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 Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible

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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:23 pm

Chapter Eighteen: Wounds

“I couldn’t let you die,” she said, clearly distraught.

Ichigo absentmindedly ran his fingers over his chest again. “Am I a…,” he struggled to say the word, “…vampire?”

“No,” said Rukia, looking into his eyes, which still burned red from her blood. “You are...an Immortal.”

“Then the stories Renji spoke of…”

“Were true,” she replied, finishing his sentence for him. “Over the centuries, as the vampires and the Hunters grew estranged, the Ancients became reluctant to speak of it. Many vampires believed that it was just a legend, but the Ancient clans knew the truth. I was taught about the Gift when I was young.”

"Go on," Ichigo said, watching her carefully.

“You know that, millennia ago, the Hunters gave up immortality to live among humans,” Rukia explained, now clearly uncomfortable. “Over the centuries, however, vampires and Hunters did intermarry. It must have been painful for the vampires to watch their loved ones die, while they lived on for eternity, alone. Some Hunters chose to become vampires, by permitting themselves to be transformed. There were those, however, who did not become vampires but grew powerful. Some grew even more powerful than the vampires.”

“They drank the vampires’ blood,” said Ichigo, beginning to put the pieces together.

“Yes. We always knew that vampire blood would make the Hunters more powerful. What we discovered was that the blood of the Ancients could make the Hunters immortal again. The gift of immortality could only be given once in a lifetime, and only by an Ancient. It required Hunter and Ancient alike to give their lives up to each other, to share their souls,” she finished, blushing slightly.

“We are bound now for eternity, Kurosaki Ichigo," she thought. "My soul is yours and your soul is mine.”

“No,” he said, his voice barely a whisper. “I did not ask for this.”

“I…,” began Rukia, her discomfort clear.

“So you chose me?” Ichigo asked. “Why me, Rukia?”

She hesitated. “I have no right to tell him how I feel,” she thought. “I can never be his.”

“I could not watch you die, Ichigo,” she said, finally. It was the truth, although it was hardly the complete truth.

“It was never your choice to make,” he said, angrily, standing up and walking over to the window. He looked out at the blackness, the stars.

Her voice echoed in his mind, “I need to know if you want me to save you.”

Rukia stood up and walked over to Ichigo. “You are right,” she said. “It should have been your choice.” She laid her hand gently on his shoulder. A powerful wave of emotion swept over Ichigo, ignited by the touch of her hand. His desire for her was overwhelming, and he fought the urge to pull her to him, to claim her as his, to tell her what he felt.

“What do I feel?” he wondered silently, still staring out the window, yet keenly aware of her hand. He felt deeply conflicted – angry at her for what she had done, and, at the same time, overwhelmed with physical desire for her. The thought that he had willingly taken her blood, and nearly her life, repulsed him; but he was fascinated by his newfound awareness of the world around him and the possibilities that immortality offered.

After what seemed like an eternity, he pulled away from her and bent down to pick up his clothes, which were scattered about the floor. It took all his strength not to look at her.

“Where are you going?” she asked, with concern.

“I need time to think,” he said, curtly. “I will join you later, in Normandy.”

“I’m so glad you…” she began, heartened by his words.

“I have a bargain to uphold,” he said, interrupting her, his voice cold, business-like. “You have led me to Hitsugaya. I will deliver you safely to the Yamazaki’s when it is time for you to be married.”

“I deserve that,” she thought, as she watched him finish dressing and pick his sword up off the ground.

“Ichigo,” said Rukia, as he turned to leave, “I hope that you can forgive me one day.”

Ichigo walked out of the door without a word.

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

The shades were drawn and the room was dark, the only light was from a candle placed at Hitsugaya’s bedside. Karin sat on a chair by his bed, watching Hitsugaya sleep. He was so still that she, from time to time, put her hand on his chest to feel the reassuring beat of his heart. “I should never have left you alone,” she thought, sadly.

They had been back at the Kuchiki’s Normandy chateau for three days now, and she had not slept, choosing instead to stay with him, to make sure he would see her face when he awoke. Rukia had arrived the night before, without Ichigo, but with reassurances that he was safe and would soon return.

“How is Hitsugaya-sama?” Rukia had asked, with deep concern.

“He is alive,” Karin had replied, “but he has not yet awakened. Renji tells me that is normal, given the loss of blood.”

“He will be fine, Karin-chan,” Rukia had said, with a comforting smile. “He is nearly as old as the Ancients, and at least as strong. It will just take time.”

“Where is Ichigo?” Karin had asked. For a moment, Karin thought she had seen what looked like deep sadness echoed in Rukia’s pale face. Then it had been gone, replaced by the cool confidence that Karin had grown accustomed to.

“He had some business he wanted to attend to,” Rukia had replied. “He will return soon.”

Karin had been too tired to question this explanation at the time. Now, however, despite her exhaustion, she began to worry about her brother, that he might be in danger. “He is strong,” she thought to herself, stifling a yawn. “He will return safely.”

There was a soft knock on the door, and Renji poked his head into the room. Karin, startled, nearly jumped out of her seat.

“I’m sorry to frighten you, Kurosaki-san,” said Renji, seeing the look of distress on Karin’s face.

“It’s alright, Renji,” she replied. “I guess I’m a little jumpy. And please, Renji, call me Karin.”

He smiled at her and walked into the room. “How is Hitsugaya-sama?” he asked.

“Sleeping peacefully,” she said.

“He will need to feed when he wakes up,” said Renji, now standing over the bead. “Rukia has asked to be called.”

“I will give him my blood,” Karin responded, slightly hurt.

“Karin,” said Renji, a look of understanding on his face, “you still have not recovered, either.” In the dim candlelight, he could see her face, pale and wan.

“Have you slept at all?” he asked with concern.

“I’m fine, Renji,” she answered, looking away from him. “I don’t want to leave him.”

“I can stay here, with you, if you’d like,” said Renji. “You don’t have to leave him.” He indicated the couch by the windows.

“No really, I’m alright, Renji,” she replied.

“I insist,” he said, adding, “Please, Karin.”

She smiled weakly at him and he helped her over to the couch, where she lay, looking up at the ceiling.

“Is Rukia alright?” she asked, after a few minutes of silence.

“Yes,” said Renji. “Why do you ask?”

“I don’t know,” she said, yawning again. “She just seemed…different.”

“I’m sure it’s nothing,” he replied. “She probably needs to rest, like you.”

“I suppose you’re right, Renji,” said Karin, closing her eyes. Then, a minute later, “Renji?”

“Yes?”

“If Toushirou wakes up, please be sure to wake me,” she said, drowsily.

“Of course,” he said.

She closed her eyes and dreamed.

She was walking through a dense forest. The thick green moss felt soft underfoot. She could smell water from the stream that ran along the path, and the wind felt cool and soft against her skin.

In the distance, she heard a man laughing – a carefree, unfettered expression of joy.

“Toushirou!” she shouted happily, running towards the sound of his voice. She had never heard him laugh before, but she knew it was him, all the same. “At last, he is truly happy,” she thought, smiling.

Trees flew by her as she ran - blurs of green, tan and brown. Her hair blew freely around her face, and her dress danced about in the wind as she ran onward, towards him.

As she reached the edge of the forest, she saw an open field. In the middle of the short grass lay a man, looking up at the sky, a head of silver hair amidst the green.

“Toushirou!” she called, laughing now.

Hearing her voice, he rolled onto his side and stood up, smiling at her as she ran towards him. She reached out her arms to hold him but, just as she reached him, she felt two hands grab her shoulders from behind. They were clammy and cold. She turned around and reached for her sword, but felt nothing there.

“Have you missed me?” the man they called Kurotsuchi whispered in her ear. His face was inches from hers, and she could smell his breath.

“Leave me alone!” she shouted.

“You are far too pretty to be left alone, vampire,” came a second voice from behind her. She gasped as she felt a cold hand run up her leg, lingering on the soft skin of her thigh and lifting the fabric of her dress.

“No!” she yelled, turning around to face one of the Hunter guards, his face scratched and scarred, his eyes unpitying, hungry.

The field was gone, and with it, Hitsugaya. Instead, she found herself in an underground room carved from stone. The guard with the scarred face laughed and pushed her roughly down onto a hard stone platform, holding her arms above her head.

“There is no one here to help you,” said Kurotsuchi, pulling out a sharp knife and running his fingers over its blade.

“No,” she said, her voice now muffled, as Kurotsuchi’s hand covered her mouth.

Rough, calloused hands touched her neck and then traveled down her chest, reaching underneath her dress and lingering on her breasts.

“Your skin is soft,” growled the guard, his lips brushing against her face as his hands continued to explore her body. The feeling of his hand on her skin made her physically ill.

“There will be time for that later, when I’m done with her,” hissed Kurotsuchi, pushing the guard away and untying the bodice of her dress. Silence, and then unbearable pain, as the knife cut into her chest.

“No, please! Please stop!” she thought, unable to speak.

“Apparently, even a filthy beast has a heart,” laughed another man, from the shadows.

Karin screamed.

“Karin!”

“No, please, it hurts so much,” she moaned.

“Karin, wake up!” said Renji, putting his hand on her arm.

“No, don’t touch me or I’ll kill you!” she shouted as she sat up abruptly, pulling a dagger from her waist and raising it to his neck.

“Karin, it’s me! Renji!”

As if waking from a trance, she looked at his face, the dagger still pointed at his throat.

“Renji?” she gasped, trying to catch her breath. Her heart was pounding in her ears.

“Your skin is soft.”

“No, please don’t touch me.”

“It’s alright, Karin. It’s just me. You must have been dreaming.”

