Title: We Two Alone
Summary: Ichigo is moved into an American Asylum- one he doesn't bother breaking out of. Luckily, the company is pretty good, and Hannibal Lecter happens to be just the sort of change Ichigo's looking for.

"Come, let's away to prison;
We two alone will sing like birds I' th' cage." -king lear

"Four legs and two voices; a most delicate monster!" -the tempest

Hannibal is not moved when Chilton informs him and the other inmates of their hall that they will have a new neighbor coming in a few days. What does he care? Another drooling, babbling fool to go with all the others- and it's not like it's an unexpected development. There are plenty of mad people in the world. They were bound to dredge up yet another 'criminally insane' member of their family.

Still, he watches with an absent sort of curiosity as they begin to ready the cell across from him, which was left vacant three years ago after the tragic death of Mr. Gross.

And then, on June seventh, the newest inmate is brought in, preceded by the smell of an airport tarmac and something peachy.

Hannibal can tell immediately he's not an American. The guards tease him and laugh like fools as though he can't understand them, and besides that, he doesn't hold himself like an American would. He stands straight and tall, proud even in place like this, where the other inmates scream and whistle and crow as he passes.

He walks like Hannibal did, all those years ago.

He is young, Japanese, probably, with a shock of orange hair that can't be anything but natural and a bored look on his face. He is hustled into his cell without any real trouble, though Hannibal sees a guard's elbow fly when the newest guest doesn't immediately follow his direction to 'sit still and don't try anything funny'.

He doesn't speak after the guards leave, but that's not unusual. What is unusual, however, is that, when he looks up, his eyes shine golden from under his hair, meeting Hannibal's maroon without fear or respect, or anything, really, besides a resigned sort of weariness.

Hannibal's lips quirk at that, and so he speaks.

"Good evening, friend."

The young man pauses, seemingly surprised at Hannibal's greeting, and inclines his head.

"Good evening, Dr. Lecter." His words are accented and quiet, but there is strength in the way he tightens his jaw and loosens his shoulders. A predator. A killer.

Hannibal tilts his head to one side and chuckles.

"It seems I am at a disadvantage, friend," he says. "For you know who I am, but I do not know who you are."

"Everyone knows who you are, Dr. Lecter. My mother used to collect the books and studies about you." The young man shifts. "My name is Ichigo Kurosaki."

Hannibal smiles.

"Ah. The Shinigami of the West."

Melancholy flashes in those golden eyes at the words, but then Ichigo is bored again.

"That's me."

"You were brought here, despite your crimes mostly centering around Europe and South America," Hannibal remarks. "What sort of deal did you have worked out, to be moved here?"

Ichigo chuckles.

"No deal," he informs Hannibal. "I was too good at escaping the European Asylums. They thought it would be prudent to send me to the most fortified Asylum I haven't yet broken out of. Which is... Here." He gestures at his new cell.

"Understood. How intriguing."

Ichigo gives him a fleeting smile, then looks away.

"It's been a pleasure talking to you, Dr. Lecter, but I would like to retire. It's been a long day for me."

Hannibal smiles.

"Of course, Mr. Kurosaki," he says with a nod. "I imagine you only landed- three hours ago? Four?"

"Three," Ichigo admits. "I am... Very tired."

Hannibal doesn't speak again, and without another word, Ichigo settles back on his bed and curls into a ball. He doesn't fall asleep, Hannibal can tell that immediately, but his breathing eventually evens out, and the smell of the airport fades out completely.

Hannibal finishes his letters and goes to bed before lights out. He wonders if he'll be able to get his new neighbor to talk some more in the morning. He wonders if he's as clever as Hannibal thinks.

It's something new to think about. Hannibal likes the idea of something new.


Ichigo is uncertain what to make of the man across the way. He knows the stories of Hannibal Lecter- his mother's collection of works inspired by the cannibal and photo album of newspaper clippings were a treasure trove of nightmare-inducing memorabilia when he was younger- and he knows the man is clean, polite, and intelligent- and as likely to turn Ichigo into a stew as not. And yet, Ichigo finds himself fascinated.

