Disclaimer: I do not own anything related to Bleach. If I did, Ichigo and Inoue would be together already.
Kurosaki Ichigo could curse himself. He was the last thing standing before this mighty enemy and now his hollow mask, the source of a great deal of his spiritual power, was broken. Ever since he entered Hueco Mondo and did actual fighting in this form, he had managed to prolong it's duration to just over 10 minutes, but it was no use.
Aizen Sousuke was still too strong for him. Ichigo had combined his Ban-kai and his Vizard powers, fired a point blank black Getsuga Tenshou and attacked for all he was worth, but it would make no difference. He could not scratch the former captain of the 5th division. With his mask on, his power was high enough to negate the effects of Aizen's Zanpakuto. He could see through the complete hypnoses, but that did not mean he could catch up to Aizen. And not his mask was broken after no more then 10 minutes of fighting.
"It's Over, Human Boy." He heard Aizen say. Before he could even react, a sharp pain erupted in his chest and blood shot from the huge cut Aizen had given him, going through Zangetsu to inflict it. All the way from his left shoulder to his right leg it ran. Giving a cry of pain, he felt to the ground. Falling from over 20 meters in the air where his fight had taken place, Ichigo crashed into the ground of the running course behind his school, or what was left of it anyway.
"Kurosaki-Kun!" "Ichigo!" "Kurosaki!" "Ichi-ni!" "Onii-chan!"
He could hear everyone call him. Karin, Yuzu, Ishida, Chad, the Shinigami, his classmates, the Hollow and the Vizards. And Inoue. He heard her voice above all others. She sounded like she was crying throughout it all. Ichigo wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. A lot had happened in the past few days after all. He finally landed on the ground, seeing Inoue, Yuzu and Karin run towards him. All three, even the tougher then nails Karin, were crying. 'Dammed,' Ichigo thought. "Because of me they're crying. I wasn't strong enough after all."
Everything started to turn black and all of a sudden, without any real reason, he thought back to everything that had happened in Hueco Mondo. Everyone that had come with him, Renji, Chad, Ishida and Rukia had fought a former Espada and won. Chad was the first to fight against one of Aizen's Espada and he had lost. He only barely survived it and would have died if the fallen Espada he had previously fought didn't sacrifice his life to protect him. He bought Chad the time needed to escape and he had managed, with the help of Rukia and Nel, to heal up again.
Only a few hours after they were separated they had joined each other again and had to fight a few low-number Arrancar. With the five of them (8 if you counted the Hollow's as well) the Numero's fell easy. But it was after that the trouble really began. Aizen wanted them dealt with and sent in the Espada. The first one they encountered was Yami, the number 10. The weakest of the Espada. Chad had asked the other to go on without him and save Inoue while he fought of Yami. Chad proved that his powers were far greater and truly resembled those of a hollow by not only using "Brazo Derecha de Gigante" and "Brazo Izquierda del Diablo" but by actually changing most of his body into a hollow form. His new form was able to fight of Yami at equal grounds when he had released his Zanpakuto. It was a very narrow victory for Chad, but the others had moved on as he requested.
Rukia was the next to stay behind as she fought the ninth Arrancar, who looked just like Ichigo, but with black hair. He looked just like Kaien, according to what Rukia and Renji said. Even Ganji and Ukitake who had arrived a while later when things had really gotten out of hand.
Ichigo, Ishida and Renji reached the major stronghold of Aizen and even met the three traitor captains again. Along with all the remaining Arrancar, Espada and Inoue, who was wearing the same clothes as the Arrancar. From there on everything turned bad. Inoue had said they shouldn't have come and when Renji answered that they had come to "Teach the Traitor Inoue Orihime a lesson" she had busted into tears and told everyone why she joined the Arrancar. She had joined to protect their lives. But Ichigo and the other didn't care, they attacked, Ban-Kai's activated and Ishida pulling some more stunts with his bows and whatever other tools he had brought along.
