The World in White and Black/At the Price of Oblivion
A/N: oh god it's an AU of an AU
The flipside. This is what might have been, had Jekyll been Hyde instead. It was something of what I had originally planned for TWIBW, except that took a much lighter tone and preserved the characters as their canon selves a little more. This might be continued beyond a oneshot, but it's unlikely. Also, this does not have a happy ending. No matter what I do with it, it can never have a happy ending. There is no way such a thing can ever end well.
On a completely unrelated note, dear god the German is terrible. I could do better with Babelfish and my 2 years of language classes from 6 years ago.
Tite Kubo, y u let such an abomination exist ;o;
Music: At the Price of Oblivion, Unite Synchronization, Even in Death, Scourge Sisters. (Homestuck soundtrack goodness.)
Warning: Violence, slash, character death, implied non-con sex. If you are looking for fluff, this is not it. Rated it M for safety.
Pairing: Ichigo/Uryuu, varying between caliginous and flushed. Briefly mentioned Michiru/Uryuu.
Uryuu Ishida is the unofficial Ice Prince of Karakura High. Nobody has managed to break his cold facade; people have often wondered what he thinks of, and whether he has emotions at all. He is cool, indifferent verging to the point of cruelty at times. Nobody knows where he lives. There is no-one that he is close to at the school, and nobody is particularly fussed about leaving things this way. He does not invite questions about his life, nor does he ask them of others. He enjoys sewing and is consistently at the top of the exam scorings, but does not interact in social settings, despite the best efforts of various persons around the school. He despises physical contact to the point where people wonder if it is a phobia. There is even a myth that his eyes are the pure colour of the sea that he locked his heart away into, as an attempt to secure immortality. Others speculate that he might be a vampire, but that is sheer ridiculousness, of course. Despite his paleness, he does not burn in sunlight any more than other people with his skin tone would, although there is always an aura about him that makes people unsettled.
Half of the student population think that he is a self-centred jerk. The other half find themselves invariably attracted to him, despite his frigidity.
(Not all of the second half is female, for that matter.)
The truth is entirely different. He is anything but selfish. He is quite easily one of the world's greatest altruists.
He merely cannot reveal his true nature.
You well remember the day it began. It was not quite normal; there had been a recent spate of messy and gruesome murders, which had been the talk of your neighbours. Not being fortunate enough to have internet access in your apartment or the money to purchase newspapers or a television license on a regular basis, you had heard of the matter by hearsay and through the resources available in the library.
You might have thought it a hollow attack. The wounds reported to be inflicted upon the victims were certainly of the correct nature (messy and overkill), and the police were coming up with no leads for the murderer. But there had been no hollow reiatsu around recently that you could sense, which had been strange.
At that time, you had heard the name Ichigo Kurosaki only in passing, as another student at your primary school who you had been distinctly uninterested in. He had died in an accident, but you had never seen his spirit around; you never bothered to seek out the dead, since such a thing would look strange. You had recently left your father for your own apartment, tired of his apparent disdain of you. You despised shinigami in a perfunctory way, but had never actually met one face to face for youself.
And then Ryuuken was killed, and it all came crashing down.
He had made provisions for your life, even if he would not be there to see it. You were the sole living inheritor, other than the hospital he had worked for. The others were already dead, and had died quite recently. His funeral had been something you did not plan for, but you organized it according to what he wanted, in a sort of daze at the news. There were not a considerable number of people at the funeral.
You had not quite lost your childish illusion that Ryuuken would live long enough for you to prove to him that you were not worthless.
You had not quite gotten round to forgiving him for what he had said and done.
You had not quite gotten round to forgiving yourself for what you had said and done.
And now, you would never have that opportunity.
It was only natural that you seek revenge. His death bore all the hallmarks of a hollow attack; you trained yourself harder than ever in the time that you were given off school to recover from what had happened, vowing to bring down the one who had killed your father. In your desire for vengeance, you mastered all that was available to you, even the ability to manipulate reiatsu to the extent of changing its nature into something similar to a shinigami's, soul purification. It was your grandfather's unfinished work, it was a labour of love, and you completed it. You discovered the Seele Schneider, and worked with it mercilessly to the point where the blade could be forced into overdrive, rendered near-invisible and would circulate far faster than was natural for it, able to tear through the toughest hierro of any hollow. You learned to push your body past its limits, even after nerves had been severed and bones were broken.
