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 Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible

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PoisonAngel
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PostSubject: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:00 pm

okay, i have to come clean, i did not write this one, but its still good all the same!! I got it off FanFiction.net and it was written by a Masumi'sSword , go and look her up if you wish. I have changed nothing in this story. Enjoy!!
Chapter One: Blood and Rain

Rain fell in heavy droplets on the dirt streets, creating rivulets of mud which ran, unimpeded, into the already clogged gutters. Small pools of water and mud had begun to accumulate on the grass which surrounded the immaculate houses. It had been raining off and on for weeks, ever since Hitsugaya Toushirou had arrived in the Village of Karakura.

His eyes were comforted by the overcast sky, and the chill in the air felt reassuring, familiar – an old friend whose welcome would never wear thin. And still, it was there, the hunger he despised, clawing at his soul like death come to claim an old man – waiting until he grew too weak to resist. It was time to leave, before the hunger overpowered him, before his humanity was consumed by the primal urge against which he could not defend. He could smell it everywhere: blood, the thing which brought him so much pleasure, and yet threatened to devour all of his humanity, everything he valued, and everything he held dear.

“It is time to leave,” he thought, as he waited for the cobbler to bring his horse. “I have stayed too long.”

There was much about Karakura that tempted him, and it was not just the scent of blood, although that, too, called to him like a siren song. No, this small village, nestled between the mountains and the sea, reminded him of another time - when he was human, and his heart and soul were still free to dream, unencumbered by darkness. The longing for that time returned, unbidden, and Hitsugaya’s face darkened, as he pushed the memory away. “Nostalgia is for the weak,” he thought. “There is no going back now.”

“Good. You’re leaving.” The voice came from the street behind him, and Hitsugaya turned to face a man, hooded and cloaked. Hitsugaya had felt the man’s presence, but had chosen to ignore it, all the same. He knew this man: Kurosaki Ichigo, from the bloodline of Kurosaki, the most powerful vampire Hunter clan in Japan.

Hitsugaya nodded, his face expressionless.

Ichigo threw back his hood and glared at Histugaya. His eyes burned with fierce hatred, but his face was calm, controlled. “I have no complaint with you, Hitsugaya,” he said, evenly, “but I will be happy to see you go.” Beneath his cloak, Ichigo absent-mindedly fingered the jeweled sword he wore at his waist.

“I have done nothing, Kurosaki,” said the silver-haired vampire coolly.

“And for that,” said Ichigo, “I must let you live.”

Hitsugaya laughed. “How kind of you, Hunter,” he said, turning away from Ichigo to grab the reins of his horse from the cobbler. “Should I thank you?”

“No,” Ichigo replied, as Hitsugaya tied his belongings onto his horse.

Hitsugaya led the horse onto the muddy street, mounting it with ease. “Good-bye, then, Kurosaki. I’m sure our paths will cross again.” He gave the horse a swift kick, and he was gone in a hail of mud and water, into the darkness beyond.

**********************************

Kurosaki Karin drew her cloak tighter around her body as the rain grew in intensity, stinging her face. The wind howled through the trees, and her horse snorted in protest as she took off at a gallop into the storm. It was late, having taken her longer than expected to leave the house tonight. “He hasn’t left yet,” she thought, kicking the horse harder. “There’s still time.”

Earlier, Karin had made her way from her house to the stables, only to find her father and brother in a heated discussion outside the horses’ stalls. Fortunately, it had already been dark, and the rain had masked her footsteps. Patiently, Karin had hidden in the shadows, waiting for them to leave; hoping she would still be able to find him in time. As she waited, she had overheard their conversation.

“She’s been meeting him,” Ichigo said.

“I know,” replied Isshin

“Why haven’t you stopped her?” demanded Ichigo.

“She’s eighteen,” Isshin replied calmly. “You can’t expect to keep her at home for ever. She’s a trained Hunter, and she’s nearly as strong as you.”

“You know what he is, dad,” growled Ichigo angrily.

“Yes,” said Isshin. “And so does she.”

Ichigo, who had been pacing back and forth in front of the stall, stopped abruptly and said, “I won’t let him touch her.” He pulled open the door of the stall and began to attach the saddle to his horse.

Isshin sighed. “There are many things you don’t understand, son.”

“I know enough,” snarled Ichigo, tightening one of the saddle’s buckles so hard, his horse kicked the back wall of the stall. “I know one of those things killed mom. I’m not going to let them touch anyone else I care about.” Ichigo led the horse outside of the stall and out through the stable doors.

“What are you going to do?” asked Isshin as Ichigo mounted his horse and threw on his hood to protect himself from the driving rain. “By law, you cannot touch him. He has done nothing.”

“I’m going to make sure he’s really leaving. I’ll follow him out of town, if I have to.”

Isshin shook his head slowly and frowned, but said nothing. Ichigo nodded quickly to his father, and then headed towards town, over the open field behind their house. Then, sighing again, he headed back for the house. As soon as her father had left, Karin had saddled up her horse and, confident that her brother was far enough ahead of her that he would not sense her presence, she followed Ichigo through the storm towards the small town.

********************************

It had been on a trip into the village weeks before that Karin had first seen him – the man with silver hair and eyes the color of the ocean. She had been immediately and inexplicably drawn to him, Hitsugaya Toushirou, the enigmatic nobleman who shunned the trappings of society in Tokyo and traveled, without a manservant and without a carriage, throughout the Japanese countryside. Karin, never a woman to fear men, had learned what she could from those villagers who had contact with Hitsugaya – the innkeeper, the barmaid, and the cobbler – and then, having learned all she could from others, she had introduced herself to him on the street.

“Kurosaki,” he had said with amusement at hearing the name, his turquoise eyes sparkling. “Your brother would kill me just for speaking to you.”

She had laughed and said, simply, “I do not need my brother’s permission to speak to anyone, Hitsugaya-sama. And if you offend me, I am more than capable of killing you myself.”

“And yet you, a Hunter, choose to speak with me?” he had said, intrigued.

“You do not frighten me,” she had said, the corners of her mouth turning up in a mischievous smile.

“I should frighten you,” he had said, his face suddenly cold, masklike.

The next day, she had managed to cross his path again, this time as he sat under the shade of a tree, reading a book of English poetry. Without invitation, she had sat down next to him.

“Alfred Lord Tennyson,” she had said, looking at the book’s cover. “Interesting choice. And in English, too?”

“You’ve read him?” Hitsugaya had asked, surprised.

“Yes,” she had answered, “also in the original English.” He raised an eyebrow in surprise. “Did you think that because I grew up in this small village I would be small-minded, as well, Hitsugaya-sama?”

“I am only surprised that a woman would have been given such an education,” he had replied.

He was baiting her, she knew, but she had played along all the same. “Just because most men believe an education is wasted upon a woman does not mean that a woman cannot choose to be educated,” she said, playfully. “A woman can be a Hunter, just as well as a man. My father chose to educate me in the same manner as my brother, with sword and book.”

“You are a surprising woman, Kurosaki-san,” he had said, smiling for the first time since she had met him.

“Which poem is your favorite?” she had asked, changing the subject.

“Ulysses,” he had replied, looking to see her reaction.

“Interesting choice, Hitsugaya-sama,” she had said. And then, she recited, “‘My purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die. It may be that the gulfs will wash us down: it may be we shall touch the Happy Isles, and see the great Achilles, whom we knew. Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho' we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will o strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’”

“Impressive,” he had said, staring unabashedly at her.

“Is that you, Hitsugaya-sama? Are you like Ulysses? Always wandering, always yearning for new horizons?” she had asked.

“Perhaps,” he had said, his eyes momentarily distant.

“I would like to wander with you sometime,” she had said, standing up and walking away.

***************************

Now, as the driving rain slowed her progress, she prayed that she was not too late. She knew what he was, and yet she did not fear him. Truth be told, she found him intriguing, captivating – she had never met another man like him. “But he is not a man,” she thought, as she urged her horse onward. As she rounded the corner, past the small shrine on the outskirts of town, she saw him, cloaked and riding his coal-black horse, wisps of silver hair about his face. He stopped, and turned around, sensing her presence.

“Why are you following me?” he asked, as he drew his horse next to hers and dismounted.

“You should know, Hitsugaya-sama,” she replied, her eyes fixed on his.

“You must leave now, Kurosaki-san. Go back home.”

“Don’t go,” she said, dismounting as well.

“Please, Karin,” he said. “I don’t want to hurt you.” She shivered - it was the first time he had ever called her by her first name. A strong gust of wind blew the hood off her hair, and it whipped around her face. He reached out and put his hand to her cheek. It felt warm, inviting. She did not pull away.

“I’m not afraid, Toushirou,” she said, her eyes meeting his again. She smelled so wonderful, her scent permeating his senses despite the driving rain.

“I am so hungry,” he thought, as dizziness washed over him. “I cannot resist much longer.” He stepped abruptly away from her, far enough away that her smell was not so overwhelming.

“Go home, Karin,” he said coldly. “You know what I am capable of.”

“I want to go with you, Toushirou,” she said, stubbornly. She moved closer to him and pushed his hood back, revealing the silver hair beneath. He closed his eyes and sighed audibly as the dizziness returned.

“Please, Karin,” he said again, his voice now barely a whisper. She put her hands on his face and kissed him and, in that moment, his hunger overwhelmed him, and he pulled her roughly against his body. Her smell was intoxicating, and the last bit of self-control he possessed vanished. He ran his hands through her now-wet hair, kissing her lips, her cheek and then her neck. He could feel his heart pounding as his hunger grew, taking over his consciousness until he could think of nothing but her, tasting her, devouring her. And when he could hold back no longer, he sank his teeth into her neck, the taste of her blood, sweet and salty on his lips.

Karin moaned, first at the pain of his bite, and then at the pleasure which flooded her body. For a moment, it was as if time had stopped, and there was nothing but the two of them, their souls intermingled. She felt warm, as though she was drowning in him, and she didn’t care if she lived or died. It was all worth it, she would give everything up to stay like this, even if the feeling would only last a moment.

Hitsugaya felt the warmth of her blood against his throat and felt the heat course through his body like fire. He wanted her, to possess her, to feel the last drop of her life as it flowed out of her body. He could feel her growing weaker, felt her arms drop to her sides, and he caught her as her knees buckled beneath her. “She will die,” he thought. “Is that what you want?”

“No,” he said out loud, pulling away from her neck with every bit of self control he could muster. She fainted, and he picked her up in his arms. “Karin,” he said, although he knew she could not hear him, “please forgive me.”


Last edited by Poison Angel on Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:31 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:01 pm

Chapter Two: Bloodlust

Hitsugaya sat in the darkened room, watching the dark-haired woman sleep. It had been two days since he had first brought her here, and he had not left her side. He had witnessed transformations before; he had watched as others had created more of his kind, and he had, on several occasions, given birth to his own kin in much the same way. Still, this transformation was different from anything he had experienced in his hundreds of years of existence. She was different somehow. The uniqueness of her transformation had been nearly immediately apparent.

In the wet field outside Karakura, he had taken her body in his arms, the horrible realization of what he had done having awoken him from his blood trance. Guilt had risen in his throat like bile. “I am weak,” he had thought, bitterly, remembering his lack of control, the overwhelming urge to possess her, to devour her. It had been nearly a hundred years since he had last succumbed to the bloodlust. Since then, he had grown stronger, no longer needing human blood to sustain him. And yet she, in a matter of minutes, had completely eroded his resolve. He had been drawn to her unlike any other human, and he did not understand it.

As he had turned to leave, something on the ground had caught his eye, and he realized with shock that there was a second body lying there: her body. For a moment, he had wondered if he was losing his sanity, glancing from the woman in his arms to her twin, lying on the ground. But the woman in his arms was alive; he could feel her heart beat and feel the warmth of her breath on his cheek. The body on the ground was cold, dead.

“She is a Hunter,” he had thought suddenly. “She is not entirely human. She carries the blood of the ancients in her veins.”

Hitsugaya had heard myths about the Hunters - their unusual powers and the possibility of immortality. He never really believed the stories; he had no reason to. He had assumed they were legends, dark tales created to enhance the mystique of the ancient Hunter clans and instill fear in the vampires. Still, faced with the reality of what he saw, he now wondered if the myths were true.

Both the live woman in his arms and the woman who lay dead on the ground had felt solid, human. They had worn the same clothing, as well as identical traces of blood which had now begun to dry on their necks. The only difference between the two, he had realized, was that the body that lay on the ground had no sword. The woman in his arms wore the jeweled sword of a Hunter at her waist, and he could feel the pressure of the hilt of her weapon against his chest.

“They are the same person,” he thought, now convinced. “It’s as if she has been reborn, in a new body.” The woman in his arms moaned and shifted slightly. It was nearly dawn, and he knew that the bloodlust would soon overpower her. He needed to take her to safety. “I we stay here, her brother will kill us both.”

*************************

An uncontrollable hunger – a primal desire – overwhelmed her. She tried to speak, but the sound that issued from her throat was closer to a growl, less than human. And then he was there, offering her his wrist, which she greedily took in her hands and brought to her lips as though she would never eat again. She plunged her teeth into his flesh, tearing into his skin, and she heard him gasp with painful pleasure. Immediately, she felt the warmth of his blood course through her body, and she shuddered as it warmed her from within. He pulled his wrist away from her mouth.

“More,” she said, her voice returning. Somewhere else in the house, a window shattered. It had not been the first window to break since her arrival. He wondered what other powers his blood had awoken in her.

“No,” he replied. “You must learn to control your desire.” She moaned again, as the craving intensified. She tried to move, to leave and seek satisfaction elsewhere, but he held here there. And then the overpowering urge left her, and, for a brief moment, she could think again.

“Where are we?” she asked, her eyes heavy.

“My home,” he said. “Outside Tokyo.”

She looked around the room, taking in its Victorian furnishings and heavy draperies, now drawn shut. The gaslight cast a yellow glow on his skin, making him look paler than she remembered. She closed her eyes as another wave of desire overpowered her. She could smell it. Blood. Everywhere. It called to her, willing her to claim it as her own. She struggled against his arms, but he did not release her.

“Please,” she begged him, “let me go.”

“I cannot do that,” he said, his voice cold now. She groaned, sick with hunger.

A second voice - that of a woman. “How much longer?” asked the woman, handing him a goblet full of a dark red liquid.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “She is different than the others. Stronger.”

“Is she a…?” the woman’s voice trailed off, as though she were afraid to say the name.

“A Hunter. Yes,” replied Histugaya. Fear registered on the woman’s face. “She will not harm us, Matsumoto.” The woman looked quickly away, embarrassed.

“You haven’t slept since your return, Master,” said Matsumoto, softly. “Would you like me to stay with her?”

“No,” he replied. “She is my responsibility.”

“As you wish,” she said, nodding and heading out of the room. Hitsugaya watched Matsumoto leave. “She is afraid,” he thought, “and rightfully so. She has seen what the Hunters are capable of.”

“Karin,” said Hitsugaya, turning his attention back to the woman he held tightly in his arms, “drink this. It will make you feel better.” He put the goblet to her lips and she drank the red liquid. It burned like fire in her throat, and she fought the urge to vomit. After a few minutes, however, the nausea passed, and she opened her eyes again.

“What was that?” she said, her throat now raw. Her head had cleared, and the overwhelming urge to feed on human flesh had abated.

“Something to help the transition,” he replied, releasing his tight grip on her.

“Transition?”

“Your body has died, Karin,” he said, his face expressionless. “It will take time for you to adapt to your new…existence.” He struggled to find a word that might accurately describe what was happening to her.

“I’m a vampire,” she said. There was no sadness in her voice; it was a simple statement. He said nothing, but his face hardened. Her hand went instinctively to her side.

“Where is my sword?” she demanded. He nodded in the direction of the windows. A sheathed silver sword with a jeweled hilt stood propped against the wall. She lifted her hand and reached towards the sword. It flew through the air and she caught it in her hand, her fingers tightening around the hilt.

Histugaya tried to disguise his surprise. “She can already control objects,” he thought, remembering how many years he himself had taken to master that ability. Again, he wondered how much more powerful she might become.

Karin looked at him intensely, as if trying to read his mind. He did not move, but continued to watch her as she pulled the blade out of its sheath and ran her fingers over the metal. “You do not fear me, Toushirou.” It was not a question.

“No,” he replied, his face still unreadable. She smiled.

*****************************

The first light of morning broke through the clouds, illuminating the face of the man who knelt next to the body of the young woman. His face was now dry, although his cheeks were caked with dirt and tears - echoes of pain and loss. His eyes focused on her body, now cold and pale, and on the traces of blood which, despite the rain, had remained upon her clothing and skin.

“For this, he will die,” thought Ichigo, his hand resting lightly on his sword. “I will make sure of it.” And still he did not move. The fog which the rain had left in its wake lifted, and the leaves of trees dripped with condensation and sparkled in the sunlight. Minutes, and then hours passed.

“It wasn’t your fault, son.” The strong hand on his shoulder brought him out of his trance. Ichigo looked down at his sister’s body and felt a stabbing pain in his gut as the reality of her death washed over him.

“Dad,” said Ichigo, turning to see his father, silhouetted by the now-risen sun. He stood up, and the two men embraced briefly. Then, turning back to look down at the body, he said, “I should have followed him.”

“There was nothing you could have done to prevent this,” Isshin said with a sigh.

“I will kill him,” said Ichigo, face devoid of emotion despite his clenched fists.

“That is your right as a Hunter, of course,” replied Isshin, now bending down and running his hand gently over Karin’s cold face.

“Only as a Hunter?” asked Ichigo, anger burning in his eyes. “Not as her brother?”

“Karin knew the risk,” said Isshin, darkly, still kneeling by Karin’s body. “She went to him willingly.” He looked suddenly old, tired.

“That bastard killed her!” yelled Ichigo. “What choice did she have?”

“Don’t misunderstand me, son,” said Isshin, his voice low. “She was my daughter, and I loved her dearly. But,” he continued, standing up and looking into Ichigo’s face, “she was not helpless. She was a powerful Hunter. She knew the risk.”

Ichigo punched his father, hard, on the chin. Isshin did not move. “How dare you!” snarled Ichigo, his eyes narrowed, heat rising in his cheeks. “Whatever she knew, she didn’t deserve this!”

Isshin sighed. “There is much you do not understand, son.”

“I know plenty,” growled Ichigo, now livid. “I know that one of those…those things killed our mother. And what the hell do you do when you find out that Karin’s dead? Nothing. You sit there and make excuses. You justify what’s happened.” Isshin said nothing, although his eyes flashed briefly with pain and memory.

Ichigo bent down over his sister’s body and kissed her on her forehead. Then he stood up and began to walk away, down the road which led out of the village. Isshin watched silently as his son disappeared over the next hill.

“You will learn, my son,” thought Isshin as he stooped to pick up Karin’s body, “that revenge is merely fate’s tool. None of us can avoid destiny.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:02 pm

Chapter Three: Epiphany

Nightfall in Kyoto. It had been nearly six months since Ichigo had left Karakura in search of Hitsugaya. During that time, Ichigo had made little progress locating the vampire; Hitsugaya covered his tracks well and had considerable resources at his disposal. Each time Ichigo would discover what he believed to be Hitsugaya’s lair, the vampire had been long gone, and there had been few, if any, clues left behind to follow.

Ichigo had come to Kyoto, not because he believed Hitsugaya to be living in the city, but because Kyoto was the current residence of Urahara Kisuke, Ichigo’s former sensei and the man who had taught Ichigo to wield a sword in the manner of countless Hunters before. By finding Urahara, Ichigo hoped to glean more information about Hitsugaya’s whereabouts. Ichigo had no doubt that, if there had been any word in the Hunter community of Hitsugaya's location, Urahara would be sure to know.

Finding his former teacher had proved a challenge. Urahara had, in the past few years, found himself more and more at odds with the Council of Hunters. For the past fifty years or so, rumors had abounded in the Hunter community about a growing rift in the Council itself. Although Ichigo did not what the cause of the rift had been, he suspected that Urahara was profoundly involved in the dispute and, for reasons of safety, had chosen to maintain a low profile.

The origins of the Council of Hunters were a closely guarded secret. Ichigo knew only that the organization had been established, hundreds of years ago, to oversee the activities of Hunters throughout the world. From his perspective as a Hunter, Ichigo’s only contact with the Council had been when he received orders from the organization. These orders were known among Hunters as “Cartes de Jeu,” due to their resemblance to playing cards. The only thing these “Cartes” had in common with their namesake, however, was their size. “Cartes” were execution orders – instructions for Hunters to destroy vampires who, for one reason or another, had been marked by the Council as dangerous to humans or to the Hunters themselves. Ichigo had received just such a Carte ordering the immediate execution of Hitsugaya Toushirou for Karin’s murder. The fact that Ichigo had received official sanction for his mission to kill Hitsugaya, however, mattered little to Ichigo. This mission was personal.

It was in the evening of his third day in Kyoto that Ichigo found Urahara in the a waterfront shop. The shop, aptly named, “The Way Station,” sold various provisions to travelers, including food, blankets and weapons. Other than a tall, broad-shouldered man who stood on a small stool stocking shelves, there was no one else inside when Ichigo walked through the front door.

“Eh, Tessai,” said Ichigo, now standing less than a foot behind the man. The man nearly tumbled off the stool in surprise.

“Kurosaki-san!” he said, his face registering shock.

“Urahara didn’t tell you to expect me?” asked Ichigo, grinning.

“You know that he prefers drama,” replied the big man, scowling now. Then, his face brightening, he added, “It is good to see you, Kurosaki-san. How long has it been? Ten years?”

“Longer,” replied Ichigo, picking up a small vial of greenish liquid from a shelf and shaking it slightly. Tessai grabbed the bottle out of Ichigo’s hands with surprising speed.

“Unstable,” said Tessai, replacing the bottle on the shelf. “Tends to explode if handled roughly.” Ichigo raised an eyebrow.

“Where is he?” asked Ichigo, looking around the shop.

“In the basement,” replied Tessai, motioning to a set of steps in the back of the store.

Ichigo bowed slightly and walked down the steps. To call what he saw a “basement” was a bit like calling the Imperial Palace a 'house'. The walls of the expansive room were cut from the bedrock on which the shop stood, and elaborate tapestries were hung every few feet, each embroidered in rich jewel tones. Stunning Persian rugs lay about the floor, and hand-carved furniture was interspersed in the cavernous space. At the far end of the enormous room was a small wooden stove and, next to it, a low table with ruby red cushions tossed about. On one of the cushions sat a man, cross legged, wearing a straw hat which nearly covered his eyes. He smiled, and motioned Ichigo to join him.

“Ah, Kurosaki-kun,” cooed Urahara, gesturing for Ichigo to sit at the table, “the prodigal student returns to his aging master at last. What a pleasant surprise.”

“You’re not surprised to see me, Urahara, and you don’t look a day older than you did when you left Karakura,” said Ichigo, slightly irritated. Urahara smiled at the compliment and lifted the brim of his hat slightly, looking up into Ichigo’s face.

“You, however, Kurosaki-kun,” said Urahara coyly, “have changed. You are now a man.”

Ichigo let out a noise that sounded like a pipe releasing steam and glared at Urahara. “Where is Hitsugaya?” he asked.

“Nevertheless,” continued Urahara, ignoring Ichigo’s question and pouring a cup of tea, “some things have not changed. You are still impatient. May I offer you some tea?” He handed the cup to Ichigo, who was now frowning. Ichigo did not move. “I insist,” said Urahara. Ichigo took the cup, fighting the urge to crush it in his fist.

“Well, Urahara? What do you know about Hitsugaya?”

Urahara smiled. “Hitsugaya-sama?” mused Urahara. “What is your interest in him?”

“He killed my sister,” said Ichigo, flatly. “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”

“You seek revenge, then?” asked Urahara. Ichigo said nothing, but continued to frown. “I had heard about Karin, of course. Nevertheless, it is hard for me to believe that he would have harmed her.”

“He’s no different than the others,” said Ichigo.

“Ah,” said Urahara. “I would disagree with you on that point, Kurosaki-kun. Hitsugaya-sama is quite different from the other vampires. He is very old. Nearly as old as the Ancients.”

“The Ancients?” asked Ichigo. The reference was familiar to him, but he did not remember where he had heard it before.

Urahara sighed. “Apparently, my skills as a teacher were sorely lacking, Kurosaki-kun. I spent far too much time training you with a sword and too little time on such things as history, which is equally as important.”

“I’m not interested in a history lesson, Urahara,” growled Ichigo in frustration.

“Of course not,” said Urahara, smiling again. “However, if you wish to find Hitsugaya-sama, you must first understand the man.”

“He’s no man,” Ichigo replied, tersely.

“Hmm,” said Urahara. “Perhaps not. Regardless, a warrior must understand his enemy in order to defeat him.” Ichigo said nothing but crossed his arms and glared at Urahara.

“The Ancients,” continued Urahara, having reassured himself that Ichigo was, at least, paying attention, “were the original vampires - those vampires who existed before all others. The Kuchiki’s and the Yamazaki’s are their direct descendants. No one is certain how and when the Ancients were created. Legend has it that they were created when humankind was in its infancy. All we do know for sure is that the Ancients have existed for as long as there has been written history.”

“What does this have to do with Hitsugaya?” Ichigo asked impatiently.

“Everything,” Urahara answered cryptically. “You know, of course, that the older the vampire, the more powerful he or she is.” Ichigo nodded. “However, it is not only age that gives strength - the purer the blood, the more powerful the vampire as well.”

“And why does that matter to me?” asked Ichigo, frustration in his voice.

“It matters, Kurosaki-kun,” said Urahara, peering out from underneath the brim of his hat again, “because Hitsugaya-sama’s blood is nearly pure. He was created by an Ancient.”

“I still don’t see what difference any of this makes, Urahara,” said Ichigo, stifling a yawn.

“You are a powerful Hunter, Kurosaki-kun,” said Urahara, swirling the tea around in his cup. “Still, you are young and relatively inexperienced. You have never fought someone even approaching the level of Hitsugaya-sama.”

“I’m strong enough,” said Ichigo, dismissively. “And, if you’re suggesting that I train with you, forget it. I tried that once before. You left.” The bitterness in Ichigo’s voice was obvious, and he made no attempt to hide it.

“Yes,” said Urahara, sighing, “my hasty departure was unfortunate, but unavoidable. Do you wish me to apologize, Kurosaki-kun?”

Ichigo stood up abruptly. “I don’t have time for this.”

“Time is immaterial to a man with a goal,” said Urahara.

“I don’t need a sensei, Urahara, and I don’t need a lecture,” replied Ichigo coolly. “Are you going to help me find Hitsugaya or not?”

“Unfortunately, Kurosaki-kun, I truly do not know where Hitsugaya-sama is,” said Urahara, with feigned sadness.

Ichigo turned to leave, bowing curtly as he did so. He knew he'd learn nothing more from Urahara, although he suspected that there was much that Urahara had neglected to tell him.

“You are in the right place to find the answers you seek,” said Urahara, as Ichigo climbed the steps. “Or perhaps, Kurosaki-kun, those answers will find you.”

