I am really sorry for my lateness! I've been pretty preoccupied with my personal stuff, so it's been hard to be able to sit down and write this out! But I finally did it!
If you guys hadn't noticed, I finally finished Potentia De Mens! Woo! And almost immediately afterwards my friend came to visit from TN for two weeks. Which was fun as hell! Me and him played video games like our lives depended on it and we watched Trigun and Code Monkeys. It was awesome!
Plus, I've been distracted for the past few weeks by an incredible story! I've been so obsessed with it, it's all I've been able to think about! I just finished reading it last night, and I'm sad it's over! You should all go check it out! Story of A Girl by sallythedestroyerofworlds23.
Anyway, I won't keep ya for too long. Enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Bleach or any of the characters associated with the Anime/Manga. They belong to Tite Kubo. Please support the official release!
Days since incident: 3.
After Rukia dropped Ichigo off at home he decided to go to work after all. With the events of the day he was awake enough to put in the hours before walking up into his apartment and falling asleep on his bed for nearly ten hours straight before his alarm clock woke him up for school the next day. He felt much more refreshed after such a long, peaceful night of sleep and he was ready for the day as he slipped out of bed and went into the shower to wash up.
As he stepped out, he heard a knock come from outside in his apartment. He frowned, wondering who would be coming around at this strange hour before school.
"Hold on!" He called as he ran out into his apartment to get dressed. The knocking ceased, but he could sense the person was out there waiting for him to open the door. He slipped on his school uniform, draping the towel over his still wet hair as he made his way over to the door to his apartment.
As he opened it, he wasn't expecting the loud cry that came from the other side.
"Surprise attack from the front!"
Ichigo was so dumbfounded he didn't react immediately as a pair of arms wrapped themselves around his neck and he was nearly dropped to the floor as the owner of the arms put all their weight on him. He was able to get his wits just in time to balance himself before he fell, but he still stumbled slightly as the person swung from his neck like a monkey from a vine. He looked down at the person, and was met with a explosion of purple directly in his face.
"S-Senna? What the hell're you doing?" Ichigo stammered.
Senna giggled, letting go of the larger man and standing on her feet as she grinned up at him. "I couldn't resist. I knew you'd be too distracted with trying to figure out who'd be at your door to see me coming."
Ichigo gave a slight frown at her, reaching down to grab the towel that had fallen from his head. "Why are you here at this hour? You usually come by later in the day."
She shrugged. "I would've come last night to bring you to the club to begin our training, but there was a party last night I didn't see coming. So I decided we'd go now."
"Hold on," He said, shaking his head. "I have school. I can't go right now."
Senna frowned, crossing her arms. "Skip," She said simply.
Ichigo raised a brow at her. "I can't just skip class. My grades have already suffered enough from this crap." He said.
She gave a pout, and Ichigo knew she wasn't ready to give up any time soon. "But this is important, Ichigo. What matters more: your grades, or the safety of the general populace?"
Damn her and her logic...
Ichigo gave an exasperated sigh. "Fine, you win."
Senna broke out in a sunny grin. "Bitchin'!" She exclaimed, surprising Ichigo with her language. "Let's get going. We've got a lot of stuff to talk about."
He was late.
Rukia was kicking her leg up and down under her desk as her violet eyes darted between the clock and the door to the classroom, watching for any sign of orange that might appear. She was growing annoyed with Ichigo's absence, having wanted to discuss more with him about that cage he wanted. She had spent the better part of the night making calls with a few contractors, working out a schedule where they could make the cage, but discreetly. A few of the discussions had fallen through, as most of the contractors wanted a ridiculously high amount for working under such conditions, and she had told them to shove it. It wasn't that she couldn't afford the prices they were throwing at her, it was just she didn't want to attract her brother's attention with her costly endeavors. She wanted Byakuya's nose out of this as much as possible.
After a few dozen failed attempts, she had finally made a deal with a local contractor who was willing to build a cage under the club with a reasonable price and very few questions. When asked about the dimensions of the cage, her answer had been clear but odd:
"Big enough for a plus-sized bear."
Pink still clung to her cheeks as she thought about the suspicious hum the man on the other side of the phone gave when she said this. He hadn't pressed though, and she was thankful for that. They would begin work the following week, and she had wanted to tell Ichigo the good news. But apparently the idiot wasn't showing up!