During the Chaos Aizen ordered Inoue to do something with her powers. She used her 2-point-shield, the one that had healed him so often now, at something he couldn't see. As Aizen turned away because of a Getsuga Tenshou that Ichigo had fired Inoue's shield suddenly increased its power by tenfold. The next thing he knew, the Hōgyoku had been completely destroyed. Ichigo then realized what Inoue had been doing. She had effectively destroyed the Hōgyoku by reducing it to a state it never existed. She had made sure Aizen couldn't make more Arrancar. Aizen became furious, pulled up Inoue and commanded all the Arrancar to attack the real world immediately. Aizen dragged her along with him, saying she would see her home town destroyed before he killed her.
All the Arrancar left, even the one that Rukia was still fighting. Ichigo and the others found Chad and quickly returned to the real world. Aizen was wrecking havoc in Karakura town with his Arrancar. Soul Society was trying to react to the sudden invasion of Aizen's full force but it took them time. The only one fighting against Aizen when they arrived were Urahara-san and his workers and the Vizard. From their on out, everything was chaotic. Ganji and Hanatarou came almost as soon as Ichigo had arrived and Hanataro's attention was focused completely on healing Chad, while Ganji joined in the fighting. Ichigo raced home to check up on his family.
He met Grimmjow a few blocks away from his house, near his high school. People were running all over the place trying to find out where the explosions were coming from. For the third time Ichigo fought against Grimmjow and finally their fight was finished. Grimmjow had used his Zanpakuto's release and fought against Ichigo's Ban-kai and Vizard powers, almost winning. It was the unexpected cheering of his classmates that made Ichigo get back up and finish the fight with Grimmjow. Keigo, Tatsuki and Mizuiro and everyone else from his class could see him fight and, each in their own way, were cheering him on. The biggest surprise of them all was when Keigo told Ichigo how to perform an almost perfect counter to Grimmjow's special attack in his sealed form. The attack that Grimmjow had used to slam Ichigo down on the ground in the first place. That advice, along with their support allowed Ichigo to finally defeated Grimmjow.
When he started looking around after that, he noticed that Soul Society had finally arrived. Shinigami and Arrancar were fighting everywhere. He saw Urahara-san fight against a weird acting Arrancar, Ishida fought against a really tall Arrancar, the one that had injured Chad previously and things weren't looking too good for him. Rukia, Ukitake and Ganju were fighting against the Kaien arrancar again. Just as Ichigo was looking Ukitake landed the finishing blow, with his Ban-Kai.
Somewhere else an inter Mall collapsed and Kenpachi jumped out of the ruble, fighting a tall, broadly build black Arrancar, sword clashing wildly. He had already removed his eye-patch and was grinning like mad. He looked like he was entertaining himself.
During all this Ichigo was nearly attacked in the back by the pink-haired, glass-wearing Arrancar, but he was saved by one of the most unexpected people of all. Kuchiki Byakuya had stopped the Arrancar's strike and ordered Ichigo not to interfere. There were too many enemies to be distracted.
All the Vizard were attacking the remaining Espada's for as far as Ichigo could see. Below, he saw another massive fight going on. Ichimaru Gin, former captain of the 3rd brigade of Soul Society, was facing of against his vice-captain Kira, the vice-captain of the 5th division Hinamori and the captain and vice captain of the 10th division, Toushiro and Rangiku. And so far it looked like things were going even in a 4-on-1 fight. Ichimaru wore a hollow's mask and his Zanpakuto had changed, assumedly to Ban-kai stage. Toushiro and Rangiku-san had also released their ban-kai, which Rangiku-san had only recently obtained, and they were fighting him with all they had.
"Where's Inoue." He thought, rushing through the city. He couldn't hope to find her here. He was already no good at finding people based on Reiatsu and there were way too many fights going on to detect anything. He rushed past Kyouraku the captain of the eight division, Komamura the captain of the 7th division and Shuhei-san, vice-captain of the 9th division facing of against the former captain of the 9th division, Kaname Tousen. Like Ichimaru and all the other Vizard, Tousen was wearing a hollow's mask, but his ban-kai had not yet activated, neither had any of the other Shinigami yet. It looked like they were still warming up as Ichigo rushed past.
He saw one of the strangest things he ever saw in his life unfolding below. Ishida had told them of his father and how he had regained his powers with his help, but Ichigo had never actually seen the man. He was facing of against six arrancar and he was fighting alongside the real surprise for Ichigo. His father, Kursaki Ishin, stood there, protecting his daughters, in full Shinigami outfit, complete with Zanpakuto he had drawn out. He was in the process of fighting two of the six Arrancar at once. Before Ichigo had time to interfere however, he heard a scream of pain from a voice he knew all to well. It was immediately followed by another well known voice shouting a cry of rage.