Had you lived two centuries earlier, you might have been the greatest prodigy of the Quincy. You might even have managed to halt a war.
And, in your pride and power, you sought out Ryuuken's killer, and you were brought low.
The hollow you were looking for came back to Karakura. The tremors of the garganta opening were perceptible on the air. To an ordinary shinigami, it would have been unnoticeable, but for your senses it was as clear as day.
One brief burst of hirenkyaku, and you were upon him. Except you weren't.
There was nothing out of the ordinary, just a city park, with one or two people around. No hollow reiatsu perceptible, despite everything.
Jumping at flies, you thought, and continued on, still wary. Nobody noticed your sudden appearance -
- except for the one person who did, and mattered.
It was the matter of a second for it to snatch you, pull you through the garganta, into its realm, where such trivialities as ground and sky did not exist.
You adapted. There was enough reiatsu scattered around, and you were skilled at Hirenkyaku. You fought... bravely. Skilfully. Foolishly.
There was no surface for you to erect a Sprenger trap upon and burn his soul away, no way for you to use the Lücke Sprenger to drain his reiatsu from his body. You did not have the Sanrei Glove on hand, and even if you had, it would not have helped you. There was no matter here for you to break down and use, other than himself, and he was far too strong for that. Your advantage lay in speed and keeping distance; he rendered both of those useless by outmatching your speed. While you cut away at his hierro, he regenerated whatever wounds you inflicted, slashing your body to ribbons with the blades upon his arms and the arcing crescents of energy they generated, strength augmented by the ambient reiatsu of his domain.
You could not regenerate what was lost.
You thought you would die there, falling forever in a void world as he kept pace easily besides you.
(You really hated the smirk on his face, too.)
"Why are you still here?"
"...why did you kill him?"
The hollow considers the question for a second. "Because he could have done something about my death. He didn't even lift a finger. None of the others did, either."
"So you're going to kill me, too."
Its grin widened. "I was considering it. Just to clean things up. But you were a kid - expecting you to do anything would be ridiculous, and besides..."
In a heartbeat, it was behind you, arms securely wrapped around you.
"You're too interesting to die just yet," it murmurs, lips against your ear, before pulling away and pressing hands against the gashes in your body. His reiatsu coursed through you, overloading your body with mixed signals. Most of them registered as pain or pleasure as your body spasmed involuntarily.
"Don't... nobody else..." you managed, around still-numb lips, as a gash tore open in the void and your vision began to close in once more.
"Why would I want anyone else?"
At first, there was no sign left that anything untoward had happened, save the tears in your clothing. The bloodstains had been meticulously removed somehow.
There were no scars as a memento, save one that you found a little later when you washed in the bathroom in front of the sink, and saw the mark on your neck in the mirror. Everything else had healed over with the flood of reiatsu that he had pushed into your body, with little care for whatever side effects might have taken place as a result.
You didn't want to know about the condition of your chain of fate. You didn't want to know about whether, if you up and died and left your body just then, you would see a gaping hole in your chest where your heart should have been. And you definitely didn't want to know whether he would come back.
There was no reason for him to come back, right?
And why did he leave a hickey of all things -
"Hello there," he purred, hands settling around your body.
(You didn't wonder when 'it' became 'he'.)
He was human, almost. In appearance, at least, like some chameleon creature, shucking its skin to become whatever it desired. Strawberry bangs brushed against your shoulder as his lips pressed to meet your skin.
"You came back," you responded, bleakly.
(You didn't know whether it would have been better if he left or not, and that terrifies you all the more.)
"Of course." One finger brushes over the bruise, which twinges slightly at the contact. "You made a deal, after all. You, for everyone else, wasn't it?"
You didn't answer as his hands moved further down, sliding across the rest of your body. There wasn't really anything to say; he had your nature down precisely. You have always been like this, and you swore it on your grandfather's grave, once more for your father; if you could ever make a difference for anything, you will, no matter what the cost exacted from yourself.
Even your body.
Even your soul.
...Yes, you remember this day very well.
Your body is smothered with his scent these days; spice and decay and bittersweetness. No matter what, he insists on this.
How else is anyone supposed to know that you belong to me?
It does a good enough job at keeping people away, even if it means that all other humans flinch from your presence now.
You don't really know what you are any more, though. There is enough of a section on hollows in the texts you possess to identify Ichigo as a Vastro Lorde - a creature of monumental fear that has only been known in rumours and not seen outside Hueco Mundo for a millenium, the pinnacle of hollow evolution.
