A/N: This is one in a series of short (700-1000 word) fics I've recently completed. I've been wanting to write a Shirosaki fic forever. Spoilers for current events in the anime and manga, and warnings for angst and violence.
A scream echoes around the hollow, a scream he feels in his bones—
—in our bones—
—and he finds himself uncertain of whether the scream belongs to him, or to Ichigo, or to both of them. Hate and terror both are threaded through the sound, a primal and reflexive cry, and as Ichigo's body—
—smashes through white columns of nearly impenetrable stone he can hear bones breaking, cracking, the sickening twist of useless limbs. Cold air scours exposed flesh, cuts burn and bleed, and he feels blood trickling from Ichigo's mouth. Our mouth.
He cannot lick away the coppery warmth with his tongue, cannot move his arms, cannot so much as fire a cero or lift his zanpakuto, though he feels the dark and threatening reiatsu of Ulquiorra Cifer in pursuit. Instead he is trapped here, in this tiny world, in intermittent, driving rain that soaks his shihakusho and darkens the blue skies he enjoys, that makes Zangetsu sullen and angry and silent. He senses a flood is coming, and—unable to exert his will over this body, over Ichigo—rages silently, knowing that he will soon have to struggle through the heavy waves that suck at his shihakusho, threaten to pull him down and under.
Ichigo's despair ruins his world, floods the sky, chokes the life from flowers.
Let me out!
If he had control of this body then there would be no more pain to feel, no more fear to bear. I will kill them all, I will kill everything, I will destroy it, all of it, to save myself—
—to save you—
—to save us.
But he—bereft of even a name—can do nothing. Enslaved to the blood and flesh and bone of this weak and pathetic king, the hollow endures being battered about like a child, pummeled mercilessly, abused.
You fucked up, Ichigo. You'll die here.
He feels…fear. Not for Ichigo, entirely. I don't give a shit about you, he snarls,but he knows Ichigo is not listening at the moment and he also knows this is not entirely true. He does give a shit, particularly about himself, and giving a shit about himself means giving a shit about Ichigo. They are more intimately entangled then the closest lovers could ever be, but severed, separate, irreparably sundered by king's stupid restraint, his desperate adherence to his humanness and his goddamned rules of honor.
You can't handle it any more, Ichigo. Let me out.
This body is dying, should be already dead. And with every crack of bone and every sharp cry of pain he feels himself growing stronger. You're not getting me killed, king. In the interstices between thought, between life and death, when the body fails and Ichigo's grip slackens on the reins, his opportunity will come. And then—
Wait until you meet me, Ulquiorra Cifer.
He envies the fourth Espada a little for having a name when he himself is nameless, for having a body and an existence independent of any host. This hollow still feels like a parasite, a leech, riding around in the body of one too weak to bear him.
I'm coming out soon, king. I told you this would happen.
But instead of the triumph that should accompany such a moment, the hollow feels only disappointment, a bone-deep bitterness that resonates in every aspect of his world, undoubtedly amplifies Ichigo's pain in ways that the shinigami, already lost in despair, can barely understand. You sacrifice yourself for everyone else, Ichigo. But you don't give a damn about yourself—
The hollow can do things, after all, besides killing. He has learned them from Zangetsu, from Ichigo himself, and the world he views through eyes that aren't his own. The part of him that wants to devour can also lick blood from wounds, claim a willing mouth; the part of him that slaughters indiscriminately can be channeled into overwhelming passion and desire. But he will never know what it's like to experience those things because Ichigo will never let him get close enough, and so instead there is only this.
If only Ichigo listened. If only his king were more willing to pursue strength and rely on instinct rather than limit himself with his foolish, childish fears. If only he stopped being so afraid to reveal himself. If and if and if and if—
Well, things would be a hell of a lot different, wouldn't they? And this shit wouldn't be happening.
The hollow slogs through his inner world, aware of the dangerous tilts of buildings, the growing heaviness of rain that mean his chance is coming soon, that Ichigo is fading, falling. He shrieks his contempt, his disgust, his fear to a cold gray sky.
If you won't give yourself to me, king, then I'll take you by force. I will break you and build you up again and break you some more and build you up again and then—
Pain. The hollow opens his mouth on a soundless scream, clutches as his chest where he knows the wound should be. Pain and pain and pain, pain opening on a void of black, terror followed by agony followed by…nothing.
Hey, king. Wake the fuck up.
In the distance, the screaming voice of a girl. The hollow doesn't know what in the hell she's pleading for, and doesn't give a damn. He's going to have to get them both out of this mess, going to have to save them both. Fuck you, Ichigo.
The words come out of the hollow's mouth—his mouth now, he realizes—and Ichigo is curled somewhere inside him quiet and dying, broken.
The girl who's been screaming gasps at the sight of him. And when he turns his head to get a gander at her, at her wide tearful eyes and shaking hands, she looks so fucking batshit terrified it's hilarious, makes him laugh.
This ain't about you.
His shriek pierces the sky of Hueco Mundo, and he breathes in air rich with energy. Goddamn. It's been a while since he's been out and he's almost giddy with it, until he glances up and catches sight of the Espada in the distance, of a whiplash tail and dark wings. Green eyes scrutinize him, and he grins.
I've got this, king.
I'll save you. Myself.
Because you're mine, you know. And nobody's allowed to consume you but me.