Death: I'm sorry for the wait, I'm trying to keep this going and its hard when Death Note and a crossover that's not doing so good along with school keeps getting in my way. But I made this chap 9 pages long so you guys get a nice treat!
Disclaimer: I think its obvious I'm not Kubo-sama if I'm not Ohba-sama, Obata-sama, or Takahashi-sama.
Chapter 3 The Price of Freedom
Renji stared intently at the hollow. His eyes narrowing suspiciously with a deep frown crossed his face. The redhead had not left his gaze from the pale Ichigo duplicate since they entered the shop. He watched as Shiro shifted uncomfortably, noting the harsh glare sent his way.
No one really spoke as they sat. Everyone was either drinking tea silently or watching the hollow. Shirosaki had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop himself from growling. Ichigo sent a warning glare, obvious that he felt the pain.
As they sipped their tea, Shiro felt himself shifting a little. Sometimes he leaned a little closer to Ichigo, other times a little more towards Chad. For the time being they were the only people who were most likely to defend the hollow if anything happened.
"Ah, tea can work wonders." Urahara sighed dreamily.
Shirosaki snorted. "Who knows, you migh' have snuck drugs in tha' cup."
"Shiro!" Ichigo scowled, lightly smacking his other half.
"What? Don' tell me ya don' suspect either! I know ya do." The pale hollow scoffed.
'Shut up.' Ichigo warned through their link.
'Or else what?' Shiro grinned at the substitute.
'I'll figure something out.' The berry head glared.
'Face it, King. We share the same pain, and you have nothing to hold against me now that I'm in my own body.' The hollow pointed out, still grinning.
'I said I'll figure something out.' Ichigo scowled, glaring at his other half.
Meanwhile the others watched them as they silently argued, noting the different expressions. With Shirosaki's grin, it was easy to tell that he was winning some sort of argument against Ichigo. Since the berry head didn't look too happy with the way he was scowling and glaring at his other half.
Renji in particular flicked his eyes back and forth between the two. Carefully noting the changes of expression, the sixth division lieutenant guessed that the hollow was arrogant, slightly over confident, and possibly smarter than he looks.
The redhead hardened his gaze, unsure what to make of this situation. He knew that Ichigo was a vizard, that much was well known. But the hollow, being able to turn into a shinigami seemed completely out of the ordinary. Then again, just by laying eyes on the pale Ichigo was out of the ordinary.
What really struck out (besides the fluffy looking cloud on top of Shiro's head) were the intense yellow eyes. They seemed to show the most emotion than the hollow's face. One minute they're a dull yellow ochre color, then sparkling in anger the next.
A low growl interrupted the lieutenant's thoughts that nearly made him jump. Renji leaned back a bit, still a bit surprised. It took him a moment to realize that the growl came from the hollow.
"What the hell is your problem?" the redhead frowned, brushing off the glare that would even make the Head Captain shudder that was sent his way.
"Stop starin' at us!" Shiro hissed lowly.
"It's hard not to, for you're the new baby of this little group." Urahara nearly giggled, grinning like a madman.
"Actually I've been around long before these people became friends." The hollow scoffed.
"True, but in general this is the first time you're physically with us." The shop keeper pointed out.
Shirosaki just rolled his eyes.
'I don' feel like a baby.'
"So exactly what are we supposed to do now?" Ichigo spoke up, deliberately changing the subject.
"Well, now that we're here, why don't we get to know of the new addition?" Urahara suggested, flashing a grin.
"You said you've been around longer than any of us knew each other. How long have you been within Ichigo?" Chad was the first to ask, his voice remained stoic and calm.
Shirosaki slouched his shoulders, taking a deep breath as if considering his answer.
"Six. I was there when 'e was six."
'Earlier you said you didn't remember.' Ichigo frowned.
'I didn't want 'em ta connect my birth with yer mother.' The hollow hissed back.
The substitute shinigami said no more.
