Title: The Devil's Plaything, Chapter 1 - The First Seal
Warnings: AU, het (IchiHime, lots of other pairings eventually), blood, guts, testosterone, ANGST.
Disclaimer: These characters belong to a lot of Japanese people, namely people like Tite Kubo and Shonen Jump. You'll notice how none of those are me. This will probably be updated weekly, until I eventually drop it like every other project ever. Not responsible for epileptic seizures or allergic reactions. May contain eye-and-brain-bleeding levels of radioactive ANGST and/or peanut products. Please sit a reasonable distance from your computer screen.
Dreary, gray light filtered through the classroom blinds, shedding dull illumination on the desk by the window. The skies were overcast, possibly threatening rain, the auburn-haired girl at the desk thought to herself. She briefly wondered whether she would need her umbrella or raincoat before her mind flitted to wondering if the air smelled of rain outside at that moment. No, she decided; even though it was spring, it was still cold, and the air most likely smelled of sulfur, as it always did.
A chill ran up Orihime's arms as she recalled how cool it was this morning and how she'd forgotten her jacket at home. Her eyes flickered briefly to the front of the classroom, past the two strange new students and towards the history teacher. He was lecturing about the Sengoku era, giving the students a brief overview before delving into the subject matter in detail.
"In 1560, the first Demon King, Oda Nobunaga, routed Imagawa Yoshimoto at Okehazama, thus giving the demonic nobility a small foothold in Japan. By the time of his death at the hands of a human subordinate in 1582, he had consolidated most of the Japanese countryside. His successor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, unified the rest; after his death in 1598, two of his vassals vied to be proclaimed his successor. In 1600, the human Ishida Mitsunari was defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu at Sekigahara, which led to the establishment of the Tokugawa shogunate, which reigned for over two hundred and fifty years..."
Orihime's eyes began to flutter as the teacher droned on, his monotony only broken by the click-clack of chalk on the chalkboard. She had already read the lesson the night before (in addition to having seen roughly a dozen documentaries and dramas about the time period over the course of her life), so none of this was new to her. As the teacher's voice blurred into one long hum, Orihime's mind began to wander into its own version of the Sengoku era...
The clank of metal on wood filled the hallways leading to Inoue Orihime's room. The girl herself sat, legs tucked under her bottom, and waited. Suddenly, the wooden sliding door to her small room slammed open, a contingent of heavily armored samurai pouring in.
"Where are the scrolls?" their leader barked, pointing his long nodachi directly at her throat. Orihime simply lifted her chin defiantly and leveled a stern gaze at him.
"I have nothing to say to you," she replied clearly. Seeing that she wasn't going to respond to threats, the leader dismissed his men, who slid the door shut behind themselves with a small, wooden click. He sheathed his sword and reached up to free his head from his helmet, shaking out an unruly shock of red hair. His demonic red eyes seemed to be staring right through her as he scowled.
"If you won't cooperate, I'll just have to change tactics." His helmet fell to the floor with a clang as he began to untie his breastplate. Orihime's stare didn't waver as she watched him, although she could feel her pulse race.
"I will warn you, Lord Samurai - I am but a mortal woman. You will have to treat me more gently than one of your Succubi." She was transfixed as he smiled, a terrible cold smile, his canines decidedly sharper and keener than a human's...
Orihime was jolted from her reverie by the sound of the lunch bell. The teacher quickly assigned the reading for the evening and dismissed the class. As Orihime's eyes refocused, she became dimly aware that her pulse matched that from her daydream and that her face felt more than a bit warm. Worse than that, when she reached up to pat her cheeks, she happened to notice that the redhaired boy with the cinnamon-colored brown eyes a few seats in front of her had turned back to stare quizzically at her.
Orihime's heart skipped a beat as she momentarily wondered if he could read minds. What if Kurosaki-kun could tell what her daydream had been about just by looking at her face? She didn't even know why she'd thought up something that racy, how could she explain it to him? But before she could concoct a believable excuse, Sado-kun pulled him away to lunch. Breathing a sigh of relief and thanking whatever gods still favored humans for the tall Mexican's presence, Orihime bent down to pick up her own lunch.
