Through My Open Window

BY : phoenixreal
Category: Bleach > Yaoi - Male/Male
Dragon prints: 1720
Disclaimer: Don't Own Bleach, don't make money on it.

 

 

Through My Open Window

I left the window open last night
and death crept in silently.
He came to take me far away
but I fought him valiantly.

I did not really want to go
it did no good that I tried,
that I fought to stay and live,
be still, toll the bell, I've died.

Note: All Poetry is from Reflections of the Shadowdancer and  Whispered Shadows by Beverly L. Anderson. Both books are available in print and kindle on Amazon.


Chapter One

The Lover

This lover of mine has come
dressed all in black,
He's come to take me away
upon his back.

I must go away with him
for he is mine.
I can’t stay longer because
I’m out of time.

What exactly brought me here
to binding fate?
All I know for sure is that
it is too late.

My love takes my away and
I shed one tear.
And I smile only because
there is no fear.


The first time it happened, Ichigo wasn’t sure if he was dreaming or awake.  He’d spent the day at the warehouse with Hiyori trying to beat him half to death he was certain.  Things had been quiet as everyone prepared for what was surely going to be an all-out war.  Ichigo was doing his best, and so far he was up to twenty seconds with the mask, but it still wasn’t enough.  The other Vizard could hold the masks much longer than he could.  It was frustrating, but he would do it.  He’d fallen into his bad absolutely exhausted after kicking Kon out of his human body and tossing his noisy plush ass into the closet.  He’d had another barrette super-glued to his ear again.  Ichigo didn’t want to listen to him complain about it.  He just really wanted to sleep.  If there was one thing he liked, it was the fact that he could sleep like a log once he dropped into his human form these days.

It was somewhat nice that he didn’t have to worry about the random hollows, with everyone from Soul Society here all the time, he could focus on his own training.  He knew Renji was helping Chad with his training, and Orihime was training on and off with Rukia when she could.  Urahara was integral to everything.  He had to hand it to hat’n’clogs, he certainly knew how to train people.  Rangiku and Toshiro kept each other in line, and Ikkaku and Yumichika were crashing with Keigo.  That was strange.  Of course, watching Yumichika prancing around in Keigo’s sister’s clothes was always amusing.  And Keigo’s sister had a huge crush on Ikkaku.  What made it funny, though, was Ichigo was about ninety percent certain that Ikkaku and Yumichika were together.  They fought like a married couple and were inseparable, so what else was he going to think?  He thought that must be nice, to have someone that was always around.  Ichigo was sure he’d never have a relationship with another human…or shinigami he supposed…because of how different he was.  Training with the Vizard reminded him how he wasn’t really either one.

He faded off to sleep thinking of it into dreams of what he was sure he couldn’t have in his life, flashes of red and black.

Then he felt that strange feeling of being watched while he slept.  He sighed and tried to flip over, thinking Kon had probably gotten the closet door open again and was sitting there staring at him in that creepy stuffed lion way.  He winced though because he couldn’t turn over. His brows knitted together in a scowl. Something was keeping him in place.  His eyes shot open; his senses on fire and found he was staring up into a pair of dark eyes he knew all too well.

“Renji?” he asked, realizing that his hands were tied together and to the head of his bed.  Renji was on his hands and knees over him with his knees planted by his hips and his hands above his shoulders.  His nose was almost touching Ichigo’s.

“Man, this isn’t funny, okay?” Ichigo said, smiling nervously.  He got it; Renji was messing with him again.  He’d get him back for this, though.  He was already thinking of things to do to the annoying red-head while he slept at Urahara’s.  “Okay, ha, ha, let me up.  The hell are my hands tied with?” he asked, craning his neck and seeing the white, soft fabric.  Renji’s obi?  Okay, that wouldn’t break easily.

“Okay, getting a little weird, Renji, um, yeah, can you untie me?  You got me.  Should have stayed aware of my surroundings…” Ichigo said, seeing that Renji hadn’t moved a muscle.  He was just staring at him.  Ichigo swallowed.  “Um, so if you wanna spar, I can switch with Kon?  I tossed him in the closet…”

Renji tipped his head to the side and smiled, and a chill ran down Ichigo’s back.  Something was very wrong with that smile.  Completely and totally wrong…  It didn’t look like Renji’s smile at all. Ichigo’s heart was starting to beat faster and he yanked on the tie.  He was starting to lose feeling in his fingers because it was so tight.

