If anyone remembers me; I'm sorry for taking so long, things piled up on me and before I knew it Christmas was here T^T
I guess I didn't meet the deadline for finishing the story so you're stuck with a few more months of my terrible cliff hangers and waiting Yayy!
Ichigo sat cross-legged at the foot of my bed, Mikami was sitting next to me with an arm wrapped around my shoulders, and Teito had pulled up my desk chair. We all stared expectantly at Ichigo, who was playing with the hem of his jeans.
He took a deep breath then looked up at us. "Well... where do I start?" he chewed the inside of his cheek. "I've always been able to see ghosts; ever since I was a little kid-"
"Not that far back, Kurosaki, I think I know how it went," I cut him off as I rolled my eyes.
He chuckled a bit while Mikami sighed and Teito shook his head.
"Okay fine. Hmm... I first found out about shinigami when I was fifteen. Rukia, actually, snuck into my bedroom while she was trying to find a hollow close to my house. She thought I couldn't see her at first," he smiled at the memory for some reason, "but then she explained what she was and what she was doing-"
"Wait, what? That's it? She just sat you down and told you everything? While me over here had to nearly get myself killed for you to tell me anything?"
"Okay one, I was much older than you, and two, I wasn't in any immediate danger. Anyway, soon the hollow she was looking for showed back up so she had to leave to fight it."
"And I suppose you didn't follow and that was it?"
"Stop interrupting. And no, she bound me with kido so I wouldn't get in her way."
"But you did anyway..."
"Do you want to tell the story?"
"I ended up breaking through the kido when the hollow went after Yuzu and Karin. Long story short, it almost killed me and, to prevent me from dying, Rukia transferred some of her powers to me and I became a shinigami."
I blinked. "You're a horrible story-teller."
"I'm not done yet. Honestly," he turned to Teito and Mikami, "is he always like this?"
"You ever tried telling him a fairy tale? It's a nightmare. He pokes holes in all the plots," Teito answered with a shake of his head.
"Well they make no sense-"
"Just let him tell his story, okay, Koko-chan?"
I huffed but turned back to Ichigo.
"When Rukia gave me her powers, she lost her own; so, for some time, I went around killing hollows and such until she was arrested and taken back to the Soul Soceity-"
"For what?" I exclaimed in outrage; I wasn't able to help myself.
"Apparently, it's illegal for a shinigami to give their powers to a human, and she had stayed past her allotted time in the World of the Living, but that was minor. The punishment for giving humans powers is execution so that was what she was put up against when she got back. Of course, I couldn't let this happen so I, along with my friends Orehime, Chad and Uryu, trained to go to the Soul Society and rescue Ruika..."
I managed to stay quiet for the rest of Ichigo's story. It did get a lot better as it went on, but it did nothing to help my feelings towards the Central Forty-six and the Gotei Thirteen. Admittedly, everything that was going on right now was Aizen's fault. I did hate him even more now, but something about the Gotei didn't sit right with me. They were like an autocratic government, doing things for the 'greater good' but harming their own people in the process. Systems like that were in place even in this world, but that didn't make it any easier to swallow. I wasn't an anarchist or anything, but I didn't believe that governments should harm the ones they were trying to govern; it seemed very counterproductive to me. But I guess that's just what the Central Forty-six was: a government, a very brutal, military government.
I huffed and glanced at Ichigo, who had taken Teito's place on my desk chair. Mikami had fallen asleep on the bed next to me and Teito had gone to check on Kamiko. Soul Soceity had put Ichigo through a lot of shit as well and yet he was still helping them; he still believed in them. I shook my head; he trusted people too easily.
But at least he's not self-destructive, Toushiro snapped. He had resurfaced into consciousness during Ichigo's story and had sat patiently listening with Hyourinmaru curled around him.
I'm not self destructive, I countered.
He snorted, You're scared of controlling the hollow.
How is that self destructive? More like self-perseverant. You know he can kill me if I go up against him.
