Alright, here it is; the thirteenth chapter of My Dear Espada. Okay, to make things clear I have changed things DRAMATICALLY in this. First off, it will not be Ichigo x Orihime seeing as its not presented as such… instead, that will be the side pairing. It will truly be an IchixHarri fic. Hope you forgive me ^^

And again, I know I have not updated in QUITE a while, so therefore, I will try to make this chapter kind of long.

Ichigo walked briskly through the colossal halls of Las Noches, traversing his way through the vast corridors. He had been called for yet another training session with Harribel and her fraccion. He should've felt elated; it had been almost a week since he had seen her last.

But right now, his mood was less than ecstatic; even if his quick movements made others believe otherwise. What happened six days prior was still agonizingly fresh in his mind. The words he spoke.

'How could I have said that to them…?' Ichigo believed that it was for the best; his sisters needn't worry for him. They were just children and children were supposed to be carefree. He knew that they would worry and he wanted it to be prevented. He wanted his sisters to be safe.

But why did it feel as if a hole was ripped into his chest. Granted, there was a hole in his chest, but it seemed to be a more… emotional emptiness than the actual counterpart. He couldn't shake the feeling that something worse would happen.

Sighing, Ichigo turned the corner; coming up to a large door. Opening it, he began his trek out onto the bridge; the sunlight beaming down upon him. Squinting, he tried to get adjusted to the light, obscuring the light was his hand.

He scanned the area; looking for any sign of the four women he called subordinates.

"There you are," Ichigo jumped before turning around to the source of the voice. He sighed in relief when his eyes caught Mila-Rose sitting on the bridge's ledge.

Ichigo glared at her. "Don't sneak up on people like that," he wiped himself down, his nerves calming.

The amazon clicked her tongue. "You should've been able to sense me," she snorted. "You're slipping Ichi."

Ichigo's eye twitched at the pet name. "I-Ichi?"

Mila-Rose's face pulled into a devious grin. "Yeah, little Ichi. You're new name from now on," Mila-Rose stated proudly.

"Why you stupid bi-" He was about to retort before he was interrupted.

"Anyways Ichi, I'm not here to play games," She announced, her face serious.

Ichigo was still slightly irked by the use of her new nickname, but he decided against a rebuttal for now. "What are you here for then?"

Mila-Rose pointed to herself. "I'm here to deliver you to your special sparring partner for the day."

Now Ichigo was confused. "Special sparring partner?" Ichigo raised an eyebrow in curiosity.

Mila-Rose nodded, gesturing for him to follow. And follow he did. In a boom of static, Ichigo followed Mila-Rose to their destination.

Upon reaching it, Ichigo looked around for his 'special sparring buddy' for the day.

"So where is he?" he turned back to Mila-Rose.

Her face contorted in disgust as she pointed her thumb to her right. Ichigo followed her thumb, his eyes widening when he caught his new sparring partner.

"Y-you…" he breathed out.

Stopping a distance away, Ulquiorra watched Ichigo's reaction. "Kurosaki Ichigo. Today I gauge your abilities."


Ichigo stood in a defensive stance, his blade out and ready for battle. His eyes glared ahead at his opponent, Ulquiorra's hands in his pockets as he faced Ichigo. The man obviously was underestimating him, and this only served to piss Ichigo off even more.

Ichigo charged forward, growling he swung his blade down upon Ulquiorra. The latter dodged easily, jumping from the space he was previously in. Ichigo disappeared in a boom of static, swinging his blade in a wide arc from the side. Ulquiorra grabbed hold of the blade, his face the same emotionless mask it always was.

Ichigo growled lowly as he began to force his blade to go farther down onto Ulquiorra. "Take out your zanpakuto!"

Ulquiorra closed his eyes. "I do not need to…" his outstretched his finger at Ichigo, a green light beginning to form.

