The Mask of Ice
Author's Note: Yeah… So, this is my first Bleach fanfic. Please read and review! I hope everyone will like it! (I know, cliché stuff to say, and you all probably think I'm being lame, but I seriously don't know what to say!)
Warnings – This is a HitsuHina, IchiRuki and MatsuGin fanfic. Oh yeah, and a little HitsuOC too. If you don't like the pairings, then I suggest that you don't read this, unless you don't mind. And I have to add this: Chad, Orihime and Ishida won't appear much in this fanfic. They will appear, yes, but not many times. Sorry!
This takes place after Hitsugaya's team returns to Seireitei. However, in this fic, let's just take it that the Hueco Mondo arc never happened, because this story idea would totally clash with the Hueco Mondo arc. Gomenasai…
And I might act like a little 'manga-ish' here and there, screaming 'ああああああ！' for no apparent reason, and the chapter titles are a little like the anime/manga episode/chapter titles, so I hope you won't mind. This fanfic is more of the Japanese side, so if you watch the English dub, please don't read this, because I won't attempt to translate the Japanese terms for you.
See, the thing is, I don't do dub stuff, period.
Disclaimer: Bleach belongs to Kubo Tite. I own nothing concerning Bleach except for my OCs who will appear later.
Italics – thinking/Japanese words/flashback/dream
Bold italics – emphasizing
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Chapter 1 – Hitsugaya's Capture! Hougyoku's First Victim
Everything was dark. The only bit of light in the darkness was coming from the diamond-like Hougyoku. Aizen settled down in his chair, watching Hougyoku shine brightly like the diamond it resembled so. The sadist smiled, and Ichimaru was smiling as well. Aizen picked up Hougyoku, and looked at it intently. As Hougyoku shone more brightly, Aizen smiled even more. "Hougyoku's reacting to my reiatsu, it seems," Aizen murmured, satisfied.
"Ya mean yer high reiatsu, Aizen-sama," Ichimaru corrected.
"Do you have something to ask of me, Gin?" Aizen asked, knowing Ichimaru all too well.
"Ara, ara. So ya are that perceptive, Aizen-sama. Yep. There's a' somethin' I want to ask of ya."
Aizen put Hougyoku down. "I know your character by now, Gin. Anyway, what do you wish to ask of me?"
Ichimaru leaned against the wall casually and rubbed his head. "Well, I've heard. From Ulquiorra, that is."
"Heard what, Gin? What did Ulquiorra tell you?"
"He told me that ya want someone to go to Seireitei and fetch a certain someone here."
"And what does this have anything to do with you wanting something from me, Gin?" Aizen asked, a little taken aback that Ulquiorra told Ichimaru that.
"Well, ya see, there's someone…" Ichimaru trailed off, and his smile disappeared. A serious face followed. "…I have ta' talk to, in Seireitei…"
Aizen smiled. "I see. Very well, Gin. I grant you permission."
"Thanks a bunch, Aizen-sama."
"MA.TSU.MO.TO!!!!! Get your lazy BUTT in here NOW!!!"
Hitsugaya's ever so pissed voice echoed throughout the entire Seireitei – no, scratch that. The whole of Soul Society – and he would be even more pissed if his sake-loving fukutaichou wouldn't return to do her fair share of the stack of paperwork, and it was highly likely that she wouldn't even think of going back to the 10th Division. Oh no – no fukutaichou would be so stupid so as to return to his/her own division, knowing that their taichou would be pulling a really pissed look. Well, except for Yachiru, that is, but she was an exception. (And she wasn't stupid.)
"Matsumoto!!!" Hitsugaya shouted from his division. "Don't make me chase after you!"
Somewhere in a distant corner of Seireitei, the orange-haired buxom fukutaichou of the 10th Division was enjoying a nice drink of sake with Kira and Hisagi. Hinamori was with them as well, but she didn't want any sake. "N-ne, Rangiku-san…" Hinamori began. "Hitsugaya-kun sounds really mad…"
"Matsumoto!!!" Hinamori cringed a little at Hitsugaya's sudden outburst. "If you don't show yourself now, I will personally give you six stacks of the paperwork!!!"
"Taichou'll be fine. He'll cool down after some time. Don't worry too much, Hinamori-chan," assured Matsumoto.
"D-demo…" Hinamori looked towards the direction of the 10th Division office. "Hitsugaya-kun… is really really mad this time…"
"I told you, taichou'll cool down."
"No 'buts'. Why don't you relax a little and enjoy a nice, warm drink of sake?" Matsumoto offered, handing Hinamori a cup filled with sake. Hinamori kindly rejected it with a smile and a soft 'I don't want to get drunk' statement. "Aw, c'mon! It's not like as if you'll go all hormone crazy over taichou, right?"
