It's done, it took so much just to get this chapter flowing correctly. But I'm glad, I managed to do as I wanted even when the ending was a little different to how I planned it. I'm sorry that this is so late, but I've been so busy that I've been struggling to keep regular updates on all my Multi-chap fics.
Thanks so much for Ichiru deathstrawberry that agreed to be my muse, I really appreciate all your help. Without you, I'd still be stuck on this story for another two days and all my others.
Anyways, there's a little warning for a lime in this chapter, which I am sure some of you will enjoy. I sure did enjoy writing it and then the angst just started flowing after that and I couldn't stop it. So hopefully that will satisfy your cravings for that as well. Another warning as this story will from now on contain Spoilers for Chapter 540 of the Manga and onwards. Yay, now that that is out of the way I have an announcement to make.
November is my Christmas Request List, where I'll be giving my readers a chance to tell me the pairing they would like to read in an M lemon one-shot. But there are some restriction, for more information please go check my profile under the heading: November 2013: Chocolate Carnival's Request List and PM me your entries. I'd like to collect all my potential winners before November is over. The top 4 requests will be posted one a week until December is over.
That's all the announcements I think, I hope that enjoy this chapter. I sure did enjoy writing it and once again, thank you to all my reviewers, I really appreciate your words of encouragement.
For now, please enjoy. I'll see you at the end of the chapter.
A Breathless Truth:
What was he doing here again? Ichigo asked himself with a little curse to his stupidity, going over the struggling questions rushing into his mind for the hundredth time since he had awoken that morning, stepped out of the Kurosaki Clinic and transversed the well trodden path towards the familiar outline of the Urahara Shoten. Now; seated at the low table in a very recognizable tearoom, the orange haired Substitute Shinigami felt distinctly out of place with the unusually stoic presence of the shopkeeper seated across from him. Chocolate brown eyes gazing confusedly at the looming presence of the Candy Shop owner. The older man had not made a single move or said a single word since having pushed a glass of water towards his orange haired guest despite the little frown of intrigue that was tugged across a blonde brow. A familiar stripped bucket hat was also unusually resting on the floor beside him, that annoying white fan closed but tapping curiously against a pouting bottom lip in thought.
Ichigo was getting irritated. It had been nearly ten minutes since Urahara had lead him here, silenced him with the wave of a hand before Ichigo could have asked any of his bubbling questions and had been staring at the orangette like this for nearly the full time that he had been here. And damn it, it was annoying. Ichigo's rising displeasure showing at the deep scowl that was traced across his twitching tangerine brow and his restless eyes that were turning everywhere but in the direction of the sharp, analytical gaze that was present within grey orbs. It was kind of unnerving finding himself back here though; a place that had become the beginning and endpoint for many of his misadventures into other dimensional worlds and completed missions in this town. Returning here, it was almost as if everything that had happened to him had become full circle again and even when it was a comforting thought that Ichigo once again had a right to step onto these premises, this man's thoughtful presence was filling his mind with trepidation instead.
'W-what?! What are you looking at?! I'm not an interisting inanimate object for you to study, Geta-Boushi!' Ichigo eventually snapped, his raging irritation getting a hold of his emotions as he shuddered under the intensity of that gaze. He simply couldn't take it anymore, it felt as if this man was going to discover all of his secrets just by looking at him and then he'd tease Ichigo to hell and back because of it. And with a trickle of sweat already trailing sickly down a pale temple, sticking strands of bright orange to his skin as the heat of an overly warm spring day began to adhere to his body; the orange haired teen just wanted to find some consolation for his out of control thoughts and wavering emotions before crawling back into bed again. Just to try and get rid of the overwhelming fatigue that was saturating his veins so wholly.
Zangetsu hadn't been kidding, Ichigo noted. He felt tired...way too tired to dealing with this shit and it was showing now with his fingertips that tapped an irritate rhythm against his black jean clad thigh and the headache inducing frown that was furrowing his brow even further. Ichigo was not a happy teen, not happy at all...
'Hmm...how fascinating...' A subdued voice suddenly purred and Ichigo growled lowly in warning.
'Spit it out, Old Man.' Ichigo hissed, 'Say what you want to say or I'll―.'
'Oh my~! So testy today Kurosaki-san. Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed~?' The older man sang playfully as he snapped open his white fan to conceal a sly, knowing smile from Ichigo's narrowed brown gaze. 'I'm sorry I was staring for so long and if I've offended you, but I just cannot figure out what is that you did to yourself, Kurosaki-san. I have never felt your reiatsu and overwhelming power so still and calm before. It's usually a ragging torrent of out of control vastness that cannot be contained, but now, it's like there's a frightening rested stillness within you that's keeping it locked beneath still waters. And you know what they say, 'beneath the deep waters, the dragon sleeps'(1*).' Ichigo frowned at the words abruptly, tugging his bottom lip between his teeth in thought as he shrugged listlessly at the words.