Ichigo's eyes widened, the orange hair disappearing just as the cero blasted. He was behind Ulquiorra now, charging at the man; blade clutched and ready to hack through him.

Then he was gone. Ichigo's eyes widened as pain erupted in his stomach as he was kicked through the air, flying into one of the many buildings that towered the sky.

Ulquiorra turned his gaze to the tower, getting ready to meet the orange haired arrancar inside. His eyes widened slightly as a large cero came from the opening, the blast causing a wider hole. Ulquiorra disappeared from its trajectory, only to jump back to avoid a powerful swing from Ichigo.

The orange head's blade hit the ground, causing much of the sand to billow upwards. Ulquiorra landed a distance away, both hands from his pockets.

"It seems you've gotten serious. Now we can begin," he said, disappearing suddenly.

Ichigo's senses kicked into high gear, using his wide blade to block a kick to his head from Ulquiorra. Ichigo disappeared from the arrancar's range, avoiding a point blank cero. Ichigo reappeared higher in the air.

He could tell that no matter how much he tried, he wouldn't get close enough to hitting him… at least, not in his current state.

Ichigo held out his sword in front of him, narrowing his eyes as his energy began to spike; his normally blue aura taking on a blacker, much more sinister version. "Darken! Matar Luna!"

In an explosion of black reiatsu, Ichigo emerged in his resurreccion. His black jacket's coattails waved in the wind of the wind that picked up from his power, his hollowish glaring down upon Ulquiorra from behind his mask.

(For those of you wondering, think of his bankai form in the regular Bleach series)

"Ulquiorra. You were wrong before," Ichigo held his blade out in front of him, pointing the weapon at his opponent, "Now is the test."

"Overconfidence will be your undoing, Kurosaki Ichigo," Ulquiorra stated, bringing a hand to his blade. "Because now, I believe that you are strong enough to go down by my blade." Ulquiorra unsheathed his white zanpakuto, bringing it to his side.

Ichigo scoffed. "I won't be the one going down, Cifer!" Ichigo yelled, charging at Ulquiorra, his incredible speeds causing a sonic boom effect as he sped towards Ulquiorra.

The two clashed, causing a gigantic boom of reiatsu to erupt from their contact.

Harribel sat in the distance, watching Ichigo and Ulquiorra hammer away at each other. Needless to say, Ichigo had become much stronger. 'To be able to stand up against the Fourth Espada… impressive to say the least.'

She knew Ichigo had a long way to go before he was anywhere near her level, though it was still a feat to her that someone was able to stand up to one of the top four espada; the beings not allowed to release their resurreccion for fear of destroying the entire fortress.

She could tell that Ichigo could easily be an espada. Hell, she wouldn't be surprised if Aizen-sama was already cooking up a plan to bring him into their ranks. He'd probably send one of the espada to Priveròn status and allow Ichigo a rank.

From inside her mask, her mouth pulled into a paper thin smile. He was pleasing her more and more with his progress. He'd soon be the ultimate fraccion and he would ensure victory for them. She, of course, would be there to help him along the way.

But, as proud as she was of him; there were also the complications. The most prominent seemed to be his link to the living world. Most hollows could never recall their previous lives, and therefore would never remember anyone there. Ichigo, like everything else, seemed to be an exception to this. He was not only about to remember the girls that were there, but he also reacted against his own subordinate to attack them; going so far as to use his resurreccion against him. She knew Grimmjow had it coming one day, though she couldn't help but think that something was terribly wrong.

Then… there was the case of the strange reiatsu he used. It was dark and sinister, clearly hollow-like. But then, there was something else. The final move Ichigo had used against Grimmjow; the Getsuga Tensho she believed he called it. 'Piercer of Heaven… how fitting.'

It felt strange. There was hollow energy in it, though there was a speck of something else within it. Something resembling… 'Shinigami energy.'

This, she knew, was an extremely far-fetched assumption, though she couldn't shake the feeling in her gut. It was eating at her. There was something she didn't know about Ichigo, something she must've missed. But for now, she would investigate later.