"H-HUH?!" Hinamori gasped, blushing.
Kira cut in, "Ano, Rangiku-san, I don't think Hinamori-kun should take any sake at all, otherwise she might really…"
"It'll be fine! Come on, Hinamori! Drink up!"
Hinamori was hesitant, but she greatly accepted the sake, and gulped it down. She felt much more relaxed, and much more comfortable. "Mmm…!" she mumbled. "May I have another cup?"
"Sure! Why not?" Matsumoto poured another cup of sake, with Hitsugaya's shouts echoing throughout Seireitei once more.
The foxy ex-taichou of the 3rd Division smiled, feeling the familiar reiatsus belonging to various seated officers and fukutaichous still staying in Seireitei. He knew that the taichous, especially the more elite ones, were skilled in hiding their reiatsus, but he would have to worry about that later. He was on an important mission; to find a particular someone and talk to her.
But he also have another mission, and it was a complicated one, so it seemed, for Aizen really needed a particular someone from Seireitei to be a perfect guinea pig for Hougyoku's testing. Apparently, Aizen discovered that Hougyoku had an astounding ability and – being the sadistic Aizen he was – couldn't wait to test it out on someone in particular.
"Sigh… Ain't easy bein' one of Aizen-sama's right-hand men… though Tousen seems to have it easy…" Ichimaru sighed, the smile still on his face.
Meanwhile, back at Hueco Mondo, a certain blind right-hand man of Aizen's was left in his room with endless stacks of paperwork. (A/N: I am horrendously evil to Tousen. XD)
"More sake! More sake! Hic!" Hinamori hiccupped, obviously having drunk too much sake. Matsumoto drunkenly poured Hinamori another cup of sake, and fell on her back, hiccupping. "Wah! There can never be too much sake for me! Hic!" Matsumoto hiccupped, patting her bottle of sake. "As long as taichou - hic – doesn't find out about this – hic – we'll allll-!"
"You'll all be what, Matsumoto?" a grumpy, irritated, familiar voice spoke from behind her.
"Eh? That voice – hic – sounds like…" Matsumoto trailed off, and paled as soon as her mind finally managed to register whose voice it belonged to. She spun around and came face-to-face with her white-haired prodigal captain. "T-taichou…!! H-how c-coincidental! What are you doing here, taichou?"
"I should be the one asking you that, Matsumoto," Hitsugaya replied grumpily. "Have you even the faintest idea that I've been waiting in my office from morning till now just for you to report for work? And now what do I get?! You drinking with not one, not two, but three fukutaichous, including Hina-!"
A drunk Hinamori cut in, "Shirou-chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!" She drunkenly ran up to Hitsugaya and gave him a nice, warm, big, death hug, holding him like as if he were her life. Hitsugaya shifted uncomfortably in her grasp, but she just wouldn't let go. Matsumoto laughed at the sight, and Kira and Hisagi were too drunk to even notice. "Neeeeee, Shirou-chaaaaann…!!! What are you doing here, ne? Don't you have any work to doooo?"
"Stop calling me Shirou-chan! And I'm here to take Matsumoto back to my division where she has to do the remaining paperwork, so could you just let go of me, Hinamori?" Hitsugaya requested. Boy, he sure was pissed that day…
"Mou! Shirou-chan! Don't be so mean! Rangiku-san just wants to introduce the pleasure of sake to meeee!! You should try it too, Shirou-chaan!! It makes you all warm and fuzzy inside!!"
'I can never imagine the baka Bed-wetter Momo saying that…' Hitsugaya thought horrifically. "No thank you, Hinamori! Now, I'd better get you back to your division before you go totally out of control." Hitsugaya simply stated, carrying Hinamori bridal style and shunpo-ing off, leaving the remaining drunk fukutaichous behind. Matsumoto shrugged and continued drinking her sake while Hisagi and Kira were lying on the ground, helpless. As soon as Hitsugaya reached the 5th Division fukutaichou room, he put down the sleeping Hinamori down on her bed, and got a wet towel ready.
Ichimaru Gin breathed, and took in the familiar spiritual scent of Seireitei. "Ahh, just comin' here alone is good 'nuff to make ya all feelin' refreshed! Just what I need before I accomplish my mission!" The silver-haired traitor shunpo-ed around Seireitei, and tried avoiding any contact with anyone else. He hid his reiatsu very well. No one noticed that he was lurking around in Seireitei.
