Breathe Your Life Into Me
Thanks a lot to my great beta-readers!
When he was still a kid, his life had been perfect. His mother was what made him always smile and forget about everything else.
Then, he lost that source of perfection; he was crushed and broken even before facing the terrors of life. He was shattered. He wore a scowl on his face all the time, then the rain started and never stopped falling in his soul.
Then, he became fifteen years old and entered high school. Though he had a lot of friends, he still thought that he was alone. He always got picked on because of the color of his hair. However, he paid them no mind and whenever they attacked him he would beat them to a pulp and make them wish they had never tried to fight him.
But in his mind, he always blamed himself for his mother's death and got irritated because of the fact that no one actually blamed him. Until he met a shinigami that changed his whole life forever and made his wish to protect those that he loved come true.
She made the rain stop.
He met Kuchiki Rukia, the woman whom he risked his life to protect, the woman who understood him and read his feelings like an open book.
But the peace in his soul didn't last long as she was taken away and was sentenced to death. Once again he felt helpless. He thought that he was the reason. Therefore, that time he didn't stay on the sidelines as he fought everyone whom got in his way in order to save her from her doom.
The look on her face when he held her, standing on Sokyoku and daring everyone even if they were the elite captains of Soul Society to come and take her from him, made him feel happy that he managed to defend the life of the person who gave him his power and stopped his rain.
After hearing her decision to stay in Soul Society, he felt something tug at his heart. Something inside kept nagging him and telling him to ignore what she said and carry her on his shoulder to take her back with him. But he wouldn't do that, not in a million years. He had his pride to keep.
When he returned to the real world, things happened which caused her to finally return and luckily in time to save him. Yet that actually made him feel helpless again. He was the one who was supposed to protect others; not the other way round.
But then again he brushed that off when they started bickering again and she started hitting him and yelling at him. However, their fights didn't get the chance to continue as he and his friends, including her, were forced to return to Seireitei, because of the circumstances, the place where he never thought he would be returning to.
And again, she stayed back while he left with his friends to the world where they truly belonged, the living world. Peace fell upon them once again but when did it ever last? As Aizen Sousuke decided to start using the Hougyoku for his evil schemes. And with that his problems started.
Aizen took interest in him -for his misfortune- and sent two Espada to fight with him -more like test him. Since he fought them, he became afraid to go into his shinigami form, afraid that he might get devoured by his hollow side and hurt his friends. But, she came and restored his confidence; his trust.
She was always the reason for him to be able to smile genuinely, but did she ever notice that? Probably not, since she didn't know how he had been before when she wasn't around. But that didn't matter now, did it? He was grateful for her, for his family and for his friends for being around him even after he had become a Vizard.
They were preparing for the Winter War. When it came, everything he once loved and knew was brutally taken away from him, was stolen from him leaving him to be only a shell covering a dead soul that didn't care about anything at all, not even its own life.
They were in Las Noches fighting off Aizen and his Espada. For the first time, Ichigo realized that his father was a shinigami and a captain too which proved to everyone that Ichigo was a pure blooded shinigami and not a substitute one after all.
Ichigo was the one who fought Aizen and so he was being pushed back. He saw that the former fifth captain had also obtained the powers of the Hollows which only caused more trouble. He was no longer at an advantage.
Ichigo was stabbed in the stomach, which made him fall on his knees. He was tired from the constant fighting and let his guard down just for a minute and that what was needed for the disaster to happen and for his life to turn upside down.
Aizen was approaching him with a raised Zanpakutou waiting to end the life of the orange-haired man. His father saw that and couldn't watch his own son die. Just when Aizen's Zanpakutou was about to strike, Kurosaki Isshin appeared just in time to take the blow for his son. He didn't have the time to stop it and had to take the blow.
Ichigo saw what happened with his own two eyes, saw as his father's body dripped blood from its newly acquired wound. His goofy father was lying in front of him in a pool of red liquid. He looked up only to meet Aizen's masked face and by the looks of it, he knew that he was smirking at him and Ichigo wanted to rip that smirk off his face right then.