That's not the point. The point is no one's going to let you die. The viosred know what they're dealing with, Ichigo will do anything to save you, Hyourinmaru has your back, and I'll try my best to help you as well. You're really just apprehensive that Central Forty-six will try to control you if you reach your peak power.
They will won't they?
They don't like things they can't control, so potentially yes. They will investigate into what you are, they will try to exploit your powers, and they will force you to fight for them.
We really need to work on you pep talks. You're supposed to make me want to do this-
They may be going about this all wrong, but you'll end up doing something honourable in the end. You'll end up going against Aizen, who cares how it happens.
They were going to torture me! I can't just let that slide!
They were trying to arrest and possibly kill Ichigo; you don't see him nursing the wound. He overlooked their faults and sided with them for the greater good. Swallow your pride, Hyōka, there's no room in this war for it.
I looked at my feet. Do you really think I can beat the hollow?
Yes; it won't be easy, but I believe that you can do it. You're stubborn and strong willed; as long as you keep on defying the hollow you have a chance. Just show him you're immoveable; I mean you both want to kill Aizen he just thinks you're too weak to do it. You have to prove to him that you aren't
How the hell do I do that?
He scowled. Just stop running away.
I blinked and took a deep breath. It seemed easy enough; I just needed to convince myself that I could do it.
"What cha' thinking about so hard?" Ichigo's voice made me jump.
"Toushiro wants me to fight my hollow," I sighed.
"So does everyone else."
"He thinks I have a chance,"
"Once again, so does everyone else."
I took a deep breath, "Ichigo, I'm scared."
He blinked in shock that I would actually admit that out loud. "You'd be foolish not to be. I won't tell you not to worry about it 'cause you should, but I'll be there to help so will your sister and brother and Shinji. He may not look like it, but he's really strong. We won't let anything happen to you. You just need to trust us."
I chewed my bottom lip. I always hated when I was on the losing side of an argument. "Fine," I'll do it. I won't run away anymore."
Ichigo grinned, "That's all I asked for."
"How much do you love me?" Teito asked Kamiko as we all sat in various positions around the living room.
She frowned, "Well, I am marrying you... I'd say quite a bit."
"Good, 'cause I've been keeping a huge secret from you."
"Does this have anything to do with what happened to Hyōka last night?"
He nodded, "I'm afraid you're marrying into a family of weirdos."
Mikami rolled her eyes. "Speak for yourself."
Kamiko blinked, "You all do have your quirks, but I wouldn't call you weirdos-"
"We see ghosts." Blunt much?
"We can see ghosts – dead people – talk with them and a few other things as well."
She was speechless for a while then she shook her head, "This isn't funny, Teito. Something really bad happened last night; you can't just shake it off as one of your jokes!"
"I'm not joking,"
"Ghosts? Really?" she folded her arms across her chest.
"He's being serious," Mikami stepped in, "I know it may seem weird, but everything strange that happens around us has something to do with supernatural beings."
Kamiko's eyebrows rose into her hairline, "So I'm supposed to believe that a 'ghost' caused what happened last night? That's crazy. If you don't want to tell me exactly what's going on then at least come up with a better cover story."
"Kamiko, we're telling you the truth," Teito pleaded, "I know it sounds farfetched, but you know I would never lie to you. Look, the three of us have always been able to see these kinds of things, Hyōka especially,-"
"You can't really expect me to believe that! Ghosts? What next you'll tell me that you have a pet unicorn!"
"Actually..." the three of them turned to me.
"No," Kamiko shook her head and stood up, "No, no, no. I'm leaving. I don't know what's going on behind the scenes here, but I've had enough of this."
"Actually," I went on, "I can prove that we're telling the truth."
She raised an eyebrow, "how?"
I hobbled over to the coffee table. Tessai was near impeccable when it came to healing but there was always an uncomfortable twinge that accompanied newly healed limbs. I placed Hyourinmaru on the centre of the table and took a step back.
"Okay, Hyourinmaru do your thing," I said and took a deep breath as I got ready to have Hyourinmaru transfer his spirit from me to the toy.
