A/N: hello all! My sophomore foray into the world of FanFic. This was something I've always found intriguing, and I hope you do too! I've actually had this first chapter written for a while now, however I wanted a really good beta to help as needed for sustainability. Wiggles, you are awesome. As with anything I post, I certainly hope you enjoy. Please read, review, and keep any non-productive/constructive criticisms to yourself! (No one is forcing you to read it)

I don't own bleach.


test- spirit speaking

test- inner thoughts and flashbacks

Tier Harribel

Tier regained consciousness with a low groan. Clutching her throbbing abdomen, she groaned again as she opened her eyes. Turning her head slightly, all she could see was the rubble from the battle with the shinigami, and she noted through her pain that the entire city was most likely in ruins.

'So much destruction and death for one traitorous man's dream of power. Even the lives of those who followed and were loyal to him... of my fraccion, of myself...were expendable. I swear, given the chance, I will end your life for this treachery, Aizen', she thought in silent fury.

Her fury was accompanied by a wave of sadness as she thought of her fallen fraccion. Their beast had unfortunately drawn the attention of the Captain Commander of the shinigami, against whom Tier would be sorely tested even on her best of days.

'Sung-sun, Apacci, Mila-Rose, I am sorry I could not protect you.'

Tier decided that if she regained the ability to move about, that she would try to recover their bodies, in the chance that they had not dissolved.

'Save your energy, Tier. I am trying to heal you enough for us to escape from this forsaken place, and you moving around and getting angry isn't helping," said a voice in her mind.

Looking down at her body, Harribel saw a long, angrily colored scar along her torso where her wound had closed. "Healing you will be a long process. I have only managed to stop the bleeding. Retract our Resurrecion so all available energies can go to repairing your body."

Though she agreed she should do as the voice asked, Tier responded to that voice in her mind with a growl, 'I just lost those most dear to me and was betrayed almost to my death, Tiburon. Do not think to tell me to not be angry. In this moment, the only thing that could bring me some semblance of peace would be to run you through Aizen's heart...to watch the light leave his eyes as that despicable being leaves this world.'

Trying to remain calm and reign in her irritation, Tiburon sighed. She knew the agony that Tier was going through, Hell, she was part of her soul and was experiencing it as well...but this wasn't the time for anger.

Relenting for the moment, Tiburon said, "Yes, Tier, I understand. However, I vote for self-preservation at this moment. We have no allies, severely weakened power, and captain-level shinigami most likely crawling the largest portion of this place. You should cast your pesquisa, so we can determine how to get out of here."

Again, Harribel agreed with the suggestion of her zanpakuto, reverting back to her sealed form while standing and sheathing Tiburon's blade with great effort.

Closing her eyes and casting her pesquisa, she quickly sensed the reiatsu of multiple shinigami with various levels of strength to the south of where she was, as well as incredibly faint hollow signatures to the north.

However, as she was observing the reiatsu signatures her abilities had revealed, her attention was captured as she felt a tremendous, familiar reiatsu signature surging towards her at an incredible rate. 'Aizen!'

Opening her eyes and turning, she prepared to release her blade. Regardless of how much pain she was in, regardless of how weak she felt at the moment, regardless of the fact that she knew she stood no chance against this monstrous reiatsu: if she was going to die- she would die fighting.

However, she froze in shock as she caught sight of a man with orange hair flying impossibly fast while dragging a man in solid white with large, white wings, long brown hair, and the overwhelming reiatsu that she recognized as Aizen's, by gripping his face!

'How...? That hair...it must be Ichigo Kurosaki. How could he possibly be strong enough to dominate Aizen so, when he struggled to defeat Grimmjow? I cannot feel the slightest trace of reiatsu from him, yet he was dragging the strongest being I've ever encountered by his face with his bare hand!'

"Tier! What are you doing?! We have to get away!", Tiburon shouted in Tier's mind as she sensed the arrancar struggling to stand up and attempting follow the men she just saw fly by.

'I have to see this. This boy...if he can dominate that monster, he may actually be able to bring about the end of Aizen,' Tier thought as if in a trance.

