"Come for me, Ichigo."

No.

"Oh? You're still going to defy me?"

Go away.

He grinned. A seductive, playful growl that sent shivers up Ichigo's spine.

I don't need you. I don't want-

"-want me? You're saying you're not aroused when I touch you, you're not smiling when I give you power? And most of all…" That ever-wide grin somehow got even wider. "…you're saying you had no joy in hurting your so called friends?"

Shut up.

"But they're not really your friends, are they? They want you dead; they think you're a monster."

Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!

"And you know what?" He leaned down and placed a gentle kiss on Ichigo's lips. "They're right."

"Shut up!" Ichigo snapped, jumping out of his dream. He sat up, eyes wide in fear. He looked down at his hands, pale in color but more tanned than they used to be. Ichigo scooped up some sand and let it roll through his fingers. He imagined the grains to be like his mind. Every time he relaxed he would lose more of it.

'How poetic of you, partner…'

Ichigo didn't respond. He wouldn't allow his inner Hollow to take advantage of him anymore.

'Aww, Ichi, it gets lonely in here with no one to talk to.'

Ichigo stood up, dusting off his pants and checking his skin for any bruises. The latter was rather pointless though, since his inner Hollow healed every graze given to him.

He sighed. 'I know you can hear me. It's pointless to keep denying it. You're going to give in one way or another, and you're going to be my perfect King.'

"Damn it." Ichigo balled his fist, regardless if he still held sand or not, and punched the ground. "Why do you exist within me? Why am I stuck with you?"

Cold lips appeared at Ichigo's ear. "How rude of you, partner. I go through all this trouble to unleash your true power and this is how you pay me back?"

"My true power? All you've been doing is putting false thoughts in my head! You're trying to take control of my body by acting like all you want is to be partners! You're lying to me and I'm not-"

SLAP

Ichigo's arms trembled in shock. His eyes went wide, even though it hurt his cheek more. He could not believe he had just been slapped, by his inner hollow no less. But what he saw when he looked up at the perpetrator shocked him ever more.

"You're a fucking naïve brat, Ichigo." His hollow growled; his face masked in shadows though tears were clearly visible streaming down his cheek. "I don't know why I even tried to talking to you. I should've just slaughtered you and your pathetic friends when I had the chance. YOU THINK I'M ACTING? YOU REALLY THINK THAT YOU, OF ALL PEOPLE, CAN ACCUSE ME OF DOING THAT!?"

"I…" Ichigo was at a loss of words. He didn't know what to say, so he just spoke what was on his mind. "I'm sorry."

"Sorry?" his hollow laughed. Though hurt, he continued to cackle all though his speech. "I bring you everything you need, everything that you know you so desperately want! And you shot me down time after time. Now you're calling me a liar and you think saying 'sorry' can just magically fix it!?"

Gold on black eyes, for once in all of their existence, widened in pure shock. Delicately soft lips were placed tenderly against his own, a shy tongue poking through pale lips and coating the hollow's mouth in a sweet strawberry flavor.

When they parted Ichigo instantly turned away. His Hollow just stared in wonder at his King, a small smile present on his lips that tingled delightfully from Ichigo's gentle kiss.

Ichigo instantly snapped out of his embarrassment when his hollow's pale arms coiled around his midriff. He felt his reflection's face nuzzle the back of his neck in gratitude, and this simple action made Ichigo really wonder if his inner Hollow was truly as bad as he thought.

"I want you to know that… all I've ever wanted… was for you to know what power you were capable of. So I wanted to protect you from people who tried to hurt you, I wanted you to prove that you were the strongest so no one would take advantage of you anymore, and I wanted you to stop kissing up to people weaker than you. Most of all, I wanted to be beside you."