“Renji,” she said, breathlessly. “Renji, I…I’m so sorry. I don’t know what I…” she looked at the dagger in her hand, releasing her grip on it and letting it fall to the floor.

The door to the room opened and Rukia rushed in. “I heard someone scream. Are you alright?”

“I…I must have been dreaming,” said Karin, staring at her empty hand in horror. “Renji…I nearly killed you.”

“I’m fine,” said Renji, smiling back at her reassuringly.

“Renji,” said Rukia. “Please get Karin a glass of brandy from downstairs.”

Renji nodded and quickly left the room. Rukia put her arm around Karin’s shoulder and sat her down on the couch.

“I am so sorry, Kuchiki-san,” said Karin, shivering. “I can’t explain it. I was having a dream and then…”

“It’s alright,” said Rukia, softly, stroking Karin’s hair gently. “You have suffered a great deal. You need to rest and regain your strength.”

“Toushirou?

“He is still asleep,” said Rukia, her voice calm.

“Has Ichigo…” Karin began, her voice hopeful.

“He has not yet returned, child,” Rukia said, looking away so that Karin could not see the pain in her eyes. “She needs you, Ichigo,” Rukia thought with sadness. “I need you.”

Karin stood up, walked over to the bed and sat down next to Histugaya, taking his hand in hers.

“Karin,” said Rukia, gently. “You really must rest.”

“I don’t want to sleep. I want to be here where Toushirou wakes up,” Karin replied. “I’m afraid to sleep.”

“Please. Let me help you sleep,” Rukia said, walking over to Karin and putting her hand on Karin’s forehead.

“No, really, Rukia,” said Karin, forcing a smile, “I’ll be just fine, I…”

“Sleep, child,” came the gentle command. Rukia caught Karin as she collapsed. Easily gathering the unconscious woman up in her arms, Rukia carried Karin to the couch and laid her gently down upon it.

“Karin,” thought Rukia. “It was more than just a dream, wasn’t it?”

She looked over to where Hitsugaya lay sleeping. “And what will you do, Hitsugaya-sama, when you learn the depth of her pain?”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:24 pm

Chapter Nineteen: Still Standing

Ichigo stood on the top of the Butte Montmartre, looking down at the city of Paris. Standing high on a scaffold near the top of the partially-built Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, he could see the streets below, still filled with people finishing their marketing and heading home for the evening. The gaslights had begun to illuminate the city, and the sun was beginning to set.

After leaving Rukia, he had wandered about the French countryside with no particular destination in mind. After a day spent doing little more than walking, he had eventually arrived in Paris, a city he had only visited once before, as a young child, before his mother’s death. After months spent in isolation on the boat and then at Rukia’s mansion, Ichigo found himself eager to explore what the city might offer.

He had run up the hundred or so steps to the top of the hill in just seconds, and had not even broken a sweat. From there, he had easily climbed the scaffolding to a vantage point that few others could have reached. He marveled at the strength of his body - the body which, less than a day ago, had been near death. Everything seemed more vibrant to him, from the sounds of the city, to the smell of the flowers growing in the Jardins des Tuilleries. He felt more alive than ever felt before, and the irony was not lost on him.

“Rukia,” he thought, as he looked out at the darkening sky. Try as he might, he had been unable to keep her name from resurfacing in his thoughts.

“Tell me to stop, Rukia, and I will obey.”

“I don’t want you to stop.”

He could still remember the softness of her skin, the way she had moaned when he had bitten her neck, the way he had moaned when…

“No,” he said, out loud. His voice echoed about the empty building and a flock of pigeons, disturbed by the noise, flew over his head from their perch atop one of the nearby towers.

“I love you, Ichigo.”

“No,” he said, again, gripping one of the wooden supports with such force that the thick piece of wood broke, jamming splinters into his palm. He looked down at his hand. Tiny drops of blood had begun to form where the wood had broken his skin.

“Her blood. My blood.”

“I am not like them,” he said, under his breath, watching himself bleed. His palm burned, but the pain was comforting - a familiar presence in the unfamiliar universe in which he now found himself.

“Mommy! Wake up, Mommy! Mommy, please wake up!” Masaki’s body lay on the ground, growing cold.

He shut his eyes and closed his hand around the splinters, driving them deeper into his skin.

“Ichi-nii, fight with me!”

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

“Please, Ichi-nii, I’ll never get stronger if I can’t practice what I’ve learned.”

“You don’t need to get stronger. You’re a girl.”

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

“Karin.” He said her name like a prayer, tightening his fist. The physical pain was nothing, but the pain in his soul was almost more than he could bear.

“The Hunters, have tortured your own sister, Kurosaki. Would you just sit back and watch her die?”

“Karin. You were so quick to forgive me. Why can’t I forgive?” His eyes burned, and he clenched his teeth so tightly that the muscles in his face grew rigid.

“Ichi-nii. Rukia was right. You are a good man.”

“No,” he said, opening his eyes. “I’m not.”

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

For nearly two weeks, Karin had lived in Hitsugaya’s room, watching him, waiting. Rukia had insisted that the draperies remain open to let the sunlight into the dark room. Every morning, Matsumoto, who had arrived at the chateau not long after Rukia, would come in the room and open the heavy curtains and push up the heavy window frames to let the air inside.

At first, Karin had not complained. Soon, however, she had grown more and more concerned for Hitsugaya’s safety. This concern first manifested itself in Karin’s increased vigilance - she would look out the window, scanning the fields and the forests beyond for possible assailants who might want to harm the sleeping vampire. After time, Karin had taken to closing the windows and drapes after lunch, fearing that her eyesight might not be as keen with the sun directly overhead. The last few days, Matsumoto had barely opened the drapes before Karin quickly closed them, and the windows had remained shut to the outside air.

This morning, however, Matsumoto did not come to the room at all. Instead, it was Rukia who brought Karin her breakfast. Karin was seated, as always, next to Hitsugaya, who lay, unmoving, in the bed. Rukia walked in quietly, and set a tray of food and drink on the table near Karin.

“Thank you,” said Karin, looking up into Rukia’s face. “I wasn’t expecting you, Rukia.”

“I thought I’d give Rangiku-san the morning off,” Rukia said, smiling at Karin.

Karin smiled back at Rukia. “That was kind of you, Rukia-san,” said Karin, the dark circles under her eyes more pronounced than before.

“Have you been sleeping, Karin-chan?” asked Rukia, her face full of concern.

“Yes,” lied Karin.

“I’m worried about you,” said Rukia, kindly, as she walked over to the windows. “Rangiku-san says you haven’t been eating much.”

“Please don’t worry about me, Rukia-san,” replied Karin. “I’m really fine.”

Rukia pushed back the draperies and sunlight streamed into the room. Karin stood up abruptly, looking uneasy.

“Is something the matter?” asked Rukia, slightly surprised at Karin’s reaction.

“No,” said Karin. “It’s just that…”

“No one will hurt him, Karin,” said Rukia, watching Karin carefully now.

“How did you…?” began Karin.

“I can sense things, Karin. Strong emotions. Fear. What are you afraid of Karin?”

“It’s nothing, really,” said Karin, walking over to the open window and looking out.

“Karin,” said Rukia, gently putting her arm on Karin’s shoulder. “What happened in the prison?”

Karin stiffened, visibly.

“They did more than just take your blood, didn’t they?”

Karin said nothing, but continued to gaze out the window as if hypnotized.

“Karin,” Rukia said, her voice low, insistent, “it might help if you’d tell me about…”

“Nothing happened,” Karin said, raising her voice and turning to Rukia. “It’s over.”

“I apologize, Karin-chan,” said Rukia, studying Karin’s face. “I did not mean to upset you.”

Karin took a deep breath and turned back to the window. “I am sorry, Rukia-san,” Karin said, after a moment, regaining her composure. “I meant no disrespect.”

“Please don’t let it trouble you,” replied Rukia, walking over to the other window and opening the curtain. As she did so, she noticed that Karin’s hand was resting lightly on the hilt of her sword.

“Karin, I did not know you had retrieved your sword,” said Rukia, surprised now.

“I…,” Karin stammered slightly, “I’m not sure how, but I woke up one morning, and I was holding it in my hands. They took it away from me in the…in that place. I don’t know how it got here.”

“Your powers have grown, Karin-chan,” said Rukia, smiling now. “Only the very strongest and oldest vampires are able to call their weapons from so far away.”

There was a stirring sound from the bed. Hitsugaya was sitting up and watching them with a look of mild amusement.

“Toushirou!” Karin shouted, smiling broadly and throwing her arms around his neck.

“Hitsugaya-sama,” said Rukia, nodding and smiling at him. “I am glad you have returned to us.”

“How long?” he asked, his voice hoarse from lack of use.

“Nearly two weeks,” said Karin, looking relieved. She handed him a glass of water, and he drank it quickly.

“The others?”

“They are all safe, Hitsugaya-sama,” said Rukia, avoiding his eyes.

He looked at Rukia briefly, a question on his lips, and then thought better of it. Instead, he turned to Karin. “I am glad you are safe,” he said simply, his turquoise eyes twinkling in the light filtering in from the windows.

Karin smiled again.

“I must be going,” said Rukia, quickly.

“There will be time for us to be alone later, Rukia,” said Karin. “It is I who must leave you alone. Toushirou needs your strength.” She smiled warmly at Rukia, who nodded in understanding, then she bent down and kissed Hitsugaya gently on the cheek.

“She looks exhausted,” said Hitsugaya, after Karin had left.

“She hasn’t slept since we returned,” said Rukia, with concern. “I hope that now, she will be able to rest.”