As Harribel slowly made her way towards the source of Aizen's reiatsu, she was amazed at how the ground beneath her shook and the landscape around her was being demolished with each clang of metal.

Unable to turn away, though, she pressed on, slowly making her way. She felt an overwhelming compulsion to see this battle. The orange haired shinigami she had just seen had captured her complete attention with his amazing display of power against the...creature...that she now despised.

To be honest, the young shinigami had garnered her attention back in Hueco Mundo. His battle against Grimmjow was one of the more...interesting...things she had witnessed in her life.

Actually, his entire venture into the hollow world to save one friend had interested her. A hybrid of human, shinigami, and hollow risking his life and fighting overwhelming odds to save one human? She had never encountered anyone with that level of determination and selflessness.

Entering the far edges of the battleground, her thoughts and severely weakened sonidos were halted as she was slammed back into a nearby mountain from the force of a massive explosion. She groaned as she felt several bones break on impact, and her wound reopen.

After a few moments, when the flames of the explosion had quelled by a massive wave of reiatsu, Harribel-though barely conscious and unable to move -was able to open her eyes and view the frightening scene before her.

Far above a massive crater in the ground, a white being with a black face, large white wings, small white faces and small purple eyes spaced evenly on those wings, held the shinigami by the throat. The eyes on the wings were opened wide, and three hollow circles surrounded his head.

After a moment of Aizen telling the shinigami how powerless he now was, she heard him bellow, "It is over, Ichigo Kurosaki!"

In her daze, Tier couldn't help but to think of the nature of the man in Aizen's grasp. 'Ichigo Kurosaki, I remember you...you are an unusual being. You seem to exist to defy all odds, yet you never lose your humanity. Even Grimmjow, who constantly berated you and tried to kill you for fun...I remember you lowering him to the ground, rather than dropping him like trash...You are...different. I would have preferred to meet you, Ichigo Kurosaki. Pity, It seems in the end you were just another cut down by...'

"Over?", she heard Ichigo say, interrupting her thoughts. "Is this all you've got?"

Stunned into full consciousness, Tier was speechless as she watched the man in black slash Aizen's chest with a jet black blade that seemed to be attached to his hand. The sheer power from the swing dissipated the hollow circles and forced Aizen back.

"Lets end this," the man called Ichigo continued, "I'm sick of your talking. I'll show you...the Final Getsuga Tensho."

When he had finished speaking, Harribel watched as Ichigo disappeared into a massive cloud of white reiatsu that seemed to have black flames dancing about. She had never before witnessed such a sight, yet even with the massive amount of reiatsu visibly released, she still couldn't feel anything from the shinigami named Ichigo.

When the cloud disappeared, she was stunned at the transformation. The once orange hair was now a long mane of black, his eyes a burning red, and the man's clothes seemed to be made of black reiatsu.

Tier listened in stunned silence when she heard Ichigo explain the Final Getsuga Tensho. She felt something deep within her stir as he said, "If I use this technique, I lose all of my shinigami powers. That's why it's the final one."

'He is sacrificing his powers to defeat Aizen? Aren't shinigami powers part of their own soul?!'

She found that his words were resonating within her innermost being and both Tier and Tiburon were in awe of the immense sacrifice being displayed before their very eyes. This young shinigami was clearly risking everything, willing to sacrifice all that he is, to defeat Aizen.

Given her nature, Harribel felt herself hoping that this gamble succeeded. Never had she met a man like Ichigo Kurosaki. His power, his selfless sacrifice, his obvious strength of character...they spoke to her on a level she couldn't fully comprehend, but one that she knew was there.

She was continuing to hope when she heard a loud shing, and then one word before all the world went silent.


When Ichigo had uttered this word, a mountainous surge of jet black reiatsu leapt from his hand towards Aizen. The sheer power of the attack seemed to suppress any and all noise, until it dissipated with a loud roar.

When the massive surge had settled, she saw Aizen's ragged body fall from the sky, slamming into the dirt below. Her nerves were nearing unravelling though, as she saw his body partially regenerate itself from the wounds as the young shinigami seemed to appear on the ground near where Aizen had landed.