Rukia glanced up at the clock for the nth time that day, seeing that it now read 11:20. Her scowl deepened, and her fingers began tapping on the top of her desk. Lunch would come very soon, but she wasn't feeling too keen on waiting for it to do what she had decided to do.
Raising her hand, she waited until Ms. Ochi noticed and nodded for her to speak.
"May I please use the restroom?" Rukia asked.
"Fine, but don't take too long! This will be on the test!" Ms. Ochi said, igniting a collective groan from the rest of Rukia's classmates. Rukia nodded to her teacher, standing and making her way out of the classroom. She planned on skipping the rest of the day and heading to Ichigo's to see what the hell was up with him. She wouldn't admit she was worried, she just was frustrated that he wasn't showing up to hear her important news pertaining to his cage.
As she walked down the halls, she found she actually had to use the bathroom. She slipped into the closest girl's restroom and found it to be empty. She quickly went into one of the stalls to do her business, mulling over what she'd say when she confronted Ichigo about his absence. It barely took her five minutes before she was out of the stall and at the sink to wash her hands.
She turned on the faucet, lathering up her hands with the soap before settling them under the lukewarm water to scrub. She enjoyed how the water felt on her skin, and lingered for a split-second longer than usual before pulling back to flick her hands of some of the wetness. She grabbed a nearby paper towel and began to dry her hands, looking down at the still running water of the sink. She listened to the running stream, the sound soothing her slightly. Her mind began to drift slightly as she stared at the water, the sound seemingly growing louder in her ears. She frowned, listening as the sound of the faucet spewing water grew exponentially louder.
"What the hell...?" She reached out to the sink, ready to turn off the water. Her eyes drifted upwards slightly unconsciously, and what she saw made her head snap up to stare in horror at the mirror in front of her.
Instead of seeing her reflection, she saw the tall, hulking, hairy figure of the werewolf. Her eyes widened and a gasp left her lips as she stood paralyzed to the spot.
The werewolf growled at her, its glowing eyes burning straight into her own with malice and hunger. It gave a rumble, and she felt a terrified chill run down her spine. Suddenly, without warning, she heard own voice calling out, "Come on!"
She knew it was her own voice, but she knew she hadn't spoken. The words with her voice sounded stern and commanding, but she could tell there was an underlying fear in it as well. She knew that fear all too well, and she found her eyes prickling as the beast snorted and peeled back its lips to reveal those fangs she had been dreading the past few days. It roared, spearing towards her with impossible speed.
Rukia cried out, falling to the floor to dodge the beast's attack. She swung her arms over her head, shutting her eyes tight as she braced for the sound of the monster's loud crash to the ground behind her; but it never came. She waited, expecting that predatory growl to come to signal the beast's next attack, but again nothing came. She chanced a peak behind her, her arm still held protectively over her head as she lay on the tiled floor of the school restroom. What she found shocked her to no end.
The restroom was completely empty, quiet and lonely as the only sound was the sink still running above her. She blinked, lifting her arms away from her head as she scanned the room for any sign of the werewolf. When she found nothing, she pushed herself up to her feet to stare dumbfounded at the stalls.
"H-Hello...?" She called attentively.
Only silence came in response. She realized she had imagined all of it; it had only been a hallucination. It hadn't been real. She turned to the mirror, staring at her pale complexion and shocked eyes. She looked down at the still running sink, and numbly reached up to turn it off. Once the water ceased, she felt a calm wash over her, as if all of this insanity was switched off as well. But she knew it wasn't. Deep in the back of her mind, she knew what had occurred that night on the full moon was real, and she was definitely not in a horrible nightmare that she could easily wake up from and return to her normal life in the waking world.
This whole time she had been numbly accepting all of this madness, half of her still convinced it wasn't real. But in this moment it felt like her head was clearing of that cloud of doubt and the truth smacked her in the face in the form of the hallucination of the beast.
This was all real.
With this realization, her face paled considerably more so and she turned and raced to the nearest stall to release the contents of her stomach.
"She's building a cage?"
Ichigo nodded to Senna's rather dubious question. "Yeah. She really wants to help," He said.
During the walk to the club building Ichigo had begun explaining his conversation with Rukia the day before to Senna, who had been relieved to hear Rukia wasn't blabbing about their affliction. What with Rukia's connections as a Kuchiki, there was no telling what she could have done, whether or not anyone believed her.