Hitsugaya looked at Rukia for a moment and then, against his better judgment, asked her the question that he had wanted to ask her before. “Where is Kurosaki?”

“He will return soon, to escort me to Paris,” replied Rukia, her face devoid of emotion.

“Is this what you desire?” asked the silver-haired vampire.

“I don’t know,” Rukia replied, her eyes distant, as if recalling a memory.

“You love him,” Hitsugaya said. “I can feel it, Rukia-san.”

“My feelings are unimportant, Hitsugaya-sama,” replied Rukia, as she offered him her wrist. “My fate is already sealed.”

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

Outside for the first time in weeks, Karin ran through the fields behind the manor. As much as she had not wanted to leave Hitsugaya, the freedom she felt as the wind blew through her hair and against her face was invigorating. Despite the lack of sleep, she felt strong again, powerful, in control.

“I will not let them break me,” she thought, pushing the memories away. “They will pay for what they have done to him, to me.”

She stopped at the edge of the woods. The remnant of an old tree caught her eye - nothing more than a weathered trunk, stripped of its bark and its limbs. She stood for several minutes, just looking at the dead wood, contemplating its shape.

“Even a filthy beast has a heart.”

She drew her sword from her waist and, with both hands, she held the blade high above her head. Sunlight glinted on the metal. Slowly she lowered the blade and pointed it at the tree.

“Aizen,” she said out loud, her voice calm and self-assured. “I will cut your heart out and watch you die.”

She narrowed her eyes and focused her power on the sword in her hands. A burst of red light, tinged with black fire flew from the point of her blade, hitting the tree and obliterating it. The energy continued to fly, past the place where the tree had once stood, fanning out towards the forest, hitting dozens of trees and setting them ablaze.

Karin stood, transfixed, as the trees burned, sending flames into the air, high above the forest. She could feel the heat of the blaze warm on her cheeks, and the wind around her blew embers around the field, lighting some of the dry grass on fire. She closed her eyes and reveling in the feel of the ashes as they stung her skin. And there, in the middle of the growing inferno, with flames licking at her feet, Karin smiled.

“Karin.”

The air grew cold around her and she shivered slightly.

“Toushirou,” she said opening her eyes. The trees were covered with frost, and the grass at her feet was frozen. Steam rose, cloudlike, from what had been the fire. She felt a gentle hand on her shoulder and sighed, deeply.

“I sense turmoil in your soul,” he said, his voice low.

“Turmoil,” she said, sighing and turning to face him. “Yes.”

“Rukia says you have barely slept.”

“Yes.”

“Karin,” he said, putting his arms around her shoulders and pulling her close. Gently, he ran his hands through her long hair. “I missed you. Life without you was…” He struggled to find the words. Like death? Devoid of color? Without beauty? “…lonely,” he finished, as words failed him.

“Toushirou,” she said, her voice caressing his name, like music. She looked into the turquoise eyes she had so longed to see and wished she could lose herself in them. “I thought I would die there…alone.” She smiled at him. “I could have died there, knowing you were safe.”

He pulled her to him and kissed her, gently, on the lips. She felt so small in his arms; she was still so thin, so frail. He ran his hands through her hair again and kissed her on her lips, her eyes, her cheeks. It felt like he had come home after a lifetime of wandering and loneliness. She kissed him tenderly, feeling his lips on hers, the taste of his mouth, the caress of his tongue on hers.

“Karin,” he whispered, kissing her neck and exploring the soft roundness of her earlobe between his lips. She moaned and shut her eyes, reveling in the feel of him, his scent, the sound of his breath in her ear. “I have wanted this for so long. Forgive me for not understanding, for believing…”

“Shhh,” she whispered, interrupting his apology and running her fingertips over his mouth. “Let us not speak of the past.” She pulled his head to her and kissed him deeply, her hands lightly caressing his arms and his back.

“I want you,” he groaned, struggling to keep control. “Not just your blood.” He took her hand and led her past the icy remains of the burnt field, to a small grouping of trees untouched by the fire. The ground underneath was covered with moss, soft and inviting. She followed him willingly, eager to give herself to him.

He sat and pulled her down so that she sat beside him and kissed her with a hunger that nearly took his breath away.

“I am yours, forever,” she said, smiling at him. The depth of her feeling made her shudder with pleasure, although he had barely touched her.

“Karin,” he whispered, kissing her hair, her ear, the nape of her neck. Slowly, his lips traveled down to the soft crevice between her breasts. “You are so beautiful,” he murmured, all control now lost. He did not care that he might lose control; he was completely under her spell. Gently, he unlaced her bodice, kissing her gently…

“No. Please.”

“Karin,” he said, looking up at her, perplexed.

“Please, stop,” she said, horrified. “I…” Tears streamed down her cheeks.

“It’s alright, Karin,” he said. “We can wait. I can wait.”

“No,” she said again, putting her hands to her face and covering her eyes. “Please, tell them to stop. Please...” her voice faltered, and she collapsed in his arms, sobbing audibly.

“Karin,” he thought, as he felt a wave of pain wash over him and her pain became his.
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:24 pm

Chapter Twenty: Paris

She was running through the streets of Karakura, home after too long an absence. The sun was shining and the air was full of the crisp, clean scent of spring. She ran by the small shops, and the park, where she had first met Hitsugaya. She waved to the people she knew, smiling and laughing, running onward towards home.

“Dad!” she shouted, as she saw the back of his scruffy head from the fields behind the house.

“Karin!” he yelled back, running towards her and swinging her around in the air, like she was a small child again. “I’ve missed you.”

“And I you,” said Karin, smiling broadly.

“Yuzu will be so happy to see you. She hasn’t been the same since you left,” said Isshin.

“Where is she?” Karin asked, breathlessly.

“Inside,” he replied, and she smiled at him again and ran towards the house.

“Yuzu! Yuzu I’m home!” she called, as she flung open the door.

“Karin! Oh, Karin! You’re back,” her twin called, running to embrace her, tears on her cheeks.

They stood there for what seemed like hours, holding each other silently. Karin felt warm, happy, at peace. She closed her eyes, breathing in the scents of home. Dinner cooking in the kitchen, flowers in the garden, Yuzu. She breathed in deeply, overwhelmed by the scent of her sister. Her hair, her skin.

“I am hungry,” she thought, dreamily, as her head lay against her sister’s soft skin. “So hungry.”

She lifted her sister’s hair and buried her teeth into Yuzu’s neck.

Karin moaned in pain and rolled over in the bed. Outside the room where she slept, Hitsugaya paced back and forth, his mind racing. It had been hours since he had brought her back from the forest, shaking violently, exhausted and weak.

“You must sleep, Karin-chan,” Rukia had said, putting her hand to Karin’s forehead, willing her to close her eyes. Karin had curled up against Hitsugaya’s chest, and he had carried her to a small bedroom and laid her gently on the bed.

“Hitsugaya-sama,” said Rukia, interrupting his pacing, “she will sleep for at least several days. You should rest, too.”

Hitsugaya stopped his pacing, but did not turn to look at her.

“Would you like me to help you sleep, as well?” she asked him, softly.

“No.” Then, turning to her, he asked, “What did they do to her?” His voice betrayed no emotion, but Rukia could feel him seething, consumed by anger.

“I...I do not know for sure,” said Rukia, hesitating slightly.

“But you suspect,” he said, his voice flat, matter-of-fact.

Rukia said nothing.

“I felt the Hunter bastards cut her,” he hissed. “I felt them bleed her dry. But there is more, is there not?”

“It is only my suspicion, Hitsugaya-sama,” replied Rukia, looking away from him.

“I will kill them. Every last one of them.” His eyes were filled with hatred.

“This is not the time for revenge, Toushirou,” she said, reading his mind.

“No,” he replied. “That must wait.”

Rukia looked relieved.

“I will find her brother,” said Hitsugaya, watching Rukia for her reaction.

“Yes,” she said, simply.

“You were right, Rukia, to do what you did. I understand. He will too.”

“Of course,” she thought, “he knows. He has shared my blood.”

“Where is he?” asked Hitsugaya.

Rukia closed her eyes and searched her soul. In her mind, she saw an image of a cathedral overlooking a river, houseboats and bridges. She heard a woman laughing, saw her arms clasped around the waist of a man with orange hair. “Ichigo,” she thought, with a twinge of jealousy.

“Paris,” she said, opening her eyes again.

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

“Vous-êtes si fort, Hunter,” laughed the red-headed girl, snaking her hands through Ichigo’s arms and pulling him by the waist until her overflowing breasts were pressed against his chest.

His head spun from the alcohol; he felt invincible. He had been drunk before, but this time, the effect of the wine had been far stronger than he had anticipated, and he wondered vaguely if his newfound powers had intensified its effects.

“What do I care,” he thought, carelessly. “If I’m so strong, why does it matter?”

Ichigo laughed and pushed the woman off of him, grabbing a bottle of wine from off the table and drinking deeply.

“Embracez-moi!” said the redhead, pulling him back towards her and kissing him, her tongue running over his teeth and then probing deeper.

“Marie-Thèrese,” a man’s voice, rough and low, came from behind Ichigo. The redhead retreated, hands on her hips, and gave the man a look of utter contempt.

“Why did you tell her to leave?” asked Ichigo, turning around. “We were just playing a little game.”

“My sister is not a plaything,” growled the man and, before Ichigo realized what was happening, a hard fist had connected with his jaw, knocking him backward into the bar and toppling a number of bottles and glasses. Several men at a nearby table laughed at the sight of Ichigo, stumbling back to his feet.

“What are you laughing at,” said Ichigo, scowling and swaying slightly.

