Oh hai! I know this is no time to start a new story, but humour me please. I've read a lot of Hichi/Ichi/Hime fics recently and now I can't really help myself...I do promise to work hard with this though. Later on you will find the plot somewhat similar to a particular book/movie, but I'll reveal that when we get to it.~

At the Hands of a Hollow

Chapter 1: Something is Coming

Ichigo kicked the snow at his feet. He was walking along the white path with no particular destination or intent.

Though it was freezing cold, he'd been bored enough to attempt a walk outside to find some form of activity, maybe even excitement. That thought brought him to the doubt that probably even hollows dislike snow.

It's appearance had been fair, it was January. Snow was basically expected at that point in the year. But he really hated having to walk in it, which made him feel stupid for going out in the first place.

The sun was only allowing a couple of rays of light past the clouds, so there was no chance of it melting right away. A deep scowl was set in his face until he passed a familiar face.

"Kurosaki-kun!"

His head turned immediately. Orihime was walking up a side path, waving a hand at him.

"Oh," he said, "hey Inoue."

"Walking in the snow?" she giggled in question, "I thought you hated it."

Ichigo rubbed the back of his head. "Yeah, well, I got bored," he said, then looked at the bag she was carrying, "grocery shopping?"

Orihime nodded, "I thought it'd be a good idea to stock up, in case we get any more snow."

He suddenly felt unusually warm. Perhaps it was just her presence and the startling effects that it had on him. This was the one person who could make him smile, and laugh on several occasions.

"You're heading back home now, then?".

"Mm-hmm!" she replied, never stopping the nod, but slowing down a little.

"Do you want me to walk you back?"

Her hand came up again, wafting around as she blushed. "N-no, don't worry! I'll be just fine!" She tried a convincing smile.

"Hah, well done, King! Denied again!" his hollow barked.

'Shut it, you.'

For just a few seconds, her studied her expression. He didn't want to make it seem like he was worrying too much, so he accepted the refusal.

"Okay, I'll see you on Monday then. Maybe, at least."

Orihime smiled gracefully, "I look forward to it." It was the kind of statement that didn't give away anything other than friendliness, and she was lucky that it didn't, for any reason, give away what she really meant. He was clueless.

She turned and started to walk back to her apartment. Ichigo had only just noticed her clothes, black leggings and a red mac coat complete with red rubber boots. He watched as she stepped closer and closer to a slippery patch of ice. Closer...closer...; "Eek!" she squealed and landed on the ground.

Ichigo was stood in front of her in a flash, holding out his hand. She hesitantly reached out and he pulled her up. "You really need to be careful, it's dangerous on the path."

"I'm sorry, Kurosaki-kun..." she murmured apologetically, her head down but her eyes sheepishly focused on him.

He sighed, "Alright, I'm walking you home for sure now, if you like it or not." - she opened her mouth to protest, - "I'm not taking no for an answer. You could fall again, maybe on the road this time. A car could come, or even a hollow. It's simply not safe." There was no need to tell her anything else. She walked obediently by his side.

Around two minutes later, they were quite close to their destination.

"Kurosaki-kun, I think I'll be okay from here..."

She waited. He continued to walk, not saying a single word. Ichigo did look at her, so complete ignorance wasn't suggested. Orihime looked defeated as she dropped her shoulders a little and followed him again.

It was another one-hundred and twenty seconds until they spoke again. They were just outside the apartment, waiting at the door.

"Th-thank you, for walking me," she smiled, almost blushing again.

"Any time," he muttered, rubbing his hands together desperately. He was regretting his decision to not wear gloves.

She watched him shiver with concern, "Are you okay?". He nodded, but he wasn't sure if it was true or not.

"Would you like to come inside for a little while?" she offered in a quiet voice, "I could make some coffee, then you can warm up for a bit before you go back out there."

Ichigo's heart was beating quickly, he had no idea if he wanted to or not. In truth, he was afraid of ever taking advantage of her hospitality, but he really was cold.

"Just say yes already, it's cold in here too!"

He shook off the hollow's comment and tried to answer, "Uhm, sure, that'd be great."

Orihime's warm and gentle smiling eyes pierced through him again, the cold feeling was almost gone. "Come on in."

She unlocked the door and pushed it open, slipping inside before she let him in. He closed it behind him and took off his snowy shoes as she did her boots.

Then she walked around and into the kitchen, flicking on the coffee machine. "I-I'll be back in just a minute, my clothes are a little wet from the fall, I'm just going to go change."

He nodded, and sat at the table right near the kitchen area as she walked to her bedroom.

