A/N: Here's another story I had just lying around. Again, I'm not that proud of it. I was just fiddling with an idea, so I wasn't concentrating on how well written it was. Someone's welcome to expand on it, if they want. I don't really care either way. And I just wanted to post another story. -Laugh- Anyway, I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I wish I could own Bleach...If wishes were horses we'd all be eating steak. If anyone out there gets that reference, you get a cookie.
Warnings: Possible OOCness
Betrayed. She had been betrayed, and now she was stuck as a worthless and helpless human. Why? Why did he have to do that to her? All she had done was love him, and he turned on her, turning her into a pathetic human, no longer able to help her wielder. She felt absolutely powerless, and she was, and now she had to go on living her — now numbered — days as a human. What had she done to deserve this cruel punishment? She felt that she would never know.
"Hey, Ichigo!" a young girl called out. Her billowing black hair was constantly getting in her face. Her equally black eyes shown with pleasure as she ran towards the orange haired teenager up ahead. Her pale skin did not match any other Japanese citizen's, and she tended to be treated like an outsider. Her facial features were like that of a Japanese person, but that made no difference. However, a few people she knew were very accepting, one of them being the boy she was now calling out to.
The orange haired fifteen year old boy Kurosaki Ichigo stopped in his walk and turned towards the voice he heard yelling out his name. His brown eyes were impatient as he waited for the odd girl out to come running up to him. Must she be so slow all the time? Ichigo forced his impatience away, knowing that it wasn't her fault he had a short fuse today. His father was being particularly obnoxious today, and Rukia had just been getting on his nerves as usual.
When she finally arrived, panting, Ichigo continued walking, and the girl, Kaori, had to jog to keep stride with him. Kaori, who's real name was Kurohime but changed it to fit in, tried to make conversation with Ichigo. However, Ichigo was too snappy to have any real, fun conversations with. Kaori frowned as she took in Ichigo's mood. What was with him today?
Soon enough, the two friends entered the school building and classes begun. Kaori noticed that Ichigo's bad mood persisted throughout the entire day. A somewhat unusual thing for Ichigo. Kaori wanted to know what was wrong and try to fix it, but she knew she would only make matters worse if she tried to help. So Kaori just stuck to observing her punk-like friend.
Kaori got home, and flung her book bag into the corner of the apartment. She would work on homework a little bit later. For now, she would just fix herself some food and hang out in her tiny bedroom. Once she was done with her tiny snack, Kaori laid down on her small, filthy poor excuse for a cot in the middle of the small room. She had no other furnishings in the room, or elsewhere for that matter. A reason why no one had been over to her home.
As Kaori lied there, thinking over her life, as she often did, a horrible screeching noise filled the air. Kaori's face twisted into a grimace. It was a terrible noise, grating on the ears, but oddly enough, Kaori had missed it. If only I could cut through that mask once more. What I wouldn't give to slice through one more Hollow…
Kaori shook her head. The past was the past, and there was no way to undo what had been done. There was no point in wishing, for she knew there was no way to achieve what she wished for. No point thinking about it for it would get her nowhere. Plus, it always brought painful memories to the forefront of her mind. Kaori rolled her eyes. Why was she thinking about this again? Kaori rolled over in her bed, so her face was down on the pathetically flat pillow and groaned.
The Hollow howled again, and Kaori made a frustrated noise into the pillow. Couldn't she get any peace from her former life at all? Kaori pushed herself onto her knees, and turned to glare at the grimy, cracked window. Then something occurred to Kaori; the Hollow sound was loud, quite close to where she was. That was strange, what would a Hollow be doing —
BOOM! There was a loud noise as the wall with the window to Kaori's bedroom crashed down. Once the smoke disappeared, Kaori noticed that her wall was now just a pile of rubble! And then, standing inches away from her face was a person. A person adorned in black hakama and gi. A familiar outfit, but what was most familiar was the mop of orange that sat on the person's head.
"I-I-I-Ichigo?" Kaori exclaimed, taken by surprise.
Kurosaki Ichigo turned around, eyes wide with shock as he realized there was someone behind him. "Kaori?"
"You're a…a…a…" Kaori couldn't force the word out. It was all too shocking.
Suddenly, there came another piercing roar and an ugly masked creature made itself known in the hole of the apartment. It leapt at Ichigo, and Ichigo turned around just in time to be thrown back into the other wall leading to the rest of the apartment. Kaori ducked in time for Ichigo to go flying above her. Kaori stared after Ichigo, but totally forgot about the Hollow, so when she was grabbed and pulled towards the open mouth of the creature, Kaori screamed in surprise.