“Dammit, Renji, get off!  This is not funny anymore!” he almost shouted.  Renji’s weird smile faded and he reached down and grabbed something beside the bed and shoved it into Ichigo’s mouth.  Ichigo’s eyes widened with shock.  It was a sock, obviously, and now Renji was using another one to tie it around his head viscously tight.  What?

Then Renji reached down to his waist and shoved his pajama top up under his armpits and began trailing his fingers over his abdomen.  He sat back on Ichigo’s thighs and watched him carefully. Ichigo shouted at him but it was muffled against the sock gag.  He tried to get him off his legs but the angle was wrong and he couldn’t get any leverage to move him.  It wasn’t that Renji was a lot bigger than him, but he was in his human body.  That was a little different when Renji was in soul form.

The strangest part was the silence, though.  Renji never shut up.  Seeing him silent was a rarity and Ichigo wasn’t sure if he’d ever seen him silent for very long.  Ichigo struggled against him and Renji looked back up at him and got off the bed suddenly.  Ichigo thought maybe whatever bad joke it was had finished.  He was wrong about that.  Renji reached over and yanked his pajama bottoms and shorts away with a swift motion.  Ichigo squeaked and started to scream against the gag and tried to seriously kick Renji now.  This was beyond not funny.  Granted, he could see Renji stripping him and leaving him like this as some sort of joke.  Ichigo swore that he would steal the bastard’s clothes and hide them the next time he had a chance.

Then, he picked up Ichigo’s school belt and grabbed his feet, lashing them together at the ankles.  Ichigo tried to pull away, but Renji pushed his legs forward until his knees were literally under his chin.  What the hell was he doing? This was so much beyond funny right now.  He wasn’t just going to hide his clothes; he was going to kill him.  Now he really couldn’t get any leverage to push Renji off.  He screamed abuse through the gag, but Renji’s strange silent stare continued.  Renji moved him until his bound ankles were resting on his left shoulder.  Then Ichigo felt something hard and wet against the back of his leg.  He frowned and then his eyes went wide as he realized what was happening.

He started to struggle again, much more franticly this time, feeling blood running down his arms now, and the white obi that was holding his wrists was quickly turning red.  He was not going to let this happen.  No way, no how.  Renji was his best friend, why would he do something like this…  If this was a joke it was going way too far.  He was going to have Rukia kick his ass too.  And maybe Byakuya.  Yeah…maybe…

His thinking was cut off when a crushing amount of pressure and pain shot through him and up his back.  Renji had forced his way inside in one move, and Ichigo felt blood dripping down onto the bed below him.  He screamed into the gag now, arching his back despite the strange folded position he was in.  He shook his head and began to try to breathe through it.  It hurt a whole lot more than he expected it to hurt, to be honest.  Despite his attempts to stop it, tears were soaking the gag.  He was having trouble breathing and he wasn’t sure if it was from what was happening or because of the pressure on his lungs.  He whined into the gag and let his head fall back.  He couldn’t do anything but wait.  He vaguely heard Kon’s voice from inside the closet.  Then, a warmth and stinging pain flooded him and Ichigo’s stomach turned.  Something didn’t feel right in his right hip, and he wondered if he’d really hurt him.  He couldn’t tell, he was in too much pain.  Finally he moved, dropping him down and silently untying the obi from Ichigo’s hands. 

He stared at him a long time then smiled that odd smile again and wrapped the bloody obi around his waist and was gone out the window without a word or a sound.

Ichigo laid there for a long time without moving.  He laid so long that suddenly he saw a plush lion face over him.

“Ichigo!  What…what…  oh Kami, Ichigo, what happened?” Kon said.

Ichigo shook his head, slowly reaching to his mouth and pulling off the gag and sat up, unhooking his belt from his ankles.  There were deep red grooves in his ankles and he realized his feet had both gone numb from loss of circulation.  His wrists were still dripping blood and he felt something dripping from the corners of mouth.  Kon was still talking but he stopped listening.  He grabbed his yukata and stood up, his legs buckling under him as he did.  Kon jumped down beside him, still chattering.  Ichigo grabbed him and tossed him across the room as he sat beside the bed and stared at the wall.

“Shut up,” he muttered, pushing himself to his feet and walking unsteadily to the bathroom.  A few moments later, Kon heard him throwing up rather violently and then the shower ran for a very, very long time.