Breakfast is a soggy waffle and an apple, with a side of bacon and a small orange juice. Ichigo sniffs at it- he misses his sister's cooking- just real food in general- but eats it all anyway, ignoring his desk in favor of the floor, imagining for just a moment that he's back in the Shouten, long before all of... This.

"The food is not to your taste, I take it."

Ichigo looks up from his empty plate to where Hannibal delicately dabs at his lips with a napkin. There's no meat at all on his plate.

"I'm not a huge fan of American food," he admits. "It's too heavy for my taste."

"I know exactly what you mean," Hannibal says with a sage nod. "I was sick from the food when I first came to this country. It wasn't fit for pigs."

"Still isn't." Ichigo wrinkles his nose at the thought of what he's just eaten. "Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers."

Hannibal looks surprised.

"Shakespeare?" He asks, and Ichigo smiles.

"I have everything he's ever written memorized in English, Japanese, French, German, and Spanish," he tells the doctor. "I was a very lonely teenager, after sixteen."

"Do you read anything else?" Hannibal inquires. "Memorized anything else?"

"Just some Poe, some Wilde." Ichigo rises to set his plate in the compartment for pick-up in the shatter-proof glass. "I am a great lover of Les Miserables and Sherlock Holmes, as well."

"Not one for histories, then."

"On the contrary." Ichigo can't help the smirk that crosses his face. "There's nothing better than a bit of history." Something dark forms at the corners of his eyes, something that Hannibal has never seen before.

What fun.


Ichigo proves to be a good conversationalist, not only in English, but in French and German as well. They speak of many things, from books to films to recipes, but mostly, Ichigo intrigues.

He sings. He sings a lot. He sings songs in all languages, both familiar and unfamiliar to Hannibal in tune and in lyric. Ichigo's favorites- the ones he sings over and over again- are Nick Cave's 'The Weeping Song', 'Bring him Home' from the French Revival of Les Miserables, and a Spanish Folk Song Hannibal doesn't recognize. When he sings, the entire cellblock goes quiet, and even Chilton will, on occasion, make an appearance to hear him sing. Usually, he listens to the end and takes away Ichigo's books as punishment for the disruption- but he always listens to the end.

"Chilton doesn't like me," Ichigo remarks one day after his books are, once again, taken away. It's mid-July.

"We get along too well for his tastes, I think," Hannibal tells him with a smirk. "It irks him that you managed more in a month than he has in seven years."

Ichigo nods in understanding, then goes quiet a moment.

"Something is bothering you, Ichigo." The name is comfortable on his tongue. Ichigo gave him permission to use it two weeks ago.

Ichigo gives him a small smile.

"Today is my birthday, Dr. Lecter," he explains, and his voice is soft. "I'm nineteen."

Hannibal's eyes widen a fraction. He knew Ichigo was young- he just didn't think he was that young.

"A congratulations are in order, then," he says lightly. "Happy birthday, Ichigo."

"I was going to read The Hobbit today," Ichigo says dejectedly. "But I suppose not."

There's a beat of silence.

"That was an excellent book," Hannibal agrees, something interesting in his tone as he rises silently from behind his desk to approach his own bookshelf. "I remember reading it my first time, as a young man in medical school. I believe I was quite enamored by the idea of invisibility, even at that age."

There's the sound of a book sliding from its place on the shelf, and Hannibal settling back down in his seat.

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."

Ichigo jerks up to stare, but Hannibal doesn't acknowledge him, just continues reading.

"Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole..."

Ichigo bites his lip and settles back in his place on the floor, eyes slipping closed as he listened. Hannibal's accent did the book justice, a natural voice that flowed with each word. He reads until Ichigo falls asleep, and then he closes the book and continues his writing.

No one says a word, and Ichigo's books are returned the next morning.


The electrical fire smells like an on-purpose accident.

Hannibal suspects Chilton. Of course he does. Chilton likes his little experiments, like letting Hannibal sit alone with a nurse or giving Graham access to his mind during the Red Dragon case.