"Are you're making fun of me," Kamiko snarled but then...
Hyourinmaru stood up on his hind legs and waved at her. Her eyes grew wide and she dropped back into the chair.
"Wha... wha... How are you doing that?"
"I transferred part of my spirit into Hyourinmaru."
Mikami turned to me, "You can do that?"
I nodded and picked Hyourinmaru up off the table. "Here you can hold him."
She looked apprehensive but allowed me to place Hyourinmaru into her lap. He was sensitive enough not to move around too much and sat patiently blinking while she took it all in. Eventually she took a deep breath slowly picked him up. He eyes widened. "He has a heartbeat...I... I can feel it." Kamiko slumped backwards into her chair and placed Hyourinmaru back on her lap, "This is... I think I need a minute."
Teito moved to sit next to her and mouthed a thank you in my direction. I nodded and hobbled back to my previous perch on one of the kitchen stools.
I stopped Kamiko before she left a bit later, just to tell her thanks for being there last night. She was still a bit dazed so I let it slide when she responded, "Yeah, any time."
"How long is this going to take?" I asked Shinji as he led me to the centre of the dessert-esque training room.
"How long did it take you to become a shinigami?"
"Hmm, well you should be able to do this around two."
I blinked and stared, "You serious?"
He nodded, "But the training afterwards is what's going to take two to three weeks."
I sighed, "of course it is."
Grinning, he turned towards me and adjusted his paperboy cap.
"We'll start now-"
"Hey, Shinji, you ready yet!?"
He rolled his eyes and turned around, "Yes, Hiyori, are you coming or what?"
"Don't yell at me, Horse-face!"
Shinji sighed and rubbed his temples, "Okay, where were we?" he turned back to me, "Yes, I already know you have enough reiatsu to do this, so I'm gonna skip out the first test. What's gonna happen is I'm gonna force you into your own soul and you're going to confront your hollow. If you win you'll be able to use his powers and if not you'll become a full-fledged hollow... or something like that; since you're not actually dead I don't really know how this is going to turn out."
"Well that's comforting," I muttered.
"But no need to worry; we've got your back if anything goes wrong."
"That's even less comforting."
He grinned. "You ready for this?
"No, but I'm going to do it anyway. I'm crazy aren't I?"
"We're all crazy here; we have more fun that way."
I woke up lying down on the plain of ice. I was by myself; completely alone. I couldn't even sense Hyourinmaru and Toushiro was nowhere to be seen. That was probably not a good thing; I mean I had been sent here to fight him, the least he could do was show up. Nevertheless, I could use the time to prepare myself. I summoned my zanpakuto blade and felt a little more at ease when I felt the cool hilt materialise in my palm. I stood up and took a few experimental swings. Hyourinmaru sung as he cut through the air. I went through a few forms; practicing my balance, footwork, and coordination. I knew going through this routine was pointless, if a battle was going to happen I was going to have to dive right in regardless of whether I was warmed up or not. Still, it was calming and I found myself becoming less concerned about the fight with my hollow and more focused on controlling my own movements.
As I finished up the sequence and swung my blade in the final arc I heard an echoing, slow clap – each one a clap of thunder in my ears. I froze and my heartbeat started to speed up. I tried to take a deep breath to calm myself but it turned into a raspy gasp for air and I succeeded in getting a cantaloupe-sized lump in my throat.
I must admit that was rather impressive. You have talent boy.
I turned slowly to face the hollow. He walked up to me holding his version of Hyourinmaru.
Only less than two months of handling a sword and already you move like a seasoned warrior.
So what? I snarled.
You're welcome. He grinned.
I narrowed my eyes. I don't have to thank you for anything.
Really? Not even the memories that are helping you to improve at such a rate? You thought that was all you? He shook his head. Oh no no no no no, you poor, delusional thing.
I narrowed my eyes and gripped Hyourinmaru tighter.