Everyone stared at him, surprised as to how long the hollow had been around. Renji just blinked unbelievably at the pale Ichigo. How could it have been around so long and the berry head didn't even know?
Anger bubbled its way up through the lieutenant's chest. His eyes narrowed as he frowned deeply, crossing his arms.
"There's no way the hollow has been around for so long." Renji shook his head.
Shirosaki growled, flashing his canines as his eyes intensified into a rich golden honey.
"Quiet you. You know nothin' of us, so be a good boy an' hold yer tongue."
"Don't order me around." The redhead spat back.
"Isn't tha' what ya do? As a lieutenant, ya have ta follow orders righ'?" Shirosaki cocked his head to one side, as if to taunt Renji.
'You're going to end up being punched in the face.' Ichigo warned.
'He's th' one pryin' into our lives.' The hollow snapped.
'Look who's talkin', King.'
Renji's left eye twitched, clenching his hands into fists so hard his knuckles turned white. The redhead stood up as he leaned over the small table, pulling the hollow by the scruff of his shirt. Renji was readying to punch Shiro's grinning face.
"Renji!" Rukia tugged at her friend's sleeve as everyone stood up.
"You punch him and I'll punch you to hell!" Ichigo yelled as he grabbed the redhead's own shirt, aiming to punch him right on the cheek.
Before either berry head or the lieutenant were able to land any blows before the whole group separated them. Chad easily pulled both Shiro and Ichigo back with each arm, and kept his hold on them as they began to struggle a bit.
Inoue and Uryu tugged on either side of Renji, surprisingly throwing him backwards and landing on his rear end. Rukia used her shunpo skills to stand behind the redhead and wrapped her arms tightly around his neck, effectively threatening him that if he struggled she'll strangle him.
"You bastard! I'm not a servant you know!" Renji shouted at the pale Ichigo.
"Really? I would have never guessed." Shirosaki giggled.
The redhead growled.
"Boys, boys! Let's all move on, shall we? Now, Shiro, Ichigo, exactly how did the two of you end up in separate bodies?" the shop keeper inclined his head.
After a few moments the lieutenant and the Ichigo twins calmed down. The pair reluctantly stopped struggling in order for Chad to let them go. The tall fighter unwrapped his arms from the thin frames, watching them carefully as they sat back down crossing their arms angrily. Renji sat back down at his spot, not daring to lift his gaze at anyone.
"Ya wanna know why I have my own body?" Shiro was the first to speak.
The hollow casted a side glance at his other half. Ichigo rolled his eyes, already knew what Shirosaki was silently asking of him.
"We had a dream and met a Dream Witch. She told us that she granted wishes through dreams. She wouldn't tell us what we wished, but we had to give something in return. We don't know what she took, for she didn't say." The berry head summed up.
"Hm…a Dream Witch you say? I haven't heard of any for a number of years." The shop keeper frowned.
"Weren't they wiped out?" Rukia added.
"Yes, the Head Captain and the Seireitei agreed to slay them all for their devious actions. Apparently one still lives." Renji sighed in aggravation.
"Why were they wiped out?" Ichigo furrowed his eyebrows with confusion.
"A Dream Witch granted a taichou his deepest wish, to grow stronger and bring down the Soutaichou." Urahara began.
"Wait, someone threatened th' Soutaichou?" Shirosaki raised both eyebrows.
"Yes. This taichou was a well respected shinigami. It is said he devoted his life to Soul Society. And from what I've heard, he was formidable in battle."
"If he was formidable in battle, why would he wish to be stronger?" Ichigo frowned.
"There can be a lot of reasons why people wish to become stronger." Urahara flashed a grin.
The berry head scowled in confusion.
"Rem'mber all those times ya trained yerself ta save someone?" the hollow pointed out.
"So depending on the person there are good intentions of becoming stronger, and there are bad intentions? Ichigo said after a moment of pondering.
