Title: Empathy
Author: HeukYa
Genre: Drama/Romance
Rating: M for LEMONS
Pairing: Kurosaki Ichigo x Hitsugaya Toshiro
Spoilers: Soul Society Arc/Arrancar Arc
Summary: Hitsugaya is paying the price for using the ultimate skill. He needs to stay at Kurosaki's during his recovery but how will things turn out, especially when the prodigy is empathic?
Disclaimer: If I own Bleach, you will see Ichigo and Toshiro making out in the tenth division, and Byakuya and Renji kissing in the sixth. Do you see it? No. I don't own Bleach.
Distribution: Fanfiction and LJ.

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Author's Note:

This is my first ever multi-chapter story that I managed to get to its end in my life. I had attempted at multi-chapter before and had failed miserably so I'm very proud of this one and if I may say so, many had given their praises for it, more than I could ever ask for.

It's set in the Arrancar Arc but really, the major spoiler is the Soul Society Arc. As for Arrancar Arc, all there will be are Luppi, Yammy, Ulquoirra and a few random OCs that I have made up. I also created a skill for Hitsugaya. I'm sorry the name is just original /sobs/. Oh and I nearly forgot, no relationship established. Yet /smirk/.

Now, if I may have your attention, please. Here's something very important you should know before reading Empathy:

When talking about the spiritual power, it seems word 'reiatsu' is usually used but I've gone bit more detailed in this fiction. Reiatsu (from what I know) means spiritual pressure and reiryouku means spiritual power. Shinigamis have spiritual power, reiryouku, and when they use that power, they give out reiatsu, the pressure, and this is what others feel, if that makes sense. In this fiction, I have used the two words with those definitions, please bear that in mind.


Empathy by HeukYa Ch.1


'Shit.'

Hitsugaya could not stop himself from swearing, even if it was only in his mind. Honestly, the situation was not looking too good. First, Soul Society was under attack.

Again.

Second, Seireitei that had suffered many relentless battles were finally showing signs of weakness under the fierce attack from Arrancars. Given the absence of the three ex-captains, it was safe to assume that this was not a full out attack, yet Gotei 13 had already received a spiking number of injuries including a few vice-captains. As for the third, well, that came down to the Arrancar that was sneering at him with a sick grin plastered on its white face, tossing balls of fires between his hands. It should not be that difficult to guess why; fire definitely did not get friendly with ice and it was giving a bit of grief to the young captain whose bankai now had only one petal left. To be honest, even without the time limit, his body had endured many injuries and was now screaming against even a slight raise of his arms or a tighter grip on the hilt of Hyourinmaru.

"I guess we are nearing the end now, Hitsugaya taichou."

Hitsugaya scowled at the mocking tone. It deeply reminded him of that filthy traitor, Aizen, yet its fox-like smile was definitely that of Ichimaru and the white-haired prodigy's hatred towards this nameless Arrancar was rocketing up by every second. Grasping the dangling chain, Hitsugaya took a brief glance at his last petal; considering his condition, it was not going to flourish for long. Taking a deep breath in, he made his decision.

'Hyourinmaru.'

'Yes, Toshiro.'

'Let's use it.'

'…We agreed it was too dangerous to use and we do not yet know how it could affect you.'

The continuous tossing of fireballs were now starting get pretty annoying but Hitsugaya could not afford to take his eyes off the damned things as he continued his conversation with the icy dragon.

'Seireitei can't spare any back-up right now. We are on our own, we'll just have to trust the others that they will do their share and will not need further help.'

There was a soft roar from Hyourinmaru after a moment, announcing its agreement, but the dragon's unhappiness resonated through his soul and Hitsugaya mentally patted his soul companion, letting the spiritual touch convey his gratitude.

'Get ready, Toshiro.'

'Ready when you are.'

"Well, little taichou. I think I should end this play now and…"

The Arrancar stopped in mid-sentence, its eerie eyes wide with disbelief. The reiatsu of the small captain was rising to an impossible level as the emerald eyes turned black and the darkness over them was now spreading throughout the whole of Seireitei. Then through the frozen, lightless sky, Hitsugaya's voice rang out, piercing the silent air.

"Kuroi Hyourinmaru!"

