A/N-This story is supposed to take place right after the conflict with Aizen ends. Credit for the concept of this story goes to Rantu1324.
When Rukia and Ichigo are headed back to Ichigo's house after spending way too long at the arcade, the mood is light, and they're both feeling relatively happy. Rukia was able to beat Ichigo at a game of air hockey, but Ichigo had beat her at every other game.
They've been spending more quality time together since Aizen's defeat. It's like they've both come to greatly appreciate the nice things that life has to offer rather than just always concentrating on fighting.
They don't say a whole lot to one another on the walk home, but both of them are glad that they're still partners, even after Aizen's death.
When they turn on Ichigo's street, three hollows suddenly appear. Neither Ichigo or Rukia hesitate to turn into their Shinigami forms to fight them. Ichigo goes for the two on the left, and Rukia goes for the one on the right.
As Rukia sizes up the hollow, she realizes that it's slowly releasing more reiatsu, a surprise to her, since she'd already figured it to be a weakling. It sure doesn't look special. It's purple with the appearance of a cockroach, and a basic looking hollow mask.
She fails to notice how the other two hollow have lured Ichigo far away from her for their battle, nor would it really bother her even if she did notice it.
I can handle myself.
Rukia draws her sword, and she's surprised that the reiatsu that the hollow is releasing, is still rapidly growing stronger. Rukia leaps towards the hollow with her zanpakutou out, but a long leg suddenly snaps out and knocks her away, before her blade can make contact.
Rukia flies back about ten meters, but she quickly bounces to her feet and narrows her eyes at the hollow.
What in the hell is its ability?
"Dance! Sode No Shirayuki!" Rukia calls out causing her zanpakutou to release into its pure white form.
"What is that?" The hollow finally speaks, and Rukia smiles confidently at the hollow.
"First Dance!" Rukia uses shunpo to land next to the hollow. "White Moon!" Rukia calls out as the circle formulates around both of them, the hollow suddenly releases a huge amount of reiatsu, and as Rukia's circle of ice is formulating, it's suddenly blasted away. It's like the hollow created an explosion to stop her from killing it.
Rukia's eyes widen in shock and the hollow is upon her in that one instant, since she was standing so damned close. Rukia feels a great amount of surprise when the hollow bites her in the side of her body, but doesn't tear her flesh from her body.
It holds on for several moments, and Rukia can feel a strange reiatsu pumping all around her as the pressure increases. She gasps from the pain, but she doesn't scream. It feels like vibrations of reiatsu all around her, and she is rendered unable to move.
Suddenly she can hear the hollow in her head. It's still biting her and reiatsu seems to be transferring between the two of them at a very rapid rate.
My ability is unlike any other hollow that you've ever met before. I have the ability to make Shinigami develop an inner hollow. I was created by Aizen and nearly killed in the winter war. I survived though. Once your inner hollow takes over, you will be under my command.
You, Shinigami, are my soldier now. Even if I die, you'll still have an inner hollow that you can't keep control of, and you'll end up destroying yourself in the end. Don't forget what the name of your commander is now, do you hear me? The name of your commander is-
"Rukia!" Ichigo's voice interrupts the voice in her head, and right before her eyes, the hollow disintegrates from Ichigo's attack.
Rukia's eyes are wide with fear, and she's still unable to move, probably an effect from being bitten by the hollow. She's gasping as she squints at all of the reiatsu that is surrounding her, making it impossible to see Ichigo.
All of the reiatsu in the air suddenly flies at Rukia, and Ichigo's mouth drops open in shock as Rukia is engulfed in so much reiatsu he can't even see her for a full minute. Slowly though, her body seems to absorb all of the reiatsu that surrounded her body.
Ichigo is rendered speechless. He's never seen anything like what he was just seeing. He falls to Rukia's side and looks at her with total panic in his eyes. Her eyes are open, but distant for a moment. Ichigo stares at her with a horrified expression until she blinks him into focus.
"Ichigo…" Rukia's voice is weak and Ichigo inspects the spot where the hollow had its hold on her.
Amazingly there's not a whole lot of blood. He's not even sure she needs to be healed. His eyes widen as the wounds heal in front of his eyes and she lays there just gasping.
"Rukia…you can heal your own wounds like that?" Ichigo says in wonder as her body looks completely uninjured. Rukia scrunches up her face in pain.
"I can't move." Rukia says softly, and Ichigo's eyes widen. She doesn't even understand what he was just saying. Of course she couldn't just heal herself when she's unable to move.
If she just healed herself then she's done something that she has never done before. That's a scary thought, considering what she had heard the hollow saying inside of her head before Ichigo killed it.
