it.
"Is that your mission, shinigami?" Ichigo's hollow self laughed. "Very well, then. You are free to watch over me provided you can keep up…but I highly doubt you could." He vanished once again, only to reappear on the roof of a faraway three-story building in a split second.
Damn it! Rukia cursed. He's so fast. I won't be able to catch up with him.
"I told you." She heard him say with a snicker. "But don't worry…I'll make sure to bring something back for you. After all, a man must always give gifts to his woman."
Rukia felt her face go all flustered once more. "I AM NOT YOUR WOMAN!" She shouted.
But she didn't get any reply. The only thing evident was the trail of his mischievous laughter as he disappeared again; this time, completely away from her view.
R & R Onegai Shimasu!