Kon had no idea what had just happened.  He hopped on the bed and saw the bloody sheets and the pillow too.  He should tell someone, but who was he going to tell stuck in the house and in Yuzu’s room?  He would just tell Sister Rukia when she came by next time.  What to do until then?  And what to tell her?  Ichigo was yelling at someone and he didn’t know who it was, and then by the time he got out, Ichigo was practically non-responsive and obviously had been…no….that wasn’t possible, who could do that to him? 

Ichigo came back in and ripped the bedding from the bed, actually ripping the lower sheet with the violence he ripped it off the bed with, startling Kon into backing under his desk.  He was panting for breath and dropped to his knees beside the bed and sat there with his head down for a long time.  Kon had no idea what to do or say.  If he was that violent with the bedding, he didn’t want to know what he was going to do to him if he said anything or asked questions. He would just have to wait for Sister Rukia to come to the house.

-oooooo-OOOOOO-oooooo-

Renji was so confused.  Rukia came into the room he was staying at inside Urahara’s Shoten.  Rukia saw the puzzled look.

“What’s up?” she asked.

He held up his obi which was stained a good portion red.  “I have no idea what happened to it,” he said.  “I was going to the shower and went to untie it and realized it was like this.”

Rukia stepped forward and touched it.  “It’s still tacky…” she said, frowning and looking up.  “Are you bleeding anywhere?”

“Not that I know of…I just woke up and stepped out of gigai, and thought I’d shower before I went out on patrol with you this morning.  I’ll get in the shower and see,” he said shrugging, taking off the kusodo and glancing down, holding his hakama with one hand.  There were smudges of blood on his lower stomach.  He frowned.  “This is so weird,” he said as Urahara walked in.

“What is?” Urahara asked. 

“This,” Rukia said, holding up the obi.  “And he’s got blood on him too, go see if you have a cut on your hip or something,” she said to Renji.  Renji nodded and headed to the bathroom.  He dropped his hakama off and saw there were other traces of blood on his legs and hips.  He got into the shower and was surprised at the seemingly large amount of blood that washed down the drain.  That was weird; he didn’t think there was that much on him…unless it was in his hair…  He arched a brow.  Well, his hair was red; it would be hard to tell if he had blood in it.  He examined himself carefully, and found no traces of injuries on his body, limbs or head.

He came out after having redressed, getting a clean obi first.  “Well, I couldn’t find anything on me.  No cuts or anything.  Could I have cut myself then it healed already?  Sounds strange, but I guess it could happen…”

Rukia shrugged.  “No idea, Renji.  Let’s see what the others are up to today, it’s the weekend, so no school.”

They took off together and headed toward where they felt the strongest reiatsu.  That would be Ichigo, of course, she thought, smiling.  Coming from the soccer field.  They landed up on the poles and saw him sitting on the ground watching his sister practice.  His posture was wrong, though, she thought.  His head was bent over his knees and he was very still.

Renji smiled.  “Let’s leave him alone, he doesn’t look like he wants company,” he said to her.  “Want to find the Quincy?”

Ichigo, meanwhile, had actually sensed them approaching, and he had for the first time in his life been scared to move.  He didn’t know what would happen when he saw Renji.  What was he supposed to say to him?  Would he even say anything about what had happened?  He shivered and didn’t know what to do.  He couldn’t tell Rukia, he didn’t want Renji to get in trouble.  Renji was his best friend and right now he was just so very confused about what exactly was going on.  His best friend, right?  Unless Renji had wanted more than that and didn’t know how to say it… He didn’t think Renji to be so violent though, he thought, wincing as his hip twinged again.  He didn’t know what to think.

He started when he felt a hand on his shoulder.  He turned and gasped, finding it was Orihime and Tatsuki.  “Whoa!” Tatsuki said.  “Didn’t mean to startle you,” she said, smiling and sitting down on his left.  Orihime blushed and sat down on his right.

“Ah, yeah, fine,” he said, putting his chin back on his knees and staring out ahead.

“Something wrong?” Tatsuki asked, putting an arm around him.  He instantly pulled away.

“No, fine, I’m…uh, tell Karin I’ll see her at home,” he said, getting up and walking away quickly.

Tatsuki and Orihime exchanged a glance.  “That was strange,” Tatsuki said. 

Orihime nodded in agreement.  “Did it look like his face was bruised?” she asked thoughtfully.