It was somewhat true, Ichigo had to admit. He didn't feel as unbalanced as he always had, there was no desperate need for 'something precious' to fill the emptiness inside of his heart anymore or the subtle brush of eternal longing that had stained his soul for as long as he could remember. It was just right, like it should have always been like this, he thought. Ichigo was content, felt much calmer than he had before and was finally able to grasp a hold of the powers inside of him that he was so sure had been eluding him since he had awakened them with Rukia's help. It was like he had a better grip on himself and his out of control emotions too, not to mention that Shiro Zangetsu's constant comforting presence curled around his soul felt so good with the promise of love and acceptance―.
'Mah, mah, Kurosaki-san~! You are a million miles away today. I'd definately say love struck, makes me jealous of the one who's captured your heart―.'
'Now, now don't look at me like that. Your blush cannot hide your thoughts no matter how fierce that glare is. You don't have to listen to an old man's ramblings anymore, Kurosaki-san. I'll just be quiet now and keep your secret. What is that you wanted to ask me? I know that your presence here is for something other than finding out how it's going with Orihime-chan, Sado-kun and the Young Miss we managed to save last night.' Ichigo sighed softly in irritation, the deadly glare fading from the depths of his eyes at the older man's teasing words and the reminder that his friends were still here. It served to instantly snap Ichigo's headily drifting thoughts back into reality again. Placing his empty glass on the table before him with a decisive clack, Ichigo suddenly found his heart cringing in guilt at the reminder. Just knowing that he had forgotten the main reason why he had come here in the first place, to see if his friend's were alright, was distressing enough.
His desperate need to gain a proper answer for his ragging questions could wait for a bit longer.
'Sorry, but I actually do want to know how they are, Urahara-san. They were not hurt by Tsukishima's power, were they? Are they alright now?' Ichigo asked concernedly, his tanned fingertips encircling his right wrist absently as he rubbed the bruised skin running beneath his long sleeved shirt thoughtfully. So much had happened in the course of twenty-four hours that Ichigo was finding it hard to keep up with the rush of events and the thoughts that were all trying to occupy his mind at the same time. It was hard enough to get his mind to stray away from his Alpha's overwhelming presence; the actions and words he had spoken and done to Ichigo yesterday for a few seconds just to think over what was really important in his life. And he was feeling guilty over it now, especially when he knew his friends had suffered through just as much hellish emotions as he had.
'Don't look so defeated, Ichigo-kun. I swear, you need to stop worrying about them so much and start paying more attention to yourself. Those circles beneath your eyes tell me that you didn't get nearly as much rest as you needed to last night. And if you're like that, then they are going to start worrying about you too. Don't forget that they are strong and can look after themselves, no matter how terrifying an enemy's power is. But as to answer your question, they are all fine, I assure you. I spoke to Sado-kun earlier this morning and he has no idea who Tsukishima is, or retains any of the altered memories that his changed 'past' should have left within his mind.' Urahara said in a surprisingly reassuring voice as Ichigo found himself smiling softly in pure relief. Thank god, he didn't know what he would have done with himself if his friends had not returned to normal...or his family for that matter. The fact that someone had managed to come so close to ruining his family, friends and his life told the orangette that he still had to get much―.
'You can go and see them in a bit; all of them will be awake soon. But first, ask me what is that you want to ask, Ichigo-kun. I can see the uncertainty shimmering in your eyes. That look of troubled bewilderment only creeps into your eyes when something big is bothering you. So, what is it? I promise not to laugh.' Ichigo blinked a few times in surprise, his left hand automatically coming up to rest against the claim mark that was traced obviously into his skin. Luckily though, it was hidden from peering eyes beneath the winding fabric of his light blue scarf. He was seeking the settle the wavering emotions curling in his gut however, to build the courage to ask what was troubling him so deeply. And just by laying his hand across Zangetsu's, his Alpha's claim mark, it almost instantly settled Ichigo's out of control thoughts and emotions as a flowing calm started to saturate his veins again. He wanted to return to his beloved's side again, Ichigo thought yearningly as he sighed in defeat.
'F-fine. I want to know, Urahara-san, and I know that this sounds completely impossible, if a male Shinigami can bear children?' There was an abrupt stillness in the air the instant that the words left Ichigo's lips, the orangette flinching internally when the blonde haired shopkeeper chocked on the cooling tea he had been sipping leisurely at. A look of utter surprise passing his features as a heady frown tugged across his brow. Ichigo, however, was having a heated internal debate within himself. There was a sprinkling of pink across his cheeks, not actually believing that he had managed to get the words past his lips so flawlessly as he averted his eyes away from those widened grey orbs that were observing him curiously in thought again. Ichigo was just waiting for the mocking laughter and teasing to start, for the world to splinter around him when Urahara Kisuke cleared his throat and put his spilling tea cup back on the table top with a cough.
'W-well...wow, just wow, Ichigo-kun. That is a very serious question. I don't think that I should be the one to tell you this, though. That's something for your father to answer, it is his duty to tell you about your coming of age in a few months after all and―.'
