Hiya, Yoshie here! Lately I've been going through a little bit of a dry spell with all of my stories. I hope this one is different. (I just came back from holidays, so hopefully I'm renewed!)

As always, comments are greatly apreciated! So don't go forgetting to write me a little something on your way off this page. hehe!

Anyway, please enjoy!

I own nothing but my imagination!


Chapter 1

What started out as just another day.

"Rukia! Dodge left!"

The raven-haired girl had heard her partner, quickly jumping away from an oncoming Hollow attack. She then spoke without turning to him, "Ichigo, watch your back."

Without a second thought, Ichigo cast out his zanpakuto, blocking the strike from behind. He spun, swinging the sword in hopes of cutting down his opposer, but no such luck. "Dammit!" 'Where do these guys keep coming from?!'

"Ichigo! Focus!" Rukia hissed from beside him.

"I am focused!" He snapped back, whilst blocking yet another enemy attack.

His first assignment while in the Spirit World.

And God, He hated it.

Right now, they were just about a hundred feet under the Seireitei. The Spiritual pressure seeped from the walls. And it wasn't friendly. Rukia had been given the assignment by her Captain, Ichigo strained to remember the name. Ukitake...? Anyway, she had been sent to cleanse out the group of Hollows gathering in the dank, dark tunnels underneath the Seireitei. Ukitake had permitted Ichigo to accompany Rukia, accepting it as a good idea. To Ichigo, the captain's permission made no difference.

He would have gone anyway.

Since arriving, they had been jumped eleven times by various enemies. And each group they met were tougher than the last. They had been given a name, 'Goldtooth'; the suspected leader of their opponents, this Goldtooth—

Was close.

The sheer cut of steel on flesh tore Ichigo from his thoughts. He let out a pained yell as his upper arm was slashed. He jumped back, quickly inspecting the injury. Just a flesh wound, he decided. Ichigo charged at the perpetrator, blade out straight as he struck right through the centre of its mask. With a shrill scream, it dematerialised before Ichigo's eyes.

Rukia approached her panting partner, "Ichigo?"

He reached up to place a hand over his steadily bleeding wound, "I feel weak." he stated simply. His eyes held exhaustion.

Rukia shook her head, sighing. She approached him, gently moving his hand to inspect this new injury, "You think it might be the extra few dozen hits you've taken?" she gave him a sarcastic smile.

He let out a shaky laugh, "Could be." Standing straight, he took a step forward, "Come on. Lets finish off Goldtooth so I can go back and study for our algebra exam tomorrow."

His legs were about to give way, so he was relieved that Rukia stopped him, "Oh no, you're going to sit and let me fix you up."

He rolled his eyes, "You're the boss." he said, easing himself down so he could sit gently on the stone floor of the tunnel. He leaned his back against the wall, taking harsh breaths. Rukia pulled the robes down from his shoulders in order to see the cut clearly, "Dammit, Ichigo..."

"What?"

She looked at him disbelievingly, "You're kidding me right? Look what you've done to yourself! What possesses you to put yourself on the line like this?"

"Better me than you..." he uttered under his breath.

She stared at him for a moment, "Ichigo what—"

Suddenly, Rukia fell to the ground. Ichigo's eyes widened at the intense spirit pressure to be felt near by. How did it get so close?!

"Ichigo!"

His mind refocused just in time for him to grab Rukia and jump out of the way of a surprise strike. He launched himself back, now about twenty feet from where Rukia had been healing him. He clutched Rukia to his chest protectively, "You Ok?"

She panted, "I... can't move! This reiatsu... it's so powerful..."

He looked into her blank eyes. She was petrified, shaking violently in his arms, "Ichigo... retreat!"

He didn't even think about it. He glared at the on coming emeny. He looked into Rukia's drained eyes. She knew what he was thinking, and immediately shook her head, "You can't!"

He knelt down, placing Rukia gently on the ground, "I'll be fine."

He turned back to the approaching Hollow. It slowly came out of the shadows, and Ichigo saw—

A Golden tooth.

"You..." he growled.

He looked surprisingly human. Not much taller than Ichigo himself, wearing shredded robes and a white mask covering his face. He had a gold bucktooth. His red eyed blazed into Ichigo's.

"Kurosaki Ichigo, a pleasure." the Hollow sneered.