One of the men stood up and walked over to Ichigo, eyes narrowed. He was nearly a head taller and easily ten years older. He carried a jeweled sword at his waist. A Hunter.

“Le Vicomte Aizen told us about you. You’re the brother of the pretty little vampire the Council locked up, aren’t you, garçon?” said the Hunter, with a swagger. “I heard she’s a tasty little piece of work, right, Claude?” The Hunter turned to his drinking mate, who smiled and laughed.

Ichigo pulled his sword and touched the tip of it to the Hunter’s throat. “If you even laid a finger on her, I’ll slice you to bits,” snarled Ichigo, his face darkening.

The man sitting at the table stood up and walked over to the Ichigo and drew his sword. “Henri,” he said, pushing Ichigo’s sword away from his friend’s throat with his own blade, “the little vampire whore’s brother wants to cut you up for dinner. Do you like blood, too, Kurosaki?”

The sound of metal against metal reverberated throughout the bar as Ichigo, enraged, lunged at Claude. The man flew backwards, landing on a table and breaking one of the chairs next to it.

Henri drew his sword and studied Ichigo with a look of loathing. “You are a strong boy, aren’t you?” he said, with disgust. “Have you decided to become one of them, like your dog of a sister?”

“You bastard!” yelled Ichigo, swinging his sword around, aiming for the man’s neck, but missing it by several inches as the room swam about him.

“Had a few too many glasses of wine, boy?” laughed Henri, his sword pointed at Ichigo’s chest.

“He’s just a boy, Henri,” said Claude, laughing. “He can’t be expected to fight when he’s drunk.”

“Then we’ll just have to give him a little more wine, won’t we?” said Henri, sheathing his weapon and reaching over to the bar to grab a bottle.

A third Hunter, who had been sitting at the table watching the commotion, stood up and hit Ichigo hard on the back of the head with the hilt of his weapon. Ichigo, who had not seen the Hunter approach, fell to the ground, stunned, his sword skittering across the floor. Two of the Hunters grabbed him roughly, holding him down, as Henri forced his mouth open and began to pour the wine into it. The room spun again, and Ichigo struggled to stay conscious, coughing and gagging on the wine, which ran over his face and onto the floor.

“That’s enough, ” came a new voice, from over Ichigo’s shoulder. Ichigo blinked his eyes, willing them to focus on the two blurry figures who walked towards him.

“Hisagi. Sado. Come to join in the festivities?” said Henri, with a smirk.

“Let him go, LeClerc,” said the shorter of the two men, in a resonant baritone.

“Nah,” said Henri, “We’re having too much fun.”

“Leave him be,” said the other man. “I do not wish to hurt you.”

“Maybe we should go, Henri,” said the third Hunter, clearly uneasy.

“They’re outnumbered, Philippe,” said Henri, standing up to face the two men, the empty wine bottle in his hand.

“You don’t want to do this, LeClerc,” said Hisagi, with a sigh.

Henri laughed, and swung the bottle at the man. Hisagi moved faster than Ichigo could follow with his bleary eyes, as the bottle missed its mark, flying off towards the bar. The sound of shattering glass was punctuated by the dull thud of a fist, hitting Henri square in the jaw. The Hunter dropped to the ground and lay still.

“Thanks, Chad,” said Hisagi, his sword now pointed at Claude, who raised his weapon and swung. There was a loud clanking noise, and Hisagi seemed to vanish and then reappear on the other side of the Hunter.

“You’re fast, Hisagi,” growled Claude, “but I’m the better swordsman.”

“Perhaps,” said Hisagi, casually. To Ichigo’s half-open eyes, the younger man appeared to fly into the air and spin around, hitting Claude directly in the chest with his foot. The Hunter doubled over in pain, cursing loudly.

“Time for you to leave,” said Chad, his voice calm, matter-of-fact.

“Let’s go,” said Philippe, his voice high.

“Fine,” grumbled Claude, still nursing his chest. “This little brat isn’t worth it anyhow.”

Ichigo watched the two Hunters leave, glancing over at the still unconscious Henri, who lay several feet away. Ichigo wiped the wine from his face and grinned.

“I could have gotten rid of them myself,” he said, looking up at Hisagi and Chad.

“Of course,” replied Hisagi, sheathing his weapon and crossing his arms.

Chad reached down and held out his hand for Ichigo, but Ichigo waved him off.

“I can get up myself,” said Ichigo, scowling.

“As you wish,” said Chad, standing up again and stepping back.

Ichigo struggled to his feet and smiled smugly at the two men, walking over to where his sword had fallen. He had not taken two steps, however, when the room began to spin again. The last thing he remembered seeing was Chad, shrugging to his companion with an ‘I told you so’ look, as he fell to the floor and the world went black.

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

Ichigo’s head was pounding. He put his hand to the back of his skull and felt a large knot. Through the fog, he remembered being hit from behind by something hard.

“Damn,” he said, sitting up and trying to focus on his surroundings. “What the hell happened last night?”

“I could tell you,” came a voice from the doorway. “But it was pretty pathetic, Kurosaki. You might not want to remember.”

“You know who I am?” Ichigo asked, fighting the urge to vomit.

“Yes.”

Ichigo squinted, hoping to make out the stranger’s face.

“Hisagi Shuuhei,” said the black haired man, raising an eyebrow as Ichigo turned a violent shade of green.

“Never heard of you,” said Ichigo, rubbing his eyes and willing himself not to be sick.

“We met once, years ago, in Japan. I used to train with Urahara-sama.” Shuuhei stepped into the light, and Ichigo could see his face more clearly now.

“You look familiar,” grunted Ichigo. “Don’t remember the scars or the tattoos, though.”

“You wouldn’t,” replied Shuuhei. “I acquired them more recently.”

“You here to take me into custody?” asked Ichigo, swinging his legs off the bed and leaning on the edge to stand up.

“No. Should I be?”

“Probably,” said Ichigo, as another wave of nausea swept over him. “It’s not like I could do much to stop you, anyhow.”

“The sink is in the next room,” Shuuhei said, his arms crossed, leaning on the doorframe.

“Thanks,” said Ichigo, walking quickly by him.

“You might want to go easier on the wine next time,” said Shuuhei, watching as Ichigo leaned over the sink and retched.

“Right,” said Ichigo, wiping his face with a towel and turning around. “Who were those guys last night, anyhow?”

“Aizen’s men,” replied Shuuhei, studying Ichigo with some consternation.

“What are you looking at?” Ichigo asked, scowling.

“Just wondering whether you’re really the same man Urahara spoke of,” said Shuuhei, frowning.

“Meh,” grumbled Ichigo. “That old fool is full of shit, anyhow. Or...was, I guess.”

“Was?”

“Ichimaru bragged about killing the geezer,” said Ichigo.

“Never,” said Shuuhei, with utter conviction. “He’s far too powerful to fall to Gin.”

“Aizen and his men are using the vampires’ blood to grow stronger. Urahara was just a Hunter,” said Ichigo, growing impatient.

“Urahara-sama,” replied Shuuhei, emphasizing the honorific, “is far more than just a Hunter, Kurosaki.”

“I can see he worked his magic on you, Hisagi,” drawled Ichigo.

“Urahara-sama called you a ‘challenging’ student,” said Shuuhei, laughing to himself and shaking his head slowly. “Now I can see why.”

Ichigo scowled again and said, “I learned enough from him.”

“Yes. But did you not learn anything about your Sensei, Kurosaki?” asked Shuuhei, in disbelief.

Ichigo’s head began to pound again. “About him? Why would I care about him?”

“Because, Kurosaki, Urahara Kisuke is an Immortal, and he is the Hunters’ last and best hope for survival. If he truly is dead, then Aizen has already won.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:25 pm

Chapter Twenty-One: Portents

“I don’t understand what Urahara has to do with any of this,” said Ichigo, rubbing his eyes again.

“Urahara-sama is dead?” came a deep voice from the hallway. “I don’t believe it.”

“Your friend here doesn’t believe it either,” said Ichigo, looking up at one of the most powerfully built men he had ever seen.

“Mmm,” said the man, eyeing Ichigo with some concern. “This is the man Urahara-sama spoke of, Hisagi?”

“Doesn’t look like much, does he?” said Shuuhei.

“Still, if Urahara...”

“Do you always talk about people sitting in front of you like they’re not there?” growled Ichigo.

“No,” said the big man, pushing his dark brown hair out of his eyes to take a better look at Ichigo.

“Kurosaki, this is Sado Yasutora. We call him Chad,” said Shuuhei.

Chad held out his hand. Ichigo considered it for a moment, then shook it briefly, taking the opportunity to stand up and walk over to edge of the balcony which overlooked the city.

“So what did the old guy say about me?” asked Ichigo, his back to the two other men.

“He believed you might be able to help us,” said Chad, putting a few baguettes and coffee on the small table and tearing off a piece of bread.

“Urahara-sama said that if he disappeared again, it would mean that Aizen’s faction were making their move for control of the Council. He told us to contact those Hunters who might be disposed to fight against Aizen. Your name came up,” Hisagi said.

Ichigo turned around. “And why would I want to help you?”

“Urahara-sama told us about your sister. He risked his life to defend her,” Hisagi said, narrowing his eyes.

Ichigo was silent.

“The last time I spoke with him was a month ago. He was on his way to the prison to see her; he was concerned that she might be harmed. I’ve heard nothing from him since then,” replied Hisagi, pulling off another piece of bread and offering the baguette to Ichigo.

Ichigo again said nothing, but accepted the bread and joined them at the table.