'I already did!' Ichigo yelled in sudden frustration, a subtle light of panic igniting within the pit of his stomach as his heart began to beat frantically against his chest at the shopkeeper's response. 'He fell out of my window after I asked him that, a-and he didn't stop me when I left to come here. So―.' Oh god, the way that Urahara-san was talking about it, it was as if it was true and Ichigo didn't think he could withstand the shock of it at the moment. It was all that was running through his head at lightning speeds; he'd be able to bear his own children and it wasn't not going to happen because Zangetsu had said that Hollows had an instinct to mate. It was going to happen and―. Ichigo didn't even notice when long fingers curled firmly around his wrist; dragging a pained hiss from Ichigo's lips when the bruise on his skin was irritated and the blonde haired man pulled the teen's hand away from the side of his neck. Where Ichigo had unknowingly started to dig his nails into the flesh of his neck so harshly that he was starting to break the skin in his sudden brush of panic.
Ichigo quickly jerked his captured hand back as if burned however, alarm igniting in his eyes as a small whimper of fear spilled past his lips. No! No one was allowed to touch, Ichigo hissed angrily, a flash of silver saturating his brown orbs as Urahara pulled back his close proximity suddenly as if warded off by a brush of powerful reiatsu as Ichigo panted for breath and found his forehead falling into the palm of his hand exhaustedly. His heart was hammering in his chest, eyes clenching shut against the brush of electrified uneasiness swimming beneath his skin as the orangette's breath hitched painfully in his chest. It wasn't right, something wasn't right...he needed to leave. Ichigo really needed to leave, he thought as he rose to his feet but Urahara quickly stopped him with a few words as he held up his hands defensively in defeat.
'You need to calm down, Ichigo. I'm sorry I startled you but you were hurting yourself.' The blonde haired man said apologetically, passing the pitcher of water towards Ichigo as a peace offering when the orangette reluctantly sat down again with a sudden and adverse wariness towards the older man's presence. Leaving Ichigo dizzy at Urahara's reiatsu that was flowing into the room now, only to be pushed back harshly by Ichigo's rising power defensively. Ichigo still didn't know what was going on but he felt distinctly unbalanced, like he really didn't want to be here...in the same room as this man as he diverted his gaze towards the floor and fingered the Substitute Shinigami badge in his jean's pocket uncertainly.
'I know that it is shocking to even think it possible for a moment, but I have to say Ichigo that your reaction is very unusual. I haven't even confirmed it yet. Are you sure that you are alright?' Urahara asked softly and Ichigo nodded, his palm resting over his claim mark on his neck again as he unconsciously reached out to Zangetsu's presence sleeping deep inside of him, sighing softly in relief when a gentle answering call came back to him several seconds later with a brush of familiar reiatsu that instantly soothed away the sudden panic that Ichigo had felt.
'I-I'm fine,' Ichigo said raggedly. 'I don't know what came over me. Sorry.'
'Don't apologize, I won't ask you how you've come by such information as it's private, usually something that it is only discussed between lovers and family but I'll answer your questions for you. But before I tell you that yes, it is true that we male Shinigami can bear children, know that there are several conditions within the male spiritual body that has to be met first before it can happen. Otherwise the child will not be able to develop into a full life and will die before the pregnancy can come to full term.' Urahara warned and Ichigo, listening intently to every word that spilled past the shopkeeper's lips, felt his entire world coming to a grinding halt around him with only one repeating thought rushing into his mind. It was true, oh god, it was true...
'The first condition is always that a Shinigami male can only bear a child if he is matured and his power is immense enough to support another life within him. In other words, you'll have no problem bearing a child as your reiatsu as far higher than any normal captain class Shinigami. The second, that he stays in his Shinigami form for the entire term that the child is growing. If he were to enter any gigai during that time, or a human body in your case, then the child would be lost as any form of 'human male' body cannot adhere to the changes that the soul is able to take. It is impossible for a human male to bear a child after all. And thirdly, the 'donor' male, the one that will be providing the seed and the majority of the child's reiatsu to help it grow and mature into a separate entity, needs to be just as powerful, if not more so than his 'bearer' in order to keep his 'bearer's' life stable throughout the process.'
'The average term for a male Shinigami to bear the child within his soul is seven to eight months, depending on how well he is able to support that life without it becoming detrimental to his health. But it is not recommended to try it without either me or Unohana-Taichō present for the first term as the pregnancy is very dangerous to the one bearing the child. For you, Ichigo, I would not advise you to try this as your soul's makeup is very unusual, unusual enough that it has never been seen before and―'
'Urahara-san...' Ichigo called softly in distress, the palms of his hands pressing harshly against his temples as tried to grasp a hold of his fast fading reality.
'In saying so, I also believe that if it were to happen, the children that you will be able to bear will be quiet beautiful and unusually powerful―.'
'URAHARA-SAN!' Ichigo yelled suddenly, a deep tint of red spreading across his nose and cheeks as he struggled to draw a calming breath into his lungs to settle his suddenly flaring anxiety again. 'I asked you if a male Shinigami can bear children, not how and neither did I say anything about it being me that will be...' Ichigo trailed off uncertainly, not able to say anything else in fear of making himself into more of a fool. He had enough trouble even thinking about the possibility of him being able to bear a child but Ichigo also knew that he had no other choice but to believe what was being said as Urahara had never lied to him before. The orangette was surprised to find however, that he wasn't balancing on the verge of panic as he had been before but was relaxing little by little when he slipped his hand beneath his light blue scarf to make skin to skin contact with the mark on his neck. Where Zangetsu's warm reiatsu flowed soothingly over his fingertips, brushing away Ichigo's fears and slowing his rising heartbeat into a more normal rhythm again.