Ichigo stares down at her with a very confused expression, but after seeing the scared look on her face, he gathers her up carefully into his arms and carries her over to her gigai, where she merges with it.
He merges with his own body and picks Rukia back up very carefully so that he doesn't hurt her.
"I'm taking you over to Inoue's apartment. Maybe she can help remove the effect of not being able to move." Ichigo says lightly, but Rukia quickly protests.
What if Inoue realizes what happened to me? I can't let her see me right now. I need time to think. What if that hollow wasn't lying? Will I really develop an inner hollow?
"Just take me home and let me rest, please Ichigo?" Rukia asks in a pitiful voice. Ichigo sighs.
"If you're not back to normal in the morning, I'm calling Inoue over." Ichigo says with a warning note in his voice. Rukia sighs a breath of relief.
"Okay." Rukia says in total agreement. Her entire body feels like it's tingling. She doesn't believe for one minute that she won't ever move again. Ichigo adjusts her in his arms for better comfort and Rukia won't meet his eyes.
"You have me pretty worried, I hope you know," Ichigo says as he gives her a stern look. Rukia finally looks at him and she feels her cheeks redden.
"That hollow…blew apart my first dance. That's how it was able to attack me." Rukia says in a small voice.
"Blew it away?" Ichigo asks with surprised eyes.
"I was shocked too. That's never happened before. I've had opponents dodge and break away from my first dance, but never blow it apart as it was engulfing them." Rukia tells him in a quiet voice.
"I'm glad it didn't do more damage before I was able to kill it." Ichigo tells her as he quickens his pace since his home is only a little further away.
"I feel kind of tired." Rukia says in a weak voice, and Ichigo jumps Rukia up through his window before he sets her on his bed and stares at her nervously.
"I really want Inoue to take a look at you." Ichigo whispers in a worried voice. Rukia just looks up at him.
"You said yourself that I was healed. All I need is a good night of rest, and I am sure I'll be back to normal in the morning." Rukia tells him in a stronger voice.
Ichigo gives her a very dubious look. Normally she wouldn't hesitate to let Inoue heal her, and now that she can't move, she doesn't want to see Inoue.
"How can you be okay with not being able to move?" Ichigo finally asks her since he has to know the answer. Rukia lets out a little sigh and focuses all of her concentration on her arm. She is finally able to reach out and touch Ichigo's hand.
"It's already starting to come back. See?" Rukia says before she lets her hand drop back to the bed. It had taken a lot to move her arm like that.
"I can see how much effort that took you. Wouldn't you prefer to feel better sooner rather than later?" Ichigo asks her, hoping she'll change her mind. He's shocked when he hears a soft snore come from her instead and he growls in frustration.
She fell asleep in the middle of our conversation! Should I call Inoue to come heal her as she sleeps, or would Rukia be upset with me if I did that?
Ichigo pulls the chair out and sits down next to the bed, watching for any sign that Rukia's condition is getting worse rather than better.
He ends up nodding off as he sits in the chair watching over her, and when Rukia wakes up in the morning, she blushes when she sees Ichigo passed out in the chair, like he fell asleep keeping a close eye on her.
Please let me be able to move!
Rukia attempts to sit up and smiles when she does so easily.
I shouldn't have gotten so worried.
Rukia reaches her arms out to stretch them and she wakes Ichigo with her loud yawn as she stretches. Ichigo's eyes widen in surprise at seeing her sitting up an moving with no apparent problems.
"You can move again! Thank goodness, Rukia!" Ichigo's first words of the morning, and Rukia can't help but to grin over his apparent concern over her.
"I had a feeling it would be like this after I got some rest." Rukia says to him with a smile that reaches her eyes fully. Ichigo lets out a big breath of relief.
"You had me pretty damned worried last night." Ichigo tells her as he gives her a look of pure concern.
"Sorry about that, thanks for taking such good care of me though," Rukia says as she gives Ichigo a shy smile. Ichigo rolls his eyes at her.
"You expected something different?" He asks with a bit of a sarcastic tone, causing Rukia's smile to grow wider.
"Of course not, it's always nice that I can count on you." Rukia says with a silly grin. Ichigo realizes it's getting too mushy and so he stands and leaves to use the restroom.
Rukia shivers as she recalls what happened the night before, and contemplates what she heard the hollow saying in her head. She pulls off her shirt and inspects her side where she knows the hollow bit her.
Ichigo realizes he needs a towel from his room and so he heads back in and turns completely red and wide eyed when he sees Rukia with her shirt off and in her hand as she inspects her side.
Ichigo makes a sputtering sound and Rukia looks up with horror and quickly covers her bare chest with her shirt, as she turns even redder than Ichigo.