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"…What the…"

Kyouraku fell silent after those two words at the sight of the scene in front of him; other captains and vice-captains who had arrived before him were still in awe, all exchanging surprised glances with each other.

The abrupt explosion had shaken the heaven itself as a mighty black dragon soared through the air when the sky suddenly wore its midnight cloak and at the origin of the explosion, there laid the tenth division captain, unconscious in the middle of a huge black crater that had swallowed at least three sectors of Seireitei altogether. Above them, ominous darkness still hung thick in the air as if it was yet to be released from Hyourinmaru's effect even though the said zanpaktou now hung loosely in the young shinigami's hand in its sealed state.

The size of the crater had not been all that surprising; the amount of reiatsu they had felt even in the middle of life-threatening battles had been astonishing and it had left nothing of the enemy that had been at point-blank range of whatever the black dragon had been. Kurotsuchi cursed loudly that he now had no body to experiment on but nobody gave any attention to the freaky captain, simply awed by just what the famed prodigy was capable of.

Except Matsumoto.

"Uno……… Unohana taichou!! Get Unohana taichou over!! Quick!!"

Startled by Matsumoto's frantic call, Renji put his hands on her shoulder, trying to calm her down.

"Rangiku-san, calm down. He probably just fainted from injuries, don't worry."

"It's not that!! Hurry, get Unohana taichou!!"

Matsumoto pushed Renji's hands away and ran to her captain. Since she became vice-captain of the 10th division and fought by the icy captain's side, she had seen most of his skills and techniques. Sure, she hadn't seen all of it yet but she had certainly heard about the black dragon she just saw.

-Heh…. So Hyourinmaru can actually turn black?-

-It's something we haven't tried although we know it's possible and strong. Almost too strong. We don't know what could happen to us if we use it.-

-Then I guess I'll never see it then.-

-Let's hope you don't. And don't mention it to anyone. I'm telling you as a warning, since the situation is now getting out of hand with arrancars, and if I did use it…………. I probably would need to be checked on afterwards.-

Hitsugaya had scowled pretty badly at the words. After all, he was a captain; he shouldn't need someone to check on him. However Matsumoto had got the gravity of the words and simply nodded.

-Of course, taichou.-

It was one of the rare moments where Hitsugaya showed just how much he trusted her, one of those moments she really treasured but the words spoken at the time were now ringing in her ear like a warning siren.

"Taichou!! Taichou!!"

No matter how much Matsumoto screamed and shook, Hitsugaya showed no reaction. His limp body was held loosely in Matsumoto's arms, arms dangling and head tilted back. If it wasn't for the shallow, almost non-existent breathing, Matsumoto would have been certain her captain had died.

'Clang!'

Silence fell. Hyourinmaru that was loosely held in Hitsugaya's hand had fall out onto the ground. Matsumoto's eyes grew wide when she saw a large crack on Hyourinmaru. When a zanpaktou cracked with no apparent reason, it meant the wielder was in serious trouble.

"HITSUGAYA TAICHOU!!"

When the ever-so-calm captain of the 4th division arrived at the scene, Matsumoto was about to lose herself with worry. Hitsugaya was getting paler with every minute and his breathing quieter. However much she shouted his name, he didn't flinch or even show any sign of life for that matter.

"Matsumoto fukutaichou, please calm yourself down."

Matsumoto looked at Unohana for a few seconds then gently placed her captain back on the ground. The rest of Gotei 13 were watching out of worry but more so, out of curiosity. Why was the bubbly 10th division vice-captain losing herself like that?

Unohana ran a quick check over Hitsugaya then with an almost unnoticeable frown, drew her sword.

"Please step back, I'm going to start emergency treatment on Hitsugaya taichou. Isane, if you will please get the relief team ready at the division, Hitsugaya taichou will be moved immediately after first aid."

"Yes, taichou!"

Matsumoto saw Isane running out and bit her lip. If Unohana was frowning, it must be bad and her captain's words about the black dragon kept echoing in her mind. Then two large but gentle hands on each of her shoulder got her out of her stupefied state. It was Renji and Shuuhei.

"Don't worry, Rangiku. Hitsugaya taichou looks like he got beaten up fair bit but he will pull through."

"Yeah, that kid……… I mean, Hitsugaya taichou has been injured worse than this before. Unohana taichou probably just wants to get him back on field ASAP since we've got so many casualties already."