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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:02 pm

“Ichigo,” said Masaki, smiling down at the small orange-haired boy by her side, “if you keep jumping in every puddle you see, you’ll be soaking wet by the time we get home.”

“I like the rain, Mommy,” he said, looking up at her, laughing. His face was spattered with mud, like large brown freckles on his fair skin. He kicked hard at a puddle and laughed again, as the dirty water flew into the air in front of him and he put his hand out to catch some of it.

They turned a corner onto the footpath that lead by the river. Ichigo ran over to the water and watched as the raindrops made tiny craters on the surface. He picked up a stone and threw it hard, skipping it across to the other side with surprising strength.

“You’re getting stronger, Ichigo,” Masaki said, watching her son with pride. “Soon you’ll be old enough to call your grandfather’s sword.”

“Master Urahara let me practice with his sword in our lesson today,” said Ichigo, beaming and swinging his right arm around as if he was holding a weapon. “I’m going to show Daddy when we get home!”

“Come along, then,” smiled Masaki, offering him her hand, “it’s getting dark. You won’t have much time to show him before dinner at this rate.” Ichigo grabbed her hand, and they walked on down the path.

The rain started to fall more steadily, and Ichigo ducked under his mother’s umbrella. As they neared the bridge that led out of town, Ichigo felt a sudden chill in the air and the hair on the back of his neck stood up. He stopped and looked around, suddenly tense, focused.

“Mommy,” he said, “there’s somebody following us.” Masaki turned around.

“I don’t see anyone, Ichigo,” she said, taking his hand and starting to walk more quickly. He walked with her for a few more steps, then stopped and turned around again.

“I know you’re there,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest. “Show yourself!” There was a soft sound, like the wind, and a blur of movement. Masaki gasped. Where there had been nothing, only seconds ago, a man now stood before them wearing a long gray hooded traveling cloak.

“Who are you and why are you following us?” asked Masaki, tightening her grip on the handle of the umbrella.

“He wants me, Mommy,” said Ichigo, understanding dawning on his small face.

“The boy is perceptive,” said the man, his face hidden in shadow beneath the hood of his cloak.

“Leave him alone,” said Masaki, stepping in front of her son. A blur of movement, and the stranger hit Masaki, throwing her sideways several feet away.

“Mommy!” yelled Ichigo, eyes wide with fear. He ran over to where she lay on the wet grass. She struggled to get up.

“Don’t make me kill you, woman,” said the man, his voice still calm, controlled. “It’s the boy we want.”

“Don’t you touch him!” yelled Masaki, getting back to her feet. The man laughed and, with the back of his hand, hit Masaki hard in the face. She was thrown backwards again, landing like a ragdoll in the mud. Ichigo screamed and ran at the man with every bit of his strength. The man laughed and grabbed Ichigo by the throat, picking him up off the ground so his feet dangled in the air.

“My orders are to bring you back alive, Hunter boy,” said the man, his voice cold. He dropped Ichigo onto the ground, and Ichigo fell backwards, sending mud flying in every direction. Ichigo tried to stand up, but the world was spinning around him.

There was a blur of movement, and Ichigo saw Masaki run at the man, her umbrella pointed at him like a weapon. A blinding flash of light that appeared to issue from the man’s hand struck Masaki in the chest, sending her flying through the air. She fell in a heap on the ground, several yards away and was still. Ichigo screamed and ran to her. “Mommy! Wake up, Mommy!” Masaki did not move. “Mommy, please wake up!” Tears burned hot on his face.

“Your mommy won’t be waking up,” said the man without emotion. “She’s dead.”

“No!” yelled Ichigo, still bent over the body of his mother. “No!”

“It’s time to leave, Hunter boy,” the man said calmly, and he began to walk towards where Ichigo kneeled over Masaki’s body.

Rage, more powerful than anything Ichigo had ever felt before, rose inside of him. Hatred clawed at his insides like a hideous creature struggling for release, growing in strength until his small body felt as though it would explode from the inside. Ichigo felt heat course through his veins, burning as it traveled through his body. He felt pain as he had never experienced it before. And with the pain came something else: power. He could feel it grow. And with this newfound power came the realization that he was not helpless – that he was a Hunter, from generations of Hunters, a Kurosaki.

The tears had stopped. Ichigo stood up and walked towards the man. “He is not a man,” thought the small boy. “He is a vampire. He is my enemy. He will die.” It was a revelation.

The vampire laughed at the sight of the small boy, barely half his height, who walked towards him without fear. And still, Ichigo walked, oblivious to the rain and wind which stung his face. Instinctively, he raised his empty hand, just as he had done earlier that day when Urahara had let him borrow his sword. And again, the vampire laughed. But this time, the laugh was short-lived, for in Ichigo’s hand there now was a sword, silver, with a jeweled hilt: a sword handed passed down through generations of Kurosaki’s, Hunters, all of them.

Surprise registered in the vampire’s eyes, and he raised his hand as if to strike, unsure of how to react to the small boy with the sword in his hand. But realization came too slowly; the vampire did not understand the threat this small boy posed. Ichigo ran, faster than any human was capable of. The sword met its mark, slicing into the vampire’s chest with surprising ease. The vampire screamed in pain and doubled over as Ichigo withdrew the sword. Then, in one fluid movement, the boy raised the sword above high above him and swung it down. There was no blood as the head of the vampire flew high into the air and landed with a splash in the river, yards away.

For a moment, Ichigo stood, unmoving, watching as the vampire’s body fell where he had stood. The sounds of the rain returned momentarily and then the world suddenly went black.

“No!” yelled Ichigo, sitting up in bed, panting. Realizing that he had been dreaming, he forced himself to slow his breathing, to regain control. He reached over to the edge of the bed and rested his hand on the hilt of his sword, the same sword that had found him fifteen years ago on the night his mother had died: Zangetsu.

Ichigo rose quickly; he knew sleep would not come again. It was early morning, before sunrise, and a hint of light had begun to illuminate the sky. The small inn in which Ichigo had lived since he had arrived in Kyoto was quiet, save for the sounds of the barmaid in the kitchen below, preparing food for the day’s meals. Silently, Ichigo descended the steps which led to the street below, throwing his cloak over his shoulders as the cool chill of morning hit his face.

He walked out of the inn onto the empty Kyoto streets. He needed time to think about what he would do, where he would go next. On the market square, vendors were beginning to set up their stalls. Hungry, Ichigo turned off the square and headed down a narrow cobblestone street in search of the small bakery where he had eaten the day before. The smell of baking bread wafted through the air and mingled with the scents of less pleasant city fare. Ichigo rounded the corner onto the street where the bakery stood and, as he did so, nearly collided with a small, hooded figure.

“You really should be more careful,” came the voice of a woman from underneath the cloak. “You nearly knocked me over.”

“My apologies, Miss,” said Ichigo, bowing slightly.

The woman looked up at Ichigo and, as she did so, pushed the hood off her head to reveal shoulder-length black hair and porcelain skin. Ichigo felt his hand instinctively reach for the hilt of his sword. “A vampire?” he thought, with a slight shock. He had sensed it the moment he had looked at her face.

“I have been looking for you, Kurosaki-sama,” she said, her violet eyes shining with the light of the early morning sun. She was tiny, barely taller than a child, but she was poised, and held herself with the confidence of a grown woman. She showed no fear.

“How do you know who I am?” asked Ichigo, surprised at her forthrightness.

“I know many things, Kurosaki-sama,” she replied, with a smile. "I know why you are here. I know who you seek."

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I am Rukia,” she replied, “of the Kuchiki clan.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:04 pm

Chapter Four: Peace Offerings

Ichigo stared at the tiny woman who stood before him, his right hand still resting lightly on the hilt of his sword. “What do the Kuchiki’s want with me?” he asked, after a moment’s pause.

“We seek your help, Kurosaki-sama,” replied Rukia, her eyes fixed on his.

“As if I’d help your kind,” Ichigo said with a bitter laugh.

“Perhaps you would feel differently, Kurosaki-sama, if there was something my kind could do for you,” she said, unfazed by his challenge.

Ichigo raised an eyebrow and considered her words. “You know where I can find Hitsugaya,” he said.

“I know how to find him,” said Rukia simply.

“The Kuchiki’s would betray their own kind in return for my assistance?” Ichigo laughed again, “There truly is no honor among thieves.” The expression on her face darkened considerably; his words had achieved their intended effect.

“It is not for you to judge us,” she replied stonily. “Regardless of what you think, vampires are not all alike.” Ichigo said nothing, but the expression on his face made it clear that he was unconvinced. “I did not expect your allegiance to be easily won,” Rukia continued. “Still, Kurosaki-sama, you cannot deny that we offer you something of value.”

“You still have not told me what you want from me in return,” said Ichigo.

“It is not safe for me to speak of it here,” said Rukia, pulling out a small roll of parchment from under her cloak and handing it to him. “Join us for dinner tonight at the Manor, and all will be explained.”

“And if I do not come?”

“The Kuchiki Clan is, like the Hunters, honor bound to uphold the truce between our races. You will come to no harm if you refuse, Kurosaki-sama,” she answered, pulling her hood back over her head and bowing to him. “Until we meet again.” And, in a flash, she was gone.

After she left, Ichigo realized that the streets were now teeming with people going about their work and beginning the new day. Until that moment, he had been completely unaware of the fact that they had not been alone. The realization took him by surprise. As a Hunter, he was always on his guard, aware of his surroundings; to lose track of the world around him was to leave himself vulnerable to attack.

“What is it about her?” Ichigo wondered. He knew of the incredible powers the ancient clans were rumored to possess. As a child, he had heard stories of vampires who could control human minds with a simple thought and whose hands were weapons of unsurpassed power. He had dismissed these stories as tales meant to frighten young children, to ready young Hunters for the arduous training that awaited them. Still, he had to admit that he had been unprepared for the effect she had on him.

“It won’t happen again,” he thought, as he unrolled the piece of parchment she had handed him. “I will make sure of it.”

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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:04 pm

Rukia sat at her dressing table, staring blankly at her reflection in the mirror. The encounter with the Hunter troubled her. “You’re being childish,” she thought as she absentmindedly brushed her hair. “You’ve met plenty of humans who despised you for what you are. He is no different.” She put down the brush and stood up, walking over to the bed to pick up the dress she had chosen to wear for dinner.

“He will come,” she said out loud, pulling the emerald green dress on and beginning to lace up the front. “The offer is too tempting to resist.”

She donned an emerald necklace and a pair of matching emerald earrings. Her pale skin glowed in the lamplight - her cheeks and lips a stunning contrast in rose. The deep green of the velvet gown accentuated the violet of her eyes and the blackness of her hair, and the necklace glittered against her skin.

“Why do you care how you look, Rukia?” she wondered, as she carefully studied her reflection in the mirror. She knew the answer, although she would never have admitted it to anyone, let alone the Hunter who had so thoroughly unnerved her. She found him fascinating, although she was at a loss to explain why.

“He will come,” she repeated.

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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:04 pm

It was nearly dark when Ichigo arrived at Kuchiki Manor. Taking in the enormous building, Ichigo wondered if ‘Kuchiki Castle’ might have been a more apt name for the residence, with its sprawling grounds, high turrets, and the high stone wall which surrounded the Manor. It was clearly the home of an old and wealthy family, whose fortunes and power had been built over millennia. Ichigo had expected nothing less from the fabled Kuchiki’s.

There had never been any real question about whether he would come; Ichigo had been more than intrigued by the Kuchiki woman’s offer. Even more so, he was curious about the Kuchiki’s themselves. Urahara had alluded to the incredible powers the Kuchiki’s and their rivals, the Yamazaki Clan, possessed and Ichigo had heard stories about the two clans from the time he was a small child.

Eleven year-old Ichigo had sat on the ground, looking up at his father, who had just ambushed him as he walked downstairs for breakfast.

“Hey! You didn’t give me a chance,” Ichigo had complained, looking up at his father and scowling.

“Your enemies won’t give you a chance, Ichigo,” Isshin had replied, grinning. “I’m just trying to keep you on your toes, son. You never know when your enemy will strike.”

“But you’re the strongest, Dad,” Ichigo said, with admiration. “You could kill any vampire you wanted in a heartbeat.”

“There are vampires even the most powerful Hunter would be hard pressed to defeat, son,” his father had said, “vampires like the Kuchiki’s and the Yamazaki’s. They are the oldest vampires in existence, Ichigo, and they are also the strongest.”

“Not stronger than you, Dad,” he had said, surprised.

“Far stronger that I am,” Isshin had replied. This had been hard for the young Ichigo to believe. In his mind, there was no one stronger than his father, with the possible exception of his sensei, Urahara Kisuke.

“Have you ever fought one of the them?” Ichigo asked, imagining his father, sword in hand.

“Hunters are sworn not to fight the ancient clans, Ichigo,” Isshin had explained.

“Why not?” asked Ichigo. “They’re vampires, too, aren’t they?”

“Yes, they are vampires. But the Council of Hunters entered into a truce with the Kuchiki’s and the Yamazaki’s centuries ago. We do not hunt them, and they, in turn, do not oppose orders of the Council,” his father had explained.

“But they’re vampires,” Ichigo had said, in disbelief.

“The differences between vampires and Hunters are not as great as you would believe,” Isshin had replied, with a smile. “Someday, son, you will understand.”

Understanding of the similarities between Hunter and Vampire had never come to Ichigo. The thought that his beloved mother and sister had anything in common with the beasts that had murdered them was unfathomable. Ichigo cared nothing for the Truce; he would kill any vampire who harmed the people he loved. Even if Hitsugaya had been a Kuchiki, Ichigo would have gladly sacrificed his status as a Hunter, or even his life, to exact his revenge.

“The ancient clans are no different from other vampires,” Ichigo thought, as he walked up the front steps of the mansion towards the enormous carved wooden doors that marked its entrance.

Ichigo reached for one of the large brass rings that hung on the doors, but before he could knock, the doors swung open to reveal a male servant, dressed in black. “Kurosaki-sama,” said the servant, bowing low and motioning Ichigo to follow him inside, “my master and mistress have been expecting you. I am Taguchi Gorou, the head servant to the Kuchiki Clan.”

Ichigo said nothing, but nodded and followed Taguchi through an expansive entryway with high ceilings, marble floors and a huge staircase and into a smaller sitting room. Once there, Taguchi bowed deeply again and left the room, closing the pocket doors behind him. Ichigo turned to face a large fireplace, ablaze with the light of a roaring fire. In front of the fireplace stood a small woman. She turned to greet him as he walked towards her.

“Kurosaki-sama,” said Rukia, bowing and smiling slightly. “I am pleased that you came.”

In spite of himself, Ichigo found himself staring at her. She was stunning in her emerald green gown, cut low to reveal her creamy white skin, and which drew his eyes to the slight cleavage beneath. Her black hair shone with light from the fire, and her violet eyes looked nearly black as she returned his gaze. He found her quite beautiful.

Ichigo said nothing, but nodded curtly, willing himself not to betray the response which she had aroused in him. “She is a vampire,” he told himself, “nothing more.”

The doors to the sitting room opened again and Taguchi entered, bearing a tray with several glasses and a decanter filled with red wine. Ichigo was thankful for the interruption; it gave him time to regain his composure.

“May I offer you a glass of wine, Kurosaki-sama?” said Rukia.

“Thank you,” replied Ichigo, taking a glass from the tray. Rukia did the same, and Taguchi retreated, leaving them alone again.

Rukia raised her glass and nodded slightly. “To your health, Kurosaki-sama,” she said.

Ichigo drank deeply and looked at Rukia again, his face now controlled, his mind once again focused.

“My brother will join us for dinner,” said Rukia, sipping her wine and turning to face the fire.

“Your brother?”

“Byakuya,” she replied. “Nii-sama is the leader of the Kuchiki clan. It is at his request that I have asked you to come tonight.”

“Kuchiki Byakuya,” said Ichigo. He had heard the name before – the leader of the Kuchiki’s was known in the Hunter community as much for his reclusiveness as for his immense powers. “Whatever they want from me,” he thought, “it must be very important to the Clan.”

The doors to the sitting room swung open again. “I am sorry to disturb you, mistress, but your brother has requested that you both join him in the dining hall.”

“Thank you, Taguchi,” said Rukia, turning back to face the doors. “Kurosaki-sama, please follow me.”

Obliging, Ichigo followed her back out into the entryway and up the large granite staircase that led to the second floor. The walls were hung with hundreds of oil paintings– landscapes and seascapes of varying sizes and styles, all set in elaborate gold-layered carved frames. Ichigo found it strange that not one of the many paintings portrayed people, as one might have expected to see in a chateau belonging to a family such as the Kuchiki’s.

They walked down a long corridor until they reached a set of glass doors at the end. Taguchi opened the doors to reveal a massive dining room with high, vaulted ceilings and large mirrors that spanned nearly the full height of the room. A long table sat in the center of the room, over which was hung an elaborate crystal chandelier that was lit with many candles. The candles served as the only light in the room, and, reflected in the many mirrors, gave the room an ethereal glow like so many tiny stars.

Several servants stood at attention near another doorway, waiting for direction. At the head of the table sat a man, dark-haired and somber, dressed in a burgundy coat and black pants. Under the jacket, he wore a cream-colored shirt, tied in the front, with lace cuffs visible at his wrists. His clothing was clearly expensive, but it was tasteful and understated.

Again, Ichigo was surprised at apparent lack of interest the Kuchiki’s showed in the trappings of wealth. Given the formal luxury of the mansion, he had expected that the leader of the Kuchiki’s would dress in a manner of the wealthy humans Ichigo had met in his travels. Instead of the ostentatious frills and colors of his human counterparts, however, Byakuya dressed simply. The Kuchiki Clan leader was a man who owed nothing to others and relied on no one but himself, and his bearing reflected that confidence.

Byakuya stood slowly and turned to greet Ichigo. Neither man bowed, although Byakuya gave Ichigo a curt nod of his head, which Ichigo did not return. Byakuya then kissed his sister on each cheek in greeting, as Ichigo had seen Europeans do.

“Kurosaki Ichigo,” said Byakuya slowly, his deep baritone echoing slightly through the large room. “I am pleased that you have come tonight.”

“I didn’t come because of you, Kuchiki,” said Ichigo, looking for Byakuya’s reaction to his less than cordial conversation. Byakuya, however, seemed undaunted by Ichigo’s manner.

“Please have a seat,” said Byakuya, pointing to a chair at his left. He then walked over to the chair on his right, and pulled the chair out for Rukia who sat, now facing Ichigo. Again, Ichigo was surprised that none of the servants had offered to assist either Byakuya or Rukia with their chairs.

“Thank you,” said Ichigo stiffly, as he sat down. Taguchi, who stood by the head of the table, motioned to one of the servants. Wine goblets were quickly filled, and the heady aroma of food drifted into the room.

Seated at Byakuya’s left, Ichigo could now better see the face of the man who had often been called the strongest vampire in existence. In the candlelight, Byakuya’s skin shone with the same glow as his sister’s - his skin was flawless, ageless.

“He’s thousands of years old,” thought Ichigo, as he watched Byakuya drink from his wine glass, “but he looks only a few years older than I am.”

Ichigo knew well that vampires ceased to age beyond the date of their awakening. Still, he had never fully appreciated the effect of immortality until now. How would a man’s outlook on life change with the knowledge that there was all the time in the world left to live, he wondered. Would life, as he understood it, lose its meaning?

“What the hell is it with these people?” thought Ichigo, frustrated with himself for letting his mind stray from the task at hand.

Two servants appeared through a door with trays of food, which they laid on the table. Rukia nodded to the servants, who quickly disappeared back through the doorway, leaving them alone.

“Kurosaki-sama,” said Rukia, ladling soup into their empty bowls, “I am told your family is from outside Tokyo. I have never been there. Is it very beautiful?”

“She has never been to Tokyo,” marveled Ichigo. The thought that someone who had lived hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years had never been to Japan’s largest city was nearly unthinkable.

“Tokyo is not as beautiful as Kyoto,” said Ichigo, finding himself feeling sorry for Rukia.

“Tokyo is not safe for you, Rukia,” said Byakuya.

“Of course, Nii-sama,” said Rukia.

For several minutes, none of them spoke. One of the servants retrieved their empty bowls, and again Rukia served them – this time with portions of stuffed quail with roasted vegetables she arranged delicately on their plates. Once more, Ichigo marveled at how little either Kuchiki relied on their servants to assist them.

“Kurosaki-sama,” said Rukia finally, breaking the uncomfortable silence, “I am told you studied with Urahara-san when you were young.”

“Yes,” answered Ichigo, taking a drink from his glass.

“Urahara-san is a trusted friend and ally of the Clan,” said Byakuya, off-handedly. “He is a good man.”

Ichigo scowled, his discomfort with the conversation and the company reaching its limits. He put down his glass so hard that it broke against his plate.

“Look,” he said, all attempt at pretense now abandoned, “you asked me to come here to tell me what you want from me. I have no interest in your small talk or your food. Tell me what price you want for locating Hitsugaya, or I’ll be on my way.” Ichigo stood up and placed his napkin on the table.

“Our hospitality is clearly lost upon you, Kurosaki-san,” said Byakuya, his expression something between amusement and irritation. He paused for a moment, his eyes fixed on Ichigo. Then, with a sigh like that of a parent in response to a troublesome child, he said, “Very well, then. Please be seated, and I will explain what we desire of you.”

Ichigo took a deep breath and sat back down, his expression glacial despite the turmoil within. He wanted Hitsugaya, and he wanted him badly enough to tolerate an evening spent in the company of his enemies. Still, he had never been very good at controlling his anger, and this situation had taxed his patience to its limit.

“As you may know, the Kuchiki’s and the Yamazaki’s are the two oldest vampire families in existence. What you may not know, however, is that there is an equally long history of treachery and violence between our two clans, which has led to the destruction of many clan members on both sides of the dispute,” explained Byakuya, his face impassive. Ichigo stifled the urge to complain about the history lesson but instead drank some more wine.

“Several years ago, our two families resolved to put aside our differences,” continued Byakuya. “We engaged in peace negotiations with a neutral third party, and ultimately reached an accord which we believe will settle the dispute between our clans.”

“I still don’t see how I fit into your little peace negotiations,” Ichigo said, impatiently. “I’d be perfectly happy if you vampires just killed each other off. It would make my life a lot easier.”

Byakuya’s eyes narrowed as he continued to look at Ichigo. For a moment, Ichigo thought he saw a flash of anger pass through those dark eyes, and then it was gone, replaced by the haughty look of the self-confident noble.

“Peace does not come cheaply,” said Byakuya, a hint of disdain in his voice. “You, Kurosaki, ‘fit in,’ as you put it, by assuring the safe receipt of our part of the negotiated peace. You will safely deliver the Kuchiki Clan’s peace offering to the Yamazaki’s.”

Ichigo raised an eyebrow. Out of the corner of his eye, he thought he saw Rukia shift uncomfortably in her seat.

“You want me to deliver something to your enemy?” asked Ichigo, in disbelief. “I’d think that someone of your strength and influence would be able to safely deliver whatever money or jewels you’re giving to the Yamazaki’s without my help.”

“The price of peace is neither money nor jewels,” said Byakuya, darkly. “It is something of incalculable worth, irreplaceable and unique.”

Ichigo instinctively glanced over at Rukia again. She was clearly uncomfortable with the topic of conversation. The rose color in her cheeks had drained - her face was nearly ghost-like in the candlelight.

“I don’t understand,” said Ichigo, his curiosity piqued. “What is it you want me to deliver into the hands of your enemies?”

“My sister,” replied Byakuya, his face expressionless. “My sister Rukia is the price of peace.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:05 pm

Chapter Four: Longing

“You want me to deliver your sister to the Yamazaki’s? To your enemies?” Ichigo stood up, anger and disgust rising like bile in his throat. He shouldn’t have been surprised; he had always known what animals the vampires were. Still, he found himself reacting with a depth of emotion he had not expected.

“Yes,” replied Byakuya calmly. “I want you to ensure that she arrives safely in Paris so that she may be married to Yamazaki Akira.”

“Married?!” Ichigo said, with undisguised shock. “To a Yamazaki? For the sake of peace?”

“It isn’t what you think,” said Rukia, speaking up for the first time since Byakuya’s revelation. “This is my choice.” Her voice was surprisingly powerful, and she spoke with utter conviction.

“I would no sooner let my sister marry my enemy than I would surrender to him,” Ichigo retorted, the heat rising in his face.

“Then you are naïve, Kurosaki,” said Byakuya. “Would you not sacrifice yourself for what is right?”

“You’re not sacrificing anything, Kuchiki,” Ichigo answered, “she is.” Again, he felt himself responding with the kind of outrage normally reserved only for those he cared about. He found himself wanting to protect Rukia, if only from her own brother.

“I do not own my sister,” Byakuya said, indignant. “Unlike human males, we vampires do not presume to dictate the lives of women.”

Ichigo was silent, the memory of Karin burning painfully in his heart. “We tried to keep Karin safe,” he thought, “and instead, we drove her to Hitsugaya. To her death.” He remembered, with guilt, how Karin had fought to earn the right to travel into town by herself, whereas he had been given license to come and go at will. How his family had spent what little money they had to send him to study with Urahara, whereas Karin had studied with their father, at home.

“Would it have been different for her if she had been a man?” Ichigo wondered. “Would she still be alive?” A muscle in his jaw twitched as he contemplated the answer.

Byakuya’s face changed, as if he had read Ichigo’s thoughts. Gone was the haughty, self-assured expression, replaced now by something else. Understanding. Pity, perhaps.

“Why does Rukia need protection?” asked Ichigo, regaining control over his emotions. “You said she’s the price of peace. Who would want to harm her?”

“There are those in the Yamazaki clan who would prefer to see the fragile peace fail. I do not wish to see my sister harmed,” replied Byakuya. “Despite what you may believe, she is dear to me.”

Ichigo grunted, clearly unconvinced. In his mind, any brother who would permit his sister to offer herself up as a sacrificial lamb did not have his sister’s best interest at heart. Still, he had to admit that Byakuya’s love for his sister appeared to be genuine, that he truly cared for her.

“If you really want to protect her, why not do it yourself?” asked Ichigo. “You’re certainly more powerful than I am.”

“The Kuchiki’s and the Yamazaki’s have fought each other for centuries, Kurosaki,” replied Byakuya coolly. “Although I am more powerful than you, my abilities are known. You, on the other hand, possess certain unique abilities which we vampires do not.”

There was truth in Byakuya’s words – the Hunters’ weapons were uniquely deadly to vampires. Still, Ichigo was not persuaded. “There is more here than meets the eye,” he thought, “there are more powerful Hunters than I.” Then, slowly, understanding came. There were stronger Hunters, certainly, but few who would risk their standing as Hunters to help the vampires.

“You’re asking me to protect Rukia because you believe I will kill an Ancient, if necessary,” said Ichigo, evenly. Byakuya said nothing but, out of the corner of his eye, Ichigo saw Rukia pale slightly.

