12:06 pm: Invisible Writing, Part Six
Invisible Writing, Part Six
Characters: Ishida, Orihime, Ichigo, Aizen, Gin
Ze plot churns. Ishida and Hollow Ichigo meet.
Extra love for Finnie this week because I am a bitch to beta for.
Disclaimer: Kubo Tite owns Bleach, and Incandescens owns the imagination that gave me the scenario for this particular fanfic.
Description: Orihime acquires a slave in Hueco Mundo--Ishida.
Warnings: Mild sexual innuendo, violence, reference to character deaths
Special thanks to Incandescens and Finnigan Geist
The Other recognized Ishida right away and gasped the name.
The Hollow bristled under the Other’s influence and felt a familiar, creeping urge to murder begin in his bones.
So this pathetic, collared creature was someone named Ishida?
Not another nuisance like Inoue! The Hollow had taken to speeding away at the sight of the girl because the Other would give him Hell about her. "Stop! She’s not worth killing." But the Hollow never had understood why he shouldn’t kill Inoue. First, she healed almost everyone he destroyed and that was annoying. Second, if he killed her, Aizen would be pissed and ready to fight. But no, whatever feeble argument the Other championed for sparing the girl always tore at the Hollow’s spine and kept him from swatting her dead. "Wait," the Other would say. "If you’re the big mighty king, you can show a little patience. The real war starts later. Don’t mess up your chance to destroy Aizen."
And now here was another face that the Other knew.
The Hollow grabbed Ishida by the top of the head.
Ishida’s eyes were wide, and the Other’s voice shouted behind the Hollow’s ear: "Stop! He’s not worth killing!"
The Hollow laughed a shrieking laugh. "Is this yours, Luppi?" His fingers kneaded Ishida’s hair.
Luppi rolled his long-lashed eyes ceilingward. "He’s Orihime’s servant. Pull his head off, and she just might put it back on. She probably has developed that talent by now." The Hollow was amused by how unconcerned Luppi pretended to be under the threat of anyone’s dismemberment. "After all we’ve seen her do," Luppi went on, folding his bell-sleeved arms before his chest, "I wouldn’t be surprised if she can raise the dead."
The Hollow turned to stare into the servant’s blue eyes. Defiant kid. Really tough even though he was scared.
"I don’t care if you kill him," said Luppi. "I told you. He’s not mine."
"Well now he’s MINE," screeched the Hollow, and with one blurry motion, he grabbed Ishida by the waist and was dashing down the hall.
At the turn of the corner, the Hollow tossed Ishida against the wall. It was an effortless pitch, not one meant to cause damage, but the miserable human cried out as his shoulder smacked the hard white quartz. And when he slid to the floor, he did not rise again. For one so weak, though, his eyes shone with an admirable ferocity.
"Why are you doing this, Kurosaki?"
"Listen to you!" The Hollow laughed. "You are in no place to ask anything of me."
"Your friends, your family!" The human was hissing the words in a low voice--as if it mattered that no one else hear. "You’re betraying us all by joining Aizen!"
The Hollow knew memories but felt no feelings about the humans called friends and family. Those feelings belonged to the Other and held no sway over the Hollow whatsoever. A boy who shot bright arrows at Hollow. Someone bowed over a piece of cloth … the skinny fingers fidgeting with a tiny, glinting instrument. Wind blowing black strands of hair across a self-satisfied face … the declaration "Next time we meet, Kurosaki, it will be as enemies."
"I’m not Kurosaki Ichigo," the Hollow said, "but I know that you are Ishida, and you’re the smart one, and you think you’ve got some plan to take down Aizen yourself, don’t you?"
"I don’t know why you came here," the Hollow went on, "but you’ve walked into your Death. When I entered Las Noches, the guards bowed and Aizen himself appeared to greet me."
Indeed they had. The Living World, haunted by coarse stupid Hollow worthy of Luppi’s insult, did not challenge the Hollow. But the majesty of Arrancar ascending in Negacion appealed to his vanity, so he had gone there. The moment he had ripped through the skies, a coterie of white-robed creatures appeared to be lined up, waiting for him. And Aizen had said, "I know that you’ve come to kill me, but believe me, it is not our time yet. We will fight another day."