Matsumoto weakly smiled and nodded. She closed her eyes and breathed in deep. She had to remain strong for her division which seemed it would be captain-less for a long time.

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When Unohana had finished treatment and came to report on his condition, she was looking confused, yet worried at the same time.

"His life is not in danger, although his reiryouku seems to have been completely drained. Although it's not a surprise from the reiatsu I felt at the explosion but……."

"Is there something wrong, Unohana taichou?"

"He should be exhausted right now yet I can feel he is………… very tense and struggling against something. His physical injuries have been healed as much as possible so I can only fathom that whatever skill Hitsugaya taichou used has some kind of side effect, or rather, an aftereffect."

Hitsugaya was still unconscious but to Matsumoto, he seemed a whole lot better than at the crater. Although he was as pale as before, his breathing had become normal and somehow there was calmness on his face, contrary to the medical captain's words.

"What about Hyourinmaru?"

Unohana sighed, glancing at the now sheathed Hyourinmaru, leaned against a wall.

"I cannot tell what goes on between one's zanpaktou and the wielder but I can only presume the crack was due to Hitsugaya taichou's condition."

"Would he be…….."

"He will wake up when he is ready however the recovery will take a long time. And we do not yet know if there are any other symptoms. It will be some time before he fully recovers. Till then, you will have to take care of the division on his behalf, Matsumoto fukutaichou."

"Hai."

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Hitsugaya felt a cold breeze over his face and tried to open his eyes. What was going on? His eyelids felt like lead. The frosty temperature and soft yet firm feeling of snow on his back told him that he was no longer in the battle but in his inner world. Yet, why was his body not following his command?

'Toshiro, can you hear me?'

The growl-like voice of Hyourinmaru reached his ears and Hitsugaya smiled.

'Yes.'

'Do not bother opening your eyes. It is enough if you can hear me.'

'Mm.'

'We will have to part for awhile, my little master.'

Hitsugaya's eyes flew wide open at the dragon's unexpected words. Hyourinmaru had never left him since they met the first time. They were separate yet one being.

'What?!'

'The Kuroi Hyourinmaru worked as we had expected however the aftereffect is just as grave as we had thought. You are in no danger of your life but you will be too weak for a long time to even share your soul with me. Physically and mentally.'

'Wait! I'll be fine, and it's not sharing, you are part of me, Hyourinmaru!'

Hitsugaya could feel the dragon's pleasure at his words but when he was cursing himself for not being able to move, the worried voice of the legendary creature returned.

'And I feel lucky to have such a wielder. However, for your and my sake, we shall part for now. Do not worry, Toshiro, for as you said, I am part of you. I shall return when you are ready.'

'Hyourinmaru!!'

'You do not have anything to worry about. Rest, little one. Your soul will have easier rest here. However, soon you will have to return to those who await you.'

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It was now a week since the incident and Hitsugaya hadn't shown any signs of waking up so far, still deeply unconscious. Matsumoto had been getting more and more worried and after a futile attempt at concentrating on paperwork (yet again. Half of the office was now filled with stacks of paperwork), she came to pay her daily visit to her captain.

"Taichou, you've got everyone worried, you really should wake up now. Hinamori-chan has been going literally berserk, and more than anyting, I can't cope with all those white thin demons called paperwork."

Matsumoto smiled at herself, wondering if she really should be talking about paperwork to her slumbering captain. It was just when she was leaning over to draw up the blanket that she almost jumped out of her skin.

"GAAHH!!"

Hitsugaya, as if startled by something, had suddenly opened his eyes and grabbed Matsumoto's wrists, making her jump backwards. After finally processing with her stunned mind that her captain was at last awake, a smile broke out on her face with hardly contained joy. Maybe she should have mentioned paperwork a lot earlier.

"Taichou!! Taichou, you are awake, how are you feeling?"

Matsumoto was about to bend down to her captain when she stopped halfway. Hitsugaya's wide eyes had lost its cerulean color and were now eerily white like his hair. But it was his reaction that shocked Matsumoto more than anything else.

Hitsugaya bolted upright with his eyes focusing in and out. Then as if he touched something hot, he suddenly drew his hands away from Matsumoto's wrists and pushed her away. He wildly looked around the room then started to back off till he hit the wall.

"Taichou?"