“That’s it, isn’t it?” Ichigo continued. “That’s why you offered me Hitsugaya. You knew I wanted him badly enough that I’d violate the truce between our races, that I’d sacrifice my life to avenge my sister.”

“Was I wrong?” asked Byakuya, his face unreadable.

“No,” answered Ichigo, simply.

“Then what is your answer?” Rukia demanded, her violet eyes focused on his.

For a split second, Ichigo felt as though he might drown in her eyes. The room swam slightly as a wave of dizziness swept over him. Then, reality returned - the pain of loss sharpening his senses as he remembered his mother and sister. The dizziness subsided, and his expression grew hard.

“She is a vampire,” Ichigo repeated to himself silently, like a mantra, “nothing more. Why do I care if she wants to sacrifice herself?”

“I will help you,” he said, aloud.

*******************************

“Watch me!” Karin yelled, laughing. She teetered, perched atop a turret nearly a hundred feet in the air, looking down at Hitsugaya from the roof of the large home. Then, jumping off, she flew down through the air, somersaulting several times like a diver off a high board, and landing softly on the grass below.

Hitsugaya sat, sullen, watching the dark-haired woman run across the field behind the manor, her white gauze dress flying in the wind. Were it not for his vampire eyes, which could see movement at speeds humans could not, he might not have been able to follow her as she dashed about. The jeweled sword at her waist glinted in the fading afternoon sun and, from time to time, she would pull it out and swing it around, laughing as she did so.

“You’re feeling guilty, Master, aren’t you?” Matsumoto, arriving with a tray of drinks.

Hitsugaya said nothing, but scowled at her.

“She’s happy,” said Matsumoto, watching Karin cavort around the grounds. “Why can’t you share in her happiness.”

“She doesn’t know what lies ahead for her,” replied Hitsugaya, darkly. “She has not yet been exposed to humans. She doesn’t understand what it means to be one of us.”

“She no longer has the bloodlust,” Matsumoto said, hopefully.

“You know as well as I, Matsumoto, that it takes centuries to control the desire for human blood,” he replied, watching Karin again. His frown depended. “Eventually, she will no longer want to stay hidden and under my supervision. I cannot keep her safe forever.”

“But she’s a Hunter.” Matsumoto responded, surprise in her voice “Certainly the Hunters would not kill one of their own, especially one so young.”

“The Hunters are honor-bound to destroy any vampire who harms humans. It matters little to the Council if the vampire is a Hunter herself; the Hunters must abide by their own laws. That Karin is a young vampire would make no difference to them.”

Matsumoto looked disturbed. “You will keep her safe, Master,” she said after a moment, her face brightening somewhat. “I am sure of it.”

“I will do my best,” replied Hitsugaya. “I am, after all, the one who created her. I owe her nothing less.” Matsumoto bowed slightly, and walked back to the house.

“She truly cares for Karin,” he thought, as he watched her walked away. It was not difficult to understand why. Karin had been a breath of fresh air for Matsumoto and the other servants, with her youthful exuberance and her inquisitive nature. Years spent cloistered by her father and brother had not succeeded in stifling her free spirit.

“You’re brooding again, aren’t you, Toushirou?” Karin was sitting next to him; he hadn’t even heard her approach. Her checks were flushed and her hair was windblown.

“Are you ready for dinner?” he asked, stiffly, ignoring her comment. She leaned over to him and smiled, her lips brushing lightly against his cheek. Her beauty unnerved him. Still, he had resolved that he would not give in to temptation; he would not take advantage of the situation.

“It’s normal for a fledging to be attracted to her creator,” he thought, standing up so that he would not be so close to her. “She will need to learn to distance herself from me, to find the freedom to truly love another.”

“Am I so unattractive to you, Toushirou?” Karin asked, her face now serious. “Why do you push me away?”

“We have spoken about this, Karin,” he replied, as a father might chastise a child. “Your interest in me is a consequence of your transformation. I would be remiss in my duty to you if I were to permit myself…”

She pulled him close to her and kissed him on the lips. He froze. “This is not about you, and your needs” he admonished himself, fighting his body’s strong response to her touch. He pushed her away and stepped back from her.

“I am sorry,” she said, fighting not to show her pain at his rejection. Her heart was pounding, and she resisted the urge to shake him, to tell him that the transformation had not changed what she had felt for him, even when she had been human. She had always wanted him.

“Dinner is ready,” he said, changing the subject. That she was clearly upset distressed him, but he forced himself to put it out of his mind, convinced that he was doing the right thing. He gestured to her and they walked together towards the house. “We will hunt later.”

“Hunt?” she asked.

“You cannot survive on my blood alone, Karin,” said Hitsugaya, as they began to climb the steps up to the entrance.

“You don’t expect me to hunt humans?” she said, taken aback. She knew this was the proper response, although, in truth, the thought of feeding on human blood both fascinated and disgusted her.

“No,” he replied, “of course not. You, of all people, know what the punishment for killing a human is.” She nodded. “We will hunt in the forest on the grounds. It will…” he hesitated, trying to find the right words, “…satisfy you.”

Hitsugaya had always felt uncomfortable with his urge to hunt. He knew that all vampires, with the possible exception of the Ancients, felt compelled to do so. He had come to see the Hunt as one of the few instincts that truly set vampires apart from humans. The memory of teeth tearing into live flesh both excited and repelled Hitsugaya, and he had learned to control his desire for it over the centuries. The Hunt, to him, was primitive, primal.

“Satisfy me?” she said, looking at him questioningly. “Your blood satisfies me, Toushirou. I do not need any other.”

“It is not physical hunger which the Hunt satisfies,” he said, brow furrowed. “The Hunt satisfies the desire to kill.” Karin said nothing, the impact of his words slowing dawning on her. “Without the Hunt,” he continued, “you would not be able to control your bloodlust.”

“I would want to kill humans, you mean,” she said.

“Even with the Hunt,” said Hitsugaya, “you must always fight that urge. But the Hunt will help you fight that instinct.”

“It’s true,” she thought, remembering her thirst, the overwhelming need for flesh she had experienced during her transformation. “I wanted to kill.” The memory of that yearning flooded her mind, and her face became hot with desire.

Hitsugaya stopped and looked at her. He could see it in her eyes - he could see the hunger that burned there. “I must keep her close,” he thought. “It would destroy her if she ever gave in to her desire for human flesh.”

“Here,” he said, holding out his wrist to her. “This will help for now.”

She took his wrist and bit, hard, sending droplets of blood flying as she broke the skin. He breathed in deeply, fighting the instinct to share in her blood, as well. She was not ready yet, he knew, to offer her blood to him. Still, the pain of her bite and the fullness of her lips against his skin stirred something within him that he could not express. “I must not give in,” he thought, as the longing grew.

*************************

Arriving in the dining hall a half hour later, having changed out of their bloodstained clothes, Hitsugaya and Karin took their seats at the long table. In the candlelight, Karin’s face looked ethereal, pale, despite the red blush that stained her cheeks.

“We must hunt tonight,” Hitsugaya thought, as he took in her appearance. “She cannot wait any longer. Her resolve is weakening.”

They ate in silence, Karin still drowsy from Hitsugaya’s blood. It was more potent than any wine she had ever tasted, and the heady warmth it lent her was far more intense. Now, more than ever, she wanted him, to devour him, to make him hers.

“Master,” said Matsumoto, as she walked into the dining room. “There is someone here to see you.” Her words awakened Karin from the stupor, and she forced herself to focus on the room around her.

Hitsugaya stood up, clearly concerned about the intrusion. “Have the Hunters finally found us?” he wondered silently. He had done his best to cover their tracks, to protect Karin from the world outside.

“Who is here?” he asked, the only hint of his fear his tight grip on the back of his chair.

“A friend,” came a second voice, familiar and slightly musical. “Come to warn you.”

“Urahara-san,” said Hitsugaya, bowing slightly. There was relief in his voice.

“Good evening, Hitsugaya-sama, Kurosaki-chan,” Urahara said, tipping his hat slightly and bowing. “It’s good to see you both.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:06 pm

Chapter Six: The Hunt and the Hunted

Karin ran like the wind, flying past trees, over small streams, through fields planted with wheat and corn, and on into the forest. The scent beckoned to her, like a lover long denied, urging her on.

“Not far now,” she thought.

Hitsugaya ran beside her, his senses heightened. As always, he was surprised by her power. Although he could match her speed, it required more effort than he had anticipated. It had been less than six months since her transformation, and Karin was nearly as strong as he.

“She is far stronger than one would expect from a fledgling,” he thought.

Nothing about Karin’s metamorphosis had been as Hitsugaya had expected –the process had taken much longer, been more painful than other transformations Hitsugaya had witnessed, and Karin’s powers had revealed themselves far more quickly. She had immediately been able to summon objects, shatter windows, and even read the thoughts of less powerful vampires. All of these feats he would have expected from a far older vampire, if at all.

By far the strongest of Karin’s powers had been her ability to smell the blood of humans, vampires and animals at great distances. To Hitsugaya, this ability was also the most troublesome. It was for this reason that, despite Urahara’s arrival at the manor house earlier in the evening, Hitsugaya had not delayed the Hunt any longer. To delay the hunt might mean disaster for Karin; Hitsugaya would not risk her feeding on humans. Urahara would wait; he would understand.

“He understands far more than he lets on,” thought Hitsugaya, with a faint smile.

Hitsugaya had always liked Urahara, although he spoke about their friendship to no one - to the world, the two men were merely acquaintances. It would have been dangerous to both if the true nature of their relationship were to become known.

Hitsugaya trusted Urahara. The old Hunter’s views about vampires had, on more than one occasion, gotten him into trouble with the Hunter Council. Urahara, unlike most Hunters, did not see the vampires as his enemies, and Hitsugaya respected him for it. The two men also shared an understanding of the common ancestry of vampires and Hunters - an understanding that both communities had tried to keep secret for centuries. Urahara had nearly been killed because he had spoken of this connection and, since that time, had kept a deliberately low profile.

“What will he think of me,” Hitsugaya wondered, “when he learns of what I’ve done to Karin?”

The trees grew more closely together as Karin and Hitsugaya sped on towards the heart of the mountain forest. They were close now, he knew. He could smell their prey ahead, a large buck who grazed, unaware of their presence. Karin began to slow down, and he watched her move, catlike and silent, approaching her prey with stealth.

Her brown eyes glowed in the moonlight, shining with the hunger Hitsugaya knew all too well. The scent of the deer reached his nostrils and he found himself fighting his body’s primal response and the urge to join her in the Hunt. He felt his teeth, sharp against the softness of his mouth, pressing against his lips.

Karin closed her eyes. She was now guided solely by the scent of the animal, ‘seeing’ the forest around her in a way that she had never done before. The colors of the leaves were more vivid, the sound of a nearby stream sounded almost musical. She could hear the animal’s heart beating, the sound of its breathing.

The buck stood feet away from them now, alert, wary. Silently, Karin approached, making no sound as she moved. Hitsugaya stood back, watching her stalk the animal, unmoving.

“I will not join her this time,” he thought, suppressing his desire for blood. “This must be her kill.”

The buck watched Karin as though hypnotized, unable to move despite its fear. She eyed the animal with growing hunger, her eyes now burning deep red. She smiled, her sharp teeth now visible, white against her rose-colored lips. Then she flew at the animal and sunk her teeth deep into its flesh, moaning with the pleasure of it. Hitsugaya inhaled deeply, fighting his growing desire for her.

Karin was one with the creature; her heart and the animal’s beat in unison. Blood flowed, warm and sweet, over her lips, and she felt warmth spread through her veins. “More,” she thought, as she lay on the ground next to the dying animal, her teeth still in its neck. “I need more.”

The animal had long since lost consciousness, and she could feel the life force drain from it as her thirst was satisfied. She felt her heartbeat part company with that of the buck. Finally, there was no more sound from the beast, and Karin slowly withdrew, intoxicated with pleasure. Looking up at the sky, visible in patches between the branches of the trees, Karin felt satiated, almost drowsy.

After a few minutes, she spoke, her voice deep and husky, “This is what you fear, Toushirou, is it not? That I will be driven by this hunger to kill humans.” She did not look at him, but she could feel his presence, hear him breathing.

“The desire for flesh fades, with time,” he said, his voice even, despite the turmoil within.

He wanted her, and not just her blood; he wanted to possess her, to feel her body against his, to claim her as his own. “I have no right,” he thought, remembering her screams as her body had died and the vampire was born. He had caused her great pain; he had transformed her, taken her humanity from her. “I was weak before. I will not give in this time.”

The wind blew cold through the trees and clouds covered the moon. “It is time for us to return,” said Hitsugaya, as he felt a drop of rain fall on his cheek.

Karin stood up and walked over to Hitsugaya, her cheeks now deep red. Traces of blood lingered on her lips, and her eyes still had a reddish tinge to them. He did not move, as she put her arms around his neck and looked directly into his eyes.

“You don’t need to worry, Toushirou,” she said, all hint of girlishness gone from her voice. “I will not - I will never harm a human being. I would sooner die first. I am, and will always be a Hunter, regardless of what my body has become.” It was the truth; he could see the resolve in her eyes.

“There is one more thing that you need to understand about me,” she said, and she smiled at him this time.

“What is that?” he asked, surprised at the tone of her voice. She seemed totally self-assured, no longer the carefree spirit who had, just that same day, run wild with the wind across the grounds of the manor house. A woman - confident and in control.

“Despite what you believe, Toushirou, I have always wanted you. I have always wanted to be with you. I chose this life because of you,” said Karin. “I hope that some day you will understand that.”

She put her hands to his face and pulled his lips to hers. He felt dizzy, overwhelmed by her touch, by the taste of her mouth. His breathing was ragged, as though he was drowning. He felt heat where her fingers rested lightly on his back, and he hungered for her as a wave of desire coursed through his body like fresh blood.

Unable to control himself, he kissed her back deeply and passionately, his hands instinctively running through her hair and onto her face. He felt the urge to taste more of her, to drink her blood as she had drunk his. And, when he thought he could resist her no more, she withdrew her lips. Their eyes met, locked momentarily in passion, just as their lips had been seconds earlier.

“I will wait for you, Toushirou,” she said, releasing him from her embrace. “Forever, if I need to.”

“A storm is coming,” he thought, as they turned for home.

**********************************

It was nearly midnight when Hitsugaya, safe in the knowledge that Karin slept deeply, joined his guest in the study. The fireplace was aglow from the fire Matsumoto had set, and the flames cast shadows on the ceiling of the unlit room.

“You needn’t have sat here in the dark, old friend,” said Hitsugaya, as he sat down across from Urahara.

“I am quite comfortable, Hitsugaya-sama,” replied Urahara, smiling.

“It has been too long,” Hitsugaya said.

“Little has changed since we last saw each other,” answered Urahara. “It is the world around us which changes.”

Hitsugaya stared at the fire but said nothing.

“You are troubled,” said Urahara. “With such a beautiful companion, I am surprised.” Hitsugaya frowned. “Ah,” Urahara continued, realization dawning, “I see. She is the cause of your discomfort.”

“It’s not what you think,” said Hitsugaya, still staring at the fire.

“No?” mused Urahara. “You underestimate me, as always.” He sighed theatrically. “I know that you did not intend to transform her, Hitsugaya-sama.”

Hitsugaya turned abruptly and stared at Urahara. “What do you know of it?” he asked, anger flashing briefly in his turquoise eyes.

“I know that you blame yourself, Toushirou.”

“Who else is to blame?” asked Hitsugaya, bitterly.

“Perhaps no one,” replied Urahara, coyly. “Kurosaki Karin has never been helpless. She must have wanted what you had to offer.”

Hitsugaya said nothing, but continued to brood.

“Ah,” sighed Urahara again, “I see that I can do little to dissuade you. How unfortunate. You deserve some happiness, too, Hitsugaya-sama.”

There was a knock on the door, and Matsumoto came into the room with a bottle of sake and two delicate glasses. Hitsugaya nodded as she placed them on the small table set between the chairs.

“Thank you, Matsumoto-chan,” said Urahara, picking up a glass and raising it to her. “Hitsugaya-sama is indeed fortunate to have you to care for him.” Matsumoto smiled, then bowed and walked out of the room again, closing the door behind her.

Hitsugaya picked up a glass and took a drink, staring at the fire again. “So, Kisuke, although I would like to believe you would visit me because you enjoy my company, you clearly have something you would like to tell me, do you not?” he asked.

“Sadly, yes,” replied Urahara, pouring himself another glass and refilling Hitsugaya’s.

“Well, then,” said Hitsugaya, with slight impatience, “please tell me now, so that we may spend the rest of the evening talking of other, more pleasant things. Your travels, perhaps.”

Urahara smiled and peered out from under the brim of his hat. “Never one to postpone the bad news, are you, my friend? Very well, then.”

The fire crackled as Urahara finished his second glass of sake with relish. Then, turning to face Hitsugaya, he said, “You have made several enemies, it appears, Hitsugaya-sama.”

“That is nothing new for a vampire of my age,” replied Hitsugaya, a hint of a smile on his lips.

“That is true,” Urahara said. “However, these new enemies are more…problematic, shall we say?”

Hitsugaya shrugged impatiently. “Please, Kisuke,” said the vampire, “get on with it.”

“Of course,” replied Urahara, pausing for effect. “It seems you are the subject of a Carte, my dear friend. The Council of Hunters has ordered your execution.”

“Not unexpected,” replied Hitsugaya, “given what I have done.”

“No, of course not,” said Urahara, with a coy smile. “But it is more interesting than that. You see, Karin’s brother, Ichigo, believes his sister to be dead.”

“Dead?”

“Yes, dead,” replied Urahara. “Something to do with seeing her body, laying in a field near Karakura, I hear.”

“Did her father not explain?” asked Hitsugaya, surprised. “Surely Kurosaki Isshin knows the truth.”

“Oh, he does,” replied Urahara. “Unfortunately, young Kurosaki was not, shall we say, in the mood to listen at the time he discovered Karin’s body. He has fled, and he is looking for you.”

“He will not find me,” said Hitsugaya, dismissively. “He is young, inexperienced.”

“If it were just the boy,” said Urahara, “I would agree with you. He was quite a gifted student, but he still has not reached his full potential.”

“Then what is your concern?” asked Hitsugaya, now curious.

“It appears that Kuchiki Byakuya has offered to reveal your whereabouts to the young Kurosaki, in return for his assistance in escorting his sister to Paris to marry a Yamazaki,” answered Urahara, smiling again.

“I see,” said Hitsugaya, his face darkening slightly. “Still, you yourself have no concern that the young Hunter will harm me. Why, then, did you come all this way and go to such lengths to locate me?”

“Because, old friend, I believe that Byakuya has no intention of delivering his sister into the hands of his old enemies, no more than I believe that he intends to facilitate your execution.” Urahara filled another cup of sake, and drank it slowly.

“No,” continued Urahara, carefully watching Hitsugaya’s reaction, “I believe that Byakuya intends nothing of the sort. I believe he wishes to use the young Hunter to annihilate the Yamazaki’s once and for all. Kuchiki Byakuya wishes to start a war.”

“A war for the souls of the vampires and the Hunters, it appears,” mused Hitsugaya, considering Urahara’s words.
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:08 pm

Chapter Seven: The Hunger

Used to open spaces and the freedom that travel by land afforded him, the long ocean voyage had Ichigo pacing back and forth on the deck of the steamship. It had been nearly two months since he and ‘the Kuchiki princess’, as he had taken to calling Rukia, had left Kyoto for Yokahama and points beyond.

After months spent at sea with stops in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Ceylon and, most recently, Aiden, Ichigo had begun to realize how incredibly isolated Japan was. It was not just the fact that Japan was surrounded by ocean, it was also the variety of cultures to which he had never been exposed to before that led him to this conclusion.

Although the steamship itself was British, the passengers aboard were representative of many countries and cultures. Ichigo would often take the opportunity to chat with his fellow passengers aboard the H.M.S. Breaking Dawn and, in this regard, his education had served him well. Having studied several languages, at his father’s insistence, Ichigo was able to converse in English, French and Spanish, as well as his native Japanese.

However impressive Ichigo’s language skills were, however, they paled in comparison to his companion’s. After watching Rukia engage a passenger who had come aboard the ship in Columbo, Ceylon, in fluent Singhalese, Ichigo had found himself fighting conflicting feelings of insecurity and admiration for his violet-eyed companion.

“You’d be fluent in Singhalese, too, if you were hundreds of years old,” he thought, with slight irritation.

He had often been tempted to ask Rukia how old she was, but he knew that, at least among humans, to ask a woman her age was considered impertinent, and he did not wish Rukia to think him unsophisticated. Ichigo often caught himself feeling self-conscious around Rukia, something which he blamed on the Kuchiki’s and their nobility. Truth be told, however, there was something about Rukia that just unnerved Ichigo – something he could not quite put his finger on.

Ichigo had fully expected the trip to Europe would not take place until late summer, and that their first order of business would be to find Hitsugaya. What Ichigo had not expected, however, was the news that Hitsugaya, himself, had left Japan for Europe not long after Ichigo had arrived in Kyoto. At first, Ichigo had not believed the elder Kuchiki when Byakuya had broken the news that Hitsugaya was living outside London.

“I speak the truth, Hunter,” Byakuya had said, when challenged. “I have given you my oath to lead you to Hitsugaya-sama. My oath is law.”

Ichigo had been tempted to tell Byakuya what he thought of vampire oaths in general, but Rukia, sensing the impending clash between men, had quickly changed the subject.

The journey from Kyoto to Paris would naturally take Ichigo and Rukia through London, and Ichigo eagerly anticipated the confrontation with Hitsugaya. It had been nearly a year since he had discovered his sister’s body laying in the field outside Karakura, and Ichigo’s patience was wearing thin. Now, on the deck of the steamship, he found himself half-tempted to jump overboard and swim the rest of the way, convinced it would be faster.

“Your time would be better spent planning than pacing,” came a voice from behind Ichigo.

“Why do you do that?” growled Ichigo, irritated that he had not heard her approach.

Rukia raised an eyebrow. “Do what?” she asked with feigned innocence.

“You know what I mean. Sneak up on me like that.”

“I did nothing of the sort,” she replied, crossing her arms against her chest. “Is it my fault that you are so distracted that you do not sense my presence, Kurosaki-sama?”

Ichigo scowled. He had become used to the barbed repartee between them – it had become almost a game. Still, he had to admit that she had a point; he had become careless during the long months at sea.

“I’m used to you,” he parried. “That’s all.”

“Baka. That kind of talk will get you killed, Kurosaki-sama. You are out of practice, lazy.”

Ichigo said nothing.

“The Ancients can disguise their presence, if they desire,” said Rukia, watching him carefully for his reaction.

“I knew that,” he lied smoothly, the momentary look of shock on his face replaced with another scowl.

“No, you didn’t,” laughed Rukia. “We can also tell when someone is not being truthful, Kurosaki-sama.”

“And what of it?” retorted Ichigo.

“I do not want to see you killed by Hitsugaya,” she replied. “That is all. If you were to die, I would have no one to escort me to Paris.”

“Now who isn’t telling the truth?” asked Ichigo, the edges of his mouth turning up just a bit. “You’re worried about me because you like having me around.”

Rukia shot him a dark look. “Die, then,” she said, turning around to leave. “I can fend for myself.”

Ichigo laughed.

“You don’t think I can fight, then?” she said, whipping her long skirt about and turning back to face him.

“I know of plenty of women who can fight,” replied Ichigo.

“But you do not believe I can fight on the same level as you,” said Rukia. “Perhaps you should find out for yourself, then.”

“I wouldn’t want to hurt you,” Ichigo said, seriously.

“You are afraid to fight me, aren’t you, Kurosaki-sama?”

“No.”

“Then meet me in the Grand Ballroom in an hour,” she said. “It is unoccupied during the day, and will serve our purposes.”

“I…” began Ichigo, but Rukia interrupted him.

“You will come, will you not, Kurosaki-sama?” she asked, challenge in her voice.

Ichigo said nothing, but watched her turn and leave in the direction of the two-bedroom suite they occupied.

“Quite the princess,” he thought, with a chuckle. “At least the last few days of this trip won’t be as dull as I’d thought.”

********************************

An hour later, Ichigo descended into the bowels of the huge ship to the enormous ballroom which, on most nights, featured a ten-piece orchestra that played Viennese waltzes and other dance fare. Now, however, the room was dark, the large chandeliers unlit and the tables empty. His footsteps echoed on the wood floor as he walked into the room.

“Okay, Princess,” he said, with a laugh, “I’m here. Why don’t we just eat some lunch in the salon and call it a day? We really don’t need to do this.”

From behind him, Ichigo heard the door slam shut, plunging the room into darkness. Unfazed, he took a deep breath, willing himself to sense her presence nearby. He felt nothing.

“Alright. You got me. I lied,” said Ichigo, smiling now. “I didn’t know the Ancients could disguise their presence so well. You got me, Princess.”

There was a light touch on his shoulder and he spun around, grabbing her wrist. He could not see her, but he could feel her breath on his face, inches away.

“Don’t call me Princess,” said Rukia. “You know my name, Kurosaki-sama.”

Ichigo laughed heartily. “Yes,” he taunted, “but to me, you are the Kuchiki Princess.”

From pitch darkness, every candle in the room was suddenly aflame, and the room instantly became as bright as the morning sun. Momentarily blinded, Ichigo felt Rukia’s arm jerk beneath his hand, and he was thrown into the air, landing with a resounding crash several yards away from where he had stood.

“She’s stronger than I expected,” he thought, with a smile. “Still, it’s nothing I can’t handle.”

“I don’t want to hurt you, Princess,” he said out loud, standing up and dusting himself off.

His eyes now accustomed to the light, he could see her standing, arms crossed, watching him impatiently. Gone was the long dress with countless ruffled petticoats. Instead, she wore the loose-fitting pants and shirt of a peasant. Her feet were bare, and she wore no jewelry. In fact, but for the slight curves visible through her white shirt, she was nearly indistinguishable from a young boy.

Ichigo smiled, in spite of himself. Without the trappings of nobility, he found her strangely appealing.

“What are you staring at, Kurosaki?” she demanded, dropping the honorific this time.

“Nothing,” he replied, kicking himself inwardly for gawking.

“Then fight me.”

“I told you, Princess, I…”

She dove into the air and literally flew at him, her feet hitting him squarely in the chest and knocking the wind out of him. He looked up to see her standing over him, her face unreadable.

“I told you not to call me that,” she said, simply. “My name is Rukia.”

Ichigo grabbed her ankle and pulled, hard. She laughed and jumped high into the air, circling one of the enormous chandeliers with such speed that a number of the candles were extinguished from the rushing air.

“You’ll have to do better than that, Hunter, or Hitsugaya will certainly kill you.”

Ichigo jumped up as Rukia landed on the other side of the room. She flew at him again, but this time, he was ready, meeting her halfway and deflecting the blow from her foot. She spiraled around in mid-air and landed gracefully a few feet away from him.

“You’ll get nowhere with me without your weapon,” she said, laughing now as she faced him.

