Ichigo flopped down on his bed and kicked off his shoes, letting out a tired sigh as he closed his eyes. That was the fifth hollow he'd slain today and it was only 6am.
Soon he'd have to get ready for school. It was his senior year and couldn't afford to keep missing class. He'd already bribed Kon into going in his body with extra time in his body to play. He was that desperate.
A chirping drew his attention back to his badge and he grabbed it, pushing it into his chest as he sat up. His body fell back on his bed and he shoved Kon's pill into the mouth before jumping out the window once more.
He vaguely heard a shout from his father as the man leaped into his bedroom with a flying kick aimed at his body. Ichigo sighed as he rushed down the slowly brightening street. His oldman never changed. Even after all that had happened with Aizen and the Fullbringers. Zangetsu was humming quietly on his back as he traced the reiatsu of the hollow currently in his vicinity.
He hadn't seen Rukia or Renji around lately and figured that they were busy in Sereitei with their lieutenant duties. It left an empty and lonely ache in his chest. He shook his head to clear his thoughts as he bore down on the hollow, swinging his blade to slice through the mask. The hollow let out a shriek as it died before disappearing. The orangette rested his blade on his shoulder as he waited.
There was no point in going back to his home even though he could feel his exhaustion pulling at him. He was partially glad that the hollows were proving easy to dispatch. He hadn't had a decent night's rest in over a month. His reiatsu kept drawing more and more hollows to Karakura. Soon he would have to relocate in order to protect the world of the living. He knew he wouldn't be allowed to stay much longer. Strangely though, his hollow, Shirosaki had been quiet. The entity that use to drive him to distraction and lived to torment him, was keeping to himself. Ichigo let his head loll back as he planted Zangetsu in the dirt and sat.
'You're awfully quiet here lately.' There was no reply to that for a few minutes, the wind blowing through the trees of the park Ichigo was sitting in.
'I've been thinking, Ichi. Where are you going to go, when you can no longer stay in this world? Seiretei? Heuco Mundo? Which one?'
Ichigo thought about it. Seiretei would've been his initial choice, but if he went through with his plan, there would be no telling what the Gotei 13 would do to him if he no longer had the protection of being human. 'I guess Heuco Mundo. '
'I agree, Aibou. The Gotei 13 would try to keep you on a leash if you are no longer protected by your status as "human" if you can even be categorized as such anymore.' There was a cackling laugh from Shiro as he said that last part. It wasn't that it was a funny remark, more that it was a painful truth.
Ichigo sighed and tipped his head back as he watched the sun rise over the trees, the trees swaying rhythmically in the breeze.
'I'm tired, Shiro. I fight and fight and fight. Everytime, my opponents are stronger, faster, and deadlier. I make myself become faster, stronger, and more deadly than them in order to survive. I'd like a little peace and rest.'
'I know, Aibou. I can feel the weight in your soul growing with each averted disaster. When we leave this place, I'll make sure you can get your rest, Ichi.' Shiro murmured quietly. The hollow may not have started out as a caring persona but, after he and Ichigo had come to an understanding, he had started to understand those things that humans called feelings.
Ichigo closed his eyes and breathed deeply of the morning air. It would be his last sunrise. The chirping of his badge drew him to his feet and he tiredly made his way to the next hollow and dispatched it with a single swipe. He was suppressing his spiritual pressure as much as he could but the sheer amount he had refused to be completely held down and leaked from him constantly. Shiro had mentioned that if he ever fully suppressed it, his human body could begin to deteriorate from it.
Ichigo glanced around the now brightened streets as he made his way back to his house to reclaim his body. He walked in and saw Kon sitting at the table with his sisters, his father K.O.'d on the floor from Karin. She had grown so much since he had started slaying hollows. He met her glance as he slid into his body. Karin knew he was a soul reaper, but Yuzu was still clueless. He preferred her to stay that way.
He caught Kon's pill as it spilled from his mouth. He'd have to remember to return the Mod Soul to Urahara's Shoten later. He finished eating quickly and gathered his bag as he stood.
"Later Karin, Yuzu. Thanks for the meal." Ichigo exited the house with a glace towards the attached clinic before facing forward and walking quickly to Urahara's shop. He entered 15 minutes later, the front empty. He quietly left Kon's Soul candy on the counter along with a quick written message.
Thanks. For everything.
He left just as quickly as he had arrived, unaware of the curious gaze directed at him by the shopkeeper in question. Kisuke read the note and it sent jolts of alarm flaring through his body. Something was off about the Orangette.
Ichigo took a deep breath and imagined closing a fist in the center of his chest to contain his reiatsu. Anytime he felt a tendril leak out he would imagine pulling it back into that clenched fist. It worked after a few minutes, his reiatsu no longer seeping out. He knew that Shiro was right in his theory now as he felt his body temperature spike and his breaths grew shallow. If he kept it pulled in for too long he would die from it, the power eating at his insides like a blow torch to metal.
He made his way to school quickly, greeting his friends with a grunt of acknowledgement.
"ICHIGO!" Came the shout from Keigo as the long haired brunette came rushing towards him. Ichigo raised his arm and let Keigo clothesline himself as he continued to walk calmly and into the classroom. Uryu was there, his nose buried in a book. Orihime was being harassed as usual because of her plump chest. Tatsuki hit the loud red head that had been groping Orihime.
Ichigo sat at his desk by the window and looked out only to see Shiro reflected back at him in the glass. 'Aibou, you need to let a little bit leak out or you won't last long enough to get through the next hour.' Shiro spoke and Ichigo nodded slightly before allowing a small amount to leak from him, just enough to take the edge off. Shiro's image disappeared from the glass.
Ichigo walked through school in a daze, not talking to anyone more than he had to, his scowl firmly fixed on his face. He was waiting for the cross walk light to change when he heard the gun shots and looked up. Two cars were speeding towards him and a small kid across the road from him had just stepped out as the light to cross changed to allow foot traffic to cross. He looked back at the cars and then to the oblivious child. Two more shots rang out and Ichigo was moving before he had fully thought it out.
He reached the girl just as the cars screeched by and he wrapped himself around her small frame as another shot rang out and then they were airborne, Ichigo tightening his grip and pulling her closer to him as a burning went through his body and they hit the ground. He heard screams from the people around him as he released the girl. His eyes scanned her for any hurts and found none.
He breathed out a sigh of relief even as he began to cough harshly, a wet sound accompanying it. He rolled on his side away from the girl as he gagged up blood, the salty fluid burning up the back of his throat. His shoulder and chest felt like they were on fire as he hacked up more blood and his breathing grew harsher.
'This isn't exactly how I thought this was going to go, not my plan, but at least I saved that girl.' Ichigo thought tiredly. He saw a blur of faces ringed around him as paramedics rushed onto the scene. He felt himself slipping away, no longer feeling anything and he pulled himself from his body as it died. He watched as the EMT's tried to bring him back before announcing him dead on scene. They loaded his body and Ichigo turned away, tapping at the sky and opening a rift.
'Goodbye, Karin, Yuzu, Goat Face. Live well.' With that thought he stepped through, turning his back on his former human life and self.