Ichigo took a step back, "How do you know my name?"

Goldtooth laughed, "You're joking right? How couldn't I know you?" he noticed the shinigami lying next to the battle ready Ichigo, "Ahh, and this must be Kuchiki-san..."

"Stay away from her." Ichigo threatened through clenched teeth.

"I know all about you two. You caused quite the commotion in Soul Society," he sneered, "Or do you forget?"

No sooner had the words left the Hollow's mouth, Ichigo felt himself lifting from the ground. His eyes forced shut. Once he could reopen them,

"Holy shit!"

The Soukyoku. He was back at the execution grounds of Soul Society.

"Ichigo!"

He looked down, "Rukia!

Tied once again to the scaffold, Rukia faced the giant flaming bird for the second time. Ichigo watched the bird lung toward her. He frantically reached for Zangetsu. But he wasn't there.

"Ichigo!"

No!

His feet left the scaffold, eyes shut once more as he returned to the present, "Rukia!"

She reached up from the ground, tugging on his robes, "I'm Ok..."

Goldtooth laughed.

"What did you just do?!" Ichigo felt his hand tighten around the hilt of his sword.

"It's a hallucination." Rukia stated quietly.

The hollow laughed once more, "You are in fact wrong, my dear," he turned back to Ichigo, "I manipulate dreams."

"Impossible!" Ichigo spat.

Goldtooth made no emotional response, but simply said, "You have been experiencing that particular dream a lot lately. Eh, Kurosaki?"

Ichigo saw red, "You bastard! Stay out of my head!" He ran towards the enemy, ready to strike. None of Rukia's calls couldn't stop him now, as he swung his blade into the Hollow's chest. A look of satisfaction played across his face.

But it didn't last long.

Ichigo fell to his knees, still clutching Zangetsu. His vision became blurred, his head became light, "W-what did you do?" he asked, his voice almost panicked.

Goldtooth grinned, pulling Zangetsu from him and throwing it to the side, "Did I forget to mention," his eyes flashed menacingly, "Those who come in contact with me fall into my trap, my strongest power. Where your dreams, your hopes, everything you care about... turns against you. You fall into a sleep... where you never awake," he sneered, "You're as good as dead."

Ichigo's eyes widened as he fell to the floor. Unable to stay awake. He could see Rukia watching in horror. He was more afraid for her... even now.

"Rukia..." he whispered. Then, oblivion.


"Ichigo!" Rukia cried, forcing the will into her legs. Forcing herself to stand, "You monster! What have you done?" he knew full well what he had done, but she couldn't believe it. She just couldn't, "Bring him back!"

Goldtoothe shrugged, "I can't do that. Few people can. I think I only know of one person ever strong enough to break this curse," he smirked, "and I sure as hell ain't telling you."

He watched the Shinigami rise. Her reiatsu soared to levels he didn't think possible from her. She did not draw her blade. "Hadou #4; White Lightening!"

The Hollow let out a pained cry as the bolt of lightening struck through his chest, "You bitch!" he ran towards her.

But her reiatsu soared again, "Bakudo #99, complete restraint!" the Hollow paused for a moment, suddenly his body felt heavy, "First song, Shiryuu!" Goldtooth felt his upper body becoming wrapped. He continued toward the shinigami woman, "Second song, Hyakurensan!" He fell forward, just feet from Rukia. His legs were now wrapped. She glared murderously at her opponent, "I need not use the third song... I want to watch you suffer!"

She raised her hand, "Bakudo #90 Longinus!" At this a multitude of tiny spears were summoned around Goldtooth. Rukia lowered her raised hand, causing the spears to strike into the ground, through his hands, arms, legs and feet. Goldtooth howled in agony. Rukia scoffed, "You don't even know pain yet!"

A red beam then appeared over him, glowing menacingly. Rukia clenched her fist, and the beam shot down on to the Hollow. His screams could not be heard over the shear power of the Kidou. When she had finished he could barely breathe. His entire body was singed. Burns covered every inch of flesh.

And she wasn't done yet.

"How do I free Ichigo?!" she demanded.

He laughed, despite his weakness, "You... can't."

Her breathing came out in murderous hisses, "Tell me!" she levitated his destroyed body from the ground, smacking him into a wall, "Tell me who can help him!"