"You ready?" a lively voice called to Orihime, causing her to lift her head (and almost bump it into the bottom of her desk). The girl calling her had spiky black hair and mischievous brown eyes; her lunchbag was slung over her shoulder, while her other hand rested on her hip.
"Oh! Tatsuki-chan! I was just getting my lunch," Orihime responded, holding up the brown paper bag with a big smile. Tatsuki simply shook her head and motioned for her to get up. She obliged, hopping up from her chair obediently and following the black haired girl towards the corner in which the girls in class usually ate lunch.
"What'd you bring today?" Tatsuki finally asked. Orihime plopped down into one of the desks that had been arranged into something of a circle in the back of the room and began unpacking her lunch. Several of her already-seated classmates turned to look on out of curiosity.
"Peanut butter and green onion sandwiches!" Orihime said proudly. Tatsuki and a few of their classmates looked as though they might be ill. Still, they took seats around the ring of desks and began unpacking their own lunchbags.
"Well, I think it's cute," an amorous, bespectacled redhead said, leaning closer to Orihime as she began to eat. She placed a well-manicured finger underneath Orihime's chin, drawing the clueless girl's attention mid-chew. Before she could do anything more, however, Tatsuki's fist came across the back of Orihime's head and connected squarely with Chizuru's jaw.
"Back off and let her eat in peace, succubus," Tatsuki growled, settling in for her lunch as the girl she'd just laid out sprang back into her seat.
"I'll have you know I'm just as human as the rest of you," Chizuru sniffed. "I'm just inherently more in tune with my natural instincts!" Before another scuffle could ensue, however, a girl with long, straight hair, Ryo, stopped them.
"Speaking of," she said, changing the subject, "That was quite an interesting lesson today." Orihime hid behind her sandwich a bit, for fear that her cheeks would flame up again.
"Do you think so? It's only the same stuff we've heard all our lives," a short girl with glasses, Michiru, replied as she dug into her bento.
"Ryo's right, you know," Tatsuki chimed in, "It's best to be informed, even if we've already heard it a billion times already. What're you gonna do if you run into one of them in a dark alley?" Chizuru regarded her boredly, propping her head up with one fist.
"What good does being informed do?" she asked over her glasses, "It's not as if it would change anything. If you met one in a dark alley, you wouldn't be able to keep her from having her way with you, anyway." Ryo looked slightly exasperated.
"First of all," Ryo countered, "If you had bothered reading your lesson, you'd know that's been illegal since 1855. And secondly, it's not as if you have much to worry about anyway. I'd be more worried about the Succubus that decided to jump you." Chizuru's eyes twinkled a bit.
"Well, I guess that's true," she nodded in agreement, leaning towards Orihime again, "Besides, any demon in their right minds would go for my Hime-chan first! Or Nemu-chan, although..." Orihime continued chewing her sandwich, nearly oblivious to Tatsuki pushing their red-haired friend away from her seat.
"She's kind of strange?" Michiru finished the thought, hiding a bit behind her juice box. The taciturn, black-haired girl spared the group a disinterested look from across the room before turning back to the math book she had opened on the desk before her. As she bent forward to point out a problem in the book to her companion, a dainty silver bracelet caught the light from her wrist, and her generous bosom lightly brushed his arm. The bespectacled youth seemed not to notice as he set about showing her how to solve for the variable.
"Like draws to like, I guess," Chizuru continued, looking at the black-haired pair that seemed to be studying through lunch. "He's just as weird as she is."
"Ishida-kun isn't that bad," Orihime piped up from over her sandwich, "He's just quiet." Ryo nodded in agreement.
"He's not as weird as that red-haired transfer student," she said quietly, even though he and his petite friend had left the room, "Seriously, his eyes and those tattoos give me the creeps."
"And you said I was a demon," Chizuru scoffed, sipping at her juice box, "Who lets their fifteen year old get tattoos all over their face? And those eyes, yeesh." Orihime's mouth turned down in a small frown.