"Nee-San!" Kon shouted as he charged to the last, and strongest, Arrancar that was not fighting. Sometime in the fight Ulquiorra had lost his jacket, revealing the big 1 that was burned into his back. Somewhere down the street was the body of the captain of the 12th division, Mayuri Kurotsuchi. He had been killed by Ulquiorra in battle. Now the Arrancar had moved on and attacked Rukia. Kon was near, still in Ichigo's body and, as soon as Rukia had screamed out in pain, charged the strongest of the Espada head on. His opponent was not expecting the great power that Kon's legs had though, so even the mighty Arrancar was pushed back into a building. Ichigo had come down almost immediately after and ordered Kon to get Rukia out of there. To his surprise Kon refused, instead claiming he wanted to fight Ulquiorra because he had harmed Rukia. A very short fight between Ichigo and Kon concerning the safety of Ichigo's body later had them fighting side-by-side for the second time in their lives and fighting of Aizen's strongest creation.
The fight was tough, without doubt the worst one yet, and because Ichigo and Kon both fought, both of Ichigo's bodies (his physical and his spiritual) were wounded rather severely. In that state Aizen Sousuke, former captain of the 5th brigade found him. He was still dragging Inoue behind him, but she was still unhurt as far as he could tell. She was crying, but unharmed. Aizen said he would kill Ichigo now, claiming that he had caused him far too much trouble and that Inoue would follow shortly after. And with that he stabbed.
Before he could connect though, sudden flames appeared around Ichigo and protected him from the strike. The Captain-commander of Soul Society, captain of the 1st division, Genryusai-san had appeared and challenged Aizen. In a few seconds the two were fighting more severe then anyone else he had ever seen. Ichigo could now understand why he was the captain-commander. He was far more powerful then any of the captains on their own. But even he could not fight Aizen of for long, he realized. Aizen had the upper hand without even trying but Genryusai-san had already released his Zanpakuto and was fighting for everything he was worth. Suddenly Ichigo felt his wounds heal up. Inoue had rushed over to him and activated her healing shield to restore his powers.
"Thanks, Inoue." He said to her, looking her in the eye. She looked scarred beyond compare, looking up at both him and the fight above him.
"Don't worry. We'll definitely make it out of this alive." He turned around as he said those words. "After all," he continued with his back turned towards her, "we still have to talk about stubbornly trying to take on the enemy on your own." He said, grinning over his shoulder to her, raising his left hand to her. the hand that she had healed before she left. At that she too gave him a soft smile, though her eyes were still running with tears.
"Kurosaki-kun," she whispered, "thank you." with that Ichigo jumped up to join the fight against Aizen.
But he was too late. He jumped in just as Aizen landed the killing blow to the old man. quickly unleashing his Ban-kai and hollow mask, Ichigo charged Aizen. Numerous times he was thrown away and again he charged. Shinji, Hiyori and Kensei had all jumped in at some point and attacked Aizen, with their hollow forms, but it didn't matter. No-one could defeat Aizen. All captains, vice-captains, high-ranked Shinigami, Vizard and the two Quincy that could still fight challenged him, though never at the same time, they didn't have the chance too, and all were defeated. Ichigo was the last to still stand, but then his mask gave way. Aizen broke his Ban-kai as he cut Ichigo up. Mere seconds after Ichigo had hit the ground, the two pieces of Tensa Zangetsu had returned to their normal state, something he had not seen since his training with Urahara-san. They were in the shape of a huge katana, with a guard attached to it. It's unreleased form.
Opening his eyes, he looked up at the crying face of Inoue, who held his head in her lap. A tear fell from her face; he could see it falling ever so slowly.
'Why can't I protect them? I've become stronger. I've become a Vizard but still I can't win! I don't want to see them crying anymore. I don't want them to be hurt. I want to protect everyone!' he screamed in his head, not able to talk.
The tear fell on his forehead.
