Title: A-Walking The Devil Is Gone
Genre: Angst, Horror, PWP
Rating: R (Explicit violence, semi-explicit sex, language.)
Length: 6,612 words
Status: One-Shot (Complete)
Summary: If I were to speak in vague devil cliches, I would say that the devil once spoken of appears, strikes a deal, and Hirako is forced to give him his due. Set before Ichigo harnesses his Vizard powers, though the timing is slightly AU.
Also, we took the title from the poem "The Devil's Walk" by Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which you can read here.
Before you read this, you might be interested to know a few terms we've retained with their original Japanese names. These are clothing terms: kosode refers to the over-shirt in the shihakushou, shitagi refers to the under-shirt, and hakama are the pants. Much thanks goes to How To Disrobe Your Shinigami by hallowd, from which we borrowed this information. And now - read on!</lj>
Hirako was beginning to feel distinctly unappreciated. He had recently, without his knowledge or consent, been demoted from “unofficial leader of the Vizards” to “babysitter of Kurosaki Ichigo.” All of the other Vizards had opted out of the job, hurrying off to attend to more pressing issues whilst Hirako was left to supervise Ichigo in his training. For Lisa, that meant reading porn in the library; for Hiyori, it meant kicking someone else’s ass for a change; for the rest of the slackers that he had once thought he could call his comrades…well, he didn’t really know what it meant. Hirako only knew that they were forcing all responsibility upon him, and he did not appreciate it very much at all. Adopting Kurosaki had basically been his idea he will admit, but he was a Vizard and that meant he belonged. The rest of his cast of misfits, however, seemed to have forgotten virtues such as solidarity and loyalty.
Right now, Ichigo was performing sword exercises per Hirako’s request. Ichigo had complained and whined in the beginning, insisting with vehemence that sword exercises wouldn’t do anything. Hirako had simply told him that he was being taught a lesson in discipline, which was mostly true. The boy could use a little more self-discipline or just discipline in general. The exercises, however, also had some perks for Hirako.
A bead of sweat traced Ichigo’s jaw before trailing down his Adam’s apple to pool in the hollow of his tan throat. Hirako’s eyes tracked it with interest. Indeed, “babysitting” Kurosaki wasn’t always so much of a chore. He was good-looking, and his talent for swordsmanship could make him appear almost graceful at times. In a few years, the boy could be a worthy ally and a formidable enemy. And wasn’t that a sobering thought. Hirako pressed the smile out of his lips, setting them into a thin line. They did not have years to hone Ichigo’s skill. At best, they had a few months and, at worst, mush briefer than that. Enjoyable as exercises were, it was time to push Ichigo’s limits in battle against a stronger, more experienced opponent. Hirako unsheathed his sword.
“I want you to summon your getsuga tenshou and hit me.”
Hirako could see the tension increase around Ichigo’s eyes. God, he was so afraid of his Hollow. It infected every step he was taking, even outside the battlefield. Hirako could remember those days… He shuddered. Better to concentrate on the here and now.
Ichigo stood at the ready, Zangetsu before him. He gritted his teeth, feeling the sweat slide down behind his ears, though they had just started training. Why did it have to be this way? Fights used to be exhilarating, but now all he felt was hot fear, close to panic, whenever he faced an enemy. Even Hirako, with his calculating grin and terrifying power, could have been someone he would face honorably. But now he had to think, to try, to begin fighting.
Hirako was waiting, and then Ichigo was a streak of black and silver. He could see the effort it cost Ichigo not to remain still, but even so, his movements were swift and practical in their grace. The first attack passed harmlessly by Hirako, forceful but also forced.
“Kurosaki. Stop fighting it. The only way to train yourself is to face your Hollow—you’re not going to run the rest of your life like a whipped dog, are you?” Hirako grinned mirthlessly. It was more like the challenge of the baring of teeth. He was hoping that if Ichigo got angry, he would let go of his inhibitions. There was no telling if it would work, but…
Ichigo let the comment slide off of him. At this point he could feel the tendrils snaking over him from that empty core in his mind. No, not tendrils… It felt more like sticking your head in the jaw of the tiger and knowing that the teeth were poised to bite. He stopped.