"I forgot a towel." Ichigo mutters as he goes into the closet. Rukia stays red faced until he leaves the room.
"Jeez. How embarrassing." Rukia mutters before she fumbles to get her shirt back on. She hadn't expected Ichigo to turn around and head back into the room, and now he's seen her topless. She can't stop blushing at the thought of that.
Rukia quickly decides she'll bathe later on, and she just changes her clothes and runs a brush through her hair before she hops out of Ichigo's window. She doesn't exactly want to run into him right away after he just saw her without a shirt on.
Back in the shower, Ichigo is trying his best to get the image of topless Rukia out of his head, but he's having no success. He closes his eyes as he realizes that the image of her bare chest had affected him way more than when he'd seen Yoruichi naked so long ago, and on a much different level.
Everything about Rukia appeals to Ichigo, and it's always been that way. While most other guys were ogling over Rangiku-san or Inoue, Ichigo had always felt drawn on every level to Rukia. Seeing her without a shirt on only adds to the feeling of being drawn towards her. Seeing her sleep in his bed had done so too.
What is wrong with me? I've never thought this way in the past. I was always able to keep my mind focused on the battles in front of me.
Now Aizen is defeated though, and his hormones are all forcing him to keep thinking about Rukia all topless, standing in his bedroom as she inspected her perfect silky white side to make sure there's no marks from her battle the night before.
How did she heal herself like that? I was so surprised when I saw that. I was even more surprised to see her topless, though.
Ichigo finally gets out of the shower and is dismayed that his body seems to have a belated reaction to seeing Rukia topless. He's thought about it so much, that he's as stiff as a board.
"Shit." Ichigo grumbles as he stands there with his arms crossed and thinks of school exams and being woken up by his father.
Soon enough he's back to normal and he heads back to his room to get dressed. He's relieved and disappointed when Rukia isn't in there. He's not really surprised that she made herself scarce though, she had looked pretty mortified that he had caught her with her shirt off. As Ichigo changes into his clothes for the day, he thinks deeply about the situation.
I'm lucky that hollow last night didn't kill her. I thought I was too late as I was jumping to make the kill, but the hollow wasn't biting her to eat her. It appeared as though it was trying to take something from her. Maybe it was eating her reiatsu or something.
I wish I understood it all, but she didn't say much about it other than the hollow had busted through her first dance. I hope she's really back to normal now. I'll only ask her about it if she doesn't seem like she's herself the next time we have to fight a hollow.
Ichigo is blissfully unaware Rukia is currently encountering a hollow, as she had been on a walk to think, without him.
Rukia quickly pops out of her gigai to face the hollow, it appears to be a regular hollow, but she had thought that about the hollow she faced last night, too.
Rukia leaps high into the air with her zanpakutou out and she kills the hollow quite easily. She sheathes her sword and quickly makes her way back to her gigai.
One of Aizen's hollows, eh? I was unlucky enough to get bitten by one of Aizen's special hollows. I have never healed myself before…can an inner hollow really be inside of me now? Maybe what happened wasn't healing at all, but high speed regeneration?
I hope it's not true. I hope it was just a random coincidence that I was able to heal like that. I don't feel a hollow in me right now, and I don't feel any kind of unrest within my soul. Maybe Ichigo killed it before it could complete its technique and make me have an inner hollow.
Rukia does her best to ignore the feeling of unease that has settled about her entire being immediately after having those thoughts.
What would it mean if I did have an inner hollow? Would Soul Society want to eliminate me, again? Will I destroy myself, or the people I care about if I do have an inner hollow? For now, I'll wait and see. I want to be sure before I go telling anybody about any of this.
Rukia sighs as she continues her walk. It unnerves her that a hollow was able to rip apart her first dance. She's become so much stronger since the winter war ended. She's even materialized her zanpakutou, something she hasn't shared with anybody else, even Ichigo. The fact that a hollow could break apart her first dance meant that it had been a very powerful hollow indeed.
"Maybe I let my guard down a bit too much, but in over forty years of being a Shinigami, that never happened before." Rukia mutters in a low voice as she concentrates on the sidewalk in front of her.
The only comforting thought is knowing that if she does have an inner hollow, she certainly isn't alone. The closest person to her also has an inner hollow, which he has learned to dominate and keep in check even as he uses that inner hollow power.
Rukia is a Shinigami though. She's never had any desire to take on the types of powers that hollows tend to possess. Even though she doesn't hold Ichigo's inner hollow against him, she's never had any desire to have such a similar type of power, and she finds herself hoping throughout the day that it's not true.
I have been killing hollows for a long time now. I have no desire to wield their powers, or have their abilities. I am a Shinigami, not only that, I'm a Kuchiki. I want to keep being a Shinigami.