Ichigo hesitated.

“Don’t worry, Kurosaki,” said Rukia, “you won’t hurt me. I trust you not to cut off my head.”

“Fine,” thought Ichigo, with resignation. “I’ll just give her a taste of what Zangetsu can do. A demonstration.”

The blade of Ichigo’s sword reflected the light of the chandeliers as he drew it from its sheath. He swung it over his head and focused his energy on a spot several feet to Rukia’s left. To his surprise, she moved to intercept the blue light that issued from the tip of the weapon, raising her bare hand to the attack. Blue light flew in a hundred different directions, spreading out across the room and vanishing silently into the corners.

“You might want to try aiming at me this time,” she laughed.

Ichigo frowned. This was getting far more complicated than he had expected. Again, he swung his weapon about and a burst of blue light flared from its tip. Rukia raised her right hand in front of her and white light began to coalesce in her fingers. As Ichigo watched, the light began to take the shape of a blade, long and thin - something between a sword and a dagger. It shimmered like snow in the winter sun and grew solid in her grasp.

Rukia reached out with the blade, angled now so that it reflected Ichigo’s attack back in the direction it had come. He quickly jumped out of the way to avoid the rebounding beam of energy. Snowflakes fell from the ceiling above them.

“Shit,” he thought, irritated at himself. He had now broken a sweat, something he had not expected he might do.

“The Ancients possess the ability to call their weapons at will,” said Rukia, in response to the bewildered look on his face. “This,” she said, nodding at the blade in her hand, “is Sode no Shirayuki, my katana and the blade of my soul. She is more than a match for your sword, Kurosaki-sama. Do not underestimate her. Do not underestimate me.”

With that, she flew at him again, and her violet eyes became almost black with the intensity of her gaze. The blades of their respective weapons met, and their wrists touched. Ichigo pushed back against her arm, and was surprised at the resistance he met; she was physically stronger than he had imagined, her strength rivaling any sparring partner he had ever encountered.

Despite the realization that Rukia was no ordinary opponent, Ichigo hesitated to attack her directly, still fearing that he might somehow harm her. This was a mistake. Rukia, sensing Ichigo’s hesitation, aimed her weapon at him and white light traveled to the tip of the blade and beyond, hitting him squarely on his arm. Ichigo bit his tongue and ignored the pain, now summoning every bit of focus he had and pointing Zangetsu directly at her.

“Getsuga tensho!” he shouted, his eyes narrowed and focused on her small body. He did not put all of his strength behind the attack; he simply could not bring himself to do it.

“Tsugi no mai, hakuren,” said Rukia, her silvery blade pointed at his. An enormous wave of ice flew across the room towards Ichigo. There was a flash of light as the energy of their two attacks met, knocking them both backwards and onto the floor.

“Damn,” thought Ichigo. “I completely underestimated her.”

Again, snow fell from the ceiling to the wood floor below, and the atmosphere was thick with unspent energy. As the air in the room cleared, Rukia stood up and walked over to Ichigo. There wasn’t even a scratch on her.

“Now do you understand why I wanted to fight you?” she asked, her face serious. “Hitsugaya-sama carries the blood of my ancestors in his veins, Ichigo. He will kill you if you are unfocused, weak.”

Ichigo looked down at his left forearm, at the place where her attack had connected with his skin. His arm was bleeding.

“She’s right,” he thought. “I allowed myself to be distracted. I can’t let that happen again.”

Rukia reached over to touch his arm and the blood which flowed slowly from the wound there. Her touch was electric, like nothing he had ever felt before. He felt suddenly dizzy, overwhelmed, hungry. He wanted to possess her, to taste her lips, her flesh, her blood.

“What the hell am I thinking?” thought Ichigo, with a mixture of longing and disgust. “I’m not one of them.”

Rukia withdrew her fingers, now crimson with his blood, and brought them slowly to her lips. As she licked her bloody fingers, Ichigo could hear her voice inside his mind, “You must grow stronger, Ichigo. For both of us.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:10 pm

Chapter Eight: The Journey Begun

She stood looking over the railing, unmoving, her tiny frame silhouetted in the moonlight. He walked up behind her silently, but she knew he was there –she could sense his presence. She waited, her hunger for him growing by the second.

“I knew you’d come,” she said, her voice low, throaty. “I’ve been waiting for this since the day we met.”

He said nothing, but turned her around and pulled her roughly against him, running his hands through her ebony hair, drinking in her smell and feeling the soft skin of her neck beneath his lips. She leaned into him, her arms encircling his chest, fighting the urge to devour him and make him hers.

"I must not be the first to drink," she thought. "It must be him. He must not be transformed."

Their lips met, demanding, insatiable. The taste of her was overpowering, intoxicating. He growled, his voice unrecognizable, like a wolf on the hunt, its prey within its sight. Without warning, he bit her lip and tasted the sweet saltiness of her blood on his tongue. She moaned and held him tighter, anticipation growing. He could no longer control the hunger which burned in him.

"You must drain my life and then return it with yours," she said, her violet eyes now red with bloodlust. “But you must know that there is no turning back from this, Hunter.”

He did not care. This is what he had been born for. He would die without her, he knew.

She lifted her hair from her neck and he kissed her once again there, running his tongue over her skin, savoring the moment, letting his anticipation reach a fever pitch. Then, with surprising gentleness, his teeth broke her flesh to discover the warmth of her blood, her essence - the life force within. She sighed and closed her eyes.

He could hear her heart beat frantically and sense the desire that grew in her. He felt her life ebb, leaving her veins and entering into his being, bringing him renewed strength and power. Her heart struggled to keep beating and her body grew limp in his arms. She was dying, and he could feel it. He shuddered with the pleasure that knowledge brought him. Slowly, he rubbed his wrist against the razor-sharp blade of his weapon, cutting deeply into the veins that lay beneath.

He brought his wrist to her lips and let the blood drip into her mouth. She gasped and opened her eyes.

Ichigo woke with a start. Through the small ship’s portal, he could see the moon rising over the ocean, illuminating the waves in blue and silver. He could not stop thinking about what he had felt after the fight with Rukia in the ship’s ballroom. He had wanted her. Not just her, as a woman, but her flesh, her blood. “Like a vampire,” he thought, as he stared up at the ceiling of his small cabin. “Like an animal.”

And now, this dream.

Ichigo stood up, trying to shake off his uneasiness. He was painfully aware that Rukia slept only feet away, in the adjoining cabin. He wondered if she, too, had felt his longing for her, his hunger. He had heard her words in his mind, ‘You must grow stronger, Ichigo. For both of us.’ Had he imagined that?

A childhood memory came, unbidden, of his father’s words, ‘The differences between vampires and Hunters are not as great as you would believe.’

“No,” he said, out loud. “I am not like them.”

***********************************

Morning dawned, and with it the steamship docked in Dover, on the eastern coast of England. It was from this same port that Ichigo and Rukia would travel to France across the English Channel. But, for now, a carriage would take them to Tyler Hill, a small village on the outskirts of Canterbury, near which Hitsugaya owned a small manor house on the edge of the Ancient Forest of Blean.

Disembarking the ship took them little time; neither Ichigo nor Rukia had brought much with them. Ichigo had not been hungry that morning and, for the first time in months, had not joined Rukia in the stateroom for breakfast. Ichigo had not, in fact, seen Rukia since they had sparred the day before. Given the tumultuous emotions that confrontation had aroused in him, Ichigo was silently thankful for this.

She met him near the gangway at the side of the ship. She wore a simple traveling cloak and, underneath it, a green velvet riding dress with pants and boots. Ichigo forced himself to disguise the reaction her appearance aroused in him, and he purposefully avoided meeting her eyes, which shone as if lit by some fire within.

Rukia nodded at Ichigo, himself dressing in traveling clothes, small pack slung over his shoulder. Inwardly, she smiled to herself. Their sparring had achieved its intended effect; his demeanor had changed markedly since the day before. He seemed more focused and in control of his emotions. Still, she sensed something within him - a internal storm brewing - something which, she knew, he would eventually have to confront and she with him.

“He does not understand the blood lust,” she thought as she watched him. “Is it possible he has not been told about the bond between Hunter and vampire?” This surprised her; Rukia had assumed that all Hunters were taught of the ancient link between their races. “He does not know that we once were alike. That the Hunters left the Ancient Clans and intermarried with humans, choosing to forego their immortality to be free from the blood curse.”

Rukia knew of the turmoil within the Council of Hunters, of the rift that had formed between those who embraced the old ways handed down through millennia and those who sought to distance themselves from the vampires they hunted. “But Urahara is not of this new belief,” she thought. “Why would he withhold this information from his own student?” She did not understand the Hunters, and she doubted she ever truly would - Ichigo’s reaction to her and to the attraction between them had her even more convinced than ever of this.

“Now is not the time to discuss these things,” she thought, as she followed Ichigo down the gangway and onto the pier. “If he survives his meeting with Hitsugaya-sama, there will be time to speak of this.”

The pier was full of carriages waiting to take their charges to their ultimate destinations. Rukia, however, did not seek out those for hire, but instead walked towards the area where the private carriages waited. Ichigo followed silently. He knew only of their final destination; all of the travel arrangements had been made by the Kuchiki’s, and he was content not to be forced to navigate in the new world with which he was now faced.

“Renji!” called Rukia to a young man with long red hair, who stood by one of the private coaches.

“Rukia-chan!” shouted the man, running to embrace her. He swung her around in the air like a child.

“I’ve missed you,” she said, smiling happily. “How long has it been?”

“Only a century or so,” he laughed, returning her smile. “Your brother has been far too protective. You should have come decades ago.”

“Renji,” she chastised, “you know Byakuya means well.”

“Eh,” said Renji, raising an eyebrow. “That doesn’t mean he’s right to keep you so close to him.”

Ichigo coughed. Renji turned to face him, realizing for the first time that Rukia was not alone.

“I’m sorry, Kurosaki-sama,” said Rukia with a devious smile, “I forgot to introduce you. Kurosaki Ichigo, this is my cousin, Abarai Renji.”

Renji scowled. “A Hunter? What is he doing with you, Rukia?”

Ichigo eyed Renji with distaste.

“Ichigo is to escort me to Paris,” replied Rukia.

“Paris?” said Renji with surprise. “I thought you were going to stay in London.”

Ichigo laughed. “He doesn’t know, does he?” he asked, with undisguised sarcasm.

“Know what?” asked Renji, still scowling at Ichigo.

“Ichigo,” said Rukia, pleadingly, “now is not the time. I will tell him…”

“I am to protect her. She’s going to Paris to be married to Yamazaki Akira,” said Ichigo, cutting across her.

“No!” shouted Renji, spitting on the ground.

Rukia shot Ichigo a withering look.

“It’s okay, Renji,” said Rukia. “This is my choice. It’s for the good of our families. As a peace offering.”

“Why would the Kuchiki’s want to make peace with those animals?” snarled Renji, his face nearly as red as his hair.

“Peace always comes at a price,” replied Rukia, calmly.

“There will be no peace,” said Renji, his face hard. “The Yamazaki’s cannot be trusted.”

Ichigo watched this exchange with interest. He was starting to think better of Renji by the minute. “He’s not all that bad,” thought Ichigo, “for a vampire.”

“You have no say in this Renji,” said Rukia, defiantly, pulling herself up to her full height. Even so, the top of her head did not reach Renji’s chin.

“No,” he said, ruefully, “I suppose not. Your brother is Clan Leader. It’s not like the adopted son of his brother-in-law has any say in Clan politics.”

“Good,” said Rukia, tossing her head back slightly with indignation. “Then we will not speak of it again.”

Renji growled, but did not object. Instead, he led them to a simple carriage. They were met by a footman, who bowed deeply, and ushered the three of them inside.

“Where to, Kuchiki-sama?” the servant asked Rukia.

“The Village of Tyler Hill,” she replied, ignoring Renji’s surprised look. “We are paying a visit to Hitsugaya-sama.”

The servant nodded and closed the carriage door.

“Hitsugaya?” asked Renji. “What business do you have with him?” He seemed disappointed, as though he had been slighted.

“Renji,” said Rukia, smiling. “I’m not going to stay with him. You know I’d much rather stay with you in London. It’s just that Kurosaki-sama has business with Hitsugaya-sama.”

“What business?” asked Renji, looking at Ichigo with curiosity.

“Whatever business I have with him,” replied Ichigo, stonily, “is none of yours.”

“No matter,” said Renji, smiling again and putting his arm around Rukia’s shoulders. “At least I have a few hours to catch up with you, cousin.”

Ichigo felt something stir inside him watching Renji and Rukia chat away as the carriage bumped over the rough road. Much as he appreciated Renji’s disapproval of Rukia’s plans to marry Yamazaki Akira, he did not like the overly-comfortable rapport he observed between the two of them. He knew of none of his female cousins he would approach with such comfortable informality.

******************************
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:10 pm

They arrived in Canterbury in the early afternoon, and Rukia insisted they eat lunch at a small restaurant in town before heading out to see Hitsugaya. Ichigo, as expected, was not in favor of this idea, but did not argue the point with Rukia, who reminded him that he would get nowhere near Hitsugaya without her assistance.

The restaurant, located at the edge of the Canterbury River, was nearly empty, given the late lunch hour. Ichigo anxiously tapped his foot under the table, prompting several irritated looks from Rukia as her chair shook with the vibrations. Willing himself to control his impatience, Ichigo dived into his food with uncharacteristic relish, imaging each piece of meat he skewered as a bit of Hitsugaya he had carved up with his sword.

For some time, Ichigo was able to block out the renewed chatter between Rukia and Renji, the stories of long lost relatives, and vampire children. Or at least, most of the chatter. The fact that vampires actually had children was something Ichigo had not contemplated, and which astonished him.

“Why wouldn’t vampires have children?” asked Rukia, surprised that Ichigo would even question this fact. “We marry, don’t we? We have feelings like humans. Why wouldn’t we have children?” Renji nearly spit out a mouthful of food at this comment, laughing heartily.

“I don’t know,” blustered Ichigo. “I guess I thought that…”

“You thought that the only way to create a vampire is to transform a human,” said Rukia, simply.

“Yes,” replied Ichigo, remembering her penchant for revealing his lies, “I suppose that’s true.”

“I’m surprised at how little you know of us, Kurosaki-san,” said Renji, having swallowed his food with great difficulty.

“So am I,” thought Ichigo, silently cursing Urahara.

“So, Kurosaki-san,” Renji said, changing the subject, “has Hitsugaya-sama received a Carte from our friends at the Council? Are you going to execute him?”

“Renji,” said Rukia, reproachfully. “That’s not appropriate talk for dining.”

“It’s okay,” said Ichigo, with resignation. “He’ll know soon enough, anyhow.” Renji raised an eyebrow. “Yes. Hitsugaya’s death has been ordered by the Council.”

“And what did he do to merit the Council’s disfavor? He’s always been quite well-behaved.”

“He murdered my sister Karin,” Ichigo spat, his face darkening.

“Kurosaki Karin?” asked Renji, with surprise. “The Hunter?”

“Yes,” replied Ichigo.

“But I thought…,” began Renji, but Rukia interrupted.

“I think it’s about time that we get going, gentlemen,” she said quickly, standing up and heading towards the door. “I know Ichigo is anxious to leave.”

Ichigo nodded, and the two men followed Rukia out of the restaurant and back to the carriage outside. As they walked, Rukia shot Renji a look that said, clearly, ‘Do not speak of it again.’ Renji raised an eyebrow in response, but said nothing. He knew Rukia must have her reasons for not correcting Ichigo’s misperception, and he trusted her judgment implicitly, at least on this point.

The three of them rode in silence for the hour it took to reach Hitsugaya’s manor house on the edge of the woods outside Tyler Hill. The afternoon sun hung low on the horizon, and a slight chill was in the air as the servant opened the door to the carriage and they climbed the stairs which led to the front of the house.

Ichigo was surprised at the simplicity of the place, having expected a more palatial home. Instead, he was greeted with a simple country home, well-appointed, but hardly ostentatious. Hitsugaya, it appeared, did not indulge in the trappings of human nobility, although the vampires appeared to treat him as such.

A beautiful blond woman, dressed in servant’s clothing, answered the door. Her reaction to their appearance was as unexpected as everything else about this trip had been. She rushed to embrace Rukia, kissing her on both cheeks, and then did the same for Renji.

“Rukia! I mean Rukia-san. Renji-san! It’s so good to see you both. It’s been far too long.”

“Rangiku,” said Rukia warmly, “you haven’t changed a bit.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Ichigo could have sworn he saw Renji wink and whisper something in Rangiku’s ear as they walked into the front hallway.

“Thank you, Rukia-san,” said the woman, smiling broadly.

“Matsumoto Rangiku, this is Kurosaki Ichigo,” said Rukia, gesturing to Ichigo. Rangiku bowed low.

“You’d think she’d be a little more concerned about my presence,” thought Ichigo, as he bowed in return. “Hitsugaya must know why I’m here.”

“Kurosaki-sama,” said Rangiku, after a moment. “My master is waiting to speak with you.”

Ichigo looked at Rukia with surprise, but she did not react, instead following Rangiku, who motioned for the three of them to follow her. They walked through a large set of doors on the right of the entryway into a large sunroom overlooking the fields beyond the manor house. At the end of the room, his back to them, stood a man wearing a simple dark blue velvet jacket and matching pants. He appeared to be watching several horses galloping across a nearby meadow. As they walked into the center of the room, he turned and walked towards them, his white hair blowing slightly with the breeze that came in through the open windows.

“Hitsugaya,” hissed Ichigo, his hand resting on the hilt of his sword.

“Kurosaki-san,” said Hitsugaya, with a slight sigh. “I’ve been expecting you.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:11 pm

Chapter Nine: More Than One Truth

Ichigo took a small card from the pocket of his vest and tossed it onto the floor in front of Hitsugaya. On the card was the name ‘Hitsugaya Toushirou,’ the Hunter motto, ‘Nos épées contre l'obscurité’, and the crest of the Council of Hunters. Drawing his sword, Ichigo said, formally, “Hitsugaya Toushirou, you are hereby sentenced to die by the authority of the Council of Hunters.”

Matsumoto gasped, and stepped in front of Hitsugaya, her face pale. “No,” she said, her voice shaking with fear, “he has done nothing to warrant this.”

“It’s alright, Matsumoto,” said Hitsugaya softly. “I can handle this.”

“We should leave, Rangiku,” said Renji, taking her by the arm and gently pulling her from between the two men. Matsumoto nodded and followed him, looking terrified.

Renji started to walk out of the room with Matsumoto, but realized that Rukia had not moved, and stopped.

“Rukia,” he said, “you should come, too.”

“No,” Rukia replied. “I’m staying here. Take Matsumoto to the kitchens and get her something to drink.”

“But…” began Renji.

“I’ll be fine here, Renji. Go.” Renji shrugged and led Matsumoto out of the room.

“I am disappointed in you, Rukia-san,” said Hitsugaya evenly.

“She did what her brother asked her to do by leading me here,” said Ichigo, scowling. “Leave her out of this.”

“I am not disappointed because she has led you to me, Hunter,” Hitsugaya replied, his face cold. “I am disappointed, Kurosaki Ichigo, because you are clearly not strong enough to defeat me, and my cousin knows it.”

“Enough talking, Hitsugaya. Time to die,” Ichigo said, his lip curling in anger.

Ichigo swung his katana over his head, and a blast of blue energy flew towards the vampire. Hitsugaya did not move, but flicked his hand in the direction of the attack. The energy vanished entirely.

“You need to rethink your plans, Kurosaki-san,” said Hitsugaya. “You are weak. You cannot kill me.”

Ichigo ran at Hitsugaya, his blade pointed straight out. Hitsugaya raised his hand and, in it, there materialized a sword, long and thin, its guard a four-pointed star. Their two blades met with a loud ringing sound, and sparks flew about the room. Ichigo pushed back hard against Hitsugaya’s arm, but Hitsugaya did not move, remaining rooted to the ground as if his feet were cast in stone.

Sweat began to bead on Ichigo’s brow and he released the pressure against Hitsugaya’s wrist, retreating several feet and then charging at the vampire a second time. In response, Hitsugaya raised his katana in the air and, with a quick flick of his wrist, sent a stream of ice towards Ichigo. The ice hit Ichigo squarely in the chest, sending him flying backwards at least twenty feet. He landed on the floor, dazed, but unharmed.

“That is my weakest attack, Kurosaki-san,” Hitsugaya said, eyeing Ichigo with irritation. “A warning, if you will. Give up now, and I will not harm you.”

At this, Ichigo righted himself and gripped his sword with both hands. “Never!” he yelled at the white-haired vampire. He swung his weapon, sending another stream of energy towards Hitsugaya, slightly darker in color and wider than the last.

Hitsugaya sighed and raised his blade, angling it sideways so it deflected the energy of the attack. Blue light moved about the room like a tiny fireworks display. There was a loud crash, and a large vase set upon a table fell to the ground, shattering into bits and sending glass shards flying in all directions. Rukia held up her hand and a white glow grew around her fingers - a shield which protected her from the flying glass.

“Getsuga tensho!” shouted Ichigo, blue light flying in a wide arc towards Hitsugaya. Hitsugaya easily moved out of the way, and the force of the blast hit the wall behind him, sending a cloud of plaster and wood flying into the room.

“I’ve had enough of this,” Hitsugaya said, clearly irritated now. “If you will not withdraw, I will have to kill you, Kurosaki.”

“I’m not leaving here until I make you pay for what you did to my sister, you bastard!” shouted Ichigo, resetting himself for another attack.

“Stupid boy,” said Hitsugaya, raising his katana and eyeing Ichigo with pity. “Would you throw your life away for vengeance?”

“I have no intention of dying,” growled Ichigo.

“So be it, then.” The temperature in the room dropped precipitously, and frost formed on the windows. “Souten ni zase, Hyorinmaru,” said the vampire, his face unreadable. An enormous burst of ice flew from Hitsugaya’s weapon, fanning out in a wide arc towards Ichigo. There was no room to maneuver; Ichigo could not outrun the attack.

“Dammit,” thought Ichigo, realizing too late that he was hopelessly outmatched.

“Ichigo!” shouted Rukia, as she watched helplessly. There was a loud crash and the sound of ice shattering.

“No! Stop this!” came the voice of a woman from amidst the chaos. Droplets of water flew about the room and landed, like rain, on the floor.

“Karin, stay out of this,” said Hitsugaya.

“Karin?” Ichigo dropped his sword to his side and stared at the dark-haired woman who stood just feet away, her back facing him.

She turned around.

“Karin.” Ichigo’s voice sounded hoarse, strangled. Absent-mindedly, he sheathed his weapon.

“I’ve missed you, Ichi-nii,” she said, smiling at him.

“How? I…I don’t understand,” he said, stammering slightly. “I saw you…I saw your body.”

Karin said nothing, but moved towards him, arms outstretched to embrace him.

Instinctively, he welcomed her embrace. Slowly, understanding came to him. He had held her lifeless body, he had seen the bite marks on her neck, the bloodstains on her clothes. His arms, which had held her close to him, now dropped to his side. His body became rigid. He turned his head away from her.

“No,” he said, his voice low, barely audible.

“Ichi-nii,” said Karin, her voice familiar, musical.

“No!” he said again, loudly enough that the sound reverberated around the large room.

“Ichi-nii,” she said, “I am still your sister.”

“You’re not my sister,” he said, his voice cracking slightly as he said it. “You’re one of them.”

“I’m the same person you knew, Ichigo,” said Karin, her voice now stronger, more insistent.

“No,” said Ichigo, his voice strangled, nearly inaudible.

Rukia, who had been watching quietly at a distance, said, “Ichigo, she’s your sister...”

“No,” he said, his voice returning to normal as he interrupted her. “My sister is dead. This thing is not my sister.”

Tears began to fall from Karin’s cheeks, but she was silent.

“Come, Karin,” said Hitsugaya quietly. “It’s time for us to leave this place.”

“You did this to her, you bastard,” hissed Ichigo, turning back to Hitsugaya and drawing his weapon again.

“Stop it,” said Karin, her voice now strong as she wiped away the tears. “I will not let you hurt him, Ichigo.”

“He deserves to die,” said Ichigo, his anger threatening to consume him.

“No, he does not,” Karin said, laying her bare hand on the blade of Ichigo’s sword. “This was my choice. I knew what I was doing. I chose to become a vampire, to be with Toushirou.”

Ichigo said nothing.

“I wanted freedom, Ichigo,” she continued. “I was tired of being treated as weak, tired of being a captive in my own house. I wanted so much more than that. I deserve more than that.”

“It doesn’t matter anymore,” said Ichigo, his voice flat, hard. “What matters is that he destroyed you, Karin. For that, he deserves to die.”

“I won’t allow it,” she said, “no more than I will permit him to harm you.” She let go of his weapon, reached for the sword at her waist and drew it from its sheath.

“Ichigo,” said Rukia, her voice bringing him momentarily back to his senses. “You cannot win this fight.”

“Stay out of this!” Ichigo barked, his anger rising again, this time untamed, uncontrolled. He ran past Karin and lunged at Hitsugaya with every bit of energy and focus he could muster. There was a loud clanking of metal against metal as Karin moved quickly to block Ichigo. He felt his arm twist painfully around and his sword flew into the air, landing on the other side of the room.

“I will not let you kill him,” said Karin, her blade pointed at Ichigo. Her eyes burned with anger. “You will have to kill me first.” Slowly, she turned the blade around so it lay against her neck, offering Ichigo the hilt.

“Karin, no!” shouted Hitsugaya, moving with blinding speed across the room. It was too late; Ichigo had already taken a hold of Karin’s sword.

“Drop the sword, Hunter,” commanded Hitsugaya, now furious.

“Do you think I would kill her?” snarled Ichigo. “That I would stoop so low?” He lowered Karin’s weapon from her neck and turned to face the vampire. “No matter what she has become, I could never harm her.”

“How noble of you,” Hitsugaya said, his voice low. “I am not so altruistic, however. You will die, Kurosaki Ichigo.” Hitsugaya’s turquoise eyes burned suddenly white, and Ichigo felt his body become rigid and cold. Ice crystals formed in the air around his body, attaching themselves to him like tiny needles and puncturing his skin. The pain was excruciating.

“Enough of this, both of you!” shouted Rukia, raising her hand. There was a flash of white light and snowflakes fell from the ceiling. For a moment, Ichigo felt as though he was floating in mid-air, and then he collapsed onto the ground, his limbs heavy, no longer under his control. He opened his mouth to speak, but he could not form the words. The room went dark.

*******************************

“Ichi-nii,” said the raven-haired girl, “fight with me!”

“No, Karin, I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Please, Ichi-nii,” she begged, her brown eyes pleading. “I’ll never get stronger if I can’t practice what I’ve learned.”

“You don’t need to get stronger,” he said, laughing at her. “You’re a girl.”

“I’m a Hunter,” she said, “I want to fight. I’m strong, Ichi-nii.”

“Ichigo, wake up.” Rukia’s voice, insistent, unrelenting.

