This is it, the last chapter!
Hope you guys enjoy it, and tell me what you thought when you're done!
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, or the characters, or Ichigo (sob)
"Ichigo…" her voice was weak, and she was pleading. Not for her life, but for him, "Don't… don't forget who you are…"
Was it so childish, that she had hoped that would work? That he would hear her words and suddenly find himself again. If it was… then it was just one more childish dream crushed. As his warm brown eyes did not return. They stayed cold, harsh… dead.
'Ichigo…' She could not believe how, at a time like this all she could think was, 'I'm sorry… I didn't protect you…'
He swung his blade down, and Rukia clenched her eyes shut, waiting for the strike, for the pain…
But the pain never did come.
A sudden clash of metal startled her, and her eyes shot open to see a Zanpakuto, so similar to the one that was about to slay her. Her breath hitched in her throat as she gazed to its wielder, "H-Hichigo!"
The pale-skinned Ichigo stared down at her, his golden eyes were… soft, "Are you Ok?" he asked through gritted teeth as he fought against his other. All Rukia could do was nod, 'He came… but why?'
As if he had read her thoughts, he pushed the possessed Ichigo back, standing in front of Rukia with his blade ready, his back to her, "Couldn't let you have all the fun." He stated, a sneer in his voice.
He had expected her to move, to run, but she didn't. She didn't even get up.
He could understand, although he didn't quite agree. Ichigo's attack had hurt her more than just physically, "Rukia…"
Her attention was immediately received as he titled his head ever so slightly to look at her, but still keeping his focus on Ichigo, who had yet to make another move, "I want you to run…"
Her eyes widened at the hollow's words. 'Run? Now? With Ichigo like this?!'
He let out a frustrated sigh, "You're hurt." His voice sounded so like Ichigo's then. The voice Ichigowould use whenever she would receive a blow in battle. He sounded… guilty…
"I'm fine." She replied, defiantly. This caused Hichigo to scoff.
"No… you're not!"
"And what do you care?!" she felt herself snap, anger welling inside her. She had to let it out, "You don't give a damn!"
The enemy, Ichigo, seemed almost amused by this battle, Rukia observed. She had no idea that he was so still, because his Host was fighting back. Ichigo was fighting his captive… this parasite.
Hichigo threw her a deathly glare, but when his eyes met hers, he couldn't hold it. He clenched them shut, scowling as he looked back at the raven-haired girl once more, "If you die… I die…" his voice was almost shaking as he continued, "Ichigo gave up everything for you. For what he did to save you… he ended up with me." He clenched his hands into fists, but they were shaking, "I should be able to fight him, to control him, to tear him apart from the inside out!" his voice rose at the end of that statement, but then he let his head hang a little, "But… I can't. Because every time I try… for some stupid reason I think of you!"
She gasped watching as the Hollow shook his head in self-disgust, "So yeah, unfortunately I do give a damn! So you better just shut up and do as I say!" he was now facing the possessed Ichigo once more, "Run!" he hissed, but she didn't, "I said ru-"
He paused when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Rukia was now at his side, staring at the possessed Ichigo with a harsh glare, "I care for Ichigo…" she spoke suddenly, "Every single part of him," she drew her blade, pointing it at their enemy, "So don't try to tell me to run… when I can't think of a safer place… than right here."
He looked at her for a moment, stunned by her words.
Then he laughed, menacingly and loud. Rukia looked up to see the Hollow now had a new sense of motivation in his features, "You idiot! Didn't Ichigo ever tell you you talk too much!"
Before she could reply he had moved, standing in front of the enemy. He slashed across Ichigo's stomach, similar to how she had been hit previously. Ichigo roared in pain, and Rukia swore she saw the old Ichigo, just for a second. But he was gone just as fast. Now he was laughing, a manic smile forming on his face as blood poured from the wound. Hichigo quickly returned to Rukia's side.