The whisper hissed through his mind like steam, hot and hazy. Ichigo could still see Hirako, evaluating his every move and looking stuck between striking with his tongue or his sword, but superimposed was a film of shadows that coiled and slithered across his vision. That meant only one thing: his tenuous control was quickly approaching the breaking point.
Hirako watched Ichigo pause, and, though someone less familiar with Hollow transformation would likely never catch the signs, he could recognize the pained, far-off look in those glazed eyes. If Ichigo was having this much trouble controlling his Hollow already… Hirako recalled the seductive pull of that vacuum, and how good it felt to simply stop clawing against the nothingness and let go. Ichigo needed incentive to fight back, and he needed it now.
Swift and silent, Hirako flash-stepped behind Ichigo and swung the blade down over the crown of his head. Ichigo pivoted and met the sword with his own in a response that was more reflex than thought. From his position hunched mere inches above Ichigo’s face, Hirako observed the thin veins of black that branched from the corner of Ichigo’s eyes like spider webs, reaching to anchor themselves in irises flecked with gold. The golden freckles shifted eerily like static.
Why don’t you let me out to play, King?
“No,” Ichigo forced the word through gritted teeth and closed his eyes as though he could will the Hollow out of his mind with enough concentration. Shoulders tense, Ichigo threw off Hirako’s sword and struck blindly toward his waist. Hirako parried the move easily and took up an offensive position once more.
From then on, they became mere blurs of color and sound that phased in and out, dancing around each other.
“C’mon, I want you to hit me, Kurosaki!”
Though his movements were quicker now, Hirako could feel Ichigo holding back. The hand that clasped his sword was white at the knuckles, his breathing was too raspy, and he looked as though all of his muscles were strung too tightly together for proper movement. Hirako had been hoping that he wouldn’t have to use his trump card so early in the game, but Ichigo was leaving him with no other choice. Wide grin showing both gleaming canines, Hirako charged and cornered Ichigo. He needed to make damn sure that Kurosaki would listen.
Ichigo shivered at the feel of Hirako’s cool breath on his hot skin. Though Hirako didn’t appear very strong or aggressive with his lanky body and easy smile, he had Ichigo pinned in a way that even a fighter like Zaraki would be hard pressed to accomplish. Hirako had the tip of his blade pressed into Ichigo’s right shoulder just hard enough that inhaling any deeper would break the skin, and the pointy elbow of the arm clutching his kosode dug into his ribs.
“Listen up, Kurosaki, because I won’t repeat myself,” he began, pausing to let the words sink in. “The longer you ignore him the more he’ll consume you. How do you expect to protect your family? Orihime-chan? Rukia-chan? And if you become the very thing you want to destroy…”
Hirako accented the last thought with a sharp, bony knee to Ichigo’s thigh. For a second, Ichigo had the relief of distraction, thinking about how Hirako could use his thinner body to his advantage, but his contemplation was quickly cut short by the buzzing growing louder in his ear.
You just don’t know how to handle him, King. Why don’t you give me a chance? I’ll be real good… Promise.
The voice tried to purr, but it held the ‘s’ on the end too long, making it into more of a hiss. And still the crackle of static. Under it, Ichigo recognized Hirako’s voice continuing, deeper and more somber than before.
“Kurosaki, do you really want your friends to have to destroy you?”
Somewhere in his mind, Ichigo registered the heavily lidded eyes and the blade biting steadily into his skin. He wanted to respond, to say no, but the sounds and sights outside his head couldn’t eclipse the pain inside his body. Ichigo opened his mouth and screamed. He felt as though someone had electrified him or set him on fire, only it burned from the inside out. Harsh laughter and more static. Louder and louder. Ichigo wanted to claw his ears off, but he couldn’t feel his arms. There was only pain.
Hirako watched with horror as Ichigo shouted and convulsed, impaling himself on the sword still poised at his shoulder. As soon as he saw the blood begin to bloom across Ichigo’s kosode, Hirako removed the sword and tackled him to the ground in an attempt to still him. Ichigo writhed and bucked, but Hirako held him firmly in place, trying to prevent any further self-injury. Just as Hirako was beginning to think he could restrain him no longer, Ichigo went deathly still. And he began to fade. The bright orange of his hair, the flush on his cheeks, and the tan of his skin all began to bleach of color until Ichigo looked as smooth and pale as alabaster. He could have been a statue.