As if the cry were some kind of resurrection, Ichigo immediately recovered, and sped towards the Hollow, and jammed his rather large, knife-looking zanpakuto into the middle of the Hollow's face. Kaori began to fall, but Ichigo caught her. Kaori let out a breath of relief.
"Thank you, Ichigo," she said as he put her safely on the ground.
"You can see me?" Ichigo asked, ignoring Kaori's gratitude.
"Of course I can see you. What am I? Blind?"
"Most people can't see me," Ichigo returned.
Kaori was about to argue, and then understood what Ichigo meant. She closed her mouth. Kaori averted her gaze from Ichigo's face and it just so happened to wander over to Ichigo's sword that rested on the tops of his shoulders. Her eyebrows furrowed in concentration. That sword looked familiar to her, but she couldn't exactly place it. She felt a familiar vibe coming from it, and was scared to acknowledge what it was.
The longer she stared at the zanpakuto, the more she couldn't take her eyes off it. It was absorbing all of her attention. She couldn't hear Ichigo talk at all. Then, as the attraction reached its zenith, Kaori began to feel dizzy, the world spinning and her limbs felt heavy, like rocks plummeting to the earth. Her lips felt strange as she talked.
"Ichigo…I think I'm going to —"
Kaori was on the ground, unconscious.
Kaori groaned as she finally began to stir. It felt like years since she had woken up. She felt light, at peace. And that's what alerted her to what happened. Her black eyes snapped open and instantly her eyes began to take in her surroundings. She sat up to discover that she was on a building that was lying on its side. There were other buildings like it that were upside down and more that were sideways, creating a floor. The clouds were off to the side, floating downwards.
Kaori recognized this place for she had been here many times before. Before she had been turned human. Her teeth ground together as the bitter memories flooded her mind. Now all that was needed was him. He should've been around here somewhere —
"Kurohime, what a surprise."
There it was. It was his voice, that traitorous piece of crap. Kaori cringed visibly. She had never dreamed she would be back here, never thought she'd come face to face with this man again. Still courtesy demanded that she turn around, and Kaori grudgingly did so.
There he was, in all his youthful glory with his chin length inky black hair, his intense, piercing eyes, and his black, ankle length coat with the hood thrown back. He was the same as ever, nothing about him had changed. Not that she had expected him to; he was a zanpakuto spirit after all. Tensa Zangetsu was his name, a name she had never wanted to think again.
"Tensa Zangetsu," Kaori replied stiffly. She did not want to show him how painful it was to say his name, so she settled with doing it in anger. She was angry at him, but that was the lesser of the feelings she held towards him.
"I didn't expect you to come," Tensa said coolly.
Kaori was instantly suspicious. Did he call her here? Was that why she felt so drawn to Ichigo's zanpakuto? Wait a minute, Ichigo's zanpakuto…no wonder it looked so familiar. Ichigo was the wielder of Zangetsu! How ironic that she would bring herself to associate with the person who wielded the very sword she hoped to never encounter again. It seemed like her fate was tied to this very being.
"I wasn't totally in control of that, and you know it. I was, after all, turned into a human," Kaori countered frostily.
"Well, considering your strength of will, I thought you'd oppose it enough that you wouldn't have made it."
"How was I supposed to know what you were trying to do?"
Tensa Zangetsu sighed, as if what he was saying was obvious and Kaori was just not getting it. Kaori narrowed her eyes at the tone.
"You'd think, having once being a zanpakuto spirit yourself, that you would understand what was happening," Tensa replied, sounding annoyed that he had to spell it out for Kaori.
"Well, I didn't expect it to happen, considering that I was punished to live the rest of my days as a human." Now Kaori was actually irritated.
"And you think that it's my fault?"
"What else would I think? You were the one who, out of the blue, thought I needed some eternal punishment. What had I ever done to you that warranted this?"
"Out of the blue? Out of the blue? You think I punished you for no reason? Did you not think for one second that what you had done to me —"
"What I had done to you? What about you have done to me? I have done nothing but support and love you. And what do I get in return? Exile and power stripped for some unfathomable reason! Did you get tired of me? Did I start to bore you or something? Was I not enough for you? Did you get some sort of twisted delight in punishing me? All I ever wanted was to stay by your side and you had to go and betray me —"
"Betray you? You were the one who betrayed me."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," Kaori replied with frustrated confusion. Her previously pent up anger had yet to subside.
