In the end, his hollow side was the one who taught Ichigo to live for himself, not just everyone else.
In the beginning Shiro didn't want to just inhabit the shinigami's body, he wanted to own it…now he still wanted to own it, just in a different way.
"Oh, great," Ichigo snarked, spitting out the blood from when he'd tripped and bit his cheek, Shiro laughing all the while.
Shiro laughed, a low and grating sound, as he destroyed every pitiful arrancar that came his way.
The first time Ichigo smiled at him, the hollow wondered when he had gained the heart that suddenly stopped beating.
In a rush of black, Shiro took over; he didn't want to prolong the pain of his king's injuries any further.
'Hat-and-clogs makes good medicine,' Ichigo thought to himself as he stretched, his newest scar not even twinging.
Aizen and Gin stood a little in front of him, their backs turned and surveying the desolation as if they were the lords of it all; they were lords, perhaps, right before Ichigo killed them.
No matter how he worked at it, Ichigo's speed could never match Shiro's, so he didn't even try to dodge the kiss.
One glance told the hollow that the King was a weakling; how easy it would be to take over this body!
For some reason Ichigo felt at home in the halls of Los Noches even as he ran for his life, and it never occurred to him that this might be Shiro's fault.
This was the first time Ichigo had ever fallen asleep in his inner world, much less with his head on Shiro's leg; the hollow was too frozen with shock to push him off.
Rubbing blisters for the hundredth time, Ichigo wonder what had possessed the shinigami to make such uncomfortable shoes part of their uniform.
It was the one thing that Ichigo's life would never be.
No matter what Ichigo had done for Soul Society, it seemed that he was not exempt from the punishment of simply being a hollow: it was with these thoughts plaguing him that he fled to Hueco Mundo and through Aizen's open doors.
"Don't say things like that," Ichigo groused at him, "it brings back memories of when you were trying to kill me."
Shiro ran a hand through oily red hair, 'Ugh, when did you last take a bath?!' he asked the King mentally.
Some would say that Ichigo's fighting style was little more than hacking at an opponent until they went down, but Ichigo shrugged them off: as long as it got the job done.
The inner world was made up of vast space, and though Shiro never showed it, he was glad for the occasions that Ichigo was there to cling to amidst the emptiness.
Ichigo leveled his sword at Aizen, knowing that no matter how this turned out, it was not going to end well.
The hollow fumed; damn that shinigami for forcing him into this deep abyss on the advice of some 'vizard!'
In less than a second of directed will, the mask that served as his reminder, his power, and his plague appeared.
Shiro grinned as his King stomped away and disappeared; that had been a total disaster, but at least he got a good grope in.
Ichigo calmly let Yoruichi take the fragmented mask away because he somehow knew it didn't matter; it was too late to part him from it.
Ichigo idly wondered if the marks on his hollow mask were painted on or a part of it - he broke his thumbnail finding out.
Sometimes it was only Ichigo's sheer will and determination that made Shiro sit back and let him fight for himself.
Ten years after he killed Aizen and his subordinates, Ichigo would still feel the pang of guilt for what he'd done to his other half to get that far.
The hollow knows that nothing can mend a broken, rejected heart if you don't have one.
He recovered from the blow quickly, standing up to meet Shiro's hungry black eyes and knowing there were only two ways to satisfy that hunger - his soul or his heart.
Ichigo tended to ignore Shiro's eccentricities - especially the frequent use of his blue tongue when they kissed.
A/N: Betaed by the wonderful EmpyrealFantasy even though she hasn't been coerced into this fandom yet, and written with the aid of a random word generator because I can't concentrate. Would anyone like this to continue? Review please!