"Chizuru-chan, that's not nice," she chided, "Maybe he just liked the way they looked." Even Orihime had to admit, though, that the taller student was just a bit on the intimidating side. Still, it wasn't fair to judge him by his appearance.
"Orihime's right," Michiru said over her bento, "Besides, if anyone in this class is a demon, it's that Kurosaki. All he does is fight, and that hair is totally abnormal." Orihime almost choked as she remembered her earlier daydream and her bite of sandwich went down the wrong way. Tatsuki reached over to pat her on the back as she responded to Michiru.
"Have you actually ever seen his family?" Tatsuki asked skeptically, "There's no way any of them are demonic - his dad's the biggest cream puff ever." Orihime once again offered a silent prayer of thanks for Tatsuki's presence; leave it to her to interject common sense into a conversation.
"Besides," Ryo interjected coolly, "If you say anything worse about him, Orihime might have a heart attack." Orihime sputtered a bit, but thankfully avoided swallowing anything the wrong way this time.
"Ryo-chan!" she protested, "That's not fair!" And so the conversation continued, the five girls taking turns prodding one another as the lunch hour passed.
Orihime looked up at the rapidly darkening gray sky, her feet seeming to find their way towards her apartment on their own. She could scarcely believe it was getting dark so early, but it was only early spring after all, and the days hadn't really begun to get longer yet. As such, the chill had started to settle in early today, making her shiver and wish again that she'd brought her sweater or a jacket out this morning. Really, the only thing she had to be thankful for was that it hadn't decided to rain on her yet.
As she gingerly rubbed her arms, she noticed that a stray sprig of hair had come undone from her flower-shaped hairpins. She tried once or twice to blow it out of her eyes with her breath, but found that it simply fell back into its earlier position as soon as she stopped blowing.
Tucking her school bag between her knees, Orihime lifted her hands to her bangs and the loose hairpin. Drawing the hairpin from the offending side out of her bangs, she took a second to admire the blue flower that adorned the tip. The six petals glinted as she turned it this way and that and the street lights switched on for the evening. They had been a gift from her brother before his death; he'd always been adamant that she wear them at all times in public, and at the time, she'd resented it. Once he had died, though, she hadn't let herself be seen once without them. Rearranging one of them shouldn't count, though, should it?
As she drew back the loose bangs and prepared to pin them back, it suddenly occurred to her that the temperature around her had dropped several degrees. She looked up at the street lights - they were beginning to waver and look hazy... and was that snow? The cold felt abnormal, though; it was oppressive and unnatural, and felt as though it was sucking all the warmth from her bones. Orihime's eyes widened; she had felt this chill once before. Her hand clutched her free hairpin instinctively as she looked around almost frantically. Unfortunately, the falling dusk had severely limited the range of her visibility, and whatever she was looking for remained undetected.
"H-Hello?" she called, her voice starting to tremble in the chill. Her senses were screaming at her to run, and quickly. Instead, an urgent sense of fear rooted her feet to the sidewalk as she clutched her hairpin. She willed herself to move; she knew that if she stayed still much longer, she'd be dead.
It was already too late, though. As she reached down to get her school bag from between her legs, she felt a cold, clawed hand close around her throat, pulling her back into a shadowy alley. Her school bag went skittering down the sidewalk as she flew back in the other direction. As her back collided hard with one of the brick buildings on either side of the narrow walkway, Orihime felt the air explode from her lungs.
It was then that she heard them; three, maybe four, dark figures, murmuring to each other in low, hissing voices. The cold feeling from before was downright icy now, particularly where a strong hand pinned her throat to the wall behind her. The blood that traveled through her neck quickly spread throughout her body like ice water, chilling her deeply. Her vision was blurred from the impact, but she knew what those voices were coming from. Their glinting red eyes were dead giveaways; they were demons. A few more seconds passed before her head cleared and she realized they were actually speaking to her.