Maybe it was not the day to fight Ishida either. Whatever rival the boy had been to Kurosaki Ichigo once, this Quincy-turned-plaything of Las Noches was truly not worth killing.
But the Hollow wanted to kill him. Maybe his death would shut up the Other.
Ishida tilted his head and grimaced. It looked like his shoulder hurt. "There’s still time," he said. "You couldn’t save Kuchiki-san, but you can save Inoue-san."
The Hollow threw back his head. "I don’t save anyone. I don’t protect anyone. That’s an obsession of the Shinigami. I fight for the power and the joy. Look at me and look at you, and tell me which of us is going to walk away from this encounter."
"You can still save Inoue-san," Ishida repeated.
The Hollow sniffed the air. "You smell like her. You’re both useless humans, and you’re both going to die. Neither of you will put up any resistance either--that’s how weak you are."
"I won’t let you hurt Inoue-san."
"There’s no saving anyone, Ishida. The universe will turn inside out the way your Shinigami friend did, and I will be king of it."
Ishida made a growling noise as he lifted his injured arm. The sleeve fell away, and the Hollow noticed the Quincy object glinting at Ishida’s wrist.
Then a silver web of light appeared.
"You’re kidding," said the Hollow.
It had not been the Other’s voice. It was Inoue’s voice. The girl was standing there with an Arrancar handmaiden, and both carried baskets that reeked of the Living World … that smelled like…
"Ichigo," said Aizen’s princess in a very regal tone, "leave my servant alone. Uryuu, put that weapon away."
"He’s armed?" The handmaiden dropped her basket and materialized her zanpakutou. "Querida, I told you he was trouble."
The Hollow took a springing step and rose to levitate far above the scene. The ceilings of Las Noches were ridiculously high, and to the beings below, it would be as if he had flash-stepped away. But he was hovering there, watching them.
The human’s strange bow vanished. The princess ran to the injured servant’s side, and the handmaiden withdrew her weapon. Just another ordinary skirmish in the halls of Las Noches and Inoue healing the fallen one. The incident would not attract attention.
"You didn’t kill him," said the Other.
"What does it matter to you? I’m going to destroy Aizen, whatever the cost, remember? These humans are petty change."
"Ishida’s right," said the Other. "Inoue-san can still be saved."
"Shut up," said the Hollow. "There will be nothing but blood and destruction in the world from here on."
He wished he could make the Other disappear. The Other had no influence now, but he was still there. The Hollow could sense his sorrow--he didn’t feel it, but he sensed it, as if that sorrow were spoken in another language, muffled behind an invisible wall.
The moment Inoue-san touched Ishida’s shoulder, it was healed. That was it--no summoning of Shun Shun Rika. There was a difference to her touch from what he had felt when she had clung, crying, to him yesterday. Here was power. Here was confidence.
Inoue did not remove her palm from Ishida’s shoulder. "Are you hurt anywhere else?"
"No." Ishida was looking into her large gray eyes. "Your powers have increased, Inoue-san. There were shattered bones in this arm."
Inoue did not look away. "Your reiatsu when you summoned that bow was small enough to go unnoticed here. I told you this sort of power could stand against an Arrancar but not … not him."
"The boy is trouble," said Lastimada who was standing over the pair.
"We have to leave," said Ishida in a soft voice. He knew that he was pleading for a lost cause. "One step. Take us home now."
Inoue-san seemed unmoved. "Lastimada," she said, not looking away from Ishida, "Go back to your quarters and speak nothing of this."
"Orihime-sama!" There was a rustle of fabric as the handmaiden bowed deeply. "Aizen-sama will find out about Uryuu somehow. If Ichigo doesn’t bother to tell him, someone else will. You’re too attached to the boy. It’s a human failing."
"Lastimada," Inoue-san said calmly. "Go."
Lastimada left, and Inoue remained kneeling, hands in her lap, her eyes fixed on Ishida’s.
