Chapter 4: Auction
White hot pain lanced through Uryuu's head, searing the back of his eyeballs. That was all he could think about. His brain throbbed and his throat was raw.
Foreign sounds met his ears. Uryuu scrunched his brow in confusion, hissing at the pain the small motion caused.
What...? It's so loud. Like back then. I haven't heard sounds like these since... His brain didn't want to cooperate, a very long time ago.
He pried his eyelids open, squinting against the harsh light that assaulted his retina'.
Foggy recollections flittered through his mind. Panic coiled in his stomach as his memories returned. He flew into a sitting position, a groan tearing from his throat as a million colours burst behind his eyes. He ignored the pain, trying to fight the fog that lay over him like a heavy blanket.
Finally his sight cleared enough for him to make out his surroundings. He was cramped in a large metal cage surrounded by familiar faces, most of which were in a similar process of waking up, some crying in defeat. He swept his eyes over the array of bodies, vaguely recognising the woman who had beaten Ururu.
He scrambled to his feet, terror rising in his throat as he searched for the children. He stumbled over the villagers' bodies, pushing people aside and digging through the dirty fabric, relief flowing through him when he recognised a shock of pink hair.
Uryuu staggered to the girl, pulling her limp body into his arms, letting his muscles relax when he found the others sprawled around her. He felt tears prick his eyes. They were safe; for now at least.
He leant down and ran his hand over all of them, assuring himself that they were alive and real, before flicking his gaze to the world outside. Demons of different shapes and sizes prowled the muddy grounds. Uryuu recognised most of them to be middle class. His gaze fell on the large stage, blood running cold when he noticed the crimson stained boards that covered the surface.
Yachiru stirred in his arms, waking at the stimulation to her senses. He stroked her hair gently, waiting for her to wake, noting that Jinta and Karin were also rousing.
He let his eyes wander the cage now, taking in the solid, rusty iron bars with gaps just large enough to fit an arm through. The bars were welded to the metal floor and ceiling. They appeared to be set on the ground, the low angle making it difficult for Uryuu to take in the rest of his surroundings.
"U...ryuu... tan...?" asked Yachiru groggily, still wrapped in his arms. She had no smile for him now.
"I'm here" he whispered, kissing her forehead. "I'm right here."
"...Uryuu..." came Jinta's voice, and he switched his attention to the others, who were now in the process of understanding their situation.
He smiled sadly at the children. This wasn't looking good. He was glad they were awake now though, escape wouldn't be possible if they were still unconscious.
"Are you alright?" he asked, searching them for injuries. As far as he could tell they were only tired from the drugs.
His heart eased when they all nodded at him. Oh right, he had strong kids.
His attention was caught by a deep, smooth voice echoing from a microphone, and he realised the voice was coming from a figure now standing on the stage.
The man it belonged to had short wavy brown hair, and dressed in white; he was flanked by a silver haired man also dressed in white. A benevolent smile held his features as he continued talking.
"Good Afternoon, I thank you for attending today's meat Auction." He said in a honeyed tone. "First off, we'll begin with the youngsters that have taken so many of your attention."
Uryuu froze. He flicked his gaze around the grounds, aware that every pair of demon eyes lay on him. He grit his teeth. Not on him. Worse. They lay on his wards.
A man unlocked the door of the cage that Uryuu hadn't realised was there, and stepped forward, rolling his eyes when Uryuu stood and assumed a fighting stance.
"Che. Always gotta be a hero, don' there?" His tone sounded annoyed, but his eyes said otherwise. He looked like he enjoyed it when people struggled, like it was all part of the game.
Uryuu sized him up. He didn't look too big. The man was well-built and muscular, but not impossible to beat.
Then it clicked. "The man". He didn't look like a Hollow... but the shard of a jawbone stuck to his face said otherwise.
Uryuu paled. This man was an upper class demon.
He took a step closer, grin spreading across his face when Uryuu held his ground. The grin set his bright blue eyes alight.
He moved closer still, faster now, until he was directly in front of Uryuu. He swung his fist towards his head, surprise flitting over his face when he met air. The grin returned in full force as he raked his eyes over Uryuu appreciatively.
"Faster than I thought." He praised, enjoying Uryuu's set determination.
He lunged forward again, sending a barrage of punches Uryuu's way. The raven haired boy wasn't that fast. This man was a monster. His fist deflected off his skull harshly and he fell to the side roughly, tripping over the villagers as he fell.
Uryuu's head whipped up sharply as the man stepped toward him.
"Che," he spat, scorn dripping from his voice, "and here I thought ya were gonna put up a real fight."
Uryuu stumbled to his feet, placing himself between the kids and their pursuer. The blue haired man's mouth pulled into a sneer, "Ya've got guts, but I ain' interested in ya anymore. Yer weak."
Uryuu held his ground as the hollow stopped in front of him, his sneer morphing into an arrogant grin. Uryuu didn't see the movement as a blunt force swung into his head. He fell into the bars, a sharp crack echoing through the space as his head met iron.
He felt his eyelids droop; he could feel the depths of sleep pulling at his consciousness, darkness creeping into his vision. He fought against it. He had to save the kids. It was his duty; his responsibility. They were his reason to live. If anything happened to him, he would never forgive himself.