Ichigo’s eyes opened, revealing black inlaid with a ring of gold. The sides of his lips twitched then curled up like parchment set on fire.
“Sorry, but Kurosaki isn’t available at the moment,” the thing drawled with a parody of mirth in its glowing eyes. It wasn’t possible, but Hirako knew it was true. Ichigo’s hollow was in full control.
The thing shifted faster than Hirako could follow; it was pure luck that the hand reaching to grip his neck missed by millimeters. Hirako rolled back from it, on his feet and ready to attack. But the thing just flowed with the hand, momentum carrying it to its feet, its unblemished kosode as white as a death shroud. The hand grasped Hirako’s sword even as he stepped back to avoid it, but as the blade sliced the Hollow’s pale hand black blood flowed and it paused. Hirako watched in disgusted fascination as the thing licked the blood from its palm, the scene made grislier by the cadaverous colors.
“I don’t have a name,” it stated with lips smeared with black, “but I guess if you want you can call me Shirosaki.” It smiled. Hirako couldn’t see anything but cold malice and sharp intelligence in those unfathomable eyes. He remembered staring down his own macabre twin, but it was somehow different than facing the alter ego of someone who wasn’t intimately tied to you. It felt… invasive. He’d never met any of his fellow Vizards’ Hollows, nor did he wish to. This encounter twisted the fabric of his reality into knots. Damn you, Ichigo, how powerful are you that you can manifest such power against your will?
He sighed. He had brought this upon himself, and now he had to deal with it.
Hirako flash-stepped to its side, but a cut was already blooming on his abdomen, the red spreading insidiously across the orange of his shirt. The bottom half of his tie was gone. Shirosaki was just smiling sinisterly, five feet away. His Zangetsu had become Tensa Zangetsu somehow in the moments Hirako had lost sight of him. Tendrils of pain spread like fingers from a fist in his torso.
“Don’t worry, I didn’t cut too deeply. It’s not fun if you die.”
Hirako laughed quietly, scoffing. He looked up from his wound and his eyes matched Shirosaki’s. “I just can’t take you seriously when you look so dead!”
He called down his mask and lunged. Several hundred years of defeating opponents had honed Hirako’s aim, speed, and strength to precision sharper than the tip of his sword. With properly calculated force he could disable the Hollow without doing irreparable damage to Ichigo’s body. A slash mirroring his own bloomed across the Hollow’s immaculate white kosode in some hideous imitation of an oil spill. By some trick of the light, the perfect pitch-black of the blood shimmered sickly, poisonously green.
One white finger, twitching arrhythmically like the leg of an albino spider, dipped into the center of the black well. Inky, viscous liquid dripped like melting wax down the finger so slowly that Hirako could feel time congealing along with the hollow’s blood. Leisurely, unabashedly, the creature brought the digit to its smug, insolent mouth and wrapped a dark, reptilian tongue around it. Hirako felt the gold of the Hollow’s irises searing into him, as he watched the obscene spectacle with rapt horror. That blow should have left Shirosaki wounded enough for Hirako to negotiate the surrender of Kurosaki’s body.
“I knew that you would be willing to cooperate.”
Hirako collected himself, and a sneer slipped into his voice easier than the afternoon shadows sliding across his mask.
“I could drain your entire body of blood without even using bankai…. You’ve chosen a playmate too old for your games.” And Hirako could make good on that promise, but he did not want to. With any luck, the Hollow would be too overwhelmed with bloodlust to call his bluff. Shifting into fighting stance, Hirako prepared for another reckless attack. This time he would be ready.
Shirosaki’s crooked grin did not fade but twisted further up his face. With a too collected calmness, betrayed only by the spasms of his spidery fingers, he began to step toward Hirako while replying in an amused hiss, “Oh, I have no doubt that you could. But this body…” A pause. A casual gesture with the nervous hands. “This body is not something you want to destroy. I know that you are attempting to play on my pride and quick temper, but I have something else in mind.” Sharp and burning, the Hollow’s eyes felt as though they might just peel away the top layer of Hirako’s skin. It was a tugging of a curtain, one that, once drawn, would leave Hirako vulnerable, naked, and in the spotlight for some drama in which his role had not yet been identified. When had he lost the upper hand? Had he even had it to begin with?
