"You really have sold yourself, Yhwach," Byakuya stated, taking a half step backwards and staring intently at the possessed body of his husband.
Ichigo grinned in a psychopathic way, twirling his zanpakuto in front of him by the ribbon. His hollow mask completely formed on his face, shifting to that of the vasto lorde mask he had gained when fighting Ulquiorra in Hueco Mundo. He laughed at Byakuya, shifting his weight to where he was ready to attack.
"My my Byakuya, are you that desperate to believe that it truly isn't your own husband that is about to take your life away that you have decided to call me Yhwach?" Ichigo laughed, his voice a little higher with a bubble in his throat "Well, I guess I can tell you that you aren't wrong, but you aren't right either. In fact, I'm still me, but Yhwach has found out some interesting things and shown them to me. He isn't controlling me, just causing the part of me that wanted to kill you a long time ago resurface and make it so much stronger."
Byakuya grit his teeth, shaking his head at the man's reply. His fists tightened and his breathing came out ragged. He felt intense heat flare behind his eyes, but he pushed it back as far as he could, not wanting to show weakness to this side of Ichigo.
"As long as I don't waver in my attacks to kill you," Ichigo began, stopping his zanpakuto's spin, gripping the hilt, "Yhwach is going to allow me to retian control of my body. But I have to kill you after I incapacitate you and torture you. Making you watch as I kill our own child will be one of the best parts. Your broken expression will forever give me pleasure."
Ichigo's eyes widened and he jumped back, quickly using the flat of his blade to stop Byakuya's sudden oncoming attack. The older man's fist connected to the side of the blade, exploding and forcing Ichigo to fly back. Byakuya panted, watching as Ichigo struggled to find his balance. His fist smoked and he glared at Ichigo, growling loudly with anger.
When Ichigo found his footing, he looked at the side of his blade and noticed the small dent that formed, the sudden charge of reishi that Byakuya had managed to conjur forcing the deformation of the blade. Clicking his tongue, Ichigo glared at Byakuya.
"You dare to threaten the life of your own child?!" Byakuya shouted in anger, ruthlessness covering his features as his reiatsu began to burst through the bonds Ichigo set upon him. His zanpakuto appeared in his hands and he gripped the hilt tightly, setting his feet into a widened stance. "The Ichigo I know would never even fathom the possibility of harming one of his own family members, even if he were to be taken over by Yhwach! You claim to have all of your rationality, but the ignorance you show for the things that Ichigo truly holds dear begs to differ with that possibility!"
He charged forwards, his zanpakuto glowing in pink fire. "The Ichigo I know would much rather find a way to escape the possibility of the death of his loved ones! I will drive whoever you are out of my husband, and I will kill you myself!"
His sword clashed against Ichigo's, the shock-wave of the collision pushing back some of the mist in Ichigo's inner world and nearly destroyed the skyscraper they were right next to. Ichigo growled and swung his zanpakuto with the intent to kill.
Byakuya parried, throwing a kick at Ichigo and knocking the boy back a few feet.
Ichigo may have been able to defeat Yhwach and Aizen, but he didn't have the hakuda skills to defeat Byakuya.
"Everyone, get back! It's become too dangerous here!" Unohana shouted to everyone that was in the room with Byakuya and Ichigo. The sudden expulsion of spiritual pressure and mist had become too dangerous for them to stay any longer. Unohana could already feel the mist starting to tear at her flesh and she hissed in response. She grabbed Tetsuya, Takuma, and Tatsuya and began to run for the open window.
"Unohana-taicho! What are you doing?" Takuma shouted in despair, trying to release himself from her vice grip. Ichigo and Byakuya were in trouble and their health was failing. Why was she running from her patients?
Unohana said nothing, only summoning Minazuki and tossing the bodies inside. Minakuzi flew off with them and Unohana went back over to the bed. The mist still punctured into her skin, but she couldn't leave these two unattended. She created a kidou barrier around them and hissed at the heaviness of the spiritual pressure that pressed down on her. Her barrier wavered underneath it and she took a deep breath, getting right to work on stabilizing both Ichigo and Byakuya.
Ichigo opened his eyes, staring blearily into the darkness surrounding him. Faintly he hears the sound of metal upon metal clashing in the distance, yet he sees nothing nearby. When the fogginess in his mind clears, he notices that in the black space that he found himself floating in, there seemed to be something else in there with him. The silhouette of something that was nothing but black caught his eye, the only thing outlining it being the dark purple mist. It flickered like a flame but didn't move.