You, though, are a Quincy, or were. You depend on reiatsu to survive, more so than any ordinary human. And there has been enough of his reiatsu passed through your body to cause any spirit to hollowify several times over. He takes great pleasure in your reaction to it, every time. You don't bleed for long any more; the wounds inflicted upon your body heal far too fast for that.
There are no other hollows around any more. They know well enough the price of intrusion on his territory - and it is a large territory. You wonder why the shinigami have not come to investigate, then decide it is better not to wonder, then think of Sensei and savagely tearing teeth against flesh and that they deserve whatever fate that has been inflicted on them.
...you try not to think about the way you think any more, either. Introspection with a hollow around tends to lead to you wanting to maim something these days.
You haven't touched anyone else for over three years now.
You really should pay more attention to your surroundings rather than thinking about things like this whilst walking down dark alleyways in the seedier parts of town.
And you really should have known better than to go this route in the first place.
There's a knife. Three knives, actually. One set of knuckledusters.
"Hand over the cash, and we won't have to hurt you. Now," one of them says.
"Step back. Go away, and you won't end up worse than dead."
They laugh, advance anyway. He isn't here right now, but you're not in a good mood. And you're not a shrinking violet or anything. You're perfectly capable of taking care of yourself.
...You're really not in a good mood.
It doesn't take particularly long, and there isn't too much blood. Well, that is to say, there is no blood on your clothing. You have managed to avoid the worst of it, which is currently pooling on the ground.
He's there, in front of you, casually dressed. He's using his standard face today; orange hair, brown eyes (although normally it's a tossup between that and gold), nondescript clothing stolen from your stash, cocky smirk.
Ichigo is a sentimental person, after all. You see no other reason why he would use his old body as a disguise.
There's a moan. You ignore it.
"Not especially. What are you doing here?" you ask, irked by his presence.
He shrugs. "You were fighting. You might have gotten hurt."
One of them reaches out for your ankle, eliciting a kick. It is no worse than what Kurosaki would do to them. Or will do, perhaps.
"Since when have I ever been hurt?"
"Point. But still..." With deceptive ease, he hoists one of the thugs up by the collar. The man is half-conscious now, still bleeding from where your blows punctured skin. You didn't mean to strike that hard; you only used your fingers. Evidently you underestimated yourself.
You don't quite feel guilty at the broken bones, though. If the situations were reversed, they would have had no mercy, and you would be lying in the gutter with pockets empty.
...actually, that isn't quite right...
If you were normal again. If you didn't have a possessive stalker hollow following you at every turn and obsessing over how close your relationships are to other people.
He has made his views quite plain on this matter. You found that out when a girl overcame her mortal fear of you and asked you if you wanted to come watch a movie with her. You were surprised, but accepted. Any human contact was enough for you, and you went along with it. She was kind to you, you suppose. You couldn't see the attraction of a date with yourself, really, but then you suspected it was probably a girl thing. You liked her. You even shared some of the same interests.
And then Ichigo found out.
There... wasn't really much left after that.
He was furious. Most of it was taken out on you, the rest on her. No scars the next day for you, though. You suspect that you were too far gone by then, and even if you had not been, he had healed you in his own way, just like the first time. He forgave you for your transgression easily.
She was not so fortunate. The bloody mess that they discovered was barely recognisable as a human being.
After that, you learned to push others well away from you. You pretend you prefer things that way. You don't feel any pain or pleasure (you can barely differentiate the two these days) at the suffering of others, and you don't want their love or pity.
(And sometimes, you even succeed in persuading yourself of this. Almost.)
The voice of the man in front of you is a whimper, like the sounds you made at first.
It disgusts you.
You rest your hand upon his shoulder, pulling him back. "Leave it. They're not worth the attention."
He turns to you, letting the man slide from his grip. There's still that smirk on his face.
"If you say so."
They're not going to last long like this. You don't want a murder case on your hands.
You lean over the conscious one. He's unfortunate, or strong, to last this long without passing out. Muscular. His face is a mess of bruises; there are probably even more bones broken than there were originally.
It takes a few seconds to find what you're looking for, but it's there. You dial quickly. Ichigo's patience is not unlimited, even with regards to you, and you don't want to be found at the scene of a crime. It's another minute to call an ambulance, give them the location, drop the phone when they ask for your name, leave.
Orihime Inoue is not a fangirl.