"Aren't you a cute little thing," the one pinning her to the brick by her neck ground out, running a rough thumb along her lower lip. The other voices sneered agreement. Orihime hazily thought to herself that these demons must be lower class, or maybe completely feral; the civilized demons had that law that Ryo had talked about earlier to abide by, didn't they? Or were they just going to eat her instead? Not that it mattered much now; a set of claws was digging its way under the skin on her neck, releasing small rivulets of blood down her exposed throat and causing Orihime to whimper.
"You even bleed pretty," the leader said again, leaning closer to her face. His facial features blurred to her, the only thing standing out being his glowing red eyes. His companions seemed to get a bit more agitated by this, jockeying for position on who got seconds or thirds. Worse, Orihime could feel the creature's rancid breath on her cheeks, causing her to turn her face away and tremble. She brought one hand up to his wrist, trying feebly to pry his hand away. Her grip, though, was no match for his.
She wanted to kick and scream as his slimy tongue lapped some of the blood away from the collar of her school shirt where it was collecting. Her legs felt like lead, though, and her voice only escaped her throat as a mangled squeak. Worse, all the cold was causing her nipples to visibly pucker beneath her shirt; she silently prayed none of them noticed this. Suddenly, she felt something rough and cold brush the skin of her thigh, right beneath the hem of her skirt. Orihime's eyes widened as she realized the demon's hand was traveling up her leg and towards the leg band of her panties. Her heart raced as tears escaped the corners of her eyes. The only thought she could formulate was "no, no, no", repeated inside her head like a mantra. His hand trailed around to her bottom, cupping it hard enough to leave a mark and drawing her lower body forward to crush against his own.
Orihime's lower lip trembled as cold teeth sank into the skin of her throat. She was almost certain she could feel her flesh parting as the demon alternated between biting and sucking her neck. Worse, her stomach churned as she felt a moan rumble from the demon's throat into her own. With his body pressed as closely to hers as it was, she could also feel the beginnings of an erection straining against his pants. Strangely, she found that she could no longer bring herself to be terrified; as it was, she felt as though she might pass out at any moment.
"Oi!" The voice came from the end of the alley, drawing Orihime's attention back into focus, as well as the attention of her attackers. "The hell do you think you're doing to her?" Orihime's eyes widened with gratitude; even though the street lights had thrown shadows over his face from behind, she could tell it was Kurosaki-kun. She briefly wondered why he was out this way - they didn't live in the same direction, did they? - but that was short-lived as the demons had turned their attention to him.
"Go home, human," the leader of the group sneered, "This isn't some kiddy game. The grown ups are having a little conversation over here. Isn't that right, sweetheart?" Orihime didn't dare make a noise; the claws were gripping the flesh at her neck too tightly to risk moving.
"Inoue?" Orihime flinched; he wouldn't think badly of her, would he? Worse, she worried he might charge the demons around her. Neither one of them stood a chance against this group. They were just humans, after all. "Get the hell off of her!" Oh no, he was going to fight them. She wanted to scream and tell him to run and save himself, but it was too late; Ichigo's elbow had already connected with the temple of one of the demons. A sickening crunch reached her ears from the other end of the alley.
Unfortunately, Orihime could see that it didn't have much effect on the demon. In fact, the larger creature shook his head and simply laughed, a grating, bellowing noise, and backhanded the red-headed boy into the nearby wall. Orihime's eyes filled with tears as she watched the demon kick her downed classmate in the ribs, a gush of crimson bursting from his lips. The rest of the small gang circled the boy for a moment before diving for him. Oh god, Kurosaki-kun was going to die, and it was all going to be her fault. If she even survived, she'd never be able to forgive herself.
"Stop it, stop it!" She finally screamed, unable to take it anymore. "I'm the one you want! Do whatever you want to me, just stop hurting hi-" Orihime fell silent as the demon holding her slid two long, cold fingers into her mouth and pressed down on her tongue. Tears squeezed out of her eyes as she clinched them shut and suppressed a gag.
"Don't be stupid, human," he hissed close to her ear. "We're going to do whatever we want anyway, so why don't you just stay still and enjoy it?" She flinched away from his face, giving him the pleasure of another whimper. Before he could press any further with her, though, the alleyway was filled with a flash of red light and a noise like a peal of thunder or the crack of a large tree branch.