And surprisingly, in that moment, Ichigo found that he simply couldn't care anymore. So what if he would be able to bear children? That was bridge to cross when he got there, as long as Shiro Zangetsu was by his side then Ichigo knew that he would be content. He was too exhausted to truly show any of the ragging emotions of shock that wanted to escape, he simply wanted to sleep some more and maybe then he'd be able to get more answers from his white haired doppelganger as Ichigo lazily stood with a stretch and started to head for the door. Whispering a brief 'thank you' before his socked feet stilled in the tearoom's threshold when Urahara called out to him one last time.
'I don't know what happened to you, Ichigo.' Urahara called softly. 'But you are definately different, your soul feels different and that is not necessarily a good thing, little Substitute Shinigami. Be careful when you return home later Ichigo-kun, Hollows have been flocking to this town even more so in the last seventeen months since you have been powerless. And for some strange reason, they were all attracted to your presence. Even when you didn't have any reiatsu to attract them with. I have a feeling that it's only going to get worse, but it doesn't truly matter. You can look after yourself now, protect those around you. But, if there is anything that you'd like to share though, anything that's troubling you, you know where to find me. I'm always willing to listen to your troubles.'
'Oh god...Z-Zangetsu...please...don't tease so much...' Ichigo pleaded breathlessly, the flow of his previously rational thoughts fairly distorted in the rise of his fast climbing need for more. Panting breaths of sheer enjoyment was spilling forth from parted pink lips, now rouged cherry red because of the force with which they had been kissed with before and bitten into playfully by his beloved's sharpened canines. Ichigo was leaning his warmed forehead against another's that was much cooler against his skin, a little whine of desperation and rising pleasure tugged from his throat as the orangette's body became inherently drawn towards the caressing touches that his beloved was bestowing upon his form. From where Ichigo was kneeling shakily between Shiro Zangetsu's parted and propped up thighs, his knees unsteady against the smooth glass of a sideways building, trembling hands clutched frantically at the warm fabric of a white kosode tightly. Limbs trembling softly at the black nailed fingertips that pushed aside the addition to Ichigo's kosode; the orangette moaned softly at the pads of reiatsu drenched fingertips that were lain expertly against the marked skin of the Substitute Shinigami's neck.
'Don't tease you say?' A lilting voice purred darkly against the shell of a dainty ear, leaving the orange haired seventeen-year-old to shudder blissfully against the warm puffs of air that was fanning out across his cheeks and ruffled messy orange locks whimsically with every teasing exhale. 'But you love it, Ichigo. All I did was call you here after your Hollow 'hunt' tonight, beloved, and teased our newly formed bond a bit. You're already trembling in my arms, Ichigo and I haven't even started yet.' The white haired Zanpactō spirit breathed teasingly, sly fingertips tracing a pattern of undeniable pleasure across the arching skin of Ichigo's neck as the orangette instantly threw his head back with a small cry of utter bliss. His form eagerly rocking forward into his lover's exploring fingertips as another sly hand, having slipped beneath the crisscrossing fabric of a black kosode, dragged sharp black nails against the peaks of two pink nipples harshly.
Oh god, Ichigo groaned softly, shuddering deeply in need as his body sought to rock towards the gifted pleasure that was swimming headily through his mind and incessantly heated up the roaring rush of blood singing deafeningly in his ears. It was insane, his Claiming Alpha, Zangetsu, now able to gift his beloved with such roaring rages of absolute pleasure through the mere brush of his rising reiatsu and overwhelming power simply because the growing bond between them that had finally been completed after a long week of lingering fatigue, irritable moods and uncontained outbursts of reiatsu from the both of them. And with the sunlight drenched form of his Inner World spread comfortingly around them now, Ichigo shifted impatiently on his knees as he automatically parted his lips for a sly blue tongue that swept across the corner of his mouth before slipping slickly inside for an erotic entanglement of tongues, nipping teeth and flowing saliva.
Zangetsu's muffled grunt of enjoyment brushing warmly against Ichigo's lips as the orangette wound his arms around a pale neck and leaned his weight more fully against his Alpha's lazily reclining form. Whining in loss when a pale hand slipped out of his kosode to trail sensually down a clothed side before resting intimately against a hip to still Ichigo's rocking movements with a soft whisper of reprimand. The words, spoken in a gentle, soothing, baritone echoed pleasantly through the orange haired Substitute's mind as he obeyed his lover's words despite the aching pain of denied pleasure that was starting to stain the air with dark tension around them. Leaning into the caress of black nailed fingertips that trailed teasingly against the skin of his cheek before the sly fingertips of that right hand slipped downwards towards the tie in Ichigo's white sash that was keeping a black hakama bound to his hips, the orangette whimpered softly as he felt his muscles start to tense in the need for more.