Ichigo moved, and before anybody to stop him, he had his blade up against Rukia's throat. He pulled Rukia with him, both standing before Hichigo. The Hollow gave Ichigo a murdering glare, "Let her go!"
Another laugh, as 'Ichigo' pressed the blade against her throat a little more, just enough to draw some blood, Rukia gasped in pain and she saw Hichigo held the same look Ichigo would have…
When he was scared.
Ichigo smiled wickedly, "I believe you used the words… 'you die, I die' earlier, hmm?" Rukia let out a faint cry as more blood trickled down zangetsu. But 'Ichigo' couldn't contain his glee, "Well then… I guess this way I'll kill two birds with one stone!"
He moved to slit her throat, but before the wound could be deepened any, the possessed Ichigo roared in… pain. Zangetsu fell to the ground with a clang as 'Ichigo' raised his hands to his head, "No… I will… have control!"
She didn't know who was speaking just then, but Hichigoquickly pulled her from her captive, holding her against his chest carefully. She felt lightheaded, but she couldn't lose it now, not while Ichigo was fighting back. She needed to be there for him.
"Ichigo!" she wanted to run over, but Hichigo would not allow it, as he tightened his grip on her.
"Don't move!" he whispered, his eyes glued to the sight before them.
"Still isn't just Ichigo!" he retorted quickly, "And I'll be damned if I let them touch you again!"
She swallowed to moisten her throat, which was suddenly very dry. She let out a shaky breath, "But… we have to help him…"
She saw the Hollow bite his lip, not looking down at her even once. He clenched his eyes shut, thinking. Then, he scooped Rukia into his arms, using shunpo to move back a safe distance. He then set her down, "I want you to use a shielding Kidou… a strong one."
Rukia furrowed her brow, "But…"
He hushed her, "Just do it, okay."
She nodded slowly, just as he turned away, "And Rukia… don't watch."
He hung his head, not meeting her gaze, "Just trust me… Ichigo won't want you to see this."
She watched as he walked off, "Close them!" he ordered, and she did, she clenched her eyes shut. His footsteps could be heard as he slowly walked, she assumed, towards Ichigo, who could still be heard roaring. She muttered the incantation under her breath…
Hichigo stopped a few feet from Ichigo, looking back to see Rukia suddenly surrounded by a slightly golden bubble, a small smile found its way to his lips, before he faced Ichigo once more.
'Ichigo' glared venomously, "Don't think I won't kill her if you sacrifice yourself, fool!"
The hollow laughed, catching his enemy off guard, "I don't expect you to." He took another step forward, "I'm just a messenger, per say… here to tell you…" raising his hand, he smirked at the strange look he received from 'Ichigo', "That the only person allowed take over Ichigo… is me!"
With that, the hollow thrust his hand into Ichigo's chest. Ironically enough, he prayed that Rukia had not seen him doing such a thing as he slowly seeped into Ichigo, just as the fake Kaien had done before.
Rukia squeezed her eyes shut, even tighter as Ichigo's screams became unbearable. She could no longer hear Hichigo, but she hoped that was how he had planned it. After a few moments more, Rukia couldn't stand it, and slowly forced open an eye. She couldn't describe how horrible the sight before her was.
Ichigo stood, doubled over in pain, pulling his hair as tears streamed down his cheeks. His cries were even more agonizing now, and he was panting for breath in between each howl. Blood dripped from his mouth, the wound on his stomach was bleeding even harder with all this pressure.
She wanted to run towards him. She got to a standing position, but didn't even leave the protective shield before she heard him, "STAY BACK!"
Ichigo was watching her, even now, he was protecting her. She gasped, wide-eyed as his pained eyes met hers. He was back… at least some what… and she couldn't help him.
Not even now.
Ichigo clenched his eyes shut, suddenly releasing an ear piercing scream. Rukia was blinded by a sudden flash of light, as right before her eyes, both Kaien and Hichigo appeared. Both were injured, battle-worn. Hichigo looked to be a little more so though. The Hollow grinned, "Told ya. Ichigo's my bitch!"