Finding the trace of a grimace in Hirako’s eyes, Shirosaki continued as though waiting for precisely that response. “I can be fair.” By this time he had slithered into Hirako’s personal space, and he could taste the pulse of the Vizard’s fierce reiatsu like a heartbeat against his tongue. “Perhaps,” Shirosaki whispered against the cold sweat on Hirako’s neck, “you would be willing to make a deal. A fair trade.” A smile spread indulgently across the Hollow’s lips at the trembling anger licking at his skin. All that barely-leashed fury and power made his hair stand on end, and he wanted it. He would have it.
Shirosaki bit down hard on the pulse throbbing in Hirako’s neck, and Hirako stiffened. His mask disintegrated. There was no sharp slicing into the skin, just the dull grind of human teeth and the ache as Shirosaki tried to gouge out his aorta by force. Hirako managed to backhand Shirosaki with enough force to dislodge his teeth from the skin, but there had been enough pressure applied to make him bleed.
“Doesn’t sound like much of a fair trade if you’re going to steal what you want anyway,” Hirako remarked. The vibrant scarlet of Hirako’s blood looked strangely out of place on Shirosaki’s grayish skin, a discord of color.
That bruise-colored tongue slid out again, making the red vanish. “How about blood for blood, flesh for flesh? I’ll promise to let this body go unharmed… but only if you give me something else to play with.”
Shirosaki’s grin was jagged and sharp, like old and rusted razorblades.
Inwardly, Hirako berated himself. He had been backed into a corner. There was no way he could allow Ichigo to be hurt, especially as Hirako had agreed to train him; and at least they had Hachi if things went really south. He let none of these convictions cross his face as he said, simply, “I accept.”
“Take off your shirt,” was the only answer he received. Shirosaki’s eyes had emptied. Hirako loosened what was left of his tie and pulled it over his head, his shirt joining it in the dirt shortly after. The air floating around Hirako’s naked chest felt strange, though he was not usually uncomfortable when exposed. It felt a little like the air before a storm: full of potential, almost vibrating with the need to rain and release lighting. He realized he could see the bruise already starting to form on Shirosaki’s cheekbone, and then it occurred to him that he was in range to reach out and touch it. Shirosaki shrugged out of his still-fastened kosode, letting it fall around his waist.
As soon as he realized they could touch, Hirako was already sprawled in the dirt, blood filling his mouth. He’d seen the backhand coming like a parallel missile, too transfixed to avoid it. He started getting to his feet, but a hand like a steel bear trap seized his head, burying in his hair, leveraging his mouth to the wound in Shirosaki’s abdomen. He resisted, but it did nothing, the blood just loomed in his vision, black and acrid and very, very dead.
Hirako’s awkward, uncomfortable half-kneel meant that Shirosaki loomed over him at an odd angle. The play of shadow and light complimented the cruel curve of his mouth and the slits of his eyes.
“I thought that we agreed that his body was to go unharmed.”
Shirosaki allowed a gleam of amusement to show through the blankness of his expression. “That particular wound had been inflicted before we agreed to those terms. You could, however, redeem yourself by…making it better.”
Either Hirako could ignore the command and risk Shirosaki’s unpredictable but almost certainly violent reaction, or he could do as requested and relinquish his dignity and possibly Ichigo’s as well. It was not a much of a choice. If he cooperated, however, he had a chance of catching Shirosaki off-guard and perhaps turning the situation to his favor.
Hesitantly, he bent his head to the deepest part of the wound, which fell somewhere in the middle of the toned stomach. A bitter, acrid smell grew stronger, as he drew closer to the slightly congealed black blood. Just as he had stuck the tip of his tongue into the tar-like substance, a bony hand shoved his head roughly into the wound. Hirako began to choke as viscous blood gushed from the reopened wound into his mouth and nose at an alarming pace. He swallowed on reflex, clearing his mouth enough to breathe. And that was a mistake.
The blood burned down Hirako’s throat, scalding and sticking thickly like lava. Still more dripped down his throat and began to burn his lips raw. The burn of the blood was less like the heat of fire and more like the chemical pain of acid, though Hirako suspected that pure hydrochloric acid would have been soothing in comparison; it stripped cells from his throat and masqueraded its sloughing in a cloak of heat hot enough to be ice. The blood washed over him until he was aware of nothing but searing, freezing pain.