'Hush, King. Relax into your pleasure, beloved. Don't try to force it, you're only going to tire yourself out.' Zangetsu soothed tenderly, pale lips whispering across a warm forehead as he sought to iron out the wrinkle present between two furrowed brows with the tip of a tongue in consolation to his Beta's near incoherent state. 'You're remarkably worked up tonight, Ichigo. I'm sorry, have I been neglecting my Beta's needs this week? Have I not given you enough pleasure every night? Shhh, don't cry. It's alright now. I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, we're bound together now. Infinitely chained, King, so there is no more need for your unspoken fears to stain this world.' The gentle baritone continued softly and Ichigo nodded dazedly, breath hitching painfully in his chest as a dark flush of red coloured his nose when black nailed fingertips abruptly loosened a white sash around his waist and warm fingertips pushed his hakama tenderly down his thighs to expose his hardened arousal for the hungry gaze that was present within possessive golden eyes.
'That's it, just enjoy it, beloved.' Several feet away from them, two sealed Zanpactō of contrasting colours were resting together upon the glass window of a sideways building. A reflection of the picture that the two of them now made, curled just as intimately together as Ichigo moved closer to his lover's reclining form. Arching softly in the caress of fingertips that curled firmly around the base of his arousal as he sought to hold on for dear life at the sensations that his white haired, smirking, doppelganger was chasing heatedly through his scorching blood. The orangette's breaths stained incessantly with little noises of rising rapture, chocolate brown eyes near black with lust, half lidded in a sensual gaze as Ichigo eagerly leaned into the whispering touches of rising, flowing bliss curling a coil of heated anticipation for release in the pit of his stomach.
He was moaning lowly at the sensual slide of sly fingertips that were curled firmly around the base of his arousal, dragging a slow pattern of increasing need across his veins as they twisted expertly against the head of his arousal and pressed a sharp black thumbnail deeply into the slit. Igniting an instant flood of rushing sensation within his soul as Ichigo threw his head back with a blissful cry as warm lips simultaneously sealed across the mark on his neck and poured a heady rush of overwhelming rapture straight into the his rapidly beating heart. A scene like this was fast becoming commonplace for them, where Ichigo and Zangetsu did this every night when Ichigo returned from patrolling the town for Hollow activity. Where the unsettled anxiety that the orangette was filled with after his 'hunting' as Zangetsu called it, his white haired doppelganger would easily switch the unsated tension into headily sexual gratification instead.
Where Zangetsu would simply take the energy and lingering reiatsu to offer Ichigo a touch of rapture that was so intense and overwhelming that it sought to shake the very foundations of the orangette's soul. Leaving Ichigo floating through a sea of rising pleasure the more intense the hunt had been and the more bountiful his lover's touches were. And tonight, Shiro Zangetsu wasn't holding back one bit. His firm and reassuring grip settled around Ichigo's arousal dragging intense sensations, so sweet and blissful in unadulterated pleasure, that a litany of curses and cries soon flowed rapidly into the air around them from lush petal pink lips. And just like that, when sharpened canines dug deeply into the flesh of Ichigo's neck...burning heated bliss through the mark in his neck so that it reverberated against his straining soul, the orangette snapped. Ichigo arching back sharply as a wailing cry of blissful completeness exploded out of him as sharp fingernails scraped pleasurably against the pulsing flesh of his erection.
Everything came to a grinding halt around him, Ichigo's world shattering into a thousand pieces around him as he was only vaguely aware of Zangetsu's deep chuckle staining the air around him. A sly tongue trailing heatedly against the two curving marks of red that was settled beneath Ichigo's left eye as lewd whispers sang playfully in his ear. Things like 'too fast, King' or 'was it that good, beloved' echoing loudly through a hazed mind as dizzying sensation still chased sheer completeness and contentedness through trembling limbs. Ichigo's head was spinning; every possible emotion, every colour and sound distorting inside of him as a hoarse cry announced that he had finally reached that all welcoming pinnacle of instinct deep inside of him that only his hollow counterpart could seem to create within him these days.
'Zangetsu...Zangetsu...oh god...' Ichigo sang softly in a repetitive strain of breaths, shuddering deeply in bliss as he was suddenly tugged reassuringly against a warm chest. Leaning sideways between his beloved's parted thighs with a flushed ear resting against a rapid heartbeat; heavy eyelids, weighed down with post orgasmic bliss, sought to fall shut against the pull of exhaustion as Ichigo purred softly in sheer contentment. Only, he was forced to blink open his pleasure glazed eyes when he observed a deadly smirk curling at his lover's pale lips when the white haired doppelganger brought the splay of Ichigo's release, slickly smeared across his right hand and black nailed fingertips, towards his lips decisively. A lazy blue tongue lapping at the pearly white liquid despite Ichigo's cry of sheer mortification as Zangetsu merely chuckled and resettled a black hakama around a thin waist before smearing the last of Ichigo's release across the orangette's pink lips playfully.