"Nonsense. I saw you with him, with Kokyumakka. Don't tell me it was nothing or that I was mistaken. I saw the two of you kissing each other. I heard you whispering to him. And this happened not only once, but multiple times!"
"You think I cheated on you?" Kaori screeched, utterly infuriated by the idea. She had never cheated on Tensa, ever. And she had no idea to what Tensa was referring to. Kokyumakka? She never thought of him that way in her entire life. And kissing him? Why would she ever —?
Oh. Now she knew what Tensa was referring to. She and Kokyumakka had been friends for a long time. Kaori had known that he had been in love with her for a while. She had made it clear, though, that she did not think of him in that way. Yet that didn't stop him from trying to go after her anyway. When she had told him that she was in love with Tensa, he was heartbroken, and Kaori felt guilty for telling him. But didn't he have that right? The right to know who Kaori chose so he would never be left wondering if she had actually loved him or not, despite what she had told him?
And the times Tensa had seen them, Kokyumakka had been having a particularly hard time recently and had sought out comfort from someone he knew and trusted implicitly. Kaori, or Kurohime, had been there to offer her services. They talked quietly in a place they knew, or thought, to be secluded. Again, Kokyumakka confessed his love for Kurohime, but she told him, gently, that she couldn't give that to him. She couldn't because it was already given to someone else. The dejected look on his face made her feel horribly guilty, and that distracted her from seeing the quick flash of determination coming across Kokyumakka's face. He had kissed her right then.
Kurohime had pushed him off of her, and whispered that she couldn't be doing this, that this wasn't fair to Tensa. And that Kokyumakka should respect that she was already taken. Kokyumakka said that he understood, and then he got up and left. Kurohime thought her heart would just about shatter when she saw his broken expression. Kurohime then left herself. Kokyumakka continued to struggle, and Kurohime continued to offer comfort. However, every time they met, Kokyumakka would kiss her and beg her to be his. Again, Kurohime would refuse. She should have stopped seeing him, because this was a pattern that would surely be disastrous. And, truth be told, these meetings were only making everything worse for Kokyumakka and making things bad for her.
Then, one day, they fought. Kurohime was tired of having to reject Kokyumakka and it was getting tiresome of him trying to force himself on her. It seemed like he was becoming an entirely different person. She said that she couldn't meet him anymore like this, even if he was having a hard time. Kurohime told him that this was just making her life harder, harder than it needed to be. He got angry at this, and told her that all of this was her fault. That she continued to meet him anyway, and that she knew what would happen if she came. Kurohime couldn't entirely deny it, but she told him that he should've respected her feelings, and that she was only trying to help him. Things then seemed to blow wildly out of proportion, and Kurohime left without another word, and injured.
Later, when she had met up with Tensa, Tensa had been angry, though Kurohime did not know why, and was turned human. Kurohime, now Kaori, felt hurt, betrayed, and that everything was her fault. Though, part of her blamed Tensa for her predicament. If she hadn't been in love with him, things would've been fine. And then, of course, she felt betrayed. He had turned her human without warning or explanation on either side. And now that she had remembered all of this, she had felt that everything was really her fault, though Tensa was under a false impression. She had to explain, though.
"What else would I have thought when I saw you two?" Tensa replied simply.
It felt like forever since she had been surprised by the fact that Tensa said that she had cheated on him. Kaori inhaled deeply before speaking again.
"It wasn't my fault, Tensa. Well, maybe partially. You see, Kokyumakka was going through a tough spot, and he didn't have anyone else to turn to. When I went to go see him, he kissed me, but I told him not to. I told him that I loved you. Every time I saw him this happened. And I told him over and over again to stop, and that I didn't love him that way. He was convinced otherwise, or he just didn't care. I kept going to him, though, because I couldn't stand to see him so lost and hurt. He was my long time friend, what else was I supposed to do?
It's my fault that I kept going, knowing that the same thing would happen, but I didn't want him to kiss me. I didn't want him to tell me that he loved me in that fashion. I loved you and it was hard to bear, but I couldn't just leave him to suffer all by himself. I couldn't leave him alone."
Kaori's eyes started to overflow with tears, and the sobs broke out as all the guilt, the pain, and all those other horrible emotions flooded back over her. She covered her face in her hands and continued to cry. She was helpless to stop her own tears as they crashed down like a waterfall. There was no other noise but the sound of Kaori crying, and she kept on crying.
Kaori lifted her face to see Tensa closer to her than she expected. She jumped, and sniffled. She wiped her nose, and dried her face, trying to look like she had some dignity. She blinked furiously as more tears threatened to come. She stared at Tensa, and his face was intense, serious. Kaori sniffed again.