He heaved, coughing wetly, wrenching his head out of Shirosaki’s grip to spill blood haphazardly onto the dirt. It gleamed, poisonous and sickly, with a rainbow sheen like an oil slick, and Hirako couldn’t feel his tongue enough to push it from his mouth; instead, it dripped lazily, reluctantly relinquishing its conquered ground.
Shirosaki laughed, crouching down next to him. “It’s quite a shock, isn’t it? You took it so well, I wasn’t sure it was even going to faze you. Only Hollows feed on other Hollows, blood included, because they are the only spirits that can take in such offensive reishi. That you can even live through taking it in is only right, seeing as you are on your way to being one of us.” His fingers trailed lazily in the dirty blood, and he smeared it down the right side of Hirako’s face. Hirako, for his part, simply stared defiantly at him, recovering shakily.
Shirosaki stood up abruptly, stalking over to Hirako’s zanpaku-tou and retrieving it. He scoffed at its unreleased state, and yet… it had possibilities even as it was. He ran a finger along its edge, testing its sharpness, and it left a bloody trail behind it. Hirako flinched at Shirosaki’s sin-blackened hands touching his spirit manifestation, but could do nothing except attempt to get his feet underneath him. Shirosaki smirked and dragged Hirako up, forcing his feet to support his weight. “Enough procrastinating. Let’s have some real fun. Here, I’ll show you a nice trick,” he smiled crookedly, hefting the blade.
He uncurled his tongue from his mouth. Extended, it was a long, thin, glistening black spearhead, sharp and easily able to cut. He licked the tip of Hirako’s katana, wrapping around it as dirty and sexual as a whore spreading her legs, blood beginning to bead around the silver. He lowered it, centimeter by centimeter, eyes never wavering from Hirako’s face. Hirako could feel his face tightening, lines of disgust and crude wonder forming, and yet, in his most basic instincts, he was horrifyingly aroused.
The blade was only an inch and a half wide, yet it had still begun to slice furrows into the side of Shirosaki’s mouth. Hirako couldn’t help but marvel, with that infuriatingly calm, innermost part of his mind that had managed to be unperturbed by this mess, how well Shirosaki was managing to deep throat his sword.
When the hilt finally reached the tip of his dark tongue, Shirosaki paused, his eyes glittering sharply. One swift movement, fast enough that even Hirako had trouble following it, and the sword was unsheathed from Shirosaki’s throat. Black, sludgy blood oozed steadily and pooled at the hilt until enough collected to force gluey streams onto the dirt.
“Your turn.” Shirosaki smiled cryptically. “Of course, I don’t expect you to have the same amount of skill,” the last word purred obscenely, “as I happen to naturally possess. I do, however, imagine that you would like to clean your blade.”
The thought of swallowing any more of the noxious blood made Hirako’s stomach roil and the back of his throat crawl unpleasantly. Hirako in no way relished the idea of stripping away the smooth muscle in his esophagus, but feigning compliance would give him the opportunity to reclaim his weapon. Ichigo was infamously resilient, so wounding him once, with some care as to how deep, would not kill him. He would, however, have to use enough force to incapacitate Shirosaki.
Slowly, Hirako reached out and curled his hand around the katana, accidentally brushing against Shirosaki’s bleached, cold fingers. Hirako withheld a shiver, but it must have shown in his eyes because Shirosaki gave him a distorted, toothy grin. It was made of alligators, crocodiles, and snakes—all things reptilian and hungry.
The blood tasted just as Hirako remembered, only worse. His throat had already been chafed and blistered and, instead of desensitizing him to the pain, the old wounds magnified the pain almost exponentially. Hirako ran his tongue up and down the blade until he could no longer feel the cold metal beneath the blood. His tongue piercing rapped out a sharp staccato in time with his strokes. Through the haze of burning, Hirako traced the lines of lazy pleasure in Shirosaki’s expression. Mistaking indolence for inattention, Hirako arced the zanpaku-tou from his mouth, splitting his upper lip in the process, and thrust it purposefully toward Shirosaki’s solar plexus.
Hirako felt the blade slowing before he saw the twitching hands clap together and trap it between the palms. He had barely sensed the imbalance in his grip when a whoosh of air hit his face and something sharp was wedged deep into the right side of his rib cage. With detached wonderment and awe, Hirako watched as red the color of fire engines and lipstick, almost too pretty, ran down his torso to stain his slacks.