"Bingo! He didn't know about his true wishes, but deep down he knew that something was off. You can say he never felt truly…happy. But he had everything one captain will need. He came from one of the wealthy families like Kuchiki. He had everyone looking up to him, and just about everyone offering themselves to his service. He was practically royalty."
"Jus' one question b'fore ya continue." Shiro leaned forward. "How do ya know so much of t'is guy?"
"Let's just say I was only a small toddler when this was taken place." Urahara whispered in warning.
"How could you remember all of this at such a young age?" Renji raised an eyebrow.
"I dug up a little more research over the years. Now back to the main subject. This taichou grew frustrated as to why he wasn't happy. After he had a serious argument against Kuchiki Taichou's father, who was still alive and Head of the Kuchiki Clan at the time, he had went to bed and met a Dream Catcher. Without realizing it, he had traded his sense of judgment for higher power." The shop keeper pulled out his fan to gently fan himself.
The group stared at the pair of twins in utter astonishment with a bit of fear.
"I feel no different though…" Ichigo frowned.
"Oh believe me she took something." Urahara frowned.
"Wha' happened next?" Shirosaki rolled his eyes.
The shop keeper sighed. "The fool challenged the Soutaichou head on. Here's where the story gets really interesting. In the reports it was said that the old man defeated the taichou. But something was off, the old man suffered fatal injuries."
"How fatal are we talking about?" the Quincy asked.
"Enough he had to leave work for a week. And even longer to fully recover and return to his dojo and continue training his squad." Urahara elaborated.
"Sounds serious for the Soutaichou." Ichigo frowned.
"Yes. It was a mystery that I couldn't ignore. With the help of Kurotsuchi taichou I hacked into the archives and found the real information." The shop keeper grinned from ear to ear.
"What? What did you find?" Rukia and Inoue leaned forward in curiosity.
"Now, now, now, no rushing children. First off that shouldn't be the right question." Urahara giggled.
"Well let's see, ya haven't told us 'is name, an' ya haven't told us wha' happened with 'is battle agains' th' Soutaichou." The hollow glared. "Get on wit' it!"
"Ruin the fun, why don't you?" the shop keeper frowned.
"I hate to agree with him, but just get on with it." Renji rolled his eyes.
"All right, all right. Sheesh, youngsters these days. The taichou's name was Hiroshi Akiwara."
Rukia's eyes widened in surprise. "He was from the Akiwara Clan?"
"Correct. And because of the now dead Akiwara taichou's actions, the Akiwara Clan was removed of their status. The whole family suffered even after his death." Urahara added.
"How did he die?"
"Let's say he was about to unleash the last blow on the Soutaichou when the Dream Catcher appeared out of nowhere and tore out his heart. Apparently she had warned that if he went too far with his wish, she will come and tear out his heart and seal it away."
Shirosaki frowned as he twiddled his thumbs in thought.
'What are you thinking about?' Ichigo raised an eyebrow.
'Our Dream Witch didn't warn us of anythin'. She didn't even tell us wha' she took from us.' The hollow nibbled his lip.
The berry head didn't respond. But now that he thought about it, everything about their deal with the Dream Witch was off. They don't even know her name.
"And in hopes that there won't be another repeat, Soutaichou ordered the slaying of Dream Catchers. The last reported death of one was twenty or so years ago, believed to be the last of them." Urahara lowered his gaze, his hat overshadowing his eyes once again.
"Somehow one still lives. What worries me is that she may set up some sort of revenge against the Seireitei."
"Why us?" Ichigo furrowed his eyebrows.
"You're a substitute shinigami, you tell me. You have full freedom in Karakura Town so long as you don't get into anyone's way and you keep your vizard powers at bay." Urahara stared a hard stare at the berry head.
"Bu' why give me freedom?" Shirosaki raised his gaze from his twiddling thumbs to the shop keeper.
"She probably hoped for you to lose control and attack Soul Society." Uryu's eyes held a dark threat directed at the hollow.