Tatsuki shrugged.  “Who knows, he’s always getting into fights…”

Orihime nodded, knowing that it was possible for him to have gotten bruised and cut at the warehouse with the Vizard, but usually Hachi healed him, or he came to her.  It would be a little strange for him to not get injuries healed…

-oooooo-OOOOOO-oooooo-

Ichigo knew he wasn’t dreaming the next time it happened.  It had been a couple days, and he was beginning to feel less jumpy.  He hadn’t seen Renji or Rukia in the last couple days, and he found out from Chad they’d both been summoned back to Soul Society.  He was secretly very glad.  Maybe Renji would be normal again when he got back and he could pretend it was just some awful nightmare that had never really happened.  He wasn’t sure how he’d continue to interact with Renji but he’d do it.  He still considered him his best friend in the whole world.

He’d fallen asleep on top of the blanket because he was hot.  He’d shut and locked the window, and he wasn’t about to open it since Friday night.  It was Tuesday night and it was terribly hot.  He wouldn’t open the window, though.  He couldn’t.  He had come through the open window.  Renji never came into his room when it was closed.

He woke up with a start though and felt that again, he wasn’t alone.  He tried to talk but there was something, a cloth in his mouth already and he screamed into it.  No, no, not again, he thought, but as his sleep addled mind woke up, he realized his predicament.  Again, he was in his human body, and this time, Yuzu had taken Kon to bed with her, so he would be no help, not that he’d been help last time.  His hands were tied together on his back, he thought with his belt this time, and he felt like something was holding his feet down.  He struggled against the bindings and screamed into the gag again.

He heard soft, shh in his ear and then felt hands stroking his shoulders and down his hip.  He shook his head again and tried to yell louder, until he felt something tighten around his throat.  He coughed and gasped and realized it was something soft, some sort of clothes that were tightening around his neck.  Again, shh came to his ears and he felt those insistent hands on his hips, pulling them upward before he plunged downward.  He couldn’t shriek like he wanted because he couldn’t get enough air into his lungs to do so.  He whimpered and wanted the world to just fade away.  Just as he was about to pass out the pressure reduced and he was gasping against the gag.  He felt him release and it burned worse this time.  He whimpered and then Renji’s weight leaned over him and a voice that was and wasn’t Renji’s whispered in his ear.

“Mate.”

Then, the pressure was gone and so was the gag.  Ichigo was still bound at the wrist.  He groaned in frustration but finally managed to work his sweaty and bloody hands through the belt, though he thought he might have broken his thumb in the process.  He moved and found he had his pants wrapped around his ankles and tied to the bed frame.  Again he stumbled into the bathroom, his right side painful still, and he saw it was pretty bruised as well.  He threw up again and then sat in the shower until the hot water was out.  He finally couldn’t take the cold water anymore and got up and pulled off his bedding again before he fell into it.  He glanced over at the window.  It was still shut and locked.

-oooooo-OOOOOO-oooooo-

“Dammit!” Renji said, coming out of the room after he exited his gigai.  He was holding his hakama up with one hand and holding up his obi, once again stained red.  “Here, I’m going to the shower,” he said with a sigh, leaving Rukia with the obi.

Urahara looked at it.  “It’s wet…” he muttered, touching the damp potions, and then the blood that was still tacky.  “Look at the pattern, though,” he said, laying the obi flat on the table. 

Rukia stared at it.  “It…that’s strange.  Its wet in the middle and the sides, and there’s blood here and here… Can you tell what it has on it?” she asked.

Urahara nodded.  “Yeah, let me see.”

Urahara took off into his room with it as Renji came out, shrugging his kusodo on again.  “Blood again, I don’t understand what the hell is going on,” he said with a frown.

Rukia sighed.  “Urahara’s looking at it.”

A few minutes later he came out again.  “Blood, saliva, and saline,” he said, looking up at them.

Renji scratched his head.  “Well that’s weird.  Can you tell if its mine?” he asked.

Urahara arched a brow at him.  “That’s the problem, it isn’t.  This came from a human.”

Renji and Rukia exchanged a glance.  “What?”

“I can’t explain it.  It wasn’t on here when you came back yesterday and put on the gigai, right?” Urahara asked.

Renji nodded.

Urahara sighed.  “I’ll run some more tests, see if I can figure out who this belongs to, but it’s a long shot.  It’s not like I have a database of blood samples to compare it to.”

They finished breakfast and went out to see everyone at the school before it began.  Rukia headed over to Orhime and hugged her, and didn’t see Ichigo.  The others were standing around outside waiting for the day to begin.

