Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach. It is property of Tite Kubo.
It was a just a casual morning. Casual, lovely, bland. A Saturday morning of relaxation. At least, it was supposed to be.
Kuchiki Rukia sat down in the green grass, knees pulled up to her chest and back pressed firmly against a late blossoming plum tree. A book lay open against her knees; she held a bunny bookmark in her hand to prevent any chill breezes from blowing it away. Kurosaki Ichigo sat on the other side of the tree with legs outstretched. He was currently happily munching away on an apple, quite loudly in fact.
At first, it didn't bother Rukia, but the longer he chewed, the more it began to get on her nerves. Finally, she looked over her shoulder at him and snapped, "Must you chew so loud?! I am trying to read!"
Ichigo looked at her blankly and shrugged, muttering something underneath his breath about how pushy she was and how he refused to listen to her. He continued to eat loudly, but he was nice enough to lower the volume a few notches.
Rukia glanced over her shoulder at him again, taking a small note of how distant he had been to her lately. Since the Grimmjow Jeagerjaques incident, Ichigo remained silent and strayed away from her. And then when he disappeared the day after the Espada incident, he never even told her where he went or what he did. And then when Jeagerjaques returned, Ichigo had new abilities. However, he never explained how he learned them.
Maybe he was going to tell her. Maybe he was about to tell her after the meeting concerning Inoue's disappearance if her brother hadn't come and taken her back. Rukia looked away from the redhead, dragging her eyes back to the piece of literature in her lap.
Ichigo couldn't bring himself to look at her.
Twice she had gotten hurt. Twice he had been unable to prevent her injuries. Twice he had been unable to save her. Tousen interrupted the fight the first time, taking Jeagerjaques away before the winner of the brawl had been decided. The second time, Shinji had saved Rukia from the same Espada who hurt her the first time, succeeded in hurting Jeagerjaques and then another Espada came and took him away again.
The major problems lay within his hollow. Rukia's injuries not only upset Ichigo himself, but it also annoyed his hollow, Hichigo Ogichi Shirosaki. During the second battle, Hichigo had been unable to save Rukia as well from her injuries.
He was the one major problem that would never go away for the rest of Ichigo's life. The hollow was always there, whispering to him, hushed angry whispers whenever he closed his eyes or when the silence needed to be broken. He was always whispering... when Ichigo wasn't in his inner world. In the inner world, Hichigo was shouting. As loud as he could, he yelled at Ichigo for being weak, for losing battles, for being a lazy King, for letting his Queen get hurt.
It took a while to figure out who Hichigo's queen was. It took him a while since the hollow never called her by her name. He hinted by calling her 'Soul Reaper' and 'Shinigami' and then Ichigo realized that the Queen was Rukia Kuchiki. Why she was his Queen, he had no idea. Hichigo wasn't explaining either.
It was hard to be around Rukia. Every time Ichigo was with her, Hichigo would start whispering things. Dark, naughty things about Rukia; things Ichigo didn't want to hear. At first, Ichigo would just ignore the hollow, suppressing him and continuing with life. But that was now becoming more difficult since Shinji demanded he not suppress the hollow and Hichigo was becoming more persistent. Even worse, Hichigo could easily take over Ichigo's body like child's play. Lucky for Ichigo, the hollow rarely did that.
You see, taking over Ichigo's body wasn't the worse thing the hollow could do. Hichigo figured out that he could materialize himself into Ichigo's world like all other zanpakuto spirits instead of just dragging Ichigo into his own inner world. Besides, real world was much better than inner world. Inner world had memories of Rukia Kuchiki. Real world had the real thing. Fortunately, he didn't do that often, finding out that overdoing it gobbled up spirit energy and caused Rukia's hollow pager to keep going off.
"Kiiiiiiiiiing," Hichigo said obnoxiously in Ichigo's head. "Queen is jus' right there. Why don'cha talk to her instead of eatin' yer apple? Yer already fat enough."
Ichigo ignored his hollow's comments. Just ignoring, no suppressing. Suppressing is a no no.
"C'mon, King, I want her. I need her. Let me have her, King. Pleeeeeeeeeeease."
"No, Hollow," Ichigo answered firmly like he was talking to a child. "She's busy."
"She's readin' a book. How is that 'busy'? Looks like a borin' book to me. Maybe we can entertain her."