Kaien sneered, spitting at Hichigo before raising his blade and charging at him. It seemed like time itself slowed, as Hichigo disappeared from before their eyes, effectively dodging Kaien's attack. He appeared at the man's back, blade held high.
"It's over!" at that he brought his zanpakuto down on Kaiens head. Rukia let out a small scream as the dark-haired man, the same man that she herself had killed so long ago, easily had his head split open.
But he didn't fall to the floor in a bloody mess. No. He simply vanished, as Hollows would when killed. Hichigo, panting now, spat where the body should've been, "Pathetic…" he mumbled, turning to look at Ichigo, who was not moving. He hadn't budged since they had left his body. His eyes were open, but they were dilated, lifeless.
Hichigo rolled his eyes at the sight, "Yer pathetic, King." His speech had changed slightly, and she wondered if the hollow did it on purpose around Ichigo.
He looked back at her, making a face to match the expression she had. She scowled at his mockery, causing him to laugh. He turned back to Ichigo, whispering his next words just loud enough for the lifeless boy to hear him, "Yer gonna wake the hell up, and apologize fer scarin' the shit outta her! Then, yer gonna tell 'er… everythin'… ya got that?"
He looked back at Rukia, still staring dumbfounded, "He won't bite y'know! Not now anyway." Rukia gave him a soft look, and he smirked, "Like I said, it'll be great to finally have you out of my way!"
She wanted to say something, but before words could come to mind, he literally walked into Ichigo, disappearing into her friend's body. The orange-haired teen fell to his knees but, to Rukia, he still had not moved. He didn't blink, he didn't speak. He was just as lifeless as before.
This realization hit her hard, and she felt her stomach wrench at the sight.
Cautiously, Rukiawalked forward, leaving her protective dome to approach Ichigo. She kneeled down before him, looking into his dead eyes. She felt tears wanting to fall, but she wouldn't let them.
'I'm too late…'
She lunged at Ichigo, wrapping her arms around his form, pulling herself close to his chest, "I'm so sorry!" she bit her lip, "I'm so sorry I couldn't save you Ichigo!" she felt herself sobbing, "But don't die! You're not allowed die! Remember?! You said you'd be fine! I'm holding you to your word, Kurosaki! If I haveto explain to your family that you literally killed yourself, I'll-"
She was suddenly silenced when a pair of weakened arms wrapped around her waist. Ichigo held her against him and she looked up to see his eyes were closed. When he eventually opened them, she could see…
He was there.
Ichigo looked down at her, as brown met violet, "Rukia…" he began slowly, "You talk too much."
She stared wide-eyed. She felt her heart race when he gave her a faint smile, "Are you... Ok?"
Ichigo fell back as she lashed out, smacking the side of his head. He watched as she stared furiously at him, "Am I Ok?!" she spat, "Am I Ok?! Look at you! You're practically torn apart, and the best you can come up with is 'Am I Ok' ?!"
Ichigo watched, a little amused, "Rukia…"
"What if you had killed us Ichigo?!"
"What if you had died?!"
She stopped, her glistening eyes looking at the orange-haired teen. He didn't look calm. He didn't look strong. He looked weak, self-loathing, ashamed, guilty…
He didn't meet her gaze, he couldn't, "I would never let you die! I would rather kill myself, than inflict a wound on you. It makes me sick to think that you're hurt because of me… and…"
He couldn't finish the sentence
Rukia appeared at his side, all anger suddenly forgotten, "Ichigo, you and I both know that I'm not going anywhere." she saw how weakened he still was. She shifted, lifting his head and placing it in her lap, "Rest, Ichigo. When you wake up, it'll be all over."
She ran her hands through his hair, watching as his eyes draped shut.