"Oh, what are you thinking about now, King? Do you know that this is a great opportunity to take a peek at her?"

'You sick idiot, like I'm really gonna do that. Inoue is my friend.'

"Are you really denying that you'd like to see much more of her? I know these things, I'm up in your head," he laughed.

'Just shut up, it's not happening. And you have no right to say things like that,' he snarled back in his head.

Quicker than he'd expected, she emerged again only near fifty seconds later. This time she wore black tights and denim short-shorts, and a white one-shoulder top with a black vest underneath. She sent a smile and then moved back to the kitchen.

Ichigo was sat just at the right place to notice a rip in her tights, at the back where they had started to fade. Through the hole, just a patch of her smooth pale skin was showing.

"Hey, King! Let me out, I'll go fix that for her!" the hollow snickered.

'There's no way that I'm ever letting you out, and especially not for that.'

She poured the coffee and brought a mug over to him. "Thanks," he said, earning a light chuckle from her. Orihime sat down across from him and started sipping the hot liquid.

As he drank, warming up his body, he couldn't help but wonder why she wore tights and shorts. It was very cold, but then again, it was warm inside her apartment.

"Kurosaki-kun?"

"Yeah?"

Orihime put down her mug and tapped her fingers on the table, "I'm sorry to have to ask, but um...when is our assignment due?"

He thought about it and shrugged slightly, "Thursday, I think. Do you need some help?"

"Thank you," she said with a look of determination, "I just need to find something for the ending to my story. You see...the aliens have already come to the earth to take over Karakura town, but then a mysterious man in a hat comes along! He programmes a bunch of robots to defend..."

Ichigo wasn't sure if he was listening or not. The first part, definitely. But then his thoughts took him away, to the reminder that she had an outrageously, almost notoriously creative imagination. Though really, that was just another thing that he really liked about her.

She was something special, more than most people could comprehend or even see. People would notice her existence just because of her pretty face, her gorgeous long hair, or most commonly, the fact that she was rather well endowed. There really were few that knew her well enough to know her personality, too.

"...so after the mysterious man in a hat saves the world, what should he do? I'm really stuck, should he walk away with the pretty girl, or talk to the president and receive a reward? Do you have any ideas, Kurosaki-kun?" she asked.

He gave a rare smile, "You should have the mysterious man in a hat find the pretty girl and realize that he loves her, would that work for you?"

"Oh my gosh," she exclaimed loudly, "that's a really good idea! How did you come up with that?". Orihime jumped up and ran just a couple of metres away to the phone, noting down the idea on the paper kept for such 'important' things like that.

"Uh," he said, "I dunno, I think it's probably come from Yuzu telling me about romance books that she's read."

"Wow, way to go, King! Now tell her you love her already, before I do it for you!"

'If you don't keep it closed, I'm going to come in there and choke you!'

He finished his coffee and shifted upright in the seat, "Well, speaking of Yuzu, I told her that I'd help her with some homework, so I'd better get going now. Thanks a lot for the coffee."

She put down the pen and walked slowly over to the door, "Good-bye, Kurosaki-kun!"

"Bye," he said, slipping on his shoes. Then he began his long journey home.

"I can't understand why you haven't made a move already, she's obviously waiting for us."

Ichigo was walking upstairs to his room after helping Yuzu with her algebra work. The hollow had been talking and talking about Orihime ever since he'd left.

'Why won't you just let it go?'

"Because I want her, King. It's only natural for me to want her the way I do."

He sighed, 'And what exactly do you want from her?'

"I think you know."

His eyes widened with the realization, and then a scowl appeared. A very angry, disturbed scowl. 'I don't care if you want that or not, I won't let you touch her.'

The hollow snickered. Ichigo sat on his bed, threw his legs over and lay back. That was one of the things that he found he hated most about the hollow, his need to get what he wanted. And now, he was afraid that by some chance he might get it this time.

Ichigo stared at his ceiling. One of the worst parts about his hollow wanting to get to Inoue was the fear that it was something he wanted, somewhere deep down. But hurting her was the last thing he wanted, or so he thought...

It had all gone a little too far, and he knew it very well already.

He was in love with Orihime Inoue.

Not like the guys at school, who would take quick pictures on their phones and gawk at her as she skipped past in the corridor. He loved her.

Thinking about that made him hate his hollow even more. The hollow was showing the part of him that he didn't want. Lust. They were opposites in many respects, though, so there was nothing he could do.

