I looked over to the boy that stood beside my desk.

Everything was like a dream. It had been exactly one week since we had gone out with each other. Even though it ended up with us going to Urahara's, for some reason, I was very happy. I couldn't get it off my mind for even more than a minute now. I always kept the memory replaying in my head, and it only made me more and more happy. I had never been so obsessed with something like this.

Even Hisagi would find me smiling crazily at myself in the office… sometimes. And since that day, it was like we were one step closer to each other in our friendship. We talked more together, we went to school together and walked back home from school together. This was the ideal life for a teenage school girl.

Like I said, this was the ideal life for a teenage school girl, but I'm not even close to both. I'm a shinigami, who's almost close to her 100 living years...

I smiled at Ichigo, putting in the last few textbooks into my school bag and sat on the desk - really, why am I always tempted to sit on desks more than chairs? Well, I suppose I'm not the only one, am I?

"How come you're always so quick?" I said, wondering how he could always be the first one to finish cleaning up his desk before all of us. He only shrugged at my question, before I turned my attention to the rest of our group. Orihime, Rukia and the others were sitting around us, waiting for the classroom to clear up, which didn't take long. Ishida quickly locked the door after the last student and joined our small group. We stayed silent for a while more, waiting for some expected guests to come.

"What's taking them so long?" Ichigo asked. I just used the same reply he gave me for my previous question. I didn't know more than him why Toshiro and the others were late, but it was probably because of the Arrancar appearance earlier this morning.

I felt them appearing, and my blood was boiling to go fight them, but Rukia, Ichigo and me were given orders not to run around during school hours, which makes it even more impossible for Orihime and the rest to go out… And another point to that, was that because that Urahara guy insisted me on watching over Orihime, without anyone finding out…

Well, I wasn't worried about Toshiro and the others at all, I would know if anything happened, either because of my link with Toshiro, or because I can feel their reiatsu pretty clearly. But seriously, I could have used my Gikongan if anything really happened, so why wouldn't they allow us to go, and why is Orihime so important out of our entire group? On top of that... this was just an order given by Urahara, not even the sotaicho gave us such an order... but I suppose he has his own reasons to do this.


My head quickly turned to the window behind me, revealing a few shinigamis standing behind. I turned around to slide the window open to let Hisagi, Renji, Matsumoto, Toshiro, Ikkaku and Yumichika in – yes, I could finally remember his name.

"You guys are late!" Rukia said, expressing what I was thinking.

"It wasn't our fault!" Matsumoto quickly defended them. I looked at her, my expression questioning.

"We saw the Hollow of last time that Tsuyuki couldn't kill."


Well, I didn't need more reminders to guess which one Toshiro was talking about.

"We still can't confirm if it is an Arrancar or a regular Hollow, the reiatsu it is emitting is very different from the ones we've seen before. I'm afraid it is a new kind of Hollow Aizen has created with the Hogyouku."

Aizen was the traitor of Seireitei. I haven't even met him once, but I already knew that I hated him... With everything that he's done to Toshiro and the rest of them, it was worth the reason of killing him. I still remember the one time I went to visit Momo at the 4th Division's barracks, she looked so weak and frail, I really couldn't imagine how that jerk could have done that to her. On top of that… he tried to make her kill Toshiro, this is the worst that he could've done for them.

He must've known that Toshiro cared a lot for her and that he'd never hurt her on purpose, so he tried to use her to get rid of him. That Sousuke Aizen totally brainwashed her.

"How's everything going for you guys?" I looked down, turning my head sideways, thinking that it was useless for me to even go to school since Kain was almost never showing up to classes.

"I would answer that question if only he would show up to classes." I said, looking at Toshiro.

"I never thought he'd do this… He was such a great student and friend before…" As we heard that, most of us, Shinigamis, shifted our attention to Orihime. Well, I suppose that she didn't intend to let us hear that because she looked like she was talking to herself.

"Um... did I say something wrong?" Well, not that she had said something wrong, but this could be a clue to our investigation. I mean, what kind of person would suddenly change so much within such short amount of time, turning from a great student into a gangster student who always skips class... who would believe that nothing happened within these few months of summer?

