Ren-sama's Note:

I thank everyone for the wonderful reviews. Please don't continue to kill me with your comments about Juushirou's death. I know… I'm sorry I killed him.

P.S. I know I already made a disclaimer at the beginning of this fan fict. And I know that you people might recognize some copied lines from the original anime. Yes, that's intentional, and I know, I don't own them so please don't sue me. That's all. ˆoˆ

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Chapter 13

"Aizen! That's playing dirty!" Yoruichi shouted as she watched Ichigo's eyes widened at the sight of Juushirou in front of him, holding a sword and had immediately attacked him.

Ichigo was paralyzed for a while, and that second was much too important, because he immediately found himself on his knees while sporting deep gashes on his torso and shoulders.

'You idiot! I told you not to open your eyes!' Shiro shouted from inside him.

Byakuya knew that the boy has not yet recovered fully from their last fight, and now he was fighting again. The noble immediately stood up.

"Nii-sama?" Rukia called, fearing what her nii-sama was about to do.

"Ichigo Kurosaki has suffered a lot of injuries in his fight with me." He voiced coolly. "And I can see that he has not yet fully recovered from it."

"But Byakuya-bo, you will only get in his way, what with you thoroughly injured and all." Yoruichi voiced and she earned a glare from him.

"You can't even stand up properly, Kuchiki-taichou." Gin smirked. "What do you think you can do?"

Byakuya clenched his fists as he watched Ichigo coughed up blood, still not having the audacity to strike his sword against Juushirou's form. They all knew that the boy knew that Juushirou was a mere illusion. But the pain and agony of having to strike a sword to an opponent with his father's face was making Ichigo break. He couldn't do it.

And that only proved that Ichigo wasn't the really one who killed his chichi.

'You idiot! You know that that's not him! Do you think your chichi will ever raise his sword against you!?'

"I know, I know that..." Ichigo choked. "But it doesn't change the fact that the pain I feel right now is real…"

"Ichigo Kurosaki." Byakuya's voice was loud and clear, making Ichigo looked at him. "Close your eyes again. Your enemy is Aizen." And with that, the noble sat down once again, not wanting to fall on his knees in front of everyone.

The other Shinigamis glanced at one another, not really knowing what came to the cold and heartless Kuchiki noble for him to say such words to a man he barely knew. Ichigo nodded and immediately followed his advice and exchanged blows with Aizen again.

But it had been already too late. After several minutes of continuous swift and reiatsu-laden attacks between the two, Ichigo has already fallen on his knees again. He has suffered many injuries but Aizen was still without any scratch.

"Much like Juushirou in his last minute." Aizen voiced. "How pitiful." Ichigo glared at him. "Do you know what he said to me, Ichigo, before he died?"

"Stand up, Ichigo!" Renji and Rukia shouted in unison, much too weak to even stand up and help their friend. But Ichigo was too focused on Aizen to hear them.

"Aizen, you bastard!" Ichigo slowly stood up and attacked Aizen once again. He was slowly losing his cool because of Aizen's provocations.

Aizen looked even more amused as the two exchanged powerful blows. "He told me not to hurt his beloved son. He told me that I could do whatever I wanted with him, as long as I would not hurt you. How noble."

Ichigo could feel intense grief when he heard those words. He knew Aizen was using his emotion to make him weak, but he couldn't help it. He wanted to just fall on the ground, curve into a fetal position, and cry his heart out.

"You see, he accidentally saw me using Kyouka Suigetsu to make the scene where I was supposedly killed." Aizen said. "He saw how my sword turned into a hoax corpse, bloodied, and how I pinned it on the wall to make it look like a crime. And it's really a pity that he had to see it." Ichigo gritted his teeth as he continued his attacks, which Aizen only dodged easily. "Ukitake-taichou was aghast. And he immediately asked what that was all about. Of course, I answered by immediately grabbing his sword and thrusting it in his heart before I told him of my plan to frame you in the crime of killing me."

Ichigo's breath was hitching with every word that Aizen spoke. The man spoke so coolly as if it was the weather he was talking about and not a crime that he planned. "It's not in my plan to kill him, Ichigo. But he just had to be in the wrong place and at the wrong time, so I made some revisions. I included him in the plan at the last minute."

Ichigo attacked head-on, obviously attacking blindly because of the intense agony that he felt, but he received a stab from Aizen's zanpakutou and had to step back again.