'D-don't do that, it's d―.' Ichigo complained suddenly, forced to trail off with a strange noise that was caught between a hum and purring cat when sly fingertips came up to rest tenderly against the claim mark to keep him calm. Something that the orangette had noticed his Alpha doing a lot lately, something that should be distressing as a forcible calm settled across his limbs almost painfully but Ichigo couldn't find it in himself to care anymore. He had stopped asking questions pertaining to his status as a Beta when he had visited Urahara a little more than a week ago. Ichigo finding that if his every question was going to be answered, he would be trapped within a constant state of panic. It had taken Shiro Zangetsu nearly three hours just to calm his Beta that night after all, the white haired being warning Ichigo that he would never fully understand why he reacted to things a certain way because he did it instinctually. Something that couldn't be contained or truly understood logically...
'Why not?' Zangetsu purred teasingly, a blue tongue sweeping across petal pink lips to gather the trace of semen he had smeared there as he chuckled softly at the heady flush that was settled across his Beta's cheeks at his actions. 'My King always tastes so sweet, how can I not lap it up? Besides you're not much better, Ichi. You've done it before too, remember?' Zangetsu scolded playfully and Ichigo whined softly in distress. Desperately trying to hide the flush that was dotting his features as he turned away shamefully. Startled however, when black nailed fingertips curled tightly around his tanned wrist to stop Ichigo's hand from reaching for the black sash that kept a white hakama secured to thin hips. The messy white haired being shaking his head in the negative as he wrapped his arms firmly around Ichigo's waist and pulled him into a more restrictive embrace and onto his feet.
'Sorry, King. But not tonight, we have an uninvited guest.' Those words, spoken so nonchalantly instantly snapped Ichigo into harsh reality as he gaped at Zangetsu walking away from him now to resettle the sealed form of his white Zangetsu across his back as he closed those sharp gold and black eyes thoughtfully before passing his beloved his black blade as well. Ichigo's startled question was halted mid-sentence however, when a sudden rush of familiar reiatsu saturated the depths of his Inner World and a very familiar form began to materialized itself across from the two of them. Wavy brown hair, an exceptionally tall frame, sharp eyes hidden behind wrap around yellow sunglasses and a flowing cloak of red and black invading Ichigo's vision as the stoic features of Zangetsu Ossan swam into focus before him.
Oh shit, he had completely forgotten about the old man's still sleeping presence since the first night that Zangetsu had claimed him, Ichigo thought guiltily. His chocolate brown gaze directed at the taller form of his second Zanpactō spirit that was standing before him now in a stoic silence that spoke volumes to the knowledge that the older being must already have possessed within him. Agh! Damn it! Why did he look so disappointed when those sharp eyes trained directly on the obvious marks that was drawn beneath Ichigo's left eye? The orangette shivered softly in trepidation. He had found that a lot of people paid attention to the marks when he left his body to take on his Shinigami form but none of them had ever presumed their true significance. They merely guessed that it was a part of his 'new look' as the black marks that was traced around his wrists and chest was fairly visible and similar in branding too.
All except for this being that Ichigo had always been convinced was the main source of his power, had always sought to trust the most until the true Zangetsu had told him otherwise. Told him that the power resting within his soul wasn't as simple as he thought it was, and that which he had always relied on was merely a small section of what his true potential was. And it hurt. Faced with the darker part of reality now, Ichigo felt distinctly betrayed as the being that he was staring up at now became a stranger to him. An invader in his soul...someone that he didn't know if he could trust anymore...didn't know if he ever should have in the first place. But Zangetsu Ossan had also stood beside him all this time, helped him to become the person that he was now. Ichigo truly didn't know what to feel right now and it was showing with the unsettled clap of thunder that echoed ominously throughout the depths of his Inner World. Saturating the once bright and sunny skies, that had graced this world for more than week, with dark rainclouds that were threatening to burst with the deeply unsettled intensity of his emotions.
'Ichigo...' The older man called sadly and Ichigo swallowed heavily, the previous joy he had felt in the arms of his beloved, the previous bliss that had completely overwhelmed him had been evaporated in an instant as he didn't even protest against the pale arms that now wound possessively around his waist and the warm lips that pressed comfortingly against the top of his orange head. The taller frame of Shiro Zangetsu curling comfortingly around his form to provide a support for the sudden weakness that was creeping into Ichigo's body and his out of control emotions that were only raging all the more intensely the more that a thick silence seemed to saturate the atmosphere around them.
'O-Ossan?' Ichigo called softly, startled at the deep frown that was tugged across the dark haired being's forehead as a small sigh spilled past his lips and he nodded softly in acknowledgement. 'Why didn't you ever tell me that it was all a lie?' Ichigo asked despairingly, feeling pained tears creeping across his vision as he breathed shakily through his despair. 'Why did you make me hate and try to suppress the source of my true power? The only one that would have been able to tell me why I have always felt so empty and lost since the beginning? It hurts, you know...being unbalanced for so long. I want to know―.'