He was brought back to the battle by a yell of pain then nothing but the sounds of Zanpakutou clashing. He looked around only to find Inoue's unmoving body lying on the ground then he looked again to see Chad's and Ishida's bodies on the marble floor of the castle, lying near her body.
He knew that they had tried to protect her with their lives but had failed. It was his job not theirs. He was supposed to be the one lying on the floor in his own pool of blood. He needed to finish his battle with the traitor quickly so he could save them before they died. He still believed that they were still alive and didn't want to believe other than that.
He looked up only to face Aizen's back and when Aizen turned, Ichigo saw the Hougyoku in his hands fully awakened. At that moment he knew that if he didn't act fast, he would truly lose everything, yet again he wasn't fast enough to stop Aizen from using it.
He witnessed as a door split out of nowhere to reveal Karakura Town. And with that the battle was taken to a new dimension. Now both sides were fighting in the sky of the town. Aizen activated the Hougyoku and it started doing its work: destroying the town and eliminating everyone living in it to create the spirit key.
His thoughts started racing, now Karin and Yuzu were going to get into the conflict because of his weakness.
Aizen let go of the little shining object and faced Ichigo, Zanpakutou in hand ready to strike and finish the battle to declare his victory.
Ichigo gathered all of his strength and attacked head on which he realized was a bad idea later on when he found himself dangling, Zangetsu had fallen from his hand and Aizen was holding him by his neck, chocking him. Ichigo's hands clutched Aizen's arm, trying to make him remove his grip but failing and only succeeding in making it stronger.
His vision was starting to get blurry as air stopped flowing into his lungs and he felt himself slipping into darkness. Not until he saw the town under him vanishing slowly, being eaten by the Hougyoku until there was almost nothing there.
Everyone was busy fighting off their opponents to see the change that was happening to the young Kurosaki. Ichigo had enough; his sisters were going to die because of his lack of strength. He had to do something and quick.
He had to rely fully on his hollow side even if it made him an easy target for the hollow's ambitions. He had to do it. His reiatsu flared black waves of energy which started flowing out of him until Aizen couldn't keep him in his grip.
He -now having gained full access to the hollow's powers- was in front of Aizen in a flash, Zanpakutou pierced neatly in his neck. Aizen had a look of awe, how could that happen? Last time he checked, Zangetsu had fallen from his hands. How did it return? The captains got to see what happened as they finished their opponents just in time to witness the enormous act of power.
Aizen was dead but at what cost? Karakura Town was nearly gone; Ichigo looked at the dead body of Aizen and swiftly removed Zangetsu to let the shinigami's corpse fall down. He stared at the captains' faces which held blank expressions and a glint of fear in their eyes.
He averted his sight to look at the person whom he trusted the most and to his surprise, she was a bit hesitant, trying to avoid looking straight into his eyes. Seeing that made him feel sad, he didn't want to scare her, he didn't mean to.
Then it struck him, his hollow started his attempt to take over his soul and body, saying that he had finally found an opening. Ichigo held his head trying to fight him while everyone kept staring at him, forgetting everything including the Hougyoku.
Just when the odds seemed to be going against the young Kurosaki and he seemed to be losing his battle, a gentle hand touched his shoulder trying to reassure him and give him confidence then it went up to his face and held the tip of the mask, pulling it until it shattered and fell.
He looked at her, her eyes weren't filled with fear; in fact they were drowned by concern and anxiety. He smiled softly at her and just when he was about to thank her, they remembered the Hougyoku. Ichigo knew that when Urahara tried to destroy it, he couldn't.
So he had to take the chance and try using his Vizard powers however, that time he would be more careful not to let himself be consumed by the hollow's powers. And so his mask reappeared, using Getsuga Tenshou, he managed to destroy it.
When Urahara tried to destroy it, he didn't have the powers of a Vizard under his service which was by far greater than any kind of power. The orange-haired man looked at the almost destroyed town with sad eyes.