“Where’s Ichigo?” she asked.

Orihime shook her head.  “Kurosaki-kun is absent today,” she said.  “He’s been acting strange, lately, so maybe he caught the flu.”

Rukia nodded.  It was possible.  Ichigo had been pushing himself really hard with the vizard training.  They decided to drop by his house and see how he was, but found his window shut and locked.  When they rang the bell, there was likewise no answer.  So they left it at that.

Inside, Ichigo was huddled into the corner of the sofa staring at the blank TV.  He hadn’t been able to move without pain this morning so he told his dad he thought he’d caught a summer cold.  He ended up falling asleep there, and his dad and sisters let him stay there and rest, assuming he was indeed just down sick.  No one heard him during the night when his nighttime visitor came to him again, this time wrapping his arms down to his waist with the obi and gagging him with the belt.  He managed to get upstairs to the bathroom before vomiting again and then sobbing into the hot spray of the shower.  Why was he doing this?  What for?

-oooooo-OOOOOO-oooooo-

A week passed, and Renji was stymied by continually coming from his gigai and having his obi or the edges of his shihakuso stained with blood that wasn’t his.  He was getting mildly concerned, so Urahara set up a camera to see what happened during the night.  What they saw surprised them.  Renji had come in, got into his gigai, then went about the evening, cleaning up and having dinner as the freeloader that he was.  He then laid down on his mat and fell asleep.  Then, not fifteen minutes later, his soul form sat up out his gigai and left, flashing away into the night.

Renji sat agape.  “But I didn’t…I was asleep!”

They forwarded the tape several hours and he came back, his mouth had blood on it this time, which he wiped away as he came in the door.  The light was dim, but they could see the dampness on the obi that matched where blood had been on it come morning.  Renji sat back and looked at them.  “What the hell is happening?” he asked.

Urahara frowned and disappeared with the tape again, telling them to go patrol while he figured things out if he could.  They felt a small surge of hollows and headed in the direction only to find Ichigo there already.  Considering he should have been in school, it was a bit strange.  He was screaming at the hollows as he sliced through them.  Rukia winced as he ruthlessly went after them until they were gone and he stood panting on the ground.

Rukia and Renji dropped beside him, and Rukia touched him.  She narrowly avoided Zangetsu taking her head off as she ducked a wild swing.  He stood blinking at her for a long moment.

“Whoa, hey, sorry!” she said.

Renji grinned.  “Man, you in the zone or what?  You were on fire.”

Ichigo stared at both of them, looking between them.  “Yeah,” he said, putting Zangetsu back.

Rukia glanced at Renji.  “Why aren’t you in school?  We could have handled it.”

Ichigo shook his head.  “Stayed home.”

Renji frowned.  “That’s not like you.  Aren’t you over the flu or whatever?” he asked.

“No,” he said, and flashed away before they could say anything else.

Rukia glanced at Renji again and wondered just what that had been about.  Mysteries seemed to abound lately, she thought to herself.

-oooooo-OOOOOO-oooooo-

Ichigo’s head was spinning by the time he got back home and into his body.  He shivered.  He had been feeling feverish lately, but he didn’t want to tell his father.  How would he believe him?  Oh, yeah, I have this guy, my best friend actually, and he’s been sneaking into my room to rape me every night but you can’t see him because he’s a spiritual being, and I think he might have done something to make me sick.  Talk about a one way trip to the looney bin.  No one would believe him.  Even Rukia wouldn’t believe him.  Renji acted so…normal, though.   He stayed in his room and skipped dinner.  He hadn’t eaten much since this had all began, and it was beginning to show on his face.  He didn’t care; he wasn’t hungry and felt sick when he ate.  Then he couldn’t get Renji out of his head when he closed his eyes.

Night came and found him sitting on the floor in the corner of the room watching the window.  He wasn’t going to be caught unaware this time.  No, he was going to wait right here.  Of course, exhaustion won out and he was startled again to wakefulness that found him screaming into something soft.  A sock again, he thought, but as he came to consciousness he realized he was being carried in a flash step through the town.  He tried to wriggle against him, but he was wrapped in his sheet it seemed, and he couldn’t move anything.  Something tight was cinched around his upper arms, his waist and wrists, and his thighs.  He blinked as the world sped by.  Where was he taking him?

Moments later they were jumping through the top window of an old warehouse.  Renji dropped him onto a bed of…stuff.  Ichigo looked around as much as he could in the mummified state he was in, and saw the crushed remains of a staircase.  No way out that way.  Renji gave him that strange smile and tipped his head to the side.