"Stop!! Don't come any closer!!"

Hitsugaya screamed, his voice uneven and his small body, lightly shaking. Matsumoto didn't know what to say or do. What was going on? She started to panic.

"Taichou? What's going on? Ne, taichou!"

"Matsumoto!! Calm down, and DON'T. COME. ANY. CLOSER!!"

Matsumoto was now completely lost. Hitsugaya had screamed at her a lot for paperwork but he had never sounded so desperate. She started to back away from her captain, trying to calm him down without much success. It looked like another problem was about to start as soon as he waked up.

"Taichou…"

Hitsugaya closed his eyes, trying to stop himself from throwing up. He felt very weak but that wasn't his biggest concern. Matsumoto's… no, it wasn't just her reiatsu… Her worry and panic were overwhelming his tiny body, suffocating him.

It wasn't just Matsumoto's, although hers stood out. Someone's laughs, someone's tears, someone's turmoil, someone's pain, someone's giddiness… So many things were flooding through his mind that Hitsugaya didn't know what to do. He couldn't understand what was happening. He buried his head in his hands and managed to choke out few words.

"…Go…Get…Unohaha…taichou…"

The words had barely escaped through his gritted teeth when Unohana taichou walked in with her usual calmness and Hitsugaya instantly started to feel a little better, though not by much.

"Hitsugaya taichou, I see you are up. If you have strength to shout that loud, I would say you are doing better than I had expected. How are you?"

Hitsugaya couldn't make any sound, he was now having migraine and Matsumoto's constantly fluctuating feelings and reatsu were not helping him.

"Matsumoto fukutaichou, please wait outside the room, if you would."

"Hai, Unohana taichou."

When Matsumoto left and closed the door behind her, Unohana returned her attention to the faintly trembling boy in front of her.

"Hitsugaya taichou, if you would please explain."

Hitsugaya grunted, it was still hard to make anything out of what he was going through.

"…It… It's like I can… FEEL what other feel… Not just people around me, but like…. Shit… everyone in Sereitei… I, I can't cope with all these emotions…"

Hitsugaya buried his face in his hands again. He was now positively feeling sick and his breathing was getting ragged. Unohana frowned.

"It seems… Whatever skill you used didn't only deplete your reiryouku…"

Hitsugaya didn't reply. He could feel he had no reiryouku left and it wasn't totally unexpected although he had hoped otherwise. However this was something he had definitely not expected.

"Hitsugaya taichou, I have not come across this sort of situation before so I cannot say for sure but the condition seems to have somehow turned you empathic. An empath is not unheard of, though rare. However… If this is the result of your current condition then it will not disappear until you make a full recovery."

"Damnit…"

Hitsugaya cursed. He had been awake only for a few minutes and already felt like he was being crushed by a giant hammer. How was he supposed to cope with this? He was constantly getting flooded and it was through sheer will of refusing to pass out that was keeping him conscious.

Sensing that Hitsugaya was nearing his limit, Unohana decided to close the conversation for now.

"It would be better if you weren't around so many people until you got used to it. Your injuries are healed as much as possible so I will discharge you and make necessary arrangements."

"…Arigato."

"Now, drink this. We will move you to your quarter once you are asleep. It would be too much for you to walk with so many others around. The Seireitei is still under emergency order."

Hitsugaya looked at the cup Unohana offered. He didn't like the idea that he had to be carried to his quarter but also knew it was next to impossible for him to make it there without any aid. He gave in with a sigh and drank the clear liquid inside. He could feel sleep flowing through him almost immediately and soon he had fallen asleep, Unohana gently watching over him with concerned look.

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Omake

HeukYa: (silent)

Ichigo: Say something!!

HeukYa: (looks up with teary eyes) Ichigo, I think this story is going to be a lot longer than I first though, what am I going to do?! (wails)

Ichigo: (smack) You are going to finish it!! Look at what you've done to Toshiro!!

Toshiro: (not enough strength to shout so grunts) ….I'm…SO…going…bankai on you…when I get better…

HeukYa: AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!! Wait, wait!! Before I run away… In next chapter, decision is made but Hitsugaya is not all too sure about it. Please come and read what happens next!

Ichigo: Oi, when am I going to come up!! I'm the main character!!

HeukYa: Exactly! Go and get ready, you are up next!!