Something strange was going on in Ichigo's inner world and it was pissing him off. After the fight with the zanpakutou, Hichigo had been considerable nicer and stopped trying to take control of the teen's body. But now he hardly talked and was ridiculously moody and snappish. Ichigo scowled fiercely and ran his fingers through his short unruly hair, making the untidy orange spikes wave about in more chaos. To make things worse his hollow's attitude had affected his own and he was now drowning Zangetsu and Hichigo. Great. Just great.
Ichigo winced as his Zampacto's voice pierced his mind. "Y-yes?"
I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE TWO OF YOU BUT HURRY AND FIX IT! WE CAN'T SWIM!
"Jesus Christ!" Ichigo swore and melted into his inner world. He opened his eyes and immediately went under, inhaling a mouth full of water in the process. He floundered around for a bit until his feet found purchase on a floating block of cement. He climbed onto the blue chunk of rock happily and coughed, spitting out salt water. He looked above him into the thunderous black clouds as rain pelted down. He shivered and looked around, Zangetsu and Hichigo where nowhere to be seen. He snarled and sneezed, at this rate he was going to get a cold! Ichigo was just contemplating returning to the real world when something that looked like a half drowned white animal dragged itself from the water and collapsed weakly, coughing and wheezing for air.
The hollow made an alarmed sound in the back of his throat but didn't have the strength to even twitch.
"Hichigo?" Ichigo asked, crawling carefully towards his hollow, "Hey, are you ok?"
Black and gold eyes glared furiously at the concerned chocolate ones, "Do I look—" cough cough hack, "—ok to you!"
Ichigo watched as the surprisingly thin body shuddered violently. The hollow curled into a wet ball and sneezed miserably.
Ichigo blinked water from his eyes, "Hey…" he scooted closer, resting an arm on the albino's shoulder. He was shivering and shaking like a leaf and his eyes looked slightly glassy, he tried to sneer but it ended up looking like a grimace. "Hichigo…" he though fast and hard, "Come…come back to my place, I can get you some warm clothes and a bath until we figure this out, ok?"
Hichigo tried to respond but his chattering teeth nearly bit his tongue off, he gave a tiny nod and felt his essence disappear.
Ichigo and Hichigo arrived in Ichigo's bedroom looking like they had just taken a swim in the ocean.
Hichigo shuddered and wrapped his arms tightly around himself as his black and gold eyes surveyed the room with little interest.
Ichigo ushered his hollow into the bathroom and locked the door in case his father decided to surprise attack them. He ran some hot water in the bath and grabbed a couple towels, "Ok, take a bath and here's your towel, I'll be outside."
Hichigo nodded silently and accepted his towel, watching as his King exited the room. He waited patiently until the tub filled and then peeled off his clothes. He stepped slowly into the steaming hot tub and hissed. Hichigo eased himself into the hot water and slowly felt his entire body relax, his shivering stopped and he smiled. He dunked his hair into the water and swiped it away from his eyes.
Ichigo sat on his floor, shivering, and tried to get a thought connection with Zangetsu, but the sword spirit was being obnoxiously quiet. He turned around when the door opened and a dripping, slightly flushed albino walked out, securing a towel around his waist, "Um, your turn…"
They didn't look at each other as Ichigo walked into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him with a soft snap. The orange haired teen stripped gratefully and turned around to run a bath when he noticed clean hot water already waiting for him. Blinking, Ichigo stepped into the tub and found the temperature to be perfect. He sunk in and sighed blissfully, his muscles unknotting themselves and his body relaxing.
Hichigo sat on the corner of his King's bed and fidgeted nervously. His eyes flickered around the room, taking in every little detail. His mind checked the state of his world every-now-and-then only to find it the exact same if not worse. Fucking rain. The opening of the bathroom door distracted him as his King walked out clad in a fluffy white towel, scowling. He marched over to his dresser and began rooting around inside, muttering to himself.
Ichigo found what he was looking for and pulled the items out, scowling even more fiercely, "Oi, um, here. You can wear these until yours dry." Ichigo shoved the bundle of clothes at his startled hollow before snatching up his own and stomping back to the bathroom.
Hichigo sighed and shook his head, a small grin forming; King was so funny sometimes. He donned the boxers and black jeans along with the purple belt and tight red shirt. Hichigo raised an eyebrow; damn he was hot. His black eyes narrowed playfully as he secured his belt.