Back in Kisuke's, Rukia stirred, cuddling into the warmth she felt. She didn't feel like opening her eyes, she wanted to just stay in bed. It wasn't until she realised where she was the she jumped, 'Ichigo!' She made to get up, only to find herself unable to move, being held in place by the pair of arms around her waist. They pulled her closer to the warmth and she opened her eyes to see Ichigo's sleeping figure holding her against him.
It felt heavenly, and surprisingly natural. She wished she could just stay there forever, 'Forever? Did you just admit that you would want to be with Ichigo forever?!'
She suddenly felt Ichigo stir, and she quickly decided to close her eyes, feigning sleep.
Ichigo shifted, feeling a weight against his chest. He opened his eyes to see a peaceful Rukia in his arms. He felt his cheeks heat up, 'Has she already woken up? Has she seen this? Should she see this?' He was going to let go, to save something like this for another time, when he heard it, "No time like the present, eh? Oh King."
He watched her breathing. Warm air hitting his bare chest each time she exhaled. He wanted to wake her up, to tell her, 'It's not the right time...'
He felt his Hollow cross his arms, "Tha' girl's been through hell and back again for ya! Ye're either gonna tell 'er... or I'll take over... and tell 'er myself. Though I migh' get a little... carried away. If ya know wha' I mean."
The Hollow's laugh infuriated Ichigo. And although he knew it would never harm Rukia... his copy had a point, 'Fine... just get lost for a while!'
The Hollow grinned, "As you wish... my King."
At that Ichigo felt sane again. Not having two voices in his head tended to make him a little calmer. He brought his hand up to play with Rukia's hair. If he just so happened to wake her up, so be it, but he wasn't going to just nudge her from her sleep. No matter how important he found what he had to say was.
Rukia was about to 'wake up', but he started playing with her hair... and she soon lost her resolve.
He smiled as she snuggled closer to him. Leaning down, he whispered into her ear, "You're acting skills are almost as crappy as your drawing."
He immediately, saw her face heat up, and she would not open her eyes. She was far too embarrassed for that. She groaned, mortified, "How long have you known?"
He chuckled, "How long have I been awake?"
She groaned again, "Why did you play along?"
"Now or never, King!"
Ichigo felt his own face redden. He let out a sigh, "Because... I liked... holding you." the last part was mumbled, but Rukia heard it.
She opened her eyes for the first time, looking up into his, "Really?"
Ichigo rolled his eyes, "Are you kidding me?!"
Rukia was wide-eyed, but her smile was beautiful. Ichigo leaned down, planting a kiss on her lips. She kissed back, as he pulled her closer.
The sound of a door sliding open caused them to break apart. They looked up to see Kisuke, Yoruichi and even Inoue.
Kisuke grinned, letting out a long sigh, "I guess you won the bet."
Yoruichi laughed, "You can pay up later." she replied, sending a wink towards the shopkeeper. She turned back to the two, "Just try to get some more rest, you two."
Ichigo immediately turned red at the grins he was receiving from both Kisuke and Yoruichi. Inoue looked anything but happy though, as she slumped from the room.
Ichigo didn't let it bother him though. For once, he was going to be completely selfish and just enjoy the moment. He felt Rukia leaning back against him, and he closed his eyes.
"Hmm?" he smiled lazily at Rukia.
He felt his heart race at the tone in her voice. She was just as nervous as he was, "I love you too, Rukia."
There was a silence, and then she began to laugh, "I was just going to ask you... if you wouldn't mind training me to use Bankai."
His eyes widened, and he was mortified when he heard his Hollow laughing insanely in the back of his head, "Haha! I take full credit for this!"
He let out a sigh, but she stopped laughing and gave him a warm smile, "I love you, Ichigo. Always will."
He kissed her once more, before both lay back to get some sleep. Knowing that all they had ahead of them were sweet dreams.
So be it. The end of, what I hope, was a good little fic!
Reviews are always welcome, and I hope you will try reading my little collection of IchiRuki one-shots!
Thanks for reading this!