I tell it to you every time we meet, yet it hasn't seemed to sink into that hard head of yours. You. Are. Weak. He had begun to circle me while dragging the tip of his sword in the snow. The crunching of the snow under his feet coupled with the metallic slicing noise was more unnerving than his deranged smile.
I am not weak.
He stopped circling me and brought his blade up in front of him. We'll see.
I blinked and he was inches away from me. I barely had time to register that he was in front of me before I felt a stinging pain in my side. I jumped backwards a bit clumsily, but brought Hyourinmaru up and held a defensive position. The hollow straightened and flicked the blood off the edge of his sword.
A real swordsman wouldn't have gotten hit.
With that he was on me again. I managed to block his attack in the nick of time but the force of his hit sent tremors up my arms. I pushed him away before jumping back again. I was displeased to notice that I was already breathing heavily and the cut that he had drawn on my side was stinging like hell. I swallowed and pushed the pain to the back of my mind; I could not afford any distractions. This was it; the decisive battle. I could not let myself lose.
I prepared myself for the next attack. I raised my arms and met the hollow's swing with a deafening clash of steal. This time he jumped back but attacked almost instantly after. We traded blows for what felt like an eternity – by trading I meant he dealt them while I frantically scrambled to block each one. When I saw the smallest break in his onslaught I jumped away hoping to give myself a small reprieve.
Honestly, I wasn't doing so hot in this battle. Along with the gash in my side he had managed to nick my thigh and shoulder, draw a long shallow cut along my collar bone and I swore my wrist was broken from catching a blow from the back of his blade. And during all this time I hadn't managed to get in a single offensive blow. I huffed and wiped a bead of sweat off my forehead before having to block yet another attack. I was able to stop his blade from slicing my face in half but the force of the blow sent me tumbling backwards into the snow. I scrambled to get back up but the hollow was quicker. He towered over me and placed a foot on my chest. He glared down at me with a mixture of disgust and self-satisfaction on his face.
What are you even doing? He snarled. Did you really think you could beat me as you are now? That was child's play for me.
He was right; what was I doing? I was making a fool of myself that's what. Ichigo and all the others believed that I could fight this hollow and stand a chance. They had never seen what he could do; they did not understand that I did not have a hope in heaven nor hell to win this battle. I had really signed my death this time around. But strangely as I glared back up at him I did not feel scared. I should have been downright terrified; hell I was probably going to die in the next few minutes. I should have been peeing myself in fear. Instead, I looked right back at the hollow and I felt anger well up in my chest. I blinked trying to figure out where it was coming from and when I did I couldn't help but crack a small smile. Ichigo was definitely doing something out there if I could feel his reiatsu even from inside my inner world. That man put too much out for me, he cared way too much; there was no way I could let him down. Plus, everyone was counting on me to beat the hollow.
What are you laughing at? The hollow snarled, is it funny that you're going to die?
I shook my head. No, I think it's funny that you're calling me weak.
He sneered, reality isn't a laughing matter. You're weak and I'm going to kill you.
No, not today.
I shunpoed out from under his foot and landed behind him. I wasted no time in striking at his back but he spun around in the nick of time.
He raised an eyebrow as he glared at me. Is that it?
He swiped at my side. I blocked the blow and traded one of my own. He blocked that too, however.
Just give up; you have no hope of defeating me. You're weak.
You keep saying that. But you also said before that I get my powers from you, so does that mean you're weak as well?
He snarled and swung at my neck. I ducked and swiped my blade at his stomach. He narrowly avoided the blow.
No, it simply means you're weak.
I clenched my jaw and attacked again. I am not weak.
He grinned; his pointy teeth sank into his lower lip. Then hit me. Prove that you aren't.
I snarled and leapt at him. He sidestepped my attack and I felt all the air leave my lungs as he rammed the hilt of his sword in between my shoulder blades. I landed chin first in the snow, chipping a tooth or two and biting my tongue. The hollow cackled from above me.
That's what I thought. You aren't worth the power that I have. You can't hope to beat me and you will NEVER be able to stand up against Aizen.