The electrical fire proves that there is no procedure for a man like Hannibal. He is shuffled in with the general population, along with the other inmates, and forced into the unattached, poorly ventilated activities room across the green. There are six benches, and with a polite smile, he gets them all, settling himself close to the center as the other inmates press against the wall furthest from him, desperate to keep out of arm's reach.

And then, there's Ichigo.

Ichigo seems to have gotten into a fight with a guard. He likes to fight, he's told Hannibal, and his knuckles are bloody when he pushes through the crowd with a few glares and sharp elbows. The inmates don't quite fear m yet, but they know Hannibal likes him, so he gets relatively little trouble as he moves closer.

He stops in front of the older man and crosses his arms. The blood is tangy, a mixture of his and the sourness of one of the guards, and it still oozes sluggishly from his knuckles.

Hannibal gestures a hand to the empty places beside him.

"Have a seat, Ichigo. You seem tired."

Ichigo dips his head and takes a place to Hannibal's right, knee brushing against the other man's as he settles.

"That Greenhill's a right bastard," Ichigo tells him, licking absently at his knuckles. The blood catches on his lower lip, painting it a delicious red. "Took me four hits to break his jaw."

Hannibal watches with interest. "They'll try and take your books for that, you know."

Ichigo smiles and elbows him lightly, playfully, as though he's done this before.

"Then I suppose you could just read to me again," he says. "Or maybe I'll sing some more?"

Hannibal eyes him with amusement. Ichigo is more relaxed than he's ever seen him, with a bruise forming under his left eye and his hands covered in blood. He's sitting next to a man known for killing with extreme prejudice and turning his victims into dinner, and yet...

"If you sing, Chilton might try to have you moved again," Hannibal notes, and Ichigo's smirk is cruel.

"My cell is haunted," the teen tells him. "He puts someone else in there, he'll have another dead man on his hands."

The older man only nods. He has no idea how Ichigo did it, but two weeks ago, after Chilton found out about Hannibal's reading, Ichigo was moved to the third floor, away from Hannibal, and another inmate was put in his place. And then another. And then another.

They never outlived a day.

So, Ichigo was moved back, and Hannibal was left with a puzzle, because obviously Ichigo is involved.

He just doesn't know how, yet.

There's a comfortable silence between them, calm and relaxed, and their elbows and knees touch on occasion when they shift.

But then, Chilton and his army of nurses come in, and they're rough with Ichigo and terrified of Hannibal even though he lets them restrain him without trouble. Ichigo likes to throw punches, but even so, he's relatively calm when they drag him off.

Chilton oversees the replacement of Hannibal into his cell. When their eyes meet, the cannibal sees something calculating in the good doctor's mud brown gaze.

He wonders what the idiot will cook up, now.


"You know, this could be one of Chilton's better ideas," Hannibal remarks as Ichigo is led into a communal dining hall and stripped of his straight jacket. The flesh around is eye is purpling.

The teen grins, and his teeth are red from blood.

"Yeah, I was thinking the same." He tosses his head so his bangs fall back and reveal his golden eyes. His hair is nearly shoulder length, now, an inch or two more than what it was when he first came to the asylum.

"I wonder who will kill who first?"

Ichigo chuckles at the question and takes the seat across from Hannibal. He slipper brushes Hannibal's shin when he crosses his legs.

Lunch is brought to them as they talk of Ichigo's new hobby.

"I have a lot to write about," Ichigo explains as he pokes absently at his spaghetti and meatballs. "I have... A lot of stories."

"You wish to write about your life as the Shinigami of the West?" Hannibal asks as he twists the long noodles around his fork. He doesn't have meatballs.

Ichigo shakes his head.

"I want to write my... Ghost stories." The way Ichigo's lip curls is interesting. Hannibal takes note. "Growing up, I was involved with a group of kids who were obsessed with the supernatural. We came up with some pretty good stories."

"... You lost contact with these people, I presume."