“Leave me alone,” he thought.

“I’ll help you,” said a man, his voice vaguely familiar. Through a fog, Ichigo felt the stinging pain of a hand, slapping him hard across the face.

“Leave me alone!” shouted Ichigo, opening his eyes and grabbing Renji by the neck.

Renji pried Ichigo’ fingers away from his Adam’s apple with surprising strength. Ichigo let his arms drop to his sides and looked at the floor. “I am weak,” he thought.

“You should have let Hitsugaya kill me,” Ichigo said, aloud.

“Baka,” Rukia responded, clearly exasperated. “Have you never lost before? Can you not accept defeat and resolve to become stronger?”

Silence.

“He’s worthless, Rukia-san,” said Renji. “I don’t see how your brother could have believed he could protect you from anyone.”

“Ichigo. Look at me,” said Rukia. Ichigo continued to look at the floor, his shoulders drooping like those of a small boy. “I said look at me!”

Her voice was more than just commanding now, it rang in his ears and worked its way into his mind, forcing him to pick his head up and stare directly into her face, as though he were a puppet to be manipulated.

“No,” thought Ichigo, “I will not be controlled. I am stronger than this.”

“Give me your right hand,” Rukia ordered.

Ichigo felt his hand move of its own accord.

“No,” he thought again. Still, his hand rose in front of him.

Rukia held out Zangetsu from its blade. “Take it, Ichigo,” she said, her voice hard.

He unwillingly grasped the hilt of the katana, watching his fingers close around it as though they belonged to someone else.

“No,” he said, his voice barely audible.

“What did you say?” asked Rukia, her violet eyes fixed on him.

“No,” he said again, his voice now slightly stronger.

“Raise your sword, Ichigo,” she said coldly.

Again, his arm began to move on its own, against his will.

“No!” he thought, watching his arm, anger burning inside of him. “I will not permit myself to be manipulated. I am not that weak.”

“Raise your sword, Ichigo.”

“No,” he said, his arm now shaking slightly, as if two opposing forces met in his flesh.

“Raise your sword, Ichigo!”

“No!” he shouted. “I will not be used. I am stronger than this. Stronger than you!”

He put the sword to her neck.

“Good,” Rukia said coolly. “Then we understand each other, do we not?”

He lowered the sword and sheathed it.

“Teach me,” he said, with conviction. “Show me how to become strong.”

She smiled at him.
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:12 pm

Chapter Ten: Detour

She ran alone under the stars and through the empty streets, her long hair flying behind her in the wind. She didn’t know how long she had been running – hours perhaps. It didn’t matter. She needed to be alone, to savor the freedom that she had paid for so dearly.

‘My sister is dead. This thing is not my sister.’ His voice echoed through her mind, the pain worse than any she had felt before, far worse than the transformation. That pain had been finite, but this pain – this pain was unrelenting.

What had she expected? That the man who, as a young child, had seen his mother killed before his eyes would be able to accept her? “I was naive,” she thought, bitterly, “a child.”

She reached the water’s edge and pulled off her shoes. The moon, nearly full, reflected off the waves, silvery white. The beach was deserted, the boardwalk empty. She untied the bodice of her dress, letting it fall onto the sand. Then, without even glancing around, she slipped out of her undergarments and ran, naked, into the surf. The water was far too cold for humans, but it did not bother her. She felt her heart speed up, compensating for the chill, sending blood to her fingertips and toes, warming her.

She never ceased to be amazed by the incredible versatility of her new body. Karin had always thought one became immortal through sheer strength. Now, she realized that her immortality was a product of her vampire body’s unique ability to adapt to new stressors, to adjust to new environments at a moment’s notice.

Having swam yards from shore, Karin now let herself sink under the waves, breathing in the salt water as she did so, surrendering to the darkness below. Under the churning waves she found peace, there where the water had settled after first bubbling to the top. Her lungs hurt, unaccustomed to the lack of oxygen. And still she lay, near the sandy bottom, forcing her eyes open.

Even here in the blackness, she could still see, her vampire eyes far less dependent on light than a human’s. Bits of plants, small shells and rocks floated by, caught up in the torrent above, powerless to control their paths. She reached out and caught a small snail in her hand, sealed tightly within its spiral shell, protected from the current, waiting to be carried somewhere safer. She released it and watched as it moved up and down several times before vanishing into the sand.

“I will not hide anymore,” she thought, as the pain resurfaced, having only momentarily been kept at bay. She broke through the surface of the waves, coughing up the salt water and taking in a deep breath of the salty ocean air. Slowly, she swam back to shore, standing once more in the shallow surf and watching the waves roll in.

“I’ve been looking for you,” said Hitsugaya.

She turned to face him, comfortable in her nakedness.

“I always loved the ocean,” she said, turning back again so she could watch the waves. “My mother took me to the coast once, when I was very young. After she died, I never went again. The ocean wasn’t the place for a ‘proper’ young woman.”

“Matsumoto was worried about you, Karin,” said Hitsugaya, trying not to look at anything but her face. It was becoming exceedingly difficult not to notice the way the moonlight made her wet skin shimmer.

“She is very kind,” replied Karin, smiling. “She was nearly in tears worrying about you. She thought my brother would hurt you.”

“I know,” he said, handing her his cloak, hopeful that she might cover herself so he could think clearly. As expected, she did not put it on, but took it absent-mindedly and held it in her arms.

“Where do you think Rukia-san took Ichigo?” she asked, ignoring the pain that came with saying his name aloud.

“They are in France. The Kuchiki’s own an estate in Normandy, not far from Mont St. Michel.”

“She told you where they went?” Karin asked, fearful now that Hitsugaya might follow.

“Yes,” he replied. “You needn’t worry, though. I have no wish to pursue him. In fact, I have never wished him harm. But I will not give up my life to him, either.”

Karin said nothing, but walked over to her clothes and begin to put them back on. She was keenly aware of Hitsugaya’s discomfort at seeing her undressed, and she purposely took her time.

“He will pursue you, Toushirou,” said Karin, lacing the front of her dress. Finished, she picked up her shoes and walked back to the water’s edge.

“I know,” he replied, resignation in his voice.

She was silent for a moment, trying to decide how to tell him what she had done. Then, with a sigh, she turned to him and said, simply, “I have petitioned the Council to commute your sentence.”

“You’ve done what?” he nearly shouted, shocked.

“Vampires are only executed for harming humans, Toushirou,” she said, unsurprised by his reaction. “I have told you many times. This is what I wanted.”

She bent down to pick up a small shell at her feet and flung it into the waves. Then, turning her back on the sparkling water, she headed towards the town once again. He followed her silently, considering her words.

“The Council will not listen to you, Karin,” said Hitsugaya. “Your actions will only bring you grief.”

“It is my choice, Toushirou,” she replied. “It is the least I can do for all you’ve done for me.”

He sighed. “Karin, I...”

She turned abruptly around, grabbing his shoulders and kissing him on the lips. Instinctively, he moved to push her away, but she held fast, pulling him closer to her until he relented. When she felt his body surrender to hers, she withdrew, looking into his eyes as she spoke.

“You want me, Toushirou,” she said. “But you blame yourself for what I have become, and your guilt threatens to consume you. You will not be able to return my love until you accept the truth, and I will not let the truth go unspoken.”

She began to walk again, not waiting for his reply, bending down when she reached the boardwalk to shake the sand off her feet and put her shoes back on.

“Karin, you don’t understand...,” he began.

“Yes, Toushirou,” she said, interrupting him, “I do understand. That’s why I’m leaving.”

He was silent. He had expected this, although it was happening sooner than he had imagined it would.

“You are not surprised, are you, Toushirou?”

“No.”

“You won’t stop me, will you?”

“No,” he replied.

“I love you, Toushirou,” she said, willing herself not to cry. “Be well.”

********************************

The first light of morning illuminated the sky as she walked over to the stables and mounted the silver horse he had given her as a gift for her twentieth birthday. She carried only a small bag with her, unwilling to take more of the material possessions he had lavished on her. He had already given her more than she had asked for; she did not want the gifts he had offered as penance for his perceived sin.

She wore the only piece of jewelry she could bring herself to keep – a small locket he had given her which he said had once belonged to his sister. Karin had commissioned a local artist to paint a tiny likeness of Hitsugaya inside the silver locket, but she had never shown it to him. Now, she opened the locket to reveal his smiling face, his silver hair and turquoise eyes.

“If only you could be so happy, Toushirou,” she thought, as she studied the painting she had kept hidden all these months, close to her heart, “I would be happy, too.”

She mounted the horse and rode out of the stables. In front of her stood a woman, beautiful, with long wavy hair.

“Rangiku,” said Karin, dismounting her horse.

“He told me you were leaving,” said Matsumoto, sadly, her blue eyes swimming with tears. “He said he would not stop you.”

“Thank you for all you’ve done for me,” said Karin. “You have been so kind.”

“You are like a sister to me,” replied Matsumoto, smiling through her tears.

“And you to me,” said Karin. The two women embraced warmly.

“Is there nothing I can say that will change your mind?”

Karin shook her head. “I know you care about him, too, Rangiku. You know why I must leave.”

“Yes,” Matsumoto said, sadly. “I understand.”

Karin pulled herself back up onto the horse. “Watch over him for me, Rangiku. Keep him safe. Please.”

“I will,” answered the other woman. “I promise.”

Karin gently touched her heels to the silver mare’s sides, and rode off down the winding path that led away from the manor house.

***************************

The short voyage by boat across the English Channel to France was uneventful. For most of the trip, Karin sat on the deck of the ship, looking out over the water, watching the thick fog rise around the boat as they drew closer to land. Her ultimate destination was Paris, the reputed location of the secretive Council of Hunters. First, however, she had resolved to confront her brother.

Karin had sent word by messenger to Rukia in Normandy, letting her know of her plans, and asking for her advice on how best to approach Ichigo. She had spent three weeks in London, staying in a small flat near Piccadilly Circus, waiting for Rukia’s response. During that time, Karin had spent her days wandering around the city, growing to love its bleak weather, austere buildings, and its collection of people from many different cultures. She had not permitted herself to wallow in her loneliness, instead seeking out new experiences and learning as much about European civilization as she could find in the myriad churches and museums the city housed.

Just when she had nearly given up hope that there would be an answer to her letter, Rukia’s response came by messenger, a piece of parchment tied with a blood-red ribbon, written in kanji with practiced flourishes that denoted the well-educated woman that Rukia was. Her response was short, but satisfactory, and Karin was relieved that Rukia did not dissuade her from visiting.

“You are always welcome here,” wrote Rukia. “I cannot reassure you that your brother will welcome you kindly, but I know that he is troubled and thinks of you often. Have faith. He is a good man.”

Karin had quickly sent back a reply thanking Rukia, letting her know she would arrive within the week, and that she appreciated the Kuchiki’s offer of hospitality. Now, as the boat sailed into the harbor at Calais, Karin hoped that Ichigo might have reconsidered his harsh words, and might learn to accept her. It was a slim hope, but it gave Karin the strength to face her brother again.

She disembarked from the ship at mid-afternoon. The late spring sun shone high in the sky, warming her face. She walked into town on foot. She had little money, having taken none but her own with her when she had left Tyler Hill, and the walk from the harbor to the hotel where she planned to spend the night was not long.

In her dark traveling clothes, Karin drew many surprised looks from the townspeople, who were surprised to see a woman walking unescorted about the countryside. Karin had thrown off her cloak, which had become too warm for her to wear comfortably, and several small children playing beside the road had laughed to see the woman with the long, dark hair wearing “boy’s clothes.” Karin smiled back at them. She had often borrowed Ichigo’s pants and worn them, rolled up to her ankles, when she had gone riding as a child in Japan. She had always disliked the attention that wearing pants had brought her, but had been unwilling to trade comfort for the anonymity of a long dress and riding side-saddle.

The bells of a small church chimed four o’clock as Karin arrived in the center of Calais. She walked by a large square filled with market stalls and farmers hawking their produce. Children laughed and ran around the stalls, picking up bits of rotten fruit and vegetables that had been tossed aside and throwing them at each other. Mothers scolded and gathered up the children, ushering them on to the next booth, finishing their marketing and heading up the narrow streets towards home.

Karin rounded a corner onto a narrow street marked, ‘rue de la Paix,” glad to be near the inn at last. She enjoyed the ebullient atmosphere of the city and the exhilaration of the Channel crossing, but she longed for peace and quiet to gather her thoughts. She needed time to think about how to approach Ichigo, and what she might say to him to change his mind about her and Hitsugaya.

Ahead of her sat an old man, hand out, begging. “Please,” he said in French as she walked by, “I am hungry.”

Karin stopped and took out a small drawstring bag from around her neck, pulling out a small silver coin and putting it into the old man’s open hand. His withered hand closed around the coin and he smiled at her.

“I’m sorry I can’t offer you more,” she said, in perfect French.

She turned to leave but, as she did, she felt something cold and hard against her neck. A sword. And then another sword, the point of its blade touching the small of her back.

“Don’t move, if you want to keep your head,” came a man’s voice from behind her. He spoke French, but his accent was decidedly foreign. She felt someone reach down at her side and pull her sword out of its sheath.

“It’s her,” came a second man’s voice. “The sword carries the mark of the Kurosaki clan.”

“You are Kurosaki Karin, are you not?” said the first man, now speaking in Japanese.

“Yes,” replied Karin, more curious than afraid. “Who are you?”

“I am Ichimaru Gin, First Assistant to Senior Councilmember Aizen Sousuke. By order of the Council of Hunters, you are under arrest, Kurosaki Karin. If you attempt to escape, we will kill you.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:14 pm

Chapter Eleven: Judgment

The room was dark and cold. Karin sat on a straw bed, her knees pulled up to her chest. She had no idea of how long she had been in this place, this underground prison they had taken her to - three, possibly four days -without a window or clock, it was hard to tell. Her arms and legs were in metal shackles, the metal uncomfortably heavy, making it nearly impossible for her to move, so she had taken to just sitting and letting her mind wander.

From time to time, someone would appear with a bit of bread, cheese, and water for her, passing it underneath the heavy iron bars of her cell. She had tried to speak to the guards, but they had refused to answer her. Eventually, she had given up trying.

“A fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into,” she thought. "You should have known better." What would the Hunter Council think of a Hunter who now lived as a vampire? Had she truly believed they might accept her or even listen to what she had to say? “You really are naïve, Karin.” The Hunters’ betrayal shouldn’t have surprised her, after all, the Hunters hated the vampires, didn’t they? “Naïve,” she thought, again, her frustration growing. There was so much she had not anticipated, so many consequences to her actions.

“Kurosaki Karin,” said a deep voice, pulling her back from her introspection. “The Council awaits you.”

There was the sound of metal keys clanking against the cell lock and two men entered, one carrying a sword, pointed at Karin, and the other bearing a large torch which was so bright, it hurt Karin’s eyes.

“Move!” shouted the man with the sword, jabbing it into her side. She could feel the point of the blade through her clothing.

“Filthy vampire,” snarled the other man, waving the torch in Karin’s face. She did not flinch, forcing herself to suppress the anger that burned inside of her at these words.

“I will not let them intimidate me,” she vowed, silently. “This is what I wanted, a chance to speak to the Council.”

The two men led her down a long, dark hallway to a steep set of stone stairs. Surprising, the stairs did not lead upwards, but descended even deeper underground. Karin counted at least a hundred steps in their descent and she slipped and slid over many of them, her heavy shackles cutting into her ankles and her bare feet cold against the damp stone. Finally, they reached the bottom of the steps and a small hallway which, in turn, opened onto a cavernous space which took Karin’s breath away.

The cave, or what she assumed to be a cave, had a ceiling so high, it felt as though they were outside, above ground. Tiny stars and planets had been painted on the surface of the ceiling, adding to the impression of open space and sky. In the middle of the massive room was a fountain, much like the street fountains found in the center of many of the European towns Karin had visited. The floor was etched to resemble the cobblestones of a city street. At the far end of the cave stood a building, its façade hewn into the rock, giving Karin sense that the immense cave around it had been carved out of the limestone just to house it, that the building had always been there.

“The Hall of the Council of Hunters,” thought Karin. She had heard stories about the place as a child, about its secret location, its ancient creation.

‘The Hall of the Council was built by vampires and Hunters, Karin,’ her father had once told her. ‘It was carved out of the bedrock, hidden from the rest of humanity. A safe haven for Hunters and vampires alike.’

“No more a safe haven,” thought Karin, the chains that joined her arms and legs clanking as she walked across the cobblestone towards the entryway to the Hall.

They walked up several large stone steps and through a set of ancient wooden doors, intricately carved with what appeared to be fantastical winged creatures, gargoyles and dragons. The main entrance was simply appointed, with stone floors and deep burgundy fringed carpets, as well as a few heavy wooden chairs and tables. On the walls hung oil paintings representing centuries of different schools of art, from the Middle Ages to the modern French School. In each was depicted men and women, leaning on their Hunter swords, all with serious expressions. Members of the Council Hunters, Karin guessed.

A particular portrait, centered under a much larger painting, caught Karin’s eye. The painting was of a man of medium build, with shoulder-length, sand-colored hair and an expression that instantly reminded her of someone she knew well. “Urahara,” she thought. “I’d know that smile anywhere.” As she walked by the painting, however, she noted the backdrop: a medieval castle; men in heavy armor sitting astride armor-covered horses. Sixteen Century, at the latest, Karin thought - hardly a time period that Urahara would have been alive to see. “Must have been a relative of his,” she thought, smiling to herself at how funny it was to see another man with the same coy expression.

“This way,” said the man with the sword at her back, gesturing towards a second set of wooden doors.

The heavy doors swung open of their own accord, and Karin walked through and into a large room that she knew had to be the Council Chambers, an oval-shaped room with dark wooden balconies rising from where she stood. Each balcony was filled with chairs and, in the chairs, sat men and women, stone-faced and silent, all eyes upon Karin. The Council of Hunters.

Karin’s two guards left her standing there, in the center of the room, still in her shackles. “Why shouldn’t they leave me alone?” she mused, “It’s not as if I could escape from here with my head.” In a way, the thought that so many powerful men and women took any interest at all in her existence was surprising to her. Surprising, and also, quite intimidating.

“I will not show fear,” she thought, gathering her resolve, taking a deep breath. “I have done nothing wrong.”

“Kurosaki Karin,” came a deep voice from one of the highest balconies. “You have been summoned here to account for your actions. Explain yourself.”

“Summoned?” thought Karin, amused now, despite her fear. “That’s quite an interesting way to put it.”

“I am Kurosaki Karin of the Kurosaki Clan,” she said aloud. “I will gladly answer, if only you will tell me in what way I have offended the Council.”

There was murmuring around the room, as her words achieved their intended effect. Karin heard bits and snatches of words such as “impertinent,” “brash,” and “disrespectful” which hung in the air, reproachfully.

“Kurosaki Karin,” came the same ancient voice, “you are accused of heresy and of assisting a condemned vampire to escape execution. How do you answer?”

“I have done nothing wrong,” Karin said, simply.

“Did you not assist the vampire Hitsugaya to escape from your brother, the Hunter Kurosaki Ichigo?”

“Yes, but…” Karin began.

“Then you admit it,” came another voice, a man, his voice cloying, languid.

“I helped Hitsugaya,” Karin said, “but he was wrongly accused.”

“How so?” came another voice, a woman this time, from one of the lower balconies.

“Hitsugaya was condemned to die for something I desired,” said Karin.

More whispering and then, “You desired the Transformation?” It was the first man now, his voice trembling slightly as he spoke.

“Yes,” replied Karin, straining to see to whom she spoke. Her vampire eyes, now accustomed to the darkness of the room, alit on an old man with a long beard laced with leather, broad shouldered and proud. A face she knew well. She had seen him in some of the ancient books her father had hidden in their house - books that she had studied as part of her training as a Hunter. “Genryuusai Shigekuni Yamamoto,” she thought. “Regent of the Council of Hunters. The most powerful Hunter alive.”

“It is forbidden,” came the silky voice that had spoken before. Karin could see him now, as well, a handsome man with dark hair and glasses.

“Where in the Council’s Book does it say the Transformation is forbidden, Lord Aizen?” asked a woman.

“It is clearly contrary to the laws of nature, Lady Unohana,” replied Aizen, silkily.

“Nature?” asked Yamamoto, clearly unimpressed. “Would you deny our history, Lord Aizen?”

“Not at all,” said Aizen, unperturbed. “All I mean to say is that we have moved beyond that stage in our development. We are now far superior to the vampires.”

“Kurosaki Karin,” said Yamamoto, apparently ignoring Aizen’s response, “If we are to believe that you chose to be transformed, how then do you respond to the charge that you have committed treason against the Council?”

“Treason?” said Karin, with slight shock. “I don’t understand. I have not betrayed the Council…”

“It was your treachery which led to the deaths of two of our brethren,” said Aizen, calmly.

“What?” Karin asked, appalled at the accusation. “I have done nothing of the sort.”

“She lies,” came another voice that she recognized immediately. Ichimaru Gin, the Hunter who had taken her into custody in Calais. “The vampires who killed Kensei Muguruma and Mashiro Kuna confessed that they been given information about the Hunters’ weapons and locations by this...monster.” Gin hesitated slightly as he said the word, ‘monster,’ to great effect. There was again murmuring in the room.

“That’s not true. I knew Muguruma and Kuna. They were part of our community, friends of my family,” said Karin, now alarmed. “They’re dead?” she thought, in horror. “Why?”

“Clearly, then, she possessed the requisite knowledge,” Gin said, silkily. Whispers again traversed the room.

“Lord Yamamoto,” said Aizen, “I suggest that the full Council determine Kurosaki-san’s fate.”

“My fate?! But I’ve been convicted of no crime. How can you…”

“Silence!” thundered Yamamoto, interrupting Karin’s outburst. “Take her back to her cell.”

The two Hunters who had escorted Karin to the Council Chambers entered from either side of her, took her by the arms and began to lead her out of the room.

“Yamamoto-sama,” came a familiar voice from one of the balconies at the top of the room, “perhaps the Council should take some time to consider Kurosaki-chan’s...ah...situation.” Karin’s guards stopped and stood, gawking at the speaker.

The room was suddenly silent.

“Urahara-san,” said Yamamoto, cautiously. “It has been a long time since we have had the pleasure of your company.”

“Hmmm,” replied Urahara, tipping his hat down over his eyes and grinning. “I have been, shall we say, preoccupied? I apologize for my extended absence, however, I was unavoidably detained.”

“Detained?” laughed Gin, smiling broadly. “You snub the Council for nearly a century, and you expect us to believe that you have been detained?”

“I agree, Ichimaru-sama,” said Urahara, looking properly penitent, “it is an unusual situation, to be sure. Still, I would expect that you, of all people, would understand the reason for my delay.”

Gin said nothing, but laughed, loudly enough to be heard over the renewed murmurs of the council members.

“Enough!” boomed Yamamoto, silencing the room. “We will hear what Urahara-san has to say. It is his right to speak, as an Elder.”

“An Elder?” Karin thought, with surprise. “Urahara? But the Elders are supposed to be nearly as old as the Ancients. How is that possible?”

“I am flattered, Yamamoto-sama,” said Urahara, smiling coyly now.

Yamamoto said nothing, his face unreadable.

“Please, Urahara-san,” said Aizen, wearing an expression of utmost respect, “the Council would like to hear what you have to say on the subject of the Kurosaki woman’s duplicity in the deaths of our bretheren.”

“How kind of you, Aizen-sama,” said Urahara, touching the rim of his hat, and bowing slightly.

“Get on with it, then, Urahara,” said Gin, eyes narrowed slightly.

“Of course,” Urahara said, smiling again and opening a small fan which he held in his hand.

“Members of the Council,” Urahara began, fanning himself as he spoke, “I, too, am greatly concerned over the untimely deaths of our two colleagues, Kensei Muguruma and Mashiro Kuna.”

This statement was followed by murmurs of approval from the Council. Urahara waited until the room had, once again, become quiet.

“May I suggest to you, however,” Urahara continued, “that there is no evidence whatsoever, apart from Kurosaki-chan’s admission that she was acquainted with our deceased bretheren, that she had anything to do with their demise. I suggest that, rather than jumping to conclusions regarding the Kurosaki child’s guilt, you consider the evidence before you.”

“This is clearly a waste of time, Lord Yamamoto,” said Gin, laughing softly as he spoke. “We have already heard ample evidence from which to draw our conclusions.”

“My dear Gin,” said Aizen, smiling patronizingly at the younger man, “Yamamoto-sama is right. We owe Urahara-sama our undivided attention and respect.”

Gin smiled at Aizen but said nothing.

“Please continue, Urahara-san,” said Yamamoto, simply, choosing not to participate in the sport.

“Thank you, Yamamoto-sama,” said Urahara, tipping his hat in Yamamoto’s direction.

“As I was saying,” Urahara continued, unruffled, “the Council should consider the evidence before drawing a conclusion as to Kurosaki-chan’s guilt. May I suggest that there are forces at play here of which we are not all aware, but which threaten the very existence of the Council itself?” Urahara looked around the Council Hall, his eyes fixing briefly on Gin and Aizen.

“That is preposterous,” said Aizen, calmly. “How could we be so unaware of such a serious threat to the Council?”

“Ah, Aizen-sama, that is a very good question,” Urahara replied, thoughtfully. “Perhaps I misspoke. What I meant to say is that there are forces which threaten the Council of which only some of us are aware.”

“Please, Urahara-san,” said Aizen, “we wish you to enlighten us as to the threat you speak of.”

“Of course, Aizen-sama,” answered Urahara. “I speak of a threat from inside of the Council which threatens to divide us. Of the coming war.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:14 pm

The room erupted noisily as the Council members turned to each other to voice their shock and surprise over Urahara’s pronouncement.

“A war?” thought Karin, who had been watching the proceedings with growing interest, all thoughts as to her own fate now gone from her mind.

“I realize,” said Urahara, as the talk died down, “that this may come as a great shock to most of you. However, I do not jest. What the Council is facing could well destroy us all, along with the vampires.”

Urahara surveyed the room. No one spoke.

“For many years, of course,” continued Urahara, “there has been strong internal disagreement as to evolution of the Council's role in modern society. There are those…” he paused, and looked at Aizen and Gin directly as he said this, “who would have the Council embrace the future and sever its ties with the vampires entirely. Those who believe the Council’s greatest gift to humanity is to subjugate or destroy the vampires.”

Again, silence from the Council.

“There are others who view the vampires as an integral part of both our past and our future. Those who believe that, by working together with the vampires, we can become stronger, so we can better protect humanity from harm.

“The time is coming,” Urahara said darkly, “when all of us will be forced to choose which direction to follow. I ask only that you choose wisely and that you truly understand the implications of your choice.”

“Well said, Urahara-san,” said Aizen, clapping his hands together and smiling. His eyes, however, were cold.

“Rubbish,” hissed Gin. “The talk of an old man, hoping to return to ancient times. A weak Council is nothing to aspire to.”

“Ichimaru-sama,” said Urahara, peering out from under his hat and smiling, “a Council that has strong allies will not be weak.”