"No, Inoue Orihime, this might be helpful." Hisagi's voice resonated beside me. "We need to get as much information as we can about him before taicho meets up with him."

Well, I didn't even need to tell the whole group about it for them to know that he invited me to go to his place. And the thought of it made me discreetly glare at Renji. If only it wasn't Toshiro telling me, I wouldn't have known that this guy was spying on me when I was with Kain. Well, not that I minded, but I just didn't expect him to do that…

"We don't know what that guy's got, so we have to gather as much information about the Hollows and him. He might look like an ordinary human, but it's almost impossible for him to see shinigamis and hide his reiatsu if he wasn't a Hollow or a Shinigami himself. So there must be something about him that we don't know. And I'm about 100% sure that he isn't one of you, or else the Soul Society would have informed you about it…"

And there goes Ishida, he continued on and on about how we should prepare and gave out all the possibilities possible. His lips didn't stop moving for a second, not even letting the chance for others to speak up, but after all this talking, I'm pretty sure everything everyone wanted to say was already out. Only Toshiro had the heart to cut him here and then, adding some comments either it was positive and negative, and eventually, something started building inside them, and it started to sound more like a negotiation between them than anything else.

Well, I suppose both of them has their leader side, so that's probably why Toshiro couldn't let that guy say everything – yes, this sounds so silly from him.

As usual, I don't like to sit in between long talks, so I just decided to stand up quietly and leave the room for another place where I could sit and relax.

"Just tell me what the conclusion is when you guys are done with it…" I flung my school bag over my shoulder and walked out of the classroom. In my head, I already had the image of Hisagi's face when I said that, along with what he would be thinking. He's probably thinking that I'm an irresponsible taicho, or such kind of compliments and all, but I didn't care at all. I would fall asleep sooner or later if I stayed here listening to Toshiro and Ishida battle it out.

I'm not a thinker like Toshiro is, and I rather just go in action when needed to and think when I need to. So if they're here, I trust them, I believe that Toshiro and Ishida would eventually find out something with their smart brain.

"Tsuyuki!" my legs halted at the familiar voice, turning around on their own. My eyes met with Ichigo's, and I stood there, waiting as if I already knew he had something to say. "Why did you leave so quickly? I almost couldn't catch up to you."

"I just don't like listening for too long." I searched for the closest clock around, and it indicated that it was half an hour past four. "It's been almost more than half an hour that we had been inside already."

In fact, I was kind of troubled by the boy. Not Ichigo, but that Kain kid. We didn't find out much about him like we thought we would. And there no information about him anywhere else then from his friends, who didn't have much information themselves either, the only clue is that they all said that he was like two different people since a year ago.

"Thinking about that Kobushin?" I looked up at Ichigo, not even a split second of hesitation coming in my mind before I nodded.

"Why did you come after me anyways?" I'm very straight-forward, so I would ask what comes right into my mind sometimes.

"I just thought that I shouldn't be leaving you alone all by yourself."

I hope it's not that Toshiro or Renji pulling their strings again…

"You want to go somewhere and have a drink?" I suggested, not knowing what to do or what to say.

Later at night…

I closed the door behind me and dropped the school bag in a corner. I felt so tired, the first thing I could think of was drop on my bed. I kept looking up at the ceiling, memories and thoughts rushing through my mind. I suddenly thought of something. I sat up and tried to reach for the notebook that was lying on the top corner of my desk. When I got it between my fingers, I pulled myself back on the warm fabric of the sheets and pulled out a picture from the notebook. I smiled at the picture.

It was a picture Toshiro and the others took the other day, when I was going out with Ichigo - they were spying on us. It was a close-up of me and Ichigo smiling and talking, even though I didn't know why I felt so attached to that picture, I still treasured it. It was like one of the few happy memories I could keep forever. It's true that memories could last longer than a picture, but seeing it so clearly makes everything different.

I sat down on the opposite side of Ichigo, taking the menu that the waitress was handing us. I scanned through the list and couldn't recognize any kind of drinks except for the ones in the tea section or juice section. I looked up at Ichigo's face that looked unfazed, carefully choosing what he wanted. And I just looked back at the menu.