Much to everyone's grief, they were forced to watch as Ichigo's reiatsu slowly diminished while Aizen still stood unscratched. They wanted to help really badly but they knew that they would only get in the way.

Ichigo received a really deep cut along his torso, again, after some minutes of fighting and he found himself losing consciousness rapidly.

'IDIOT! Don't you dare lose consciousness if you don't want me to take over!' Ichigo smiled in half consciousness. Shiro was such a worrywart in his own way. 'Hey! I heard that!'

Aizen stood victoriously in front of everyone as Ichigo lay on his stomach on the cold ground, beaten and unmoving. "It seems you relied too much in an infant, Soutaichou."

Everything cleared before everyone's eyes just then. The sky returned to its clear bluish hue and the sun hung up in the sky, giving them so much vibrant light. The millions of Hollows disappeared, confirming their assumption that those were mere illusions created by Kyouka Suigetsu. Everything looked peaceful that it was unnerving. Because Aizen still stood before them with his victorious expression.

And just then, a huge amount of the sky rifted open and Menos Grandes peeked through the Garganta that they created. The reiatsu was thoroughly immense and they all used their arms to cover their eyes from the whirlwind of dusts that had gathered from the intense wind.

"Gillians!" Soi Fon exclaimed in horror. She, Yoruichi, and the others who were still capable immediately shunpo'd and clashed swords against Aizen, only to immediately back away when a negacion fell down from the sky. They knew then that it was no use trying to chase after Aizen inside that.

"What has made you turn into this, boy?" Soutaichou asked solemnly. He had not realized that Aizen was plotting. And it seemed the man had been plotting for at least decades now.

Aizen smirked as he slowly ascended. "I want both Shinigami and Hollow powers. You Shinigamis have been much too rigid in everything. You don't accept it if someone's different from you. You don't have much of a future. You don't know what it's like to have both powers, to own both Soul Society and Hueco Mundo. But I do. And I will succeed! I am a transcendent being for being able to think of and do such things!" Soutaichou's already narrow eyed narrowed even more. "Shinigamis cannot touch me while I'm inside this. It's a Hollow's protection barrier they use to help their comrades. Only Hollows can cut this dimensional barrier."

Everyone couldn't answer. Even the Soutaichou had nothing to say. He knew that fact very well.

"I see. So Hollows can still chase after you." All turned their heads to Ichigo's direction. His fringe covered his eyes and they were casted downward. He slowly stood up, silent rage and anguish fuelling his reiatsu darker and darker by the minute. "I really didn't want to use it. I don't want anyone to see me like this… But I don't care anymore. As long as I can kill you, Aizen." The others didn't know what he meant by his words, until their eyes showed it to them.

Ichigo made a scratching motion with his fingers across his face and everyone stared in shock, awe, and bewilderment as a Hollow mask with two long and huge horn appeared in front of his face, making him at least fifteen to twenty times stronger and deadlier. He sharply looked up at the negacion and screamed; but his voice was no longer that of Ichigo's but a distorted Hollow-like shriek, filled with anguish and pain.

Aizen's eyes widened when he saw the Hollow mask that Ichigo had. "Hollowfication. Of course, you're a Vizard too." Then his eyes narrowed. "How?"

Ichigo didn't answer however. He didn't need to. It was all Aizen's fault anyway. If Aizen had not framed him and he had not escaped to the living world, then he wouldn't have mastered the use of Hollow power, nor was he able to obtain Bankai. For three whole days, he fought against Zangetsu in the basement of the Vizards' hideout. And rest of the whole sixteen days was spent mastering his Hollow power.

He remembered how the other Vizards marveled at the fact that Ichigo's Hollow was a willing participant in the training, making his training and mastery of the Hollowfication more fruitful and a lot easier than any of them. They added it to the fact that Ichigo was born a Vizard. He was not made to become one, just like Shinji and the others were. And it meant that Ichigo's powers Zangetsu and Shiro, from birth, had been together with him. Shiro was not a foreign entity that Ichigo acquired in making his power grow. The Hollow had been a part of the teen ever since his conception and that made all the difference.

Ichigo screamed again, voice still filled with so much anguish and pain, his reiatsu flailing wildly and encircling him. The other Shinigamis didn't know if they would run towards Ichigo and hug him for comfort or if they would run away from the Hollow that was in front of them now.