'He is still not dead?! It would seem, young Ichigo Kurosaki, that your sacrifice may have been for naught.

She found this thought, the thought of Ichigo falling to Aizen...the thought of Ichigo falling...to be...unpleasant. Tier actually felt a pang of disappointment, though, as she found that she had been subconsciously hoping for a chance to meet this young shinigami...once the aftershock of the war had died down.

Her attention went back to the battlefield, and she couldn't stifle the gasp that escaped her as the shinigami's hair returned to bright orange and his flaming black form disappeared. She looked on in what she now recognized as sorrow, as he fell to his hands and knees in obvious exhaustion.

Harribel's head spun as her wounds were quickly catching up to her, and she struggled to remain awake. Watching Aizen slowly rise, she began to vaguely feel the same fear she felt for her fraccion as he stood over the weakened Ichigo.

She felt her pain dragging her under, her weak grip on consciousness failing and leaving her genuinely afraid when she heard the traitorous monster growl, "Ichigo Kurosaki...you lose."

With Ichigo

"Ichigo Kurosaki," Aizen said, straightening himself up, "you lose." Though his breathing was labored, he was able to get to his feet and look down on the still kneeling Substitute. He raised his now crumbling zanpakuto, which caused him to smirk.

If it weren't for the massive loss of energy, Ichigo would have loved to punch him in his smug face. The reality was, though, the fact that Aizen was still standing, still regenerating was quite unnerving.

"My zanpakuto is disappearing. You know what this means. The Hogyoku has decided that I no longer need a zanpakuto. I will now surpass even the power you had attained before you lost"-FSSSSHHH. Aizen was cut off as a large red spear of kido appeared through his chest. Confused, he exclaimed, "What the hell is this!? When did you..."

"So it's finally taking effect," an airy voice said. Startled, Ichigo and Aizen whipped around to see Kisuke Urahara land near where Ichigo was standing. "I fired that kido into you when you were evolving. It seems, as I suspected, that it only took effect after Kurosaki-san weakened you, fighting you so hard that you were pushed to your limits. It's a seal that I invented."

"I see," Aizen chuckled, relaxed by knowing that the Hogyoku would easily overcome this obstacle. "I'm sorry to tell you, that you cannot seal me with this level kido."

However, the moment Aizen stopped speaking, ten other kido spears appeared through his chest, and his white hollow shell began to shatter.

"How...how can this be?!", he cried, a note of panic entering his voice.

"The seal is taking effect, and it would seem that the Hogyoku is rejecting you as it's master," Urahara said quietly. As he spoke, a different, off-white shell seemed to be consuming Aizen, quickly covering his whole body, save for his head.

"NO! This is impossible! I am a true transcendent being! I subjected the Hogyoku to my will! I am"-BOOM! Before Aizen could finish, the seal completed, covering Aizen in a strange cross-like form.

"It is finished," Urahara whispered, breathing a sigh of relief. Turning to Ichigo, who was now returning to his feet, he continued softly, "His seal will be moved to Soul Society and Central 46 will decide his fate. Ichigo, your efforts, risk and sacrifice have saved hundreds of thousands of lives. I know it's not much in the face of what you've sacrificed...not only your powers, but your way of life-and part of your soul...but I wish to say...you did the right thing, thank you."

"I never did this for praise, Urahara-san," Ichigo said quietly when he was finally able to speak. "I knew the risks, and while I can't say I have no regrets...I can say that it was worth the sacrifice." Yet, even as Ichigo spoke those words, his mind violently attempted to reject the idea.

Turning to Urahara, he knew he shouldn't, but he had to ask, "Urahara-san...how long...I mean...when will I lose...", he trailed off, unable to finish.

At that moment, Ichigo's sentence turned into a scream of pure agony. A searing, mind-shattering pain erupted within his chest, and his hands began to claw at his chest as if he were trying to pry it open.

He began to blindly panic as felt as if someone had reached their hand into his chest and that they were attempting to rip his heart out. Urahara was about to cast a binding spell on him to keep him from actually peeling his skin off when Ichigo's scream was abruptly cut off.