'Ichigo, you certainly are an interesting one.'

Harribel got up, stretching as she prepared to go closer. The battle would be over and she had to go and get her favorite carrot head before he killed himself. Another thin smile graced her obscured lips as she disappeared to go closer.

Ichigo was feeling pretty confident. He had been in putting Ulquiorra on the defensive ever since he unveiled his resurreccion. Ichigo swiped at Ulquiorra, breaking clashing stalemate; sending the espada doubling back from the force of his attack. Ichigo held out his hand, a ball of black beginning to form. The ball soon reached mammoth proportions, firing out with a low boom as the Cero Oscuras connected with the white-skinned male.

Ichigo growled, charging forward once more. He met steel as Ulquiorra had blocked his attack; he must've dodged his Oscuras. The force of their clash erupted for the umpteenth time throughout the battlefield, causing sand to pile into the sky in profuse amounts.

Ichigo disappeared in a burst of speed, reappearing beside Ulquiorra; dodging a quick slash to his shoulder. He gripped his small black blade with one hand, outstretching his arm to ram the blade through Ulquiorra's shoulder. Ichigo's blade raked across the side of Ulquiorra's blade, the friction causing his blade to slow in its path. He glared at Ulquiorra, whose face showed no emotion. The sparks of the two steel blades raking together was almost blinding.

Ichigo withdrew his blade quickly, spinning quickly to send his blade against Ulquiorra's. Their reiatsu flared as the two hammered away at one another. Suddenly, Ulquiorra disappeared. Ichigo's eyes immediately went upwards. Ulquiorra flew above him, powering a green cero on his fingertip.

Ichigo's eyes widened, the orange hair jumping back with his own palm outstretched, powering a Cero Oscuras. The two ceros collided, the resulting explosion colossal. High speed winds erupted from all over, sending sand, debris, and reiatsu flying in all directions.

Ichigo landed, blocking the winds with his arms. From the smoke, he could see Ulquiorra beginning to speed towards him. Ichigo raised his hand, narrowing his eyes. If he could just focus, he'd land this hit.

"I guess it's time to use it…" Ichigo closed his eyes. Time seemed to slow down as his senses began to rise dramatically. Opening them, he uttered the words; "Cero Instante."*

In a flash of white light, a gigantic explosion ensued around Ulquiorra. The raw power of the explosion destroyed much of the surrounding area, leaving only fire. Ichigo's breathing was labored as he fell to one knee. He looked up, only for his eyes to widen.

There stood Ulquiorra, much of his clothes ripped and his body having burns throughout them. Other than the flesh injuries, he stood in one piece; eyeing Ichigo with the same emotionless mask.

"My… you are indeed a powerful one," Ulquiorra stated, pointing his blade at him. "But, you wasted your energy using that technique."

Ichigo gasped lowly as he narrowed his eyes.

"Hmph. Your progress did not meet my expectations though," Ulquiorra stated, sheathing his blade.

Ichigo's eyes widened. "Wh-what?"

Ulquiorra turned, beginning to walk away. "You are not as powerful as I thought you would be. 5th Espada ranking at best."

Ichigo slowly got up from his kneeling position, using his blade to balance. "I'm not finished. I'll show you what I can do…"

Ulquiorra stopped for a moment before walking onward, disappearing a boom of static.

Ichigo seethed at his words. 'I'm not… strong enough? Bastard!'

Suddenly, there was a pain in his legs. He fell to the ground, breathing erratic as he sweated. 'What the hell…?'

"You don't know?"

'What… the?' Where was that voice coming from.

"You really are a fuckin' idiot."

'Who in the hell are you?'

"Who am I? I ain't got a name."

Ichigo growled in pain. He suddenly felt light. As is he was floating. But there was darkness. Darkness everywhere, enveloping him.

'Where am I?'

