Don't own Bleach or Frankenstein
Inspired by that fantastic Halloween title page, this is Ichigo as Frankenstein's monster (or a version of him anyway) Frankenstein being a book which I also read recently and one that broke my heart a little.
Ring Around the Moon
When there is a ring around the moon, it means bad luck is coming, death very often.
These were the only words Ichigo could recall Tessai speaking to him. There was a ring around the moon tonight and Ichigo was hoping to God that the burly man's prediction would come true.
It had been nearly three weeks that he had been out here alone in the woods, and not all of them had been nice like this. Some had been bitterly cold, biting at his half bare body. Some had been wet and he had been forced to shiver in a forest cave like a rat. He knew he had cried some nights, at being so alone, but the emotion was familiar to him now. As the wind picked up he wrapped his arms around himself and felt tears slide down his face again.
It wasn't his fault. Technically he was still just a child. Less than a year, but it still made him feel weak that he couldn't be a man and match up to his immense stature and protect himself.
Because there was no one here to protect him now.
In the past months he would have been asleep in his siblings' rooms by now. Jinta and Ururu were his master's children and he was their protector and their friend. He looked up to them and they taught him what they knew, especially little Ururu who seemed to relish having a student to care for. She helped him to read and write, chicken scratch and children's stories mostly, but he was so proud of his progress and she had been too. He remembered her giving him his own book which she read to him because it was a little complicated. If those children wanted to play, he was willing and if they wanted to work or have him do something then he would do whatever they asked. For the space of a few months he had been so happy.
Then the crowd had come.
They had fire and sharp weapons. Ichigo saw them and knew instinctively that he needed to fight. He had bared his teeth and roared but this had the opposite effect. Instead of leaving the crowd surged in. Ichigo could still see the flames of their torches jumping high as Tessai and Urahara faced them all, swords drawn. The mob was so large. He, in his limited life, had never seen such a crowd and it scared him. As they saw him they began to scream and shout at his 'father'.
"It's the creation we've come for, Urahara. Destroy it and we'll leave."
"I can't. He has a life now and it isn't down to us to decide whether he lives or dies."
"It's an abomination! You created him from our dead!"
"I did no such thing."
The screams had cut Ichigo as he realised they were talking about him. Knowing that he was putting his family in danger, he turned and sprinted through the back door.
He was scared, more so than he had ever been as he ran hither and thither, deeper and further into the woods. By the time he tripped and fell, he was freezing, bleeding and lost. He had crawled under a tree and hidden. Of course it wasn't helped that he was terrified of the dark. But he was used to it now.
There was something else Ichigo had realised in the time he had been out here.
He was hideous.
He held no bones about it. On the third day he had caught sight of a pair of trappers who were eating a rabbit they had caught. He had stumbled towards them, clutching his wounded leg but upon seeing him they had leapt up, screaming and run. He hadn't understood, only felt scared himself and used their dying fire to warm himself. He had also eaten the rest of their rabbit. He wouldn't have. The thought of consuming another animal had made him sick but he was just so hungry.
Then he wandered on.
Sometime later he beheld himself in a pool of water. And was disgusted by what he saw. He was disgusting; not at all similar to the bright eyed children he had assumed himself to be like. No, his eyes were dull yellow, his skin slightly waxen and puckered with puffy stitches, while his hair was a violent orange colour. He had cast himself back from the surface in despair then covered his face and crawled back to his bed of damp leaves. No wonder those people wanted to kill him. He was an abomination. If his family was dead then it was entirely his fault.
That was the first night he wept.
Now it was three weeks later. He knew that if Urahara was alright then he surely would have found him by now so he had all but given up hope. Ichigo didn't know that Tessai's prediction was only superstition and so he waited for death, with quiet hope that soon it would be finished.
Even if daemons came to drag him away it was better than being all alone. But as darkness crept in, Ichigo saw something in the darkness. The glow of windows.
Could it be? Had he found home? He rose and stumbled through the rough brambles, ignoring them tearing at his skin until he saw a tiny cottage. But it wasn't his.
