Disclaimer: I am not Tite Kubo so I don't own Bleach

Rating T (I guess)

Summary: NO YAOI. He has won the battle for their soul. Where his heart one was, a hole remains. But, can an inner hollow survive the world that he was never meant to be part of? Being born with no regret to burden him, what side will he chose? Will he find the one thing he wanted more than anything – his freedom?

Starts some 24 hours before Ulquiorra and Yammy arrive in the real world. It's a Ichigo/Shiro fanfic where Shiro wins their fight but things don't go as planned. Now he has to adapt to living among humans (but not eat them), learn from the vaizards while keeping his true identity secret... And on top of it – has to get ready for war he wasn't sure he wanted to be a part of.

Note, spoilers - I will use all the available bleach data to make this work. Although I won't make the story strictly follow the canon version I will indirectly use all the stuff shown/explained all the way up to the latest chapters (I'll also use the upcoming ones as well, to the best of my abilities).

Shiro's theme song (for the first book, might explain some things): Linkin Park - Forget (the 2010 single)

Couples: So far Ichigo/Rukia. (Authors note: Shiro may or may not stay solo, I won't give away much)

Mini author note:

"Hollow" – normal talking in the outside world (anywhere other than Ichigo's inner world) and Ichigo talking inside the his inner world

'Hollow' – Ichigo thinking

'Hollow'– Ichigo's inner hollow talking to Ichigo while Ichigo is in the outside world. Ichigo's inner hollow thinking in the inner world. Zanpakutou talking to the shinigami while the shinigami is in the outside world. Zanpakutou thinking in the inner world.

"Hollow" – Ichigo's inner hollow talking inside the inner world. Zanpakutou talking.

(Hope this wasn't too confusing, now let the story begin)

Murphy's Law: "The perversity of the universe tends to a maximum."

A forgotten dream

-Book one: Chose your fate-

O-O-O

Chapter one- The beginnings

O-O-O

It was just another sleepless night, it seemed. There was nothing he could do about it. Really, with all the stress he's been having lately it's a miracle that he was still sane! Thinking about his life, Ichigo noticed a disturbing pattern emerging. It's like - just when he thought it was all over, and that things would go back to being the way they used to, it happened again! Four days! That's how long it took for things to get out of control. Just four damn days! Then he was off chasing the Bauntos all over Karakura! And then to top it all off he was forced (by that stupid Ishida, off all people) to return to Soul Society to stop the Bounto in their scheme of destroying it. He succeeded in the end, yes but… Well, how to put it?

'Does the universe hate me or something?' he mused. He knew he won, yes but… the battles left him with a chilling afterthought. It seemed that that inner hollow of his was here to stay for good this time. So far, it hasn't succeeded in taking over, but after his fight with that Koga person, it became clear that it wouldn't fade away like last time. Thinking about it, Ichigo remembered how easy it was to suppress the monster back then.

'Those were the days… Back then, all I had to do was to build a barrier in my mind and fill it with highly condensed reiryoku, and the hollow would be cut off… But this time'

'Those days are long over, Ichigo!'

Ichigo shoot up, eyes wide at his surprise.

'Shit! Shit! Shit!' he coursed, mentally. Weren't the new barriers he put up enough? "Damn it."

'Now, now. No cursing. You knew this would happen eventually, haven't ya, Ichigo!'

'Shut up!'

'Make me, ya prick! Come on! I dare ya to step in here!' After waiting for a response for over a minute, the hollow simply added his trademark 'Che' and left. It was quiet again.

'For the moment, at least' he reminded himself while raising new barriers in his mind. This time he would leave nothing to chance. He grabbed his reiryoku reserves and started to condense the particles inside his mind. Considering how the old one kept the hollow at bay for over an hour and a half, Ichigo doubled the amount of reiryoku. Hopefully, three hours of sleep would suffice. The fact that tomorrow was school day didn't help much. In fact, it made it worse. He remembered what that Hirako person told him.

(Flashback)

"The reason you came to this school was to recruit me in to your group, right? If that's the case you have no reason to be here!" Ichigo said with a raised tone of voice.

Hirako just gave him an empty glare.

"Why is that?" he replied to the now slightly shocked orange-haired kid. "You didn't think we've given up just because of what happened yesterday, do ya? I don't give up so easily. I'm gonna follow you around 'til I get a yes. Besides, it is too late. Vaizards cannot become normal again once the symptoms appear. No matter what you think, you're on our side now." He paused and then continued with a chilling voice.