I didn't have time to choose what to get before the waitress came back to us, asking us what we wanted to drink. I looked up at the waitress, not sure of what I should do. At the end, I decided to do the worst thing I ever could. I randomly pointed at a drink in the menu and said "I'll have this here please."

And then she left with both our orders written down in her notepad.

And then she came back with an orange juice – which I suppose was for Ichigo – and something else that smelled weird, but in a good way. I waited for her to place the cup of dark substance in front of me before taking it in front of my nose and smell the strange odor.

Indeed, it smelled very good, something that I've never seen or smelled before.

I could feel someone's eyes on me so I looked up to see the boy looking at me with an amused face.

"You've never tried this? You look like a caveman that just came out of its cave." Uh… what is he talking about? "It's called coffee. Give it a try, you might like it since you're look so passionate about the smell. But I personally don't like its taste…"

I looked at him, and then back at the dark liquid in front of me, and then took a sip…

And the next thing I wanted to do was to spit it out.

"Don't like it?" I could barely swallow the weird liquid. And I really wanted to rip his smirk off his face. "Try it with some milk and sugar, it helps." Should I believe him or not?

I looked at the small cup and small bag that he handed me. One was written milk on it and the other was written with sugar on it. I pondered a bit, and finally decided on what to do.

I quickly swapped his orange juice with my coffee and tried to smile nicely at him.

"Let's exchange." I said. I wouldn't want to take the risk of tasting that weird thing again… However, it did smell very good…

He stared at me with his eyes halfway out of its sockets, looking back and forth at me and at the coffee. I didn't budge a muscle until he sighed and made the move to open the small cup and pour the white substance in the cup, followed by the small white sachet that contained the sugar.

The drink smelled great, but it taste was very… different from it. I would've never thought that something that smelled so good could taste like some randomly mixed herbal medicine. I guess that sometimes it's not only the first impression that counts…

First impression…

I looked up at Ichigo, thinking of the first time we met at Urahara's place. Well, it wasn't the first time technically, but in my memories, it is. He gave me a very bad impression at that time… but after all this time spent with him, does that first impression indicates much anymore? Is it what I want to trust the most now?

Looking at the picture, analyzing every details of it, I've started questioning myself… I never knew I could smile so happily after everything that has happened in Hueco Mundo, after losing almost all of my dearest friends that I've been with for years… neither did I think that I'd become such close friends with Ichigo. I could see that my smile was taking the whole length of the picture, it almost seemed unreal to me, but I knew everything was true, because I remember everything that has happened that day. Just thinking of everything about that day made the corner of my lips tug at my face. I could never hide my smile in front of this. It was a special sensation that I felt, it was different. It felt that even if I was at my worst time, this picture could make me smile anytime.

"It looks like someone is thinking about Kurosaki." I didn't deny anything before looking towards the doorway to Toshiro, who invaded my room without my permission. I only let my emotions express themselves without even thinking about it.

"And you? What about Hinamori?" I smiled at him while he entered my room and sat on my bed nonchalantly.

"There's nothing about her." He pointed out. Well, I guess I couldn't expect more from him.

I sighed and sat up to match his height, noticing that he's grown an inch taller than me since the last time I've noticed his height.

"She's going to be heartbroken if she hears that." I slipped back the picture into the notebook and put it into a drawer close to me.

"Would you feel that way if Kurosaki said that?"

There's nothing about her


For a moment there, my brain replayed the exact same sentence Toshiro had said about Hinamori in Ichigo's voice. Even though I knew that he had never said that, it had me speechless. Also for a moment, I felt my heart skip as I stopped breathing for a short second.

"I-I wouldn't care about what he says about me." I said, recovering quickly from my shock. I didn't know why I had reacted that way, but I knew that it didn't make any sense at all.

"Stop lying. I saw your reaction just now." What reaction did he see? What is he thinking? "And you looked like you were enjoying the picture we gave you."

But really… how would I feel if it was really Ichigo saying this to me? Would I get the same reaction that I just had? And could that photo really bring out my emotions so easily…?

"We are just friends, so I can't find any reasons why I would care about what he says about me." I said the first thing that crossed my mind, but the only reply I received was a sigh from Toshiro.