He righted himself as much as he could, grabbing at his aching head. He reached with a foot below him towards a flat surface and his toe touched the ground. Almost immediately gravity seemed to take affect and both feet were planted softly onto the ground.
Prowling forward towards the mass, Ichigo was cautious. It shifted slightly and Ichigo took a defensive stance, but when it moved no more, Ichigo continued closer.
His ears picked up the sound of water dripping, almost as if someone left the tap running. The sounds of battle ceased for reasons that he didn't quite understand. The spiritual pressure that he felt just moments before- no doubt that of the ones who were fighting- was still high enough to determine that the fight was still in motion. Perhaps their blades were discarded?
Ichigo rounded the mass and was met with a face make of the black shadow flickering. It's eyes were glowing yellow, almost wide as if in fear. To his surprise, their didn't seem to be a mouth and no sound escaped the creature through that opening. Instead, the tell-tale dripping came from the glowing yellow crevices in the creatures face. Blood dripped out of the eyes of the shadow, almost as if it were crying tears of blood, and perhaps that was exactly what was happening.
To be frank, Ichigo was unsure of how to proceed.
He tensed when he felt the shadow look up at him. He couldn't see what it was feeling, but the yellow light that flickered, almost like it were blinking, told him about nearly everything that he needed to know. It was in pain, it was alone, and it was hurting not only itself, but something else.
And it wanted to stop. It wanted all of it to stop; the pain, the suffering, and the undeniable loneliness.
Once again Ichigo was stunned. He had no idea just how he knew of this, but he did. Maybe that was how it communicated? Through it's gaze? Either way, Ichigo knew it needed help, but he didn't know how to give it all of the help it needed.
He didn't know where the pain came from, and he had no idea where they were, so he had no suggestions as to find a way to quell this loneliness that burned inside of this creature. No just that, but since it seemed that there was only two of them there, he and the shadow, he had no idea just what it seemed to be hurting. Therefore, he had no plan for how to protect who or whatever it was hurting.
What was he supposed to do?
A sound reverberated through the air, almost like that of a whale trapped beneath the sea, but in high, short bursts. With it came the river of blood that traveled in trails down the creatures face more violent than before. It was the first sound Ichigo had heard in this dark place, and it sounded so pained.
the shadow made the same sound once again, though this time more eagerly and it shifted, tugging on invisible chains that seemed to be holding it down.
"I don't understand," Ichigo spoke out, his voice an echo. "I don't know what I'm supposed to do to help you."
The shadow made another noise, this time smaller, and Ichigo saw a flash of color before his vision. It looked like a picture, surprisingly one of himself, and he blinked in surprise. It must be another way it communicates.
"Me?" he asks, knowing that it can understand him to an extent. "What about me?"
He feels pain all over his body. It felt like he was being burned and cut up on every inch of his skin and being torn apart in his lungs. It only lasted a moment, but it left him breathless and gasping for air. A vision of fog entered his sight and the dots finally clicked. The fog related to the mist that was trapped inside of his inner world and tearing him up from the inside, and the pain he felt is what it feels like when the mist is destroying.
The shadow nodded it's head, it's body wavering from the movement.
"I know you don't want to do keep doing this," Ichigo comforted, a pit in his stomach. "You've told me this, but what's making you? How can I help you fix this?"
A vision of chains entered his mind and he was once again reminded of the fact that the poor thing seemed to be being restrained. Not long after, another picture of a person appeared in his mind, this one sending him reeling in anger and fear. Thousands of eyes seemed to be piercing his soul once more and he took a step back. Ichigo shook his head in an attempt to get the image out of his mind, but it only receded once the creature in front of him was done showing it to him.
"He's still alive?" Ichigo whispered out in slight fear. A sad sound escaped the shadow creature, along with the flash of death in Ichigo's mind. "Then how? Was the residue of his life still intact?" A sound of confirmation was all the response he needed. "And I'm guessing those chains on you are what is left?" Another yes was sent his way. "So all I have to do is find a way to break them."
Ichigo bent down next to the creature and felt around on the floor. His hand brushed along something cold and invisible, no doubt the chains that were binding the poor creature to the ground. He held firm onto them and began tugging and pulling at them. A whimper could be heard and he send hushed apologies as he tried every which way he could to break the chains. He even attempted kidou, but, much to his dismay, it only seemed to infuse the chains with more power.
The shadow shook its head and mewled, showing Ichigo an image of a smiling Byakuya. The picture of his husband was enough to make him feel a little lonely, knowing that the man wasn't here.
