If there be light, then there is darkness; if cold, heat; if height, depth; if solid, fluid; if hard, soft; if rough, smooth; if calm, tempest; if prosperity, adversity; if life, death…

Time takes it all whether you want it to or not, time takes it all. Time bares it away, and in the end there is only darkness. Sometimes we find others in that darkness, and sometimes we lose them there again…

"This is the end, Ichigo Kurosaki," Byakuya stated, plain and calm. He extended his arm and awaited his blade's return, the blade that would end Ichigo's life.

They had been battling for a small while now, but because of Byakuya's previous attack, Ichigo's body became irresponsive.

Move!

Ichigo was frozen. His entire body was numb. Ichigo couldn't move, no matter how much he wanted to or how hard he tried, his body remained inactive.

I have to move!

Ichigo could still feel the hilt of Tensa Zangetsu, his Zanpakuto, clenched tightly between his bloody fingers. Ichigo could feel fresh crimson leaking down the side of his face from the wound on his forehead. The pain was heavy and it was the only reason Ichigo remained conscious at this time.

Move damn it!

He knew it was over, he knew he had lost.

But Ichigo kept trying.

Why have I come all this way? It's all for nothing if I don't win!

He laughed at that. Ichigo was still so clueless, so innocent and oblivious... His King never really understood why he came here. The little Shinigami girl was just an excuse to tell others, and a lie to make Ichigo feel good with his intentions.

But Ichigo wanted to kill.

He wanted to stand over empty corpses and gaze down apon pools of blood. He wanted to craft his own handy work into countless bodies...

And more importantly, he wanted power.

Ichigo would, of course, never admit it.

But it was all true.

I... wanna win...

Byakuya swung.

I need to win!

"Chih."

One noise, one tiny noise, made it into Ichigo's mind. He felt himself become consumed by darkness. His sight was devoured by black tendrils. His mind was thrown into an empty abyss.

No longer could Ichigo see, but he could still hear.

'Idiot,' someone hissed. The voice was very familiar, the way it echoed and grinned mercilessly. These words weren't normal words either. They weren't emanating from a person; they came from within his own mind. 'Didn't you remember me saying it'll be a problem for me if you get yourself killed? Yet, here you are, standing before your opponent as a complete mess.'

Ichigo would've replied, but he was completely terrified. His entire body was shaking in fear.

He felt something warm ghost over the back of his neck. Ichigo prayed that it wasn't someone's breath, but he could hear the gentile exhales and inhales. They came from someone right behind him.

Pale hands moved across his shoulder. They gave him a gentile massage which, to Ichigo's greatest surprise, found himself liking. The hands wandered lower down Ichigo's sides while also disposing his shihakusho to the floor.

'You can't beat him?'

An incredibly cold hand slid across Ichigo's midriff and made its way to his hakama. Ichigo's eyes widened, his voice got caught in his throat and his breathing became frantic.

'He's too strong? And he's making your knees shake?'

Ichigo gasped as a warm tongue appeared on his ear, his hips churning back and forth to the dark touch of the other.

'That's pathetic Ichigo. It's your own power making you scared. Every bone in your body is shaking because you're being crushed by your own Bankai's Spiritual Pressure.'

"I- Th-That's mine?"

'That's right Ichigo. You think that power belongs to him? What a load of shit.' The hand had begun to drop, down, low making Ichigo squirm.

"A-And…H-How do you k-know?"

There was no response other than the movement of the hand. It took Ichigo's manhood into a fierce hold making the teen moan out.

'Feel good?'

"A- Ahh..." Ichigo couldn't describe how he felt even if he wanted to. This didn't feel wrong, and fuck yes, it felt good!

Pale lips curved into a cunning smirk. 'Perfect,' he wooed. He gave the orangette's member a gentile squeeze.

Ichigo's eyes shot open, the black retreating from his vision and back to the dark depths of his soul. He felt something resting in his hand and when he looked at it, he nearly dropped it. The mask that had saved his life twice sat in between his trembling fingers, but that wasn't all... The mask itself was complete, no cracks or shards missing, and it felt alive beneath Ichigo's fingers as if it had its very own heartbeat.

"It would seem..." The voice startled Ichigo. He spun around and came face to face with Byakuya. "Ichigo Kurosaki... that you have... defeated me..."

And Ichigo watched, wide eyed as Byakuya breathed his last breath and collapsed to his knees. The black dome and glowing pink swords shattered and dissolved into the wind.

And Ichigo let out a cry filled with horror.

"Kurosaki-kun, what's the matter," Inoue called as she came running towards the orangette.

Ichigo turned to her, panic written all across his face. Inoue stopped almost instantly and the few others behind her did as well. Uryu fixed his glasses and glanced away. Chad didn't dare make a sound. Ganjyu folded his arms over, but said nothing. And Inoue just continued to stare, muttering the orangette's name ever so often.

"I... I didn't..." Tears burned Ichigo's eyes as they forced themselves out. "I didn't want to kill him!" he finally screamed.

"Some things just need to be done," Uryu said expressionlessly.

