Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Bleach
This fanfic is set after the events of the Soul Society arc in the Bleach anime. Since this fic is based on events in the anime and not the manga, there will be subtle differences. Essentially, this story will switch off every chapter between Ichigo Kurosaki reading a fan fiction, and the fan fiction that Ichigo is reading. It's slightly confusing, but I trust that you guys will get it. If you don't care for the "Ichigo reading the fic" part, then you can skip those chapters and it really won't be that big of a deal.
Ichigo lay slouched on his bed, looking up at his boring ceiling. Over the past few days his eyes had ingrained the blank image into his mind from hours of constant staring. There had been no hollow attacks in a while, and even though school took up a large portion of his time, Ichigo couldn't help his overwhelming sense of sheer boredom.
The Soul Society was more exciting than this by far.
Absently, Ichigo reached into his pocket and pulled out his wooden substitute shinigami badge. The small artifact seemed to give Ichigo no real authority as a soul reaper, but it did allow him to leave his body whenever he had to.
Not that there's any reason for me to do that now, Ichigo thought sullenly. He'd finished his homework over an hour beforehand and, after a casual dinner with his family, Ichigo had returned to his room.
Suddenly, he got the feeling that something was off. He lay still for a moment, slowing his breathing and straining his hearing. Faintly, Ichigo could hear scratching at the wall outside his window.
Seriously? When it's raining?
With a sigh, Ichigo pushed himself out of bed, walked over to his room's door, and pulled it open. The hallway was empty, and Ichigo made sure that his younger sisters, Karin and Yuzu, weren't in danger of walking past his door. Once that was done, Ichigo walked back over to stand a little ways away from his window, the same bored expression on his face.
In an explosion of motion, a person burst through Ichigo's window, headed straight for Ichigo, who retained his relaxed posture. Then, in a way that was clearly practiced, Ichigo stepped to the side of the intruder, grabbed him by the back of his shirt, and launched him through his recently opened door with more force than was entirely necessary.
Isshin Kurosaki slammed into the hallway's wall and lay there, groaning.
"YOU BROKE MY WINDOW AGAIN!" Ichigo yelled furiously, feeling the cold sensation of rain hitting his bare arms. Isshin was already jumping to his feet and dusting himself off as if he hadn't just climbed up the side of his own house in order to tackle his son from the outside. "And you're dripping all over the carpet!" Ichigo added with a touch of annoyance. Really, he should be used to these things by now.
"Your reflexes have improved!" Isshin commented, completely ignoring everything that Ichigo had just said. "One of these days, you might even beat me!"
"'One of these days'?" Ichigo repeated, trying to stop from twitching. "I just did!"
"Keep thinking that, son!" Isshin declared, vanishing from sight.
"He's insane," Ichigo whispered to no one as his father's footsteps retreated down the stairs. Ichigo could still feel his heart pounding from the sudden exercise, but boredom was rapidly setting in again. Just as he turned to go back to his bed, Isshin's footsteps rapidly ascended the stairs. Ichigo turned quickly, expecting another surprise attack, but Isshin looked more excited than crazy when he came into view.
"Okay . . ." Ichigo replied warily. There was a brief pause while Ichigo's father collected his thoughts.
"Your laptop is downstairs! Karin finished with it!"
With that, Isshin disappeared again.
It took Ichigo a moment to process that information.
"Wait! When did Karin take my laptop?!"
A new urgency in his step, Ichigo bolted out of his room and flew down the stairs, taking the steps four at a time. There, where Ichigo could've sworn there was no laptop before, was Ichigo's laptop.
"Karin!" Ichigo yelled, but his sister gave no answer, which was probably for the best. Sighing, the defeated brother scooped up his laptop and made his way back upstairs, simultaneously wondering when Karin had managed to take the computer and how she'd gotten his password.