Kisuke's eyes widened as he saw black reiatsu suddenly flooding out of Ichigo, leaving the younger shinigami gasping desperately on the ground. After a moment, when the dark cloud of reiatsu had disappeared, Urahara noticed Ichigo on all fours in his normal shinigami garb, but with no zanpakuto.

While he was gasping desperately to catch his breath on the outside, inside his strained mind Ichigo heard Zangetsu's voice once more say faintly, "farewell, Ichigo", as the excruciating pain he had just felt quickly faded into an empty numbness.

Ichigo couldn't help the fear and panic that now tightly gripped his heart. Yes, he could put on a brave face, but losing his way of life...losing part of his soul, terrified him.

He could not regret the result. Lives were saved and peace was achieved, but why did it have to be at such a price? Why did his soul have to be the cost for everyone else?

Shakily coming to his feet next to Urahara once again, Ichigo was still trying to catch his breath as he thought, 'He...he's gone. My soul feels so hollow. Just now, when Zangetsu was ripped from me, it felt like a hole was torn in my very existence.'

Kisuke Urahara had never been a highly emotional man. His highly scientific mind and incredible intellect provided him an escape from the overwhelming powers of feelings and emotions. However, the fear he heard in Ichigo's voice, and the painful exhibit he just saw his former student go through, was something that he found to be incredibly painful.

Why is it that the young always pay the price for the sins of the old? This boy...no, this man sacrificed part of his soul, his happiness, and risked his life for worlds who offered nothing in return, and it seems that it falls to me to put the final touches on his grief. Fate is not kind to him in the least.'

Deciding not to pressure him on what just happened, as it was obvious to the former captain that Ichigo's zanpakuto spirit was just forcefully ripped from him, he answered the question that had been cut off.

"It's hard to say, Kurosaki-san. This will be an increasingly unpleasant experience for you. You will experience intense bouts of pain over an uncertain amount of time as your shinigami powers fade, most likely in stages. Though Zangetsu seems to already be gone, you still have remnants of your powers. As far as when they will fully disappear, it could be tomorrow or it could be a year from now. There is really no way to know for sure."

Ichigo's heart clenched at the words. He was not worried about the pain. He had felt pain, unimaginable pain. Pain was tangible. He could understand it, therefore it drew little fear from him.

No, what terrified Ichigo was the idea that this life...the life he had come to hold so dear...the people he had come to care about so much, the power to protect and the communion with his soul... would disappear at any moment. The arbitrary nature of this both terrified and infuriated him.

Just give me something concrete! Why do I have to live in constant fear?' His grief and fear felt as though they were tearing at his sanity. 'I wish I had not had to sacrifice my powers...my soul. How can I protect anything when I am simply human? This is the price I have to pay for that bastard's ridiculous ambition?'

Rage began to build in his mind as he turned to face the seal that contained Aizen.


The word itself seared a burning hatred in his heart, a heart that now screamed out in agony and in loss. Agony of losing part of his soul, loss of his way of life and friends he had come to trust with his own life. It was just too much.

Joining his heart, Ichigo unleashed another furious, agonized bellow that echoed across the destroyed landscape.


A large pulse of energy shook the ground. It seemed to resonate with Ichigo's fury, his agony.


The pulse seemed to be a feeling...a presence of sorts. As Ichigo stared at Aizen's seal, he sensed the pulsing feeling intensify.


Each pulse matched one of Ichigo's heartbeats. With each pulse, an incredible reiatsu began to permeate the area, overwhelming both Ichigo and Urahara, who were forced to a knee.

The reiatsu was becoming so thick that Ichigo could feel it pressing on his skin...hear its voiceless cry...he could even taste what seemed to be bitter agony. Feelings of agony, betrayal, fury, desperation, and hopelessness seemed to pour faster from the seal the more that Ichigo could sense them.


"Ichigo, move away!", Urahara called loudly. While he could not feel the specific substance of the reiatsu that was locking Ichigo into place, he was wary of what could transpire. His mind went into overdrive as he began preparing for the worst possible scenarios. 'Aizen must still have his power. Did the Hogyoku not reject him?!'

