A/N: Yo! Here's the update. Sorry for the long wait. Oh, and some people have been asking, so I suppose I never really wrote down how old Karin really was… She's around 16.
Thanx to: AoiKishi, anime lover 239, princess123897, hitsukarin4lyf, XXX, JulCan1987, Szayel's Angel, WhatExistsInFalling, Esaria, signifytheworld, Voiceofsummer, Every Shadow has its twin, Sweet Kagamine Kiss, redrobin, moonlightrurouni, Cookizilla, and FrostyNight98 for reviewing!
Please read and enjoi!
Disclaimer: I don't own Bleach or Naruto.
0—My Precious Imouto/Nine—0
The only way one could tell that Ichigo was surprised was when his brows twitched for the briefest of seconds before settling down into his usual scowl. If he wasn't so accustomed to surprises, he was sure that he would have jumped at the sudden sight of Hichigo crouched before him, leaning in so close that their noses nearly touched.
The microscopic movement of the orange haired captain's brow wasn't lost on the hollow, who promptly threw his head back and cackled. "Come now, King. I wouldn't bite you…" Hichigo's eyes slid back to Ichigo's still form, his smirk widening. "Unless you're submitting to me and are going to allow me to take control of this body." The pale version of the shinigami stretched out a hand, as if he meant to touch the tanned skin before him.
"Stop playing around." Ichigo snapped, shoving his carbon copy a safe distance away. "I didn't come here to fight you, Hichigo. I need answers."
"Feh. How dull." Shirosaki grumbled lightly as he settled on a rock opposite of the shinigami, propping his head up and gazing up lazily. "So you're here to ask about that strange guy with those odd eyes, right?"
The orange haired captain leaned forward, his chocolate hues brightening at the thought of getting closer to discovering that strange man's secrets. "Yeah. Did he—?" Ichigo didn't have the chance to finish his question before a white fist was coming straight for his face at an alarming speed. He jerked his head back just in time to dodge, quickly climbing to his feet and leaping back a pace or two in order to get a better view of his inner hollow. "What the hell, Hichigo?!"
A thick, watery chuckle escaped the hollow's snow white lips, his gold eyes alight with a primal glee that only he knew. His blue tongue slipped past his lips and wetted them, a feral grin forming soon after. "Nothing in your world is free, right King? The same rules apply here." He dropped low into a stance that would give him an advantage where speed was concerned. "If you want your answers, you'll have to fight me. If I win though, I'll eat you and I'll be the new king."
I don't have time for this! Ichigo growled, but I don't have the time to waste trying to convince him to simply tell me. Ichigo lifted his hands up and away from his body to a safe distance; far enough to attack, close enough to defend. "Whatever, bastard. Let's just get this over with."
"You will not be fighting." The deep baritone that could only belong to Ichigo's zanpakuto interrupted. The tall, black clad male glided into the edge of the orange haired captain's vision, his sunglasses lowered enough to give Hichigo a pointed stare. "This matter is too important to waste on your rivalry, Shirosaki."
"Feh. You're no fun." The white haired male growled lowly before flopping unceremoniously back onto the rock.
The orange haired male's eyes remained on his carbon copy for a few seconds longer before he too lowered his hands and sat, turning his attention back to Zangetsu. "Well… I suppose this means that you already know why I'm here. Can you tell me what that man did?"
Zangetsu raised his head and angled it to the side, his voice grave. "Can you not see for yourself what chaos that man has caused?"
"Hm?" Ichigo followed his zanpakuto's line of sight, gasping lightly when he looked towards the city of his inner world. Wide, deep scars mangled the buildings, some of the worse off structures showing signs of crumbling. "Kami… My friends said that he only held my gaze for a second. Could he really have worked that fast?"
Hichigo's head shot up, his odd eyes narrowing. "What are you talking about, King? He was in here for a couple of weeks!"
"Weeks?" The captain faltered. "That can't be possible. The most time that I spent in here to equal one second in the real world is about five minutes."
"Well, somehow that freak did it. It was weird, first there was one of him, and he kept looking around, as if expecting to see someone, and when he didn't, he started breaking down your foundations. After each day, two copies of himself would show up and help him in the destruction."
Ichigo gaped at his inner hollow. "Why the hell didn't you stop him? Think, idiot! If he destroys my inner world, you'll go with it too!"
"He could not move." Zangetsu interrupted, knowing full and well that the males were seconds away from fighting once more. "As soon as that man showed up in your inner world, Shirosaki was strung up on a thick wooden cross. His limbs were tied down, and he was in a most vulnerable position; the rope that bound him started to slowly drain his energy so that he could not escape." He paused in that mysterious way of his before continuing. "I suspect that the man was initially looking for him with the intentions of bringing harm to him."
"Well then, why didn't he?" The orange haired male asked.
"For some reason, he could not see Shirosaki and I. I suspect that it is because we are first and foremost foreign entities within your inner world. We were not part of your inner world when you were born, thus, he could not see us."