Once Ichigo had returned to his room - avoiding another surprise attack from his father on the way - he saw that someone had already tacked up a sheet of plywood over the broken window. It wasn't the first time Ichigo had seen this and he automatically dismissed the matter from his mind, knowing that his father probably had a large supply on hand.
Now that there was no immediate threat to his safety or privacy, Ichigo's mind began to wander while he tried to think of some way to entertain himself.
I guess I can go on the computer . . . I mean, I've got nothing better to do.
Sitting down on his bed, Ichigo pulled open his computer and quickly typed in his password - he vowed to change it soon because of Karin - and then began to stare at his screen in the same manner as he had with his ceiling.
Okay, now what should I do?
"Whatcha doin', Ichigo?" A familiar, slightly nasally voice asked.
"Nothing, Kon," Ichigo replied distractedly while opening the Internet and tapping his fingers restlessly on the keys without pressing them.
Kon - in plush lion form - hopped onto the bed next to Ichigo and peered at the screen. Since he wasn't that large nor that heavy in his stuffed animal body, Kon wasn't really bothering Ichigo.
"You weren't kidding when you said nothing," Kon commented. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head. "You should look up stories! Sweet Rukia always tells me such wonderf- oomph!"
He was abruptly cut off by Ichigo's fist, which smashed into Kon's plushy face and sent him flying into the wall with a squeak.
"No," Ichigo said, his eyes never having left the screen. His fingers hit three keys at random, which just happened to spell "fan". Ichigo's eyes narrowed when the search auto filled to "fanfiction".
Pressing "enter", Ichigo blinked at the site that had popped up first.
"Fan Fiction dot net?" He read aloud, frowning slightly.
Never been on that site before, I don't think. Was it Karin?
Kon was back on the bed, and since Ichigo didn't seem to want to hit him again Kon was comfortable with looking at the screen again. Ichigo didn't respond, instead clicking the website.
"What's fan fiction?" Kon pestered, his curiosity getting the better of him.
"Stories about other stories, written by fans," Ichigo explained distractedly, remembering it from something someone had told him a while ago.
"Oh. So what're you going to read about?"
"I never said I was going to read any of it!" Ichigo snapped.
"Then why'd you open the site?"
"Because you were being annoying!"
A quiet knock on the door interrupted Ichigo and Kon's shouting contest. Immediately, Kon went limp and Ichigo called for the person to come in. The door opened to reveal Orihime, her face flushed and her hair wet from rain.
"Orihime?" Ichigo said. "Uh, come in!" He paused for a beat. "No offense, but why are you here?"
"Um, well," Orihime struggled to reply, her face only turning more red, "I was in the area and figured I'd drop by!" She ended with one of her familiar huge smiles and stepped a little into Ichigo's room. Ichigo, having glanced back at his screen, was unaware of how hungrily Orihime was taking in the details of his room.
"That's cool," Ichigo replied. He'd found the "anime" section of the site and was busy scrolling through it, recognizing a few of the names and finding others completely weird.
"Who names a show after a cleaning product?" Ichigo muttered to himself.
"What?" Orihime asked, momentarily forgetting how awkward she felt as she moved to sit beside Ichigo. "What are you looking at, Ichigo?"
"Some fanfiction site," Ichigo answered. "Look. There's one called 'Bleach'. Isn't that a weird name?"
"Definitely!" Orihime agreed.
"Click on it," Kon suggested. Orihime glanced at him, blinked once, and then her attention shifted back to Ichigo.
"Fine," Ichigo said. When he did, he couldn't believe that the first thing he saw was his name. "Wait, what the hell?"
"Ichigo, why do these stories have you on the pictures?" Orihime asked, frowning. "And why are you wearing a mask in some of them?
Ichigo couldn't help the flutter of panic that rose in his chest.
Why did it have to be Orihime? Why?
"Probably just something the authors dreamed up," he replied quickly - a little too quickly. Orihime Inoue gave Ichigo a confused look but didn't press the matter. Even Kon was suspicious, but for once he kept his mouth shut.