“You see, Kurosaki,” said Shuuhei, his mouth full of bread, “he did not blame your sister. He understood why she chose to Transform. He risked his life to come out of hiding and speak on her behalf to the Council. He saved her life. They would have killed her, outright.”

These words surprised Ichigo. He had never thought of Urahara as anything but a self-serving fool who did only those things that were to his personal benefit. “I really do know nothing about him,” thought Ichigo, picking a bit of crust off his piece of bread and flicking it over the balcony into the mouth of a particularly large pigeon.

“What do want me to do?” asked Ichigo, grudgingly.

“Speak to the Kuchiki’s about the Council,” replied Hisagi, pouring them thick, black coffee.

“The Kuchiki’s?” asked Ichigo, surprised. “What do the vampires have to do with the inner workings of the Council?”

“Everything,” said Hisagi. “Urahara-sama believed Aizen and his men had been reaching out to the Yamazaki’s. He believed Aizen would exploit the millennia-old conflict between the vampire clans to his advantage.”

“What proof do you have that the Yamazaki’s are involved in this?” Ichigo asked, remembering his promise to escort Rukia to the Yamazaki’s and wondering what he had gotten himself into.

“None yet,” answered Hisagi, picking up his cup and sipping at the viscous liquid. “But it makes sense that Aizen would try to align himself with one of the two clans. Given Urahara-sama’s longtime friendship with Kuchiki Byakuya and Hitsugaya Toushirou, Aizen is far more likely to approach the Yamazaki’s.”

“Hitsugaya...is friends with Urahara?!” Ichigo stood up abruptly, knocking over his coffee.

“You did not know this either?” asked Hisagi, eyebrow raised.

“If he’s still alive, I’m going to kill that bastard Urahara myself,” growled Ichigo. “He lied to me. Told me he had no idea where Hitsugaya was.”

“Given the situation, can you truly blame him for lying to you?” asked Hisagi.

Ichigo glared at Hisagi, but did not answer. He had to admit to himself that his hatred of Hitsugaya and his need to avenge his sister seemed a distant memory, in light of all that had happened in the past week. Still, he felt angry that Urahara had kept so much from him.

“Someone is here,” said Chad, abruptly, standing up and walking over to the iron railing.

Ichigo and Hisagi stood up, as well, drawing their swords.

“There is no need to draw your weapons,” came a familiar voice from above their heads.

“Hitsugaya-sama,” said Chad, as the vampire alit on the rail and then jumped down onto the balcony.

“Sado. Hisagi,” the silver-haired vampire nodded in greeting. “I apologize for taking you by surprise. The building is being watched.”

“We know,” said Hisagi, sheathing his weapon.

“What can we do for you, Hitsugaya-sama?” asked Chad.

“I have come to speak with Kurosaki,” said Hitsugaya.

“What’s wrong?” asked Ichigo, who had sheathed his own sword and was watching the vampire with increasing concern. If anything, Ichigo thought, Hitsugaya appeared more agitated than he had when he had come to Normandy, seeking Rukia’s help to rescue Karin. “Is Karin...”

“She is fine, for now,” replied Hitsugaya. “But she is deeply troubled. I fear...I am worried about her. I ask that you return with me, immediately.”

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

She awoke to the sound of crickets. It was nearly dusk, and a sliver of moon was visible through the open window.

“Kurosaki-chan,” said Matsumoto, as Karin sat up in bed and looked around the dark room. “I will go tell Kuchiki-san that you are awake. She has been worried about you.” “We have all been worried about you.”

Karin watched Matsumoto leave, and then stood up and walked over to the window. In the distance, she could see a lone figure, barely visible in the dim light. She closed her eyes and breathed in the outside air. Renji. She could smell him, even from this far away.

She looked around the room for her sword and, not finding it, she quickly climbed out the window and stood, looking up at the chateau. She held out her hand and called, silently, “Masumi, come to me!”

Moments later, she saw something soar out of one of the upper windows and she felt the warmth of its hilt in her hand. She closed her fingers tightly around the weapon and then sheathed it. It felt warm against her thigh. She walked out through the field and stood next to Renji.

He had been training – aiming his sword at several large bales of hay that stood several hundred yards away. He sensed her immediately, and turned to her, casually leaning on his weapon.

“You’re awake,” he said, smiling at her. “Are you feeling better?”

“Yes,” she said, wondering how much Hitsugaya had told the others about what had happened in the forest. “How long have I been sleeping?”

“Three days,” replied Renji.

“May I join you?” she asked, drawing her sword.

“Of course.”

She aimed her weapon at the bales of hay and shot a burst of fire from her sword. The hay instantly burst into flames.

“New skill?” he asked, flicking his weapon at the hay. The flames were extinguished in a flash of orange light.

“Yes,” she said, watching him with interest. “Did Toushirou not tell you?”

“No,” he answered, truthfully, “although I had wondered about the fire at the edge of the forest.”

“I was a little...upset,” she said.

He raised an eyebrow, but said nothing.

“Renji?” she said, swinging her sword over her head towards the charred bales.

“Yes?”

There was a strong gust of wind from her sword, and the bales were lifted high into the air, falling slowly to the ground in a neat stack.

“Do you ever think about blood...human blood, I mean?”

“Think about it?”

“Hunger for it,” she said, simply.

He paused for a moment, clearing contemplating his response. “Yes,” he said, finally.

“Have you ever tasted it?” she asked.

“Yes,” he replied. “Once. Centuries ago.” He looked slightly uneasy.

“Tell me about it,” she said, her eyes still on the bales of hay, watching them smolder.

He shifted uncomfortably. “I was young. My parents had been killed in the war against the Yamazaki’s. They taught me that vampires did not need to feed on humans to survive. I believed them, of course.

“The Kuchiki’s took me in, but it wasn’t enough for me. I was...angry. Hurt. I didn’t know what I wanted...what I needed. One night, the Bloodlust overpowered me. I wandered away from the manor, into the village. There was a girl there. We were friends. I...” His voice trailed off.

“You bit her,” said Karin, now looking at him.

“Yes,” he said, with a sigh. “Rukia found me, she stopped me before I could hurt the girl. Before she could be Transformed. Or worse...”

Karin turned back towards the target, and raised her sword again. The blade glowed deep red, and flames, white hot now, flew at the hay, consuming it entirely and scorching the grass.

“Why did you ask me about that, Karin?” Renji asked, watching her with concern now. “Do you desire human blood?”

“No,” she lied.

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

“Ichigo.” Rukia stood at the door as the two men walked inside. “Hitsugaya-sama.”

“How is she?” asked Hitsugaya.

“Sleeping,” replied Rukia, glancing at Ichigo. He did not look at her.

“He is still angry,” she thought, fighting sadly. She tried to banish all thoughts of the night she had shared her soul and her body with him. “Now is not the time to think of such things,” she told herself.

“I will meet you in her room,” said Hitsugaya, clearly sensing the tension in the room.

Rukia nodded, and Hitsugaya left them, standing alone in the foyer.

“I have missed you, Ichigo,” said Rukia, forcing herself not to look away from him.

“I told you I would return,” he said, his jaw tense. “I keep my word.”

She smiled at him uncomfortably.

“How did you know where to find me?” he asked stiffly. “Hitsugaya told me you knew I was in Paris.”

“I could feel you,” she said. “I could see the city, I could see...” Her voice trailed off as she remembered the redheaded woman with her arms around him.

Ichigo shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “So they were not dreams, after all,” he thought, remembering the flashes of the field behind the chateau, Karin asleep in her bed. It did not surprise him much; he had already heard her words in his mind. That they would share more than just this connection was almost to be expected.

He forced himself to look her in the eyes and, in spite of himself, memories of her, lying naked in his arms, resurfaced. He knew he could not stay here, like this, alone with her. It was taking too much self-control.

“Take me to her,” he said, without emotion.

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

After leaving Renji, Karin walked over to the woods, following the path that led to the small village beyond. The sun was just starting to rise on the horizon, and the sky glowed slightly purple. She arrived at the village as the townspeople had started to rise to tend to their animals and begin their morning routines.

She had not meant to come here, but now, seeing the village, she knew that it had been no accident that she had been drawn to this place. She inhaled the scent of the smoke rising from the chimneys, the fresh hay being laid in the stables, people washing their faces, making breakfast. But there was one smell that overpowered all the others: the scent of human blood. It was intoxicating. She lay back in the grass and closed her eyes, drinking in the fragrance.

“Pretty little vampire whore, you like it, don’t you?”

“No,” she said, sitting up and blinking her eyes, willing the memory back to the recesses of her mind. The scent of blood seemed stronger now, and she focused on it more closely. She imagined she could taste it on her tongue – the sweet, metallic taste – and the memory faded, replaced now by more longing, and hunger, which burned in her heart.

A woman with long black hair tied back in a braid walked through the field in which Karin sat. She carried two buckets over her shoulder, full of oats, for the horses who grazed not far away, Karin guessed. Karin watched her as she walked, her cheeks pink from the cool morning air.

“Bonjour, Mademoiselle,” said the young woman with the dark hair, looking down at Karin and smiling. “Are you alright? Are you lost?”

“No,” answered Karin, standing up and dusting off the bits of grass on her dress. “I have just been sitting here, waiting.”

“Waiting for what, Mademoiselle?”

“For you,” replied Karin, inhaling the woman’s scent, soft and inviting.

“I don’t understand. Do I know you?” asked the woman. She was surprised, but something in Karin’s eyes told her there was nothing to fear.

“No,” said Karin, moving closer to the woman, who stood, transfixed. “Let me help you.” Karin took the buckets from the woman and laid them gently down on the ground beside her. Then, ever so gently, Karin ran her hand over the woman’s shoulder and onto the soft skin of her neck.

