Disclaimer: No ownage
Note: Last chapter, and it's a bit longer. Be happy. It's also a bit more in-depth near the end. If I write a sequel, the details do have significance.
Dedication: To learning when and how a story should and can end, because I suck at it.
Lucifer's Angel – IV
"Ah! There it is!" Kira pointed down to the black coyote wandering under the streetlamps. "You take the front – I'll circle around to—"
"No need," Renji said. "It's giving itself up."
"How do you…?"
Before Kira could even finish his sentence, Renji was gone, down on the sidewalk. The redhead crouched down to the animal's level, glaring a bit. What the hell're you up to, idiot?
The coyote walked to him and sat down in front of him.
"You're a creepy mongrel…"
"I should say the same for you, Master Abarai," the coyote replied in a voice that wasn't even close to Ichigo's.
"Who are you?" he asked, knowing the answer.
"A-Abarai-san…" Kira spoke up from behind him. "Is it…talking?"
Renji eyed him. "Yes, it's talking, Kira. Are you dense?"
Kira really didn't have an answer to that. "Ah, so you are Zangetsu-san?" Kira asked the animal.
Zangetsu shifted his gaze to the blond. "Please drop the formalities. You wish to capture me, correct? There is no reason for my captors to be so polite to me."
"Why are you letting us capture you so easily?" Renji asked.
"Because it is the way things are."
Renji smirked. "Just like that, eh?"
"The only request I have is that only Master Abarai handles me. I will refuse to cooperate if anybody else tries to do so."
"So I gotta be the one to carry you back?"
"Hardly – there is no reason to make myself a burden for you," he said before he morphed into a raven, perching himself on Renji's shoulder.
With that, Renji and Kira were back on their way to base.
"I wonder why he will only allow you to handle him?" Kira asked.
"Must be some sort of animal connection or something with Zabimaru," Renji answered with a shrug.
"Ah, that's right…"
After getting back to Soul Society, Renji had to convince Zangetsu to go with Urahara, and make sure Urahara wouldn't harm him. After that, he went back to his house, only to find the orange-haired angel sitting Indian-style on the end of Renji's bed.
"How the hell…?"
"Your reiatsu leaves a trace signature – your home has the thickest trace. It's easy enough to track. I slipped out as soon as we got here. I'm still able to travel through shadows undetected."
"How many creepy abilities do you have?"
Ichigo smirked. "Quite a few. Although I wouldn't really call them creepy," he added, flicking his tongue across his lips.
Renji tried to ignore that last comment. "What'll Zangetsu do?"
"Anything your scientist asks. Honestly, I'm quite useless to him. Zangetsu can do everything I can do and more – plus he actually remembers everything," he added with a chuckle. "We don't have anything to hide, really. We've got just as much right to live as you do."
Renji sighed and shook his head. "I still don't understand why you gave yourself up so easily."
The angel chuckled again. "We're safer here."
"While I'm in the process of losing my powers, I appear similar to a vampire to the trained eye. The hunters were already starting to come after me."
"Vampire hunters. I mean, they can't kill me, but have you ever had a bullet go through your head? It fucking hurts."
The shinigami couldn't help but chuckle a bit at this. "So you decided to become a lab rat instead of being chased around and shot at?"
"Well, for one, it's only Zangetsu that's being a lab rat. And two, he's more of an informant. Thanks to you, that blond dude can't touch him. So yeah, being here is a lot safer than out there."
"But still – you could be stuck here for forever. Wouldn't you rather be able to stay out in the real world?"
Ichigo shrugged. "It's all the same to me. I've been in and out of the real world for hundreds of years. Never been here, though. Nice change of scenery."
"You're kidding, right? You're pretty much confined to my house or Urahara's lab if you don't want to get caught."
"During the day, yes. During the night, I have full control over the shadows. I won't lose that power."
Renji sighed. "Still – that can't be all that much fun. You'll end up getting restless during the day and slip out and get caught and then where will you be? Shinigami can kill you, can't they?"
"Not as fast as I can incapacitate them. I mean, yeah, it would suck. It's not like I wanna be labeled a danger or anything. But your scientist will figure that out that Zangetsu isn't any more of a danger than you or the emo-lookin' kid."
The redhead laughed outright at this. "Do you not pick up on names easily?"
"It's not that – I know names, but I can't say them. I can say my own name and Zangetsu's name and any name of other angels, but when it comes to humans and the souls of humans, I can't say their name unless…" He trailed off, waving his hand in frustration. "It's hard to explain. But Zangetsu can say their names."
"Just try – I'm curious now."
Ichigo sighed. "You know how saying somebody's first name is only proper with friends and equals? It's kinda like that, but it applies to the whole name and it's not just out of politeness or whatever – I physically cannot say their names."
"But you said 'unless' – what's it mean when you can say their names?"
The angel averted his eyes, casting them downward and tilting his head enough to hide them behind his bangs. "It means…that I have a special bond with them, Abarai Renji."
It took Renji a second to connect the sentence together. "W-wait. Special bond?" He wasn't sure he liked the sound of this. After the way Ichigo had been acting, it made more sense now, but it pointed to a kind of 'bond' that wasn't exactly…innocent.
Ichigo seemed to pick up on Renji's uneasiness with this. He glanced up at him, only to avert his eyes away again. "Say my name."