"Ooooh, you should click on that one!" Orihime suddenly said excitedly, pointing to a story about halfway down the screen. Her attention had completely shifted and the tension in the room lifted. "It has your name written twice in the title!"
Frowning, Ichigo looked at said story. However, before he did, he got a strange feeling. Groaning, he got up.
"One second," he told Orihime. "I have to deal with something."
Ichigo walked over to his door and threw it open, causing Karin, Yuzu, and Isshin Kurosaki to tumble onto the floor since the door they had been leaning on opened.
"What do you think you're doing?" Ichigo demanded.
"You can't blame us!" Yuzu replied at the same time that Isshin muttered, "eavesdropping".
"Yeah," Karin continued, "it's not our fault that you've never brought a girl as attractive as Orihime home before!"
Isshin nodded, confident that his daughters were getting the message across.
Ichigo's right eye twitched slightly, and his hand was holding the doorknob so tightly that the metal was actually bending slightly. Eventually, he let out a long sigh, releasing the frustration his family always built up.
"Stop," Ichigo said firmly. Then, in a final motion, he slammed the door shut in their faces, not particularly caring if there was a chance that Isshin would get hit. Trusting that his family would leave - they usually did once they were found out - Ichigo walked back over to his bed like nothing had happened, sat down, and picked up his laptop. Wisely, Orihime and Kon said nothing of what they had just witnessed, though Orihime was blushing furiously.
"'Ichigo, Meet Ichigo'," the orange-haired boy read from the screen. "What kind of title is that?"
"One that got your attention," Kon muttered, earning another punch from Ichigo that sent him flying into the closet. Something heavier than Kon fell on top of the stuffed lion and the room became much more peaceful almost instantly.
"C'mon, Ichigo," Orihime begged, unconsciously leaning into the boy next to her, "read it!"
Ichigo reddened slightly at Orihime's proximity but restrained himself from doing anything to offend her. Clearing his throat, Ichigo read the provided summary.
"Of all the things Ichigo thought he would have to deal with after defeating Aizen - without using Mugetsu - having his inner hollow pulled into the material world was definitely not one of them. To make matters worse, Ichigo ends up making a bet with Renji that leads to Ichigo's version of the end of the world: he has to attend the Shinigami Academy. Slight AU, no serious pairings." Ichigo paused at the end of the provided summary. Then, "What's Mugetsu? What's that even mean? And my inner hollow? The end of the world? And why would I attend the Shinigami Academy?"
Suddenly, Ichigo's world seemed to freeze. Just for a moment, he could see his inner hollow leaning against the opposite wall, the familiar sadistic smile on his face.
"You're running out of time, King."
Abruptly, Ichigo snapped back to the present. His hollow had disappeared, but the room still felt much colder.
Orihime was laughing, not having noticed - or not reacting to - Ichigo's momentary blackout. "You should know better, silly! This is a fan fiction! Now read it, pleeaaaase?"
Orihime had noticed how Ichigo had suddenly gone tense, had felt his muscles tighten, and had sensed his heart pause for just a second, but she didn't want to say anything.
Ichigo would tell me, she thought to herself. I mean, I shouldn't worry! It's Ichigo! He's doing fine!
With a resigned sigh, Ichigo clicked on the story, trying to keep his hands from shaking as he did so.
I promise, there's more coming! I'm planning on having a weekly update schedule (my first one for any story that I've written, which is shameful). So far, I plan to update once a week on Saturdays. If you have any questions, comments, or corrections (especially corrections because there's so many terms in this that I have difficulty with; clarifications from more knowledgable fans would be great), feel free to PM me or leave a review! I'll try to respond either through PM or in my author's notes!
Side note: Ichigo's inner hollow doesn't really appear (in the fanfic mentioned in the summary) until chapter 6. If you want to be really confused as to everything that's going on, feel free to skip to that point, but I don't recommend it.