Ichigo shrugs. "I ran away on my seventeenth birthday, and generally have managed to avoid anyone who thought to mend burned bridges. Occasionally, I don't."

"And then you find yourself a nice family to cut up into little pieces," Hannibal says shrewdly, and Ichigo quirks a smile.

"And how did you get access to my files?" He asks in mock sternness.

"Chilton would like me to observe you, in exchange for certain privileges." Hannibal reaches out for his plastic cup of water and sips. "I was handed your file yesterday- and what a thick one, too." He tilts his head to one side, red eyes glittering.

"Do you really have a strawberry bomb tattoo on your neck?"

Ichigo nods and pushes back hair, revealing a warm red strawberry with a lit fuse growing from the leafy crown.

It's the same color as Hannibal's eyes, but neither of them notice that.

"For your name, I presume?"

"Of course. That and I needed a mark."

"For your kills."

"You're just so clever I can hardly stand it, Hannibal."

Hannibal's amusement is palpable, especially at Ichigo's near perfect Tennessee impersonation. He doesn't mention Ichigo's use of his first name, partially because it's only fair, and partially because it has a nice ring to it, especially in Ichigo's tenor.

Hopefully Ichigo hasn't noticed his slip- what is Hannibal thinking, Ichigo probably did it on purpose- but regardless, Hannibal wants him to do it again. The last time anyone sincerely called him Hannibal he'd had to gut them.

He'd rather not gut Ichigo- in fact, he thinks that he would be rather adverse to the idea.

Prison's made him soft, it seems.


It's the first day of September when Ichigo truly shows his madness.

Ichigo has, at this point, become something similar to Hannibal in the eyes of the guards. He's managed to kill two in a brawl during a routine cleaning of his bedroom, and bit the thumb off a third. In return, the guards are cruel, and the beatings are common for him. His bruises never last, though, and his cuts always heal before he's deemed worthy of medical attention.

This bothers Hannibal- it shouldn't be medically possible, what Ichigo's body does- but the Japanese teen has always been a bit strange, and he's willing to overlook it then have to murder the help in their sleep. It's a lot of work, after all, and Hannibal only has white clothes.

So, the madness.

Ichigo has just woken up. Hannibal can tell by the way he jerks back in his bed, as though from a nightmare. His eyes are wide, filled with a fury like Hannibal's never seen, even through the two layers of shatter-proof glass and a hallway between them.

"You- you bastard!" Ichigo hisses in Japanese, glaring up at someone Hannibal doesn't see. "I thought I told you to fuck off!"

There's a pause, then-

"I know I'm in fucking prison- and I choose to stay. Fuck the Seireitei- they're just another bunch of fucking- ugh, God, Kisuke, how is it you can't get such a simple Idea through your fucking skull?"

Ichigo is snarling, practically frothing at the mouth as he seems to listen to what he obviously finds irritating and unnecessary. And then he spits.

Hannibal doesn't hear the sound of saliva hitting the floor, or anything really, and that intrigues him just as much as Ichigo's next words.

"You know the drill, Kisuke." Ichigo's mouth curls into an ugly caricature of a smile. "No matter what you do, someone's going to die, and it's going to be all your fault... Try and restrain me? Fuck you, I'll triple your fee. Shit, I'll give you ten familiies' lives, if that's what it'll take. Do you prefer the dead little girls, Kisuke? Or is it the baby left alive that really hits you hard?"

He continues to babble, and Hannibal, sensing the repetitiveness of the conversation, makes a note to ask about it over dinner before burying himself in his letters, carefully answering his fans and favorites with well-written, thoughtful words that are truly and utterly empty.

Ichigo doesn't stop talking for a while, and he gets all of his letters done and finishes Ulysses in that time. When Ichigo finally does quiet, Hannibal doesn't feel the need to speak, and, as always when faced with silence, Ichigo begins to sing.

Sweeney Todd's Epiphany has never sounded so good.


Ichigo's bleeding again.