His sight was a blur, colours flashing through his mind as he struggled to see clearly. Above the roaring in his head he could hear Jinta crying out in pain and Yuzu's cries of fear. He struggled against his vision, forcing the blurs into images as he forced himself to his knees, gripping the iron bars as he attempted to stand.
The blue haired hollow had Jinta by the throat, ignoring the hands clawing at his wrists as he tossed him out of the cage. "Jinta!" he heard himself yell, his head swam as he finally staggered to his feet, wobbling as he tried to find his balance.
He threw himself at the hollow, who batted him away like a fly, before pushing Yuzu and Ururu through the opening. Uryuu could hear Karin's wails as her twin was pulled from her grasp. Uryuu pried himself from the ground once more, tripping over the bodies of the villagers, who were beginning to rouse, as he threw himself over the two remaining girls. From the corner of his eyes he could see the red haired boy being pulled onto the stage, the auctioneer's cool, honeyed voice breaking through the air as he began taking bids.
The blue eyed man grabbed a hold of Yachiru's wrist, eyes widening in shock when a pair of small hands gripped his hand and yanked him forward.
Yachiru slid from Uryuu's grasp, pink eyes hard, a glint of excitement shining in their depths as she unfalteringly stared into cerulean blue.
Karin sprung from Uryuu's protection at the opening, rushing through the cage doorway as she struggled towards her sister.
"Karin!" yelled Uryuu, as the dark haired girl was swept into another hollow's arms, wrists pulled behind her back as he pushed her onto the stage. She ran to her sister and held her, the fair haired girl leaning to sob into her sister's shirt. Karin's head darted to and fro as she searched for an escape route.
His attention was pulled back to Yachiru and her enemy, who were swinging at each other wildly, grins on both their faces. They moved swiftly, neither landing any blows as they darted and dodged around each other. Uryuu gaped. He knew Yachiru was fast. He knew she was fierce. He knew she was strong. He knew she was Kenpachi Zaraki's daughter. He hadn't in his wildest dreams thought she could hold her own against a low ranking hollow, let alone this monster!
His attention was pulled by Ururu's shriek as a large man came up beside her. She assumed a fighting position and stepped in front of the twins.
Uryuu took in the large knife that glinted in the man's hand. His eyes widened, breath quickening. What could he do? He bolted for the cage door, coughing blood as a heavy fist assaulted his stomach. He doubled over, falling to his knees as the blue haired man took a strong punch to the face from the little girl; his recompense for leaving himself open in order to stop Uryuu.
Uryuu pulled himself to his feet once more, white knuckled as he gripped the iron bars, leaning his entire weight on them. His breathing was sharp and ragged as he fought to breathe around the pain in his abdomen. His eyes focused and unfocused as he stared at the stage.
Upon the stage, the man holding the butcher's knife pressed it against a struggling Jinta's neck.
"Get off of me, scum!" the scared boy spat.
Time froze as the blade dug into the skin, drawing screams from the other children on the stage. Blood spurted from his neck, red droplets flying to land over the three girls before him. Jinta's eyes grew wide, shock and pain mingling in his final moments.
Uryuu's mind went blank, and he lost the strength to move. All he could do was watch wide eyed, mouth agape.
The executioner dropped Jinta's unmoving body to the stage floor, moving over to Ururu. The girl held her ground, moving to ram into his stomach, but it did little good. The man grabbed hold of a pig tail, flinging her to the floor roughly. She surged to her feet.
Uryuu could see her eyes. She was scared, but unwavering in her courage. Her small face pinched and serious as she stared the man down.
He made his way to her again, paling as she landed a kick to his abdomen, and stumbled forward. Ururu was stronger than she looked. She took advantage of his pained state, ramming her interlocked fists to the back of his neck. He fell to the ground, but grabbed her shirt, tripping her over.
The recovered all too quickly, crawling to crouch above her as she tried to escape. He brought his fist down heavily to her stomach, a smirk pulling his mouth at her cry of pain.
Swiftly he brought the knife to her throat slitting it cleanly. Wet choking noises filed the air, and Yuzu's cries picked up as she screamed Ururu's name.
Uryuu's hands shook. His brows drew together slowly as he grit his teeth, a despaired grimace stretching his mouth. "Ururu! No, Ururu!" Yuzu's and Karin's desperate cries mixed with his own. He could feel the tears pooling in his eyes
He struggled over the villagers, running into a solid wall. The blue haired hollow stood before him, holding him back. He had blood streaked down his face, but stood victorious over Yachiru, who was crumpled on the ground, coughing blood as she attempted to stand.
Uryuu fought against the man, arms flailing wildly, as sticky fat tears broke free from his eyes, coursing down his cheeks.
The executioner stepped before the two girls, not bothering to pull them apart. Karin spread her body over Yuzu's, her efforts wasted as the man gripped her hair, pushing the blade against her bared neck. Yuzu jumped in the way, and the blade slipped, slicing through Karin's shoulder. The dark haired girl cried out in pain, a trembling hand clutching her soaked shoulder. She forced herself to stand, face twisted with rage and anguish as she ran at the man, followed by her sister.