As the pressure grew, Ichigo could sense that the feelings within it intensified, growing to include a desperate longing. It seemed as if the very essence of the seal was screaming for release. As the pressure reached its peak, a brilliant purple light began to glow at the center of Aizen's seal.


Suddenly, the brilliant light erupted, creating a small beam that slammed into Ichigo's chest and appeared as a solid purple connection between Ichigo's body and Aizen's seal.

"Ichigo!", Urahara cried as the light obscured his view of the younger shinigami. 'What is happening?! Surely Aizen is powerless at this point!'

Ichigo couldn't move. He was forced to both knees and his face was contorted into a silent scream as the light pierced the center of his chest. The pain was excruciating. He felt as if the very center of his being was burning, ripping apart at the seams, and he was powerless to stop it.

The searing sensation spread throughout his entirety. His bones felt to be on the brink of shattering, his blood seemed as if it was going to boil out of his skin, and his muscles felt as if they were being strained beyond their limits.

On top of the horrendous pain his body was experiencing, Ichigo's mind felt stretched almost to a breaking point as he could actually feel his inner world crumbling and churning in the chaotic waters he had left not so long ago.

The light began to intensify, no longer pulsing but pouring into him. Finally, with a loud BOOM, the light ended, with the last of the beam slamming into Ichigo's chest, forcing him onto his back as he gasped for air. The last conscious thought he had was of Urahara calling out his name.

Kyoka POV

She had never felt pain like this. She had felt emotional pain when forced to do unspeakable acts of treachery and being forsaken by her wielder, and physical pain when fighting the immensely powerful Ichigo...yet never this...this all-consuming, existence-tearing agony.

Why was this happening to her?

The answer was as cruel as her wielder. Sosuke had been getting not only distant from her, but increasingly cold and brutal for years. He constantly disregarded her and her counsel, as well as forced her into countless scenarios of murder, mutilation, and mental torture to people whom she knew were innocent.

Being a zanpakuto spirit, she was never afraid of battle, and certainly understood that life and death were inevitable pieces of the equation. She was also very well acquainted with brutality, but never to the extent that her wielder took it-even though he constantly used the guise of 'changing the world'.

However, the needless brutality and single-mindedness that bordered on obsessive madness made her wielder more akin to a murdering sociopath than to one who sought to change the world.

Yet, through it all, she had gone along, wanting to make sure that Sosuke had survived his many dangerous encounters. Kyoka knew he wasn't capable of listening to her anymore, yet she was not capable of abandoning him to die.

If she had had the capability amidst the incredible pain she was in at that particular moment, she would have coldly chuckled at the irony. She couldn't abandon him to die, but what about his intoxication by the power from the Hogyoku leading him to actually discard her? His mind truly was lost, it would seem, as she had become less than a tool to him.

In the midst of her agony and bitter thoughts, thoughts of the boy Sosuke was fighting-the one that had finally defeated them- began plaguing her already tortured consciousness. Ichigo Kurosaki was incredibly powerful, but what she saw and felt from him were something completely different than what Sosuke saw.

As she recalled what she had witnessed, a fierce longing began to build within her. A longing for acceptance, for communion...for...

"Oddly enough, it seems that my right arm has fused with my zanpakuto as the conclusion to my evolution. Perhaps this is the natural form of the zanpakuto. However, I was able to find out through our clash of swords, that our evolutions are in different planes. If I want, I can shatter your blade with one stroke," Sosuke said with his usual arrogance.

Though her relationship with her wielder was...existent at best, Kyoka relished the chance to defeat this boy, as he had been one of a few catalysts that had most forcefully driven Sosuke in his mad search for power.

Though she was aware of his exploits and devotion to his friends, she knew that this young shinigami must be like all of the other arrogant and mindless bastards in Soul Society. How many of them had she seen use their zanpakutos the way she was now being used? Surely Ichigo Kurosaki was no different.

