The dark side of the Universe


We fear that which we cannot see


Ichigo slumped his head as he cursed, blood falling from his skin. Renji got him in the shoulder once again. Both doing a mock-battle, but of course, they did it only to get stronger, and see who improved the most so far. But hey, who cared?

His vision slightly went blurry, having not slept for a few days, having gone on an assassination mission earlier on.

No more assassination missions for me, he thought bitterly as he blinked back his sleep, jumping back from an attack by the redhead as his brown eyes narrowed to slits. If he beats me today, he'll have something to gloat about until next time. They spared every three weeks, so it would get annoying after a while.

"Hey!" Rukia called, sitting in a tree, waving. "Are you guys going to give it a rest now? Geez...Nii-san wants to see us now."

The Hell Butterfly next to her proved her point as she leapt down, both males frowning as they sheathed their swords.

"Yeah, we'll finish this later, right, Kurosaki?" Renji grinned, slapping a hand on the orange haired teen's shoulder. Only seventeen years old and his birthday next year would promote him as a man.

"Yeah..." he spoke softly, lifting his right hand to stifle a yawn that was about to erupt. "But...what does Byakuya want to see us for anyway? If it's another assassination mission...count me out, I'm tired of them."

"Listen, Ichigo...although you're third seat in Nii-san's squad, doesn't mean you can call him by his name, and what he tells both Renji and you to do is intentional. Your teamwork is slacking off again." Rukia growled, shaking her head. "And yes, as you said, it is an assassination mission. But we're going into the Hollows nesting grounds; we have to find one of the third seats from Zaraki-taicho's squad."

"Hey," Ichigo frowned, looking over at Renji, "isn't his squad the toughest around? Why the hell would one of his members be in a Hollows' nesting place?"

The red haired Zabimaru possessor nodded slowly, a questionable look on his face as well. " is this an assassination mission if we aren't going to kill anything?"

"I was getting to that!" she scowled, crossing her arms. "We need to find their captor and kill them...otherwise they'll kidnap more and possibly people from the world of the Living. We can't let that happen, especially if they know either one of us."

Both stubborn males nodded.

" we at least get to sleep on this one?" Ichigo yawned, tilting his head back. "I'm too tired from the last one."

Rukia shrugged, sighing. "The Hell Butterfly didn't give me any more information on the situation, that's why we need to go see Nii-san."

Ichigo rubbed his left shoulder, scowling with a skeptical look on his features. "That bastard works us too hard. Why doesn't he retire? He was badly wounded when he saved you, Rukia." She nodded slowly, closing her purple eyes halfway. "Anyway...I think I'll take the mission anyway, you guys won't last two minutes out there fighting without me."

Renji grasped the collar to his shihakusho pulling him close so their noses were barely touching, glaring at him. "Aren't you overrating yourself...Kurosaki?" he hissed, Ichigo lifting a hand and shoving him away with a frown.


"Would you two just stop so we can go see Nii-san?!" Rukia hollered, standing on the tips of her toes. "This is so pathetic! You two are childish!"

"He started it!" both protested, pointing at the other, then glaring again as Rukia sighed, dropping her head with her shoulders.

Will they ever grow up? she thought bitterly, then jumped, spinning around to see her step-brother standing there with an emotionless expression, but she could tell he wasn't pleased. Having to wait so long and having to come to them instead of them to him. Uh-oh...we could be in big trouble for not going.

She quickly bowed as he walked past, stopping in front of the bickering males, placing two fingers in front of himself, frowning. "Path of destruction four...Byaku Rai."

Both leapt away from the other, wide eyes as they averted their eyes to their captain, Ichigo angered, Renji...just plain shocked.

"Byakuya-taicho!" Renji gasped, landing on his feet gracefully as Ichigo bent his knees, planting his right hand on the ground as the dark haired man shook his head.

"You two are hopeless," he sighed, then looked up at them with a piercing gaze. "This mission needs full attention, you are allowed to sleep on this one, yes, but you need to be on full-alert, got it?"

All nodded.

"Good, you leave exactly ten hours from now. Get ready, pray to the Gods you come back in one piece...and most of all, succeed on this mission you will embark on."

Ichigo sighed, turning and stabbing his sword into the air, turning it like a key, opening the small doors to go home, the Kurosaki Clinic.

"And Ichigo..."

"Hai, Byakuya?" he sighed, turning his head to face him, seeing narrowed purple eyes.

" careful, the place is swarming with Hollows, it's the first time you've gone to the nesting grounds, correct?"


"Renji and Rukia have gone there, so they know what dangers to expect. I want you to return in one piece, it'll be difficult finding another person with skills like yours, although I don't think your feeble way of grasping situations or anything can improve."

"Hey..." Ichigo's right orange brow twitched angrily.

"He is right though." Rukia frowned.

Renji simply nodded, making Ichigo turn on his heel and storm straight through the closing doors, a Hell Butterfly at his heels.

How comforting, no wonder I hate being under him so much, he thought bitterly, his breath shallow from anger as his left arm shook, his fist clenched tightly as he took in some air then released it. I just need to breathe...the mission'll be a piece of cake. He shut his eyes, slowly changing back, opening them again and pushing open the glass door to his home.

"I'm home." he sighed, ducking his head once Isshin came flying past, his left foot's assault pitifully missing. "Hey, I'm not hungry right now, so I'll be in my room." he reported, looking at Yuzu as she slowly nodded, her eyes soft but halfway shut. Placing a hand on the top of her head, he smiled warmly. "Don't worry, your cooking's great, I'll just come eat some later, okay?"

"Okay..." she spoke softly, looking over at Karin, who was leaning back in her chair.

He removed his hand, making his way to his room, opening his door and entering, shutting it and trudging over to his bed, plopping himself down as he sighed happily. A soft bed underneath him. His heaven, those brilliant eyes slowly shutting.

"Going to bed already? That's no fun." a voice sighed, making his eyes snap open, widening as he scanned the room. "Tch, fine, go ahead, not like I care."