"You know exactly what he feels about you, there's no way you can 'just be friends' like this." …

Well, I guess that Toshiro did point out something true. For the past few weeks, I've been reminded almost every day that he had feelings for me before I lost my memory, and that even now he still has something for me… And I'm really starting to fall into this ocean of words and losing myself.

"You're starting to develop feelings for him, right?"


"W-what…? What are you talking about…?" Develop feelings for him? No way… How can I fall in love with a human?

"You might not know it yet, but it's obvious with all the hints you're giving when you're around him." I looked at Toshiro, and I knew he was talking to me as my dearest brother now. "I'm your brother, I know you more than you do. And I will most likely understand you more than anyone else." I… does he really understand me more than I do myself?

"I don't want to be in love with him…" I haven't realized that what I just said could just seal the fact that I've admitted my feelings for him.

Once again, I couldn't get my eyes off Toshiro as he looked at me compassionately.

"I know what you're thinking, Tsuyuki…" I know he does, he's like my mind reader… "I'm sure both of you will find a way out of this maze." Yeah…

"I'm sure Hinamori will understand your feelings too."

I might not have accurate intuitions like Toshiro does about me, but I knew he had something for her, he would just never admit it.

"I'm telling you that I don't feel anything for her." Well, it would be more credible if he wasn't blushing.

"So, are you planning to stay short for the rest of your life?" I pulled the topic somewhere else. And his reaction quickly changed. A vein was popping out from his forehead.

"Why so?" I smirked.

"You'll never grow up if you keep sleeping this late." I pointed out, looking at the clock that indicated 2 o'clock past midnight already.

A few days later…

As usual, class lasted longer than I could ever think, these periods of an hour lasted longer and longer every day.

"So today's the day…" I looked up at Ichigo, who was standing by my desk. I hadn't made a move since class ended. I knew exactly what he was talking about. I looked at the clock on the wall, which the second hand of the time almost indicated that it was going to be four o'clock sharp in a few minutes. It was also the exact time when she had to meet up with Kain in front of the school gates.

"Yeah…" I didn't look at his eyes, I felt like I've been avoiding his gaze for the entire day today, and I seriously didn't understand why I was doing this.

I slowly stood up and packed my textbooks into my school bag, doing all these steps in the slowest pace I've ever did, glancing at the clock every ten seconds. Well, it seemed like I really wasn't willing to go to Kain's place, and somehow, my intuition told me that it wasn't a good idea to go there, or to get close to that boy. However, an intuition stays an intuition, I can't live my life with just this…

I tried to put a smile on my face, looking at Ichigo and swung my school bag onto my shoulder.

"I'll see you later then!" I waved at the rest of my friends, quickly exiting the classroom, heading towards the school entrance.

I felt somehow unhappy leaving Ichigo like this, I felt like I was abandoning him…

Wait, what am I thinking here? Why would I be abandoning him? Gosh, I'm just saying nonsense now!

I walked through the halls of the school, and it is just now that I noticed that this place could seem so strange and cold to me when Ichigo and the others aren't around. It felt as if I was walking all alone in a dark hallway of a haunted place… it felt chilly and weird. I felt my footsteps getting quicker and quicker, the wish of getting out of here invading my mind…

I released a long breath as I stepped out of the school. Things were so different when Ichigo wasn't with me, even now, I didn't feel like myself anymore.

I looked up front to the school gate and saw Kain waiting by the entrance, I waved at him to look my way so he could know I was there.

"Hey, I'm glad you could make it." He said. I only smiled and nodded to him. My whole mind was filled with thoughts of someone else. Someone that I never thought I could be thinking so much about.

We started walking away from the students' building towards the direction of Kain's house, yet my mind not able to leave that place yet. I knew that Toshiro and the others would meet up there again for another meeting that I was going to be briefed about later, but I somehow felt disappointed that I couldn't be there to listen to them – and really, this is the first time that I felt this way about a meeting.

"So… your grandmother… is she… ill?" I asked. I was slowly starting to pick up the pace of the life of a teenager in the Human World, seeing that I hung out more around those people… and that Rukia and Matsumoto insisted on me watching those television shows about school life. And thanks to that, I learned a lot on how to communicate with my temporary classmates.

