Chapter 17


Author's Note: Hello everyone! I am officially back and in action. Sorry for such the long wait, but parents can be so strict sometimes. Anyways, I was going to use Dragon to write this chapter, but apparently I need a sound card in order to use Dragon. I was so mad when I saw that. So, it might be awhile before I start using Dragon. At least sound cards are cheap.

Now, onto the show~

Pairings: Hichigo x Ichigo, Unasaki x Urahara, and Byakuya x Renji

Warnings: cussing, OOCness, violence, and yaoi

Disclaimer: I in no way own Bleach or the Linkin Park song "Numb". I do not in any way own the characters from Bleach and am not making a profit off of this fic.

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(No thoughts this chapter)

Ichigo awoke to the morning sun shining in his eyes. He groaned and turned to snuggle up into the warmth beside him. He heard a chuckle from above him before he felt a few fingers play with his short hair.

"Ichigo, you need to wake up."

Ichigo only pushed himself closer to that warmth. A sigh was heard before the warmth was gone and Ichigo was left in the cold. It was Ichigo's turn to sigh as he sat up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

"Why do we have to get up so early?" he asked in a whiny tone of voice. [1]

"Because we have to visit Asashin and give him this piece." with this statement Hichigo extended his hand and showed the white shard he had cut last night.

Ichigo suddenly seemed wide awake and he shot from the bed. He ran over to Hichigo and grabbed the hand that held the piece. Ichigo stared at it in wonderment.

"But…how?" Ichigo stuttered.

Hichigo smiled and gave Ichigo the piece to hold while he went over to the closet. He grabbed his mask from the top shelf and pointed to the new scar on it.

"Oh Hichigo…"

"It was worth it. Besides, it looks cooler now." he said with a grin.

Ichigo returned the smile and hugged Hichigo tightly.

"Thank you."

Hichigo wrapped his arms around Ichigo.

"You're welcome."

"Asashin!" called Hichigo through the empty throne room.

"Where could he be?" asked Ichigo as he messed with the test tubes lying on the King's counter.

"Who knows?"

Ichigo sighed and continued to fiddle with the equipment. Suddenly, the man in question burst through the doors and almost ran into Hichigo.

"What are you two doing here?" he asked startled.

Hichigo merely held up the white piece of his mask.

"Got your ingredient." he said tossing it to the other man.

Asashin inspected the small shard before nodding his head.

"This piece should do."

He headed over to his counter and swatted Ichigo's curious fingers away. He placed the shard in a jar and tightly sealed it.

"I suppose you're ready for the next riddle?"

"We're ready." said Ichigo nodding his head with a look of determination in his eyes.

Asashin nodded and grabbed the crumpled up paper again. He read the first line in his head to match sure the hollow mask piece fit the description. After confirming that the shard did indeed fit the description, he read the second line.

"The rusty bonds that tie a soul to this world." [2]

Hichigo groaned as the words made no sense to him.

"Any idea what that could mean?" he asked and Asashin paled.

"You do know something."

Asashin sighed and put the paper on the counter.

"I only remember this one, but only because it is not one that holds a very good memory in my mind."

"What do you mean?" asked Ichigo.

"The last time I made this potion was long ago. I don't really remember all the details, but someone had requested it. This particular ingredient however was the hardest to obtain. The riddle is asking for a chain from a person's soul."

"Wouldn't that kill someone though?" asked Ichigo.

"Not exactly. If performed quick enough and by only cutting off one chain link, it would be successful and cause no harm to the person. However, back then I was confident and naïve. I allowed that person to become a hollow right in front of my eyes. I will never forget it." said Asashin with a certain harshness wrapped in his normally calm voice.

Ichigo sighed and walked over to Asashin.

"I trust you. Please, take a piece of my chain."

Suddenly, Hichigo pulled him back.

"Ichigo, don't do this. What if you…"

Ichigo smiled up at his lover.

"I trust Asashin. I'll be fine. I promise." he said before turning to the King.

"Let's do this."

Asashin had nodded his head and quickly used a glove like Rukia had long ago to force Ichigo into his soul form. He felt no different really. Even the chain protruding from his chest didn't have any weight to it. He turned to Asashin to see the man grab a tiny, but powerful looking saw. He grabbed the end of Ichigo's chain and slowly began to cut off the link. Hichigo stood behind Asashin the whole time making sure the man did nothing to hurt his lover.

The saw made little noise and Asashin was able to make a clean cut. The chain snapped off and Asashin pocketed it and watched as slowly the chain began to shake.

"Quickly now, get to your body!" said Asashin angrily and Ichigo hurried over to his body.

It was easy to get back into it and afterwards everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

"Why did the chain shake?" asked Ichigo.

"If severed the chain begins to eat itself because it believes the hollowification process has begun. If you had continued to wait, the chain would have begun to be consumed until there was no chain left. At that point, you would have become a hollow." explained Asashin. [3]

The room fell silent as everyone realized what could have happened. Hichigo walked over to Ichigo and pulled him into a tight embrace.

"I love you too much." he whispered. [4]

[1] Sounds like me on Mondays -_-

[2] Anybody figure it out before it was given away~

[3] I hope this makes sense. If it doesn't please tell me.

[4] Shameless fluff

Author's Note: Sorry for the shortness of this chapter. Hopefully, I can get a sound card soon.

RQOTD: What other items do you think are on Asashin's list?

I hope you all enjoyed and I'll see you next weekend~

*Goes off to do math test corrections*