A/N: Inspired by something moko-moko said when I friended her on LiveJournal. Total cracktasm. Yay.


Shadow Puppets


"Thanks, old man," Ichigo said in his typical 'I'm so cool, look at me and my curiously large phallic symbol' kind of way.

Zangetsu puffed up proudly and flipped his wavy dark hair over his shoulder. "You are learning well, Ichigo. Grow strong and--"

"Yeah, whatever. I'm kinda in a hurry, so how's about lecturing me later?" And with that, Ichigo tossed the blade over his shoulder and took off running.

Late for school.


Woefully, Zangetsu felt himself sink back into the confines of Ichigo's soul. It's not that the place was actually small and suffocating, not at all. In fact, for all intents and purposes it appeared to be limitless. It was the monotony of it that drove him mad.

He landed on the side of a featureless skyscraper and mournfully stretched out across a window that had nothing behind it but hundred upon thousands upon millions of unmarked White Boxes. The buildings, if he looked close enough, were made of little White Boxes too.

That kid is so unimaginative. You think he'd be able to come up with some more interesting way of storing his knowledge, but noooo. He just had to have an infinity of identical, boring skyscrapers full of identical, boring White Boxes that he won't even let me open. Has he any idea how stultifying it is living in here? No, of course not.


Over the course of the fifteen long years he'd spent lounging in Ichigo's soul waiting for use, he'd run the gamut of all possible mind-occupying Things to Do in the endless steel and glass world. For example:

1.) Count the buildings. That had occupied him for months before the realization that he could never actually count all of the buildings became so utterly depressing he'd had to give it up for the also entertaining pasttime of weeping inconsolably. Not that anyone was trying to console him, so how did he even know it was inconsolable weeping? Which led to another fun activity-- philosophical pondering. Which led to yet another...

2.) Break the windows on the buildings.

This was highly amusing, especially since the windows had a habit of immediately reforming as soon as Zangetsu forgot that they were supposed to be broken, which meant that he had a clean slate whenever he wanted without having to move an etheric muscle. He had perfected the art of artistic window-breaking years ago, and could now create crystalline masterpieces in a matter of hours.

3.) Build stuff with boxes.

His second favourite activity. The interior of Ichigo's boring soul had seen some extremely interesting White Box architecture over the years, ranging from White Box palaces to White Box bridges to White Box sky-scraper sized statues of people Ichigo knew. He especially liked building Inoue Orihime, for reasons he would never let Ichigo get an inkling of. Unfortunately, the white boxes had a tendency to eventually order themselves into skyscrapers, and so all of his magnificent creations were now boring blocks of steel that blended in perfectly with the surrounding buildings.

What was also amusing about this was that while the blocks were slowly rearranging themselves into buildings, they often took very interesting shapes. His latest statue, of Ichigo's friend Tatsuki, retained spiky hair until the very end. A skyscraper with enormous prongs of lethal-looking hair was a very entertaining sight and no mistake. Statues of Orihime tended to retain their monumental breasts, thrusting weirdly out of the new grey box.

4.) Sing.

This was something he did fairly well. He was terrible at lyrics, however, so the songs he composed tended to be made up mostly of one or two words being repeated over and over again in increasingly complicated rhythms. He thought they called that type of piece a 'canon' in Ichigo's world, but thought it was a damned silly name and thus refused to use it. The songs he sang were not tubby, heavy-handed, old-fashioned weapons. They were very pretty-- so he thought-- and he would not allow them to have such a hideous, heathenish name as 'cannon' stuck to them. Never.

5.) Work out.

This was, of course, totally pointless since he could take any form he wanted. If he wanted to look like Arnold bloody Schwarzenegger, then he could. He just enjoyed the notion that had earned the lean, defined muscles that his preferred form had.

6.) Design cool outfits.

Did Ichigo think that the badass cape and shades had appeared out of nothing?

Well, technically they had, but that was beside the point. Zangetsu's current attire was the product of a long, grueling mental process drenched in of blood, sweat and tears.

Well, technically none of those existed in this markedly body excretion-free world, so it was more a process full of thinking, planning, and imagining. Which were, in his book, roughly equivalent to the above.

7.) Go insane and have disturbing visions.

Self-explanatory. Being insane was ridiculously fun, but it tended to make Ichigo go a little squirrelly by relation and so out of reluctant consideration he remained boringly sane the vast majority of the time. Except, notably, when Ichigo was either a) asleep, or b) on vacation. Vacations were the best part of Zangetsu's life by far.

For weeks on end he could go utterly mad and play tag with his own reflection in the glass windows, while outside Ichigo's family wondered in silence where his sudden compulsion to draw scribbly pictures of nothing and sing along with the birds on the telephone lines had come from.

If only they knew.

8.) Last but not least, his favourite (sane) activity ever-- shadow puppets.

When one could shift his form to anything at will and in a place where talking to the light source often resulted in its cooperation with one's shadowy purposes, shadow puppetry could be taken to a new level of art form. He had completely replicated Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera, complete with nifty half-mask and too many corsets. His next project was one of his own invention and involved White Boxes, shape-shifting and several light-changes throughout the show. It would, of course, be completely unreplicable in the real world, but he was very proud of it.

It involved an intrepid travelling broadsword, who meets a lovely white katana one day in the middle of a delightfully vicious, gory battle. They fall in love over glasses of vintage AB negative, and join forces to promote the art of visually pleasing bloodshed and mayhem among the heathens. There was just something about artistic blood spatter patterns that put stars in their eyes.

They lived happily ever after, though a whole lot of other poor sods certainly didn't.

It was a masterpiece and Zangetsu felt swimmy just thinking about it. The katana, played by his shadow, was surpassingly beautiful and based more than a little off a certain lady he knew in real life. Starry-eyed, he stared off into the dull nothing.

Shirayuki... ah, my love.

His favourite fantasies were made of this... since she had pierced Ichigo and brought Zangetsu to life, his thoughts had been full of her. Perhaps someday he would show her his shadow puppet epic and perhaps she would like it and perhaps perhaps perhaps she would look his way and smile...

Zangetsu picked up a White Box and smiled dreamily at its colour.

Perhaps life as a figment of someone's imagination was not so bad after all.


A/N: At this rate, I'll end up a beggar in the alley scratching out crack masterpieces with my last stub of charcoal. It'll ruin me, this addiction of mine. Hear me sigh.