"Nowhere. You got somewhere ta' be?"

'In Las Noches. With the rest of the arrancar.'

"They got ya' pretty fuckin' brainwashed, huh?"

'Brainwashed? I'm not brainwashed! Who the hell are you?' Ichigo was confused now.

All he heard was sinister laughter. It sent a chill down his spine. "I told ya'. I ain't got a name!"


"This body would be better off mine."

Ichigo's eyes widened. 'What?'

"Soon, it will be. Just you wait, Ichigo."

Ichigo awoke inside to a white ceiling, sitting up in his bed suddenly. He blinked, surveying around. This wasn't his room. The internal decoration was sparse, even sparser than his room. The only thing that was the same was a couch positioned at the side of the bed. Though, the most notable difference was the spaciousness of the room.

Then doorknob clicked and Ichigo's eyes widened at the person who entered. Harribel regarded him with her thin emerald eyes before going over to sit next to him on the bed. "Are you feeling better?"

Ichigo blinked before answering. "Y-yes…" he nodded. "Yeah, Harribel-sama."

Harribel nodded. "Good."

Ichigo looked around. "So where am I?"

"My quarters," she stated simply.

Ichigo's blinked. "Oh…" then his face pulled into a blush. "Oh!"

Harribel turned a somewhat confused gaze to him. His reiatsu was… fluttering. As if butterflies were flying around him. In a way, it was cute. If not for the massive amounts of it. "Is something wrong? Are you okay?" Harribel leaned in closer to inspect the orange hair.

"Uh!" Ichigo's face reddened even more as she leaned in, their proximity getting the better of him. Unwillingly, his eyes drifted down to avoid her gaze, only to find something even more tantalizing. Said thing – or things – made the redness in his face darken considerably.

Harribel blinked, confusion pounding her. Was he sick or something? No, she wasn't naïve; he was flustered. But she didn't know what. She followed his line of sight, her eyes widening as she found what had caught his attention.

She gasped, gaining back his attention.

"S-sorry! I didn't mean to stare! I mean… dammit! Um, you... I…" he sputtered out, trying to find the words.

Harribel sat back, her face threatening to redden as well. She knew he was a teenager and that teenagers were like this. Granted, she was many, many years older than a teenager, still; he was technically fifteen years old.

Ichigo averted his eyes from hers, refusing to meet her gaze, finding the couch much more interesting – and safe. Harribel help but think he looked somewhat… adorable doing it.

"They've always been a hindrance to me," she began. This gained back the orange head's attention. "I don't even remember their size, not that its important." She made direct eye contact. Harribel reached for the zipper on her shirt, slowly undoing the zipper.

Ichigo sat back, sputtering incoherent lines that Harribel couldn't make out. She could see the anticipation in his eyes, the blush deepening.

Then she stopped. "Oh, wait. I remember I have something to do," she got up from her bed, walking towards the door. She could hear a low sound of disappointment from the orange hair, and her mouth pulled into a small, playful smirk. Teasing the berry-head was very fun to her.

Harribel walked out, closing the door behind her as she began to walk through down the corridor to the conference room.

'So innocent.' Indeed, the boy was just a teenager. He still retained his human emotions, along with his memory. It was extremely difficult to discern him from a regular human, if not for the remainder of his hollow mask near the top of his head.

He was definitely someone of deep interest. He was a big exception to the natural balance of hollows. Though, he wasn't the only one.

But she didn't want to go back to those times. The past was a thing she would rather forget.

Alright, and that ends this chapter. For some reason, I had so much fun writing the Ulquiorra vs. Ichigo fighting.

Next chapter will be up to YOU all. Should I make it Chapter 13.5 (featuring Harribel's past) or save that until later?

Please tell meh! I want to know~

Thnx to all who read and review, since the story has kinda' hit its halfway milestone ^^ Thirteen more chapters to go and we're DONE.

Thnx and stay tuned ^_^