I spat out a mouthful of blood and tried to get up. The hollow snorted and kicked me back down. I groaned and rolled onto my back. Black was beginning to creep into the edges of my vision and I felt winded. The hollow stood over me and I thought he was going to start taunting me again but instead he delivered a forceful kick to my head. I felt like I had gotten run over by a two ton truck, I could have sworn I felt something crack in my skull and my brain started pounding like I had a migraine on steroids. All I could see and hear was blank white for a second. Then, when my vision swooped back in, it was like things were happening in slow motion. I counted the minutes it took the hollow to stoop down and grab the front of my shihakusho and place his blade against my throat.
I closed my eyes. So this was it, I was literally seconds away from dying. I guess I really couldn't win this after all. I felt numbing cold seep into my body starting at my fingertips and feet. My heart beat sped up while I lost feeling everywhere else and someone was yelling in my head. I blinked... yelling?
"Don't just lie there? Stand up and fight, Hyōka. You're not weak so don't act like it."
Was that... Ichigo? Yes... it was... what was going on out there? I cracked open an eye to see that the hollow had frozen. He was looking at me with a baffled expression on his face and his Zanpakuto was no longer at my throat.
What is that? He muttered while looking around.
You may think I'm weak but apparently there are others who think the opposite. As soon as I opened my mouth his snarl was back on. He raised his zanpakuto again and swung at my neck. I had no time to think I raised my own sword to block the blow it worked, in essence, but the sudden stinging pain in my hand told me that he had hit something else. There was not enough time to examine the wound as I shunpoed out of his grasp. I landed a few feet away and looked back at the hollow. He was staring at me with death in his eyes but was that a hint of disbelief? I swallowed; I was seeing things.
I was about to bring Hyourinmaru up and tighten my grip when I suddenly realised how hard it was to hold him. He nearly fell out of my hand when I moved it. I was about to look down when I realised that I probably did not want to, I had to finish this right now and judging by the amount of blood that was seeping into the biding around Hyourinmaru's hilt and the fact that I couldn't feel three of the fingers on my right hand that it was a serious injury. I would be using a two handed grip from now on.
I adjusted my grip and focused on the hollow. He was still glaring at me but stood at attention when he saw me move.
When are you going to give up? When are you going to give up? You can't even hold your sword properly anymore.
I will never give up. I will never give you the satisfaction of winning. As long as I have the strength I will fight you.
The hollow clenched his jaw and there was some unspoken agreement. We faced each other and at the same time sprang. On the short dash that it took us to come together I adjusted my blade as he did his. We both held them out to the side and in the split second it took us to run past I angled the edge so it would dig into his stomach and at the same time twisted my body so his couldn't reach me. I felt my blade hit something but at the same time I felt a sharp sting in my side. I pushed myself to run away from him and seconds later I stood panting in the snow. I dropped to my knees also dropping Hyourinmaru. My entire body was shaking from exhaustion and I felt myself slowly drifting into unconsciousness. Black spots danced in my vision but I couldn't feel anything. I felt warmth from the blood on my side and hand but I didn't feel any of the pain that should have accompanied it. I raised my hands to my face, they were both bloody, bruised, and blistered but only my thumb and index finger remained attached to my right hand. I dropped my arm in revulsion and felt myself begin to sway.
At the back of my mind I heard the hollow begin to chuckle. It was a tired sound, almost breathless in a way and somewhat drowned out by the crunching of snow.
I guess I was wrong about you. You might just have a chance of beating Aizen after all.
I looked over my shoulder and saw the hollow collapse into the snow.
I did it... I had really done it; I won.
Wind blew around the plane of ice. I was sure the snow was now littered with spots of red especially since there was a pool of blood forming around my knees. I sent one more look over my shoulder at the hollow before collapsing face forward with a soft crunch.
Sorry, for the horrendous story within a story it's hard to re-cap the entire story-line of bleach in a few paragraphs.
And for compensation for making you guys wait so long for the next week of two I'm going to be ignoring all my friends (but they deserve it ) and boarding myself up in my room and typing up a storm.