“Mate. Nest,” he said, pointing to the stuff Ichigo was on.  He looked and saw it was a collection of soft things.   Pillows, blankets, feathers, and…he really hoped that was a stuffed animal and not a dead one… 

Ichigo shook his head as Renji kneeled and untied the belt around his thighs.  Ichigo tried to kick him but Renji snapped something around his ankle.  Ichigo blinked and saw it was a metal shackle that was attached to a chain.  The chain was locked around a steel pole in the center of the room.

“Mate, stay,” he said and Ichigo’s eyes went wide.  He meant for him to stay here?

Renji then pulled the rest of the blanket and his clothes off him, leaving the gag for last.  He pulled it off and stroked Ichigo’s neck where he’d bitten him a few nights before then dove forward and clamped teeth into the wound again.  Ichigo yelped at it.  However, it wouldn’t do any good here.  No one was around, no one would hear him.

Renji looked at him.  “Mate, noisy mate.”  He put a finger to his lips and shhhed him again.

Ichigo sat and stared at him.  This couldn’t be Renji, could it?  His thoughts were interrupted as the bigger man pushed him onto his back into the pillows and began licking and biting his neck.  Ichigo whimpered and tried not to scream as the thing that looked like Renji took what he wanted again.  He wasn’t very successful, however.

-oooooo-OOOOOO-oooooo-

Renji was shaken away the next day by Rukia.  He swatted at her and told her to go away.

“Wake up, dammit, Ichigo’s missing!” she said.

He sat up with a gasp.  “What?”

He looked over to find Orihime, Uryuu and Chad looking back at him as Rukia stood back.  “Come on, get out of the gigai and let’s go find him.”

Renji nodded and stepped out, and when he did Rukia gasped.  Renji blinked and looked down and yelped.  Urahara came in and stared at him.  His obi was stained deep crimson, and there was blood smudged all over his soul form and all along the white edges.

“Fuck!” Renji said.  “It happened again!”

Orihime stepped forward and used her sun sun riki.  “You aren’t hurt anywhere, Abarai-kun…”

Urahara motioned him into the next room where his instruments were.  He turned around the monitor and pulled up the recording from the night before. 

“You left at two am, and came back just before sunrise,” Urahara said.  “You don’t remember any of it?”

Renji shook his head.  “Okay,” Urahara said.  “Let’s scan you, sit down,” he said, and everyone went in the other room to wait for an answer.  A minute later they came out, Renji looking slightly pale.

“I have a theory.  Renji-san has strong traces of hollow reiatsu.  It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes there are hollows that are like parasites, they attach themselves to a human or shinigami, and if the body is strong enough, they can use the body’s own spiritual energy to move.  I’m not sure, though, but if we put a sleeping kido on Renji-san, we should be able to tell if something is using him while he’s sleeping.  Of course, there is also the possibility that it is an artificially created hollow,” he said with a sigh.

“Artifically created hollow?” Rukia said.

“Aizen has done this before, and it is quite possible that he’s done something like this to create chaos from afar.  It has been far too long since we’ve heard anything from him,” Urahara said.  “Come, let’s test our theory?”

They took Renji back and had him sit in the exam chair again.  Urahara placed the kido on him and they waited.  It seemed like a long time but they were startled when Renji stood up.  Urahara looked at the others and back to him.

“Renji-san?” he asked.

Renji ignored him and went into the next room, and the others followed him.  He began rummaging around the room and retrieved a throw from the sofa then tied it around his waist and went into the kitchen.  There, he took the cloth off the table and tied it to the first thing.  He went throughout the shoten and looked for things, eventually finding a couple more small blankets.  Rukia stepped in front of him.

“What is that for?” Rukia said.

Renji tipped his head to the side and smiled at her.  “Mate.  Nest,” he said in a voice that was not Renji’s completely.  “Soft,” he said, holding up a throw.  “Nest.”  He then went toward the door.

“Ichigo,” Urahara said, turning to Rukia.  “The hollow…it went after the hollow with the strongest power signature.  That’s Ichigo.”

Orihime looked at him.  “But…Kurosaki-kun isn’t a hollow…”

Urahara grimaced.  “Um, it’s a long story, but ah, he’s more hollow than any of the other Visored…  This makes me even more sure that this is Aizen’s meddling.  The hollow part of Ichigo…it was also a created hollow, something Aizen created to hollowify shinigami.  A long story as to what happened, but we can’t be concerned with that right now.  Now, more importantly, we have to find out what the hollow that’s using Renji took him before the sleeping kido wears off.”