"Orihime-chan, too. The big one, too. And the glasses. You believe them all to be friends, don't you? Well, you're wrong. They're only friends for the time being." He looked up to the boy's face again. "If you keep being shinigami, at some point you will lose your sanity and be swallowed by the hollow inside. And when that happens, it's all over. Your power will destroy everything. Your friends, as well as your future, will all be swallowed and be smashed to pieces! Don't tell me you haven't already noticed? The fact that the hollow inside you… is so powerful you can't control it." Hirako's smile continued to grow as he watched Ichigo's eyes widen with horror. "Come with me, Ichigo. I will show you how to maintain your sanity."

(End flashback)

'There. It's done' he sighed. Feeling slightly better (but not by much) Ichigo lied back down again. He would at least put those three hours to a good use. He'll worry about Hirako tomorrow. That is… If he wakes up tomorrow. He felt his heart sinking. No! He will wake up tomorrow! His hollow will not win so easily, he just knew it! He will…

Without finishing his train of thoughts, Ichigo felt his eyes sealing shut, as the darkness claimed him, carrying him away, into the dreams.

O-O-O

(Meanwhile, inside Ichigo's inner world…)

"Oi! Zangetsu-san! Oi! Come on, I know you can hear me! Come on, ya better not be ignoring me old man! Oi!"

"There is no reason for you to shout. I hear you just fine." The old man garbed in black robes answered.

'Ah, so you WERE ignoring me…'the white version of Ichigo mused. He looked up, only to see that the old man was facing away from him.

"Oi! Look at me when we're speaking, damn it! Oi!" The old man only slightly looked over his shoulder, as if only to glance at an annoyance. The hollow felt his eye twitch and his hand slowly drifting towards the hilt of his zanpakutou.

"You would use that which I gave you against me?" saying that, the old man looked away again with a small sarcastic smile on his face.

The hollow somehow knew that this wasn't just an idle question.

'Good thing I'm not as dumb as that moron Ichigo' the hollow thought. 'That imbecile would have tried to use the power that Zangetsu gave us to fight his own zanpakutou, and end up cut to ribbons. Not me though. Not a chance in hell I'd fall for such a trick!' he added. He knew that if a fight broke out, Zangetsu would immediately cut him off from the powers inside the zanpakutou. 'But then again…' unlike that moron-in-control Ichigo, he himself had no need to rely solely on the blade resting on his back. As a huge grin appeared on his face, he remembered.

He had… other tricks up his sleeves.

"Oi… Zangetsu~san. What do you say we spar with one another, eh? Just for old time's sake? What do you say? You, me, two blades, lots of shunpo under the black sky…" he paused to take a good look at the sky. "Hey, hmm, Zangetsu-san?" his voice now seemed to have lost all signs of hostility, "Hey, Zangetsu san, can I ask you a question? What's up with the sky?"

"Are you honestly trying to say you haven't noticed yet? It's been like this ever since youstarted attacking Ichigo's barriers." The old man paused for a moment, raising his gaze towards the dark skies above, and then with a sigh continued. "I hate the rain. The rain falls in this world, too. When Ichigo's heart is in chaos the sky becomes clouded, and when he is sad the rain falls so terribly easily. Can you understand it, hollow, the horror of being pelted by the rain in this solitary world? If only to stop the rain… I will fight with all my strength."

"You sure like to talk, eh? But don't worry, I get it. Basically, if the idiot is depressed it gets a bit wet, right? I don't see what's the big problem. I mean it's just-" He felt the wind picking up speed. It went from just a breeze to a wind of a thunderstorm. The lightnings that were now tearing across the sky confirmed it.

"It is already morning in the outside world. The sun is slowly rising in the east." Zangetsu sighed. "If only I were outside…" Disturbing as it might seem to the hollow, it looked like the old man himself was barely holding back the tears.

"Oh for crying out loud…" was the only thing the hollow could mutter. It was then when he made the stupidest decision in his life (so far). In an attempt to calm down the old man he reached for Ichigo… And smashed through the eroded barrier.

In an instant the winds now picked up to hurricane speeds, and the rain came falling down.

"Cut it out ya fucking retard! We don't want to drown in here! CUT IT OUT ICHIGO!" if anything, the both the winds and the rain intensified. 'Oh, for god's sake, you've got to be kidding me!' The storm was now reaching what could only be described as biblical proportions. The hollow turned to the now crouching old man, while trying to look at least a bit apologetic – he could understand the zanpakutou's hatred of the rain now, he guessed that not all of the water flowing down the old man's face was rainwater. The black garbed man's eyes were red.

"Maybe we'll spar next time then, Zangetsu-san" and with that the hollow walked away, with dark thoughts swirling in his head. Wrapping his arms around himself, he tried to lower his head down in a vain attempt to keep dry. Who was he kidding - he was soaked to the skin.

