Title: Heart and Soul
Summary: —AU— The world has already ended. The last remnants of humanity fight to survive. And together two teens struggle against all odds to save themselves — and each other —IchiRuki—
Author's Note: This is a story idea I played with on vacation. It's a crossover between Bleach — obviously — and the book The Host by Stephenie Meyer (great book — read it if you haven't already). None of the actual characters (Wanda, Melanie, Ian, Jared, etc.) are going to actually be in this story, but…you'll see what I mean once you read it. Let's put it this way — you don't have to read The Host to understand this story (it's just a really good book — I recommend you do read it). Okay, I'm done babbling. On with the story!
Heart and Soul — Prologue
—:—:—September 10, 2014—:—:—
They were the only things that Kuchiki Rukia, at the age of fourteen, knew. The things her brother and sister had taught her, the gifts they had left her.
And so she ran, fear very much alive and present in her veins. And very present behind her were the Seekers. The enemy.
"Wait!" One of her pursuers shouter. "We don't want to hurt you!"
No, you just want to erase me! Rukia screamed silently. She wouldn't go alive. She had decided that a long time ago. She pushed herself to go faster. She had an advantage over the Seekers trying to chase her down. She was small, lithe. They were tall and awkward. In normal circumstances, she would have been able to outrun them easily.
Her stomach clenched painfully, reminding her that the circumstances were far from normal. She was hungry, starving. She had left the safety of her hideout in order to steal food. She was normal careful to the point of foolishness when she was trying to steal food. But she had been hungry. She got careless.
She was paying the price now.
Faster, she begged her failing body. Faster, please. Just a little further. Please.
Rukia felt as if she were running through water. She could see the ally just ahead. Her escape. She skidded around a corner and right to the end of the ally, where a chain link fence separated her from freedom. She scaled it easily, her legs nearly giving out from beneath her as she dropped down on the other side. She ran as soon as she had recovered. She couldn't go much longer. Unbelievable. Would this be how she would die? Chased down by Seekers, starving?
Nee-san, Nii-sama…help me, please…
But her brother and sister couldn't help her now. No one could. She wouldn't become another host, though. She wouldn't be another animated corpse.
She collapsed on the sidewalk, her face pressing into the concrete. She fumbled in her pocket for the plastic case that would be her salvation. She drew the case and opened it. The silver letter opener — a family relic that she had kept for a weapon as much as sentimentality — glinted in the street light above her. She'd known this would come. Only time had kept Rukia alive. And now it was bored with her.
Consciousness began to wane from her. She had to it down, while she was still halfway lucid. She raised the small, sharp knife, holding it above her wrist—
And then a stronger, larger hand caught her own, stopping her from moving the knife across her wrist. She tried to fight back, but too many things crashed into her at once. The exhaustion from lack of sleep, from the run, the weakness of the hunger that had threatened to overtake her from the beginning consumed her. Almost gratefully, she allowed her consciousness to be stolen from her, allowed the darkness to take her at last.
Rukia could have slept for minutes or for hours. All she was, when she finally came to, she was still herself. She was alone in her head. But why.
She sat up, wincing as pain shot through her. She wasn't up for any running. Was that why she wasn't one of them yet? Were they going to feed her before they put a parasite into her? She'd sooner but off her own tongue than eat anything they gave her.
Rukia jumped and twisted her upper body around, ignoring the fact that her head started spinning. Standing behind her, flashlight in hand, was an orange-haired boy. He looked about her age. She hadn't known Seekers came that young. They had always kept human habits so perfectly. This parasite should have still been in school.
He walked over and knelt down next to her. She scrambled away on instinct, her violet eyes filled with disgust and hate.
"Hey, hey, it's all right. Look." He flipped the flashlight up to his face. His skin turned sallow in the yellow light, pale and almost sickly looking. His entire face was set in what looked like a permanent scowl. Light bounced off his sharp silver eyes. Just the yellow-white beam of the flashlight. No silver reflected back on Rukia, no soul.
This boy was human. Rukia relaxed. A little.
"Good." The boy reached into the canvas bag next to him, then pulled something out and tossed it to Rukia. It was a bag of chips. "Eat. I'll be back in a minute, I need to get the water."
He left the flashlight with Rukia and disappeared into the darkness. Rukia stared after him, shocked. Who the hell was that? She absentmindedly opened the bag and started munching. She probably have been worried. This was a stranger, after all, possibly dangerous. Could he be trusted? But the chips, despite the fact they hit her empty stomach weirdly, tasted too good for her to feel anything besides pure pleasure.
A loud crash made her jump. She grabbed the flashlight and pointed it towards the noise. The boy was back. At his feet was a case of plastic water bottles.
