Title: Destined Fate
Author: mysticarchangel
Pairing: slight hints of Ichigo/Renji
Rating: PG
Warnings: mild spoilers for Hueco Mundo Arc
Word Count: 2344
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach, it belongs to Tite Kubo
Summary: „Yeah, if this isn't a trap, I'll be damned!" Ichigo muttered. Renji looked around and shrugged his shoulders. „Which way?..."
A/N: Thanks to my Beta-reader xtrek. Hope you will stay my beta
This story is set directly after the fight with Grimmjaw (in manga chapter 283) and takes off from that point in time. Everything after that is my imagination running freely and can be seen as an alternative timeline.

Chapter 1 – Escape

The mask was gone. The fight was over. Orihime deactivated her shield and ran to Ichigo, who lay panting on the floor.
„Are you alright, Kurosaki-kun?" While she was speaking, she started healing the injured boy.
„I'm f-fine, Inoue. What about you?" he whispered with a low voice.
„Don't worry. Not even a scratch, thanks to you"
„We have to find the others. Save your strength for them. I'm ok." Tired and exhausted he tried to get on his feet and stumbled a few steps forward.
„Are you really alright?"
Ichigo took a deep breath and made the next few steps.
„Yeah. Thanks a lot, Inoue. The worst of the wounds are gone. No need to worry. Come on, let's get going! The others are in danger. We've got to find them"
Orihime only nodded and carefully followed him. They all needed to find a way back to the portal.
They sneaked through empty floors. Well listening to every little sound and hoping not to be detected by an Arrancar.

Every step needed twice of the normal time. They had to be very quiet and careful and stop at every corner. First listening then a careful look around. Nothing.
„That's strange. Where did they all go?"
„Kurosaki-kun, over there!" Inoue pointed to the floor left of them.
One last look and Ichigo darted forward.
„Oi, Chad!"
The Mexican raised his hand in response. But he stayed where he was lying flat on the floor.
A quick glance to Orihime and they changed positions. Now Inoue knelt down next to Chad and Ichigo stood, looking around alertly. Still no sign of an enemy.
Where were the other Arrancar?

Silence. That's not normal. The fight was too loud. They had to notice us. So why is nobody here?

Ichigo frowned deeper.
The substitute shinigami turned his face to Inoue, who was still healing the Mexican. She didn't want him to fight again. You could clearly see it in her face.
„No Arrancar around, Inoue. How is he?"
„Can walk." Chad gave the answer himself. The girl didn't seem to agree but didn't reply as Chad got back on his feet.
„We must hurry, don't we?"
Ichigo nodded in response. The three of them headed for the next corridor. Still no sign of any Arrancar.

"Oi, strawberry! Over here." A well known voice shouted across the corridor. Ichigo had the sudden urge to kill Renji for this stupidity. Shouting across the corridor in the enemy's bastion was not the most clever thing to do.
„Don't. Call. Me. Strawberry!" the so called person barked back. Nobody ever said that Ichigo had a better temper than a certain red head. Inoue and Chad sweatdropped.
They turned to the right and looked at Renji, who was leaning against the wall, Rukia sitting besides him, her left leg covered in blood. Orihime lunged at Rukia, checking the raven haired girl's leg.
„ So the Quincy boy is the only one who 's still missing?" Renji asked.
„I don't think so." Ishida said from the corridor's other side.
„What's happening here? No enemy around. That's suspicious."
„Yeah, if this isn't a trap, I'll be damned!" Ichigo muttered.

Renji looked around and shrugged his shoulders. „Which way? We came from there and there was no portal," he pointed to the right corridor, „the strawberry and Inoue came from there." This time he pointed straightforward. Ichigo and Orihime shook their head in unison.
„That leaves the left one."
Everyone looked to the closed, huge door at the end of the named corridor.
„Well, let's go!" Rukia needed a few moments to get up from the floor. She tested if her leg could carry her weight. It did; so she whispered a small „thank you" to Inoue and went ahead, followed by the others.
Ichigo and Chad pried open the door and saw another long and silent corridor which looked exactly like the one they were leaving.
A few steps later they arrived at the next intersection.
„Which way now?" Ishida asked.
„Always go left in a maze!" Orihime said with cheerful voice.
Although they hoped not to be in a maze they chose the left way.


Renji stopped in the middle of the intersection causing Ichigo to bump into him.
„Ow, hey, why did you stop?"
„Did you hear anything?"
„Wha..." Ichigo couldn't continue his question.