But that soon was replaced by a surprised look; the town was being rebuilt. He looked at where the Hougyoku was and saw everything that had been consumed by it being restored to where it was.
He heard a voice of someone talking to him from behind which he identified as the voice of the creator of the Hougyoku; Urahara Kisuke. Telling him with his chipper tone that since he couldn't destroy the Hougyoku, he added to it the ability to fix anything it destroyed including taking the souls of people.
It'd been a long time since Ichigo was able to smile a real smile. He noticed the captain of the forth squad telling everyone to return to Seireitei so she could heal them.
He went with them too, as he was told that his father and friends were taken to the forth division to be healed. After arriving there, the first thing Ichigo did before being healed was to see how his father and friends were doing, along with Rukia.
Unohana Retsu, the captain of the forth division was standing outside Ichigo's father's and friends' rooms. He asked her how they were, but then the striking answer came and Ichigo felt himself dying from the inside.
He had lost his father and officially became an orphan. His friends were gone too, not even one of them had survived. Not one. Ichigo rushed into the room and saw his father's body slowly turning into spirit particles. He ran to his father's side before he disappeared and held his hand as he fell to his knees, tears falling from his eyes without a sound.
Isshin told his son to take care of Yuzu and Karin and to protect them with his life, he also told him while smiling at him not to cry and to look at it from the bright side; no one would be there to try and break his neck in the early morning, Ichigo could only listen and feel his father's hand disappearing while blaming himself. The only thing that kept running through Ichigo's mind was—
Rukia could only watch, she knew that whatever she said or did wouldn't change the fact that Ichigo's life had been turned upside down and had been constantly changing into the worse. She put her soft hand on his shoulder trying to calm him and ease the pain, but he just kept looking at his father until nothing was left.
What would he tell Karin and Yuzu when he returned? They would be devastated and his life at that moment felt unbearable. He wished if he were the one who died and not his father. After calming down and pulling himself together, he managed to look at the raven-haired shinigami but didn't say a word.
A week later he returned to the living world after his father's and friends' funerals had been held in Soul Society. He didn't look back when he passed through the Senkai Gate. He once entered it with his friends but now he left it alone.
Rukia told him that she would come with him, but he told her that he would be fine and gave her a faint smile that was hard to notice but he knew that she could see it. When Ichigo went to his house, he found the glass of the windows shattered, his heart started pounding against his chest, afraid that something bad had happened and to his dismay, he found his two little sisters on the ground, soaked in their own blood.
He stopped in his tracks; he couldn't feel their spiritual energy. Without a further look, he started taking small steps backward until he bumped into the wall and leaned against it, slipping slowly until he was sitting on the ground, crying hard with hope that he would feel better. He didn't care at that point if anyone heard him or not.
At least now he wouldn't have to explain why their father died, he chuckled bitterly at the thought and if one were to see him, they would think that the young Kurosaki had lost his mind. Why was that happening to him? He had truly lost everyone, he was all alone. It was an unimaginable sorrow.
He was too tired to even stand on his feet to clean everything. He just sat in the corner of the living room in front of his dead little sisters, his knees pulled up in front of him, head buried in them. Just when he was about to slip into the sweet darkness of unconsciousness, he heard familiar voices. Although he was too tired to raise his head, he tried to at least look at their owners by raising his eyes a little but failing, all he saw was black clothes and something red.
Kuchiki Rukia and Abarai Renji followed the orange-haired Kurosaki to his house even though he had assured them that he would be all right, however they couldn't help but feel worried about him. They noticed that he wasn't in a really good state but then again, who would be in a good state when he had lost his father and his best friends?
They saw him enter his house running and then stopping in his place, frozen as if he saw his worst nightmare. However, when Rukia saw the shattered glass, her heart started racing and she motioned for the red-headed shinigami to hurry whom complied without a second thought.
Upon entering the house, they saw their orange-haired friend at the corner of the room crying his eyes out and when they saw the two lying bodies they knew why. Rukia couldn't prevent herself from crying as tears trailed down her cheeks.