He sighed and closed his eyes. "The trade-off is exactly the same for humans and souls to angels. They can't say our names, either. If they can, it's the same thing. So if you can't say my name, I'll leave you alone."
Renji frowned. "First tell me what you mean by 'special bond.'"
"It means whatever you want it to mean."
"Stop bein' so fucking cryptic, asshole."
"It's the truth!" Ichigo snapped, a bit angry now. His eyes were half-way open, but he still wouldn't look at him. "It's just a bond. It doesn't have to mean anything unless you want it to."
Renji sensed something in his voice that he wasn't sure he wanted to acknowledge. "Can you have human emotions?" he asked calmly.
Ichigo finally opened his eyes fully and looked at him, a bit confused. "What kind of question is that?"
"You aren't a human soul or anything, right? So is it even possible for you to have human emotions?"
"We have emotions, you know… That trait isn't limited to humans alone."
"If you mean that animals can have them, too, yeah, you're right, but I'm talking about human emotions."
"You mean you're talking about love, right?" he said, trying his best to hide his smile. "I can be happy and sad and confused, and I can hate and love and get attached and detached – I'm not a Hollow. I have a heart, just like you do. I may have been just a creation, but I was still able to learn and be influenced by things I saw and heard. Angels are twisted at creation, but their effectiveness isn't so great until they learn and understand human emotions and learn how to play with those – manipulate them into corruption. In learning that, we also gain our own personalities, just like you humans do. But I told you already, I've lost my ability to corrupt people. I'm just like you now, when it comes to that."
"So this bond… You're not trying to use me or anything, right? This is purely what I make of it?"
"If you want it to be that way, yes. I have no intention of hurting you like that. I've never liked making people like that, but even we have to do things we don't want to. But…I think, if you just say my name, you'll be able to understand."
Renji watched him for a moment before dropping his gaze and shaking his head with a sigh.
The slight surge of glee Ichigo had had faded and he averted his eyes. After a moment he straightened out his legs, getting up.
"Sit down, idiot," Renji snapped, startling the angel.
Renji walked over and sat down next to him. "I'd really like to not be able to say your name, you know."
"Then I'll leave—"
"That's the other problem – I don't want you to leave, either."
Ichigo hesitated – his glee was starting to bubble up again. "Then…what do you want?"
The shinigami leaned back on his hands and looked up at the ceiling. "I have no idea. I just know that I don't want to say your name, and I don't want you to leave." He sighed and closed his eyes. "This 'special bond' thing just sounds kinda gay – I'm not like that, okay?"
"You aren't, or you don't want to be?"
Renji eyed him accusingly, but before he could even open his mouth to retort, Ichigo continued.
"Everybody is a little afraid of what they don't know or understand," he said, looking down at his hands, fidgeting somewhat. "Even angels get that. You're afraid to know the truth, so you avoid the situation. Completely, if what you were alluding to before is true," he added, looking up again, not even bothering to glance at Renji's face. "You're almost like me. Almost…exactly…like me."
Renji had taken to staring at the ceiling, not even seeing it, lost in his own thoughts. At the angel's last comment, though, he focused again. "How so?" he asked almost on reflex. It wasn't that he couldn't figure it out on his own, but that he didn't want to understand it on his own. He needed that outside voice saying what he knew in his gut, so he could understand the truth, so he could agree.
Ichigo smirked with a soft snort, looking back down at the floor. How so. It was a familiar question – one he'd often resorted to asking. Tell me what I know. That was the initial translation. Tell me what's true, so I can throw out what's false. Tell me what's true, so I learn how to hide it. Those were the hidden meanings. The choices. Renji's choices. His choices. "You act…indifferent…to knowing you're different. You don't show it off, but you don't hide it. You show off in other ways – ways everybody else has access to. You hide yourself – your heart. You act like you can make friends, but there's nothing there. The real you is…detached. Disconnected. You don't like letting people in. And now…that you're faced with a situation like this, you don't know what you want, because letting people in…is dangerous."
"Am I supposed to assume that you're not dangerous?"
"I don't expect you to assume anything. I just want… I'd like for you to be able to understand this."
Silence fell, both in their own thoughts. It was a minute or two before Renji spoke. "I guess…words kinda suck at explaining this, huh?" It wasn't a question. "It's Kurosaki Ichigo, right?"
Ichigo smiled, barely keeping himself from grinning outright. But before he could say anything, Renji covered his lips with his own in a deep, passionate kiss.
When they finally broke apart, Ichigo chuckled softly. "Thought you said you weren't gay?" he teased.
"I also said I didn't want to say your name," he replied pointedly.
He smirked and kissed him again.
- - - - - - FIN - - - - - -
Beyond these clouds, you can hide all your tears...
Beyond this world, you'll be safe from their wicked fears...
And in their hearts they fear your demands...
You know their minds won't accept you, they'll never understand...
Fly away, fly away, from the torch of blame...
They haunt you, the Lucifer's Angels.
Never lived, you never died, your life has been denied...
They call you...the Lucifer's Angel.
On your own...I know you can make it
Truth or bone...I know you can shake it
Survive alone...I know you can take it
Fly away, fly away, from the torch of blame...
They haunt you, Lucifer's Angels.
You never lived, you never died, your life has been denied...
They call you...Lucifer's Angel
Fly away, fly away...
Run away, run away...
Hide away, hide away...
Again, please review, and feel free to PM me with ideas for a sequel!