'Ichigo, I never meant to hurt you.' The deep soothing baritone interjected and Ichigo flinched visibly, a dark glare of anger creeping into his widened brown eyes as his fingertips dug deeply into the wide sleeve of his beloved's white kosode that was curled around his waist reassuringly. 'NO! T-THAT'S A LIE!' Ichigo yelled suddenly, fingertips curled tightly around the hilt of Zangetsu's black blade that his Alpha had passed to him before as he drove the sharpened black tip into the side of the building with considerable force. The orangette trembling with suppressed sensations that not even Shiro Zangetsu's presence so close to him, could settle as Ichigo whimpered softly at the painful tug that was present around his heart and soul now.
'This is Zangetsu.' Ichigo said forcefully. 'Zangetsu is my Zanpactō spirit; the source of my power, my comfort, my protector and my mate. He is standing behind me, Ossan. I know that now. I understand it because I can feel it, he was also the first to greet me when I regained my powers. The first to tell me the truth of the instincts that are no longer dormant within me. You used his power and claimed it as your own. So who are you? Why are you here, why did I encounter you the first time when Urahara trained me? Tell me, because I don't understand what's going on anymore. No one tells me anything, they just expect me know everything and I don't. So please, just tell me...' The orangette trailed off despairingly with an angered huff, jerking his head to the side in surprise when a warm blue tongue sought to lick away at the first traces of frustrated tears that were slipping past his dark lashes. Ichigo whining softly at the touch as he tipped his head back to please his dominant partner's action. Where his strained hearing picked up on the soft sigh of defeat that drifted past the older man's lips.
'I had hoped to only have this conversation with you after you knew the truth, Ichigo. I was trying to protect you from the pain of knowing this but I see that your father has not yet found the courage to tell you. This is not something that I should be telling you, Aruji, it is not my place. It should have been revealed to you long before you were ever aware of your Shinigami powers or met Kuchiki Rukia. I kept the source of my power, my true blade, hidden from you because you didn't understand who I was or what. I am the representation of another source of power within you, Ichigo. One that you don't know anything about because no one has told you the importance of it. The reason why I was there when you first awakened your Shinigami powers was because I was awake long before you ever regained the Shinigami and Hollow portion of your power. I was there since the beginning, not only in the soul part of you but your human part as well.'
'My name is Juha Bach, Kurosaki Ichigo, and I am the original source of power for the Quincy. My blood runs through every Quincy that has ever been born, just as it runs through your veins. And your real Zangetsu, my Zangetsu, is still with me waiting to be forged for your use, Aruji.'
Break My Control:
You need ta breathe, King. Keep calm. A soothing baritone echoed commandingly through the depths of Ichigo's mind, skittering a warm sensation of affection and control deeply throughout the orangette's trembling limbs as Ichigo staggered down the steps and towards the kitchen uncertainly. His palms pressing harshly against the wall to shakily guide his form forward (which felt completely blacked out against his senses) as Ichigo shuddered uneasily at the sudden heaviness of his body that once again encased his soul form. It was saturating Ichigo's entire being, an uncontrolled dizziness sweeping into his mind as Zangetsu's Ossan, no Juha Bach's claims rushed throughout his form unbidden of Ichigo's permission over and over again.
It was echoing ominously throughout Ichigo's mind as he tried to grasp onto the very last of the control that was threatening to snap under the pressure of his rising panic that Shiro Zangetsu was only barely managing to keep back within him. It hurt, Ichigo noted. Everything hurt, his fingers were clenched into white knuckled fists by his side as he dazedly observed the clock on the kitchen wall that was bathed in the rays of silver moonlight. 3:30 AM, it was so late and he still had school later and then work after that. Just what the hell had he been doing up until now? Ichigo simply couldn't remember and it worried him greatly. All that the orange haired teen knew was that he felt drawn tightly between two very different parts of his soul that was going to snap at any moment and with it, he'd probably level this entire town in his unaware state if he were to let go of the power lashing irritably against his soul.
No, he couldn't let that happen, not now. Not with his family and friends so close to him, so close to the line of fire. But it seemed an increasingly impossible task to undertake. Now that Ichigo had been made aware of it, knew of Zangetsu Ossan true presence, the orangette could feel it thrumming uneasily beneath his skin. The rise of that overwhelming power that now wanted to explode out of him in a heady rush. And he didn't know how to control it, not with Shiro Zangetsu's contrasting reiatsu becoming restless within him as well. Ichigo was breathing shakily, bare feet sliding dazedly across the cold tiled floor of the kitchen as it felt as if the entire world and wavering reality was alive on another plane of existence that he couldn't reach out to.
Zangetsu, his Alpha, was still whispering soothingly in his mind, seeking to keep him calm but that too was starting to fade from the depths of Ichigo's awareness as he searched several kitchen cupboards for a glass. He didn't even know what cupboard it was, he scoffed. Something that he should have known instinctively as he had been living in this house his entire life. But Ichigo simply felt as if he was walking through a darkness that couldn't be explained as he tried to make sense of the words that Zangetsu Ossan, NO, Juha Bach had told him; Ichigo reminded himself harshly. He wanted to scream, to grip his hair in his frustration but the teen was finding it difficult enough to keep breathing normally without panicking outright. He didn't even want to think of it, didn't want to acknowledge it because it meant that someone had been lying to him his whole life.