Ichigo never thought his heart could feel as if it had disappeared but in that second it did. He crouched in the bushes and put his face in his hands. Then there was a strange tug in his body, something he might have named as curiosity, and he crept toward the window.
It was light inside, a fire and a small cot, a trunk, and a small table adorned the inside. There was just one room but it had been made a home. Ichigo reached up and stroked one long finger down the cold glass, as if trying to touch the warmth of the room.
Ichigo spun round and jumped. There was a child there. She was regarding him, with wood in her arms. Ichigo did the only thing he could, he ran. But his foot connected with a log and he fell. Landing heavily and biting his tongue, he tasted blood and gritted his teeth to keep from crying out in pain. Still a few, tears squeezed out from under his screwed up eyes and ran down the sides of his face.
"Hey, are you alright?" said the same voice from before. He felt a hand strike his shoulder and reacted on instinct.
"Please don't hurt me!"
Ichigo rolled over and shielded himself with his arms.
There was a light sound that sounded like the bubble of a river, or the ring of bells. It was a laugh.
"I'm not going to hurt you, you idiot. What would make you think that?"
Ichigo lowered his arms and looked up at the face.
He had heard that with death came angels. Did this mean death was here for him too? Above him stood a female. He knew now she was no child, her body was shaped like Urahara's occasional guest Miss Yoruichi, not quite as strongly accented but noticeable. He reached up and put a hand on her hip, running it up her waist and over her ribs to her breast. Then she slapped him, hard. Immediately he recoiled.
"I'm sorry! I didn't mean to...its just, you're a woman. I didn't know."
"Oh well thank you very much." She snapped.
"You don't sound too thankful."
There was a pause. "No, I was being sarcastic."
"Oh." It was his turn to stop. "What's that?"
For a second she gazed with incredulity down at him then put her hands on her hips.
"You are joking right?"
"No. My sister never taught me about sarcasm. I only learned to read and write."
"Oh don't be ridiculous, how old are you?"
Ichigo was silent before he muttered, "Not that old."
He shivered as the wind gusted through the clearing at the front of the house. It was quite wide all around the house apart from the bramble bushes which he had hidden behind. Again she reached out a hand and for a moment Ichigo thought that he would be hit again. He flinched and she paused.
"Don't worry I won't hurt you I promise." And she stroked her hand against his arm. "Oh Gods you are frozen. Come inside."
Her brow knitted. He could see so in the light from the window. She looked confused; whenever he looked like that he had to have things explained so Ichigo did.
"Y-You won't like me in the light."
"What? Why not?"
"B-Because I'm ugly."
"What? You ridiculous creature! No one can dislike a person truly just for being a bit ugly."
"You don't understand." he stuttered out. "People are frightened when they see me."
"Well I've been talking to you for five minutes and I'm fine."
"You haven't seen my face." He countered.
"Don't need to." She snapped right back. "Your voice is enough. You seem okay, and believe me; I know how to take care of myself. Even if you try something I'll be fine."
"Well I'm a young woman, living alone."
"I'm afraid I don't understand." He intoned looking up at her.
"Well, I mean you might try to take advantage."
"What of?" He heard an exasperated sigh.
"Of me and my body?"
"What about it?"
Another sigh but he really didn't understand what he was saying wrong. She spoke again before he could ask.
"Can I ask, just where you have been? Because you don't seem to know a hell of a lot."
He was a bit insulted at this.
"Hey! My sister taught me stuff. I've been learning with her since the day I was born."
He decided to stand up too. It was cold and he was getting stiff on the ground. Agile, he leapt to his feet, coming up to his full seven feet in height. She moved back quickly and Ichigo's heart fell but soon her voice returned to him and it was welcome. His angel.
"Wow, you are...quite something." She breathed as she looked at him.
"You're not scared?" he whispered. Daring to hope.
"No, of course not." And she went to her door. "Come on in."
Still he hung back.
"Um, ma'am, please don't look at me, when I come into the house."
"What's the deal?" She asked, "Of course I have to look at you. The place is too damn tiny to not look at you."
He shifted uncomfortably.