Ichimaru stopped, and tracked down the familiar reiatsu belonging to a certain friend of his. He shunpo-ed off again, and arrived at the distant corner in Seireitei. He saw his orange-haired buxom friend gulping down sake, bottle by bottle. He noticed. Her hair was in a complete mess; some strands of her hair were spread in all kinds of weird directions, and the rest just seem very ruffled.
She didn't comb it.
Her eyes had patches of blue and black, and she appeared like some kind of zombified panda. Her grey eyes lost their usual shine, and even appeared a little bloodshot. Had she been crying? Her eyes even seem a little wrinkled here and there, and they seem to be narrowed to slits even though she didn't notice it.
She hadn't been sleeping well, or wasn't even sleeping at all.
Although everything else about her appeared fine, she wasn't fine at all. And yet, Ichimaru still smiled. He smiled because he could see his friend once more, and he knew that she was actually sacrificing so much because of him. "Yo, Rangiku."
Matsumoto Rangiku turned to face the silver-haired man, and her eyes widened. "G-Gin?!"
"Never woulda' thought to see ya in this kind o' state, eh, Rangiku?"
"Gin… W-What are you doing here?"
"I just came ta' say hi. Anythin' wrong with that?"
"Of course there's something wrong with that, Gin! You are a traitor of Soul Society! You're not allowed to even take a step in here! Go away before someone finds you and reports you to Yamamoto-sou-taichou!"
"Are ya that worried about me, Rangiku?" Ichimaru smiled his trademark smile. "Anyway, you've already found me, so why aren't ya reportin' me? Is it because ya are worried 'bout me?"
Matsumoto felt herself burning up. She held onto Haineko's hilt. "Ichimaru Gin, don't mess with me! I'm giving you this one last chance to flee before I slice you with Haineko!"
"Can ya bring yerself to do that, Rangiku?" Ichimaru asked, feeling rather hurt from Matsumoto's comment. "All I wanna do is drop by and say hi to ya, and this is the thanks I get?"
"Nah, it's ok, Ran-Ran. I understand. After all, ya never knew the reason why I joined Aizen-sama and ya never gonna find out," Ichimaru was about to head off to his next destination in Seireitei when he muttered one last bit to Matsumoto, and that bit nearly gave Matsumoto a heart attack if she even had a heart. (A/N: I've been wondering… Do shinigami have real, pumping hearts like normal humans?) "Although I have ta' warn ya, Ran-Ran… Shouldn't ya be with yer chibi taichou now? After all, ya wouldn't want to find 'im missin' now, would ya?"
Matsumoto choked back a gasp. "Gin… You're not intending to…?"
"I am, Rangiku-chan. And if ya don't believe me, then just too bad. Ja ne, Ran-Ran. I know we'll meet again…" After Ichimaru disappeared mysteriously like he always did, Matsumoto left Kira and Hisagi behind and shunpo-ed back to the 10th Division office, hoping to find her taichou there doing the paperwork, but no, he wasn't there. She heard the alarm go off suddenly and dashed out of the office. When she passed by the 5th Division, all she saw was a bleeding and unconscious Hinamori, crying for her Shirou-chan not to go.
"What happened, Hinamori-fukutaichou?" Unohana gently asked as soon as Hinamori woke up in the 4th Division. Hinamori was covered with bandages and her hair was let down. She still looked a little bit weak, but should have enough strength to recall the events that took place earlier.
"Hinamori-fukutaichou, thank goodness you're all right. Now, please tell me. What happened?"
"What happened…?" Hinamori gasped when she remembered what had happened. "I… I was sleeping… t-then, I heard Shirou-chan… I mean, Hitsugaya-kun talking to me about staying away from sake and such… I woke up, I think I was a little bit sober, and then Hitsugaya-kun and I got into a friendly conversation, like all the other times, when suddenly Ichimaru barged in… and… and…"
"And what? What did Gin do, Hinamori-chan?" Matsumoto asked, hoping that Ichimaru didn't do what she thought he did.
"He… He used Shinsou… I think… T-then, Hitsugaya-kun tried to protect me, and Ichimaru used bankai on Hitsugaya-kun… And then… Then he stabbed me too, and Hitsugaya-kun was talking to Ichimaru about something… I couldn't really hear properly… Then I felt some blood on my face all of the sudden, and Hitsugaya-kun's screams, and… and…" Hinamori broke down in tears. "Ichimaru took Hitsugaya-kun away…" Before anyone else knew it, Hinamori was crying so badly that Unohana noticed that one or two of her wounds were splitting with blood oozing out.
"Hinamori-fukutaichou, please, calm down! Don't get so agitated! It's not good for your wounds…!" Unohana consoled, trying to calm the crying Hinamori down. "I'll report this to Yamamoto-sou-taichou right now. A captains meeting should be held soon… We have to get Hitsugaya-taichou back as soon as we can, so don't worry, Hinamori-fukutaichou."