The ground beneath them gave in with a loud crash. Both boys didn't have any time to react and fell down with the rubble.

Surprised by the crash the friends turned around. All they could see were clouds of dust.
„Renji! Ichigo!" Rukia, Chad, Inoue and Ishida ran back to the intersection.
A big hole was gaping where the floor formerly had been, but neither Renji nor Ichigo was to be seen.
Inoue knelt down at the edge of the abyss, trying to see anything.
„Kurosaki-kun! Please say something."

Renji's vision cleared slowly. He lifted himself up on his elbows.
Startled by a voice from below he turned around. Ichigo lay half beneath him. He tried to rise as quickly as possible but slipped and landed back on the orange haired boy.
„Oi, Renji, be careful!"
Renji got off the younger one and eyed him speculatively.

Why he was below me, although I fell first?

„Are you alright?" Ichigo's question interrupted his train of thought.
„Che, I should ask you that! You played cushion."
Ichigo blinked.
„A few scratches and bruises but nothing serious."
He scratched the back of his head and winced.
Renji grasped his wrist and checked Ichigo's head.
„Only a bulge. You're really a lucky bastard, you know?"
„Thank you very much for the diagnosis, Dr. Abarai." The substitute shinigami dryly said, slapping Renji's hand away..
They stepped away from all the rubble and looked up.
„Seems that we have to find our own way out. I can't see the others."
„Was this your awaited trap?"
Ichigo shrugged. „Who knows?"
The both of them stood uncertainly in the corridor next to the remains of the crashed floor, which blocked half of the corridor.
Only one way was left.

„Let's get going, guys. We'll meet them at the gate." Rukia finally said and got to her feet.
„But.." Orihime started, looking confused from Rukia to the hole in the ground and back to Rukia again.
„I can sense their reiatsu, they will be alright! They will find a way out."
Ishida and Chad nodded. The both of them down there were too stubborn to give up.

The aforementioned stubborn shinigami walked down a long corridor. From time to time they came across some doors in the corridor's walls.
„Where the hell..." Ichigo began to speak, but was interrupted.
Quickly they looked at each other with panic in their eyes. They could sense an Arrancar clearly.

Where had the Arrancar been the whole time?

Renji grasped the other's wrist and shoved him through the next door that they came across.
Slamming the it closed they came to a panting stop.
Ichigo examined the room with a quick glance around. It was a bedroom that was equipped only with a bed, a chair and a very small closet.
They heard footsteps coming closer.
„Quick!" Renji hissed and crawled under the bed dragging the other boy with him. The bedsheets covered their view nearly completely.
„Hide your reiatsu!" The red haired shinigami commanded, only earning a questioning look from Ichigo. He had never had to hide his reiatsu before.
„Damn, relax and accept my cover."
„Imagine you are hiding under a blanket."
Renji's reiatsu spread out and enclosed Ichigo's to push it down. Ichigo squirmed. This felt so strange. He could sense too much from the other shinigami. Too much for his liking. Although he knew it must be the same for Renji. He shifted uneasily, trying to hide his embarassment. How should he relax and accept the other's reiatsu? He took serveral deep breaths and tried to calm down, letting Renji have his freaky way with his reiatsu.

As if being surrounded in a spiritual way was not enough, Renji reached out and covered Ichigo's mouth with his hand.
„Shh" he whispered in his ear holding the youth close to him. Ichigo's response was to blush deeply. Renji pushed him down with his free hand but then changed his plan and drew Ichigo closer to his chest to keep him from squirming around. By now Ichigo was crimson red. He couldn't decide if he was fainting from embarrassment or simply from the lack of air. Renji didn't only cover his mouth but his nose as well.
The door opened and Renji could see a pair shoes. He tightened his grip on the boy, not sensing that he was barely reacting. Ichigo's reiatsu was still leaking out, but it was subdued.
A few moments filled with fear and tension passed. Renji held his breath and waited.

The Arrancar walked through the door and Renji risked a glance at Ichigo. His eyes went wide with shock. His face began slowly to turn from deep red to violet. Finally sensing Ichigo's tries to call attention to his lack of air, he loosened his grip on the boy and let him breathe. After a few moments of silence, they couldn't sense the reiatsu anymore and left their hideout. Still breathing uneasily Ichigo eyed the red head.
„I know I'm bad at hiding reiatsu, but there's no need to suffocate me."
„Sorry, I didn't mean to. That was a close call! I couldn't hide yours completely what if..."
„Don't think about it. Let's hurry. I want to be far away before the Arrancar returns."
Ichigo was not keen on repeating this reiatsu thing and fled out of the room. Renji was directly behind him.