As Kyoka felt herself be swung at Ichigo with all of her wielder's might, both she and he were shocked beyond words when the boy caught her with his bare hand. The idea that anyone could dodge, much less catch her when she was swung so hard was nigh impossible to grasp.

However, the feelings that coursed through Kyoka at the moment the orange haired shinigami's hand touched her blade were unlike anything she'd ever experienced. The warmth, the devotion and determination-to not only his friends and family, but to Zangetsu as well- and the level of purity in his reiatsu poured through and made a shiver run through her blade. She felt saturated by his presence, and in that instant, she was able to see him in a completely different light.

She knew that Sosuke was familiar with the fact that anyone touching her blade would be instantly unaffected by her illusions, yet he never took the time to see what those touches actually did to her. Those who felt her blade were like an open book to her, their souls and minds laid bare.

Just as she had felt Gin's repressed rage at Sosuke's actions against his friend, his obsession with revenge, and later-as she pierced his chest-his regret at leaving the girl he tried to avenge behind, Kyoka experienced a wide range of emotions from Ichigo Kurosaki. What she couldn't get over, though, was the incredible warmth that emanated from his soul.

'I have not felt warmth like this from Sosuke in well over one hundred years. This boy...Zangetsu is fortunate. A heart this pure is a miracle, especially considering what he's been through by Sosuke's hand. Sosuke has been driven to near madness by his lust for power, and I am no more than a mere tool. I can sense a darkness within him, but this boy is driven by love for others...by his will to protect...'

Kyoka was jarred out of her thoughts as Sosuke attempted-and failed-to kill Ichigo with kido, then she cringed as Zangetsu tore through the evolved body of her wielder. Though she held quite a bit of resentment towards her corrupted wielder-thus lessening her concern-due to their mockery of a merging, she felt the same physical pain he did.

After a few moments of Sosuke talking to Ichigo, she felt a painful pulse emanate from him. She winced within the inner world as she felt the Hogyoku reluctantly activate once again. This 'evolution', though, was different. Kyoka shuddered in horror as she realized what was happening.

As the Hogyoku began its work, she felt her blade forcefully taking on a much heavier taint of hollow powers. The foreign feeling was not only excruciating, but fiercely violating-much akin to rape-and she felt the last few bonds left between her and Sosuke weakening and almost all breaking.

Even though she knew that his mind was too far gone, she couldn't help but scream in agony as she felt her 'self' nearly be taken over by the force of the Hogyoku.

In her desperation, she screamed so loudly that her voice broke, "SOSUKE! Please, NO! Why are you trying to destroy me?! Come back to me Sosuke!"

No answer came as her last connection to her wielder was stretched so tightly that she knew it would soon break. Sosuke had become a monster, forcing the Hogyoku to mutilate his existence into the current winged form he now held, and as a result she now felt disgustingly saturated and tainted by the mindless hollow powers her wielder had called upon.

After Sosuke had used some of the most incredibly powerful attacks she had ever witnessed, she fell silent in agonized awe of the boy...no, the man...for no boy could ever attain this level, that stood across from she and her wielder.

Hearing his explanation, and seeing the results of his merger with Zangetsu, she wanted to scream in fury as she briefly assumed that the boy had also discarded his zanpakuto for the lure of more power. However, as she looked through Sosuke's eyes at the now god-like shinigami, she saw despair mixed in with the determination in the blood red eyes.

'He...he merged with Zangetsu! He actually did it?!'

In that moment, she knew...she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this boy was knowingly sacrificing part of his soul to protect the lives of millions. More than that, she knew that he would not be doing this if he had even the slightest of alternatives, as she recalled the intense protectiveness within his reiatsu.

Kyoka's thoughts were cut short as one word uttered from Ichigo Kurosaki brought about the single greatest bit of mortal agony she had ever experienced.


End Flashback

Pain. It was everywhere. It was everything. It was all encompassing, overwhelming each and every possible sense that Kyoka could ever imagine. Her blade crumbling in Sosuke's hand, as well as his disgustingly arrogant words, now kindled within her a hatred she had never experienced.