Goldtooth stared at her for a moment, then spat in her face, "Even if I die for it. I'm not telling you," he nodded towards Ichigo's lifeless body, then laughed, "Do you know what an honour it is to be the one to finally kill Kurosaki Ichigo?! He's gonna die."

She glared at him so lethally, he could taste her hatred. Then she smiled, but it was a smile worse than the glare. It was as evil as the ruler of the underworld. She spoke with abrupt calmness, "Very well. If you're not going to tell me how to bring Ichigo back," he saw a deadly flash in her eye, "I guess I have no more use for you."

She stood, legs apart, hands together; almost in prayer. "Send my opponent to an early grave. Make my hatred steel, strong enough to pierce the very soul of my nemesis. Bakudou #78, Hundred Knives Torture."

The hollow's eyes widened. She was using a Kidou, forbidden for Shinigami. Forbidden by the Court of Pure Souls. Heavy cloths of Kidou wrapped around him, forming an iron sarcophagus. Rukia clenched her fist, and a hundred knives formed around her enemy. A hundred knives of searing hot reiatsu levitated around the sarcophagus.

Rukia was circling the Hollow confidently, but every fibre of her inner-being told her to stop. That this was too far. She was going over the edge. Crossing the line separating them from her. The walls leaked with this evil reiatsu... it overwhelmed her. She was losing her resolve. This Hollow was as much an enemy now... as a victim.

She let out a quiet laugh, "You know... this is used to be used for interrogation, back in the old days. Before it was forbidden. They saw it as inhumane, but I consider this... to be just perfect for you." She willed one blade to pierce through into the coffin. Goldtooth's screams were deafening. But she didn't even flinch, "They say, the longer you hold your enemy, the easier it is for them to escape," she circled around him. Almost deciding where to strike next, "That's the reason I burned you so badly first..." at that another knife ran through him. Another ear piercing scream, but Rukia yelled over it, "So you could experience, just how pissed off I really am!"

Three daggers this time. His cries were becoming somewhat song like. And Rukia was keeping up the tempo. Five next. Then one after the other, in split second rhythm. She then halted. Goldtooth watched her, his red eyes laced with fear.

"Tell me how to save him." she spoke, but she was not looking at his eyes. No, she focused instead on the next spot she would pierce. He panted, blood dripping from his mouth, "Just kill me!"

Rukia laughed at this, "Kill you?!" she spat, "No... that would be merciful! I wouldn't get my answers like that." another pierced through his stomach. She sneered, "And I like answers."

She knew she was losing it. Going over the edge. But she needed it! She needed it to save her friend.

Goldtooth coughed up a mass of blood. He looked over at Ichigo, "He'd be disgusted at you right now."

She knew he was trying to guilt her, and it was working.

But he would never know, "You think I don't know that?!" Another dagger, "I don't care!"

She was about to strike him again when, "Kuchiki-san..."

She stopped, dropping her enemy in shock. He landed on the ground with a sickening thud. Blood pooling around his shattered body. He spun round to face, "Kisuke!"

The man tipped his hat at the sight. Then he looked to Rukia, "You... did this?"

She felt a sudden wave of strong, good reiatsu. Wrapping around her like a wollen blanket. Forcing warmth back into her now cold heart. She looked up at the shopkeeper. It was not his. She then looked over at her lifeless friend. Ichigo... Her breathing became rapid. She could no longer stay standing. Falling to her knees, she muttered regrets, and a name, "Ichigo..."

The man looked up from her, to the tortured Hollow. He walked over, his stick transforming into a blade. He looked at the Hollow with... remorse, "I'm sorry..."

Goldtooth stared at him in disbelief, "You!" At that he jammed the blade into his mask. With a relieved sigh, it vanished.

Rukia looked over just to see him disappearing, "No!" she cried, running towards him. But Kisuke grabbed her, holding her back. She fought, "He's trapped ichigo! Without him..."

Kisuke sighed, grasping her attention, "I know..." Rukia panted for breath, suddenly feeling very claustrophobic. He squeezed her arm gently, "And, I know a way to save him."

Now, unable to breath, Rukia fell to her knees again, clutching his robes, "Thank you!"

He sighed, "Don't thank me yet."

She looked up at him. His face was in a harsh grimace, "You're going to be the one saving him."


There we go!

Hope that was a good start.

Thanks for reading!

Yoshie