Title: Master and Servant, King and Horse
Author: Calenlass Greenleaf
Disclaimer: I'm not a mangaka. I'm not Tite Kubo. I'm not the owner of Bleach. I don't own any characters. I do own this disclaimer. :P
Spoilers: Bleach in general, with spoilers for all the chapters/episodes/scenes where confrontations of Ichigo and Hichigo (Dark Ichigo). Mainly spoilers for the manga because I haven't watched all the anime episodes. This oneshot takes places sometime after chapter 354, maybe after the Fake Karakura Town arc; I'm not sure where it fits properly, though. Can be considered AU if so desired.
Rating: High PG-13 or T
Warnings: Warnings for angst, mind games, mild swearing (crude four-letter words are censored), violence, etc. Not a fluffy/humour fic. No yaoi, shonen-ai, or smut.
Summary: Master and Servant. King and Horse. Rules of hierarchy set by society. And yet so easily reversed. Ichigo hates it, but what can he do except fight it? Oneshot.
A/N: No idea where this came from. I got sidetracked from a LOTR fic that I was slightly stuck on, and this proved easier to write. Here's to hoping that Ichigo and Hichigo aren't OOC, as this is my first Bleach fanfic.
Master and Servant, King and Horse
"Damn you!" he says through gritted teeth.
"I'm already damned, so what's the point of you dissing me further?"
Ichigo swears again, this time more violently. He lashes out. "Why can't you leave me alone?"
His Hollow self simply grins that irritating smile, those odd-colored eyes gleaming. A whitened version of his own zanpakuto is in those hands, also inhumanly white. And then he easily swings to one side, avoiding the blow.
F&$#. This is all wrong. So damn wrong.
Wasn't it all over last time? Didn't he say he was King?
Then why was it happening again?
Why was it happening to him? The Vizards didn't seem to have problems with their Hollow selves; in fact, they seemed hardly affected. Then again, he never did things the easy way. Everything, from regaining his Shinigami powers after dying to achieving bankai in two days—it was all the hard way.
Looks like he's doomed to a lifetime of battling himself.
Ichigo brings his sword up to block a sweeping blow to his neck, grunting under the force of the attack. Right now, there was little chance of being on the offensive.
His Hollow had gotten stronger—again.
And why can't I do the same? he asks himself as he is pushed backwards. His stupid blood is streaming all over his face again, and he has stab wounds all over his body.
His typical appearance. Hollows, Byakuya, Renji, other shinigami, Bounts, Arrarancar—every time he fought, he ended up looking half-head.
And Hollow Ichigo is barely breathing hard, those white clothes still fresh and clean.
White—isn't it supposed to be the good guys' colour? Then why is he wearing it? And why are Aizen and his subordinates decked out in it?
He's already in his bankai state; but this hardly helps him. The other matches him, easily overpowering him.
Why can't I win? Ichigo is shoved backwards; his head collides painfully with stone.
I want to win.
I don't need you to tell me that you're better than me.
He rises to his feet, dizzy and feeling sick.
I already hate myself.
I don't you f&$#ing with my mind so you can p$#& on me.
I won't let you—
He falls to one knee as the blade goes through his right shoulder. He gasps, unwillingly, as his face tightens with the pain. Damn it.
"Ooh," His Hollow says in mock sympathy, "Think I actually felt that one, Ichigo." He grins again, pulling his zanpakuto out. "Are you sure we're related? I don't feel your attacks and I don't feel your pain when I stab you." He presses the tip of his blade against Ichigo's neck, dangerously close to the artery. "You can't get rid of me. I'm part of you as much as Zangetsu is."
He doesn't reply; there's no point in that. Instead, he waits for the right opportunity to stab the other.
"You know…I once took over your body, and you weren't ever aware of it." He tips his head, smirking. "But I did take out one of those pesky Arrancars. Scared your friends good, too. Damn, I felt alive at the moment."
"Shut up," he forces out, glaring. He doesn't want to think about it. Doesn't want to remember Orihime's look of terror or Ishida's pain-filled face. Doesn't want to know how close he came to losing control and killing his own friends.
"Didn't I help you out when the pretty princess begged for it?" The Hollow pretends a look of hurt. "You oughta have thanked me, Kurosaki. I saved your sorry life."
"For what?" he shoots back. "It wasn't the way I wanted to win, damn it." Blood makes its way out of his mouth and dribbles down his chin. "Not the way I wanted it."
"You would have rather died, then?" The blade digs deeper into his neck. "You had a giant hole in your chest. Burns. Wounds. You'd rather die with her whimpering pathetically and later that Quincy dying painfully? You really wanted that, Ichigo?" An amused, crazed look. "You want me to kill you now? So that you look honourable?"
Something inside him snaps, and before he realizes it, he reaches a hand up to grab the blade and shove it aside side. He kicks out, catching the other in the stomach. The sting in his hand hardly bothers him.
"I would have rather gotten up on my own and finished that damn Arrancar myself!" he shouts, eyes narrowed and gleaming. "Don't give me that s#$& about how you helped me. You just didn't want me to die because if I did, you would die, too."