"He's been surprisingly calmer compared to when we shared a body." Ichigo informed with a glare of his own.
"But this is only one day." Renji challenged.
"Oi, as long as ya don' get in my way I won' do anythin'." The hollow growled.
"Get in your way of what?"
"Isn' it obvious? Don' ge' in th' way of my freedom." Shirosaki snorted.
Everyone lowered their gaze once again, taking in the hollow's words. They all know too well that the pale Ichigo twin can attack them at anytime. Yet here he was, sitting next to Ichigo as calm as a hollow can be. About the one time they've seen him act vicious in his own body was when they all jumped to conclusions and attacked him.
"So, with everything aside, did you happen to catch the Dream Witch's name?"
"She never told us." Ichigo shook his head.
"What does she look like?"
"Black hair, red eyes, big ches', has a dragon theme goin' on." Shirosaki shrugged.
"Dragon theme you say?" Urahara inquired.
"Yea, everything in her room has some sort of dragon style on it." The berry head confirmed with a nod.
"Hmm…I'll be keeping that in mind when I do a little research." The shop keeper said before flashing a grin at the hollow.
Shirosaki immediately tensed as his eyes narrowed at Urahara suspiciously.
"Oh calm down! I was going to say that we should get started on our little match."
"Jus' you an' me?" the hollow raised an eyebrow.
"Yep yep!" Urahara stood up, grinning.
"Will th' others watch?"
"The more the merrier!"
Shirosaki grinned a feral grin, showing off his canines that his new human body refused to give up. Everyone but the shop keeper shivered from the animalistic side of Shirosaki.
"Bring it on, Hat 'n Clogs."
Within less than ten minutes everyone had moved below the shop for Urahara's secret training grounds. In five minutes Shirosaki and Urahara were dancing around in circles of each other. Everyone watched in awe of the hollow's speed and tricks that Ichigo never thought of before.
What really caught their attention was how the two hadn't landed a blow on the other. Shirosaki often dodged by swift movements or block using his sword. Urahara often used Benihime's shield abilities to block the harsh attacks thrown at him.
"You're a fast one." The shop keeper giggled with a large grin.
"What do ya expect? After all 'm jus' getting' warmed up!" Shirosaki grinned menacingly, eyes shining brightly as he threw Zangetsu to the older blond.
Not having time to dodge, Urahara held Benihime up for a make shift red shield. He blinked and tilted his head in slight confusion when the hollow disappeared, letting go of the black cloth that seemed to stretch like a rubber band at will.
Before Zangetsu reached the ground Shiro appeared in a flash, attacking the shop keeper from the side. Eyes widened in surprise and fear as the broad blade aimed at Urahara's liver. The shop keeper quickly dodged out of reflex, trying to block the oncoming attack with his zanpakutou.
Shirosaki leapt back as the block turned into retaliation when Urahara parried forward. But the hollow still held his menacing grin, as if he was celebrating in victory. The shop keeper glanced down to see that Zangetsu had ripped the outer layer of his clothing.
"You're a sneaky, sneaky bastard." Urahara frowned, lowering his head, the hat overshadowing half his face yet his eyes were still seen, glaring at the hollow.
Shirosaki only giggled. "Oh c'mon, Hat 'n Clogs! Don' tell me 'hat ya aren't havin' fun? Why, I haven' had 'his much fun since I fough' Kuchiki taichou! The look on his face was priceless!"
Rukia's eyes widened, unsure if the hollow was exaggerating or not.
"You fought Nii—sama?"
"No' fer too long, Ichigo decided no' ta accep' anymore help from me." the hollow casted a side glare at the berry head.
"I still beat him without your help!"
'Not to mention you would have killed him, you coldhearted bastard.'
'Aw, King is much too soft.' Shiro joked.
"This battle took place after Ichigo learned bankai I would assume? So tell me, Shiro, are you able to use bankai?" Urahara tilted his head in curiosity.