"GETSUGA TENSHOU!" Ichigo swung his sword horizontally in a very swift manner and an overly massive wave of black reiatsu emerged form the tip of his sword and onto the garganta, forcing it to close as the Gillians stepped back. And then he fired Getsuga Tenshou at Aizen, making the negacion crack and the pieces started to fall down one by one.

"Ichigo!" Yoruichi was the first to approach Ichigo, not even minding the intense dark reiatsu that covered him. The others, especially his close friends, looked like they wanted to support him too but were in a much too weak of a condition to be able to get closer. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, my injuries heal immediately when I have my mask." He answered, much to everyone's relief. They were both relieved that Ichigo was okay, and also relieved that Ichigo was still Ichigo, and not some Hollow that took over his body. Yoruichi smiled in a strained manner before she stepped away to not get in the teen's way.

Aizen stepped down, clearly angry that his escape was foiled by a mere infant. "I didn't know you can already use your Hollow powers, Ichigo. I'm quite surprised." He voiced coolly.

Ichigo swung his thin black sword over his shoulder before he spoke. "Didn't I say I'll make sure to make you pay for killing chichi, Aizen?" And without any word, he immediately landed a blow on Aizen. The man was able to block it using his zanpakutou but his feet slid in the ground from the impact. He was being pushed back.

Aizen gritted his teeth. He tried to channel his reiatsu to the Hogyouku once more but it didn't respond. He knew it was sleeping because it had just sealed the reiatsu of the most powerful and oldest living Shinigami, but he couldn't help but try to call for it. And the fact that he realized he was calling for help did not sit well with him.

"What's wrong, Aizen? Not going to make any smart comment?" Ichigo asked as he swung his sword again and blood oozed on Aizen's clothes as he was cut for the first time.

The older man winced at the fact that Ichigo's Hollow reiatsu felt sickly hot on his skin. He gripped his zanpakutou tighter and immediately attacked Ichigo.

Ichigo felt satisfaction at the fact that Aizen's blood was trickling from the deep gash that he made. He felt elated at the fact that Aizen wore a strained expression now and not the usual cold sadistic smile that he wore when he kills. He felt thoroughly satisfied every time Aizen attacked and yet all the man received were cuts and gashes. And Ichigo was still holding back.

'King, use that!' Shiro exclaimed from inside him, and he was still in so much pain that he didn't care if Aizen thoroughly died in his next attack.

Ichigo bent his head forward and everyone watched as a huge ball of energy appeared on the tip of his horn, and before they could even react, it was already fired. A Cero.

Aizen's eyes widened and he barely had time to dodge as the cero blasted in his direction. His left side was burnt and he gritted his teeth as pain immediately surged through him. Ichigo shrieked again, as if in pain, then he raised his sword and fired a huge Getsuga Tenshou once more.

His comrades knew that Ichigo was suffering, not because of the Hollow's power, but because he could not feel thorough satisfaction at the fact that Aizen now appeared as a dirt in front of him, bleeding, panting, and losing. Ichigo wanted revenge for the death of his father but he couldn't feel it in the way Aizen made him look like he's the one who's sadistic enough to kill a person without any power to counterattack.

"Ichigo…" Rukia sobbed as she felt the intense rage and anguish that filled the air because of Ichigo's reiatsu. They could all feel the sadness, and longing, the deep desire to avenge. "You should stop now…"

Aizen breathed shallowly as he was forced to roll on the ground just to get away from another Cero that was fired at him. Ichigo walked towards him and the older male was forced to step back.

"I'll kill you, Aizen." Ichigo voiced quietly.

Aizen gritted his teeth. He knew he would lose over half his reiatsu if he ever performed a spell of that caliber, but he knew he didn't have a choice if he wanted to survive this. He exhaled and breathed out. "Hado No 90: Kurohitsugi!"

Rukia whimpered when Ichigo was covered by the black coffin and the entirety of his reiatsu vanished. Renji held her hand and squeezed it to assure her quietly that it would be alright. And it did. Ichigo only had to swing his left hand horizontally in order to smash the black wall.

"Is that all you can do now?" Ichigo asked as he advanced, the black coffin disintegrating in his presence. "Repeating the trauma I had as a child as I was forced to watch you kill a subordinate of yours sixteen years ago?"