They attacked him together, Karin swinging her foot into the man's jaw, while Yuzu grabbed at his leg, throwing his balance. All three slipped in Ururu's blood, the sticky substance staining their skin red.
Karin pushed at her twin, pulling her along as she made her escape. Her body fell to the ground as a large hand wrapped around her ankle.
"Karin!" cried Yuzu, rushing back to try to free her twin.
"Run!" screamed her sister as she was pulled back, "Yuzu, run! Please! Run!"
"No, please don't hurt her! Please! Karin!" begged Yuzu, her tear streaked face crumpled as she fought crawled towards her again.
"Run!" yelled Karin again, "Run!"
The man pulled her head back by her hair, baring her throat to her sister. He slid his knife over the flesh, sprays of blood spurting over her twin.
"Karin!" sobbed Yuzu as the girl fell on top of her, her blood seeping into her clothes.
The executioner reached for her. Yuzu tried to run, but her twin's corpse held her down, their limbs tangling.
She slipped and slid, clawing at the wooden boards as she tried to escape.
He drew the knife along her skin, and abruptly her cries fell short. She too fell limply onto the stage, head hitting the wood loudly.
Uryuu's tears blurred his vision, his voice raw as he screamed for them. He could feel something expanding in his stomach as he struggled against the man. It felt like a warm light that seeped through his veins; the sudden strength he was filled with was overwhelming. Uryuu's head felt light and dizzy, but he couldn't feel anything past the grief and rage that surged through his body.
A blinding blue light shot through the cage, spikes of a solid blue light shooting from his body. Distantly he felt a warm liquid splatter against his face. He looked up to meet shocked blue eyes, his captor's lips dripping with blood. The man's weight pulled against him, dragging him to the ground. He landed with a thud as Uryuu shoved his weight off.
The dark haired boy stood, gaze flicking over his surroundings as he directed the rage he felt towards the demons outside.
His stomach dropped at the sight he met. The cage was scene of gore. He spotted Yachiru amidst the bodies, pierced as so many were with a blue spear of light.
Uryuu's face crumped, a new wave of tears flooding his eyes as he crawled to the girl's limp body. He felt desperately for a pulse, ragged sobs tearing from his body when he found none.
Yachiru was dead. They were all dead. His reasons for living; the children who relied upon him to protect them. He had failed them. He had been weak, and now they were dead.
He clung to the small girl, pulling her into his lap, hand trembling as he pushed her hair from her face, running a thumb down her cheek gently.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, the words spoken on a soft sob. A tear rolled down his nose, landing on the girl's still warm face. He watched as it mingled with the blood. "I'm so sorry."
"I failed you. I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," he whispered. He let his head fall, landing on her unmoving chest, body shaking with the grief. "I'm so sorry", he whispered into her still warm flesh.
His vision darkened, and his body fell limp, still clutching Yachiru's corpse as the adrenaline wore off, and the stress and damage he had taken finally began to affect him.
When the show finally ended, the demons returned to their bidding. Snippets of conversation about the children's demise spread through the crowd, little sympathy being shown. Ichigo ignored them all.
That reiatsu... It had seemed so familiar, but he couldn't place it. There was something about that boy that stirred in him emotions he hadn't felt in years.
He stepped closer to the stage, commanding Aizen's attention with his fierce aura, who broke off mid bid to acknowledge him.
"Kurosaki-sama," he greeted, his voice syrupy, "how can I help you?"
The tall, long haired hollow had always intimidated Aizen far more than any of the other Vasto Lordes did. Yes he was probably no stronger than the rest, but while the others chose to appear almost human, save for a bone fragment attached to their face, Ichigo Kurosaki forever wore his hollow form.
He was tall and lean in a shredded black kimono that he always wore, his skin was white, and he practically glowed in the sunlight. Long orange hair sprouted from beneath the white mask that covered his head like a helmet. Black markings ran along the helmet in a pointed design, broken by the gaps that showed glowing yellow eyes, before continuing into a sharp point. Long, curved horns protruded from his mask, angled in front of him, their sharp tips a safety hazard to anyone who got close enough.
Not many did.
"I want that one," he said, a finger indicating Uryuu as his choice.
"Ah! A fine choice!" said Aizen, "We'll send him up for auction right now if you-"
"No." replied Ichigo, cutting the phony human off. He retrieved a small leather pouch from his pocket, and tossed it to the auctioneer, before quickly making his way to the cage.
Aizen peeked inside the bag, eyes widening when he identified the coins inside. This was far more than a single human was worth.
His gaze slid back to the fearsome demon as he stepped out of the cage, a limp body tossed over his shoulder. Every demon there stared at him as he left, not a single glance backwards as he walked away with his prize.
Yes, they're dead. No, they're not coming back. Do you want to know why they're not coming back? Because this is Bleach, not Naruto.
I hope you enjoyed that, please tell me if the angst was enough. I wasn't sure if I wrote enough detail for their deaths.
Thanks you for reading, and please don't kill me, at least Ichigo's finally in the picture :)