They took off after the hollow possessed Renji as fast as they could.  Urahara cursed the fact Yoruichi wasn’t there today…  Finally, they came into an area with several abandoned warehouses, but they’d lost him.  Urahara looked at Rukia.  “He’s somewhere in here.  We’re going to need help searching all these.  Can you go find Toshiro, Rangiku, Ikkaku and Yumichika?”

Rukia nodded and took off to find them while Urahara tried to track Renji’s reiatsu or Ichigo’s.  Just then Renji dropped down in front of him and tipped his head to the side again.  “Away mate!” he said.  He tapped his chest, “Mate.”

Just then there were several flash steps and the rest arrived around him.  “No!  Mate, mine!” he said, frowning and backing away from the group.

“I said it was a hollow problem, but they don’t know…” Rukia said, slightly out of breath.

Urahara nodded.  “Look, we aren’t going to take your mate.  We want to help.  Is he hurt?  You have blood on you.”

Renji looked down at his hands which were indeed bloody.  “Mate fine.  Mate heal.”

That’s what Urahara had been afraid of.  “No, he’s not.  He’s not a hollow, and you need to take us to him or he’s going to be in trouble, don’t you understand?  Your mate, he’ll die.”

Renji’s head tipped to the side again.  “Mate…not heal?” he queried.

Urahara sighed and shook his head.  “No.  Please, where did you take him?”

Renji’s eyes narrowed.  “You lie.  Mate fine.  Mate heal.”

Then Renji’s eyes closed and he stumbled backward.  He blinked and looked around and started to brush his hair back and started.  “Oh kami…did you…oh no…” he said, dropping onto the ground with a thump and staring at his hands.

“Renji, you need to relax, getting upset isn’t going to find him,” Urahara told him.

Renji looked up.  “Find who?”

Urahara sighed.  “It’s a hollow parasite, possibly sent by Aizen.  It has been using you when you sleep.  You came here with a bunch of blankets and stuff and told us it was for your mate’s nest.  I’m not sure, but I’m pretty sure the hollow went after the most powerful hollow in the area.”

“So…this is a hollow’s blood?  I thought it was human, you said?” Renji said, frowning.

“The hollow he went after is Ichigo, Renji,” Urahara said.  “It…I think the blood belongs to him.”

Renji stared at his hands and then ripped open the front of his kusodo to find blood smeared all over his chest and stomach.  “But…but…oh kami,” he said and fell back in a dead faint.

He came back around seconds later, staring at the sky.  “Are you okay?” Rukia asked.

“No, not at all.  That means…when we saw him at that game…after the first time I found my obi covered in blood…that I…what did I do?” he said quietly.

Rukia helped him up.  “You didn’t do anything.  We aren’t sure what the hollow did.”

“Kill it,” he said, shaking his head.  “Even if you have to kill me too,” he said, looking at Urahara.

“It won’t come to that, but we need to keep it alive for now in case we can’t find Ichigo.  I think I should be able to kill it with a kido once we find Ichigo.  For now, we’ve got to canvas these buildings.  We know you came to this area, but there are a lot of warehouses and a lot of floors to go through.  I want to try and find him without letting the hollow control you again on the chance he will hurt him if we try to get to him with it awake,” Urahara said as they each took off in a different direction.  By the time it started to get dark, they’d only gotten halfway through.

“Renji, I hate to do it, but we’re going to need to see if he’ll lead us to him.  I’m going to put you under the kido again, and everyone else will stay out of sight and tail him.  Send up a reiatsu burst as soon as you find Ichigo,” Urahara said and Renji nodded. 

Urahara cast the kido and left to go to the top of the next building.  As expected, he got up and flashed off.  The hidden shinigami followed him, finally as he jumped to the top floor of a building and looked around for anyone following.  He slipped into it.  Yumichika flared his reiatsu and followed into the building.  He felt the others close behind as he navigated the fallen debris and abandoned boxes and plastic curtaining.  He paused when he came to a large opening and saw Renji crouched in the middle of a huge pile of things looking down into it at something…or someone. 

A moment later, he felt Ikkaku’s hand on his shoulder, followed by Urahara who came up next to him.  Toshiro and Rangiku weren’t far behind with Rukia.  Urahara watched as Renji jumped off the pile and began to move some of the blankets around and then jumped back up. 