Aizen's eyes narrowed for a while, not knowing what Ichigo was talking about, until it all dawned to him. He smirked even though pain was etched on his very feature. "No wonder you have been trembling with so much fear the first time we met."

"I don't fear you anymore, Aizen. I will kill you." Ichigo raised his sword once more and fired a Getsuga Tenshou just as he fired a Cero on the other side where Aizen would surely run.

Aizen's eyes widened as the Cero appeared in front of him just as he shunpo'd away from the Getsuga Tenshou. His left side, that was already burnt, had been burnt once more and he couldn't help but scream in pain.

Ichigo watched as Aizen knelt on the ground in front of him, waiting for the satisfaction to come. But nothing did. All he felt was a deep, dark void of nothingness and he felt like there was a hole inside his chest where his heart was supposed to be. It's like being a Hollow for real… There's no heart inside him, only a mask.

Gently but firmly, a hand gripped his arm and a soft voice spoke from behind him. "There's no satisfaction in revenge, Ichigo Kurosaki." He turned around and saw steel gray eyes looking at him in determination. "Let Seireitei judge Aizen. You don't have to sully your hands with his blood. Sensei will not want you to kill because of him."

Byakuya watched as golden eyes from beneath the Hollow mask stared at him for a while. A warm, sweet breath escaped from the mask and he felt himself inhaling it. After a while, Ichigo's hand rose up and held the mask before he slid it off his face and onto the other side of his head.

Now, golden eyes held his gaze without any barrier. "Don't you feel like you want to kill Aizen, too? Chichi is important to you too, right?" Ichigo asked quietly in his Hollowfied voice. Byakuya's hand on his arm had brought him warmth and given him light, as if his long lost heart has somehow managed to return.

"Of course, but that doesn't mean we can just forget the rules and take it in our hands to give the punishment." He simply answered before he walked away again. He received curious glances but he ignored them. After all, he did it not for Ichigo but for Juushirou. He knew that his sensei would weep if he saw his son killing because of him. Or so he convinced himself. He knew deep inside him that the boy wouldn't be able to go and move on if he ever succeeded in killing his chichi's killer. He didn't want that to happen to Juushirou's son.

Everyone's attention turned to Aizen when the latter suddenly laughed. It sounded so sick and evil that it made their skin crawl. The latter stood up, blood dripping from his Shihakusho. "And you think you've defeated me, Ichigo? There will be only one transcendent being! And that will be me, Ichigo!" And he screamed, not the inhuman scream but a Hollow-like one, which made them all gape wide-eyed.

The hogyouku in his hand glowed and then, all of a sudden, a huge whirlwind of reiatsu emerged from where Aizen stood and covered his entire being. Soutaichou, Soi Fon, and Yoruichi immediately incanted some spells to make a barrier and prevent the wounded from receiving the smoldering reiatsu. The barrier was big enough to cover everyone, at least everyone on the sideline.

When the reiatsu cleared, their expressions turned from shock to horror. There, stood in front of them, was Aizen, or at least they thought it was Aizen. The guy still had brunette hair, but it was waist-length now. His dark and cold brown eyes turned completely black. His expression had hardened and his Shihakusho turned white. Also, there were huge and obviously deadly butterfly wings on his back.

"Wha–?" Rukia's eyes were wide and horrorstruck at the sight. "I-Is that… Aizen-taichou..?"

"He's… changed…" Byakuya muttered, eyebrows furrowed quite deeply. He's the only one not gaping aside from the Soutaichou and the many unconscious. Ichigo's eyes were wide behind the mask, though he wasn't gaping too.

Aizen laughed creepily when he saw the reaction from the gathered crowd. "Why are you so surprised? Does it scare you? That something you can't explain happened right before your eyes?" He laughed again.

"Would you explain to us what you've done?" Soutaichou asked in his casual though cautious manner.

Aizen chuckled before he spoke. "Very well, since the Soutaichou himself asked me. This," he motioned his hand outward in the air, talking about his appearance, "is how the hogyouku reacted to my wish! Even in deep slumber, it has given me the power to transcend above everyone, above even from the child Vizard that you're making me fight against!" His eyes then turned to Ichigo, who was still looking at him unmoving. "I, the true transcendent being, was able to evolve because of my deep wish! The hogyouku has recognized me as its master! Thanks to you, Ichigo!" And he laughed again.