Suddenly Ichigo found himself in a familiar sight. He was standing on a large tower, in a city that was placed vertically. He had only been here three times, but he immediately recognized it. He was in his inner world, his soul. Looking around, he noticed how different it was from the second time he had come here. That time, his soul was as it should have been, at piece. No buildings were damaged, everything was fine. Now about half of the buildings were shacking like they were being hit by an earthquake. The other half appeared to be perfectly fine. There was one thing that was different from any other time before though. It was raining, badly.
"What's going on here?" he asked out loud.
"Didn't I tell you, Ichigo." A rough voice called out behind him. Turning around Ichigo saw the spirit of his Zanpakuto, Zangetsu-O-san, standing there, his cape blowing in the wind.
"This world is your soul. Even in the midst of such a fight, it is still in this state. You still are not using your full power Ichigo."
"What do you mean o-san. I've been doing everything I can. I've used Ban-Kai, I've used my Vizard power. I've gone to the limit of my abilities as both as Shinigami and a Vizard. What more can I do?"
"Just listen to yourself 'King'" another voice spoke up, mocking. Ichigo turned around and saw him sitting there. His mirror image, but with the reversed colors. His hollow.
"If you've gone to the limit you can as a Shinigami and a Vizard, just become something else, you idiot." He said.
"What do you mean?" Ichigo asked. "I'm a Shinigami and I got the power of hollows didn't I. that made me a Vizard. What more can I do? I'm already using your powers as well. Even you can't defeat this guy."
"I know that 'king', but I never said that you should give me control did I? I said you should turn into something different from a Vizard or a Shinigami."
"What do you mean with that?"
"Ichigo, what is a Vizard?" Zangetsu suddenly asked.
Almost on reflex Ichigo answered, "A Shinigami that obtained the power of a hollow."
"And what's an Arrancar then eh, 'King'." The hollow asked.
"A Hollow that's gained the powers of a Shinigami." Ichigo answered.
"Exactly. And what are you then, 'King'?" the hollow asked him, chuckling all the while.
"I'm a Vizard aren't I?!" Ichigo yelled. "But what's the point of that all. And better yet, why are you here anyway?" he had banished the hollow and obtained his powers, so why was he here again?
"I told you didn't I? Don't ever let your guard down, or I'll come back and swallow you whole. Now you're injured as hell and dying. I can't have you dying yet, so I thought I'd come back and save your pathetic ass."
"What the hell are you talking about?" Ichigo asked, wondering.
"You really are pathetic 'king'."
"Ichigo." Zangetsu spoke up again, "Do you want to fight? Do you want to win? Or, do you want to live? Which one is it?"
"That again huh. You asked me that question during my fight with Kenpachi as well. My answer hasn't changed at all. I want to win. There is no meaning in simply fighting or living. I want to win!" Ichigo answered.
"Well then partner." The hollow said as he stood up. Ichigo noted how he suddenly didn't call him 'king' anymore, even in his mocking way. He was addressing him the same way he did during their first meeting. "If you want to win this, you'll need to get a lot stronger then this."
"I know that!" Ichigo bellowed back at him. "But how can I do that? It's not like I have time to train or anything. I have to defeat Aizen NOW!"
"He." the hollow answered. "I've told you before didn't I? You believe you could get stronger just by training yourself. It wasn't true then and it's not true now."
"What do you mean? I'm fighting alongside Zangetsu now aren't I? Even from the real fight I had with you, I learned a lot. I've become a lot stronger. What more can I do?"
"Can't you answer that question alone yet? You're fighting along Zangetsu, big deal. If you still know how to count with your stupidity, you should know that there are more then 2 people present here."
"You mean…" Ichigo couldn't finish his sentence. The answer hit him dead on. He had to fight alongside his hollow form, not his Zanpakuto.
Almost as if sensing his distress, Zangetsu spoke up. "Ichigo, believe in me. You are not fighting alone."
"What is it you guys want me to do? I've been fighting as a Vizard! I've used my Shinigami form with Hollow powers. And you want me to fight alongside both of you at once? That's not possible!"
"Idiot! Think for a second here." The hollow said. "You know what a Vizard is, you know what a Arrancar is. Can you honestly say what you are, huh?"
"I'm a Vizard now." Ichigo yelled back the answer. He was getting tired of repeating himself all the time.
"Wrong." The hollow answered. It sounded strange, that guy being serious. "You were not a Shinigami to begin with and so you couldn't be a Vizard idiot."