That's what made it so painful. What the fuck was a source of Quincy power doing within him? Been awake within him since even before he had ever gained his Shinigami powers. It couldn't have come from his father unless it was mixed up in his bloodline somewhere but the Shinigami hated the Quincy and vice-versa. And from his mother, the woman that Ichigo realized he knew almost nothing about now, the only woman that he had been able to love as unconditionally as she had loved him...it was simply impossible to even think of it. And to add everything else on top of this dilemma, the revelation was earth shattering to the orangette. It was no surprise that he hadn't cracked until now, Ichigo thought sarcastically as he flinched violently at the resounding noise of a door opening somewhere deeper into the house before slamming shut again.
A small cry of surprise echoing past parted lips as the glass that he had been clutching in his hand fell from between slackened fingers, the fragile object shattering into a thousand pieces by his feet as dazed brown eyes gazed at the moonlight that glinted off of the small glittering pieces with unusual interests. Oh great, something else to worry about, Ichigo thought as he absently sank to his knees to search for the small pieces and to clear up the mess he had made. It seemed so insignificant to what was racing through his mind at moment, but what the hell. Why not? It didn't matter that several cuts were stinging his fingers or palms. They could always heal later, no matter how angry Zangetsu was going to get at him for hurting himself later. The emotion pain however, saturating his heart, wasn't fading even when he was trying so hard to forget it in the first place. And that was what Ichigo wanted to settle the most, something that seemed an impossible task when even his claiming alpha hadn't even succeeded in calming him by now.
Like he had promised he would whenever Ichigo was on the verge of shattering.
'Ichi-nii? What the hell happened?! Are you okay?!' A frantic voice yelled in panic, startling the orangette as bleary chocolate brown eyes blinked against the harsh glare of the light being switched on as hurrying footsteps came in his direction. Ichigo hardly noticed however, pressing the palm of his hand against his sister's stomach to keep her from getting closer towards the danger that the glass was creating around him. His body dazedly rose to his feet however, despite the grimace of pain and the blood that was flowing into his mouth from a cut his teeth had made into his bottom lip.
Ichigo warned her softly of the glass on the floor, seeking to protect her but the voice that drifted past his lips seemed so far away and distant that the orangette could barely understand if he had been the one to speak or if it had been someone else using his mouth. But whatever it was that he had said, it only seemed to worry his little sister more as dark eyes gazed up at him in sheer concern and incessant fingers lead him towards the kitchen table instead. Ichigo followed, not able to resists as he was forced to sit down and a warm washcloth swiped across the broken skin of his hand tenderly several minutes later, wiping away at the blood that was welling up from several cuts on his hands as the orangette only became vaguely aware of the world moving around him again.
'Huh?' Ichigo breathed softly in confusion, staring in bewilderment at the blood that was traced across the surface of his palms with a deep frown as he blinked rapidly to try and discern the room that was spinning in dizzying circles around him. What was he doing here again? Wasn't he supposed to be sleeping right now? And Karin, why did she look so frightened? Had something happened? Large brown eyes were gazing at him in such panic as she called out to him again. Oh geez, he couldn't even hear her very well. Ichigo shook his head softly as he blinked owlishly several times until her words were finally able to reach him from across an ocean of deep uneasiness he couldn't explain anymore.
'W-what's wrong, Ichi-nii? Are you sick? You look pale. Why are your eyes glowing and there are red marks beneath your eye. Tell me what's wrong please! Why are you trying to pick up glass in the dark! It's dangerous!' The questions came in such a scolding rush that Ichigo found his breath stuttering painfully in his chest. His bloodied fingertips tugged forcibly from her strong grip to rest their pads against the skin beneath his left eye thoughtfully. Red marks? What red marks?
'Oh, it's okay.' Ichigo said softly with a lilting smile. 'He's just trying to calm me, the marks will fade in a while.'
'He?! What're you talking about Ichi-nii? I don't understand but there's definately something wrong...!'
'Karin?' Ichigo called with a hitched breath.
'Go get Dad, please. I don't think I can keep it in much longer, he's the only one that can cast a barrier strong enough to keep you safe.'
'W-what're you talking about Ichi-nii? You're scaring me!'
'Just go get him, Karin! Hurry! Before I break.'
1* - 'Beneath the deep waters, the dragon sleeps' – this is a saying, although I'm not sure what language it's from as I've heard several variations of it as well. But from what I know of its meaning in my first language, it means both a good and bad omen. Like immense power is only found in still and deep personalities, but it can also mean danger for others as well.
Okay, I think that covered my notes, if I've missed one, I'll come back to fix it later. Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it. If you'd be so kind as to offer me a little review I'd be very grateful and grateful author's always write faster. Sorry about the little cliff-hanger at the end but I found that I was running out of space and I've saved the best for next chapter, I promise.
For now though, I'm off for some hot chocolate and cake. Don't forget to enter my Christmas Request List if you want, but that's it from me.