Ichigo, because of Byakuya's words, has somehow lost some of the killing intentions that he had. And now, it was replaced by pity. He pitied Aizen. The man was obviously trying to be someone he could never be. His ambitions have driven him mad.

The teen brought his mask back on his face and readied for the battle to come.

Aizen ceased laughing, and in that instant, he disappeared and reappeared behind Ichigo. He swung his sword forward, but Ichigo was still able to block with his own sword. The two started exchanging powerful blows again. The Sokyouku Hill was starting to get destroyed and the surrounding forest too. The two disappeared and reappeared in different places – on the Sokyouku Hill, in the air, at the forest, at the area on top of the forest, and the area on top of Seireitei – within the span of seconds and fought so swiftly and powerfully that no normal eyes would have seen their actions at all.

Ichigo shunpo'd towards the Sokyouku Hill once again. Aizen appeared in front of him, too close, within seconds and swung his sword horizontally on Ichigo. Rukia screamed in fright for her friend and Ichigo's other friends nearly shunpo'd in between the two fighting men just to prevent Ichigo from getting cut. They knew there was no use dodging it because of the close proximity. There was no time. And the fact that Ichigo's sword was long would mean that he wouldn't be able to block it on time too. Aizen smirked, but Ichigo remained motionless.

And the sword made contact. Everyone looked at the scene with bated breaths and wide eyes when they saw what just happened. Even Aizen's eyes widened in shock as he looked at the scene before him. Ichigo's expression behind the mask appeared serious, though it was also solemn. Aizen's sword was caught in between the younger male's left thumb and his four other fingers, firming it in place.

Aizen's shock was so visible. "Impossible! He caught it?!" He immediately shunpo'd backwards and stared at Ichigo in disbelief.

Ichigo looked at Aizen straightly. "Why are you so surprised? Does it scare you? That something you can't comprehend happened right before your eyes?" Both Byakuya and Renji smirked at that. It was so like Ichigo to make his enemies gape in shock, and moreover, to use their own words against them.

Aizen growled in anger before he recovered himself and smirked. "Seeping crest of turbidity. Arrogant vessel of lunacy! Boil forth and deny! Grow numb and flicker! Disrupt sleep! Crawling queen of iron! Eternally self-destructing doll of mud! Unite! Repulse! Fill with soil and know your own powerlessness!" He shouted. "Hado no 91: Kurohitsugi!"

Ichigo remained motionless even though blocks and blocks of giant black box started to form around him, trapping him effectively. Aizen watched in fascination as his spell did its work. "This is a Kurohitsugi with full incantation! With my power, it can even transcend both time and space!"

Everyone watched in horror as the kidou swiftly engulfed Ichigo until it formed into a gigantic coffin-like structure. After some seconds though, the Kurohitsugi was immediately destroyed, with only Ichigo using his bare hand. His face remained emotionless, not that any of them could see through the slits of the mask which were for the eyes. If anyone looked at Ichigo, all they could see on those slits were darkness and two golden, almost glowing, orbs.

Aizen stared in shock when his full incanted Kurohitsugi was broken so easily. Ichigo didn't even sweat on it. "You don't seem to realize it, do you, Aizen? My power is greater than the power you have right now."

Aizen's eyes narrowed when Ichigo's reiatsu slowly vanished, before he laughed. "…Can you hear me, Ichigo Kurosaki?! Indeed, for a moment, you broke the boundary between Hollows and Shinigami to become a transcendent being. But that power is no more! Not a trace of it remains!"

The teen took a step forward, still looking so solemn. "You still don't understand. All this time, I am merely trying to lower down my reiatsu in a way so you can understand it. But right now, now that I am fully exerting it, you can't even feel anything, can you?"

Aizen's eyes widened at that. His hold on his sword tightened as his hands trembled in rage. "I see. You're pleased that you stopped my sword? Are you pleased that you overcame my kidou? Are you pleased that you put a scar on my body? Don't be so full of yourself, little Vizard!" He shouted in anger. "Just because you managed to do those little stunts doesn't mean you're stronger than I am! The hogyouku recognizes me as its master! And for that, I am invincible! A true transcendent being!"

Aizen, without another word, fired a cero towards Ichigo. The latter barely had time to dodge and he was engulfed by the full force reiatsu. Aizen laughed at that and vanished in that instant. He shunpo'd over to where Ichigo was and, just as the blow dissipated, grabbed the teen on his neck. "I, a true transcendent being, will kill you. By killing you, I will completely break free from both insignificant Shinigamis and Hollows alike. It's over, Ichigo Kurosaki!"