The fight he got into just before lunch was mostly thanks to the jitteriness of the guards, and therefore was more vicious. Thirteen families dead in the surrounding communities, all killed in the fashion Ichigo favors most- of course they'd be nervous. But, even though Ichigo did nothing but behave the night of the murders, they still make him bleed, sending him into the cafeteria in the hopes that Hannibal would take care of their fears with some violence of his own. There are even less guards than usual, though Chilton sits with sharp interest behind a glass wall- as though it protects him from either killer.

The blood oozes down Ichigo's arms into his slightly wilted salad, but Ichigo doesn't seem to notice, chipper in tone and action as he talks with Hannibal about his love of chess. He doesn't stop bleeding, not for the whole meal, and Hannibal wonders both at the lack of symptoms he displays and the amount of blood coming from the simple scratches on his forearms.

He suspects blood thinners in the teen's food, but... He'll keep quiet for now.

Neither of them mention Ichigo's wounds, or the dead families, purposely avoiding the topic to irritate Chilton, who grows increasingly frustrated with the lack of useful information being passed between them. They do absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing unexpected.

Until the end.

As they rise, Ichigo reaches out to shake, disregarding the blood that practically drips down the back of his hand. Hannibal smirks and grasps the slender, calloused fingers, but- rather than shake, he brings Ichigo's bloody hand up to his lips, and licks clean a long, flesh-colored streak across his knuckles.

Ichigo's grinning when their eyes meet, mischievous even as the nurses spring into a rather half-hearted state of emergency, dragging Ichigo by the elbows out of Hannibal's grasp as the older man is pushed back against the wall with night sticks. Neither of them fight, neither of them speak.

But they don't need to.


Ichigo is taken to Chilton's office after his wounds are (finally) treated. Chilton looks nervous, scared, even though Ichigo's currently sitting quite primly in a straight jacket (one he could easily rip through, but, whatever).

"You have the option of discontinuing these meetings," Chilton tells him, words a mixture of discontent and fear. "Dr. Lecter is obviously a threat to you, regardless of what we believed your relationship to be-"

"I don't want to discontinue, though." Ichigo's golden eyes are wide and innocent, and they make Chilton shudder. "I want to keep spending time with Hannibal."

Chilton pauses.

"He- he's tasted your blood," he points out incredulously, though Ichigo thinks he just hasn't wrapped his head around how lucky he's feeling quite yet.

The teen shrugs.

"So? That means nothing, for him. It's the flesh he's interested, and he's not interested in mine." Ichigo bats his eyelashes. "In fact, I was wondering- could we start perhaps spending our exercise hours together? It's so boring, without anyone to talk to. I might get fat."

Chilton purses his lips. It's a bad idea, he knows it is. The lunches already are pretty risky, but the chance to observe, to see how they act in a situation not quite so restrained as a meal...

It's a chance. A gamble, but a chance.

"If you're sure you want to chance it."

Ichigo grins, and Chilton feels himself go pale.

He fills out the necessary forms to set up a communal activities hour.


Ichigo's new guard is handsy. He's a dim, arrogant man with the build of a wall, and he's under the impression that Ichigo is as effeminate as he likes to pretend. Ichigo hates every touch, but smiles and bats his eyes at the moron.

He has a plan, after all.

The guy's name is Ryan Harche. He's just another guard, save for his minor ability in MMA and his superior strength. He responds to Ichigo's teasing the way Ichigo expects him to- he touches more, grows cruder and crueler with each night. Hannibal's always taken to the gymnasium first, so he never sees Ryan's handling, but Ichigo tells, and Hannibal stews.

And then, Ryan comes for Ichigo early.

Both inmates know immediately what he wants, but Ichigo says nothing. He smiles and giggles and acts, for all intents and purposes, like Orihime.

Which is an irritating reminder, but a necessary one.

Ryan doesn't take him to the gymnasium. He takes him into a closet, and strips him of his shirt.

Ichigo allows it, allows every touch, every kiss, letting his mouth fall open so Ryan's tongue slips in.