I looked at him as he didn't say anything. And he was just looking at me, a confused and funny expression on his face.

"What makes you think that?" he asked.

"Well… you did mention that it was her wish that she wanted to see you bring your little friend home to introduce her." I said, this was also the reason why I had accepted to go... If she died without having fulfilled her wish, it would make our job much more difficult, so I might as well fulfill it while she's still living. I was about to listen carefully to what he had to say but I only found him turning his head negatively.

"She's very healthy. It's just that I don't want to make her wait too long…"

"… oh…" I did not have any comments about what he had just told me. Well, I didn't exactly get lied to, I just didn't clarify the situation before accepting his invitation.

"Sorry, I should've told you earlier about that…" he apologized. I smiled at how nice he was.

"No, it's okay, it's not your fault. You also wanted to thank me for last time, right? It'll be a very good opportunity." I replied, trying to make him feel better about it. Unexpectedly, I heard him laugh softly.

"You're really like my ex-girlfriend." Huh?

Well, that picked my curiosity.

I looked curiously at him, hoping for him to say more about it.

"We broke up just before she died…" I felt sorry when he showed me his sour expression. "But it's okay, I'm sure she's even happier now, wherever she is, with my older brother..."

From what he just said, it seemed like she had been cheating on him with his brother, but I could tell that he still loves her very much even though she did that to him. I already knew a bit about his family before today. We found out just two days ago that his parents died in a car accident just a few months ago, and that was why he was staying with his grandmother now. And also from the same source of information, we were told that his brother died from a cancer three years ago.

I didn't ask him anymore questions or say a word after that. I didn't want to say the wrong things again and dig into his scars, so I decided to stay quiet. He didn't ask me anything either, so our whole way to his place was calm and peaceful…

Until I saw his house.

Really, you really can't judge someone by his appearance. He had all the qualities of a normal school boy… but only by looking at his mansion… I knew he was rich, even richer than the house we lived in. And I can say is, this place is almost twice as big as our house…

Kain showed me the way into his main entrance, to the living room where his grandmother sat.

"Hey, grandma! This is my friend, her name is Tsuyuki!" I politely bowed at the 'elderly' woman in front of me. Well I call her an 'elder', but I'm much older than she actually is… With that look of hers, she could easily be around the same age range than the so-taicho.

"Nice to meet you." I tried to keep my voice and my tone respectful, acting like how a perfect teenage girl would. I straightened myself from the bow as she replied me with small words…

"Hello, Tsuyuki…" her voice was indeed very shaky and broken, but she seemed very healthy in every way. "Would you like to have something to drink?" and like every other parents, she would ask this very same question.

"No, I'm good, thank you."

"Grandma, Tsuyuki and I will go to the dojo now." The boy bowed at his grandparent before she could say anything else and pulled me out of the room, heading towards the dojo he mentioned about. Well, let's say that his house was so big it could have anything in here. I never thought that his family could be so rich. "Sorry, she would start talking a lot if we stayed there." He explained as we got out of her hearing range – which was not very far away. I let a small smile slip from my lips, thinking that it was funny how he talked about her, yet it was very obvious that she was important to him.

We walked through a few hallways in his house, went into the garden and walked by a pond as well. The most impressing thing I noticed were all of the family pictures they had put up on the wall. You could easily find at least five or ten of them on each wall, decorating their mansion. And I had to admit that his mom was a total beauty. I would really like to meet her in Soul Society…

"We're here."

I blinked and looked around me. It was indeed a real dojo. Well, almost. He had all kind of weapons hung to the wall of the room or placed on a rack by the walls, the room was spacious and wide, with huge windows allowing the sunlight into the place and the floor was carefully covered with tatamis.

"Waoh… I would've never thought you'd have such an amazing dojo at your place…" I looked at the boy beside me, he was just smiling at me. "You must know martial arts very well in that case." I looked at his expression change from a smile to a thoughtful expression in less than a second. Did I say something wrong?