Gin raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

“Urahara-san,” said Yamamoto, “I thank you for your contribution to this discussion. Have you anything else to add?”

Urahara shook his head, bowed deeply and said, “No. I thank you, Yamamoto-sama.”

“The Council will meet in closed session to discuss the matter of Kurosaki Karin,” said Yamamoto, nodding to the two men who flanked Karin. She was escorted quickly out of the room, and the huge wooden doors closed behind her, so that she could hear nothing else of the discussion.

**********

Back in her cell, Karin sat and stared off into the distance, thinking about what had transpired in the Council Chambers. The knowledge that two Hunters, people she had known since she was a child, were dead, weighed heavily on her. “Are the Hunters right to fear the vampires?” she thought. “A vampire killed our mother, after all.”

She remembered the hatred she had seen in Ichigo’s eyes. ‘My sister is dead. This thing is not my sister.’

“Ichigo,” she thought, the pain returning. “Are you right to despise me for what I’ve done?”

And what of Urahara - an Elder? Karin had never truly believed that the Elders even existed. To her, their existence had been a fiction, a legend. Hunters were, unlike vampires, just mortal men. And yet, what of the painting she had seen in the Hall, and of the stories she had heard of as a child of the common ancestry of Hunters and vampires? Was Urahara centuries old, perhaps older?

“You look pained, Kurosaki-chan.”

Karin looked towards the door to see Urahara peering through the iron bars. “Urahara-sama,” she said, forcing a smile. “Thank you for what you did for me today.”

“I did nothing but speak the truth,” said Urahara, his face suddenly sad. “I am only sorry I could not convince them to set you free.”

“I am to be executed, then,” she said, her face stoic now.

“No,” replied Urahara. “Yamamoto vetoed the execution order. However, even the old man does not have the power to overrule the judgment of the Council. You have been found guilty of heresy and of complicity in the deaths of Kensei Muguruma, and Mashiro Kuna.”

“I am truly sorry they are dead,” said Karin, sighing. “I had nothing to do with their murders.”

“I know that,” answered Urahara. “And so does Yamamoto. But those who oppose Yamamoto have grown stronger. The Council has sentenced you to spend the rest of your life in prison.”

“The rest of my life?” Karin said, laughing bitterly. “Eternity, you mean. How ironic.”

Urahara was silent.

“And what of Toushirou?”

“His sentence has been commuted. The Council believed that you desired the Transformation,” Urahara replied, a ghost of a smile on his lips.

“Thank God,” Karin said, closing her eyes briefly and breathing deeply.

“He is fortunate to have you, Karin,” said Urahara. “Some day, he will realize that.”

*****************
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:15 pm

Chapter Twelve: Passages in the Moonlight

Karin absentmindedly fingered the locket around her neck. They had allowed her to keep it, and for that, she was grateful. The locket reminded her of Hitsugaya and, although it pained her to be apart from him, it comforted her. She would often open it and look at his smiling face, then close her eyes and remember. Then she would smile, too.

The new prison in which she found herself was little better than the cold cell at the Council. Urahara had told her he would work to secure her release, but he held out little hope that the Council would relent. What worried Karin more than obtaining her freedom, however, was the knowledge that Hitsugaya would learn of her imprisonment and that he might come for her. She feared his recklessness, that he would throw away the life which the Council had spared. She knew she could not bear for anything to happen to him, especially on her account.

“No one has ever escaped from this maggot’s nest of a prison,” Urahara had said. “Even if someone were to get past the many guards - Hunters, all of them - he would still have to survive the many obstacles and traps which are built into the prison itself. Traps which have killed Hunter and vampire alike over the centuries.”

“Don’t let him come here, Urahara-sama,” she had told him. “You are his friend. You must make sure he stays safe.”

Urahara had just sighed and smiled, knowingly. “I know him too well, Kurosaki-chan,” he had said. “Still, I will try, for his sake.”

Now, shivering slightly, but not from the cold, Karin clasped the locket tightly in her hands. “Please, Toushirou,” she thought, her heart aching. “Let me go.”

*****************************

“Getsuga tensho!” shouted Ichigo, his brow furrowed in concentration. A flash of blue tinged with white and black flew across the field towards the red-haired vampire.

Renji raised his weapon over his head and swung it around, hitting the beam of energy and sending it sailing straight up into the trees. Leaves curled and smoked and branches flew about, leaving charred bark behind.

“Your attack is not focused enough,” said Rukia, tapping her foot and crossing her arms. “It will not penetrate the defenses of any but the weakest vampires.” In her hand, she held her silvery white katana.

Ichigo pointed his sword at Renji. Bluish-white light appeared to emanate from his body, a ghostly outline that shone in the darkness. He could feel the energy flow through his arms to the hilt of the katana, warming his body and making his fingertips tingle.

“Just a little bit more,” he thought, concentrating hard. “I need to channel that power through the blade.”

The aura grew, lighting the grass beneath his feet and the faces of Renji and Rukia, yards away.

“You can do this, Kurosaki,” he told himself, willing the energy to grow. “This is your power, your strength.”

“Getsuga tensho!” he shouted again. This time the attack was narrower, brighter. It roared across the field towards Renji.

“Yes!” thought Ichigo, watching the attack with a smug grin.

Rukia stepped into the path of the attack and, as he watched, Ichigo saw the beam fade slightly, losing strength. Without using her sword, Rukia raised her left hand to the attack and closed her eyes. The energy grew in her hand, like a ball of fire, and its color changed to pure white. She opened her eyes and blew gently on the glowing sphere. It sped back to where Ichigo stood, knocking him backwards several feet onto the grass.

Ichigo lay on the ground, panting hard.

“You lost your focus, Kurosaki-san,” said Rukia, standing over him. “You allowed yourself to be distracted.”

“We’ve been at this for weeks now,” said Renji, standing a few feet away, leaning casually on his sword. “He’s not getting any better.”

“Time to rest,” Rukia said. With a flick of her wrist, her weapon vanished. “It’s getting late.”

“I’m not done yet,” growled Ichigo, running a hand through his hair in frustration. He stood up, swaying slightly, and planted his feet for another attack.

“No,” said Rukia, turning and walking back to the manor. “You’ve done enough training for one day. It’s nearly midnight, and you’ve been going since this morning without a break. Your body is just human, Ichigo.”

“Damn vampires,”thought Ichigo. Truth was, he was far more disgusted with himself than angry with Rukia or Renji. Still, long days spent training with little to show for it was starting to wear on him; his ego, already fragile, was nearly as bruised as it had been when he had lost to Hitsugaya two weeks earlier.

“I could get Rukia to take care of that human problem for you,” Renji joked.

In a flash, Ichigo had his sword at Renji’s throat. “Don’t you ever say that again,” he hissed.

Renji pushed the blade away with his bare hand. “A little sensitive, are we?”

Ichigo scowled.

“Well, it isn’t like it’s so strange to suggest it,” laughed Renji. “After all, there are plenty of stories of Hunters who obtained vampire powers.”

“I would never seek Transformation,” said Ichigo, disgust in his voice. He turned and started to walk towards the house as he sheathed his sword.

“They didn’t transform,” replied Renji, following Ichigo. “Or, at least not in the stories I heard growing up.”

“Sounds like a fairy tale,” said Ichigo, limping slightly as he climbed the steps to the glass doors.

Renji pushed open the doors in front of Ichigo, who mumbled his thanks.

“I said they were just stories, legends,” said Renji, shrugging his shoulders.

“Many legends have their basis in truth.”

Both men turned to see Rukia, sitting in the library with her back to them. She was holding a glass of wine and watching a fire burning in the fireplace.

“You know something about the Hunter legends, don’t you, Rukia?” said Renji, walking into the library and taking a chair next to her.

“There are many legends about the Hunters,” she replied, her back still to them.

Renji walked over and sat down next to her. Ichigo followed but did not sit, instead scowling at them both.

“I was telling Ichigo about the legends of Hunters who became as powerful as vampires but did not undergo the Transformation,” said Renji, taking a glass of wine from the tray on the table in front of the fire.

Rukia was silent. Ichigo thought she looked uncomfortable, much like she had the night Byakuya had revealed that she was to be offered up for peace between the warring vampire clans.

Ichigo shot a look at Renji and shook his head.

“You know what I’m talking about, Rukia,” Renji pressed on. “You used to tell me stories about the vampires and the Hunters when I was little.”

“Yes,” said Rukia, taking a long drink from her glass, her eyes suddenly distant. “I remember.”

Renji turned to Ichigo and said, “Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?”

“What is?” asked Ichigo, clearly irritated at Renji’s persistence.

“The Hunters were once vampires.”

Ichigo’s face darkened at this pronouncement.

“Renji, I really don’t think it’s wise to…”

“No,” said Ichigo. “I want to hear this.” He turned towards the fire, watching flames lick the already blackened stones.

“You didn’t know?” asked Renji, genuinely surprised.

“No,” replied Ichigo.

“It’s true,” said Rukia, with a sigh. She had not wanted him to learn of their common heritage yet. She had hoped to wait, until he might be better able to accept the truth of it. “The Hunters were originally a part of the Ancient Clans. Legend tells of a group of Ancients who chose to intermarry with humans, to break the curse of the Bloodlust. These Ancients eventually became the Hunters. Your ancestors.”

“That’s not true,” said Ichigo, although he knew instinctively that it was the truth. “Why did no one tell me?”

“We share the same blood,” Rukia said, her voice low. “I know you have felt this.”

“No,” said Ichigo, stubbornly, still facing the fire. “I am not like them.” In spite of himself, he remembered his intense yearning for her, for her flesh and blood, the dream in which he drank her blood and brought her to the brink of death and back.

‘The differences between vampires and Hunters are not as great as you would believe.’

“There are Hunters who have reclaimed the powers of the Ancients. Hunters who have reclaimed their immortality,” said Rukia.

“It is true, then,” said Renji, wide-eyed now.

“Yes,” Rukia said, simply, looking down at her empty glass. An old memory stirred in her and then, pain. Forcing the memory back into the depths of her soul, she stood up.

Ichigo said nothing, but continued to watch the fire.

“I am tired,” she said, and she turned and walked out of the room.

***************************

Back in her room, drapes drawn, Rukia undressed and lay down on her bed, looking out the window at the moon.

“Kaien. I have not thought of you for nearly two centuries. Forgive me.”

She knew why she had remembered. It was not simply Renji’s questions that had stirred her memory. It was the Hunter - his face so similar to her beloved Sensei’s. Seeing him fight today had reminded her of Kaien.

“They could have been brothers, had they lived at the same time,” she thought. “Perhaps they share the same blood.”

Shiba Kaien. Handsome, confident. Unpitying of the small girl who sat on the ground and pouted when she could not call forth her weapon.

“I will never be a strong as Nii-sama,” she had said, her arms crossed, frowning.

“Rukia-chan, you are only as weak, or as strong as you choose to be,” he had replied. “The blood of the Ancients is in your veins, just as it is in your brother’s. It is your spirit that is weak.”

“Too weak to save you,”thought Rukia sadly.

********************************

Karin blinked several times as the room faded in and out of focus. “What is wrong with me?” she wondered, looking down at the empty plate and glass of water on the floor.

From a distance, she heard footsteps and the sound of a key turning in the heavy metal lock of her cell.

“Take her,” said a man, his voice soft, but cold.

“Where are we going?” asked Karin. Her voice sounded as though it had come from someone else’s lips. Foreign.

Strong hands gripped her shoulders and she felt herself sinking to the ground.

********************************

“Be careful to drain her blood slowly,” came a man’s voice from somewhere in her consciousness. “She must not die at our hands.”

“But she will remember,” said a second male voice.

“It matters not. No one will believe her. Or, at least no one who can do anything about it. Her wounds will heal quickly.”

Karin’s eyes fluttered open. She was momentarily blinded by a bright light - moonlight, shining in through a window above her head. “We’re still underground,” she thought, drowsily.

She could not move, her arms and legs were bound. The stone platform on which she lay was hard, uncomfortable. She tried to speak, but no sound came out of her mouth. She felt a sharp pain at her wrist: a knife, cutting into her veins and then, warm liquid on her hand. “My blood,” she thought, the pain now dull. “What do they want with my blood?” Sleep overcame her, and her eyes closed.

“Kurotsuchi,” said one of the men. “You are welcome to do your work, but you may not kill her.”

A sound, much like laughter, only far more evil, echoed in Karin’s ears. “Is this a dream?” she thought, through the haziness.

“I will not kill her,” came a new voice. She could smell his breath near her face and her heart began to pound with fear.

“What work?”she wondered helplessly, still unable to move.

“You’re disgusting, Mayuri,” said a silky voice from across the room.

“It will not harm her,” said the voice that had struck such fear in her. “Although it will probably hurt a great deal.” This last statement was whispered, for Karin’s ears only.

“No,” she thought, willing her limbs to move.

For a moment, the room was silent, and then there was searing pain, unlike anything Karin had ever experienced. She forced her eyelids open and saw a man, standing over her, his hand buried in her chest.

“No, please! Please stop!”

“Apparently, even a filthy beast has a heart,” came a familiar voice from the back of the room.

*********************************

“No, please! Please stop!”

Hitsugaya sat up in bed, his heart pounding, eyes wide open. “Karin!” he shouted, the pain still burning in his chest.

“That was no dream,” he thought, in horror, walking to the window and looking out, as if he thought she might be nearby. The moonlight through the trees sent shadows dancing across the field below, but there was no one there.

“Karin!” he thought, his jaw clenched in anger. And then more pain. Her pain.

And, finally, one thought only, through the pain. “They will die for this.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:16 pm

Chapter Thirteen: Changes of Heart

She ran through the woods, laughing, her feet barely touching the ground.

“I’m faster than you, Toushirou!”

He laughed and chased after her but she ran faster, the trees a blur of brown and green.

In a shadowy glen, she stopped to catch her breath, pulling off her shoes and dangling her bare feet in a small stream. The water was cold, refreshing.

“I told you I’d beat you here,” she laughed, turning around to smile at him.

There was no one there. She was alone in this place and the silence was deafening.

“Toushirou?”

“Kurosaki-chan.”

“Hmmm,” she sighed rolling over. “Toushirou. I told you I’d beat you here.”

“Kurosaki-chan.”

She opened her eyes slowly and the world came into focus.

“Urahara-sama,” she said, momentarily confused. “I...”

“You were expecting someone else,” he said, smiling at her from under the rim of his hat.

“I’m sorry, Urahara-sama,” she said, forcing a smile. “I didn’t mean...I really am glad to see you.” There were dark circles under her eyes and her face was pale, gaunt. She looked painfully thin.

“I wanted to come sooner,” he said, studying her face. She looked at him and it struck him how, in less than two months, the light had gone out of her amber eyes. “She is more than tired,” he thought. “Her spirit is broken.”

“Please don’t apologize,” she said, sitting up with difficultly. He offered her his arm and she leaned against it, clearly weak.

“Are you eating?” he asked, with concern.

“Yes,” she said, nodding at the empty tray that sat at the end of the bed.

He reached out his hand and touched her forehead. It was cold, clammy.

“You are ill,” he said. She reached up and put her hand on his.

“I’m fine,” she said. “Just tired.”

“No,” he said, with some alarm. “It is more than that, is it not Kurosaki-chan?”

“Please,” she said. “I’m fine. Really.”

“Give me your hands,” he said. He said it gently, but it was clearly a command.

“Why?” she asked.

“Please, Kurosaki-chan,” he said, his face kind. “Trust me.”

She looked at him for a moment, and then held her hands out to him. He took her hands in his and closed his eyes, seeking the answers to the questions that burned inside of him.

“Blood. My blood. Why do you need my blood? I don’t understand...”

Bright light and the sound of voices. Then pain which tore deep within his soul.

“Please, not again. Please make it stop.”

Urahara opened his eyes. Her face was wet with tears.

“What did you just do?” she asked, withdrawing her hands from his and wiping her face.

“I looked within your heart, Karin,” he said, using her given name this time, all pretense gone.

She looked away.

“Who is doing this to you?” he asked.

“Please,” she whispered. “Don’t worry about me.”

“He will know of this, Karin,” Urahara said, his voice uncharacteristically flat. “He will have sensed it. You cannot hide this from the one who created you. He will come.”

“You must stop him. Please. I couldn’t bear it if...” her voice trailed off. There was real fear in her eyes.

“Karin,” said Urahara. “You cannot replenish the lost blood with food alone.”

“My body can regenerate,” she said, sitting up straighter, trying to convince him that she would be alright.

“Vampires can still die, Karin. You will die if this continues. Your body does not have the strength to regenerate.”

He held out his wrist to her. “Please, Karin,” he said.

She looked at him in horror. “I cannot do that to you,” she said.

He smiled understandingly. “You cannot transform me, Karin,” he said.

“But...” she began.

“I am already an Immortal.”

“A vampire?” she asked, confused.

“Not a vampire,” he said. “A Hunter, with an immortal soul. One who has tasted the soul of a vampire, exchanged lives with an Ancient.”

“The painting in the Council Hall,” she said, understanding dawning. “That was you.”

“Yes,” he replied, with a sigh.

“Then...” she began.

“I am nearly a thousand years old, Karin.”

“But you, child, have already seen far more than any one should,” he thought, looking into her eyes again.

“Please, Karin,” he said, holding out his wrist a second time. “I promise you will not hurt me. I do not want to see you die in this place.”

“I don’t want to die,” she thought, sighing audibly. Gently, she brought his wrist to her lips...

************************************

He did not remember when he had ever felt such burning anger. The rage which grew in him was foreign, unexpected. Her eyes had always been so full of life, perhaps more than any other person he had known. And yet today, her eyes had shone only with defeat, hopelessness.

“They will pay for their treachery,” he thought, as he climbed the stone steps of the prison. “Yamamoto will not stand for this. I will not stand for this.”

“Urahara-sama,” came the silky voice from in front of him. “What a pleasant surprise.”

“Gin,” said Urahara, his eyes cold.

“Dear, dear,” said Gin, slyly. “You do seem disturbed. Did the Kurosaki girl not return your affections? Such a pity. She is a pretty one. Or, should I say, she was...”

“Move aside,” said Urahara evenly, refusing to take the bait.

“I don’t think so,” said a voice, behind him. “You see, it really would not do for you to speak with the old man. Not just yet.”

“Aizen.”

“We need not play games, Urahara,” said Aizen in his silky voice. “Neither of us wish a war at this moment.”

“Then I shall take my leave of you,” said Urahara, tipping his hat slightly and starting to walk back up the stairs.

“I’m afraid I cannot allow that, my friend,” replied Aizen, now smiling and nodding to Gin. The younger man stepped back in front of Urahara, his weapon drawn.

“You were quite impressive at the Council, Ichimaru-san,” said Urahara to Gin with a coy smile. “Playing the gung-ho reformer to your master’s patient talk of reconciliation.”

Gin bowed low in response.

“You fooled no one,” said Urahara. “Those who oppose you know of your intentions.”

“How unfortunate for them,” said Aizen. “You see, Urahara, it matters little if we ‘fooled’ anyone, as you put it. The lines are drawn. There is no turning back now.”

The sound of footsteps on stone, and they were quickly joined by more than a dozen Hunters, swords drawn.

“You see, Urahara, your little plaything back there,” Aizen indicated the direction of Karin’s cell, “has provided me with the tools I need to break the impasse in the Council.”

“You’ve been giving her blood to your men,” said Urahara, with disgust.

“Kurotsuchi has been able to purify her blood, to extract the blood of the Ancients from the, ah, less desirable elements, shall we say,” said Aizen, his eyes gleaming.

“I will not cede to you,” said Urahara, darkly. “I am stronger than you know.”

“True, but you have given the girl your blood. You and I both know the loss of blood makes you weaker. Perhaps you are still stronger than any one of my men, but you cannot defeat them all. The battle is already lost, Urahara-san.”

**************************
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:16 pm

Rukia rose early, before dawn, and headed downstairs to the conservatory, a large room with glass ceilings and lush tropical plants which hung from the walls and grew in nearly every corner. She sat in a white wicker chair, placed so that it looked out over the English garden that was planted behind the manor. Reddish-orange light had just begun to streak the sky as the sun rose over the forest beyond.

She loved this time of day – the silence and tranquil beauty of it, so removed from the turmoil of her life.

“It is you who create the unrest within your spirit, Rukia-chan,” Kaien had once told her.

“You were right, Kaien,” she thought, as she watch the sunrise. “And I still have not learned how to quiet my soul.”

It had been several months since they had left England and Hitsugaya. As time went by, Rukia had realized that Ichigo’s uncanny resemblance to her beloved Sensei was less disturbing than the feelings she had for the orange-haired Hunter. At first, she had dismissed those feelings as simple attraction. Now, though, it was clear to her that it was more than just that; she genuinely enjoyed spending time with him, even training him, however frustrating that was.

“You have already promised yourself to another,” she reminded herself. “It would not do to toy with him.”

It had been easy for Rukia to forget that the ultimate purpose of their trip to Europe had been to ensure her marriage. Despite this, obtaining Byakuya’s consent to postpone the trip to Paris had been surprisingly easy. In response to her request, the elder Kuchiki had written only that he “trusted that she would make the appropriate decision as to the timing of the nuptials.” Even more of a shock was Byakuya’s use of the word “trust” in his response. He trusted her to decide.

“People can change,” thought Rukia, wistfully. “Perhaps even Nii-sama, who has always been so overly protective of me.”

Rémy, the French servant who managed the Kuchiki’s Normandy home, walked into the sunroom, interrupting Rukia’s thoughts.

“May I get you some breakfast, Mistress?” he asked brightly.

“Yes, please, Rémy,” replied Rukia.

He bowed and turned to leave.

“Rémy?” said Rukia, before he walked out of the room. The servant turned around, expectant.

“Yes, Kuchiki-sama?”

“Has the messenger brought any word as to when Kurosaki-san’s sister will be arriving?”

Rukia had asked him the same question every morning for nearly two months. Today, as with every other day, the answer had been the same.

“Nothing, Mistress. I am sorry.”

Rukia sighed. “Thank you, Rémy.”

The servant bowed and walked out of the room.

“Karin,” thought Rukia, “where are you? I cannot keep Ichigo away from Hitsugaya forever.”

Rukia stood up and opened the glass doors that led outside, walking onto the terrace. The summer wind was still cool, having not yet met the warmth of the morning sun. She closed her eyes. The scent of roses and gardenias wafted towards her from the garden.

“Ichigo,” she thought, “why do you trouble me so?”

Eyes still closed, she breathed in sharply, suddenly aware of another presence. A vampire.

“Rukia-san.”

She had known it was him immediately, of course. She opened her eyes and turned.

“Hitsugaya-sama.” There was fear in her voice. “You shouldn’t have come here. It is not safe.”

“That is an understatement.”

“Ichigo, no!” shouted Rukia, as Ichigo drew his sword.

“Not this time, Rukia,” growled Ichigo. “This time I will kill him. Getsuga tensho!”

Hitsugaya held up his hand and, from nothing, his sword materialized, glinting in the sunlight. He turned the weapon slightly and Ichigo’s attack bounced off the metal surface and dissipated into the still morning air.

“I don’t have time for this,” snarled Hitsugaya. “Do you truly believe I came here to resume our fight? I took you for a far more intelligent man, Kurosaki.”

Ichigo, who had repositioned himself for another attack, stood still now, eyeing the silver-haired vampire with suspicion.

“Hitsugaya-sama,” said Rukia, now looking very worried. “Where is Karin?”

“Imprisoned,” said Hitsugaya shortly, his face glacial.

“Imprisoned? By whom?” asked Ichigo, relaxing his grip on the hilt of his katana.

“Your kin,” replied Hitsugaya, “the Hunter bastards.”

“The Council?” Rukia looked shocked. “Why?”

“Does it matter?” said Hitsugaya, bitterly. “She has done nothing.”

“No,” snarled Ichigo, redoubling his grip on his weapon. “It is you who have brought this on her!” He ran a Hitsugaya and the blades of their swords met.

“Do you not understand, Hunter?” said Hitsugaya, inches away from Ichigo’s face. “Your petty vengeance is hollow.”

“I will enjoy my vengeance,” replied Ichigo, his teeth gritted, straining against Hitsugaya’s blade.

“Will you rejoice in my death if she dies as well?” hissed Hitsugaya, narrowing his eyes and shaking his head.

“I’ll free her after I kill you, then,” said Ichigo, as sparks flew from the spot where their two blades touched.

“Then you will be too late, Hunter. She will be dead. She is sick. Dying.”

“You lie!” shouted Ichigo.

“He tells the truth, Ichigo,” said Rukia, from behind him. “I can feel it.” Both men jumped apart, panting.

“Talk, then,” said Ichigo, his voice low. “What do you know of her?”

“They have been using her blood for their own evil purposes,” replied Hitsugaya. Ichigo could see the hatred in his eyes.

“How do you know this?” Ichigo asked, his tone somewhat softened.

“I can feel her pain, Kurosaki,” said Hitsugaya.

“I don’t understand,” said Ichigo. “You can feel what she feels?”

“Blood bonds all vampires,” Rukia explained. “The strongest bond of all is shared between vampire and creator. There are stories of vampires and their creations who could communicate without words, just by thought.”

“None of this matters,” said Hitsugaya. “The Hunters, have tortured your own sister, Kurosaki. Would you just sit back and watch her die?”

With a flick of his wrist, Hitsugaya’s sword vanished. He dropped his arms to his sides.

“I came here seeking Rukia’s help to bring Karin back and to punish those responsible for hurting her. I will not fight you anymore. For her sake, I ask that vengeance wait. If you choose to kill me after she is safe, so be it.” His turquoise eyes shone fiercely in the low morning sunlight.

“He genuinely cares for her,” thought Ichigo, surprised at the realization. A muscle in his jaw twitched, but he said nothing.

“I need your help, Rukia,” said Hitsugaya, turning away from Ichigo. It was clearly not a request that he made easily, having never been someone to rely on others.

“Of course,” she replied. “We will leave immediately.”

Hitsugaya bowed deeply.

Ichigo sheathed his katana. “I’m coming with you,” he said.

Rukia looked at him with surprise.

“She is my sister,” he said simply. “Vengeance will wait. For now, at least.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:17 pm

Chapter Fourteen: Ghosts

It was a two-day ride from Normandy to Paris. Ichigo, Rukia and Hitsugaya, joined by Renji, set out within hours of Hitsugaya’s arrival, waiting only to gather provisions for the trip. Renji, who had appeared not long after Ichigo and Hitsugaya had ceased hostilities, had eagerly thrown his lot in with the others.

At Rukia’s insistence, they rested for the night at a small inn a half day’s ride from Paris. Hitsugaya, never much for socializing, retired to his room after dinner, leaving Renji, Ichigo and Rukia at the table. This gathering of three was short-lived, however, when Renji spotted a barmaid he said he was ‘acquainted with’ and promptly disappeared into the adjoining bar. Renji’s apparent interest in something other than rescuing Karin, however, did not sit well with Ichigo, who excused himself to get some fresh air and nearly stormed out of the restaurant. Rukia refilled her empty wineglass and quietly followed Ichigo onto the terrace.