Sosuke Aizen was rejoicing over the fact that she was being discarded, that she would die. Though his words were untrue, and the Hogyoku was not in fact casting her out, she felt a surge of bitter fury that seemed to define his betrayal of her.

How dare he?! I gave that bastard everything he ever wanted, and he rejoices when I am crumbling?! How could he do this? I...I...I HATE YOU SOSUKE AIZEN!'

A loud boom interrupted her bitter thoughts, as she realized that they were now sealed together. Acutely aware of the enclosure, the thought of spending another second, let alone eternity, with the man that she now loathed with her entire being repulsed her, sending her fury to new heights.

It seemed, however, that the seal was purely for Sosuke's reiatsu as the sound of one of the most heart wrenching screams of agony she had ever heard came through the seal, echoing in the now dark inner world she was trapped in.

An abrupt silence was accompanied by the fast-fading reiatsu of Zangetsu, and Kyoka knew what had just happened. 'I understand your pain, Ichigo Kurosaki. I pray you soon find peace.'

'Peace...?' The word echoed in her mind. Kyoka could not help the intense longing that welled up within her at that word. The poor man out there, who had sacrificed part of his soul to defeat her wielder...she felt a sort of kinship with him. Both of their lives had been torn apart by a madman with dreams of godhood.

She knew they would both suffer in their loneliness, yet the more she thought about Ichigo, the greater her longing became. Why did they both have to suffer? She felt that she must be hallucinating in her pained state, as she could not stop the outlandish desire of them saving each other...of them coming together.

Kyoka's pain-riddled consciousness was again flooded by the memories of the warmth that had emanated from him. His passion, devotion, and his pure heart seemed to call to her at her most basic level and she realized- with vivid clarity- that she wanted him.

She desperately wanted to be his, to remember the feeling of being wanted and trusted. She wanted to feel his warmth saturate her blade again...to be used to protect instead of destroy. She wanted to feel at one with someone so pure that his touch alone could drive the pain away.

Kyoka winced as she heard another agonized scream. With this one, she could feel the severely weakened reiatsu still within Ichigo tinged with fury. He was bellowing out in frustration and pain, and Kyoka felt an overwhelming compulsion to respond. Her own mind began to attempt to push aside the pain and focus.

Soon though, Kyoka felt her mind beginning to tear from the excruciating mixture of pain and longing that seemed to be the substance and current definition of her existence. Her pain suddenly spiked, and she found herself screaming, 'ICHIGO! PLEASE, ICHIGOOOO!'

Though she could not formulate an actual request, she continued to scream his name to the darkness around her. After a moment, she felt a large pulse shake the entire inner world where she was. Not deterred, she continued to scream for the young shinigami, the memory of his warmth now being the center of her universe.

As the pulsing continued to grow in intensity, Kyoka felt a familiar presence now in the inner world where she resided. Turning, she saw a hazy, glowing image of Ichigo standing before her. Before she could react, the image spoke, confusing her as the voice did not match the man.

"Kyoka, what is it that you desire?"

Hearing the voice, she stopped screaming and asked in a hoarse voice, 'H-Hogyoku?'

The image of Ichigo blinked. Once again, it asked, "What is it that you desire?"

There was only one word she could say. One word she could think of. She couldn't explain it, nor could she deny it. This one word reverberated in her mind...'Ichigo'.

The image of said person simply nodded. Offering his hand, Hogyoku said, "Our thoughts are in accord. There will be no going back."

When Kyoka grasped his hand, the pulsing peaked, and a brilliant purple light engulfed both she and Hogyoku, shining so brightly that she had to close her eyes. She felt herself being pulled...pulled incredibly hard away from the inner world she resided in and the pain associated with it.

When she opened her eyes, Kyoka was amazed at the sight before her. Wherever she was, it was being demolished. She could see incredibly tall buildings being ripped to shreds and churned within what seemed to be an ocean.

In the midst of all of this, the purple light she had seen just moments ago began to grow brighter and brighter, consuming the chaos below. When the bright purple light was again all she could see, a loud BOOM rang out as she heard Hogyoku say, "Now, we start anew."