"Not really… this dojo belonged to my father…" I bit my lips. I guess I did say something wrong. "I started learning martial arts with him when I was young, but when he passed away… I stopped."

"I'm sorry…" I apologized, I didn't expect that I'd be scavenging in his scars.

"No, it's okay. But I still remember some basic stuff he thought me." He smiled happily at that. He must really love his family. "How about we spar?"

I looked at him. And then I nodded. I had hesitated for a second, because I thought that something was wrong with the question, but I didn't know what. I couldn't find the mismatched puzzle in his words. Nevertheless, I still accepted his challenge.

"Alright, you can pick whichever weapon you want around here." He said to me. I looked around the room, analyzing every weapon his family owned even though I already had in my mind what I wanted. I walked around the room, taking in my brain the shape of every item in this spacious room.

"Alright." I stopped at the other side of the room and turned around to face Kain, who was looking at me attentively. "I'll go bare handed." I smiled a bit at him and crouched down in an offensive position. "But please go easy on me."

Wait… That's right… How did he know that I knew martial arts? No way, I haven't told anyone at school about it. Only Rukia and the others know… but they wouldn't tell anyone… There's something wrong about this…

"Get ready…" I frowned. Something was really really wrong. I saw him charging towards me at full speed, a devious smirk on his face. He was totally like another person compared to earlier. I tried to block the kicks and the punches that he sent my way, feeling that he had much more power than a normal human being would have. He was quick, strong, and most of all, merciless, even with me under my inoffensive school-girl mask.

And somehow, his movements reminded me of the last Hollow we've seen. Even if it wasn't the same type of attack or anything, the way he moved and threw punches and kicks at me mirrored the movements of the Hollow.

I rethought of the moment when I saw Kain and that Hollow one after another.

And there was actually a link between them.

Kain is the Hollow.

I quickly jumped back, easily giving hints of my martial art skills level, but I didn't care about those last details. I dug into my pocket to find my Gikongan dispenser, which was hard to do with my constant jumps and blocks.

"What are you doing?!"

I'm sure of it now. His voice became more and more like a Hollow's…

"I know your true nature…" I said, jumping a few meters back to keep a safe distance between us both. I held the dispenser that was in my pocket, ready to take it out at any moment.

"Well…" with my bare eyes, I looked at him slowly change shape to form into the gruesome Hollow I met before. "I wanted to play a bit more before devouring you…" I smirked at him. I was very confident of myself that I could beat this thing with no problems at all.

I pulled out the dispenser from my school uniform's pocket and pushed the head of it…


I shakily opened my eyes to look in front of me, towards the devious monster. His maniac laugh was making my head spin. I turned my head around, trying to find where the dispenser and the candy had fallen onto, and found them at the other side of the wide room.


I shook my head a bit to re-focus my attention on the Hollow, seeing that it hadn't made a move yet. I need to think quickly… I was too far from reaching the Gikongan, and in this body, I can't move as fast… Why haven't I thought of this earlier…

I sat up, my eyes never leaving the soul in front of me as I swiped off the blood from my lips with the back of my hand.

"You did put up a great show for these few weeks…" I pointed out, thinking of how almost everything was planned perfectly since I met him. I frowned as an evil laugh picked my attention. I glared at the Hollow. "What's so funny?" I asked.

"It's funny how naïve and simple minded you shinigamis can be." I looked through its mask to see the expression it had in its golden eyes. This devilish, piercing gaze that all of them has gives me chills. "I wasn't exactly putting up a show… it was that kid who did." That kid? … no… he couldn't possibly mean…?

"You couldn't…"

"You're right, that Kain kid." I clenched my fists. "He was the first kid with almost no spiritual power that could see me through my disguise. So I decided to take over his body, and slowly drain his soul power." He's really… a monster… "But don't worry, he died happy." I glared at it. "He thinks that I'm going to give a longer life to his grandmother that way, and he died believing that."

I heard my knuckles crack.

"Poor that old woman… she still doesn't know that her grandson died already…" I wasn't going to let this thing do what he wanted to…

"You're going to pay for that…" I hissed at the Hollow, backing up towards the slightly crumbled wall to get some balance.