She moved inside and began to throw her logs on the fire. The flames illuminated the walls as Ichigo stepped over the thresh and felt warm prickle his skin for the first time since she had run away.
But then she turned around. She turned around and screamed.
He recoiled and turned to run but just as he put his foot outside the door, a small hand grasped his elbow. He felt his pulse hammering underneath the skin and the coolness of her finger tips. She was so pretty he felt almost bad for looking at her with his horrible face, for making her look at him. He turned back and peered at her hand on him.
"I'm sorry." She said, sincerity clear in her tone. "You just made me jump. You're so tall."
He looked at her. Her eyes were lying but they also pleaded with him. What were they saying? He knew one thing. He would have stayed forever and a day if she would just look at him with those eyes until she couldn't look any more. They were as liquid sapphires."
"Angels have lovely eyes." He said solemnly.
"What?" she said, half laughing but didn't wait for an answer, "Come on, sit down." She smiled and tugged on his arm. "I'll make you some nettle tea and we'll clean you up."
"You're covered in scratches. We need to wash them. I have a bath you can use."
Ichigo did understand this. He had been allowed a weekly bath at Urahara's, they used to be on Wednesdays but he had lost count of the days now so there was really no use in refusing, plus he was cold and a bath was warm, he was dirty and a bath would clean him, he really wanted one.
"Alright." He said quietly, and watched as she proceeded to bustle around. Get water, heat it, smile as he shunted forward to the fire and curled up tightly to stay out of the way, like a little boy would do.
"It might be a bit small for you." She said as he trailed his hand in the metal bath which she was filling with water from the boiling pot. The pump was outside and after the third journey he offered to go so she let him. In no time, the steaming water was ready.
"Alright pants off." She barked. Ichigo obediently did so and climbed into the water. It was just right, and even though he displaced a lot of the water and had to bunch up his legs, it felt perfect. Silently she knelt beside the tub, and taking a small bowl began to pour warm bath water over his shoulders. He took it from her and poured it over his head, then shook it out like a dog. His angel began to laugh as she shielded herself from the deluge and he joined in. His laugh was something he hadn't heard in so long and he had missed it. She stopped laughing suddenly.
"I've just realised, you haven't told me your name."
Ichigo looked at her, and then smiled, and she was struck with the beauty of it. That was a child's smile. Despite the face it was set in. His eyes glowed with happiness as he looked at her.
"It's Ichigo." He said.
"Ichigo." She spun out. "That's a good name. It means 'One who protects' doesn't it?"
Ichigo looked confused, "I didn't know names could mean something."
"Oh yes," she said, "Mine means 'ray of light'."
Just like an angel. He thought.
"What is it?"
"Rukia." She said with a smile. "Rukia Kuchiki."
Ichigo got out of the bath and Rukia graciously turned her back while he dried off, though he didn't know why.
"Finished?" she asked, turning around. He nodded, pulling on the loose cloth pants that she had left out for him. They were so soft compared to the things he had been wearing for the last month. They only came to the middle of his calf but they were warm and washed, unfortunately she couldn't find a jerkin that would fit him.
As she knelt by his feet bandaging them, for they were cut and bruised from his time in the forest, she eyed his scars.
"What are they from?" she asked, indicating the lines of risen flesh.
Ichigo looked down and blinked, "Oh that's from my master, he used them to put me together." He clenched his teeth. "That's why they came after me. They said I was made out of dead people."
Rukia froze by his feet.
"You what?" she hissed and Ichigo flinched.
"You...what you're made of?" she looked sickened.
"Ichigo pulled his feet back from her and pulled his knees up again."
"They killed my family." He whimpered, "The people who took care of me. They chased me and threatened to kill me. I was so frightened. I thought I would die, I wanted to."
A tear rolled down his cheek. "Do you hate me too?" he asked pathetically, looking up. "I thought you were my angel sent to save me."
Rukia was staring at him, pale as death. "A-angel?" she stuttered.
"Yeah, Tessai said that when there is a ring around the moon, death is coming. I thought you were the one to deliver it."
Rukia's heart melted.
