Written for the Week 22 prompt at bleachcontest: Hollow. This is a follow-up to Ignition, seeing the same incident from another angle. Byakuya reflects on how the war has effected Ichigo. Byakuya/I...
by: eternalsailorsolarwind AKA youkai_girl
Disclaimer: Bleach and all of its characters are owned by Tite Kubo, his Japanese publishers, and Viz. I just play with them for grins and giggles.
A/N: Written for the Week 22 prompt at bleach_contest: Hollow. This is a follow-up to Ignition, seeing the same incident from another angle. Byakuya reflects on how the war has effected Ichigo. Byakuya/Ichigo.
Using his teeth to tie off the tourniquet made of his scarf, Kuchiki Byakuya turned his attention to the battle raging before him. His lover, Kurosaki Ichigo, was fighting Aizen; pressing him hard. As Ichigo battered away at every illusion the traitor could throw at him, it looked to the noble that the former captain was starting to become a bit nervous. A savage joy filled him at the idea of Aizen finally losing.
He'd been felled by the traitor's zanpaktou, but somehow, he was still alive. While still marveling on that fact, he'd heard his lover's enraged bellow. Painfully turning his head, Byakuya had been shocked to see the substitute Soul Reaper hammering away at a defensive Aizen as if Zangetsu was nothing but a club. It was reminiscent of watching Zaraki, though there was no joy in the younger man's face. Ichigo's reiatsu was frenzied; blood red. Hot and angry; practically rabid in its intensity. So different from the last few months.
The years of war had taken their toll on the orange-haired young man. Passionate, hot-headed, and determined were words used to describe Ichigo in the early days of his career as a substitute shinigami. While still determined, maturity had cooled his temper somewhat. But the war had scoured most of the passion right out of him, leaving his lover with hollow places inside him. Too many people lost, and too many atrocities witnessed. Byakuya mourned the slow grinding away of the man he'd fallen in love with, and wondered if those empty spaces would or could ever be refilled.
“Lie still, taichou,” murmured a quiet, hesitant voice practically in his ear, interrupting his thoughts.
He merely grunted in acknowledgment as he recognized the owner of the voice. It was Hanatarou, the Fourth Division squad leader who had practically become Ichigo's personal healer. He knew he was in good hands, as the timid man would sooner die than disappoint Ichigo.
Even now, his damaged lover could inspire and hold loyalty among those who knew them. The substitute shinigami had given – and lost – so much in this war that everyone around him was determined to not fail him; not to be the next one to cause him pain.
Lost in his reverie, he had almost missed the slow bleed-in of alien reiatsu into Ichigo's. It seemed that his lover's inner Hollow wanted to make an appearance. In the blink of an eye, the orange-haired young man went from a shinigami in full bankai to a Vizard in full release. Aizen never stood a chance against that fury.
Surprisingly, Shirosaki retreated once the traitor had been painfully – and messily – dismembered, leaving a swaying and exhausted Ichigo in his place. The noble watched as the orange-haired young man looked around him in surprise; the Hollow had obviously blocked the more gruesome aspects of the battle. Byakuya saw Ichigo catch sight of him, and the sudden fear in his eyes as he shun-poedover. Falling to his knees, he saw the joyous relief on the face of his lover as he realized that he was still alive. Hesitantly at first, a real smile appeared on Ichigo's face; the first in nearly a year.
Relieved at this sign of the younger man's resilience, Byakuya threw his pride to the winds and returned his lover's smile. Perhaps now the healing could begin. For the both of them.