Ichigo looked at Aizen from behind his mask. "Let's end this already, Aizen. I've grown sick of you're… arguments."

"You little–!" Aizen's exclamation was interrupted when he felt something on his chest. He stared at Ichigo for a while, then his eyes darted to Ichigo's sword, which was now filled with blood, before he looked at his chest.

Ichigo watched as Aizen's eyes widened when he saw the extent of the cut that the teen gave just a few seconds ago. Aizen didn't even see the attack. Ichigo sighed. It's over…

Aizen dropped Ichigo just as he stepped backward slowly, one hand on his zanpakutou and one hand on his chest, obviously trying to stop the bleeding. He coughed up blood just as he fell on his knees. He panted hard, still shocked at the fact that he didn't see anything, not the attack, not Ichigo's movements. It was all so shocking. Was the difference in their power so vast that he didn't have any chance of ever winning? Was it really what Ichigo had said? That the teen was far stronger than him?

The others watched in awe and pride as the teen, Ukitake's one and only son, had managed to make Aizen fall on his knees twice. They were about to lift up the barrier to capture Aizen when the latter screamed again, both in agony and in anger.

Ichigo's eyes widened when he saw Aizen's wounds healing in a very rapid rate. The hogyouku that he held earlier was now placed on his chest, on his once wounded chest. Aizen's shriek became more Hollow-like as he stood up. The butterfly wings on his back grew and skull-like heads appeared on their ends. The middle of his forehead split open and out came what seemed to be an eye, also dark like the other two. He appeared more gruesome now and more Hollow-like than earlier.

The teen watched in half pity and half annoyance as Aizen's appearance turned more and more gruesome by the second. It was so disturbing to watch. Rukia hid her face on Renji's chest, which made Byakuya's eyebrow arched. Yoruichi and the others, the few others who were still conscious (some of the conscious people earlier lost their consciousness because of their wounds), didn't know if they would be disgusted or horrified. Either way, their faces looked like they just swallowed a whole gallon of vinegar.

Aizen laughed again. "See, Ichigo? There is no way you can win against me! The hogyouku here recognizes me as its master. It's willing to lend more power to me even in its state of slumber!"

Ichigo's eyes narrowed. He was sure that Aizen had gotten at least ten times, no, twenty times stronger than earlier. He wondered if there was ever a way to win against him once and for all.

'Don't worry, Ichigo. He said that the hogyouku is in a state of slumber. It means that its true power will not be awakened any time soon. Right now, there's a limit to what he can do. We just have to push him onto it.' It was Zangetu's voice, though Ichigo was sure that it was both Zangetsu and Shiro's. Shinji told him that instead of using his powers separately, he would become stronger if he would learn to combine them and use them both. That's one of the training that he endured. It was body and mind shattering, to say the least.

Ichigo nodded. And while he was a little distracted, Aizen used the chance to shunpo over to him. Ichigo's eyes widened when Aizen suddenly appeared in front of him and slashed him thoroughly. He heard Rukia and Renji, and also the others', voices and screams. Not only that, the six skull-like heads all bit him in different places of his body, making him scream in pain in his Hollowfied voice. Two heads bit on his either shoulders, a head bit on his left arm and another bit on his right wrist. That act made Ichigo lose hold of his zanpakutou and the sword dropped unceremoniously on the ground. The fifth head had bitten his right abdomen and the last one bit his left thigh. The pain was too intense that his mind blanked out for a while.

'Ichigo!' He heard his combined inner spirits shouted inside his mind. It made him regain consciousness again. Though his vision was going blank once more, and he knew he shouldn't let that happen.

From the slit of his mask, he looked at the people on the side. Rukia was looking at him with tears on her eyes, horrified at the scene. Renji looked like he's the one bitten. Soutaichou and Soi Fon couldn't even hide the worry that had etched in their expressions. Kenpachi's usual grin was nowhere to be found and Yachiru looked like she was about to cry. Yoruichi and Byakuya looked at Aizen with so much hatred and coldness. If only looks could kill, the traitor would have already turned into ashes from their glares alone.