The hollow's grin broadened if possible. "Why, yes 'm able ta use Tensa Zangetsu."
"Then prove it."
"Uh, Urahara I don't think that's—"
"Oh, hush Ichigo—chan~, I'll be just fine!" the shop keeper sang in a sing a song voice.
Everyone but stared at the hollow with shocked and fearful expressions. The ground seemed to shake underneath their feet like an earthquake, an effect that rivaled even Kenpachi's reiatsu. Renji was about ready to flee as the atmosphere thickened from the sudden unleashed reiatsu. Rukia gripped her shirt over her chest, her petite body shaking under the fierce pressure.
Inoue fell to her knees in fright, holding a tight grip on Uryu's sleeve. The Quincy wanted to help calm the blond but he had to hold onto Chad for support if he didn't want to fall on top of Inoue.
Meanwhile Chad planted his feet firmly on the ground, his body mildly shaking from the intense spiritual pressure. His stance briefly reminded Ichigo of a huge tree that can withhold any storms that was thrown at it. Ichigo's knees buckled a little, but otherwise remained stable on his feet.
When the dust dissipated, Urahara studied the hollow with calculating eyes. Shirosaki once again had the same form as Ichigo. The sleeves thinned along the arms, no longer fluttering in air. If it wasn't for the black under layer of shihakusho creating an inch of black line under the white layer, Urahara would have mistaken the hollow half nude.
The same 'v' shape over the chest was the same. And slightly over the hollow's slim abdomen and the rest of the upper half of the uniform flayed out into the air was the same as Ichigo's bankai form.
Next Urahara shifted his gaze at the zanpakutou. He found himself frowning as he stared at a perfect replica of Tensa Zangetsu, instead of inky black the blade was pure white.
But something felt wrong. Urahara raised his head a little more for a better view of the hollow's face. Shirosaki seemed to be in pain, his hands shook a little, his left eye twitched.
Urahara glanced at Ichigo, but the substitute wasn't reacting the same as the hollow.
'Y—Ya can' feel it? Why can' ya feel it? It hurts!' Shiro practically shouted in their link.
Ichigo flinched from the stab of pain in his head from the other's scream. The berry head took a step to help Shirosaki when he dropped his sword to clutch his stomach. Urahara raised a hand in motion for Ichigo to stop.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you."
"I don't care you bastard!" Ichigo yelled and ran to his hollow's side, who had fallen to his knees.
"Ichigo!" Rukia shouted before cautiously following the substitute.
"Kurosaki—kun!" Inoue weakly stood up, but stood where she was and leaned against Uryu for support. The hollow's reiatsu was still unleashing in high pressure, overwhelming them.
Shirosaki growled, baring his fangs. His eyes glazed in anger, the yellow intensified into a deep golden color that from far away could have been mistaken as red.
Ichigo felt the pain now, it was in his stomach. The berry head peered over the hollow's shoulder to see the other's stomach. But with pale hands in the way, Ichigo scowled and leaned to the other side to see a red circle through the slim back.
"What the hell is this! Urahara! Get your ass over here pronto!" Ichigo shouted, not caring what came out of his mouth at the moment. The pain was intensifying and he clutched his own stomach and gripped Shirosaki's shoulder to hold himself up.
'Yer no' helpin' King!'
'Can't you see I can feel it too? Now stop complaining and concentrate on not biting my hand off!'
A second later Ichigo screamed, leaning his forehead on the hand gripping Shirosaki's shoulder, his vision blackened.
Ichigo groaned as he opened his eyes with difficulty. The pain was still with him, and he raised both arms to clutch his shihakusho around his middle. The berry head opened his eyes a little more to recognize he was in his inner world.
Glancing up, Ichigo nearly jumped when he saw Zangetsu standing over him.
"Damn it, give me a heart attack why don't you!" the substitute scowled, the pain made him much more irritable than usual.