He stood, his back facing her, hands grasping the wrought-iron railing so tightly that his knuckles were white from the effort. She reached out and touched him gently on the shoulder with her free hand and he jerked away, nearly knocking the wineglass to the ground.

“I am truly sorry, Kurosaki-san,” Rukia said, purposefully addressing him in a formal manner rather than using his given name, “I did not mean to offend.”

Hesitating a moment, but without turning around to face her, Ichigo said, “No. I should apologize, not you. You were only trying to be kind.”

“I know you are worried about your sister,” Rukia replied.

Ichigo said nothing.

“This is difficult for you,” she said softly, walking up to the railing and standing next to him.

“Yes.” His response was nearly inaudible.

“I know what she did is hard for you to accept, but…”

“It’s not that,” he said, darkly, looking up at the moonless sky.

“Then why are you so troubled, Ichigo?” she asked, silently cursing herself for using such a familiar tone with him. “You must keep your distance, Rukia,” she thought, resisting the urge to touch him again.

“It’s nothing you need to worry about,” he said, his tone harsher than he had intended.

Rukia appeared slightly taken aback.

“It appears I owe you another apology, Rukia-san” he said, quickly, realizing his mistake. “That was rude of me.”

“Thank you,” she said, smiling at him. "It was rude."

He turned away from her again so that she could only see one side of his face. His jaw was tight, his brow creased slightly.

"I truly do not mean to pry, Kurosaki-san," she said. "If you wish, I will leave you alone."

"Please stay," he said, the words spoken before thinking. She had always seemed so distant before, so controlled. And yet, he felt comfortable talking to her like this, despite the change in her demeanor, despite the fact that she was a vampire.

“I was naïve,” he said, after a moment. “All these years, I believed it was so simple. There’s so much I was never told. About the vampires…the Hunters.”

“Would you have believed the truth had you heard it before?” Rukia asked gently.

“My father…Urahara…they should have told me.”

The image of Isshin, looking at Karin’s body and the last words he had spoken to Ichigo before Ichigo had left Karakura flashed through his thoughts. ‘There is much you do not understand, son.’ “You were right, Dad,” thought Ichigo, with some sadness.

“No. I would not have believed them,” he said, turning back to her.

She smiled at him again.

“She is beautiful,” he thought, and, in spite of himself, he found himself smiling back at her.

“You are a good man, Ichigo,” she said, this time not caring that she had spoken his name. She reached up and touched his face. “We will bring Karin back.”

He took her hand in his, looking into her amethyst eyes. For a moment, he experienced the same primal hunger for her that he had felt on the boat, months before. The smell of her - her skin, her hair - the sound of her voice, made him momentarily dizzy. He remembered the dream, holding her in his arms, tasting her blood on his lips, the feel of her skin under his hands. His pulse began to quicken and his face felt hot. Then, just as suddenly, the hunger was gone, replaced by something gentler, but just as insistent. He leaned over to kiss her.

“I must not,” she said, pulling away from him before their lips could meet. Her voice was husky, and she hoped he could not see her blush in the darkness. It had taken all her strength not to surrender to him.

“We should get some rest,” said Ichigo, clearly uncomfortable. “It’s getting late.”

***************************

Up in her room, Rukia sat looking out of the window at the stars. From time to time, clouds drifted across the sky, obscuring the constellations. The moonless night reminded her of a time, centuries ago, when the reality of battle had first touched her. The first time she had lost someone close to her and the first of many loved-ones the war with the Yamazaki’s would claim, including her beloved parents. The night she had lost Kaien.

She was standing in the entryway of the mansion, waiting. The battle had not gone well, she knew.

“Kaien-dono,” she thought to herself. “How will you live without her?”

The loss of Kaien’s beloved wife, Miyako, in battle, had come as a shock. Also a Hunter, Miyako had insisted on joining her husband in defending the Kuchiki’s home against the Yamazaki’s.

Rukia had begged Byakuya to let her fight alongside the others, but he had flatly refused. “You are too young to fight,” he had said, in spite of her protests.

Now, as she sat waiting for them to return, a feeling of dread hung in the air, thick like smoke, and just as acrid. There was the sound of voices outside, and she ran to the door as it flung open. What she saw would be forever burned into her consciousness. Byakuya, his face dirty, streaked with blood, his eyes bleak and tired, carried a limp body in his arms: Kaien. Alive, but barely, the Hunter’s face was gray, pinched. Bleeding profusely, he was clearly in pain. Byakuya silently laid Kaien down on a couch in the sitting room.

“You can heal him, can’t you, Nii-sama?” she asked, her eyes full of fear.

Byakuya shook his head and said nothing.

“We should call for a human doctor,” she said, desperately.

“No doctor can save him. You may stay with him, if you like,” Byakuya replied in a low voice, as he walked out of the room.

She kneeled on the floor beside Kaien. Slowly, she raised her hand to his head and gently stroked his forehead. “Kaien.” Her voice was barely above a whisper, but he opened his eyes and smiled at her.

“Princess, I am glad you are safe.”

What good was it to be the Kuchiki Princess, she thought, if she could do nothing to help those she loved? What good was it to be an Ancient if you could not defend your home?

“I can save you, Kaien-dono,” she said, hope rekindling in her heart.

“Your brother was not able to save me, Rukia,” he said, seriously. “Neither can you.”

“I am an Ancient and you are a Hunter,” she said. “I can exchange my blood with yours. I can give you immortality.”

“Princess,” he said, smiling at her kindly, “it means so much, that you would offer to do this for me. I know it is a gift you can only give once in your lifetime.”

“Then you will permit me to give you my blood, my life?” she asked, her eyes now burning intensely.

“No,” he said, sadly. “I do not wish immortality.”

“But I do not want you to die,” she said, her heart aching. “I don’t want you to leave me.”

“Sweet child,” said Kaien, “you have a big heart. But I do not wish to live for eternity without my beloved Miyako.” His eyes were now pained, and she could feel the emptiness within his soul. She knew all too well that he spoke the truth.

“One day, Princess, you will know what it means to truly love another, and you will understand.”

“No,” she said, tears now running down her cheeks unimpeded.

He touched her hand. “Dear sweet Princess,” he said. “You have given me great joy. I am proud to have been your Sensei. One day, Byakuya will realize the true breadth of your strength. Perhaps, one day, you will end this bloodshed for good.”

She said nothing, but continued to cry.

“Please know this, little one. I will never truly leave you. I will always be in your heart.”

Hours later, she felt a strong arm on her shoulder, Byakuya. “He is where he wanted to be. At peace.”

“Kaien,” she said aloud. “You are always with me.”

**************************

Morning had not yet dawned, but Ichigo was already awake and waiting downstairs for the others, having slept little the night before.

“Took you long enough,” he growled, as a sleepy Renji stumbled down the steps followed by Rukia, dressed in her travel clothes.

“Late night,” mumbled Renji, yawning.

“Where’s Hitsugaya?” asked Ichigo, irritated now.

“Behind you,” came the cool voice from a shadowy corner.

“How long have you been there?” asked Ichigo, slightly perturbed that he had not felt the vampire’s presence before.

“All night,” came the stony reply.

“Time to leave,” said Rukia, dismissing them as though they were children. Ichigo glared at her, but said nothing.

They rode in silence, Ichigo uncomfortably aware of Rukia’s presence, but trying to look nonchalant despite his wounded ego. From time to time, Renji tried to start a conversation, but no one would engage him, each focused on his or her own thoughts. They stopped at the side of the road for a brief meal around noon and ate without speaking.

“The prison is on the outskirts of the city, although its exact location is unknown,” said Rukia, as she packed up her things and tied them to her horse. “Hitsugaya-sama will have to lead us from here.”

Hitsugaya nodded. “I can feel her,” he said. “We are close.”

The rolling hills soon turned into lower, flatter land, and houses became more plentiful by the roadside. They crossed several small streams and rode by farms planted with wheat and other grains. Soon, they were joined on the road by other riders on horseback, carriages and villagers on foot. As they neared a small town, Hitsugaya turned off the main road onto a smaller footpath, so lightly traveled that it was barely visible amidst the trees and grass. They followed the path for several miles until Hitsugaya stopped and turned his horse towards the others.

“The entrance is over there,” he said, gesturing to a rocky outcropping next to a small field of rye a short ways in the distance.

They tied the horses in the shade of a tree and set off, on foot.

“The prison was built by both Hunters and vampires, as was the Hall of the Council of Hunters,” said Rukia, as they walked. “Our knowledge of the layout of the prison has been lost over the centuries, but we do know that it is protected, both by the Hunters who guard it, as well as other traps.”

“What kinds of traps?” asked Renji, clearly curious.

“I do not know,” replied Rukia. “But if both Hunter and vampire constructed this place, we can assume the pitfalls were meant to keep out both.”

They neared the place Hitsugaya indicated as the entrance.

“I don’t see an opening,” said Ichigo, “unless it’s under these rocks.” He and Renji tried moving some of the smaller rocks, to no avail.

Rukia walked over to the largest rock and ran her hands over the surface. “It’s here,” she said. “Ichigo, will you draw your sword?”

Ichigo hesitated, unsure of what she had in mind.

“When the Ancients and the Hunters created these places of justice and law,” said Rukia, “they wanted them to remain accessible to both races, no matter the state of relations between the two. There are usually two entrances: one for those with keys, and one that requires the cooperation of vampire and Hunter alike. I believe this is the latter.”

“What do you mean by cooperation?” Ichigo asked, drawing his sword.

Rukia pushed the sleeve of her jacket up to her elbow and held her arm out to Ichigo.

“You must cut me,” she said, simply.

“Cut you?” replied Ichigo, startled at this request.

“The entrance would not be revealed if I were to borrow your sword and cut myself. Entry demands the blood of an Ancient and the sword of a Hunter, wielded by the Hunter himself.”

“I can’t do that,” said Ichigo, aghast. The thought was appalling to him; he could not hurt her.

“Then your sister will die, Hunter,” said Hitsugaya, coldly.

“There must be some other way,” said Ichigo stubbornly.

“Your sense of chivalry is admirable,” retorted Hitsugaya, shaking his head in disbelief, “but it is misplaced.”

“Vampires do not fear blood, Kurosaki,” said Renji, hoping to diffuse the rising tension between the two men. “You should not fear it either.”

“I’m not afraid of blood,” said Ichigo, ignoring the growing sense of revulsion he felt at the thought of purposely spilling Rukia’s blood. “Then what am I afraid of?” he wondered silently.

“You must do this, Ichigo,” said Rukia. “You will not harm me, I promise you.”

“Dammit,” he growled in frustration, raising his sword to Rukia’s arm and touching its razor-sharp blade to cut the flesh of her forearm. Blood ran onto the sword and towards the tip, dripping onto the rock below. He felt a brief resurgence of disgust as he watched her bleed. Then, just as quickly, the scent of her blood reached his nostrils and he breathed it in like the bouquet of a fine wine. It was intoxicating, and he felt momentarily disoriented, dizzy. It was then that he noticed Hitsugaya, eyeing him with surprise.

“What are you looking at?” demanded Ichigo, glaring at the vampire.

“You are an interesting man, Kurosaki Ichigo,” said Hitsugaya. “You profess to despise the vampires, you fear the spilling of blood, and yet you experience the Bloodlust.”

“That’s enough!” said Rukia, her voice powerful, commanding. For a split second, anger flashed in her violet eyes and Ichigo was convinced Rukia was angry with Hitsugaya for baiting him. When he looked closer, however, she had regained her composure and was watching the rock intently.

There, where the drops of Rukia’s blood had fallen, the rock had begun to smoke and hiss. Steam rose up from the rock, like drops of water falling on a hot surface. What had once been solid rock now dissolved before their eyes, revealing an opening large enough to fit through and, below the opening, they could see stone steps.
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:18 pm

Chapter Fifteen: The Prison

The steps were covered with the dust and debris of centuries; clearly, they had been forgotten by the Hunters over time. Buoyed by the knowledge that they were unlikely to meet immediate resistance from Hunter guards, Hitsugaya led the three others down into what appeared to be a large, natural cavern.

“We must proceed from here with caution,” said Rukia. “We may not have encountered any guards yet, but they are certainly here. We must also be on alert for any unusual features of the caves and passageways that might signal danger.”

As she spoke, Ichigo wandered off in the direction of a doorway, covered with the roots of plants which appeared to have grown down from the surface above. The others followed several yards behind him, looking around in wonder at the stalagmites which rose from the floor of the cave and the stalactites which hung, like icicles from above them. The ceiling and walls of the cave were covered with the same roots as the doorway and water dripped down the roots from above, falling onto the floor. The light that filtered in from the rocks above reflected on the wet floor and the room appeared to shimmer.

Ichigo reached up to touch the roots that blocked the exit. They felt cold and slimy to the touch. He tried to push the roots away to clear the opening, but met with strong resistance. Drawing his sword, he drew its blade back and swung hard at the roots, cutting into them, but not deeply enough.

“Ichigo, no!” shouted Rukia, too late.

There was a low rumbling sound, which seemed to come from the walls around them. The sides of the cave began to shake and dust fell from the ceiling above. The rumbling grew louder, and small rocks began to fall on top of them, loosened by the strong vibrations.

“Toushirou,” said Rukia, her eyes focused in concentration. “I need your help.”

Hitsugaya nodded quickly, and stood beside her, clasping her left hand and closing his eyes. Rukia raised her right hand and Ichigo expected her katana to materialize. It did not. Instead, she turned her hand, palm up towards the crumbling ceiling, her forehead creased. From her palm, a glowing sphere of white snowflakes grew, and Ichigo felt the temperature in the room drop. The sphere grew larger and larger, until it was nearly twice as tall as Rukia herself.

“Now!” she said, closing her eyes, despite the debris that continued to rain down upon them.

Hitsugaya grasped Rukia’s hand tighter and, as Ichigo watched, the sphere grew larger still, reaching the high ceiling of the cave, the snow swirling around within, touching the stones above. Ichigo felt a cool wind and watched in amazement as the snowflakes turned into tiny ice crystals, now transparent. Hitsugaya pointed his free hand upward and spread his fingers. There was a flash of bright light which momentarily blinded Ichigo as if he had been staring too long at the sun. When his vision cleared, he realized that the ceiling was covered with a thick sheet of ice, sealing the crumbling rock within. The rumbling stopped and the room was eerily silent. Hitsugaya released Rukia’s hand and they both opened their eyes.

“Impressive,” said Renji, his mouth open.

Hitsugaya looked at Ichigo with contempt. “You would do better to control your impulses, Hunter,” he said. “We do not need to die by your hand.”

Ichigo said nothing, but scowled in response.

“These are no ordinary roots,” said Rukia, ignoring this exchange. She walked over to the doorway and put her hand on the vine-like structures. “This is Bloodvine. It is grown by my people both for its medicinal properties and its resilience. No sword can cut through it.”

“This was planted here?” marveled Renji, reaching out to touch the plant.

“Undoubtedly,” Rukia replied.

“If it can’t be cut by a sword,” said Ichigo, “how are we supposed to get through the entrance?”

“Bloodvine is one of the strongest plants we know of,” said Rukia, “but there is one substance which it cannot tolerate.”

She pushed her sleeve up again and rubbed her hand on the wound there. It had already begun to heal, but some of the blood was still wet and coated her palm. She took her bloody hand and grasped the largest vine. As they watched, the vine began to retract into the rocks until the doorway was clear.

Ichigo fought to hide the amazement he felt, walking quickly through the doorway so the others would not see his face.

“I will lead from this point forward,” said Hitsugaya, as they all emerged through the door onto a narrow passageway. He stepped in front of Ichigo, raising his hand and drawing his sword from thin air. Ichigo did not protest, although he continued to scowl and looked very much like a small child who had been chastised for his misconduct. Renji and Rukia followed, holding their katanas in front of them as they walked.

The passageway descended gently as they walked on, their shoes slipping from time to time on the damp floor. In the distance, Rukia could hear water running: an underground river deep beneath their feet. The cave had grown so dark that Ichigo could no longer see where he was going. Instead, he followed the three vampires, whose eyes were well-adapted to the blackness.

“I will light the way, Kurosaki-sama,” said Rukia, as Ichigo blindly tripped over a rock. She raised her sword, touching the blade to her forehead. A single drop of blood grew where the edge met her skin, and the blade began to glow eerily, lighting the path in front of them. Ichigo grunted in thanks, painfully aware of his inadequacy.

The passage became wider as they walked, and the farther they traveled, the louder the sound of the water became. Now, Ichigo, too, could hear the rush of the river against the rocks.

“We can go no further,” said Renji, stopping abruptly a few minutes later. The noise from the rushing water was deafening, and he had to yell to be heard over the din.

In front of them was a river, tens of feet wide. The water crashed through the cave with such force, that, from time to time, it would hit the rocks and spray at them, stinging their skin like tiny blades. The river was filled with many rocks which appeared sharp and unworn. There was no bridge spanning the water, but they could clearly see a passage on the other side.

“We cannot cross here,” said Rukia. “We will have to turn back, find another way to get through.”

Hitsugaya said nothing, but paced back and forth at the water’s edge, frustration mounting. He and the others were painfully aware that any delay might cost Karin her life, but there seemed no alternative.

Ichigo leaned against the wall of the passage, at the place where the solid rock met the river. And then he saw it, a small mark, carved into the stone – a sword which cut a crescent-shaped moon in two - the crest of the Council of Hunters. Inches away from the crest was a slight indentation in the rock. Ichigo ran his fingers over the indentation.

“We must leave,” said Rukia, turning to head back the way they had come.

“No,” said Ichigo. “I know what to do.” He wasn’t sure how he knew it, but he was sure that he understood what must be done.

Rukia looked at him with surprise. As she watched, Ichigo touched his sword to the stone, fitting the point of it into the indentation. He pushed gently on the hilt of his weapon and the blade cut into the rock as easily as if he had pushed it into soft earth. For a moment, the sound of the river modulated slightly, and then they saw it: a bridge of stone, spanning the width of the water and sitting just slightly above the raging torrent. Ichigo withdrew his sword and stepped onto the bridge.

This time it was Hitsugaya whose face betrayed astonishment. Rukia had been right; the cooperation of both vampire and Hunter had clearly been anticipated by the builders of the prison. Rukia, Hitsugaya and Renji followed Ichigo over the bridge. As they reached the other side of the river, the bridge appeared to vanish as quickly as it had appeared, and they continued their descent.

They walked for several minutes before they became aware of a bright light at the end of the tunnel. It grew brighter and brighter as they approached. When they reached the end of the narrow passage, the source of the light became clear - a large cavern, lined with crystals which glowed from every surface. Small crystals littered the floor, as well. The light was bright enough to make it difficult for any of them to make out the path forward. Ichigo picked up a particularly large piece of the glowing rock and turned it over in his hand, looking at Rukia for an explanation . From the look of puzzlement on her face, it was clear she had none.

Ichigo put the stone into his pocket, and proceeded to walk around the perimeter of the cavern with the others. In the farthest corner, they found entrances to three tunnels, each of which appeared to descend steeply.

“Which way?” asked Rukia, looking at Hitsugaya hopefully.

He thought for a moment and then shuddered, briefly, as if he were in pain.

“This way,” he said, indicating the tunnel on their left. His face looked tense, pained.

“What’s wrong?” asked Ichigo, anger forgotten.

“She is weak,” said Hitsugaya tonelessly. “She will not survive much longer without blood.” Ichigo’s jaw tensed visibly.

Hitsugaya walked towards the tunnel and the others followed. They had not even entered the narrow passageway when there was a loud crash from behind them and all four of them turned to face a group of a dozen Hunters.

“The rescue party no doubt,” said the leader of the group, smiling smugly.

“Ichimaru Gin,” said Ichigo.

“Kurosaki-kun,” said Gin, still smiling. “Come to rescue your little sister, have you? How touching. A pity that you’ve come too late.”

“You bastard!” snarled Ichigo, swinging his sword and sending luminescent rocks and debris tumbling down on the Hunters from the ceiling. As dust obscured the view, Ichigo turned quickly to Hitsugaya and said, “Find her. We’ll meet up with you later, on the surface.”

Hitsugaya turned to Rukia, who nodded quickly, then headed down the tunnel with blinding speed.

“Clever,” said Gin, his voice silky. “But he will not get far.”

******************************
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:18 pm

Hitsugaya could hear the din of battle as he ran away from the cavern. Any hesitation he had at leaving his companions was quickly put aside as he felt Karin’s life force weaken further. Reaching the end of the tunnel, he exited onto a small room, lined with stone. The contrast between the cavern and the place in which he now found himself could not have been more clear - the stone masonry that covered the rough walls told him that he had finally arrived in the prison area of the massive underground complex.

“Karin!” he thought, as he walked through the room and into a hallway lit with torches.

Suddenly aware that he was not alone, Hitsugaya quickly moved to avoid a beam of reddish light which hit the stone wall in front of him. At the point of impact, there was a hole in the wall several inches deep. Hitsugaya he turned to face three Hunter guards, weapons drawn. He raised his sword and pointed it at one of the guards, who moved too slowly to avoid the attack. The Hunter fell, pierced to the heart by a dagger-sharp piece of ice which had flown from Hitsugaya’s blade. The two remaining Hunters looked briefly at each other and raised their swords in a simultaneous attack which grazed Hitsugaya’s arm, singeing the sleeve of his shirt.

Hitsugaya swung his katana in a circular pattern, and the Hunters could see their breath rise like steam in the cold air. In a heartbeat, Hitsugaya had sent a stream of ice flying at his attackers. The Hunter closest to Hitsugaya attempted to deflect the attack with the blade of his sword, but the ice coated the metal of the weapon and began to slowly travel up the Hunter’s arm. The man shook his arm violently, trying to free himself of his weapon and of the ice which now had reached his chest, but it was no use - the ice continued to creep over the man’s body until it had completely covered him. Hitsugaya reached out with his free hand, fingers open, and then closed it into a tight fist. The ice surrounding the immobilized Hunter shattered into thousands of tiny fragments, leaving nothing of the Hunter behind.

The remaining fighter ran towards Hitsugaya, his blade pointed in front of him and, before Hitsugaya could fire off another shot, their blades met. Hitsugaya parried artfully, pushing the Hunter away several feet, and aiming his attack at close range. The Hunter laughed, holding up his bare hand to meet the attack and the ice melted as it made contact with his palm. Hitsugaya felt a chill which had little to do with temperature in the room. He had only seen such a show of force once before - from a Yamazaki vampire whom he had fought centuries before.

“No Hunter should possess such powers,” he thought. And as he readied himself for another attack, he saw an image of Karin, laying on a stone table, her arm covered with blood. “They are using her blood to become stronger.” He looked into the eyes of the Hunter and felt fury as he had never felt it before. They would pay for this outrage, he would make sure of it.

“You will die here,” said Hitsugaya, as his eyes turned from turquoise to fiery red.

A transparent reddish haze shone from Hitsugaya’s body, growing quickly darker and more opaque. The Hunter raised his sword and launched a large ball of flame towards Hitsugaya, but Hitsugaya did not move. The flames from the attack licked at the vampire’s skin, but did not burn it, instead vanishing as they came into contact with the red energy. The Hunter looked surprised.

Hitsugaya ran towards the Hunter and, as he ran, he aimed his sword above where the Hunter stood, sending a shower of ice falling onto the man’s head. The Hunter laughed again and sent a fireball skyward, clearly believing that the heat from the attack would melt the ice. The ice hung in mid-air at Hitsugaya’s command, and Hitsugaya briefly closed his eyes. The ice began to turn silver and move again, razor-sharp fragments metal suspended about the Hunter’s body at all angles. Hitsugaya narrowed his eyes and the blades flew at the Hunter, piercing his skin a hundred-fold over. The Hunter screamed in pain and then fell to the ground, writhing about, and then became still.

Hitsugaya quickly ran down the corridor until he reached a set of stone steps which spiraled downward to what he knew to be the prison cells, secreted in the deepest recesses of the complex. It was dark, but his vampire eyes had no difficulty seeing without the assistance of a torch. She was near; he could feel it, feel her. She was weak, barely alive.

“You must live, Karin,” he thought, willing her to hear him.

He reached the bottom of the steps in an instant, his feet barely touching the ground as he flew downwards. The cells were empty, save the one in which she lay, unmoving, curled up in a ball like a frightened animal. He pointed his katana at the metal lock, filling it with ice and creating a makeshift key. Then, with his hand, he turned the ice key and the door swung open.

“Karin,” he said softly, afraid to startle her.

She did not move.

“Karin,” his voice now insistent.

She moaned.

“Karin, we must leave here,” he said, gently brushing her hair off her face.

What he saw underneath her dark hair made him shudder. Her skin was sallow, sickly. There were dark circles under her eyes, and her face looked pinched, thin.

“They will pay for this,” he thought, his jaw tight.

He slipped his arms under her body and picked her up. She was so thin, he could feel her bones beneath her skin. She weighed next to nothing.

“No, please,” she murmured, her voice barely audible. “Not again, please don’t.”

“It’s alright, Karin,” said Hitsugaya. “I won’t let them touch you again.”

She moaned again and her eyes fluttered open.

“Toushirou... No... Please, I don’t want them to hurt you.” Her voice was a hoarse whisper.

“I’ll be fine. I’m getting you out of this place.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:19 pm

Chapter Sixteen: Complications

Ichigo stood his ground, determined not to let the Hunters pursue Hitsugaya down the tunnel.

“We need to bide our time, to give Hitsugaya a chance to reach Karin,” he thought, eyeing the group of Hunters.

“The Kurosaki’s have always been a stubborn lot,” said Gin, smiling at Ichigo, his sword dangling lazily at his side. Gin tilted his head slightly to the side and looked at Rukia and Renji, who held their weapons at the ready.

“So you are the Kuchiki Princess,” said Gin, laughing softly. “Your brother let you fly from the safety of the nest to come here? How interesting. Does he not realize how valuable your blood is?”

Rukia said nothing, but the contempt on her face was plain.

“And you,” continued Gin, addressing Renji, “must be the Kuchiki pet. You seem so well-trained.”

Renji raised his weapon as if to strike, and four Hunters moved forward to flank Gin.

“No, Renji,” said Rukia, looking directly at Gin as she spoke. “They will not attack us here.”

Gin raised an eyebrow in surprise, now smiling broadly. “You are far better informed than I had expected, Princess,” he said.

“What are you talking about?” asked Ichigo, frowning and gripping his weapon more tightly.

“So your lackeys do not know, Princess,” drawled Gin. “No matter. I will elucidate them.” He turned towards Ichigo. “Pity your sensei neglected to teach you anything, Kurosaki-kun. You see,” he continued, clearly relishing the moment, “the crystals in this room are unusual. They react to the vampires’ powers in a very, shall we say, explosive manner.”

Renji’s eyes lit up, and he turned his weapon up at the ceiling.

