A/N: Got bored, wrote this, the usual. Home all alone, my parents are out doin'. . . somethin', can't remember. Here's what I have for you, hate it or love it, don't care. It's placed a week after Masaki, Ichigo's mom, dies, and the early appearance of Ichigo's hollow mocking him. It can be a delusion or not, your pick. For those who are wondering about Faltering Control, don't worry, I'll be updating it soon after I re-read the chapter I've already written.

Unbetaed, don't know how to get one, don't want to bother anyone and I'm just plain too lazy to look for one. Please point out my mistakes and ideas for improvement if you take the time to review.

Word Count (not including A/N): 1,130


He clambered on to the vanity, fingers clawing at the smooth surface as he heaved his small body up. He then paused, sitting down with his legs tucked underneath his rear.

Brown orbs stared into brown orbs, and they trailed down the long-sleeved shirt to his bare feet. He eyed the tan skin not hidden beneath the constricting cloth in distaste. His searching gaze took in the strawberry orange tresses that hung from his scalp like a mop of orange spikes, unruly and wild in appearance.

Only a week ago it was splattered and soaked in crimson.

The precious blood that came from his mother.

He bit back the rising sobs as tears threatened to leak down his cheeks; the door was locked, it was dark, and no one could comfort him in his sorrow.

Not that he wanted any.

It was his fault she died, he didn't deserve sympathy or comfort. If only he didn't run down to the river bank to try and save the girl from falling. She wasn't even a true girl, only bait, a puppet to draw him in for that masked monster.

He had never felt so helpless when he repeatedly called out, "Kaa-san!" and shook the shoulders of his mom in an attempt to get her to get up, hysteria bubbling in the pit of his stomach as he screamed for her.

He balled his small hands into fists, bearing them down on to the sink in a fit of self-hatred.

He failed! He was a failure! He was supposed to protect her! Not be the cause of her death! His name meant he should be the protector, a guardian! What was he if he could not protect anyone, especially his own mother?!

"Aww, what a poor baby~" Warped, distorted; the voice called to him, "Are ya gonna sit there and cry? Are you a baby in need of his mama?"

He could hear the contempt tone, sense the taunting smirk that no doubt curled the lips of his invisible intruder as he mockingly imitated the sounds of him crying while calling 'mama' in such a frustrating manner.

His honey brown orbs whirled around frantically, snarling as he searched for the person who caused the dark, echoing voice that laughed at his sudden surge of fear, anger and hatred.

His eyes landed on the mirror, it's hard, reflective surface not at all showing what it should.

Foreboding washed over him and he unconsciously shivered.

"What's wrong? Are you scared?"

He swallowed thickly. It felt like a thick knot tightened itself within his throat to void him of speech.

His eyes finally met the spiteful golden eyes of his white-washed reflection.

"You should be. . ." A feral grin upturned the corners of his reflections mouth, baring black teeth in a vicious smile.

The mirror no longer showed the bathroom; it revealed buildings all planted sideways, the clouds sweeping straight down beneath the concrete horizon and reflecting off the dark, tinted windows that held no transparency for him to peer through.

He barely recognized the figure as a twisted, bleached version of himself, his skin, clothes and hair white. It was noted that his fingertips and toenails were either naturally black or painted that way to keep up the odd theme.

What disturbed him most, however, was the thick tunnel of darkness that enveloped the sclera of his relection, circling around the beautiful, hateful orbs that gazed at him with such disgust.

"Who are you?" He raised a near trembling finger to point at the smirking boy who was almost identical to him.

"Tch, that's easy, don't cha think?"

The pale white boy spat on the ground in distaste, clearly not liking the words he spoke next, "I'm you, moron."

He shook his head in disbelief. "You can't be me, I'm me! There's only supposed to be one me, and you aint me! Your. . . you don't look like me, so you can't be me." He scowled, firmly speaking out his belief.

"Well, that's too bad, strawberry, 'cause I am you, and nothin' is gonna change that."

Ichigo bristled, "Don't call me that you dumb albino! It means 'the one who protects', not 'strawberry'!"

The albino quipped back cruelly, still baring that damnable smirk, "And you did a fine job protectin' your mommy, didn't ya?"

Ichigo raised his fist with a roar and plunged it into the mirror, shattering it into sparkling fragments, all showing those torturous golden eyes. Stray glass sliced bloody rivulets into his flesh, making him clench his bloody knuckles in pain. He began to wail in agonizing sorrow, salty tears splashing down his face as his vision blurred with the stinging liquid.

He slipped off the vanity and hit the ground with a painful thud on to the cool tiles. His elbow took most of the impact, causing it to throb with a sharp, jarring pain.

The door burst open and his father came in with a worried, "What's wrong?!" and took in the scene grimly. Isshin gathered Ichigo into his arms gingerly and spoke soothing words as the boy sobbed, mumbling into his night shirt as his tears saturated it.

A sigh slipped past his lips as he observed the damage, setting Ichigo down with a stern, "Stay here." as he searched the cabinets for a first aid kit.

He could only hope Ichigo would overcome this tragedy.


Six years later, without another appearance of his albino double, fifteen year old Ichigo now thought back to it as a terrible nightmare. He had repeatedly checked and at the same time shied away from reflective surfaces for a while after the incident. His hand had been wrapped in gauze and emanated the sharp, irritating smell of disinfectant for two weeks.

He stayed silent about his encounter with the bleached boy who claimed to be him and when asked by his father he merely said, "I didn't like seeing myself cry."

It was a strange explanation, but his dad took it as one nonetheless, having realized Ichigo wouldn't tell him the truth if that wasn't it.

Sometimes he would peer into a mirror as if it held all the answers as to why his mom died, but all he got was the desperate gaze of himself. He would turn his head away in disappointment and be on his way, not finding what he sought within the inanimate surface that reflected all his despair.

. . . And sometimes, the reflection would stay, the evasive golden eyes that continued to elude him for years watching as they followed his retreating back. He never noticed the lingering gaze that pierced the back of his head, waiting.

Always waiting.