Renji stood in his place, head bent and shielding his face from view. They knew that their friend would never be the same. He had been in high school when he became a shinigami and entered that horrible world.
At first everything was fine but then again, everything started out to be fine then it turned out to be the most horrible thing in the world.
The raven-haired Kuchiki walked closer to the fallen shinigami when he started to calm down. She tried to comfort him but she noticed that he wasn't paying her his attention. She saw a glimpse of his eyes which made her stop talking.
They were cold, colder than her nii-sama's eyes. They held too much pain and sorrow but at the same time they were hollow. One needed to look closer to be able to see those feelings of loneliness and dismay. He was still a teenager and yet he saw things that even an old man hadn't seen. She knew that one day he wouldn't be able to take the pressure, but she never wanted to see that day come. Yet there she was, standing and witnessing that happening right before her eyes. She had once made a promise with herself that if she were to see that day, she would be by his side, holding his hand helping him. She would be there for him through thick and thin.
Renji walked over to the last Kurosaki and carried him. The red-headed shinigami saw the questioning look on Rukia's face and simply told her that they couldn't just leave him on the floor. Right before he climbed up the stairs he reminded her to call the fourth division so they would come and clean up the place.
The next day came and Ichigo jumped out of his bed as if expecting an attack coming from his father but then he remembered that his father was no longer alive. He relaxed and noticed that he wasn't in his shinigami form but in his own body. He heard a shuffle coming from his closet so he slowly walked up to the closet and slid the door open.
He stared at the person in it then his blood started boiling. He held the little stuffed animal to look at it in the eye. Of course the yellow animal started yelling and demanding the orange-haired man to put him down at once but all his thrashing received nothing but a hard glare.
Ichigo held him tighter and finally exploded in Kon's face which startled the little stuffed animal and made him stop talking. Ichigo shouted at him about the incident that took place yesterday, he asked the stuffed animal about the reason why he hadn't saved his little helpless sisters, why he hadn't done anything to protect them and instead hid in his damn closet.
The young Kurosaki used Kon's words and reminded him about what he had told him before about how he didn't like to kill or watch people get killed. If that was true then why hadn't he done anything to save his sisters? Kon stared at him and looked down at the ground. Ichigo was right and he knew it.
After Ichigo's outburst, he started whispering in a pleading voice to make the stuffed animal tell him that, that was all a nightmare and he would soon wake up to find everyone alive. But Kon didn't answer so Ichigo slowly put him back inside the closet and muttered under his breath that he was going to take a shower.
Ichigo stripped off his clothes and entered the cold shower. He definitely needed one to take his mind off everything that happened. The youth bowed his head down to let the cold water caress the back of his neck, but after a while he hit his forehead against the wall, letting tears trail down his cheeks.
Ichigo finished his shower and went downstairs for breakfast. He was wearing a pair of black sweatpants with a white top and a towel around his neck. As soon as he entered the living room and started making his way to the kitchen, memories started flowing back into his mind.
He remembered the smell of Yuzu's cooking, the sound of the programs which Karin used to watch on TV in the morning, and how his father kept talking with his two daughters until Karin did something that he would think of as being mean and jump to the poster that he had hung on the wall, weeping about how his daughters were being cold and mean to their father.
He could almost see them there doing what they usually did in the morning, his mind tricked him and gave him a false hope, he even imagined the voice of his sister Yuzu calling out for him to come and eat breakfast before it got cold, he hurried to where he thought they were standing but stopped mid in his steps as their images faded until nothing was there and he was left alone.
The young Kurosaki felt tears welling in his eyes, threatening to fall down but he wiped them quickly and continued his way to the kitchen. Luckily, there was no school today as it was the summer holiday and it was still July.
He heard shuffles in the kitchen, hope swelled in him as he practically ran to get there and to his surprise, he found the last person he had ever expected to see. Kuchiki Rukia was wearing a cooking apron, cooking what looked like eggs but the problem was they were burnt black; he heard her cursing then heard another voice making fun of her because she didn't know how to make a decent breakfast.