"Think, think!" Ichigo shouted inside his head as he raked his brain for something that might help him escape from his current situation. His whole body was going numb. That wasn't good. Signs like that were never good.

And then his eyes, instead of his mind, saw the possible solution. 'Yes, do that, King!' His inner spirits shouted in agreement when they also saw what Ichigo was seeing.

Ichigo bit his lower lip to the point that it oozed blood, just to make himself move again. He was still being restrained by six skulls so it was pretty hard to move considering the fact that his body has become numb. He gathered all his strength and reiatsu just to shove away the skulls and get his hands free. Before Aizen could even see what he was planning, he immediately stabbed Aizen's chest with his hand and grabbed the hogyouku from the older man.

Aizen's eyes widened and he knee-kicked Ichigo on the abdomen, making the Shinigami clutch his stomach in pain. Aizen used that opportunity to grab the hogyouku once again and put it once more in his chest.

Aizen laughed. "Ichigo Kurosaki, you still want to fight me even though you're dying?" Ichigo looked at him, jaw clenched. "Don't you know that these skulls have poison in their teeth? The moment they bit you was the moment your death was decided. The poison that they have is something that was created by the hogyouku. There is no way to cure you anymore! You're going to die, Ichigo Kurosaki! You're going to die, and then your beloved little Shinigami friends will follow in mere seconds."

Ichigo clenched his fists. And when he opened his right fist again, Zangetsu disappeared from the ground and reappeared on his hand. He used this chance to wound Aizen, but the latter simply moved back, ceasing his hold on Ichigo's neck. The latter coughed before he stood up, still clutching his stomach. But his eyes were determined. "I will never let you, Aizen." He voiced quite steadily, some bits and pieces of his mask were falling on the ground.

Aizen growled silently at the kid's audacity to make such statement even when he was obviously the one in the disadvantage. "How tenacious. But it will only give your friends a false hope." He smirked. "I can still make myself more powerful than this, Ichigo. And when that happens, all your false tenacity will vanish along with your life. Allow me to show you."

Ichigo's eyes narrowed when Aizen called forth more reiatsu from the hogyouku and tried to evolve further. But he wasn't anticipating what happened next. No one did, except Ichigo. Aizen's eyes widened when his whole body trembled visibly before it calmed down. They all waited in bated breath to know exactly what happened, when all of a sudden all of Aizen's previous wounds split open and on his whole body appeared huge gashes simultaneously like he was just attacked by Senbonzakura so defenselessly.

"I see it's taking effect." Ichigo voiced and everyone, including Aizen, looked at him in confusion. "You keep saying that the hogyouku is still asleep. It means that there's a limit on what it can give you. And yet you kept on pushing and pushing the hogyouku to obey your wishes. And this is the result, the overuse of the hogyouku."

Aizen screamed when more wounds appeared and soon he was kneeling on his knees again, the ground beneath him full of blood. And yet, wounds continued to appear, making him look like a bloodied, badly mutilated corpse. His hair, as well as his whole body, came back to their previous appearance, his normal appearance, though it never looked normal anymore what with all the deep gashes and bloods.

"You abused the hogyouku's power, Aizen." Aizen looked at the owner of the voice and saw Yoruichi looking at him coldly. "You could have been able to make it obey you, but you discarded its will and shove your own thoughts into it. Now, the hogyouku is saying that it doesn't recognize you as its master."

"Ridiculous!" Aizen managed to exclaim in his trembling voice as he coughed up more and more blood.

"Believe what you want. This fight is over." Ichigo said.

Yoruichi and Soi Fon immediately used Gochutekkan on Aizen even though they knew it was already an overkill. Five incredibly tall silver pillars connected to one another by a chain appeared and pinned Aizen to the ground. Shunsui also moved closer, though slowly because of his injuries, and took the Hogyouku from Aizen's now bloodied chest. He shunpo'd towards the soutaichou and gave it to him.

Ichigo's mask dissolved completely just then and he fell onto his knees and coughed up blood before he dropped to the ground unconscious. Rukia and Renji immediately went to his side and took him carefully to the others to be healed.

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.tbc.

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Ren-sama's Note:

What's with people getting their hair longer when they become powerful: Aizen (during the time he absorbed the hogyouku), Ichigo (during his fight with Ulquiorra and during the time he used his Final Getsuga Tenshou), Grimmjow (his Resurreccion)? Please review! ˆoˆ