“I...,” stammered the woman, looking slightly confused, but not moving.

“It will not hurt,” said Karin, smiling at her. She pulled the woman close to her and put her lips to the woman’s neck. “I am so hungry,” she said, as she bit into the woman’s flesh and felt the warmth of blood in her mouth. It was ecstasy, and Karin felt as though she were floating.

Karin opened her eyes and realized she had been daydreaming. The woman was walking away from the field and was headed back to the village, humming to herself, oblivious to Karin’s presence.

“I am so hungry,” Karin thought, and she stood up, as if drawn to the woman by invisible strings. “I could just taste it, just feel it on my tongue...just one small taste.” She began to walk towards the woman.

“Karin,” said Ichigo. “What are you doing here?”

Karin stopped walking and turned, startled out of her reverie. Her eyes burned blood red.
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:26 pm

Chapter Twenty-Two: Desire

Karin said nothing, but stared at Ichigo as if she did not recognize him.

“Karin?” Ichigo asked, “Are you alright?”

She stepped towards him and held her hand to his cheek. As her fingers touched his skin he felt it: the Bloodlust. It emanated from her body - a tangible force, calling to him. He had felt the Bloodlust himself, but he had never felt the strong pull of it from another being. It caught him off guard and he felt himself momentarily overcome.

“Ichi-nii…,” whispered Karin, running her hand from his cheek onto his neck.

For an instant, he wanted her to bite him, to share his blood with her, to satisfy her thirst. He stood, immobile, and waited to feel her teeth tear his skin. Her lips touched his neck, and he felt a mixture of revulsion and desire course through his body.

“No,” he thought, half asleep, “this is wrong.” And still, he did nothing to stop it.

“Ichi-nii,” she whispered in his ear, pulling her lips away from his neck. “I…”

“I cannot hurt him,” she thought, as she began to come to her senses. “I could never…”

“No!” she said, aloud. “I could never do this to you.” And, with all of her strength, she pushed him away from her. “Ichigo!”

He blinked and looked at her, not sure what disturbed him more - the horrified look on his sister’s face, or the fact that he had wanted her to take his blood.

“Oh, God. Ichigo. I could have…”

“She thinks she would have killed you, transformed you,” he thought, as he came to his senses.

“It’s alright Karin,” he said, as she began to cry. “Please, it’s not what you think.” He pulled her close to him, and she started to sob.

“I would never…I would die before I…Ichigo, please forgive me. You, of all people…after all that you went through with Mom.”

“Karin,” he said, gently, feeling her pain and wanting to stop it for her.

“Ichigo. Dear, sweet Ichigo, after all I have done...To think that I…and when I thought you had finally forgiven me…” her words were punctuated with renewed sobs, and she shook in his arms.

“Karin. Listen to me. There’s something you need to know,” he said, putting his hand on her chin and lifting her head up so he could see her face. Her eyes were dark brown again; all traces of the Bloodlust had vanished. She looked at him, silent tears still running down her face. He took his thumb and gently wiped them away. “Karin, I have forgiven you. I forgave you long before I realized that I had. I know that you love him…that he loves you.”

“But…” she began, her face pained again, remembering how close she had come to drinking his blood.

“No, little sister. Listen to me, please,” he said, smiling at her as his eyes burned. “You could not have hurt me.”

“I could have…”

“No,” he said, his face now serious. “You cannot Transform me.”

“I don’t understand,” she said. “You’re not a vampire, I would sense that.”

He hesitated a moment, not sure where to begin. Then, he spoke, and there was a distant quality to his speech, as if it were happening right before his eyes. “After you left, I was injured. I was dying.” He was finding it far more difficult to talk about his metamorphosis that he had anticipated. “Rukia…”

“Why is this so difficult for me to accept?” he wondered silently, as words failed him. The answer came, unbidden: acceptance meant having to make peace with his love for Rukia, and the reality that he could never have her.

"Rukia gave me her blood," he said, finally.

“Urahara,” said Karin, remembering. “He told me about Hunters who had achieved immortality.”

“Yes,” replied Ichigo. “The Gift can be given only by an ancient, and only once. She chose to give it to me.”

“Then why are you sad, Ichi-nii?” asked Karin, smiling at him now and holding his hand against her face. “You love her. Now you can be together for eternity.”

“No,” he said, pulling his hand from hers and stepping away from her. “I did not ask for this. I have given my word to deliver her safely to her betrothed.”

“But…”

“I will not speak of it again, Karin,” said Ichigo, his voice raised.

“I am sorry, Ichi-nii,” she said, looking hurt. “This is my fault. If you hadn’t come to rescue me, you…”

“No,” he said, interrupting her. “I will not have you take the blame for this, nor will I have you take the blame for anything those bastards have done.”

Karin looked down.

“Karin?”

“Yes?”

“I am worried about you,” said Ichigo.

“I’m fine, Ichi-nii.”

“But...the Bloodlust. Hitsugaya never mentioned that you were having trouble controlling your thirst.”

“No,” she said. “It was a momentary lapse. I had been sleeping for days and I was just so… hungry.”

“I’m sure Rukia or Hitsugaya would have been willing to give you…”

“I’m fine, really,” said Karin, interrupting him. “I would like to go back now.”

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

Several hours later, Ichigo sat on the roof of the chateau, having reassured himself that Hitsugaya would not leave Karin alone. Although he tried to convince himself that he had sought refuge up here to think, the truth was that he was avoiding finding himself alone Rukia, afraid of both what he might do or what he might say. He knew what he wanted to say.

“But what difference would it make if I told her?” he thought, closing his eyes and leaning back against the warm slate shingles. “She has never lied to me about her feelings or that she is promised to another.”

“Ichigo.”

He sat up abruptly at the sound of her voice. “Rukia.”

“I am sorry to disturb you,” she said, uncomfortably. “You asked me to let you know about Karin.”

“How is she?” he asked.

“Sleeping,” Rukia replied. “She is still exhausted from her ordeal.”

“What did they do to her?” asked Ichigo, his fists clenched.

“We do not know. She will not speak of it. Her body has healed, but her mind…” Rukia hesitated. “That will take more time.”

“Thank you,” he said. “For tending to her.”

Rukia was silent. A slight breeze blew across the roof, and her dark hair fluttered gently.

“Rukia, I…” he began, gathering his courage.

“I must leave,” she said, standing up and walking gracefully across the tiles.

“But…”

“It’s alright, Ichigo,” she said as she interrupted him again. “I understand.” And before he could say anything else, she vanished into the late afternoon sunshine.

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

Later, Rukia lay on her bed, watching the clouds obscure the moon. It was after midnight, but she could not sleep. Having him here, nearby, was proving far more difficult than she had expected. She could feel him – the turmoil he felt when he looked at her, the anger resting just below the surface, his longing for her, for them. Even now, she could feel his presence, imagine his arms around her.

“Enough,” she thought, standing up and throwing a shawl over her sheer nightdress. “It will help neither of us to dwell on what cannot be.”

She walked quickly down the marble staircase to the front hallway and out onto the veranda. The stones felt cold against her bare feet, but she did not care. She deserved far worse penance for her sins. Out here, at least, she could breathe.

A shadow caught her eye. Looking up, she saw Hitsugaya, silhouetted in the window of Karin’s room. “No one should have to suffer so,” she thought, momentarily angered. She walked down the steps and onto the path that led to the garden. The air was still, and she could smell the fragrance of the summer flowers from all around her. Past the English hedge roses and the herb garden she walked. The crushed rocks that lined the path cut into her feet, but she kept walking, oblivious to the pain.

After a few minutes, she reached the stone fountains with their interspersed statues of winged creatures. It was her favorite part of the gardens, a gift from her brother given after Kaien’s death, and a place in which she had many times sought refuge. Here, amid the sound of falling water, she had found a measure of peace despite the profound pain of loss, and here, she hoped to find that peace once again.

“Kaien,” she thought. “You were right. I found that one person. But I must let him go.”

She sat down on a small bench near the largest fountain. From time to time, droplets of water fell onto her face and hair - droplets sent off course by a crack in the surface of the stone base. Byakuya had been furious when he had seen the small crevice that had formed after a particularly hard winter. He had wanted it repaired immediately. Rukia, however, had insisted that the flaw remain; it was for her a reminder of the imperfection of her life without Kaien.

She sat, watching the moon emerge and then disappear again behind the clouds. Her hair grew wetter, and water ran down her face like tears. But she did not cry. She would not cry.

“Rukia.”

The sound of his voice was so unexpected, at first she thought she had imagined it. Then she heard his footsteps on the stones and she turned to see him, standing by the fountain, watching her.

“Ichigo,” she said, “how did you…?”

“I could feel you,” he said, using the same words she had spoken upon his return.

“You should leave,” she said, standing up and brushing her wet hair out of her eyes.

“There’s something you must know,” he said, his eyes meeting hers.

“Ichigo, I…”

“You will listen,” he said, his voice stronger now, more insistent. “You owe me that much, Rukia.”

“Yes,” she said, with a sigh. “I do.”

He came closer to her, never taking his eyes from hers. “I forgive you, Rukia. I know you tried to ask me what I wanted, that you knew I would want to choose., but that you had no choice.”

She looked at him in astonishment, not sure she had really heard the words.

“But there’s something more you must know. The truth,” he said.

“What truth?” she asked, not understanding.

“The truth that I would have chosen to accept your Gift. I do choose to accept it. And I thank you for returning my life.”

“Ichigo.” Her heart beat wildly in her chest and her eyes stung with tears.