"Sorry." He knelt down and ripped the case open, pulling out two of the water bottles. He threw one to Rukia. She caught it wordlessly, her heart still pounding. She down half the bottle in one sip, washing away the taste of the chips. "You all right?"
How long since she had last spoken to a human? A year? At least since Byakuya had died. A year. Longer, maybe. She couldn't remember. Her brother hadn't been much of a conversationalist, they hadn't talked much. How long? Did she even still have a voice?
The boy looked impatient now. "Hey, what's your problem?"
Again, she didn't answer. The boy huffed impatiently and looked away, swigging out of his water bottle.
"Who are you?"
Her voice came out in raspy whisper. The boy looked surprised. It took him a minute to answer.
"Kurosaki Ichigo. You?"
She didn't answer. Ichigo watched her for a minute. "You…do know your name, right?"
She rolled her eyes. "Of course I do." Her voice was coming louder now. "Kuchiki Rukia."
"Rukia." Ichigo repeated, nodding. "Nice to meet you, though under the circumstances…"
His voice drifted off. Rukia lowered her eyes to the ground.
"Where are we?"
Ichigo grinned now. It was out of place on his face, which obviously wasn't used to using his mouth that way. "We're home. Well, my home anyway. When I was four my dad and I built a cabin in the woods near our house. We spent an entire summer on it. My mom kicked us out during the day because we were too loud — this was right after my sisters were born. So we built this place to keep us busy. We added a sort of basement, made it our 'special hideaway.' My mom and sisters never knew about it."
His smile was a little rueful now, as if he regretted keeping this secret. "What happened to them?" Rukia asked quietly. "Your family, I mean."
"Mom died about a year before the invasion. Both my sisters were at a friend's house for a sleepover — the girl's parents were parasites, they took every kid there. My dad went down fight. Seekers—" Rukia shuddered at the word, "invaded the house. My dad let me get away, told me to the 'special place.' The basement of our cabin is hidden pretty well. I know Dad wasn't taken, they'd have found this place in a heartbeat. So I guess he's dead too."
"So you've been alone since the beginning." He nodded. "But…you're so young—"
"I survived." He pointed out. "So what about you, what's your story?"
Rukia took a deep breath. "My parents were taken. They tried to turn in me, my brother Byakuya, and my sister Hisana. But we ran. My brother and sister are the only things that kept me alive at first — they protected me, took care of me. Two years after the invasion, though, my sister came down sick. In the end, it killed her. Then, about a year ago, my brother…took his own life. He was trying to protect me. We were running from the Seekers—" Ichigo's turn to shudder, "and Nii-sama told me to get away, to hide. The Seekers caught him, and he turned a gun on himself. To save me."
Her voice was choked with tears. Byakuya…Hisana…
Ichigo and Rukia sat in silence for a few minutes. "So no one's missing you?" Ichigo asked finally. "Then you…I mean, you might as well stay here. Unless you've got some place better, that is."
"Can't say I do."
"Then stay. It's pretty lonely here on my own. You must be lonely too."
Rukia nodded, agreeing to more than his statement with this nod. Yes, she would stay. Of course she would, where else was there? In this world that the souls had created, the last of the humans had to stick together. They needed hope. This strange, spiky-orange-haired, amber-eyed, scowling boy was the first hope Rukia had found in a long time, and the last she — and her sanity — had.
Author's Note: If you've never read The Host, there are probably a few things you don't understand. So here's a quick index for you to use to keep track (I'll copy this over at the beginning of every chapter, and I'll add more if more comes up):
Souls: The aliens that invaded Earth. They are basically incapable of surviving outside of a Cryo-Tank (basically a freezing chamber), or a host body. They insert themselves into humans by going through a cut made on the back of the person's neck and connecting it's limbs to the different parts of the human brain. In their regular forms they are small and silvery, and very fluid. When in a host their regular bodies reflect through the person's eyes, creating a ring of silver around the pupil, which reflects when it is hit by light. They are often referred to as centipedes, worms, or parasites by the free humans. Souls are a primarily peaceful, pacifists species, who dislike fighting or even words of violence.
Seekers: One of the Callings (jobs) for a soul. It is their job to round of hosts for the Souls. Unlike most Souls, Seekers do not mind violence, though they try to avoid it if at all possible. They will resort to anything to capture a body that could be used as a host. On Earth, the Seekers became a militia. Unlike most of the planets the souls have taken (a grand total of about fourteen), the humans fought back. They wage a war against the Seekers, who wage one right back. Most humans fear the Seekers, knowing that if they are captured, it will be by these less civilized, least evolved souls.
If there's still anything you don't understand, feel free to let me know. Also tell me if you think this story is worth continuing. Review please! — Sam