A raspy whisper against his throat, “Now, now, don’t get too clever,” before the teeth began to eat at his lips and the black tongue to force its way past clenched teeth. Hirako, so stunned and having denied himself carnal pleasure for such a long time, almost began to return the favor before he realized that the saliva tasted distantly of chilled, stagnant pools, and that the teeth seemed sharper here than they had when they tore at his throat. He bit at the tongue, hard, a slight burning sensation informing him of his success, and then there was no intruder in his mouth.
“Ah, feisty,” Shirosaki crooned, dried blood cracking on his lips, new blood slick over it like a varnish coat of paint. Shirosaki reached under his hanging kosode, untying both the sides of his hakama but leaving the back toggle tied. The white cloth fell forward, exposing Shirosaki’s grey-white hips, partially obscured by the flaps of kosode and shitagi. “I know what your reason is for that metal in your tongue. So show me.”
Hirako got down on his knees.
With fewer words and more feelings and images, Hirako understood that he was no longer fully in control of himself. It was not for Ichigo’s safe passage that he did this—was not for quite some time, likely as not—but for his own shame and desire to punish himself. His hands wrapped around Shirosaki’s stark white, half erect cock and he let another piece of himself be swallowed by the darkness. As he lowered his mouth to take it in, he remembered the fleeting glimpse he had had the first time he met his Hollow—of all the things it offered, all the…wonders.
He licked one long stroke up the shaft, his piercing jarring over the uneven places in the flesh. Shirosaki began to harden more, not yet letting any hint of pleasure touch his features but unable to control his biological reactions. Hirako moved up and down, licking, sucking, biting; imagining the various kinds of exquisite, subtle inflection he could inflict with different piercings. He closed his eyes and imagined it was Ichigo’s true self he was blowing, warm tanned skin, warm brown eyes, warm breath…
A sharp pain made him open his eyes and pull away, looking up. A sneer marred Shirosaki’s face, his fingers digging deeply into the wound in Hirako’s side. “Do not involve him in our exchange,” he demanded clearly. His fingers acted as a vice, prying open the hole. Hirako’s back arched and Shirosaki gripped his shoulder tightly, forcing him to take it. One long, knobby middle finger wormed its way into the center of Hirako’s wound, pausing only when it was sheathed up to the second knuckle.
“Have you been properly disillusioned now?”
Hirako could only pant and grit his teeth. Any response would have come out as a pathetic keening wheeze.
“I’m sorry; you’re going to have to speak up,” Shirosaki drawled in a mockery of patience and magnanimity. One harsh thrust and the finger was buried to the last knuckle. Before Hirako could swallow the sound, a sharp, high gurgle reverberated in his throat. Involuntarily, he butted his head into the prominent hipbone.
Shirosaki tittered in a series of hysterical hyena laughs, then pulled the finger out only to plunge two back in. A few jerks of the wrists and then a third finger joined. The rhythm was easy to recognize, and Hirako had never felt more violated.
Pain was the ghostly third lover in the equation—the voyeur—or perhaps it would be more accurate to name Shirosaki the voyeur, for he forced Hirako and pain to the foreground and only got off by watching the results of their coupling.
Shirosaki slipped a hand into Hirako’s hair with something akin to tenderness, which quickly vanished when he used the caress as leverage to shove Hirako’s mouth back to his groin. Hirako sucked teasingly on the head, pressing the cool piercing against it. Without further prompting, Hirako swallowed past his gag reflex to take Shirosaki down to the root. Associative human memory ensured that the action called to mind Shirosaki’s sword eating. Arousal shivered through him at the image, and he moaned. Suddenly, the pain and arousal seemed to hardly differ in the way they made his limbs shake and his mind fade in and out of focus. If red was pleasure, green was pain, and they were supposedly on the opposite side of the color spectrum, Hirako was beginning to understand exactly what it meant to be colorblind.