"Matsumoto-fukutaichou, please stay with Hinamori-fukutaichou while I go report this to Yamamoto-sou-taichou."
The 4th Division captain left the room, leaving Matsumoto and Hinamori alone together. Matsumoto took a chair and sat down. Hinamori dried her tears and tried to get some sleep. Matsumoto sighed sadly. 'Gin… What are you and Aizen going to do with my taichou…?'
"Yo, Aizen-sama," Ichimaru greeted casually, giving Aizen a salute with his free hand.
"So you're finally back, Gin. Did you bring him?" Aizen asked, feeling rather hopeful.
"Yep, just like ya asked me to," Ichimaru replied, tossing Aizen an unconscious and bleeding Hitsugaya. Aizen caught Hitsugaya by the haori, and smiled sadistically. "So, whatcha' really gonna do to 'im, Aizen-sama?"
"You'll see in a while, Gin." Aizen turned to face Ichimaru. "Get the room ready, Gin. And also, bring Hougyoku with you."
For the first time, Ichimaru was shocked by Aizen's orders. His eyes opened, revealing blood red orbs glistening. (A/N: I follow anime, not manga, but I do know that Ichimaru's eyes are green in the manga.) Ichimaru's smile faded. "Ya ain't thinkin' of…"
"I am, Gin, and I intend to have every single soldier in my army to witness it. Now, less talk and more preparations, Gin. The faster, the better," Aizen smiled very sadistically. "I shall have a little fun with the child first." Aizen dragged Hitsugaya by the haori and walked away to don't-know-where. Ichimaru, on the other hand, stood there shocked, but had to follow Aizen's orders anyway. While Ichimaru was getting the preparations done, Aizen announced to his Arrancar army, "My Arrancar army, you have not been told about this, and I apologise for that. I am going to introduce to you a very special addition to our army…" Aizen pulled and raised Hitsugaya up high so that all of the Arrancars present could see him. Murmuring among them began. Aizen continued, "He is a captain of the Gotei 13, Hitsugaya Toushirou of the 10th Division, and I am inviting every single one of you to witness my testing of Hougyoku's newfound ability on Hitsugaya-kun. And I can assure you that it's a good one."
It was cold.
A frozen wasteland, as one would call it.
However, not for Hitsugaya Toushirou.
After all, Hyourinmaru was an ice-type zanpakutou, and since a zanpakutou was part of a shinigami's soul, it would also indirectly mean that Hitsugaya had an icy and frosty soul. In his very own mind and dreams, he would be led to the 'frozen wasteland' – theoretically speaking, a never-ending desert-like snowstorm in the middle of nowhere – and occasionally, there would be strong hail or strong blizzards.
Not that Hitsugaya minded about that.
"Hyourinmaru?" Hitsugaya looked around for any traces of his zanpakutou, but he couldn't find the dragon anywhere. "Hyourinmaru, where are you?"
"Look below you, Toushirou." And he did, and was quite shocked to see that he was standing on Hyourinmaru's head. "Didn't realize it before, huh, Toushirou?"
"Hyourinmaru… Since when…?"
"Since you've succumbed to sleep, Toushirou. And I'm not glad that you're here."
"Doshite? What's the problem, Hyourinmaru?"
"With me being able to see and talk to you in this dream… It does not bode well, Toushirou. My fear has truly come alive. Toushirou, it's not safe to stay here. You have to wake up, and quick."
The dragon spoke of wisdom, but Hitsugaya wanted answers first. "Hyourinmaru, tell me what's going on…"
"I'm afraid I don't have time to explain this to you, Toushirou… But I can tell you this. You've been captured by Aizen Sousuke. And he's intending to make you part of his army."
"Oh, like hell I would join that bastard's army."
"And like hell I would want to become part of…him."
"I've said this before, Toushirou, it's not safe for you to stay in here. You have to wake up now, or else…"
"Or else what, Hyourinmaru? Tell me."
"Or else…" Hyourinmaru stopped and looked at Hitsugaya with his flaring red eyes. "You will forever become a hollow… and never to awake again."
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A/N: Argh, cliffhanger. That's what I hate most in fanfics. To think that I actually enjoy leaving people with cliffhangers…
If you don't understand any Japanese terms, you can tell me and I'll get back to you quickly. Any questions or anything concerning this fanfic, please tell me in your reviews. You can flame me, but don't make it sound too hurtful. Please give all the feedback you have. Onegaishimasu! Arigatou!
Edit: The 'pauses' in between some places of chapters are in Japanese. In case you're wondering, it is the Japanese name for Bleach, pronounced as 'buriichi'.