"God, how I hate the rain…" His voice echoed slightly, only to fade away, carried by the howling wind.

O-O-O

"Welcome back, IIICHIGOOO!" a happy hyperactive forty-year-old man shouted, charging towards the unsuspecting orange haired boy.

What happened during the next few seconds left everyone present in shock – Ichigo took an elbow to the face and simply collapsed.

'He didn't even punch me in return' Isshin mused. Even worse – the boy completely failed to notice him up until the last minute, let alone try and dodge. This more than anything made Isshin worried. What in the world happened to his son? He took a deep breath. They needed to get through this.

Yuzu ran up to her brother. "Are you okay, oonii-chan?"

He barely heard her, his head was ringing so hard. He thought he heard his father talking about some tests or grades, and Karin commenting Isshin's parenting skills, but for the love of it, he couldn't focus on their words.

'Did I get a concussion?' he wondered.

'Nope! Come on, Ichigo… Come inside and play. 'Oh, no, not again! Why won't you stay down!' Ichigo screamed mentally at his inner hollow.

'Stay down, you say? Now why would I do that, eh? You're such a moron, Ichigo!'

Ichigo could now clearly see the hollow's face, as if standing next to him. 'I do wonder, though…' the hollow continued, his maniacal grin growing ever larger, but he said nothing else, simply staring in the direction Ichigo assumed were his sisters.

Seconds later, Ichigo realized that he can see and hear just fine, and that his family was looking at him with worried looks on their faces. He stood up and walked to his father.

"Sorry, I'm going to stay in my room until dinner time". Walking past his father, with his schoolbag in hand, Ichigo went up the stairs without saying a word.

For a moment, Isshin paused – he wasn't fooled. The depressed aura that had surrounded the boy only grew ticker by every passing second. Isshin looked at his son and, realizing that there wasn't anything he could do, decided to leave. 'Hope you get better, Ichigo…'

Entering his room, Ichigo walked to his bed. He didn't even notice the school bag slipping out of his hands. Before he knew it, he was on his bed, lying with his face buried in the pillow. He heard Kon blabbing something, and Ririn criticizing him, but couldn't bring himself to shut up either the perverted plushy or the pigeon. A few seconds later both Ririn and Kon left. He barely noticed though, as he was already deep it thought.

'After I drove him out, the mask that would come back even if I threw it away suddenly disappeared without a trace. That's when it all started. Ever since that day, I could hear him, calling out to me. Honestly, I didn't even need Hirako to mention it. At this rate…'

'"At this rate" what?'

"You again!"

'Don't you think you're a bit too scared, Ichigo? How interesting. I'm going to scare you even more! I'm going to draw closer and closer to you, until I devour you… And it won't be just day by day anymore.' He truly looked like a monstrous maniac now. 'I'm gonna do it a lot faster now too. Soon, I will get so close that you will disappear… Forever. Until then… See ya!' and with that he was gone leaving Ichigo frozen with fear.

'At this rate… I'm done for…'

O-O-O

(Inside Ichigo's inner world…)

"God, how I hate this rain…" Sure, it was fun to mess with Ichigo's head like that but, this insufferable rain…

"No not just rain, IT'S A FUCKEN HURRICANE!" The hollow almost envied Zangetsu, now that the scales of power have changed and the old man was a part of him.

'At least he got out of this never-ending rain' the hollow mused. For a moment, he considered calling him out, thinking like – why suffer alone, but decided against it. After all, it wasn't the old man's fault the 'king' was a weak-minded moron who wouldn't step down from the throne.

The winds picked up again. The hollow couldn't help but shout out in anger.

"God, how I HATE this rain!"

Still, it could be worse. At least he wasn't the soon-to-be-devoured Ichigo. By the way, it was time to tease him gain. After all, the hollow did say that he would speed things up – and it wouldn't be polite not to keep your word now would it? As the he raised his consciousness outside the inner world's boundaries, he felt shocked to see Ichigo fighting an opponent twice his size. The man appeared to have had his right arm sliced clean off, probably by Ichigo. And then he noticed it. The hole. The broken mask. The zanpakutou. There was no shred of doubt about it. That thing, it was a hollow. And not just any hollow, it had a broken mask. Behind the giant there was another, shorter in stature. A strange sensation passed through the pale version of Kurosaki. These two were the closest the white he had as a species.

But something definitely felt off. And then it became obvious.

They, or at least the big one was trying to kill Ichigo! And that wasn't the only thing that made him worry. Despite the fact that Ichigo managed to slice off the big guy's arm, it seemed that the weird mask-less hollow wasn't even feeling the pain and instead reaching for his blade with the remaining arm. And worst of all… He looked again at the other one. With that menacing feeling emanating from him, the white hollow began to doubt… Chances were… 'Oh, no… Don't tell me!'