Both shinigami ran down the corridor and tried to observe their surroundings. They glanced over their shoulders when they thought they might have heard anything.
They were racing down the hall when Renji suddenly stopped.
„Oi, Ichigo, wait!" He continued after he was sure he had the boy's attention. He pointed at a way besides at something to his left.
Ichigo didn't waste time and followed his companion up the stairs, leaving the corridor's monotony.
Reaching the stairway's top they were confronted with the same long and unspectacular corridors as before.
„Someone should kill the architect."
„Couldn't agree more. Which way this time?"
They looked at each other, then at the three possible directions.
„Er...This way." they said in unison but meaning different routes.
„Baka, if we take this way, we would head back!" Ichigo shouted.
„Yeah, we're going towards the others."
„They've probably been waiting for us at the portal for quite some time already."
„Don't think so. They're quite slow with their injuries."
„And we wasted time playing hide-and-seek with the Arrancar. They..."

„Kurosaki-kun, Renji-san. You're fine!" They heard a cheerful voice. Turning to the direction where the call came from, they saw their friends heading to them from the third corridor in the middle.
„It must be a miracle, that these two idiots didn't get caught." Ishida stated and adjusted his glasses.
Reunited, the companions rushed along the corridors of Hueco Mundo searching the portal which should bring them back home.
„Have you seen any Arrancar yet? It's suspicious that nobody tried to stop us."
Rukia examined the area alertly. Still nothing.
„There. The portal." Chad suddenly mentioned and disturbed Rukia's thoughts.

A few minutes later the six friends stood before the gate.
Ichigo fell behind while Ishida and Orihime went through the portal first, disappearing in white bluish light. After them Rukia passed, followed by Chad.
Ichigo tensed.
Something is wrong. But what?
„Oi, strawberry, what's up? Don't say you miss the place."
„I don't know..." He didn't even react to the hated nickname. Renji looked at his younger mate with concern.
„Let's leave quickly."
The red haired shinigami grabbed the boy by his shoulders and shoved him to the gate.

Hearing a drumming noise Ichigo stopped again. The ground vibrated.
The weight on his shoulders disappeared. He turned quickly around.
Ichigo froze at the sight of another huge portal directly behind them. It was glowing in dark tones, mainly black and crimson. And it absorbed everything in its way.
Renji tried to escape the maelstrom and took several steps forward but cause of the suction he went backwards instead of forward. Stepping out of Renji's slipstream Ichigo was gripped too. They got pulled forward several meters.
„What the fu..."
Without thinking Ichigo reached out and grabbed Renji's arm. He planted his feet into the ground and threw Renji into the opposite direction which caused him to loose his balance.
For a few seconds they were both airborne. Ichigo gravitated to the black portal, Renji to the white-bluish one, which also had started to absorb everything. Their hands were entangled.
„ICHIGO, don't..."
He lost the grip of his strawberry's hand.

Renji could only see a lot of white and blue light. Then it was gone. He fell on green gras, helplessly watching the portal fade away
He could still feel Ichi's hand clutching his own. The shinigami was still on the floor as Rukia and Chad stepped behind him.
„Hey, Renji. Where is Ichigo?"
He couldn't answer and stared at his hand.
„Renji-san? What has happened? Where is Kurosaki-kun?" Orihime asked.

Black. Everything was black. Groaning he sat up and rubbed his eyes. Still black.
Have I gone blind?
Ichigo blinked into the darkness. A few moments later he could catch sight of the floor. It was dark stone.
Where the hell am I?
Ichigo's hand hurriedly reached for Zangetsu but only caught emptiness.
His eyes went wide with shock and fear.

-----------------End Chap. 1-------------------

mysticarchangel: HELP ME! Save me! Hide me! They are everywhere!
xtrek: tries to keep the bunnies away These sneaky bastards won't give up. You have to feed them!
mysticarchangel: Feed? Never feed wild animals!
xtrek: Just write something and maybe they'll go away.
Mysticarchangel: Maybe? I have written something but I can't shoo them away! They only become more!
xtrek: Ok, I can't hold out any longergets swarmed Please continue with the next chapter!
mysticarchangel: Whaaaaaaa drown...
mysticarchangel: cough I'll write, I'll write, promised, please let go of me. shakes off plotbunnies So here's a preview: Ichigo is somewhere lost and Renji is in shock. See how they deal with it in the next chapter!