Shirosaki pulled back and shoved Hirako roughly onto his stomach, swiftly peeling his slacks down to his knees in one hard motion. Without preamble, Shirosaki shoved himself inside him fully, quickly developing a thrashing rhythm; hard and fast and as painful as it was pleasing. Hirako could feel the pressure of his climax building as he choked on guilt and pain and a distinct confusion of his morals. The feeling of synaesthesia also continued, as he could swear he smelled Shirosaki’s black heart and nails. The sense of violation rebounded when Shirosaki grabbed his chin and drove his long, white, bloodstained fingers into his mouth, forcing him to suck them clean as he struggled to breathe, all the while being pummeled by Shirosaki’s incessant fucking. Hirako’s climax built too far up to do anything but crash down on him like lightning, and just as he regained some semblance of feeling, Shirosaki took the opportunity to rip out his tongue piercing.
Bright blood coursed from his mouth, and the only sounds he could make were grunts upon each impact of Shirosaki’s thrusts, and slight gurgling pants through the mouthful of blood overflowing from his dry lips. Shirosaki’s control began to slip, as he let certain inarticulate grunts and an occasional moan make it to the air.
Waves of feeling coursed from where Shirosaki could feel them joined together, and as he pumped vigorously the shields he kept secured in his head started to dissolve. The end was near, but he would wring every drop of power from this coupling before it did—his shields only ever lasted so long, and this one had so much power to give him…
Spikes of heat and light spiraled from his groin, warning him. His breath hitched, and the disintegration of his shields combined with the climax of their fucking rolled him completely, wiping his mind of everything but white light, white heat, white noise, and the immense power that this hybrid contained within him. He felt it climb out from his boundaries, crawling over everything in his vicinity, turning it all to ash in its wake. He released Hirako, temporarily incapacitated, and was unsurprised at what he saw when his eyes could focus again.
Below them the floor was charred and black, at least six feet in diameter. Hirako, however, was unscathed, except for the wounds that had ceased bleeding, and sharp, almost tribal markings radiating from where they had been joined. The marks had a very sinister curve to them, and reached as far up as his shoulder blades. They seemed hungry, and when Hirako reached back, trying to feel why his back seemed so raw, they bled black tears of blood at his touch.
“Don’t worry. They’ll fade. Eventually. Consider it a debt paid,” Shirosaki assured with an insatiable leer. The hard anthracite sheen of Shirosaki’s eyes made Hirako feel a soul-deep hurt that he no longer had the will or ability to mask. Beaten, bare, and clipped at the wings, he could only lie awkwardly in the dirt and stare with empty eyes at Shirosaki’s triumphant expression. Shirosaki bent at the waist and extended his clammy fingers, stroking a trail of ice down Hirako’s jaw.
Then, the reflective black of Shirosaki’s eyes turned cloudy, and his muscles seized up like a dead body in rigor mortis. He tipped backwards, his spine arcing as though something were attempting to claw from his chest, and went horribly still. Though Hirako felt that he should check on the body, he could not seem to command his limbs to move. Subtly, slowly, like the breaking of sunlight, the warmth eased into Shirosaki’s pale skin. When or how the white hair had brightened to a shock of orange, Hirako could not say. He only knew that Ichigo was back, somehow, and he had to take care of this mess before the young man woke up.
Hirako staggered over to Ichigo so that he could tie up the boy’s hakama and cover the now tan chest with the kosode and shitagi once again. He smoothed the fabric, reverted to its original coloring, with gentle fingers even though it was hopelessly rumpled and held bloodstained gashes from the fight.
Collecting the clothes that had been strewn in the dirt, Hirako shook them out and carefully dressed himself, tasting the symphony of pulsing aches, sharp stings, and dull throbs that each gesture plucked from his body. He did not bother with the tie. It lay sliced in the dirt—the fallen flag of a defeated nation. He also didn’t bother fastening the last button around his neck; the claustrophobia it might incur was more than he could bear. He desperately wanted to get clean in any way he could—a long hot bath for several hours could not come close to helping him recover his equilibrium. He lurched stiff-legged out of the training ground into their living quarters, carrying the unconscious Ichigo with difficulty only because of his wounds. He placed him gently on a tatami mat in their empty guest room, and then he finally realized that Ichigo was completely, immaculately clean. No wounds, no blood, just that perfect expanse of tanned skin.
Hirako cursed himself.
In all his time as a shinigami, he doubted he’d stop being surprised at the ease with which the enemy could confound him. First Aizen, and now this. That Hollow could heal as easily as a human could breathe, which meant that his “deal” with it was simply a reward for its cleverness, and that Ichigo would not have been harmed no matter what wounds Hirako could have inflicted upon the Hollow. He stalked out of the room to catalogue his wounds and fume in secret.