"No, Hollow," Ichigo said again. "No way."
"Alright, fine. I guess I'll entertain her myself."
"NO!" Without thinking, Ichigo had said the last word out loud. Hichigo snickered inside his mind as Rukia turned around with a confused look. "I, er, dropped my apple," he said quickly, pointing to the apple core he had set down in the grass.
Rukia looked at him for a few moments longer with a frown becoming more apparent by the second. Finally, she shook her head and got up to her feet, dusting off her blue dress. "I'm just going to read back at your house."
Ichigo nodded, getting up to follow her. "Alright then."
Hichigo was careful that night. He waited for Rukia's pager to go off since a stupid, lowly hollow appeared just about every night. She had always insisted that she could handle these on her own so Ichigo just slept, ignoring the irritating beeping of the hollow radar.
The hollow remained awake in the inner world while Ichigo slept. He waited patiently for her pager to ring. The wait was tedious and Hichigo stayed up all night just waiting for it. Finally a beeping went off! Hichigo sat up and realized that it wasn't Rukia's pager but King's alarm clock.
The one time the hollows decided to take the night off!
The following night after constant whispering to King during the day, Hichigo sat patiently waiting once more. "If no hollows appear t'night, there is gonna be some trouble," the hollow muttered sardonically.
He sat there on the lopsided buildings, waiting and waiting for the sudden flare of his Queen's reishi. The hollow, bored easily, nearly fell asleep until he was jerked into consciousness by a shrill beeping in the silence of the night, followed by the surge of a Shinigami's spiritual pressure.
Ichigo stirred in his sleep from the spirit energy and then turned over, letting out a soft snore. Hichigo materialized from his inner world to the real world and slowly snuck out the window and followed Rukia silently in the night.
He stayed off silently to the side while he watched her easily and flawlessly dispatch the weak hollow. When the mask was destroyed by her zanpakuto, it shrieked before disintegrating into tiny particles. With a cackle like laugh, Hichigo emerged from the sidelines to face his surprised Queen. "Hiya," he said with a smirk.
"Ichigo?!" Rukia questioned.
"Close," Hichigo answered, giving her a bit of leniency since she had never met him before.
"Are you Ichigo's hollow?" she asked cautiously.
"Oh yeah," Hichigo grinned. Upon hearing his answer, Rukia stepped back, resuming a defensive stance with Sode no Shirayuki held out tightly in front of her. "Aw, I don' wanna fight ya," Hichigo says mockingly as he steps forward to her. "I jus' wanna see yer face and talk to ya without King hanging around."
"Talk to me?" Rukia repeated, stepping back to keep the distance between herself and the hollow. "What could a hollow want to talk about with a Shinigami?"
Hichigo smirked evilly and performed a shunpo. In a blur, he stood in front of Rukia. Cackling maniacally, he clenched his fist and slammed it down onto the hilt of her sword. She gasped and let go of it; the sword clanged as it hit the ground. Before she could use any kidô on the hollow, he swiped at her and had her shoved against a telephone pole. The pole shook upon impact and before she could touch the ground, Hichigo caught her, holding her up by her throat.
"You pig," she hissed softly. Instinctively, her hands grasped at his wrists to loosen his hold on her neck.
"Pretty, pretty, Queen," Hichigo whispered as he leaned forward and ran his tongue against her cheek.
It was then Rukia realized that the hollow's hold on her throat was not to wring her pretty neck but just prevent her from running from him. His grasp was loose enough to let her breathe easily, but tight enough to keep her still.
"Who are you?" She choked out.
The hollow stopped licking her pale skin, pulling away fractionally to smirk. His fingers unfurled themselves around her throat and touched her face. He tilted her face up to his and abruptly kissed her. Rukia jerked, attempting to get away from him, but his hands moved to her arms to keep her still as he kissed her roughly. His tongue darted past her lips in a French Kiss and after what seemed like an eternity to Rukia, he finally pulled away.
Still smirking, his lips pressed against her neck as he bit her hard. Rukia gasped and Hichigo kissed it lightly, knowing that it would bruise to be a hickey later. He continued to kiss her neck gently and finally looked up into her shocked, and frightened violet eyes. "Hichigo Ogichi Shirosaki," he said huskily.
There was silence as Rukia tried to find her voice. "W-what?" she stuttered.
"My name," the hollow answered. "Ya asked fer it."