Ichigo looked down in shame. He had to admit he felt positively guilty for not seeing the truth that lay, quite literally, in front of his eyes. "I think I get it now. You knew I was holding back for my friend's sake. I never used more power than they could withstand because I didn't want them to be crushed. They were holding me back, and you didn't like it…"

He nodded into Ichigo's back. Smiling, he tightened his grip on the orangette, refusing to let go of his property. "It was my instinct to devour and fight. But, after seeing your memories and watching you fight, I had to admit that you caught my attention. An interest turned into an obsession, and soon I wanted to meet you, and more than that I wanted to have you. Forgive me if this sounds selfish, but what I wanted more than anything was to have you all to myself."

Ichigo involuntarily shuddered. He was relaxed again, but the thought of his inner Hollow taking over hadn't even crossed his mind. "You said you wanted to make me into the perfect King… what do you mean?"

"A Horse is led into battle by his King. A weak King tumbles off his Horse and watches as his own Horse stomps on his skull. A strong King leads his Horse into battle and crushes all those who oppose him. The Horse instinctively follows his leader, and his King instinctively leads his Horse to battle. While these two are in separate forms, on the battle field they become one, one force that leads them all."

"And you said that I'd be this… King?"

"Only if you're strong. Only if you unleash your true self. Stop holding back and show me the real you that you hide from everyone."

The slight tan Ichigo had faded back into white. Claws crawled across his nails. Four red lines spread over the skin on his forehead and his cheek. His orange hair grew out to shoulder length, the ends bleached in white.

"Better?" Ichigo asked with a slight echoic ring to his voice.

"Much," his hollow replied, drawing a line of saliva down his King's neck. "You're so beautiful. Even with my horrid white skin, you're amazing."

"Horrid?" Ichigo questioned. "I don't find it horrid. I find it exotic, and in a way… I guess… beautiful too."

A warm, tingly feeling settled in Hollow Ichigo's stomach. He shifted awkwardly, not liking the feeling one bit.

"Something wrong?"

"I feel sick."

Ichigo raised his eyebrow. "Like, butterflies in your stomach?"

"Why would there be-?"

"Just answer the question."

"Yes."

Ichigo laughed.

"What is it?"

Ichigo leaned back to look at his hollow. "You're just in…" Ichigo's eyes locked with Hollow Ichigo's. The next word was barely heard, but heard nonetheless. "…love."

"Love?" He shook his head. "No… I don't have a heart… that can't be-"

He was cut off as Ichigo turned around. A warm hand burned his chest, but it didn't hurt, it was rather calming actually. Ichigo could feel, underneath his hand, a gentle beat. His inner Hollow had a heart.

"Your heart is beating."

Hollow Ichigo's eyes widened. He tore Ichigo's hand off his chest and replaced it with his own, never letting go of Ichigo's hand. Slowly his eyes softened, until he closed them and hummed softly in time with his heartbeat. "I've never noticed that I had a heart before. You must have given me one… King."

Ichigo smiled. "No one can be heartless."

Ichigo yelped when his Hollow wrapped his arms around his neck and pulled him down into the sand. He soon calmed when his ear landed against his Hollow's chest. Ichigo could hear him humming, a haunting melody that Ichigo believed perfect for his hollow. And Ichigo could also hear his hollow's heart as it hammered against his ear. It was a perfect moment that the two rather enjoyed being part of.

That was, until a grumble from Ichigo's stomach interrupted it.

"Great…" Ichigo groaned.

"You're hungry my King. Shall I get you something to eat?"

"Like?"

"A hollow."

Ichigo swallowed nervously. "You're kidding me, right?"

"I'm afraid not, partner."


OH DEAR LORD IT'S A SHORT CHAPTER! NOOOOOOO!

I'm sowwy. Just, how the next chapter goes, this one will only work if it ends here!

Trust me. The flow will be broken…

Howaito: LIES!

Me: FINE! IT'S BECAUSE OF MY OCD! NOW SHUT UP!

Howaito: ^_^ *happy that she got her point across*

Me: *just about ready to murder her painfully and brutally until there's nothing left* *smiles innocently*