In the bathroom he could see the meaty scarlet hole of the puncture wound in his side, gaping awkwardly from Shirosaki’s fingers, and the wide crimson cut slashed above his stomach like a sinister mouth. A bruise was blossoming at the corner of his mouth, large and turning a sickly mottled purple-red. Blood from when he had sliced his upper lip had dried to a flaky rust, and made his lips look too red and swollen. He extended his tongue, and it looked about as bad as it felt: it was ripped into a jagged fork from three centimeters in, blood still seeping out from it. Blisters had formed along the sides of his tongue and had burst in the roof of his mouth, adding to the harsh burn of swallowing. On the left side of his throat was a mound of what appeared to be raw meat; his savaged neck seeped blood and clear liquid in attempt to heal itself. The black fingers of Shirosaki’s uncontrolled passion reached out from his buttocks and down his thighs, not quite reaching his front but covering most of his back. They were even now slightly less tender than before, but still they ached. He turned on the shower and let it scald his body for several minutes while he stood unmoving. It took him a long time, but he finally scrubbed away as much of the unclean feeling as he could without inflicting further harm on his body, and then he exited the shower and dressed his wounds. He was careful to put on enough clothing to hide the worst of the damage, though he still could not bring himself to do up the last button on his shirt.
When he stepped out from the bathroom, Ichigo stood back in his human shell, waiting. Hirako quietly observed the uncharacteristic slouching line of Ichigo’s shoulders, following it to the cowed, disoriented expression. It took Ichigo a moment to realize that he was no longer alone, but all he did was furrow his eyebrows. The cockiness remained absent from his stance.
“All I— the last thing I remember is fighting you. And then,” he turned his face down and to the left, scratching his scalp in quick, nervous strokes, “I lost control.” His voice was quieter at the last part, not a whisper but a mumble. “Did I black out?” Ichigo faced Hirako again, and his young face looked so hopeful. “Because, you know, normally when He,” the hand that was in his hair gestured with frustration, “takes over…I dunno, I can remember most of it.” Ichigo didn’t mention that the memories were always stilted, disoriented pieces of recollection—like seeing the world at night through flashes of strobe light.
Forcing himself to sound nonchalant, Hirako responded, “Yeah, you blacked out eventually. Though I had to help you in the process.” Not a lie and not the entire truth. Before Ichigo could ask any questions, Hirako continued, “You drained yourself a lot today. I think it’s best if you head home. We can continue tomorrow.” Hirako was ashamed to find that he could not meet Ichigo’s eyes for long. They were a soft, warm, rich sepia that made no effort to hide his shame, apology, and intense determination.
Considering the stilted conversation finished, Hirako pivoted to leave. Sure fingers encircled his left wrist in a light but firm grip. Reluctantly, Hirako looked back at Ichigo, who was examining his face intently, as though seeing it for the first time. Hirako had done his best to clean up his damaged mouth, but it was still brown-purple in places and swollen, and the cut through the middle of his upper lip was an angry red line. He didn’t want to hear the guilty inquiry, so he cut Ichigo off at “Wha—” and said, “I told you that I had to help. Subduing you took some effort. I might have underestimated your strength.” A familiar hyena chuckle echoed in Hirako’s head at the understatement.
Several points of warm pressure fluttered to Hirako’s throat, where the top button was still undone and the thin cotton gauze peeked from the collar. Ichigo said nothing, but Hirako felt the heaviness of the gaze on his skin. Hirako thought he might suffocate from that light touch. Ichigo steadied his other hand on Hirako’s shoulder, the tips of the long fingers, at once familiar and strange, caressed the edge of the black bloom on Hirako’s back. Not sure whether he was imagining it or not, Hirako felt the black unfurling and stretching from slumber as though the touch called to it, awakened it.
He jerked from Ichigo’s tentative fingers, not stopping his retreat until their bodies were more than an arm’s length apart. Twilight was setting in with its colder shadows in juxtaposition to the fading orange daylight. In that moment thinner than the edge of a knife when day wasn’t done and night had not pulled down its velvet curtains, Ichigo appeared pale and sharp in shadow. The last bit of setting sunlight filtered through the window, illuminating webs of gold in the rings of his irises.
“Tomorrow,” Hirako whispered.</lj>