"What do you mean?" Ichigo said. He was a Shinigami. Rukia had given him her powers so long ago and after that he had awakened his own Shinigami power to go and save her.
"Think back to the moment that you regained you powers Ichigo." Zangetsu said "Was their anything strange about it?"
"I returned from my inner world after awakening my Shinigami powers. And at the same time…" it hit him then. The answer to his question. Suddenly the rain was reduced a little, but Ichigo didn't notice "I was wearing a hollow mask."
"You've finally realized it huh, partner?"
"Yes Ichigo. You are not a Vizard, because you were not a Shinigami. You are not an Arrancar because you were not a hollow. Instead, when you awakened your own powers you became both a Hollow and a Shinigami at the same time."
"I see." Ichigo said. "I've been trying to fight as a Shinigami, but I couldn't fight the Arrancar. I've fought as a Vizard, but I can't defeat Aizen. If I want to surpass him, who has attained the limits of both Shinigami and Vizard powers, I'll have to become something else entirely."
"That's right Partner." The hollow said. "And for that, you have to fight alongside both your Zanpakuto and me. The Vizard fight as Shinigami, suppressing their hollows. The Arrancar fight as hollows, suppressing their Shinigami. You can fight alongside both at once, gaining more power then anything else. They can't obtain that, because you can't shed your original power." He was now grinning like mad, the same way he always did.
"If I do that, I can fight! If I change to something, not Vizard or Arrancar I can win! I can save everyone!" Ichigo yelled. Then something happened he didn't expect.
The rain stopped.
"Can you believe in me?" Zangetsu asked. Ichigo knew that question. Zangetsu had asked it just before their final clash with Kenpachi. He gave the same answer as he did then.
"Of course. I'll give you all of my power. Use it as you wish. And in return, lend me yours" with that he turned to the hollow.
"And you. I don't want any of this 'king and horse' crap anymore. What would you say if I gave you my strength as well? Would you lend me yours?"
"Of course, partner." The hollow answered. "After all, I can't have you dying just yet."
With that all three slapped their hands together. Ichigo, Zangetsu and the hollow.
No time had passed in the outside world. Aizen was still walking towards Ichigo, Inoue, Karin and Yuzu. The pieces of Zangetsu had only barely landed.
Then suddenly, Ichigo's Reiatsu shot up. Aizen was pushed back by the sheer intensity of it. Strangely enough no one else was affected by it, though they all felt his power.
Ichigo stood up, all his wounds closed again.
"What's going on?" Keigo yelled. One minute you're falling and bleeding and all that and the next you're standing up without any difficulty."
"Ichi-ni feels different somehow." Karin said, looking up at Ichigo. He stood, face still directed towards the ground. The Reiatsu coming from his body was so intense that they could hardly see him through it.
"You're right Karin-chan." Yuzu said. "It suddenly feels as if onii-chan's… how do I say it?"
"He feels almost at piece." Inoue said. There were still a few tears running down her cheeks but she looked happier then before. "Before now, Kurosaki-Kun always felt more violent after obtaining his Ban-Kai. Almost as if he was constantly fighting someone of. But now, he feels at ease, as if the fighting is over."
"What has happened to that boy?" They could hear Aizen yell.
By now the wall of Reiatsu around Ichigo had been reduced. They could all clearly see now. Ichigo stood their, but he looked different from before.
He still wore the Shinigami clothes, but the colors were different. The right side of his clothes were still black, but his entire left side had become white, the sharp contrast. To all appearances it looked like a combination of Arrancar and Shinigami clothes. With that he suddenly looked up at Aizen, as if to answer his question.
Everyone could see it now. The left half of his face was covered in a hollow mask that looked awfully familiar. The eye behind it though, still looked perfectly normal. The way he looked as a Vizard. It was in his left eye that the change had occurred. That eye had turned black, it's pupil a dark grey.
"What's happened to me you say?" Ichigo said. But something was different from before. He didn't talk with just one voice; instead there were three voices that everyone heard that day.
The voice of Kurosaki Ichigo; confident, brave and trusted.
The Voice of Zangetsu; wise, old and experienced.
The voice of the hollow without a name; mocking, powerful and challenging.