It was easy for the two of them to sneak into the building, seeing as there was absolutely no one around in the vicinity to catch them. Once they were in the basement they had pulled up some boxes to sit on and were now discussing the recent event of Rukia's aid. Senna, so far, seemed suspicious.
"I don't know...it just seems weird she'd want to help the person who almost killed her." She said, crossing her arms in thought.
Ichigo shook his head. "If she was going to do something, wouldn't she have done it when the police already had me? I don't think she is lying." He defended. He honestly believed Rukia was sincere. He wasn't sure why...but something deep down was whispering that he could trust her.
Senna narrowed her eyes at him slightly, and he was feeling a little disconcerted by the sight. He was always disturbed by the sight of a somber Senna, being so used to her cheerful and bubbly disposition. But ever since he had discovered she shared his curse he had been seeing this side of her more and more, and he was finding he didn't like it.
With a sigh, Senna dropped her arms at her sides. "Alright, if you say so." She said, and then grinned at him. "So, you ready to begin the first lesson?"
Ichigo perked up considerably at this, having been anxious to get started with whatever Senna had in mind to help him control his transformations. He couldn't imagine what it was they were going to do, and so getting the chance to finally hear what it was made him go silent and pay attention.
Senna pushed herself up from the cardboard box she had been sitting on and brushed her skirt off. With meticulous slowness, she took a few steps ahead of him and turned around, smiling at him as she straightened her posture much like how Ms. Ochi did before announcing a test. Ichigo waited patiently, intent on hearing what she had to say.
"First off," She began, crossing her arms once again as she settled her gaze onto the orange haired teen still sitting on the cardboard box in front of her. "let's start with some simple questions."
"Okay," Ichigo said, nodding.
"What is the biggest cause of your transformations?"
Ichigo frowned slightly, raising a brow at her. "What do you mean?"
"What usually causes you to transform?" She reiterated. "You don't just transform at random. There's always a trigger."
Ichigo remained quiet for a moment as he considered the question. For him, the thing that caused most of his transformations was his stress and frustration over being what he was. His fear of Changing usually was what triggered it.
"I guess...I get so worked up over trying not to Change that I end up Changing anyway." He answered, looking down at his hands as he mulled over this.
Senna nodded. "I had a feeling it was something like that." She said. "Do you remember our conversation the other day? About the doctor I met and her theory over why we transform outside the full moon?"
Ichigo vaguely recalled that day. "Yeah. The whole chemical thing, right?"
"Yeah," She said. "You made the analogy that it was like a panic attack. I was thinking about that, and it really is a great way to put it. So, if it's like a panic attack, we're going to be using some of the same methods therapists use to help patients to overcome their episodes."
His brows knitted in confusion. "What are these methods exactly?"
She shrugged. "Some simple things. We'll be talking a lot...you'll be venting a lot of your frustrations to me...we'll learn some breathing techniques...and we're going to induce the transformation so you can learn to stop it while it's happening."
Ichigo nearly choked on his own saliva and sputtered loudly, "W-What?"
Senna grinned sheepishly. "Yeah...I knew you'd be pretty excited about that."
Ichigo stood from his seat, his eyes wide with fright as he stared at her. "I am not going to willingly let myself transform! I thought we were doing this to try and avoid it! Why would I want to do it?"
"Just listen," She placed her hands up in a sign of peace, urging him to calm down. "It's necessary. If we're going to get you over your fear of Changing, obviously we're going to have to face it head-on. It's the only way."
"Like hell it is!" Ichigo barked. "There's got to be another way!"
"There isn't, Ichigo!" Senna retorted. "It's the only way to do this properly! Otherwise your fear will still be there and you'll just end up relapsing! You need to get over your fear, learn that you control the Change. And the only way to do that is to willingly allow the Change to happen. There will be times when you're going to lose the battle and be the wolf for a few hours, but that's why we've got the cage! And after a few times-"
"A few times?" He blurted. "Not only am I going to have to allow myself to Change, but more than once? This is not what I thought this would-"
"Ichigo," Senna's voice cut him off, and he was once again faced with a new side of her that he was uncomfortable with. Her face was stern, and her tone followed suit easily. "You have to believe me, I wouldn't make you do this if it wasn't the only way. But it is. It's absolutely the only way to get control over yourself!"