"Of course I'm not!" she cried and he flinched again. But then she cast herself on him and wrapped her arms around him. He tightened.
"What are you doing?"
"Oh please tell me you've been hugged before."
"Is that what that is?"
A tear ran down her face but a large finger caught it and held it up to the light.
"Angels shouldn't cry."
"I'm not an angel Ichigo."
"But you saved me."
"Yes, I was so lonely, and then you came and saved me. Am I allowed to die now please?"
Rukia gasped softly as she saw the hopeful gaze. He actually wanted to go.
"Ichigo. The moon, that's only a story. You don't have to die."
He looked puzzled. He had that adorable, semi scowl on his face that said, 'I really don't understand.'
"The ring around the moon; you don't have to die. It's only a folk tale. You can live."
Then his face crumpled.
"But I shouldn't even be alive. I want to die. That's what the people said. They called me an abomination."
"You are not! You are alive! You live and breathe don't you?" she put a hand on his chest and felt the steady thud of his heart. He turned a little red and dropped his head to hide his eyes. Rukia's own heart went out to him and she reached forward and raised his chin. "Do you feel, Ichigo?" and she leaned forward and pressed her lips lightly against his.
Ichigo's mind had gone numb. Was this what he had been waiting for? It was so warm and nice. There was a heat in his chest and a heady feeling swirling around his mind. He leaned against her until he felt her pull back. Then he rested his head on her shoulder. He tried it again with her collar bone, it smelled so nice. Like wool and wood smoke, plus flowers and cleanliness. He kissed her skin again and felt as if something was unwinding within him. All at once he wanted to grasp at her and never let her go. Was this what Urahara had said he was too young to know when he had asked about Miss Yoruichi? He didn't know why. It was lovely.
But too soon he felt her push on his shoulders.
"Because this....lovers do this."
"What are lovers?"
"Oh for crying out loud."
"Doesn't matter. Look I can't be kissing you when I haven't known you that long. Can you understand?"
Ichigo was disappointed but nodded. She seemed intensely relieved. But then he leaned forward and kissed her once more. And this time she leaned into him, breathing in as she did so, so he could feel her tiny chest filling with air.
"Ah, Ichigo. No more. I've known you for less than an evening."
Ichigo pulled away and hung his head again.
"Sorry, it just felt nice. You won't send me away will you? I like it here."
"No of course I won't." She said quickly and he looked up.
"That means I can stay with you?"
"Yes." She said confused that he would look so hopeful. "Of course you can."
He grinned widely at her, once again making his terrible scars unnoticeable in the dancing firelight.
She rose and began to build him a bed. "You can sleep by the fire. Its warmest there."
"Thank you." He said again, seeming genuinely thrilled as she layered blankets and found him a pillow. When she was done he tentatively crawled into it and put his head on the pillow. He watched sideways as Rukia took off her shoes and climbed into her own bed, still fully clothed. They lay in silence for a long time. He could tell she was still awake, she just wasn't saying anything.
"Can I stay tomorrow?"
A heart beat, "You can stay for as long as you need to."
"Oh." Another second of silence. "Rukia?"
"Yes?" she was starting to sound annoyed.
"Will you touch my lips again? You know, like lovers do?"
Another tenth of a second.
"Maybe, Ichigo. When I get to know you better."
"Oh." He stared at the back of her head and all her pretty black hair which shimmered in the light. "I like rice."
"What?" she asked, sitting bolt upright. He sat up too.
"Just, that's something to know about me."
She stared at him, then burst out laughing and lay back down.
"Go to sleep Ichigo." She said, and he could hear the smile in her voice.
While freezing my butt off in my garden (Halloween party with family and friends) this just came to me. So I hashed it out, I've been lying here typing for two hours. (Now thankfully inside)
I realise Ichigo is pretty OOC for this but he's supposed to be a new born creature and he hasn't seen as much of the pain that canon Ichigo has. He's still relatively innocent hence the rather naive attitude of referring to Rukia as an angel.
Does this have the potential to be multi chaptered? Please tell me. Even if not, REVIEW! It's what I live and breathe for.
HAPPY HALLOWEEN LOVIES!