Orihime could barely believe what she was seeing. Ichigo was kneeling at the other end of the alley surrounded by the other three startled demons. His injuries had vanished, as well as his school uniform; instead, he now wore a pair of black hakama pants, and a long, tattered black coat. Orihime briefly thought he looked eerily like the samurai from her daydream as his unruly red hair whipped about his face. That comparison came crashing down on her as he lifted his head and stood; she could clearly see red markings on his cheeks and a keen black nodachi in his right hand, chain dangling from the end of the hilt. Worse yet, when he opened his eyes, she could see them from her end of the alley; red, glittering, and sharp, they glowed with an inhuman light.
Kurosaki-kun himself was a demon.
She continued to stare, barely comprehending, until Ichigo began to tear through his opponents as though they were made of paper. The one that had kicked him stared, dumbstruck, as one of his meaty arms flew past his face. Before he had much of a chance to react, however, the rest of his body was split neatly in two by the thin black sword. The other two rushed him at once, roaring at the indignity of watching their friend be cut down by what at first had appeared to be a harmless human boy. One by one they fell, their bodies cleanly cut in twain with swift, strong strokes.
The carnage was beginning to make Orihime feel dizzy; suddenly, the tide had turned and it was Ichigo who was breaking bones and tearing sinew. His face was now twisted into a sinister snarl, as he flicked the blood from his sword and his eyes focused on the demon pinning Orihime to the wall. Even though he wasn't looking at her, just that vicious gaze being aimed in her general direction was enough to make her feel nauseous.
The demon holding onto her, on the other hand, twisted his face into a horrible caricature of a smile. "A Wraith, huh?" he asked, amusement evident in his tone. "Think you can take me, boy?" Suddenly, Orihime found herself flung through the air behind her attacker. He had discarded her, instead choosing to focus on fighting with Ichigo, and for that she was momentarily grateful. That was, until her head connected with the concrete of the alleyway behind her and she lost consciousness, anyway.
"I don't think, asshole, I know." Ichigo briefly noticed Orihime pass into unconsciousness as she hit the ground; his classmate suddenly felt different to him now. Hell, the whole world suddenly felt different to him now. His senses were sharper, his reflexes faster. His body felt like a taught coil, ready to spring at the slightest provocation. There was a bubbling heat flowing through his veins now, something more than blood. It felt like liquid rage, or grinding anger, and it was almost making him dizzy with intoxication. He had no clue what the hell had happened to bring this about, but he wasn't questioning it too much at the moment; at the moment, there was a pissed off demon charging him, dagger-like claws bared.
Instinctively setting himself into a good, aggressive posture, Ichigo struck out, swinging his new sword at the demon before him. The leader of the pack seemed to be a bit more intelligent than his lackies; he was able to parry with his claws, pushing Ichigo back a step before diving towards him.
For a second, he was distracted by the claws on the demon's right hand; they were coated in a dark, viscous fluid. Through the twilight, he realized that this was Inoue's blood. More than the visual imprint of it, though, he could smell it. A mixture of jealousy and rage shot through him unbidden. Suddenly, more than concern for his classmate, he felt possessive, and frighteningly so. He wanted nothing more than to rip the creature before him to shreds for touching - for tasting - what he now wanted so badly. The red smear at the demon's lips only made his rage that much keener.
That momentary distraction provided his opponent the opportunity to sink his claws into Ichigo's right shoulder. He roared in pain, skidding backwards as he clutched at his injured shoulder blade. His eyes flashed with fury as the other demon righted himself, laughing in condescension. One by one, he licked his stained fingers, looking from underneath his bangs as he did at Ichigo.
"Yours isn't as good as hers," the demon taunted. "Hers is real sweet, like honey or somethin'. Bet her whole body is. Thanks for that, by the way - since you got rid of those other assholes, I don't have to share now." Ichigo felt his temperature rise, blood thundering in his ears. It was almost as though scalding heat were flowing through his veins.