He had to do something fast! If Ichigo were to fight them… If he were to… Than Ichigo would die!

'No!' He couldn't let that happen – he would die too! But… The only thing he could think of was… 'Oh, boy.'

"Switch with me, Ichigo!" he shouted. It was a bad idea, it was a bad idea, it was a bad…

O-O-O

'Switch with me, Ichigo!'

'Damn, he's back! NOT now, of all places, damn it! GO AWAY!' He had to push his inner hollow down, now! If he were to interfere, the result would be… 'Get away from me!'

'I can kick both their asses if you switch out with me!' the hollow shouted back at him. What was that? Ichigo couldn't figure it out, but for a second it seemed that the hollow was actually… No, no he wasn't. He couldn't possibly be…

'Get. Away. From. ME!' And with that he shoved his inner hollow back down into his inner world. 'I am your-' Ichigo looked up only to see a giant foot now millimeters from his face!

Inoue immediately jumped toward him, ready to help him any way she could, even if it meant dying.

"Kurosaki-kun!" The girl screamed seeing the shinigami representative flying through the air. He heard her. Panicking as he struggled to get on back on his feat, he spun around to face her shouting, "Stay back, Inoue!" and then slamming face-first in to the ground, but to no avail. The girl ignored his warning only to be thrown back a second later, slapped hard by the giant hollow known as Yammy.

"INOUE!" he screamed desperately, only to have Yammy's giant fist slam in to his back as he tried to get up.

Once, twice, four, seven times the monstrous giant hollow slammed his fist in to Ichigo's head and body, smashing his bones along the way.

O-O-O

(Inside of Ichigo's inner world…)

Deep inside of the sideways world, the white hollow gathered his strength. That was it. No more mister nice hollow. With all of his might, he slammed against Ichigo's mental barriers. Due to all the distress happening in the outside world, bashing his way through wouldn't be that hard. There was only one problem. The hollow was instantly cut off from his shinigami powers.

"Zangetsu-san? Why?" The hollow demanded an answer.

"It is not the time or place for such a course of action. You shall wait. Otherwise it will cause the end of both of you." With that, the zanpakutou had begun to fade away. "If you insist in doing this you will have your basic hollow powers only."

And then he was gone, leaving the hollow in a dilemma. Even though it annoyed him to no end, he had to admit that Zangetsu usually knew what he was doing. Usually.

But, then again, on the other hand… When would he get such a chance again?

He had to risk it. He had to risk everything, even his own existence.

O-O-O

'Damn it! My body won't move!' He could think of only one explanation – the damned hollow!

'I rejected you and now you're getting in my way? DAMN IT!' as his world begun to fade, the images of his two friends he failed to protect etched in to his mind. 'DAMN IT' It was only in a split of a second that he noticed someone blocking Yammy's blow. 'Urahara… Yoruichi…' He could feel his mind going numb, his sight blurring.

The battle between Yammy and Urahara raged on, as Urahara continually taunted the giant. But Ichigo heard none of it. He saw… nothing, as he lay on the ground.

Through the static of his thoughts, he heard the voice of the smaller hollow… The one with green eyes.

"I've completed the mission assigned to me. I am going to report to Aizen-sama that the shinigami he had his sight set on is trash not even worth killing." The short, green-eyed hollow named Ulquiorra turned around, touching an invisible spot in the air.

A massive tear appeared in the air at the exact point where Ulquiorra had touched it. The two hollows, Ulquiorra Cifer and Yammy Riyalgo entered it, departing towards Hueco Mundo.

In the meantime, the battered and body broken orange-haired boy lay on the grass, coloring it read, as the darkness claimed him…

O-O-O

AUTHORS NOTES:

Pheeew! It's done! There you have it, the very first chapter of my fanfic trilogy: A Forgotten Dream: Book one – Chose your fate.

I'm trying to stay mostly in-character with everybody (so far at least), as the story goes on things will gradually change – it is inevitable. The one that will most likely change will be Ichigo's inner hollow - Willie MacDougal…

Just kidding about the name, hope you get the joke (of who Willie MacDougal is… XD). But I will have to mess with his head a bit, after all there isn't much known about his personality outside the battle field, other than the fact that he likes natural surroundings, like bright, sunny skies, green forests and animals (just like Zangetsu).

Please, let me know what you liked and what you didn't, so I can make it better for YOU!

Reiryoku – Spiritual energy

PS: Your reviews are very important. And the button is conveniently right below. Click it. Click it. Click it.

PPS: Zaraki knows where you live. So you better review.

Well then… See ya next time!

~KuroiTori-sama