"I’m not going to beg you to go back by yourself to the Living World, because I know you won’t. But please, stay in my rooms. Almatriste and Lastimada can be trusted."
"Kurosaki has already recognized me."
"It doesn’t matter."
"He called me Ishida. He’s going to reveal me, and you will be in danger. The world will be in danger."
"It doesn’t matter." Inoue-san leaned over and cupped Ishida’s face in her hands. The intimacy of the gesture startled him. Even though they had slept together in the same room two nights, and for one of those nights, she had been huddled against him, the feeling of her palms against his cheeks now … and her fragrant hair so close … it was unnerving. The corridor was huge and empty, but what if someone--?
"I’m going to get the hougyoku," she said. "I know it can save Kurosaki-kun."
"There’s not enough time," said Ishida. Her attachment to Kurosaki was still heart-breaking. She was going to die for Kurosaki. "You don’t have a plan. Aizen won’t let you near it."
"No, I do have a plan," said Inoue-san. "I have to tell him that I’ve gotten my memory back."
The gathering of the Espada was brief and perfunctory. Luppi complained about Ichigo, and Aizen responded with his customary calm, saying "Ichigo will be dealt with. His power exceeds all of yours now, but unless he stays in this Hollow form until the hougyoku matures, his transformation to Arrancar may be compromised. Yes, I realize he’s out of control now, but I trust that you (here, Aizen always nodded with sublime condescension at whichever Arrancar was complaining about Ichigo) can hold your own against his antics. Think of it as training."
Ulquiorra was asked to supervise the day’s battle trials, and no Espada were assigned to battle one another. "The princess will not be available for a while," Aizen said as he rose from his throne. "Whoever is severely injured within the next few hours will not be healed."
As the Arrancar drifted away from the Assembly, the voice of one rang above the others: "Ichimaru-sama never fights because he doesn’t have to. He’s like our Aizen-sama."
At those words, Ichimaru Gin appeared at one of the room’s doors, unnoticed by the Arrancar but plain in Aizen’s view. "Did you hear that, Sousuke? The Espada look up to me too, even though I’m not exactly the military leader type."
"Why are you here?"
"Oh, you’re going to love this."
"I will?" Aizen smiled as he walked unhurriedly to Gin’s side. "Aren’t you usually indulging your natural deviousness at this hour? Playing with a pretty courtesan? Reading my diary?"
"I do business every once in a while," said Gin. "I didn’t spend all those years in the Gotei 13 without learning that even a talented man has to prove his talent every now and then."
Gin gestured with his head in the direction of his quarters.
"Your daughter," said Gin as the two men walked the hall, "is hiding a human. Not just an ordinary human. A boy with powers."
"I know this already," said Aizen.
Gin opened his eyes.
"You forget that Ulquiorra has extensive footage of that battle where we suspect Ichigo became a Hollow. I recognized him. A boy with glasses and a bow and arrow? I knew who he was the moment security tagged his image at the entrance to Las Noches."
"But he has powers," said Gin. "More than likely he was one of those targeted by your Menos hybrids in the Living World, and now he’s here. Wouldn’t it be demoralizing to your troops if they found out that some human brat pulled one over on you?" Gin made a whistling sound through his teeth and shook his head. "Why let him live? Don’t tell me it’s because you’re that sweet on Orihime."
"Maybe I am," said Aizen. "In any event, the boy is no trouble."
"He faced Ichigo today, summoned his weapon and walked away unscathed."
Aizen looked surprised at this bit of information. "Really? Still, that’s of no concern to me. Ichigo’s murderous sprees are whimsical. Maybe he got distracted by another plaything and let the boy live."
The men had arrived at Gin’s foyer.
"In his Shinigami incarnation, Ichigo was friends with that boy," Gin said. "You can’t afford to let the boy live. He may still have some influence on Ichigo."
Gin then gestured to a large sofa. It was bright green, obviously upholstered with recent materials from the Living World. On a far end sat a nervous looking Arrancar.
"Lastimada," said Gin. "Will you please tell Aizen-sama what you just now told me?"
Tags: aizen, continuation, gin, invisible writing, ishida, ishihime, orihime