"You don't have to share anyway," he yelled, leveling his sword, "Since you won't touch her again!" Ignoring the pain in his shoulder, he charged, grinding his teeth together. The other demon did the same, arms and claws outstretched, his face distorted into a wicked grin.
With one strong thrust, it was over. There was a slick crunching sound as the clawed demon impaled himself neatly upon the black blade of Ichigo's nodachi, sliding down it until his nails were nearly brushing Ichigo's face.
A look of disbelief painted his face as a thin stream of blood trailed out of the corner of the demon's mouth. "Sneaky bastard," he gurgled, "That was dirty pool. Fucking inhibitor!" Ichigo had no idea what he was babbling about. Instead, he drew up with the blade, his face twisting into a toothy grin as it erupted from his victim's shoulder in a spray of deep crimson.
"Serves you right for touching her," he hissed as the body hit the cold concrete. "She's mine." Wait, what? Why would he say that about Inoue? She was just a classmate, wasn't she? Now that the fight was over and his pulse was beginning to slow back down, his thoughts made less and less sense. Had he been in some kind of frenzy? He was trying to defend the girl that lay prone on the other end of the alley, but somehow, instinct was contradicting him.
Ichigo put a hand to his head; a sudden wave of vertigo washed over him as he swayed on his feet. There was a second red flash as the black clothing and sword vanished, leaving behind only a stained school uniform and the injury in his shoulder. The glow faded from his eyes as he blinked to clear them, his irises reverting from glinting red to their normal cinnamon brown color.
He surveyed the alley; the bodies of his fallen attackers were strewn about, blood coating the walls. Had he actually done all that? Even if they were only feral, clanless demons, the law would still be harsh on any human that committed such a crime. He had to get out of here and figure out what had just happened to him.
Worse, he glanced back towards the other end of the alley. Before he could even consider running, his feet carried him towards his fallen classmate. She was still alive; he could somehow feel that now. As he neared her unconscious body, his thoughts once again began to go in bizarre directions as he dropped to his knees beside her.
He knew he had to take her to his father's clinic; they would be able to treat her there. Upon seeing - and smelling - the blood at her collar, however, his thoughts began to take a more sinister turn. He didn't have to take her straight to his father; he could sneak her into his room. He didn't have to take her home at all; this alley would suffice, wouldn't it? He could do whatever he wanted! He could take the time to lap all the blood away from her throat, rip the buttons off her shirt, touch those glorious breasts and their taut nipples...
Almost as if transfixed, Ichigo reached for the wounds on Orihime's neck, which were still weeping ever so slightly. 'Just a taste,' he thought feverishly, 'I just want to see what it's like.' His fingers hovered a few centimeters above the gashes, though, seemingly frozen. Something was holding him back. Some part of him knew, deep, deep inside, that if he tasted that blood, there would be no going back. Something was telling him that if he crossed that threshold, he'd become completely inhuman.
"Shit!" Ichigo leaned forward, covering his face with his hands, and laced his fingers through his hair. As he clutched the fiery orange strands, he screwed his eyes shut, willing the obscene thoughts back to the depths of his mind. He could figure out what the hell was wrong with him later; right now, he had to concentrate on getting both of them back to his place, preferably without hurting Inoue any worse than she already was.
Ignoring the pounding in his head and the scent of Orihime's body, he scooped the injured girl up and held her tighter than was probably necessary against his chest. Eyes barely open, he grabbed both of their school bags and darted out of the alley as quickly as he could, stepping over the splattered blood and various broken and sundered pieces of their attackers as he did so.
Unbeknownst to Ichigo, perched on one of the brick buildings several stories above his alley, a man and a woman stood watching him race away with Orihime, silhouetted by the rising crescent moon.
"Aha!" the male said, pushing a pair of goggles up to his deep red eyebrows, "I knew it! We've got a contact! Looks like a pretty good one, too. Let's go get 'im!" As he leaned toward the edge of the rooftop, though, the smaller woman put a hand out to stop him.
"No," she said firmly, "Not yet. It would be foolish to step in now. For now, let us report back." The male groaned; he wasn't fond of the reporting part, but at least they had something to report for once.