"We've become something different. We are not Shinigami or Vizard, nor are we Hollow or Arrancar. We're all four at once. We are something different."
Their combined voices and strange words had mixed effects. Aizen was looking at Ichigo with a look of interest. The Shinigami and Vizards looked at him in awe, shocked by his Reiatsu and voice. But his friends, family and classmates looked at him with confidence.
Suddenly Ichigo started talking to himself.
"Cast of your fear." He spoke, softly almost too soft to hear
He crouched down, his hands going just under his armpits. Again his Reiatsu shot out of him as he spoke. All the Shinigami immediately realized what he was doing. He was releasing his Zanpakuto
The wall of Reiatsu increased again
'What's this?' Aizen thought. 'Even at this level he can still increase his Reiatsu more? At this rate I have no choice but to use my hollow powers.' He raised his hand to his face as he summoned his mask.
"Never stand still." Ichigo spoke again. With every line he said his voice grew louder.
"Retreat and you will age."
Everyone could see something forming in Ichigo's hands now, even through the wall of Reiatsu.
"Hesitate and you will die."
Aizen had almost finished his mask and his power was rapidly increasing to match Ichigo's.
"Shout…" Ichigo did just that.
"My name is…"
Ichigo drew his hands back, making a slashing motion towards Aizen.
As soon as he swung his sword, massive energy blasts erupted from it, going towards Aizen. The blasts caused a lot of smoke to erupt, blocking the vision of everyone present.
As soon as the smoke cleared, they could all see. Aizen was floating in the air, wearing a hollow mask. The Kidou shield he had used to defend himself, dissolving. He was still unharmed. It was Ichigo that still drew all the attention though.
Standing there he stood. Looking like the ultimate combination between Shinigami and Arrancar. He had used the release spell for his Zanpakuto, something that so far only Urahara-san had ever heard, and wielded his Zanpakuto again.
But now, instead of the single black Zangetsu he wielded two identical Zanpakuto, expect for their colors. In his left hand he held a white Zangetsu. The blade was white, but the edge of it was as dark as the night though. In his right hand he held the traditional Zangetsu, the blade itself black as the night, but the edge was white.
"Two Zanpakuto eh?" Aizen said. "Impressive!"
With that he charged Ichigo. His own Zanpakuto held ready to strike.
Ichigo easily parried his attack and by using both his swords, quickly gained the upper hand. Just a minute ago, Aizen could have run circles around this boy and now he was being pushed back. And then Aizen realized the worst of it all. 'He's still using Shi-kai. If he uses Ban-kai at this level…'
"What's the matter Aizen?" the three voices sounded as Ichigo pushed Aizen back. "You're suddenly quiet!" he yelled as he gave a final push, enough to send Aizen Sousuke, former captain of the 5th brigade of Soul Society, leader of the Arrancar into the school wall. It collapsed under the force with which Aizen hit it.
"Don't tell us that's all you got." The three voices said. Aizen used a low-level Kido to blow the rubble away as he stood up. All around, everyone wanted to walk away, giving these two the room they would no doubt need to fight, but suddenly found they couldn't. They were all held down by the reiatsu that the two fighters were giving off. Not even Kuchiku Byakuya or Urahara Kisuke could move.
"It isn't my full power yet, you Human-boy!" Aizen yelled, losing his temper. With that he raised his sword above his head and again his Reiatsu started to increase.
"Aizen is going to use his Ban-Kai!" someone yelled from the back.
"Finally." The three voices of Ichigo said as he pulled up both Zangetsu's to shoulder level, holding them both parallel with the ground. "It's about time you got serious. Let's finish this already Aizen. We Won't lose to someone who only fights alongside his Zanpakuto!" he yelled.
Then, at the same time, four voices could be heard, though only 2 mouths moved. They all yelled the same word at the exact same time.
The voice of a young human boy turned shinigami. The voice of a powerful Zanpakuto. The voice of a feared hollow. And the voice of a traitor captain.
That is the end of this little one shot. I don't want to be thinking up on ban-kai's for anyone so the ending is left open for your imagination to fill. I know it may look like Ichigo is a bit OOC at the end, but if you look at his fights with Kenpachi and Byakuya you see that he can get overconfident easily if he thinks his victory is assured. That's the case this time as well.
please review. i really appreciate the feedback