Upon turning his head to look at the source of the voice, the first thing he saw was red hair and he immediately recognized its owner. Abarai Renji was sitting at the table sipping his coffee after nearly putting all the sugar inside his cup and holding a newspaper, reading it.
After Ichigo had recovered from his stupor, he asked them what the hell they were doing in his kitchen, they simply looked at him and Rukia told him that she was cooking while Renji answered him sarcastically with, "What do you think we are doing?"
Ichigo shrugged them off and decided that he didn't care about the reason they were in his house. As soon as Ichigo sat as the table in front of Renji, while Rukia was putting the plates that carried what she had cooked on the table and sat next to Ichigo, the atmosphere around them changed.
Renji jumped into serious mood and started his talk with Ichigo by asking him first how he was feeling, when he received only a shrug, he mentally slapped himself. How the hell did he expect him to be? He continued on with what he was going to tell him which was the reason behind his sisters' death.
The red-haired vice captain explained to him that his sisters had died due to a hollow attack and before Ichigo could interrupt, he said that no way in hell Soul Society expected that attack, and even if they did, they wouldn't be able to stop it because they were in short of shinigami, beside the fact that the attack happened in the one week Ichigo was away and Urahara wasn't in town so they couldn't prevent it from happening.
Ichigo's throat felt sore as he fought back the tears that were starting to tug at his eyes. Rukia watched how the orange-haired shinigami's fists clenched tightly until his knuckles turned white. Renji looked at his friend and apologized to him though Ichigo brushed it off. Ichigo felt like hell as he stood up and left to go to his room. He slammed the door shut and threw himself on the bed, face down underneath the soft pillow.
He screamed at the top of his lungs, trying to ease the killing pain that kept attacking him in his heart. He had had enough. He couldn't take it anymore; his life had become like a nightmare to him. A nightmare he feared that he would never wake up from.
A living hell.
He had lost everything and there was nothing left for him to make him keep on going. His life felt worthless even if there were still a lot of hollows that were waiting to feel his blade in their masks. He had attained that power for the sake of his family and friends, to protect them from those disgusting freaks of nature. Then one of those freaks took the life of his precious people. He couldn't imagine how his sisters had felt when they were attacked. They had had to have felt helpless, scared, and confused about the reason why their brother wasn't there to save them at a time like that, when they needed him.
Rukia knocked gently on Ichigo's door. After Renji had left with the excuse that his job was finished there, she made up her mind to come and make sure that her foolish friend wouldn't do anything rash and extremely stupid. No one answered her knocking and she feared that he had done something to himself so she let herself in.
Once she entered the room, she found him lying on his bed, face buried in the pillow. She walked up to him slowly and without making any noise, called his name but he still didn't answer. She stood in front of his bed waiting for him to at least recognize her presence or to give her permission to stay or if he wanted to stay alone. Either way she would understand but still she didn't receive anything.
So she sat at the edge of his bed next to his lying form, she touched his shoulder lightly and mumbled his name softly. She knew what he was going through, knew the feeling of the loss of someone dear and special. She felt his pain and it hurt her badly to see the once stubborn over-confident man like that. It reminded her of the state he was in when his hollow threatened to take over his soul when he fought with the Espada for the first time. But at that time, she was able to return him back to his old self with a few simple words. Though she knew that, that time it wouldn't be the same.
Nothing would be the same.
Ichigo heard Rukia's voice calling him then he felt a hand gently rest on his shoulder for a minute but he still didn't move or do anything which showed that he was aware of her presence. He didn't want to show her how weak he was, that had been one of the reasons he came to his room, though until now he had been acting like a helpless child who needed to be comforted and helped.
As soon as she removed her hand, he felt the warmth of her touch dissipate. Although her hand didn't linger on his shoulder, he loved the feeling of someone's comforting hand. It reminded him of his late mother and how she used to make him feel happy with simply smiling and holding him close.