“Mate heal,” he demanded into the center of what Urahara guessed was the hollow’s nest it had made.  “Mate!  He lie.  Mate heal!”

Urahara motioned the others to circle around.  They hadn’t had any show of what power, if any, this parasite hollow had infused Renji with, but he didn’t want to take any chances and get someone injured in the process.  Renji had gone down into the pile now, and they could see his shoulders and head when he crouched down.  They heard a rattle of a chain.  Urahara’s brows furrowed and he saw a chain connected to a pole in the center of the room.  That’s how he left him alone…Urahara thought to himself.

He heard Renji growl and sit back.  “Mate?” he said, softer.  Urahara held up his hand to stop the others from moving in and Urahara moved forward.  Renji startled and stood.

“He’s not healing, is he?” Urahara said softly, holding both hands up.

Renji frowned and looked down.  “Why?” he said and looked back up at Urahara.

“He’s not a hollow, not like you, you’ve been too rough with him, I imagine,” Urahara said softly, almost to the edge of the pile now.

Renji frowned again and glanced down.  “No kit?”

Urahara paused.  “Kit?” he said softly.

“Mate no make Kit,” he said, tipping his head to the side.  “Try, no kit.”

Urahara swallowed.  “He can’t, no.  Is that what you were trying to do?  Have a kit?”

Renji nodded.  “Lonely,” he said. 

“Can I help him?” Urahara said, starting to worry a lot more.  If Ichigo was there, he wasn’t moving, and not making any noise.

Renji crouched and looked at him and shook his head.  “Mine!”

“I’m sorry,” Urahara said, and motioned a wordless kido to bind him.  Renji screamed and there was movement in the nest.  The others ran forward.  He looked at Rukia.  “Wake him up,” he yelled as he moved and jumped down into the nest to see what he was going to find.

Renji’s world began to come back into focus slowly and he blinked, finding he was bound in the yellow kido.  He shook his head.  “I’m awake, did we find him?” he asked, blinking.  The kido faded and he leaped forward to where Urahara was in the nest and gasped. 

“Oh no…is…what…” Renji stammered. 

Urahara was in the process of wrapping one of the blankets around Ichigo.  He was heavily unconscious and hot with a fever, but more than that, he looked bruised and was bleeding from several wounds on his neck and shoulders.  Urahara looked up. 

“Renji, no, you go back, let Orihime know we’re coming and we need her help, quickly.”  He turned to Ikkaku.  “Break this,” he said, indicating the chain that was connected to his ankle across to the pole.  Ikkaku nodded and broke it apart just as Renji disappeared toward the windows.

They made it back as quickly as they could and found Renji pacing with Orihime sitting in one of the rooms.  In short order she had thrown her shield over him and was doing her best to help heal the damage.  Urahara motioned the others into the kitchen.  He looked at Renji. 

“Here,” he said and put his fingers to Renji’s forehead.  There was a flash and a black butterfly flew away out of it. 

“Renji, you…it…was trying to…” Urahara stopped, unsure how to tell him this.  “Renji, it was trying to have a kit.”

Renji frowned.  “Huh?”

Rukia gasped and put a hand to her mouth.  “Oh, Kami, that’s why he was acting so weird…if…oh no…Renji…”

Renji shook his head.  “I don’t understand.”

Urahara sighed.  “The hollow…it thought Ichigo was its mate.”

Renji nodded.  “Yeah, built a nest and everything.”

“It wanted a kit, a cub, whatever you want to call it, it referred to it as a kit,” Urahara said.  “I think it was programmed by Aizen to seek out the hollow inside Ichigo, the one he’d created before, but instead of being like normal hollows that only are driven to consume, this one was driven to try to procreate instead.”

Renji nodded.  “Okay…so what does…but wait, it wanted…that means…no.  That’s not possible.  Wouldn’t he have said something or done something?”

Orhime came in looking distraught.  “I can’t do any more; I cleared up the infection that was causing the fever and all the wounds.  I think he’ll be okay…but…”

“We know, Orihime,” Urahara said quietly.

Renji sat staring at his still bloody hands.  How was he supposed to deal with this?  Ichigo was his best friend…  And he’d done something so terrible to him that he couldn’t even comprehend it.

“I…I…oh kami…” he muttered and buried his face in his hands, unsure of anything.

 



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