Knocking the word 'no' into his head wouldn't be easy, but ignoring him would never work. He could already feel him getting closer to control, very slowly. All he could do was build his defences, that was all he needed to do.

The hollow couldn't get past, he was sure. He'd been able to stop him before, and he'd trained to keep him under control.

Surely, he could keep the barrier there.

With all the thinking he'd done, he was getting tired. It was only somewhere around seven, but it was dark, it seemed acceptable to sleep for a little while.

He'd need it if he planned to protect her from the monster living in his head.

Orihime exhaled in an almost-sigh. She turned over the page of her book. Just a few more pages and she'd finish studying.

It seemed like a boring way to spend a Saturday, even if it was nearly nine. The sun had already hidden away for the night, leaving a dark and dimly lit street outside.

One part of the day had been a lot of fun for her though, even when she fell over. It was in the presence of Ichigo, how could she not enjoy it?

She hated herself for needing his help, even though he did offer. She'd felt her heart beating quicker than ever as she took his hand and he pulled her up.

She loved to be near him.

In all truth, for the past three years, she'd been completely in love with him.

Recently, hiding those feelings had been getting easier. He was opening up to her a little more, making them much closer friends. But there was always a part of her that wished for something a little more than friendship.

It was something she's never ask for, or never admit to anyone other than her closest friends, now excluding him.

It was something that must be kept a secret.

The way she loved him did nothing to prepare for what was standing at her window.

"Why, good evening my Hime," a dark, mocking voice whispered. Her head turned quickly and she stared. She stared for a long moment until she could piece the scene together.

"...I...Ichigo?"

"Not quite," he smirked, she could just about see his face. His skin looked pale in the moonlight, and his shihakusho was brighter. Perhaps too bright to be just to effect of the light.

And then his eyes. They proved for sure that this wasn't Ichigo.

They were evil and menacing, all black if not for the glowing yellow orbs in the middle. She inhaled with horror.

"Sh-Shiten Kōshun!" she choked, grabbing her hairpins and raising the shield. The hollow, now in full control, gave her an offended look.

He disappeared, flash-stepping around her. Then he tapped her shoulder from behind, "There's really no need for that."

Orihime screamed jumping forward and away from him. He laughed as he saw her slowly move around to the door, "Go ahead, run. That'll make it all more fun for me."

She only heard the word 'run'. Her legs took her as quickly as they could carry her away from him, out onto the street, even in the freezing cold. The lights scattered around were just enough for her to see where she was running.

But where was she going to run to? It would be useless to run with no destination. She had to hide from him, wherever she could find.

Of course, no matter where she went, he'd find her. She knew the nature of hollows already, and this one was a very advanced hollow. He was dangerous.

The flakes of snow that were falling melted against the warm tears streaming down her face.

As she ran, she realized. There was always a chance he was just teasing her, that he wouldn't do anything at all. But he'd caused Ichigo so much trouble, she couldn't think of anything good about him.

Her feet slipped on the ice as she ran in with no shoes, only the tights, but there was no time to fall. She needed to get away as fast as she could, it was hard to figure something out while running.

Orihime came to an enclosed area. If he was behind her, she'd be cornered.

"Hime..." the voice called, echoing through the cold.

I need to find somewhere...quickly! The only building with a visible entrance was an old warehouse. The windows were smashed and it was almost empty, but it was the quickest option. She ran inside without looking back.

There were a few large empty crates stood in the corner, so she crouched down behind one and waited. She knew he'd come, and there'd be nothing she could do.

It was unclear to her what exactly he wanted, but it definitely wouldn't have been a good idea to wait around for an answer.

She continued to wait, until the door slammed shut. Orihime held her breath and closed her eyes. Perhaps it was just the wind. Perhaps.

"Oh hey, Orihime," he was suddenly next to her, sat down on the ground. She struggled away from him, but froze as he grabbed the bottom of her leg.

"Are you g-going to kill me?" she trembled, fresh tears replacing the ones that had dried on her cheeks.

The hollow smirked again, "No, I'm going to do something much more fun than that."

Well I never thought I'd be writing something like this, really. And you know what's coming next? I'm dreading having the write that. But I'll try my best anyways...

I will point out that I know nothing about seasons in Japan, so I'm sticking with what I do know. Oh, and the hollow getting out will be explained in the next chapter. Don't worry.

I'm sorry that it happened quite quickly, but I really need to get the whole point out as fast as I can.

Have I ever told you before that reviews make me update quicker? XD Not joking either, they always speed up the process of my stories. So please, please, leave a review. I want to know what you think so I can decide if I should bother to continue or not.

~HellYus