He missed that feeling a lot and knew that he wouldn't be able to feel it again. There was no one in his life that he cared about anymore, not that he had someone before in that way at least. Moments of silence passed without much care until finally he started drifting off to sleep again.
Rukia heard his even breaths and assumed that he had fallen asleep. She sighed then before she left the room, she turned her head one last time and told the sleeping man in a pleading voice not to do anything rash and assured him that he wasn't alone. For Rukia's ignorance, a little stuffed animal heard every whispered word she had spoken. From that moment, Kon realized that some interesting events would find its way to the young Kurosaki's life once again.
That day it started raining heavily as if the sky itself was crying for the events that occurred in the orange-haired shinigami's life. Thunder roared and lighting sliced through the sky. Ichigo awoke later, only to find that he had slept through the day and that it was night time.
He stared outside his window at the pouring rain, a sad look plastered on his face. Rain resembled nothing but the sadness in his life. It always carried grief and nothing happy came from it. It reminded him a lot of the day his mother had been killed, though Ichigo tried as much as he could to suppress the horrible memories from wandering in his mind.
He didn't need any more sadness than what he was already in. Anything more and he might just break.
Ichigo was snapped from his thoughts as he heard the sound of an angry hollow howling in the dark night, slicing through the beautiful silence.
He quickly grabbed his badge and changed into the form of a shinigami. He was going to kick that hollow's ass and make him wish that he had never appeared in that town. Ichigo was determined to have his revenge on every single hollow.
He jumped out of his window and landed silently on the next building's roof, closing his eyes for a minute, and smelling the fresh air; enjoying the quiet night until the hollow's scream brought him back to the cruel reality of life.
His usual scowl on his face deepened and he went off to find the damn hollow and slay him. Upon finding the hollow, he quickly sliced through his mask and finished him off. He started making his way back to his house but stopped in his track as he sensed another reiatsu nearing him. Apparently, more hollows were being drawn to him by his own reiatsu. He smirked and held Zangetsu tighter.
The hollows appeared one by one until the sky was almost full; with one last scream the hollows declared the beginning of the attack. They attacked Ichigo relentlessly, all of them wanting to eat his soul however Ichigo wasn't planning on letting them kill him without a fight.
He charged at them with everything he had, wanting to let out some of his anger and pain and that was the perfect opportunity to do that, so he didn't want to lose it. One down and . . . one hundred to go maybe? He didn't care how many they were as long as he was going to slay them.
While the orange-haired shinigami was busy killing hollows, he didn't notice the other hollow like-bug sneaking behind him. All of a sudden, Ichigo felt something sharp rip at his shoulder and blood started gushing out of the wound.
He looked behind him to find the hollow-like bug laughing at him and telling him that he tasted good. The young Kurosaki smirked at him and dared him to try that again. With that, the hollow-like bug attacked Ichigo head on and only received an instant death.
The young Vizard had been killing one hollow after another. And now he was in his Bankai form. His reiatsu had been decreasing as well as his strength. He panted heavily and swung his Zanpakutou to finish another hollow.
There were many scratches covering his body, one of them found its way to his cheek and trickled down blood. Although Ichigo was tired, he wasn't about to rest; no, not yet. He was going to kill them all, every one of them. Before he could attack again, something that looked like a tentacle managed to pierce into his back and all the way through to come out from his abdomen.
Ichigo winced and coughed out blood.
How was this freak of nature able to do this to me?
He had fought Aizen and his Espada and won, but that low level hollow managed to do that to him. That was a surprise; maybe he had fought for too long and now he was tired?
However, he didn't care, as he used Zangetsu to cut the tentacle. Once he heard the scream of the hollow, he attacked him and destroyed its mask. He started breathing heavily because the blood was flowing out of his body leaving him weak and light-headed.
His vision started to blur and he couldn't focus anymore. The last thing he remembered seeing was: a bunch of hollows coming straight at him and then nothing. Darkness enveloped him and he slipped into unconsciousness.
To Be continued...
A/N: I don't own Bleach or its characters they are all property of Tite Kubo.
Let me know what you think (R&R).