And then he bites down hard, boxing the guard's ears and kneeing him simultaneously. As the man begins to scream, Ichigo pushes him back, the alien tongue still in his mouth, and runs for the gymnasium.

Even Hannibal looks surprise when Ichigo bursts through the doors of the asylum, chin coated on blood and his chest bare.


Ichigo doesn't bother to stop, shoving the guards either side and reaching out to grasp fistfuls of Hannibal's hair.

He presses his open lips against Hannibal's, and after a moment, Hannibal gets it, and opens his mouth as well.

The soft, bloody tongue of Ryan Harche is pushed into his mouth, and Ichigo is dragged back from him.

Hannibal just continues to look surprised, even as he chews his surprise meal and watches his friend throw punches at the nightstick-carrying guards. He doesn't get involved– Ichigo would hate it if Hannibal got in trouble over him- but he watches with a detached sort of interest as he swallows the last of the tongue- which is positively scrumptious, even raw.

Ichigo laughs warmly when a stick is cracked against his ribs, even though he's crying from the pain of what has to be broken bones. He won't stop laughing- the little masochist.

It's only when they're certain Ichigo's stopped fighting that they bother with Hannibal. Most of them looked frightened by the fact they turned their backs on him, but he doesn't fight them. He lets them lead him back to his cell, and he waits.


"Hannibal, have you ever been to Paris?"

Hannibal blinks at the question. Ichigo had been oddly quiet since returning from solitary, never singing, always writing. He sleeps a lot, his body a corpse on his bed at all hours of the day.

The dead families pile up around the asylum, all killed in Ichigo's preferred method, and the inmates start to whisper about the place being haunted. The nurses start disappearing, too- there are more guards set up throughout the asylum- and Hannibal is certain it has everything to do with Ichigo.

"Many years ago," he admits. "It was a beautiful place."

Ichigo sighs.

"I always wanted to see the Louvre," he says softly. "When I was there last time... There wasn't time for tourist stuff."

He'd killed thirteen people in Paris, if Hannibal remembers correctly. He'd check, but Chilton took Ichigo's file back when it was made clear that Hannibal wouldn't be helping him.

"Perhaps you can put it on your Christmas list," Hannibal says lightly. "And Chilton will bring you a book."

"It's not the same," Ichigo sighs.

Hannibal smiles fondly.

"Well, if you like, perhaps one day I'll take you."

Ichigo looks up from his notes- he's got maybe a thousand pages of text, and not even Chilton's read them, mostly because they're in Japanese and the idiot never bothered to learn a second language- and smiles.

"You promise, Hannibal?"

There's a shadow just behind Ichigo, a foggy outline that Hannibal can't make out for the life of him. He inclines his head.

"Of course, Ichigo."


The glass literally just falls out of place one evening during the guard changes, thanks to a mixture of highly acidic, 'safe' chemicals the resident cannibal has collected over the years. Hannibal smirks at the way Ichigo jerks out of bed to stare.

He steps into the hall, catches the charging guard by the throat and snaps his neck, unhooking his key from his belt and opening Ichigo's cell without aplomb.

Ichigo's still on the bed, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, which makes him smile.

"Come, let's away from prison; We two alone will sing like birds I' th' cage." Hannibal puts out a hand, near-quoting Ichigo's favorite Shakespearean play. "I promised you Paris, didn't I?"

Ichigo stares a beat longer, then breaks out into a bright grin, reaching out to take Hannibal's hand.

"Oh, Doctor, you know just what to say." Ichigo's voice goes high and girlish, the way it does when he's addressed by the guards and nurses. "I hope you planned for dinner."

Hannibal smirks and inclines his head.

"Does a broiled Chilton sound acceptable?"

"God, you know just what to say to make me melt, Hannibal- do you mind if I finish a few things while you go out for a hunt?"

"You don't really mean to set this place on fire, do you?" Hannibal asks mock reprovingly. "Think of the other inmates."

Ichigo smiles charmingly.

"I always do."

And then he turns on his heels and disappears down the corridor, ignoring the other inmates who go wild at the freedom he displays.