"What?" her voice shook. Kaori thought she sounded pathetic, but that couldn't be helped.
"Is it true? What you just said?" he voice was deadly serious, but Kaori couldn't help but snort.
"Of course it is. Why on earth would I lie to you?" Kaori asked, her voice a bit stronger.
"Because you don't want to remain human," Tensa Zangetsu answered.
"Well, there's that, but since when did I ever lie to get something I want?" Kaori demanded.
Tensa opened his mouth to speak, and then closed it again. He thought about the question, and realized that the answer was 'never.' He sighed as he caved in; what he caved in to, Kaori had no idea. Kaori started when Tensa reached out a hand towards her. He hesitated, unsure if this was the right thing to do, and then lightly touched Kaori's arm. Instantly, she felt comforted and at peace. From just this one little touch, she could tell Tensa believed her, and it made her feel a hundred times better.
Kaori also felt a strange sensation over her; she felt light as a feather and stronger. She felt energy pass through her and then build up inside her. Power began to make itself known, and her appearance also became slightly altered. Her long black hair twined itself into a long, black braid that reached her ankles. Her black eyes had a hint of silver around the pupils. And then her plain school uniform was replaced by expensive looking kimonos that trailed behind her for several feet, all in various shades of red growing darker with outer each layer. She was no longer Kaori but Kurohime.
Kurohime's bright red lips curled into a smile as she stared at Tensa. Tensa's mouth twitched, trying not to smile. Kurohime laughed, the cheerful sound ringing throughout the world. She was so happy that she could go on laughing forever. But she stopped herself, and settled to smile contently at Tensa. Tensa's face then broke into a smile, unable to contain it any longer. That's when Kurohime tossed her arms around Tensa, burying her face into his chest.
"Kaori? Kaori?" a panicked voice interrupted. Kurohime's eyes flew open, surprised by the voice. It brought to her mind a situation that she hadn't even thought about since she entered Tensa's world.
Kurohime looked up into Tensa's face and Tensa smiled in response to the question in Kurohime's eyes. Kaori smiled then in thanks and she closed her eyes. She was surrounded in a bright light. Then she was gone from the sideways world.
Kurohime appeared back in her rundown apartment, her bare feet touching the cold floor and sending a shiver up Kurohime's spine. It was so warm back in the world of the zanpakuto. When she arrived, Ichigo had his back turned, panicking. She had been there, in front of him, as Kaori, and then when she had changed into Kurohime, her body had disappeared. Of course this would freak Ichigo out. And know it was time to explain to Ichigo. She cleared her throat.
Ichigo turned around and his eyes bugged out. Kurohime smiled brilliantly at Ichigo. Ichigo's jaw dropped a tiny bit in shock as he soaked in Kurohime's appearance. Kurohime wanted to laugh, but she refrained from doing so. It wouldn't help the situation any. Ichigo managed to finally regain his wits.
"Kaori?" he strangled out.
Kurohime's smile widened gently. "Ichigo, I'm sorry for disappearing on you. I didn't mean to worry you."
"What's with that getup?"
"Ah. Well, actually, I'm a zanpakuto. My real name is Kurohime. Sorry for lying to you about that, but, long story short, I had been punished and made to live as a human. And I lied because I thought it odd that a human would have my name and I changed it. And now that some…problems have been solved, I gained my powers back. I came back to apologize and say goodbye. Though, I suppose, it's not for forever. I'll see you again, Ichigo."
Ichigo just stood there, dumbstruck. This time Kurohime couldn't help but chuckle.
"See you later?" she said casually, as she had done everyday.
"Later," Ichigo mumbled, still frozen.
And Kurohime disappeared.
Kurohime was back in Tensa's world. Kurohime smiled sadly at Tensa and Tensa walked forward. He didn't touch her, but merely looked down into Kurohime's eyes. And Kurohime instantly felt comforted merely by looking into Tensa's eyes. This simplistic showing of their love displayed how much they really loved each other.
Kurohime placed a hand on Tensa Zangetsu's cheek, and then proceeded to caress it with her thumb. This was a rare act; as Kurohime usually broadcasted her love through her other actions. Her touching Tensa out of affection was a sight indeed. Tensa placed his hand on top of Kurohime's, another uncommon sight. Tensa was the same as Kurohime; he preferred to talk with his actions.
And then, the rarest of the rare occurred.
"Tensa, I love you."
"I love you, too."