Ichigo scowled, flexing his fists as he considered her words. He bit the inside of his cheek, closing his eyes as he took in a deep breath, trying to quell the beating of his heart at the thought of transforming. Such hell...such unbelievable torture, beyond words, and he'd be bringing it down onto himself willingly.
With a grunt and an aversion of his gaze, he finally spoke, "Fine,"
Senna nodded. "I'm sorry. But you just have to trust me, alright?"
Ichigo still didn't look at her, instead opting to glare at his feet like a toddler who was told he couldn't have a new toy. "Alright," He grunted.
A few moments of silence reigned, Senna just staring at him as he glared at his feet in indignation. He could feel her gaze burning into him, but he made no move to meet it. He heard her sigh, and her next words took him completely off guard.
"I've been thinking a lot about our kiss,"
Ichigo's eyes widened finally snapped up to meet her own. She was smiling at him coyly, a light blush covering her cheeks. She dropped her arms and folded her hands over her lap, staring intently at him, expectantly, waiting for his response.
"O-Oh yeah?" He stammered. He had purposefully avoided talking about it with Senna with the intention of seeing how she'd move with it. He wasn't sure what to say or do as she smiled at him, and he fidgeted uncomfortably in his spot.
"Yeah," She nodded, still smiling. "It really was...special."
Ichigo blushed sightly, looking away as he scratched the back of his head. "That's...good." He said.
Senna's smile faltered slightly, but she quickly covered it up. "Don't you think so?"
He looked back up at her, seeing the hope in her eyes. He opened his mouth to answer, but nothing came out. He placed his hands in his pockets, fighting for something to say. The way she was looking at him...it was so full of wistfulness that he was afraid of shattering it with the wrong answer. When the silence started getting more awkward, he just settled on a simple answer, "Yeah, I do."
This seemed to appease her, though she didn't say anything for a few moments. Then she broke out in a wide smile and took a few steps towards him.
When Ichigo and Senna were done in the basement they emerged out in the bright sunny day. Even though winter was just around the corner, this was one of the warmer days, and Ichigo couldn't help but enjoy the breeze that blew by to ruffle his orange locks slightly as he waited for Senna to close the door behind them and lock it back up so no one knew they had come around. When she was done, she turned to him with a smile, her lips slightly swollen and her eyes sparkling as she interlocked their arms together and began to lead him off back to his apartment.
He felt slightly awkward with their proximity, but he said nothing as they continued to walk. He contributed it to his lack of experience with this sort of thing. He wasn't used to having a girl all over him like this, but he didn't fight it.
They walked in silence, enjoying the peaceful day as they meandered through the sparsely empty street. There was no one in sight, not even a car, except for a single black Honda with tinted windows sitting idle on the side of the road. Ichigo didn't pay much attention to it, but when he glanced down at Senna he noticed her watching it with interest.
"You okay?" He asked, breaking their streak of silence.
Senna blinked, then turned to look up at him, quickly covering up the look she had been wearing with a smile. He wasn't able to tell what was going on behind that mask of hers, but he knew she was mulling over something important.
"Yeah, I'm fine." She said. "Don't worry."
Ichigo scowled slightly, glancing at the Honda out of the corner of his eye. It was just sitting there, no activity at all going on. Why was Senna staring at it?
With a shrug, he let the suspicion fade away as the two of them made their way back to his apartment.
He didn't take notice to the blinking light flashing behind the windshield of the Honda.
Since you guys all freaked about the last IchiSenn make-out I decided to just imply it this chapter instead of writing it out. Man! You guys really hate Senna :P
Rukia is still having issues going on. Don't forget she's experiencing PTSD, and won't just forget about that night so easily. It's going to take time, and until she's over it she'll be having moments like that. So be prepared! Hopefully Ichigo can help -WinkWink-
I'll try to get my ass into gear! Without Potentia De Mens to distract me, I can put more focus on this story!
P.S. I wanted to say a little something before I went. A while back I posted a one-shot called Monsters In The Club. It's a really dark Fic, with Ichigo and Orihime as the main characters (NOT ICHIHIME!) and pretty much a IchiRuki VS IchiHime war broke out in my review section. I just wanted everyone to know I DON'T hate Orihime. I'm cool with her. I don't really like IchiHime, but I don't slander it. I did what I did with that story because I had an idea and did it. Not to do anything to Orihime. I just wanted to say that, thanks for listening!