I tried to stand back up with the help of the wall behind me… and I was quite surprised that the wall didn't get totally destroyed by such a huge impact. Once my legs were straight and standing, the shaking in my limbs stopped, but it was pain that was taking over my body. If only I was in my shinigami form, for sure I wouldn't be in such an ugly situation now. This gigai really restricts a lot of my capabilities, and that's why I don't like it.

"Hm… you can still stand… I guess this physical body of yours isn't as fragile as a human body…" For a Hollow, this thing can really be smart. He could easily pass for an Arrancar if he could… "But too bad it's going to get eaten like your soul…" But all he talks about is only about trashing people… And I hated that.

Just the fact that knowing how he used Kobushin Kain was enough to make me hate him and put him on my black list forever, even after his death, or even if he was taken into Hell.

I glared intensely at him, wishing that I could kill with just a glare…

I felt my eyes widen as the skulled monster rushed towards me in an instant. I tried my best to avoid all his attacks as I could, feeling that my body was starting to get accustomed to my few dozen of years old reflexes. But I was also aware that this body had its limit, a limit that I was about to reach in a very short amount of time.

I somehow managed to throw him a punch in the face, but it was useless, even if I had put all my explosion of anger and strength in it. I couldn't even see a mere scratch at where I aimed, but what I can expect? I could barely make a scratch on him with my Zanpakuto… what makes me think I can injure him with a punch?

I quickly skipped behind me to avoid his next attack as I started to breathe heavily. My gigai couldn't take so much physical motions, it wasn't trained for it. I looked at where the Gikongan Candy has rolled off to, and I immediately knew that it was still too far from my reach. I looked up at the Hollow, feeling light stinging pain somewhere inside me.

I clenched my fists. Why did everything turn out like this?


I felt my back hit the concrete wall, a kind of stabbing pain shooting right through my body. I couldn't help but release a pain filled scream. I couldn't even recognize my own voice anymore. I was barely on my limbs, trying to keep myself looking up. I really had my guards down, and I'm paying my life for it this time.

I looked at the Hollow lift up its claws, ready to bring them down on me. I knew it would be the end, so I closed my eyes and took in a deep, last breath.

And the image of Ichigo flashed into my mind.

I waited. I waited for the eternal darkness to take over me, but I felt nothing, except that I heard a familiar sound. Chains clattering.

And I heard a deep cry of a Hollow.

For a moment, I would've thought that it was Hyokorimaru, but there was no way that I could release them in my state, plus I wasn't in my shinigami form.

I opened my eyes slowly, a blur of black and orange slowly clearing up.

I think that Ichigo was standing in front of me, crouched down in a defensive position… but I couldn't see well, because I was only facing his back, but I somehow knew that it was him… however something wasn't right. Something was wrong. His reiatsu felt utterly different. The feeling it was giving me was almost obscure, choking.

I did not know if it was because of the huge amount of reiatsu he was emanating that was making me uncomfortable or something else… but it gave me chills up my spine. And my brain kept sending messages to my body to move, to run away. But none of my limbs responded to its command. So instead, I just sat there and looked at his fight start.

Actually… it wasn't much of a fight. He had already cut off the tail of the hollow with his surprise attack, and it looked like it was its weakness, so now even I could have finished him off with my current condition… I think.

Somehow, my eyes kept lingering on Ichigo every time he moved. I've never really seen him in his shinigami form, but I guessed that he normally should have the attire we all wear usually. But instead, he had a black coat over his shoulder, with the end of it torn like Zaraki Kenpachi's haori. His Zanpakuto took the form of a completely black katana with a good thirty centimeters of chains attached to the hilt of it. I wasn't sure if he was in his Bankai already or not, but it certainly didn't look like the typical kind of shinigamis we see every day.

I couldn't see his face at all, but I could almost imagine how he looked now…

It didn't even take him more than a minute to kill the Hollow. Was he really that strong? Or was the Hollow just that weak? Last time, Hisagi and I couldn't even kill it with both of us… but this guy… he just got rid of it like he was cutting paper… Did he really find out its weakness so easily? Or was that shot just by luck? This iron skinned Hollow was killed by him so easily, like it was nothing…

I waited for him to turn around, thinking of thanking him for saving me.