For the instant, he saw the fear in his Hollow's eyes.
"It's that, isn't it?" He tightens his grin on Zangetsu. "Once I die, the game's over and you go wherever Hollows go when they die." Ichigo spits out a mouthful of blood. "That's why you can't kill me."
His Hollow self curses at him angrily, but he only smirks, even if that makes his face hurt. "Guess it's fact that all Hollows are afraid of death." Raising his sword, he prepares himself.
"Tensa—" He screams those words so familiar— "Zangetsu!" The energy blasts from his zanpakuto. Smoke and debris fly in the air as his attack slams his opponent into the ground.
Ichigo braces himself against his weapon, trying to stand up properly. Blood splatters all around him, and he wonders how much he has left, after all the fights he's been in.
Probably not much left. He wipes his face with his hand.
Hollow Ichigo is on his knees, zanpakuto shattered, and Ichigo knows he's won—this time.
"Why are you still around?" he asks angrily. "I've already told you that you're the Horse. The Servant." He points a finger at him. "When I want you I'll call you out. Otherwise, keep your trap shut and stay outta my mind unless you want me to kick your a$$ again. Don't f&$# with me anymore. Got it?"
"Che." The other licks his own blood. "It's always so fun trying to psyche you out."
"I'm your Hollow." That grin again. "You'd expect me t'do otherwise?"
Adopting a sulky look, the other begins to fade. "Well, if you ever wanna change your mind, I'm open."
As he watches him disappear, he can feel himself returning to life, if it could be called life.
If shinigami die, where do they go? He wonders as the scene around him blurs and turns to black. Aren't they already dead?
I know that voice…
Quit it…he moans in his mind…let me sle—
"I'll get him awake."
Cold liquid slaps him in the face. He coughs, sputtering as his eyes flicker open. At least it's only water. He groggily stares up at the faces of Rukia and Renji.
"Time you got up, sleepyhead." Renji makes to grab Ichigo's hair, but Rukia stops him. "It's not fair that you get all the sleep."
"Lay off, Renji." He moans as his head pounds. "I'm tired."
"What?" The red-haired shinigami gapes at him. "You sleep for half'a day and you're still tired."
"I wasn't sleeping. I was—" he stops himself before he can let his secret out. "Eh…I meant restful sleeping." Damn, he was no good at this. And half a day, fighting demons? The thought annoys and frightens him.
"You were what?" Rukia pokes his shoulder, face crinkling in a frown.
"Nothing." He sits up, holding his head gingerly. Every part of his body aches, just like it did when he first fought a major battle with his inner Hollow. He knows he should be glad that those "wounds" aren't visible.
"You're hiding something."
"Oh, you two, stop it!" Rukia hits Renji's shoulder. "Tell us, Ichigo. Was it a nightmare?"
"Yeah." The lie slips out, easily. "A long nightmare."
"What was it about?"
"You want all the gory details?" He wishes he had water nearby. "All the nasty bloody stuff? Neh, I might make your brother angry by scaring you so much that you can't sleep."
Rukia looks ready to smack him, nightmare or no nightmare. "We only want to help."
"Then you can leave me alone!" Ichigo growls. "That's how you can help." He closes his eyes and flops back down on the bed—err, tatami. Apparently, he's in Soul Society, though he doesn't remember why. "I'm not a little kid."
She looks as if she wants to say more, but Renji touches her arm. "Fine. You can sulk alone." He stands up. "But don't come running to us if you're scared."
"Don't plan to." He watches them leave through half-lidded eyes before he punches his pillow, hard.
Damn him for turning him into this pitiful wreck.
Damn Aizen and his god-complex.
Damn those Arrancar.
Damn this whole shinigami duty thing.
Sometimes, he just wanted a normal life.
But I can't have one, can I? He crosses his arms behind his head, staring up at the ceiling. Cause I made this choice. No regrets…
Malicious laughter in his mind made him wince, the sound echoing oddly. See, Ichigo, you're already becoming like me. You'll learn that a Hollow's life, even that of a powerful one, is a lonely one. You're already pushing your friends away because you don't want them to see the monster you can be. A little more, and you'll be going over the edge…
Shut UP. I told you stay out! He testily shoves his Hollow self away. To his surprise, the other retreats quickly, leaving him feeling unsettled.
What's happening to me? Ichigo rolls over and sighs. Or, what'll happen if I can't keep him away? He grits his teeth in frustration.
I can't let that happen.
I won't let you win!
He clenches his hands.
Even if I have to die, you won't get the better of me. I—
I swear on my soul.
And he believes this.
He's still human, shinigami or no.
He'd be damned if he lets some cocky Hollow form rule him.
You hear me?
He silently shouts, imagining himself holding up a fist to that stupid face before punching it.
Someday, I'll find away to get rid you.
Exhausted, he slips back into sleep, this time dreamless and void of any conflict.
A/N: Actually, I don't know what would happen to Hichigo if Ichigo ever dies. This was speculation. But since Hichigo is a part of Ichigo, and Hichigo is a Hollow, and Hollows can die, I think this should be the case. Feel free to disagree.