Ichigo walked out and saw his hollow preening in the mirror, his eyes flashing happily, "What are you doing?"
Hichigo turned around, "What's this?"
"A mirror." Ichigo responded with his usual bluntness, "Now get over here. We need to talk."
Hichigo sneered and pushed his soaking white hair out of his eyes, he sat next to Ichigo and shook his head like a dog with water in his ears, spraying them both.
"AGH!" Ichigo yelped leaping backwards as he was pelted with water droplets, "What the hell!"
Hichigo glanced up and couldn't help laugh at his King's expression.
Ichigo's face formed into a teasing grin and he grabbed his pillow and smacked his hollow with it, "Jerk."
Hichigo looked affronted, "This means war, fool!" And he jumped on his King, wrestling him to the bed.
Ichigo felt a bubble of laughter escape him as he tried to fend off his hollow, failing pathetically, "Ah, ok, truce, you win!"
Hichigo sat triumphantly on his King's stomach, "Meh, that was easy."
Ichigo snorted and poked him in the stomach, "Can we talk now?"
Hichigo shrugged and made himself much more comfortable on his King, "Sure."
Ichigo glared at him for a second but snorted, "Ok whatever." He wiggled around slightly so his head was on the pillow, "Right. So why is it raining?"
Hichigo arched an eyebrow, "Hey stupid, it's your inner world, not mine. Shouldn't I ask YOU that?"
Ichigo huffed, "Well stupid, your mood affected mine, so what's with you?"
Hichigo scowled suddenly, his gold eyes burning, "Nothing."
"Yeah right." Ichigo snorted. He watched his hollow stiffen defensively and his eyes softened, "Hichigo…what's wrong?"
For a second it looked like the albino was going to scream at him, but then he did something even worse, he slipped off Ichigo and onto the floor, buried his head in his hands, and cried.
Ichigo scrambled off the bed and onto the floor, "Hichigo?" He sat next to the hollow and hesitantly placed an arm around him, "Hey, come one, don't cry…"
Hichigo wailed and turned around, sobbing heartbrokenly into his King's shoulder.
Ichigo wrapped his arms around his trembling look alike and hugged him hard, cradling him to his chest, "Hichi. Tell me what's wrong…"
"…hurts…" Hichigo muttered, forcing himself to stop crying and failing miserably.
"What? Where?" Ichigo asked, concern coloring his voice.
Hichigo pushed himself off his King and wiped his face, glaring at the opposite wall, "I don't need your pity."
Ichigo glared, "Pity? I'm worried about you!"
Ichigo blinked, "Well, you're my hollow. And…" his chest thumped painfully, "and I…well I…"
Hichigo watched him carefully, like a suspicious alley cat, "My chest. It hurts."
Ichigo looked down and gently pressed his hand against the hollow's heart, "Here?" he whispered.
"Y…yeah." Hichigo mumbled, shivering slightly.
Ichigo felt his own chest pulse sharply and he nodded, "Me too."
Hichigo regarded him with golden eyes, "I…I hate it. It hurts…and…" He gritted his teeth, his eyes narrowing, "and there's more."
Hichigo smiled almost sadly and poked his King in the nose, "There."
Hichigo stood, his eyes sad and distant, "Yes. You King. You also caused this," he pointed at his chest, "but I didn't realize it at the time."
"Me?" Ichigo repeated, standing too, "B-but I'd never—!"
Hichigo pressed a finger to Ichigo's lips, "I know you wouldn't. You did this by accident…" Golden eyes wavered and then Hichigo took his finger away and replaced it with his lips, pressing against Ichigo's shocked ones. He pressed against the teen and kissed him deeply before breaking away and vanishing.
Ichigo stood in shock until an extra painful thump of his heart prodded him into action, "Wait…Hichigo wait!" he vanished too, back into his inner world.
If before was bad than this was hell. An endless stretch of stormy sea from all sides, waves at least 10 feet high forming and crashing against nothing. It engulfed Ichigo as soon as he appeared in his world, dragging him under. He trashed and turned head over heels, panic engulfed him as his air was knocking from his lungs. The orange head surfaced briefly and he automatically gulped a breath of air as he was plunged back under, he struck the side of something and all the air whooshed out of his mouth in a stream of bubbles. Blackness closed in and the last thing he heard was someone frantically screaming at him for being an idiot.