“Renji, you must not do that,” said Rukia, her voice ringing powerfully in the cavern. “The crystals are much too powerful to be used as weapons here. We would all die.”

“I am glad we all understand the consequences,” said Gin. “But we cannot remain here forever like this. All impasses must be broken, at some point.”

“Then,” said Ichigo, “let me be the one to break it.” He swung his sword in an arc above his head. The entryway to the tunnel, down which Hitsugaya had left, collapsed as Ichigo moved out of the way of the falling rock. The attack left the entrance completely blocked

“So brash,” said Gin, as the dust cleared. “But I had no intention of pursuing the vampire. Let him rescue her if he can, it matters little. She has outlived her usefulness.”

“Rukia! Renji!” shouted Ichigo, firing off a volley in the direction of the Hunters and indicating one of the unblocked tunnels. They ran towards the tunnel, Rukia leading the way. The attacks of the pursuing Hunters flew over their heads, dislodging some of the rocks that lined the walls and sending dust flying into their eyes. Obscured now by the large cloud of dust, Ichigo stopped and grabbed Renji by the arm as he pulled the large crystal out of his pocket.

“Think you can hit it?” Ichigo asked Renji, with a smirk.

Renji grinned.

Another attack flew over their heads and Rukia deftly deflected it back towards the Hunters. There was a resounding crash near the entrance to the tunnel and more dust and rocks flew.

“I’ll keep them busy,” Rukia shouted, using the side of her blade to deflect yet another attack.

Ichigo stepped forward and shouted, “Getsuga tensho!” The thick dust made it difficult to aim properly, but his attack must have met its mark, because they heard some shouting and another crashing noise in the distance.

Ichigo turned to Renji, who nodded. “Getsuga tensho!” he yelled again and, as the attack flew towards the Hunters, Ichigo tossed the large crystal towards the entrance to the passageway. Renji raised his sword and shot a burst of energy at the crystal. The resulting explosion was deafening, and all three of them were thrown, hard, to the ground. Ichigo threw himself on top of Rukia, protecting her from the hail of debris that rained down on them.

“Are you okay?” asked Ichigo, dusting himself off and looking at Rukia and Renji. They nodded, and all three got to their feet. The passage behind them was completely sealed with rocks and dirt. They could no longer hear the sounds of the Hunters.

“You weren’t joking about the crystals,” said Renji, marveling at the result of their effort.

“We have to get to the surface,” said Rukia, breathlessly. “They’ll all be looking for us now.”

They ran down the tunnel, which began to slowly ascend, stopping from time to time to see if there were any openings which might lead to the surface. After they had been running for at least a half hour, they saw light filtering in through some very large rocks at the side of the passage.

“We won’t be able to move these,” said Ichigo, pushing hard on the rocks but failing to budge them at all.

“There is no opening here,” said Rukia, in response to Ichigo’s hopeful look as he remembered the rocks that had vanished at the opening to the cave.

“We can blast them away,” suggested Renji, pointing his katana at one of the largest.

“They are too large for any one of us,” Rukia replied. “We will need to work together.”

The two men nodded in assent and Rukia held out her katana. Renji touched the tip of his sword to hers, and Ichigo, understanding what they must do, joined in.

“We don’t need to destroy the rock, just move it,” explained Rukia, pointing to the smallest boulder. “Aim for the spot just underneath it.”

Rukia closed her eyes, and the blade of her weapon began to glow hot white. Renji screwed up his face in concentration and his blade began to glow, red and orange. Ichigo followed suit, and Zangetsu took on an eerie bluish-white cast. From the tip of the three swords a ball of yellow energy grew, touching the bottom of the huge rock. The energy grew denser and the inside of the passageway grew progressively warmer. Ichigo could feel the energy from Renji and Rukia flowing into his body through the blade of his sword. He felt stronger and more focused than he could ever remember feeling.

“Now!” shouted Rukia.

Each of them focused on the point where their swords met and, from that point, the ball hovered above their blades and then shot towards the rock, throwing them backwards as it flew. Covered in dust, they coughed and rubbed their eyes. As the air cleared, they could see bright sunlight from the side of the passage.

*********************************

“Karin,” said Hitsugaya, as he ran down the corridor to the stone steps. “You must not sleep.” Karin stirred faintly in his arms and Hitsugaya ran faster still, reaching the steps and ascending them three at a time. “She will need nearly all of my blood to survive,” he thought. He needed to find the others, make sure that she would be protected. The loss of a small amount of blood would weaken him; the loss of nearly all of his blood would leave him, and Karin, helpless.

He met no one on the steps but, as he reached the top and ran down a corridor to where he believe the opening to the outside might be, he heard footsteps and voices. Turning a corner, he found himself face to face with three Hunters, their weapons drawn.

“I don’t have time to fight them,” he thought, desperately. “She cannot wait any longer.” He needed to get past them, slow them down.

“Karin,” he said quickly, “hold onto me, as tightly as you can.”

With surprising strength, he felt her arms encircle his neck and he raised his arms out to his sides. Ice, like a wing, surrounded his left arm, and he put his arm about her, like a shield, just in time – a stream of red light flew at him and hit the ice, sending steam into the air. More volleys came flying at him, but he began to run towards the Hunters, moving in a zigzag pattern to avoid as many attacks as possible.

He could feel Karin’s arms begin to lose their grip on him, and he sped up, running right through the middle of the group of Hunters, knocking two of them to the ground. The only Hunter remaining standing yelled and sent another attack flying towards him. Hitsugaya raised his left arm and deflected the attack again, but, at such a close distance, the Hunter’s volley was powerful, and shattered the icy shield.

Hitsugaya held both his sword and his free hand in front of him, aiming for the Hunters. Ice particles gathered in the air and solidified, like a wall, blocking the Hunters from moving forward.

The Hunters began to hit the ice with their swords, and the wall began to crack. Hitsugaya knew they would soon break through it, but he also knew he was far faster than the Hunters. He grabbed Karin, who had collapsed onto the floor, and threw her over his shoulder. Then, using every bit of strength to increase his speed, he ran down the remainder of the long hallway and pushed open the wooden door at the end. Still carrying Karin, he emerged onto a stand of trees at the side of a field planted with grain.

“Hitsugaya-sama!”

Rukia was crouched down behind an outcropping of rock under the trees. Beside her were Ichigo and Renji, all three of them engaged in a battle with a large group of Hunters. Some of the trees smoked where they had been hit, and branches littered the ground.

Ichigo jumped up and ran over to help Hitsugaya, firing off a well-aimed attack in the direction of the Hunters, who stood about thirty yards from the entrance to the prison. Hitsugaya ran towards Ichigo and they both dived behind the rocks, barely missing being hit by the volleys that flew back and forth between vampires and Hunters. They laid Karin down gently on the grass behind Rukia, who glanced over her shoulder to look at the emaciated woman.

“Renji and I will hold them off,” she said. “Do what you can to help her.”

“Karin,” said Ichigo, his voice cracking. Unseen by the others, he balled his fists in fury. “The Hunters did this to her?”

“She’s dying,” said Hitsugaya, urgently. “It cannot wait. I must give her my blood now.”

“No,” said Karin, her voice barely heard above the sound of Rukia’s attack. “You will be vulnerable, weak.”

“Your brother, Renji and Rukia are here,” said Hitsugaya.

“Ichi-nii,” she said, turning her head and looking at Ichigo. Ichigo smiled at her reassuringly.

“Do what you need to do,” said Ichigo. “We’ll be fine.”

“No,” said Karin. “Let me go. Please.”

“Enough,” said Hitsugaya. “Do you think we came all this way just to let you die?” His words were harsh, but he smiled at her. He cradled her head in his arms and ran his fingers over her pale cheek.

“You do not need to watch,” said Hitsugaya, keenly aware of Ichigo’s presence. “I can do this myself.”

“I want to help,” said Ichigo.

Hitsugaya nodded. Ichigo lifted Karin up to a sitting position, her back against his chest, her eyes closed and her breathing now ragged.

“When I am done, you must take her to safety. She will be able to walk on her own, but she will not yet be strong enough to fight,” said Hitsugaya to Ichigo. Then, turning Karin’s head so he was sure she could hear him, he said, “Karin, you must drink deeply. I will tell you when you must stop. Do not stop before then, no matter what.”

Karin’s eyes opened slightly and she reached out for his arm with shaking hands. Slowly, she brought his wrist to her lips and, with the little strength that she had left, she sunk her teeth into his veins.

She was falling through the air, tumbling, but light as a feather. Wind rushed by her face, cool and refreshing.

“Toushirou,” she said, breathlessly, “you finally caught me.”

He smiled at her and, as he did, she felt his soul touch hers.

“Drink, Karin,” he said. “Take my strength.”

She pulled him close to her and kissed him. Heat spread through her body - a joy she could not remember feeling before. She could feel his spirit, his strength, his pain and his happiness as she held him there.

“I have missed you,” he said, silently, their lips still pressed together, their bodies of one being, one soul.

“I have wanted only you for so long,” she said, letting go of him for a moment. “Do you finally believe me? Can you not feel it in my heart?”

“Yes,” he said. “I am sorry I did not understand.”

“You are growing weaker,” she said, worried. “I can feel it.”

“I will be fine, Karin,” he said, and he kissed her again. “Please, you must take all my strength. You must live.”

They stood there, holding each other, and she felt warmth course through her body like sunshine.

“I want to stay here, with you,” she said. After what seemed like an eternity, but still not long enough, he pulled away from her.

“It is time to leave this place, Karin,” he said. “You must release me.”

She opened her eyes and let go of his wrist. He smiled weakly at her. She caught him as he fell backwards and cradled his head in her arms.

“We need to get out of here,” shouted Rukia, as another attack hit the rocks in front of them. “Renji, help Karin.”

“No,” said Karin, kneeling over the unconscious Hitsugaya. “I need to help Toushirou.”

“It’s alright, Karin,” said Ichigo. “I will carry him.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:20 pm

Chapter Seventeen: Death Comes Calling

“Renji,” said Rukia, “you must get Karin-chan and Hitsugaya-sama safely back to Normandy. Rémy is in Nanterre, about ten miles from here. He will take you back to the manor. Ichigo and I will keep the Hunters occupied.”

Ichigo carried Hitsugaya over to where Rukia and Renji crouched behind the rocks, still exchanging volleys with the Hunters. The impasse between the vampires and Hunters was clear; they would have to take more drastic measures to force the Hunters to withdraw.

“I won’t leave you here to fight my battles,” said Karin, pale, but standing firmly on her feet.

“Hitsugaya-sama will need to rest, Karin-chan,” said Rukia, over her shoulder as she deflected another Hunter attack. “It may take him weeks to recover his strength. Renji will need your help. You are both vulnerable here.”

“Karin,” said Ichigo, as he set Hitsugaya down gently on the ground. “You must get stronger. The true battle for the soul of the Council will not happen today.” He smiled at her with a mixture of guilt and relief.

“Ichi-nii. Rukia was right,” said Karin, throwing her arms around her brother and embracing him. “You are a good man.” Ichigo’s face reddened slightly as she kissed him on his cheek.

There was an explosion several feet away from where they stood and Ichigo turned back towards the Hunters, swinging his sword over his head and sending an attack soaring across the open field.

“Get them out of here, Renji,” shouted Ichigo, as the Hunters replied with equal force. “Get them back safely. We will meet you there.”

Renji nodded, picked up Hitsugaya and took Karin by the arm. Rukia and Ichigo stood up and fired off simultaneous bursts of energy from their katanas, keeping the Hunters at bay so they would not pursue the others. Renji and Karin disappeared over the next ridge.

Rukia and Ichigo sat, poised to return fire from the Hunters. However, instead of renewed hostilities, two more Hunters emerged from the entrance to the prison: Gin and Aizen, who walked slowly over to the others, signaling them to hold their fire. Ichigo aimed his weapon at Gin, but Rukia touched his arm gently. “I understand your anger, Kurosaki-san,” she said, “but he has not yet drawn his weapon.” Ichigo lowered his weapon and scowled, but said nothing.

“My, my,” said Aizen, looking around at the battle-scarred hillside. “I am impressed that you were able to get this far. You are stronger than I expected, Kurosaki-kun.”

“You and the others will pay for what you’ve done to my sister, Aizen,” snarled Ichigo. “The Council will not tolerate your treachery.”

“The Council,” replied Aizen, evenly, “will praise my conduct, Kurosaki-kun. They are weak, and they know it. They crave a strong leader who can return them to their rightful place of power. They are tired of being used as playthings by the vampires.”

“The Elders would never permit such a thing,” said Rukia, her eyes flashing with anger.

“The Elders,” said Aizen, now smiling, “will come around to our way of thinking.”

“Urahara and Yamamoto would never agree to a war against the vampires,” Rukia retorted.

“Urahara is no longer a problem,” interjected Gin, grinning widely. “Yamamoto can be dealt with.”

“What have you done to Urahara?” demanded Ichigo.

“Nothing,” replied Gin, silkily. “He was old. Frail. He would have died soon anyhow.”

“You bastard!” shouted Ichigo, pointing his weapon at Gin.

“I am surprised you care, Kurosaki-kun,” said Gin, watching Ichigo with feigned surprise. “I was told you two had a falling out some years ago. Could it be you still harbor some kind feelings towards your dear, departed sensei?”

“Draw your weapon, Ichimaru,” shouted Ichigo, “or I will kill you where you stand.”

“Ichigo,” said Rukia, “we are outnumbered. We should withdraw.”

“No,” said Ichigo, flatly. “I will not let them get away with this. If I die, so be it.”

“Have it your way, then, Kurosaki-kun,” said Aizen, nodding to Gin and walking away. “Kill him, Gin.”

Ichigo grabbed his sword with both hands and pointed it at Gin. “Getsuga tensho!” A shot of bluish-tinged light flew from Ichigo’s blade. Gin stood, unmoving, watching Ichigo with mild amusement. There was an enormous explosion and a flash of reddish light, knocking Ichigo off his feet. Dirt and branches flew in all directions.

“Ichigo!” yelled Rukia, from behind him. “Watch out!”

As the air cleared, Ichigo saw Gin, smiling and unharmed, his blade pointed at Ichigo’s chest. Reddish wind swirled around Gin’s blade, growing in intensity and moving quickly towards Ichigo.

“No!” shouted Rukia, raising her katana and sending a shower of snow at the Hunter. The wind, however, did not abate, but continued to grow in size, incorporating the snow within its vortex. Gin swung his sword over his shoulder and then, with incredible force, flung the swirling energy towards the place where Rukia and Ichigo stood. Ichigo felt his feet leave the ground and, as he rose into the air, he felt a hand clamp tightly onto his shoulder – a tiny hand with a powerful grip.

“Rukia,” he said, as he grasped her arm with his free hand. She was incredibly strong - far stronger than he had ever realized. “So this is the power of the Ancients,” thought Ichigo as his feet touched back onto the ground.

“Ichigo,” said Rukia, quickly, “we need to get out of here. These two aren’t like the others. They’re far more powerful. If they could defeat Urahara...”

“No,” he said, interrupting her and aiming his weapon at Gin. “I am not leaving here until I kill him.” He pulled away from her and a dense burst of energy flew from his blade. Gin smiled and raised his hand, easily deflecting the attack.

“Just like a vampire,” thought Rukia, in horror.

“So predictable,” said Aizen, who had stood, watching Ichigo’s feeble attempts to reach Gin. “I had expected far more of you, Kurosaki-kun.”

“I’ve had enough of this,” growled Ichigo, whipping his katana over his head and sending a shower of silver sparks flying at Aizen.

Aizen laughed, as the attack vanished only inches from his face. Aizen had not even raised his hand to defend himself.

“Ichigo,” said Rukia, desperately, “we need to leave. Now. You cannot win this fight. We cannot win this fight.”

“I will...not...let them...get away with this!” said Ichigo, panting. Before she could stop him, Ichigo ran at Aizen, blade pointed straight in front of him. Aizen did not move, but looked at Gin and nodded.

“Ichigo, no!” screamed Rukia. As she watched, Gin turned and pointed his weapon at Ichigo, sending a powerful stream of orange light directly at Ichigo’s chest. She threw herself between the two men, trying to shield Ichigo from the attack. Too late, the energy from Gin’s katana hit Ichigo in the chest, and he crumpled to the ground.

“You bastard!” she yelled at Gin, who stood there smiling as Ichigo lay silently on the ground.

Gin looked at Rukia and pointed his weapon at her, another burst of energy exploding from its tip. She threw up her arm and spun around. Snow and ice flew around her, solidifying as she turned and reflecting Gin’s attack.

“Rukia,” said Ichigo, picking himself slowly up off the ground and pulling a large crystal out of his pocket. She nodded quickly to him and he threw it, with all of his strength, towards the place where the Hunters stood. She waited until the crystal was feet away from the Hunters, and aimed her sword at the rock. The resulting explosion shook the ground beneath them, and Rukia moved quickly to shield Ichigo from the shower of tree limbs that rained down upon them.

“Ichigo, are you alright?” she asked, pushing the branches off of her and bending over him.

“Great,” he said, coughing, trying to lift himself up onto his elbows.

There was a flash of light from where the Hunters had been, and Rukia pushed Ichigo out of the way. The attack hit the ground where he had lain seconds before, and dirt flew into the air.

“No!” shouted Rukia, desperation in her voice. She turned and aimed her weapon at the two remaining Hunters. Gin and Aizen were gone, having used the commotion to withdraw with little fanfare. “So typical of them to leave their underlings to fight the war for them,” she thought.

She swung her katana over her head and, with all her strength, she sent a shower of ice and snow flying across the field, hitting the closer of the two Hunters and encasing him in a wall of ice. With a flick of her wrist, the ice exploded into tiny fragments, showering the field with what looked like tiny shimmers of light. The other Hunter, realizing he was alone, retreated quickly. Rukia did not follow him, she had only one thought in mind.

“Ichigo.”

She ran over to where he lay, a sinking feeling rising inside of her, leaving her as cold as the ice she had created only seconds ago - a coldness that permeated her body.

“Ichigo!” she yelled, reaching him and bending down over his unconscious body. His chest was covered with blood and his shirt was torn. Gin’s attack had left a gaping hole in his chest. “No,” she thought, pushing her hand down, hard, on the wound, hoping to stem the blood. It was no use.

“I must get him out of here, in case they return,” she thought, picking him up as he continued to bleed. She carried him to a small building at the side of the field. Bales of hay were stacked near the doorway, and she guessed the hut was used to store feed for the animals who grazed nearby. The door had long since ceased to close and hung off its hinges.

Rukia pushed the door open with her foot and laid Ichigo gently on a pile of hay. It was dry and softer than the dirt floor. She knelt down beside him and, closing her eyes, put both hands on his chest, imagining the wound beginning to heal, the blood clotting. She felt a slight warmth in her palms and opened her eyes. The wound smoked slightly.

“He’s hurt too badly,” she thought. “I cannot heal him.”

Panic began to rise in her chest, and for a moment, she forgot to breathe. She kneeled there for a moment, not knowing what to do. There was no one around, no one to help.

“Rukia.”

His voice was weak, and he coughed painfully.

“Don’t speak,” she said, “the bleeding will get worse. I need to get you to a doctor.”

He smiled at her. “It’s alright, Rukia,” he said, still smiling. “No doctor can heal this wound.”

He was dying and he knew it. She knew it in her heart, too, but she refused to accept it.

“There are so many things I want to tell you, Ichigo,” she thought.

“You’re going to be fine, Ichigo,” she said out loud, trying to convince herself. “I will...”

“Baka,” he said, smiling at her. “Have you always been so headstrong?”

“Yes,” she replied, laughing softly, in spite of herself. Her face fell.

“One day, Princess, you will know what it means to truly love another, and you will understand.”

“Do I love him?” she wondered.

“Tell Karin how sorry I am, for everything I said, for what I did,” said Ichigo, now serious.

Rukia nodded, biting her cheek hard to stop herself from crying. She could taste her own blood, salty in her mouth.

“Ichigo, I...” she began. He needed to understand. “Understand what, Rukia?” she thought, at a loss for words.

“You are beautiful Rukia,” he said, his eyes now half-closed, his face pale. “I’ve wanted to tell you that since the day I met you.”

“You will recover.”

“Stubborn woman,” he said, laughing and coughing at the same time. “I’m not immortal like you.”

Immortal. The word rang in her ears. “I can give him immortality,” she thought.

“Ichigo,” she said, “I can save you.”

There was no response. Desperately, she put her hand to his neck. His pulse was weak, irregular.

“Ichigo!” she said, louder this time.

Still nothing. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth.

“Please, Ichigo, I need to know if you want me to save you. Please wake up!”

Again, silence. She could feel his spirit begin to fade.

“No,” she thought, as the weight of her pain came crashing down around her and she began to sob, openly. “I need to know what you want me to do.”

“Ichigo!”

She shook him this time, but he did not respond.

“He has lost too much blood,” she thought, desperately, her hands on his cold face.

In that moment, the thought of losing him overwhelmed her. She reached for her waist and felt for the hilt of her small, jeweled dagger. Withdrawing it from its sheath, she put it to her wrist and cut the veins there. Blood dripped from the wound.

“Ichigo,” she said, “I cannot let you die.”

She put her bleeding wrist to his lips and her blood ran into his mouth.

“Drink,” she commanded, willing him to hear her.

For nearly a minute, he did not stir, and she despaired, believing him to be dead. She lay on his chest, her wrist still pressed to his lips, sobbing as if the pain would never abate. Finally, when she had lost all hope, she felt a hand grab her wrist and pull it tighter still. He began to drink her blood in earnest now, and his grip gradually became stronger. As if in a trance, he sat up and pulled her roughly to him, pushing her hair away from the nape of her neck.

“Ichigo,” she moaned, as he bit into her flesh. He drank from her with a hunger that surprised her with its intensity. She was dizzy, although she was not sure if her dizziness was on account of the loss of blood or the intensity of her physical response to him.

“You must take my life and then return it,” she said, her eyes now closed. She could feel his heart beating in unison with her own. She sighed deeply, and, as he claimed the last of her blood, she was overcome with a sense of him. Of his soul.

“I have desired you for so long, Rukia.” His thoughts were clear in her mind, as if he had spoken the words aloud.

“And I you,” she thought, as her mind grew dim. “Always.”

************************
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:21 pm

He dreamed he was holding her, his lips on her neck, feeling the softness of her body next to his. The sun had begun to set, filling the room with streaks of reddish-orange light. His head felt light and his mind was unfocused, as if he had drunk several bottles of wine without pausing. His body pulsed with a sense of intense pleasure. He felt something warm on his chin, and put his hand to his face, withdrawing it and marveling at the blood which covered his fingertips - it seemed to sparkle in the dimming light and the scent of it was intoxicating. His eyes closed drowsily.

“You must take my life and then return it,” he heard her say, and then he felt her grow limp in his arms.

“Rukia!” he thought. “Come back to me.”

She was dying. He knew there was no time to retrieve his sword. Instinctively, he tore at his wrist with his teeth and he lifted his wrist to her lips just as she had done for him. His blood fell like drops of rain into her mouth, and he heard her inhale deeply.

“You are alive,” he thought, with triumph, now, holding her against him as she drank deeply.

“Yes.”

He could feel the strength return to her and, after a few minutes, she released his arm. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked into his. His eyes were now a deep red, their color temporarily changed by the blood that flowed within him. He pulled her close to him, the Bloodlust now replaced by a different kind of hunger.

He kissed her lips roughly, unable to contain himself, and he felt a rush of energy which had little to do with the blood that coursed through his veins. The dizziness returned, but his senses were sharp and clear. He ran his fingertips again through her silky hair and was amazed at the sensation; he could feel every strand, the texture of it. He could smell her, smell the distant fragrance of the wildflowers, the corn in the fields, the crisp scent of a nearby stream. He experienced the world as never before – the sounds of birds, the regular beats of a horse’s hooves on the road, voices from the town, more than a mile away.

“What is happening to me?” he wondered vaguely, overcome by the myriad sensations.

The sun dipped lower in the sky, and he was suddenly overcome by the urge to feel her body against his. He pushed her onto ground and kissed her hungrily, his lips traveling over her face and neck. She moaned and wrapped her arms around him, pulling his bloody shirt over his head. His chest had healed entirely, and he no longer felt pain.

His surprise at the fact that his wound had vanished was quickly replaced by his renewed hunger for her. He sat up and leaned over her, unbuttoning her shirt to reveal her soft skin beneath. His fingers explored her skin, her breasts, the soft curve of her neck and her face. His heart raced as he pulled her up to him and his hands caressed her back.

“Ichigo,” she said, her voice thick, husky. “Please, I don’t want to hurt you. I belong to another.”

“You want this, don’t you, Rukia,” he said. It was not a question.

She looked at him with such longing that he could not stop himself. Slowly, he undressed her and she stood before him, comfortable in her nakedness.

“Tell me to stop, Rukia, and I will obey,” he thought, as he watched her.

“I don’t want you to stop.” The answer was unspoken, but he could hear her words as clearly as if she had uttered them aloud.

She was intoxicating. Irresistible. She ran her hands over his chest, lingering on each muscle. He sighed audibly and let her undress him. He laid her gently down on the ground and kissed her again, listening to the sound of her heart beating, the soft whisper of her breath.

“I love you, Ichigo.” She did not speak the words, but he heard them clearly in his mind. That he could read her thoughts did not seem foreign or unusual to him. It was if they had always been like this, that they had always been able to communicate without words. They had shared their blood and they now shared their souls. Slowly, he explored every inch of her and it was like a revelation, like returning home after a long absence.

“You are so beautiful,” he thought again as their souls intertwined.

She smiled.

****************************

Ichigo awoke to the cool evening breeze blowing through the broken windows. He turned his head and saw her, sleeping next to him, naked, beautiful. Slowly, the memories of the day came flooding back – the battle, Gin, Aizen, Rukia’s face, stricken with grief, looking into his eyes.

“I can save you.”

Ichigo sat up and closed his eyes, willing himself to remember.

“Drink.”

“I was wounded, dying,” he thought, the fog slowly lifting.

“You must take my life and then return it.”

He remembered his lips on hers, the softness of her skin, the way her body felt beneath his.

“I cannot let you die.”

“Rukia,” he said, softly, watching her sleep, fighting the urge to make love to her again.

“I can save you.”

Ichigo ran his fingers over his own chest, feeling for the wound that he knew should be there. The skin was smooth, perfect. He rolled over and picked up his shirt, which lay on the ground nearby. It was covered with blood. His blood. And there, where he had expected it would be: a large hole, ringed with charred fabric. The place where Gin’s attack had hit him.

“I should be dead,” he said aloud, sitting up, confused.

“Ichigo.” She reached out and touched his shoulder, but he did not move.

“I was dying,” he said, his voice flat, emotionless.

“Yes,” she said, her heart pounding with fear.

“You gave me your blood.”

“Yes.”

For a moment, he said nothing, but stared off at the horizon.

“Ichigo, I...” She stopped, unsure of what to say.

He turned and looked at her, realization dawning. “Rukia,” he said, his eyes searching her face. “What have you done?”
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