But what I saw next was really… not what I expected…

It wasn't Ichigo's face that I saw… but a Hollow mask that slowly dissolved into thin air, slowly revealing his face behind it…

I couldn't describe the feeling I got when I saw it, but it was definitely not something I had been accounted for… I felt like I was paralyzed, I couldn't take my eyes of him, but I forced myself to look away from it… To turn away from what I had just seen. It wasn't the easiest thing to do at all, but I still did it. I turned around and once again, helped myself with the wall to crawl up and put my mind on one thing : exit this place immediately. I only knew one thing : I don't want to be with him alone here. I didn't care how painful it was for my body to move, but I just stuck my mind to those things, ignoring the pain that was shooting through my body every second I moved.

But my body wasn't acting like it should…

I felt something at the bottom of my throat. I felt liquids in my eyes. My body wasn't stable, I felt my limbs shake. Everything was wrong. Everything went wrong. This shouldn't be happening.

I felt something on my arm.

And I quickly shoved it away.

"Stay away!" I glared between my strands of hair at Ichigo… Was he even Ichigo? Was he just like that Hollow and had been trying to lie to me from the beginning?

I felt like my blood was boiling, but my body was trembling and cold, and it didn't make any senses to me anymore. I was glaring at him, but all I got in return was his expression of shock, sadness…

I couldn't look at him for any longer than that. I wasn't seeing the same boy I saw before today, it was totally different. He was a Hollow, he was one of them.

I helped myself up with the wall behind me, staying as far as I could from Ichigo. My mind was messed up, confused, I didn't want to deal with him now. I didn't know why it happened, how it happened, but all this was just wrong. I just want time to put this all together and think it over.

"Please leave me alone…"

I slowly walked by the wall to the exit of the mansion, despite the pain I felt all over my body. It was only when I was out there that I felt rain dripping on my clothes. And I didn't know why it hurt inside me more than anywhere on my body. It was unbearable, incomparable to the pain the Hollow gave me.

I walked as far as my legs could carry me, I wanted to run away from there, from the place where everything went wrong. I felt the rain dripping on me, stinging my skin. Even the rain felt agonizing at this moment, I've never tried feeling such stinging pain from the rain, and this was a first. When I knew that my legs couldn't carry me anywhere else anymore, I just fell on my knees, trying to shelter my arms from the rain with my hands.

I didn't care that I was in the middle of the road, or that everyone was looking at me. I just wanted to let everything out right now.

How did all this happen? Ichigo is supposed to be a Shinigami, right? Then why does he look so much like an Arrancar? Why did he have that Hollow mask? How come I feel this tugging feeling in my chest? It just made me want to cry out loud to make this feeling go away. I wanted to yell it out, yell out everything that was stuck in my throat, but my voice wouldn't come out.

I don't know how long I spent under the rain, but it was only when someone arrived that I knew the rain had stopped… or was it because he was covering me? Yes, it was. I still heard the rain outside. And it was also then that I knew it wasn't only water rolling down my face. My own tears were the reasons of my wet face too. The rain had to stop pouring on me for me to know that I was crying.

I held onto my chest tightly, afraid that the pain would make my heart tear up any second of my life. I could feel my hands shaking at the same rhythm of my heartbeat…

Even though I was crying out soundlessly, it was also the time I felt the most agonized about something, the time I cried the hardest. I felt like I was at my worst… And the more pain I felt, the less I could let that feeling out, it was as if crying wasn't enough for me to express it anymore…

The memory of that Hollow mask kept replaying and replaying in my mind, torturing me. I didn't know why it hurt so much inside me, I didn't know why I was reacting this way. I would have killed him right on the spot, but instead, I was showing this weak side of me to all the witnesses.

I felt horrible, clueless, and most of all, sad. I wanted to cry and yell everything out, only to make myself feel better…

"Why?! WHY?!"

But I didn't not feel any better.

I tried releasing my rage by punching and hitting the ground.

But I only felt worst.

So the only thing I could do now was cry and cry.

And I cried everything out.


It hurt, it really hurt deep inside me.

Why did I feel this way…?