"Then why was Hichigo affected by this guy's powers? Why was he stuck to that post that you spoke of?"
Zangetsu's wavy black hair flew about his head wildly as the winds picked up. "The answer is simple. While we weren't born to this world from the beginning, we are still affected by that which happens within it. If it weren't so, the rain would not disturb us."
Ichigo nodded, his brown eyes flicking back to the damaged city. "Will it… Will the city ever be the same?"
"I have faith that it will." Zangetsu started to glide away. "Parts have already begun to go back to their proper places." He waved a hand over the expanse of the city, "it will take time; most of this damage is not permanent." He half turned and stared at Ichigo, his lips set into a firm line. "That goes without saying; your inner world cannot take another attack like this. Ichigo, if you ever come across that red-eyed man again, you must kill him."
"Kill?" Ichigo paused, his brows furrowing. While he hated the bastard that took his sister with a passion, and fully intended on punishing him, he still paused at the thought of senselessly killing the wayward soul. "I'm a captain now, Zangetsu. I need clearance to completely destroy a soul. If I kill him without cleansing him first, his soul will not be able to be recycled for reincarnation. He will be dead for all eternity."
The zanpakuto said nothing more, merely gliding off towards the city without a goodbye to his shinigami.
A sharp cackle tore the captain's attention away from the brunette. "That guy is meant for hell, King. If you cleanse him, that's just where he's going to end up going. You'll actually be doing him a favor by destroying him."
"Hn…" Ichigo grunted, completely ignoring his inner hollow. "I'm leaving. I need to tell Urahara everything that happened here. Later, Hichigo."
"What is it that most people of this world do when they want to have fun, imouto-chan?" Itachi asked, glancing back to the young woman who knelt on the bank of a small stream. She was peering into it with a fair amount of intensity, so much so that before he knew it, he had gravitated over and was also looking down into the freshwater with curiosity. He could clearly see a turtle stuck on its back, struggling to turn over, despite how dark it was. His eyes wandered back to the female, who was staring down with her brow pinched.
"I'm trying to see what that thing is. I just came to wash my face, but then I saw that moving thing in the water. It's too dark for me to see it clearly, but I think it's a turtle." Karin glanced up at the long haired male, her intelligent onyx hues locking onto the Uchiha's. "Can you see it?"
"Yes. It is in fact a turtle, imouto-chan." The Akatsuki member answered, watching as the teen's hands immediately shot into the water and lightly grabbed hold of the pathetic creature, gently turning it over before setting it back in the water to watch it scurry off.
"Thanks." She flashed the male a small grin before cupping some of the freshwater into her hands and splashing it on her face, repeating the process a couple of times before she wiped the excess water off on her sleeves. She turned back to the Uchiha, a ready smile on her face. "So what were you asking me earlier? I wasn't really listening because of the turtle…"
Itachi easily fell into step with the young woman. "I had asked what most people in this world for fun. I understand that living in the wild twenty-four hours a day could get a little dull for someone who is used to…more."
"Ah, don't worry about it." The female grinned, waving the comment off. "For one, there's nothing fun to do this late at night for someone as young as me, and secondly, I'm not going out into public with the four of you following me around and talking to me. I know that I'd eventually slip and end up talking to you; people would think that I'm crazy!"
The Uchiha smiled softly. "That may be true yet, however—." Crimson eyes widened as a sudden indescribably pain took over his body, forcing him to his knees. A strangled gasp escaped his clenched teeth, his hands shooting up to his chest as he tore at his coat in a vain attempt of getting it off.
"Itachi-nii? What's wrong?" Karin's voice sounded from far away. The spirit could tell that the female had put her hands on his shoulders, but the touch didn't register—the pain was too intense to focus on anything else.
The Kurosaki stared down at the spirit with worried eyes. I need to go tell the others, but I can't really leave him alone, can I? She shook her head. It won't be long. The others are just around the bend in the forest. I'll be able to get there and be back before anything bad happens. She nodded to herself before straightening out of her crouch and shooting off into the woods.
It didn't take her too long to reach the clearing, but when she did, she immediately understood what was ailing Itachi. There, on the forest ground, lay Deidara, who was writhing in what had to be excruciating pain. He had managed to take off his coat whereas Itachi had not, and that was when the female caught sight of his abnormally long chain. It was eating itself at an alarming rate. Her eyes roved over the clearing, catching sight of Kisame, who was leaning against a rock as his chain links withered away. All she could see of Sasori was his legs, as his body lie on the opposite side of the log he was sitting on earlier in the night. It didn't take a genius to understand that he was going through the same thing.
So there's nothing that I can do but wait for the first encroachment to be over with. She thought with a deep frown marring her features. She spun on her heel and dashed back into the forest, intent on being by Itachi's side once more. After all, she had promised to be with him until he passed on to the next life… which would be coming sooner rather than later if the chains continued eating themselves at the alarming rate that they were. Itachi-nii. She thought. Please hold on!
A/N: Yo! Thanx for reading!