"The deal you two made with the Dream Witch. She took something from the both of you." The old man stated, not bothered of the teen's foul mood.
"What did she take?" Ichigo gasped out, clenching his jaws tightly.
"From you, she took a small price. But from Shirosaki…"
"What, what did she take?"
Zangetsu knelt down. "She's trying to take away the last of his humanity."
Ichigo's eyes widened. "Is she trying to turn him into an Arrancar?"
"It's a worrying price. He will lose control of himself and attack anything that moves." The elder explained, as if Shirosaki taking down everything that lives wasn't a danger at all.
"You're not worried? Tell me there's a way to stop this! And what did she take from me?" Ichigo screamed out, his grip on the uniform.
"So long as he doesn't use his bankai, the transformation of hollow into Arrancar would slow down. But there is only one way for the transformation to stop completely."
Ichigo watched as the elder man straightened up to his full height.
"Only the feeling of loving someone and being loved back will stop him from becoming an Arrancar."
The berry head stared at Zangetsu as if he grew another head.
"You've faced worse cases than him. Now go back and switch your blades with his."
Before Ichigo could demand what the old man meant he blacked out, leaving the inner world.
Ichigo jerked his head and opened his eyes to see a pained Shirosaki doubling over in pain. Quickly the substitute pulled his zanpakutou from its sleep over his back.
"Ichigo, what are you doing?" Rukia questioned, now moved behind the hollow to examine the red circle, Urahara standing behind her.
"Following Zangetsu's orders." Ichigo said as he forcefully pulled Shiro's hand away from his stomach to hold the real Zangetsu.
"Wh—wha'?" the hollow managed to crack his eyes open a bit.
'Just trust me.' Ichigo told Shiro through their link.
The hollow nodded, tightening his grip on Zangetsu's handle. The berry head bit his lip, hoping that the old man was right, and grabbed the reversed Tensa Zangetsu by its handle.
Within seconds the swords seemed to have switched. Black seeped over the white blade, while the colors reversed on Ichigo's blade. The moment the blades had switched, Shirosaki released a sigh of relief.
'K—King, wha' happened?'
"She was trying to take away the last of your humanity." Ichigo whispered for only Shiro and possibly Rukia and Urahara to hear as he stood up, running a hand through his orange mop.
"I assume that's the price she took from Shiro?" the shop keeper tilted his head.
The berry head nodded.
"What did she take from you?"
"Zangetsu wouldn't say." Ichigo shrugged. "But he said my price wasn't as big compared to Shiro."
'King…she's tryin' ta change me into an Arrancar isn' she?' the hollow frowned.
'Can it be stopped?'
'Only by love…' Ichigo bit his lip.
Death: Haha! I said you guys have a treat of possibly the longest chap I have ever written, but that didn't mean you get to see Shirosaki's response!
1) Hiroshi Akiwara: Not a major character in this story, but he and along with the shinigami that had a hollow that manifests itself outside of their body play key roles to what's going to happen to the plot. Hiroshi literally means "tolerant, generous". Akwara roughly means "autumn field".
2) So we learn Shirosaki's price! It was sort of a last minute thing, it was really all I can come up with. I know hollows aren't human, but Shirosaki is special. Kibo-sama has yet to fully explain why, so what I think is that Shirosaki isn't fully hollow yet. He's mostly hollow, with a small, reserved humanity still left within him. Question is, will he lose it to the Dream Witch? Muwahahaha!
3) Um, the switching of the Zangetsus. With Shirosaki in pain, he couldn't really do anything to change reversed Tensa Zangetsu back into its original form. So I thought up with the best solution. Ichigo trades their zanpakutou, and the blades immediately transform into the other and therefore solves the problem since Ichigo's sword wasn't in bankai form. Get the picture?
If you don't please ask your question and I will answer with the best of my ability! So if you would kindly make this authoress happy to continue, please click the review button.