She knows that Uryuu does not act like a very nice person sometimes. He pushes people away from him, even when they try to help. And he doesn't like being touched, at all. Except sometimes, there's a look in his eyes that scares her a little.
It looks like he wants to scream. Except he can't, because there's always a kind of presence hanging around him, like a guardian angel - but no, an angel would never act in such a way. A guardian something else, maybe.
Like Faust and Mephistopheles.
She's known him for a long time. They have gone to the same school together, and she knows with utter certanity that he was nothing like this before his father died. After he came back, he was distant, cold, but never quite this bad until that... what happened with Michiru.
Maybe, one day, she hopes, she can get him to open up again, help him -
- and then there is that watchful presence, and that look in his eyes that screams get away from me for god's sakes GET AWAY -
...no. Not yet, she reluctantly concedes. But I promise I'll find out. I'll help you, someday soon.
She can only hope that she can do something for him before he breaks for good.
It's 2 am. You can't sleep.
There is a good reason for this, and it is in your bed.
(He isn't awake right now, though. If he were awake, he would be keeping you up in a completely different way.)
Over time, you have adjusted to his reiatsu, even going so far as to actually start to be comfortable with it. It's something you initially thought was impossible. The reiatsu of a hollow is corrosive for anyone; only a hollow can truly process such a thing properly.
You try not to think about the implications.
However, there is a limit as to how well you can sleep with someone this close. Aphenphosmphobia is the term for fear of physical contact; your time with Kurosaki has not quite developed your dislike of touch to this extent, but it's close. His arms are wrapped around your body, as are his legs.
He takes human form when he seeks intimacies with you, or your bedsheets would be shredded to pieces and bloodstained every night, rather than just some of them.
You consider investing in a bolster, if only to get some rest. You doubt it would do much good. He would probably still insist on using you as his personal pillow.
(On top of his personal everything else.)
He doesn't act the same when he's asleep. You didn't even know that hollows could sleep, but then you've never seen a hollow in its natural environment before. There are mentions in texts of a place beyond the void, filled with a nightmarish, infinite expanse of moonlit desert and cave systems below the shifting sands. Only one Quincy ever went there and came back to write of the matter, in a fit of rage against the death of his lover. Orpheus' tale has been long since twisted into a myth by ordinary humans and fallen into obscurity, but it did not speak of slumbering hollows, nor of great details of their nature. At any rate, he had been mostly broken when he had come back from that place.
When he sleeps, you hear him murmur about his past life, his failings as your protector, his fears of you leaving, how you must never ever leave him. At other times he will argue with himself.
Sometimes it's more of a scream than a murmur, and he will lie in the grip of a nightmare whilst you try to wake him and placate him and avoid being shredded. It's harder than it sounds; he reverts to his true form during nightmares - long claws and sharp teeth, the better to eat you with, my dear...
It's usually all you can do to just keep him from smashing the apartment and breaking the bed on those nights. He will claw out at your body, trying to destroy everything he can reach, including you - the trick, of course, is to wake him before it progresses too far. This is harder than it sounds.
Tonight is better. He is mainly quiet, if clingy, but he still cries out from time to time. You are experienced in soothing him by now, and he reacts positively to the sensation of your fingers running through his hair, quietening. A refrain comes to mind, something half-remembered from the faded memories of your mother. You hum it under your breath; you have long since forgotten the words, but it doesn't matter.
He stills against your body, snuggling closer, oblivious to your increasing discomfort.
You briefly consider what Ryuuken would make of the matter - probably something derogatory on the lines of your whoring yourself out to a hollow, you think savagely, before remembering that you promised yourself you wouldn't think about Ryuuken again.
You check your watch, pressing the night-light button.
2.13 am. You groan inwardly.
It's going to be a long night.
His voice is muted. It has never been heard, in fact; he is drowning in the abyss, the ocean weighing down upon his body.
He had a name once, or might have had the possibility of a name, but no more. Even if he screams, it will never be heard.
The once-child he encountered and bound to, chosen to be his wielder, has all but vanished now. That innocence is long-gone.
All he can do is hope to preserve something of that child's mind. He has done his best, and sometimes he thinks his master remembers what he was.
He isn't really sure if it's better this way or not.
(You don't wonder what might have been, had someone shot the hollow or cut it down, had Soul Society not failed in their duty, had he been sent on or purified or destroyed, whether he might have lived and grown up together with you. There just doesn't seem to be any point to it.)