"So we need Byakuya to break the chains? I'm guessing he'll have to use Senbonzakura on them?" When the creature nodded its head, Ichigo sighed. How on earth was he supposed to get Byakuya to where he was? They must be in his mind somewhere, that much was obvious, so maybe he could will Byakuya there? Or find his spirit ribbon and use it to pull him to his location?
"I guess it's worth a shot," Ichigo stated to himself and closed his eyes, focusing on the spiritual pressure around him.
Only four ribbons showed up on Ichigo's radar, much to the boy's immediately noticed the darkness that came with Juha Bach's spirit ribbon, and he was happy to find that it was extremely faded, proving that it was only the residue of the man that he once killed. Next he took note of the pained ribbon that was right next to his own, seeming to wrap itself around his, almost as if knowing that Ichigo was trying to save its soul. Immediately he connected it with the shadow beside him.
Then he found Byakuya's. The ribbon was still holding strong and vibrant, although a little weathered, showing that Byakuya was using his spiritual pressure for battle. He almost didn't want to pull Byakuya from that battle, knowing that it must be serious if he was fighting in the first place, but then his mind raced back to the sounds that he had first heard when he regained consciousness. Byakuya was still in his inner world, which would mean that the only two he could fight were Zangetsu and his hollow counterpart, unless, considering the evidence, he was fighting against Yhwach.
A flash entered his mind once again, this time of his hollowed form running rampant and attacking Byakuya. He was almost convinced it was a memory, but he noticed that he wasn't on Sokyoku hill. It was a battle on the side of skyscrapers with his Zanpakuto and Quincy selves also occasionally joining in on the fight whenever they could find an opening.
Byakuya wasn't fighting just Juha, Ichigo realized with a start, he was fighting a possessed Ichigo with the remnants of Juha in him. And he was also at a disadvantage because Juha seemed to somehow be limiting his spiritual pressure. He noticed that he wasn't able to limit Zangetsu and Shiro's, though, which must mean that he can't affect Ichigo's own soul.
Zangetsu and Shiro could hold of Juha in himself on their own. He needed to get Byakuya out of that fight. Now.
He immediately reached for the spirit ribbon that connected to his husband and sent a silent will into his grip. With a cry, he yanked at the ribbon as hard as he could, wishing for Byakuya to appear by his side.
Byakuya panted, blood dripping down the side of his head and the edges of his vision blurring. His Kenseiken were broken atop his head yet again and falling down the thin, short strands on the back of his head. His legs felt weak and tired, but they were tense and poised for his next move. He may have gotten Senbonzakura back, but he hadn't gotten enough spiritual pressure to just his flash step or his kidou skills. Without it, his hakuda skills were relying more on his muscled than he had trained for in many years, and it was clearly taking a toll.
Juha cackled in murderous delight, twirling the large zanpakuto threateningly as more and more of his body began to be encased in the white bone of Ichigo's hollow form. Byakuya had never seen it before, but just seeing his arms, chest, and head covered in the bone made him realize that not only was Ichigo half hollow, but his hollow was very powerful and intimidating.
"Got nothing else to say, do you, Byakuya?" Juha asked, slowly walking forward and grabbing hold of the handle of Zangetsu. "I was going to say that you seem to be all talk and no bite," Juha mocked, motioning to his untouched form in sadistic glee, "but it appears that you can't even talk anymore! This just proves to me that you really are the useless bastard that I beat back when the Soul Society was trying to execute Rukia. You attempt to do the right thing now, but you aren't even strong enough to follow through on it!"
The man in front of Byakuya stopped and raised the sword high, the light glinting off of the bloodies metal.
"It's so pathetic, seeing you this way. I see no point in murdering your child to break you more when your pride is already in shambles and you stand motionless before me. I'll spare you the grief of watching me kill your successor. But, of course, I do have to take your life." A large grin plastered itself along the face of the man underneath the hollow mask. "I can't believe I ever married a useless man like you."
Byakuya widened his eyes in both shock and fear and attempted to move, but found himself trapped as the blade swing down with murderous intent.
This cliffhanger was done on purpose!
Wow it has literally been forever, like, what?! I've finally gotten past writers block and a lot of real life things, so I should be able to update a lot more regularly than... this. No, I can't guarantee an update schedule because my normal schedule is never consistent, but I can guarantee that the end of this book will be coming about! It's not too soon, so you don't need to freak out, but it's a promise that I am not letting this story (And possible series) go unfinished! Hence the reason for this cliffhanger. It not only shows that I'm not done, but it gives me some wiggle room so that way I don't run into a wall for writer's block again. Anyway, that's all for now, folks!