“I remember something else about that night, Rukia,” said Ichigo, walking up to her and putting his hands to her face. “Something you said, only the words were unspoken.”

“I love you, Ichigo,” she thought.

He smiled and kissed her gently on the lips.

“I know that we cannot be together, that you are promised to another,” he said, pulling her closer to him. “I cannot change that, and I will respect your choice. When the time comes, I will let you go. But, until then…”

He kissed her again, his tongue finding hers, his hands running through her wet hair. She sighed audibly, and her body relaxed against his. He picked her up and carried her off the hard gravel and onto the soft grass. She felt light in his arms. Gently, he laid her down. The shawl fell off her shoulders and, in the moonlight the clouds briefly revealed, he could see the soft swell beneath the thin fabric of her nightgown.

“You are so beautiful,” he said, smiling and kissing her lips again. Then, slowly, his lips followed the soft curve of her neck down to her chest. He pulled the soft fabric off her shoulders and down to her waist, and she moaned in pleasure as he explored her breasts with his mouth. She reached up to his shirt, pulling it up and running her hands over the hard muscles of his chest, inhaling the scent of him as she lifted the shirt over his head.

“I remember this,” he said, as he rolled over onto his back, taking her with him so that she now lay on top of him. His fingers traced the outline of her spine and pulled her close again. This time, however, she pushed him away, instead standing up and letting her nightgown fall the rest of the way to the ground. Then, kneeling next to him, she undressed him slowly, reveling in the feel of his skin. He inhaled sharply as her hands delicately brushed over his chest and down his powerful thighs.

“Rukia,” he breathed, as she pulled him into a sitting position and kissed him, biting his lip gently.

“May I?” she asked, her voice husky.

“Yes,” he said, no longer fearing that which had first brought them together.

She bit his lip harder this time, drawing blood. She licked his lips, relishing the saltiness of him, craving more. Then she lifted her wrist to his mouth, looking at him, the question unspoken.

“Yes,” he thought, and she could hear the answer in her mind. Without hesitation, he bit her skin and, as her blood covered his tongue, he felt her soul connect with his. He heard her thoughts, felt her fear and her pain, her love for him. “I love you, Rukia,” he thought, and he knew instinctively that she had heard him.

He pushed her back onto the ground, releasing her wrist from his lips and grasping it hard in his palm to stem the bleeding. He kissed her again and she pulled him closer, their hearts now beating as one.

“Please,” she said, her hunger for him now overpowering. And then they were one, and she felt herself falling, the terrible longing finally ebbing, the pain of reality lost, if only temporarily, in their union.

“Rukia,” he moaned, as the taste of her blood on his lips and the feel of her body underneath his threatened to overwhelm him.

He pulled her wrist back to his lips and drank, more deeply this time. He saw himself in her eyes, and saw a memory there, of him, standing naked before her, his eyes burning red.

“Please, I don’t want to hurt you. I belong to another.”

“Tell me to stop, Rukia, and I will obey.”

“I don’t want you to stop.”

“You won’t hurt me, Rukia,” he said as he released her wrist.

And there, on the grass, in the passing moonlight, he knew that there could never be room for another woman in his heart, in his soul.

“If it takes an eternity,” he thought, as he lost himself in her, “I will wait for you, Rukia.”
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:28 pm

Chapter Twenty-Three: The Other Side of Darkness

Rukia lay alongside Ichigo and, for the first time in months, she slept soundly. As the first light of day crept through the window of her room, she awoke and rolled over, laying her head gently on his chest.

“Good morning,” she said, smiling, as he opened his eyes.

He did not answer, but pulled her on top of him and kissed her. She wrapped her arms around him and felt him shudder slightly. He ran his fingertips over her face and on up into her hair, inhaling the scent of her.

“We don’t need to eat food, you know,” he said, biting her ear playfully.

“The others will wonder where we are,” said Rukia, laughing softly.

“Let them,” said Ichigo, running his tongue over her neck. His eyes burned red as he felt his hunger for her grow and, unlike before, he did not hesitate; he sank his teeth into her neck. She moaned and closed her eyes. When he had drunk his fill, he turned to her as if in a trance and offered her his blood willingly.

“I never understood before,” he said, shuddering with pleasure as she drank of him. “There is so much I never understood.”

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

They lay there afterwards, intertwined and breathless, holding each other. No words were necessary – he knew her thoughts and she his.

“We really should go downstairs,” she said, finally, breaking the spell. Reluctantly, he released her and she stood up and threw on a dressing gown and matching silk robe in pale blue. Her cheeks were flushed from his blood and she seemed to glow.

“You’d better leave quickly,” he said, the hint of a smile on his lips, “or I will not be responsible for my actions.”

“I will see you at breakfast,” she said, smiling and closing the door behind her.

She hesitated for a moment at the top of the landing and closed her eyes, shivering slightly. “Kaien-dono,” she thought with a smile. “I finally understand now.”

She walked on down the stairs, lingering for a moment in front of the large glass doors that led to the garden. She opened them up and breathed in the cool morning air. Then, collecting herself, she walked into the sunroom, where breakfast was waiting.

“Rukia-san,” said Matsumoto, who stood by the table, “I have a letter for you.” It was clear that she had been waiting, patiently, for Rukia to appear.

Taking the envelope from Matsumoto’s hand, Rukia’s heart began to pound as she saw the familiar flowing script she knew well - the letter was from Byakuya. She quickly opened the envelope, pulled out the piece of parchment, and read:

Sister,

I trust you are well. Although I have, until now, left the decision in your hands as to when to travel to Paris for your nuptials, the situation has now changed. I ask that you proceed to the Yamazaki’s with all due haste.

I will explain the circumstance of this letter when I see you next. Until then, I remain, kindly,

Your brother, Byakuya

Rukia stared at the letter for several minutes, unmoving.

“Is everything alright, Rukia-san?” Matsumoto asked, with concern.

“Yes,” Rukia replied, with resignation. “All is as it should be.”

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

“You’ve been sitting there for hours, Hisana,” said Akira, looking down at her from the grey mare he had been riding. “Something is troubling you.”

She sat on a bench under a large oak tree, looking out over the hills and the city beyond. Dressed in a simple burgundy dress, her dark hair blowing about her face, she smiled at him, a hint of sadness in her eyes.

“Akira-kun,” she said, her voice soft, musical, “you worry too much about me.”

“I only have one sister,” he replied, returning her smile, a glint of mischief in his eyes.

“And I have a rogue of a brother,” she laughed. “Marriage will do you good, Akira-kun.”

The smile on his face vanished, and he looked away from her.

“You do not wish this marriage, then?” she asked, watching the muscles in his jaw tense involuntarily.

“I…I will do what is asked of me,” he replied, looking much more the man now, his face serious.

“Uncle wishes only what is best for you.”

“Lord Yamazaki,” he said, stressing the honorific, “wants only what is best for the clan.”

“Is that so wrong?” she asked, thoughtfully.

“I am tired of mourning those I love,” he said. There was bitterness in his voice.

For a moment, he looked far older than his thirty years. He ran his hand unconsciously through his wavy black hair and his green eyes sparkled in the sunlight.

“Mother and Father were hardly pawns in this struggle,” said Hisana, reproachfully.

“No,” said Akira. “Perhaps not.”

“Nor was Hiroki.”

“He did not deserve to die so young,” he retorted, his voice raised. There was anger and pain in his face.

“No,” she replied. “Of course not.” She stood up and walked over to the horse, stroking its head gently and looking up at her brother. “I miss him too,” she said, putting her hand on his.

“I know,” he said, withdrawing his hand and gathering the reins to leave.

“Where is Uncle?” she asked.

“Inside. Meeting with the Hunter again,” he answered, frowning.

“You do not trust Lord Aizen, then?” she asked.

“No,” Akira replied, simply. “They are all the same, the Hunters. They want power, and they would use the Clan to attain it. They cannot be trusted.”

“Have you spoken to Uncle about your fears, Akira-kun?”

“Yes, but he is too blind to see,” he replied, angrily. “The prospect of victory over the Kuchiki’s is an obsession with him. He chooses to look the other way.”

Hisana sighed. “Yamazaki Akira,” she said. “You are a man of honor. I am proud of you.”

“And what of you, Hisana?” asked Akira. “Will you look the other way, as well?”

“I…,” she hesitated. “I have been taught well. I do not interfere in the affairs of men.”

“I am sad for you, Hisana,” he said, as he turned the horse and began to ride away. “For you, too, deserve happiness.”

She watched him disappear over the next ridge and sat back down under the tree.

“Happiness,” she thought, with a deep sigh. “Not in this world.”

She closed her eyes and remembered a different time, when she was younger, before the deaths of her beloved older brother and her parents - before the horrors of war had stolen the joy from her life.

It was winter. Her parents had finally consented to let her attend a party at the chateau of a noble family. She had been to Paris many times before, but she had never seen Paris quite like this. Beautiful women with porcelain skin walked gracefully across the marble floors, laughing, fans fluttering, smiling at the men who stood talking at the edge of the room. Sumptuous food filled the tables, adorned with fresh flowers brought in from faraway places where the sun still shone warm, glasses of the finest hand-blown crystal filled with bubbling liquid.

She was barely of age – a girl in a woman’s body, unsure around men, but intensely curious, just the same. She knew nothing of how to dress, what to wear – her mother had chosen the red gown with its full sleeves and beaded train to emphasize the whiteness of her skin, and her chamber maid had combed her hair and powdered her face, dabbing a hint of rouge on her cheeks and choosing the jewels which adorned her ears and her neck. But, more than anything, she knew nothing of her beauty, of how she might arouse the senses of the men, young and old, who watched her glide across the room.