"No! You don't understand," Ichigo continued to rant. "I'm a monster! Byakuya didn't deserve to die! I'm a monster... a monster..."

Very suddenly there were tiny, thin arms wrapped around Ichigo's body. Inoue had her face buried in his shoulder as she sobbed, "I was so worried about you Kurosaki-kun! I'm sorry... I was so useless here... but you're still alive. So please, don't cry, okay?"

Ichigo looked away, not daring to meet her eyes. If only she knew...

'Knew what?'

Ichigo jumped causing Inoue to squeak and pull back.

"What is it Ichigo? You're scaring us all here," Ganjyu stated dumbly.

It was then that something caught Uryu's eye. Something white stood out amidst Ichigo's black Shihakusho, a mask of some sort, clenched tightly in his left hand. Uryu eyed it carefully just before asking, "Ichigo, what exactly is that you're holding in your left hand?"

'You don't know...'

"I... I don't know," Ichigo answered. He looked up at Uryu, sorrow in his eyes.

And Uryu was forced to drop the subject.

Before anyone else could continue the dead conversation, a female's voice cried fearfully out from behind the thick pink bushes. "Renji!" It belonged to Rukia.

Without wasting a second Ichigo sped off in the general direction of the cry. He used nothing more than instinct to run on air across the field of pink sakura trees. Ichigo arrived shortly after an unrecognized person drew his sword. He dove between Renji and this man and blocked the assault that could've killed the red headed Shinigami.

"Ichi... go?" Renji questioned.

Ichigo gave him a smirk. "Sorry I'm late Renji."

Renji returned the smirk, but with a sort of blank tiredness in his eyes. "Tch. Thanks... idiot." Renji collapsed, unconscious, onto Rukia's lap. Her face turned red with shock, but Ichigo didn't notice as he'd already turned to face his new opponent.

"Aizen-sama, is that him?" The snake-like gray haired man questioned.

"Sama? You don't look like much of a King to me..." Ichigo stated as he glared at the brown haired one in front of him.

"You're going to have to elaborate Gin. Which 'him' is it this time," Aizen asked, ignoring Ichigo's statement.

Gin's paper thin smile crawled up his face. "The Quincy and Shinigami's son."

Aizen raised his eyebrow and took a deep look into the features of Ichigo's face. "Tell me," he commanded softly, "your name wouldn't happen to be Ichigo Kurosaki, would it?"

To Ichigo, time seemed to stop. The orangette wasn't stupid. He was able to connect the dots on the situation he was in. The fact was, these people knew who he was... and they knew his parents too, obviously better than he did. His mother and father were Quincy and Shinigami?

"Judging by the look on your face, I'd say Gin was correct," Aizen finalized.

"Bastard," Ichigo snapped, "You know nothing about me!"

Ichigo could never have been so wrong. "You're Ichigo Kurosaki, son of Masaki and Isshin. You were born human, part Shinigami and part Quincy, on July 15. You are currently 15 years of age. You're 174 cm tall and weigh 61 kg, and you're blood type A."

Ichigo stared wide eyed at the brunette in front of him.

"Is that enough 'nothing' for you?"

Aizen smirked causing Ichigo's anger to grow. He felt hatred boiling under his skin, his patience beginning to snap and his mind beginning to picture torturous things he wouldn't normally attempt in his worst nightmares.

Ichigo watched as the world froze, quite literally this time. All the colors faded to black and white and the only animate object remaining was Ichigo's own body.

'It's easy.' Ichigo's eyes twitched in fear and he let out a small yelp. He watched a second pair of his own hands, demonic and white, snake down his arms and take hold of his Zanpakuto. 'All you have to do is swing your sword upwards and say the words 'Getsuga Tenshou'.'

"I- I..."

'Kill him Ichigo. You wanna kill him... I know you do.'

Everything was over in a mere flash of black and red. Ichigo did what the other told him to do. He shouted, "Getsuga Tenshou!" And the attack flung straight out at Aizen cutting the man perfectly in half.

Ichigo was both amazed and terrified with what he had done. His attack was so great, much larger than the one he'd done at Urahara's. But then again... he could feel the evil in his attack as if it had leaked out and poisoned the air.

"A-Aizen-sama?" The third man called, as though it would somehow wake the other up.

When there was no response, Ichigo could practically smell the fear in the air.

A mere second later, almost all of the Gotei Thirteen had arrived. Toshiro Hitsugaya happily caught Gin and Unohana had captured the third man, later revealed as Touzen.

Aizen (much to Ichigo's displeasure... or relief, he wasn't quite sure) had been pronounced dead and a traitor to the Seireitei. Gin and Touzen were to be locked away for eighteen-thousand and eight-hundred years. And Byakuya Kuchiki's death would be 'overlooked' since Ichigo Kurosaki defeated Aizen. However, some of the other captains argued that Ichigo should be punished or put to work. The Head Captain suggested that Ichigo should become a Substitute Shinigami for Karakura town.

Ichigo agreed, but not without some sorrow.