Hannibal only has maybe... Ten minutes. Ichigo's a firebug, which he claims is his 'Shiba blood at work' in his files. Absently, he wonders if Ichigo will manage to makes some fireworks with the materials in the various labs he's sure to discover.

Well, he'll find out soon. Right now, he has to find Chilton.

He's promised dinner, after all.


The car Hannibal chooses is Chilton's. it's nice enough, a 1998 Chevy that gleams gunmetal gray in the streetlights lining the parking lot. Chilton fits with room to spare in the trunk, and so Hannibal leans against the hood of the car and waits, keys hanging from his thumb where his hands are clasped before him.

"He is destroyed."

Hannibal doesn't twitch. The man didn't seem to expect an answer, though, even as he steps forward to stare up at the building. There is a fresh bruise on the blonde's cheek, as though he'd been punched.

"He's been destroyed, and I could have stopped it." There's a hideous hat being crushed in his grasp as tears roll down his pale cheeks. "I could have gotten him out, I could have stopped him from talking-"

"It's rude to talk about others, you know, especially in the company of their friends." The man smells familiar- his blood has painted Ichigo's hands before, after fights with a shadow Hannibal barely sees in his cell.

The blonde jerks and looks up, wide-eyed.

"You- you hear me."

"It appears I can see you as well, though I might not have before." Hannibal leans forward, nostrils flaring as a malicious smile curves his lips. The man smells like raw power, and yet he is frightened. Hannibal frightens him.

"Who are you?"

The blonde tries to reel back, but Hannibal leans in and catches his wrist in a tight grip.

"You didn't answer my question, sir," Hannibal says politely, but his red eyes flash warningly. "I don't like to repeat myself."

The blonde swallows.

"An- an old friend of Kurosaki- of Ichigo."

"An ex-lover," Ichigo singsongs, practically skipping up to the pair. There's a cut above his right eye, and his grin is manic, a weighty fireman's axe clutched in his blood-slicked hands. He holds a bag that Hannibal assumes is filled with personal effects, as it jingles with every movement.

Hannibal's lip curls as he looks back at the blonde.


"Urahara was a very good friend of mine, and a tutor," Ichigo explains as he slows to a stop beside the cannibal. "And then he left behind, like all the others- I'll explain in better detail in the car, if you like."

"I would."

Urahara looks anguished.

"Ichigo, it wasn't my choice, you know that," he says, and his voice is tight, not quite cracking with each syllable. "Your father ordered us away-"

"And as a genius you should have known to never listen to Goat Face," Ichigo says simply. "Leave him, Hannibal. We've got to go- can't you smell it?"

Hannibal, who has been able to smell the starter fire for the last six minutes, nods and tosses the blonde to the pavement.

"Oh, nice car- Chilton's?"

"Of course." There's the sound of two car doors opening, then slamming shut, and the sound of an engine revving.

Urahara watches them peel away with a sort of helplessness he hasn't felt in a while. He doesn't have time to mope for long, though, as the front of the building explodes outwards, spraying brick and other highly lethal things down upon the shinigami.

When Urahara looks up, the sky is alight with shades of red, green, blue, and purple fire.

The asylum is on fire.


"Four legs and two voices; a most delicate monster we are, Hannibal."

Hannibal looks over at the young man that sits with his face directly in the wind, window rolled all the way down as he smokes. He looks comfortable in the thrift shop blazer and jeans, but Hannibal would love to see him in Sunday best.

"We're not monsters, Ichigo, or even a single one," he replies, turning his gaze back to the road. "We're just what we're supposed to be. Now, would you explain those... You called them Quincy crosses."

Ichigo grins, hand going reflexively to the hundreds of silver crosses that hang from his neck on chains, leather cords, and in some cases, hair.

"Well, you see, my mother kept a diary of everyone she spoke to prior to her death, and I needed something to avenge..."

Hannibal listens to what is probably the wildest story he's ever been told, and he continues to drive.

He wonders what shinigami tastes like.