She had been taught to dance, a skill expected of a woman of her status, the daughter of the heir to the Yamazaki’s dynasty. It was a skill that served her well this night, as countless men sought to lead her on the dance floor, accompanied by the music of a small orchestra that played the latest contradances. They danced, the men and woman, in a group, to the carefully prescribed steps, smiling at each other and flirting silently to the music.

Tired, after having danced for hours without rest, she had shed her pointed heels and run out of the ballroom, into the cold winter air. There she stood, watching her breath rise into the air, her feet in the snow.

A pair of arms grabbed her from behind and spun her around – one of her partners, a middle-aged man who had tried, on several occasions, to chase away several of her younger suitors. He pulled her lips to his and, in spite of her protests, or perhaps because of them, had kissed her roughly, scratching her face with his beard.

She fought him with all her strength, which was considerable for a woman her size. And still he would not release her, instead putting his hand to her hair and releasing it from its barrette. It hung over her shoulders now, a tousle of black that only served to further ignite his desire for her.

“Stop!” she had yelled, pushing him hard and stomping on his foot. But her tiny foot did not deter him, and he lifted her hair and put his lips to her neck.

“Leave her be.” The silky baritone resonated against the glass windows that led back to the ballroom.

“A beautiful flower is meant to be plucked,” laughed her suitor.

“Release her immediately,” said the younger man. Even as she struggled, Hisana could see his face, dark blue eyes and ebony hair. The contempt in that handsome face was plain. “Clearly she does not wish your attentions.”

The older man pushed Hisana away from him and drew his sword. She tumbled, headlong, into the snow, twisting her ankle as she fell.

“Who are you to tell your elders what a woman wants?” growled the older man.

“Someone who values honor,” replied the dark stranger, calmly. He did not reach for the sword at his side, but continued to glare at Hisana’s attacker. “That is all you need to know.”

The older man swung his sword, firing off a blast of reddish haze towards the younger, and laughing unabashedly as he did so. The stranger remained still, raising only the palm of his hand to the attack, reflecting it back whence it had come. The older man staggered backwards, but remained on his feet.

“Leave, or I will be forced to injure you,” said the dark haired man, his voice still calm, controlled.

“Hardly,” laughed the older man, aiming his weapon at his challenger’s chest.

“So be it,” said the man with the deep blue eyes, as he lifted his hand towards his challenger. Wind blew powerfully from his fingers and hitting the older man in the face. The older man began to laugh but then stopped, abruptly, as the dark haired man flicked his wrist. Hisana’s attacker flew into the air and landed, with a thud, yards away from where he had once stood. He groaned weakly and then lay still.

Hisana struggled to get to her feet. A strong arm encircled her shoulders, helping her up.

“You are injured,” said the stranger, his voice sending shivers up her spine.

“My ankle,” she said, as he lifted her into his arms. Her bare feet dangled under her dress, and she blushed with embarrassment.

He carried her into a small sitting room and laid her on a settee, accidentally brushing her face with his hands. His touch was electrifying, and she thought, for a moment, that she had forgotten how to breathe.

“Thank you,” she said, looking into his eyes. For a moment, she thought she saw something in those dark blue eyes – a flash of red – and then she blinked and it was gone.

“Can I call someone to assist you?” he said, his beautiful face inscrutable, unreadable. “Is there someone here with you?”

“My…my mother,” she stammered, as her heart pounded in her chest so loudly that she was convinced he could hear it. “Lady Yamazaki.”

He said nothing, but bowed deeply and turned to leave the room.

“Please,” said Hisana. “I would like to know the name of my rescuer.”

He stopped and looked at her, and she thought she saw the edges of his mouth turn up slightly at her words.

“Byakuya,” he said simply. “Kuchiki Byakuya.”

******************************
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PostSubject: Re: Bleach- Vampire fic- Irresistible   Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:28 pm

Rukia sat at the breakfast table with Byakuya’s letter in her hands, rereading it for the tenth time, as if hoping the words on the page would change of their own accord.

“Good morning, Rukia,” said Karin, walking into the sunroom.

“Karin,” Rukia said, startled from her dreamlike state. “Are you going out?” she asked, noting Karin’s clothing and the sword at her side.

“I need to get some air,” replied Karin. “I’ll be back in an hour for breakfast.”

“If Hitsugaya-sama asks, can I tell him where you went?” asked Rukia. There was deep concern in her violet eyes.

“The woods,” Karin replied quickly. “I will not go far.” She turned and quickly slipped outside, happy to have escaped more difficult questions.

The air was cool and crisp and, although Karin headed towards the woods, when she knew she was no longer within the sight of the house, she turned abruptly and headed down a small dirt path. It was well-traveled, and Karin knew it well: the path to the village.

She walked in a daze, hesitating and stopping every so often, as though she had lost her way and was try to reorient herself towards home. After an hour, she found herself on a hill overlooking the village, not far from the field in which Ichigo had found her only days before. She crouched below a group of bushes, watching the villagers.

“What am I doing here?” she wondered vaguely, not remembering how she had come to this place. She felt lightheaded. She was so hungry; the Bloodlust was worse than it had ever been, worse than the Transformation. No Hunt would satisfy this hunger. She craved human blood. She needed human blood. The pain of hunger was so intense, she bit her tongue to stop from crying out.

“This is wrong.”

She closed her eyes. Her lips burned. From this distance, she could smell the villagers – the scent of sweat, of skin, hair, and the enticing red substance that coursed through their bodies. Blood called to her, like a siren song.

“I am a Hunter. I am sworn to protect them. I will not harm them. I cannot.”

She was dizzy, weak. Her vampire soul cried out for blood even as her human soul resisted. The hunger intensified. She would die without blood.

“I would rather die than give in.”

Her hand strayed to the sword at her side. She ran her fingers gently over its hilt, feeling the metal, the stones. It was cold. Inviting.

“I cannot resist much longer.”

She backed away from the bushes and stood behind a large tree, leaning against its truck. Her breath came in desperate gasps. She was drowning. Dying.

“I will not harm them.”

Slowly, she pulled her sword from its sheath. She ran her fingers along the flat edge of the blade. The Hunter’s sword. Forged of metal by vampires, millennia before. Capable of killing even the strongest vampire.

“Immortality cannot abide this blade.”

She thought of her brother, of how he had come to peace with her existence. But he did not understand the price she had paid, nor had Hitsugaya. She had refused to share her blood either of them, not wanting them to see what was in her soul. No one truly understood, for she had not spoken of it. She would not burden them.

“I am not powerless. I am strong.”

They had taken her blood. Her body. Her dignity. They would take no more of her. To give in to the Bloodlust would be the ultimate triumph for the men who had hurt her. Destroyed her.

“I am a Hunter. I am strong.”

She caressed her sword with her hand, feeling its coolness against her skin, like a lover. How ironic, she thought, that she had rejected the one person who would have loved her, only to turn to her sword in love. But she would not wound Hitsugaya with this pain. Her death would free him forever. He could love again, love someone who could return that love.

“Forgive me.”

She turned the sword so that the blade pointed at her throat. She felt its sharp point against her skin.

“I am a Hunter. I am strong.”

Closing her eyes, she struggled to remember his face. His silver hair. His turquoise eyes. The smile so rarely seen on his lips.

“Toushirou.”

She steadied herself, breathing deeply, focusing her strength. Then, with all her might, she thrust the blade at her neck.

“No. I will not let you do this.”

She opened her eyes and stared into Hitsugaya’s. His hands were on top of hers, holding back the blade. Her hands shook as she fought to drive the blade home.

“Please. You must let me go,” she said, looking at him for understanding. “I cannot live like this. I will not give in to the hunger.”

“Then you must let me help you.”

“You cannot help,” she replied.

“I can help you. But to do so, I must have your blood. You must let me share your pain, Karin.”

“No,” she said. “I could never do that.”

“I am strong, Karin. You must let me share your blood, your memories.”

“No,” she said, her voice now above a whisper.

“It will not change my feelings for you, Karin.”

“Even so,” she said, looking at him with fear, “you will try to avenge me. I could not bear it if I were the cause of your death.”

He pulled the sword out of her hands and threw it aside, pulling her tightly against him.

“I learned how to live because of you, Karin. You were so full of happiness, of joy, full of life. You taught me not to fear the future.”

She began to cry, silently against his chest.

“Karin, it is my turn to give you back your life. You must let me do this. If not for your sake, then for mine. Please.” He lifted her head and put her neck to his lips, kissing her gently. Then, just as gently, he sunk his teeth into her skin and began to drink.

He felt the warmth of her blood on his tongue and in his throat. She tasted wonderful, better than he remembered. He could feel her life in his hands, hear her heart beating. She moaned.

She was lying on hard stone, unable to move, unable to speak. Her body was heavy. Her chest hurt where they had cut her.

“He held my heart in his hands,” she thought, with horror, recalling the pain, the smile on Kurotsuchi’s face.

She felt a hand on her thigh.

“No, please,” she thought. “Haven’t you hurt me enough?”

“Pretty beast,” said the man, his rough fingers parting her legs.

She tried to fight him, to scream, but the drugs they had given her left her powerless.

A hand on her breast and fingers tracing the scar from the blade.

“You are healing quickly, vampire,” said the man, his voice low, almost a growl.

“No,” she thought, as a new pain, worse than before, made her body convulse.

“So soft,” he said, his breath now hot against her face.

She wanted to die, it would be better than this. This violation. This powerlessness.

“Please let me die.”

Gently, he released her and held her against him again. She sobbed, uncontrollably.

“I will not let you die,” he said, holding her closer.
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